A moment from John and and Kelly as they reflect on their viewings of 2019. Yay or nay?
John: This was the year where the franchise fatigue overwhelmed me completely, specifically Disney Fatigue. Sure Avengers: Endgame was a great sendoff to the MCU, but I don’t have it in me to care about any non-Guardians of the Galaxy Marvel movies. From that point, my ambivalence grew. Far from Home had one decent scene, but I rolled my eyes at it mostly. The Lion King remake was shallow and mediocre on all fronts. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was incredibly disappointing to the point that not even a million baby Yodas will make me go back to Star Wars. What’s worse is Disney’s competition had very little to offer this year as well. I could go see MIB International, Glass, or Detective Pikachu… but I could just wait for it to be streaming. Nothing this year jumped out at me that NEEDED to be seen on the big screen. 2019 was where the hype died.
Granted, this year I didn’t spend a lot of the time at the theater, and I’m catching up on a few great offerings I missed.
Kelly: I got the AMC pass this year so I’ve been seeing lot of movies I might not have gone out of my way to see or pay for AKA a considerable amount of sludge. I wrote briefly about this in my Knives Out review, but most works this year were unmemorable and I was kind of dishing out scores because I had to and inflating them because most of this year was just so… average or familiar. The industry has a serious issue with reboots and sequels that really got to me (don’t get me started on that Disney Wheel) and I was craving some original lenses. I don’t mind remakes or sequels if they’re creative and different but we just didn’t get that with the majority. As a viewer, I’ve started noting when I’m passively watching versus being really engaged and that’s more or less become my benchmark. Was I watching because I was genuinely interested? If so, we start with a B- and then add or subtract based on the technical aspects, acting, and so forth. I’d like to think this is a sign of maturity but it could also just be me getting tired of redundancy or conventional tropes.
John: Shazam was good, but I forgot it came out this year. Spider-Man: Far from Home was lame, so I also forgot that came out. Super hero movies are getting super forgettable is what I’m getting from this introspection.
Kelly: I actually forgot that Avengers: Endgame came out less than eight months ago. It’s a movie I enjoyed watching in the moment, but haven’t thought about or considered since. We can also add The Lion King to the list. There were a lot of movies that had a lot of hype that I then saw and promptly forgot about- I think that says enough.
John: There was a lot I missed this year but I was able to catch up on a few great flicks. Rocketman was a great bio musical drama. Us took me for a loop and was engaging throughout. The animated Klaus pushed the art form while also revitalizing the art of hand drawn animation. (Disney, you’re getting called out!) Those films aside, my personal favorite was Rian Johnson’s Knives Out. It feels like a throwback to a forgotten era and wholly modern all at once. Just when you think you’ve figured stuff out, the film throws a satisfying curve ball. It sports an incredible cast of character actors, pleasant cinematography, and a damn good script.
From now on all of Daniel Craig’s non-Bond roles must be done in a funny American accent. It is law.
Kelly: I’ve been giving this a lot of thought because the stuff I liked, I really liked. The Farewell, Rocketman, and Little Women all make the cut for works that stuck with me and I’m still oozing over those- but nothing has really made me think back on a film or audience experience as fondly as Midsommar, which is a super weird sentence. That movie tortured me and I enjoyed every minute of it? I want to see all that horrific imagery again because of that incredible camerawork? What I appreciated most was the attention to detail and subtlety in which Midsommar approached its themes. It was an extremely risky movie that pulled off pretty much every aspect with success.
John: WATCHMEN WATCHMEN WATCHMEN. If you had told me that the best show of the year would be a non-Alan Moore penned sequel to Watchmen, I would have laughed in your face. This show is better than it has any right to be and might be one of my favorite shows of all time. It takes clues from the original text, but at the same time isn’t afraid to go in it’s own direction. One of the original characters from the book is even retconned and it’s… BETTER?? Aside from my admiration of how it builds on the comic, the show also tackles current America’s lack of accountability for the crimes of racism. I have to respect a show that brings attention to that relevant discussion in such an intelligent way. I also have to give mad props to the writers for writing the leading woman, Angela Abar, to have the emotional nuance and action presence that women are not usually afforded in genre properties. This show is damn good, and I might add it to the “Stuff I rewatch every year” list.
… WHO ARE YOU LUBEMAN????
Kelly: I watched a lot of HBO this year, catching up on The Wire and Boardwalk Empire, Gentlemen Jack, starting His Dark Materials, I even tried The Sopranos, and (of course) the Deadwood movie, but you can all FUCK OFF if you didn’t like the second season of Succession. Nothing makes my heart palpitate as much as Logan Roy in a one-on-one meeting with one of his kids, and this is a show with absolutely no special effects that puts its money in its writing and all star cast. In an unusual move, the show is more about character development, dynamics, scheming, and fallout, leaving the actual events off screen and allowing the audience to piece together what has likely happened. It’s a show that doesn’t take its audience’s intelligence for granted- and there is payoff in every single episode.
John: I had to stop The Lion King midway for just how mediocre it was. The original is certainly no Citizen Kane, but it’s a damn good movie. To see it turned into an, ironically, lifeless version of itself was just sad to see. When a creative decision is made, an artist must ask the self “To what end??” How does making the animals and setting realistic to the point of showing no emotion enhance this story? Aestethics can go along way, but not if there isn’t something being said with them.
Rise of Skywalker made me numb to Star Wars. The film actively punishes the fans of The Last Jedi. Hey you love the twist how Rey had to accept that she had been abandoned by unloving parents? Well too bad, she’s a Palpatine. Don’t ask how or who the grandma is, just accept it nerds. Did you like how the force became more nuanced and Luke Skywalker said it doesn’t belong to anyone? Too bad, here’s a stadium full of sith fans watching the tired old Light vs Dark dynamic we have seen time and time again. I probably shouldn’t be expecting depth from a multi billion dollar family film, but I at least want something that doesn’t insult my intelligence. The Last Jedi left a lot of potential, and they decided to jump the shark. Meh.
Kelly: Cats was awful, but I admit- there were some aspects that I liked and it certainly was an exceptional audience experience. I’ll have to hand this one to either Angel Has Fallen or Men in Black: International– Angel Has Fallen was a legitimately painful experience and I couldn’t watch some of the action scenes (cue the motion sickness), and International was just… flat. I’m disappointed more in the latter than the former.
Oh and Hellboy. That was just charmless. Del Toro’s Hellboy had such a unique aesthetic and a very loyal following- it’s a shame we never got to see the final piece of that series with Ron Perlman as Big Red before they tried to blockbuster this up. I get the idea of bringing it back down to the source material but a missed opportunity and a waste of money that might have otherwise been spent on something that people genuinely loved.