We are now fully through seven months of 2019, and thus far we have been on quite a cinematic adventure this year. Hollywood has served up an interesting, diverse slate of movies from all kinds of genres for us to consume since early January, and while quite a significant number of the titles really haven’t been all that great, the same can’t be said for all of them. There have been more than a few films that we’ve actually really loved, and it’s those films we are here to celebrate today.
Every year CinemaBlend maintains a screening log that tracks the various movies that members of our staff are seeing, along with their “out of five” rating – and this ranking is based on those statistics. In order to qualify, any movie not only had to have a high enough score, but also had to have been seen by at least four people on the team. So without further ado, let’s jump into the Top 10 films of 2019 so far…
#T-9. The Art Of Self-Defense
Average Score: 3.875/5
Interestingly, Riley Stearns’ The Art Of Self-Defense isn’t a movie that is really for everybody, as it’s a dark comedy that goes pitch black at times… but I suppose that just says something about the CinemaBlend staff and our tastes. The movie is deeply funny, perfectly stylized, and even has a good amount to say about toxic masculinity and how it affects both the individual and society. You can describe it as Wes Anderson’s Fight Club or the end result of what would happen if Jody Hill and Yorgos Lanthimos had a baby, but no matter what references you use, what’s most important to recognize is that it’s one of the year’s best comedies.
Average Score: 3.875/5
Alexandre Aja's Crawl is a movie that really came out of nowhere, primarily due to very limited press screenings, but it turns out to be one seriously late summer surprise. Its premise is as high-concept as they come – with a father and daughter trapped in a house during a hurricane and find themselves surrounded by alligators – and it’s a film that does a really fantastic job executing that simple premise. It has some legitimately shocking and scary moments, with just the right amount of carnage, but most importantly you really do find yourself caring about the characters. It’s a great little creature feature to be released in the midst of the on-going horror boom, and will surely wind up finding a cult audience as buzz about it is further shared among friends.
#8. How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Average Score: 3.884615385/5
It took nearly a full decade for Dean DeBlois’ How To Train Your Dragon saga to play out on the big screen, but now that it has, it can definitely be called one of the best animated trilogies ever. These movies have been gorgeously animated, deeply emotional, and shockingly dramatic from the very beginning, and the series-closer How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is an excellent way to close it out. We live in a pop culture age when bringing things to an end can be a devastating challenge because of all the pressure that is mounted, but this one is wonderfully satisfying. It’s sad that we won’t be getting more adventures of Hiccup and Toothless, but audiences of all ages will continue watching this series over and over for years.
Average Score: 3.95/5
Big, bold musicals are very trendy nowadays, and it certainly helps to have films like Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman keep the love going. The new movie basically had the CinemaBlend staff members dancing in the aisle of their local to the sweet music of Elton John while enjoying seeing his life brought to life on the big screen. There is a lot to like about this trip, from its unconventional biopic approach, to it’s awesome performance visuals, to the excellent turn by star Taron Egerton. Our staff really enjoyed this one a lot – to the point where it may reappear on CB’s full Top 10 list at the end of the year.
T-#5. The Farewell
Average Score: 4/5
Lulu Wang’s The Farewell started 2019 strong with an acclaimed premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, but appreciation for the movie has only soared further since its release earlier this year. The based-on-a-true-story movie is not only a fascinating examination of contrasting cultures as Awkwafina's Billi travels back to China with her parents to say goodbye to her dying grandmother (who doesn’t actually know she’s dying), but also just presents a lovely narrative about family and what keeps us connected. It’s both philosophically fascinating, and a melancholy kind of beautiful. It’s cinematography is fantastic and script well written, and we can’t wait to see Awkwafina take on even more challenging and dramatic material.
Average Score: 4/5
As demonstrated by the fact that Hereditary was ranked as our team’s sixth favorite movie of 2018, Ari Aster is a filmmaker that continues to fascinate us here at CinemaBlend, and we were absolutely delighted by his sophomore effort released this summer. A break-up movie disguised as a horror movie, Midsommar features an epic combination of stunning cinematography and throat-ripping terror for audiences to feast on, all brightly lit by a sun that basically never sets. It’s a strange experience, really, as there are some images that will haunt your nightmares for days, but it also has a tremendous sense of humor an multiple laugh out loud moments. It’s another excellent win for Aster, and we once again find ourselves deeply curious about what he will deliver for us next.
#4. Toy Story 4
Average Score: 4.15625/5
Given the incredibly emotional ending of Toy Story 3, even some of the most hardcore Pixar stans found themselves a bit anxious about the development of a third sequel in the series, but Josh Cooley’s Toy Story 4 adeptly calmed all concerns when it hit theaters this summer. The movie has a legitimate story to tell, specifically with Woody (Tom Hanks) going on a journey learning about independence, and there are some fantastic laughs along the way – many courtesy of new characters voiced by Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, and Jordan Peele. You also have to give it love for finding a great way to bring back Annie Potts’ Bo Peep following her absence from the last chapter.
Average Score: 4.181818182/5
When a coming of age comedy really works, it’s hard not to really fall in love with it. After all, their bread and butter is recreating events and experiences to which all audiences can relate, and that creates a special emotional bond between individual and movie. Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart is a perfect example. The story may be super modern, but the plight of Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) as they experiment with one night of moderately breaking bad before high school graduation is not only incredibly relatable, but also hilarious. It’s an absolutely wonderful and silly film outfitted with a phenomenal cast of young stars, and it’s the best straight comedy that we’ve seen so far in 2019. Hell, it's easily one of the best overall.
#2. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Average Score: 4.294117647/5
Quentin Tarantino is truly one of the great auteurs of modern cinema, and in 2019 he has delivered yet again with the brilliant Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Despite the subplot about the Manson Family, the movie is oddly unique from the rest of the writer/director’s body of work in that violence is not central to the main narrative – but he still very much has something to say about friendships, growing old, and finding your place in the world. As Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt bring to life two of Tarantino’s best characters (which is really saying quite a lot), and the third act is one of his most jaw-dropping (which, again, is saying quite a lot). It may be a bit divisive, but among the 17 CinemaBlend staff members who saw it, none of us gave it a score lower than 3.5 out of five.
#1. Avengers: Endgame
Average Score: 4.456521739/5
We here at CinemaBlend are big Marvel fans, with the majority of us spending the last decade repeatedly excited for the release of the latest blockbuster from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As a result, we caught a serious fever of anticipation prior to the release of Joe and Anthony Russo’s Avengers: Endgame, but the happy ending is that the film totally delivered on all promises. It’s both a crazy fun adventure and also a perfect culmination of the 21 prior in-canon releases, and we really just went ape for it, as indicated by our team ranking. As of right now, it is our favorite film of 2019 – and it’s very possible that it will maintain that position as we get to the end of December.
How many of the movies listed here have you seen? What’s your favorite of 2019 so far? Hit the comments section below with all of your thoughts, feelings, and opinions, and be sure to keep coming back here to CinemaBlend in the next five months as we cover all of the fantastic releases coming to a theater near you.