13 Wonderfully Surprising Films of 2019

This year has seen pretty great films compared to 2018. Of course, there’s always a hit and a miss, like perhaps 2018 was a better year for superheroes films and 2019 is for drama. But, it doesn’t change the fact that each year there are films that were supposed to be great, but I ended up disliking it (*cough Roma cough*), or there are other cases where I enjoyed the films that the general masses (and le critics hated).

Since it has always been the case, I am not going to title this article merely as “the best films of the year”, no, because films should stir an emotion in you, a surprise, when the end credit rolls, regardless the ratings, box-office or awards. Like these 13 films of 2019 did.

PS: No definite ranks, but the lower you go, the more surprising the film turned out for me.

Marriage Story

It’s a no brainer that Marriage Story is a good film. Noah Baumbach’s flick about a couple’s bittersweet divorce is an emotional roller-coaster for me, reflecting the past and taking notes for the future. I know, I made watching film sounds like taking a class.

Terminator: Dark Fate

My family loves the Terminator franchise, so I would have enjoy Dark Fate regardless, but as it turns out, the multi-starer combines nostalgia and jaw-dropping action sequences. Money worth spent.

Joker

This one is tricky. I knew I would enjoyed Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as Joker, but I was anxious about the film. But, voila! Halfway through I was rooting for Joker to do all the evil stuff that left me feeling queasy and questioned my morals after it ends.

Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood

Let me say it, the first hour of Tarantino’s love letter to Hollywood’s golden age is boring. There, judge me all you want, but you know I am right. However, once Brad Pitt was over at the Spahn’s parking lot and Dakota Fanning answered the door, I was hooked. The bloody-ending also helped with the dog and the flamethrower.

Aladdin

As I mentioned on my other list, I was disappointed by Disney’s live-action films. But, Aladdin is surprisingly wonderful. The actors, production set, songs, choreography, magic carpet… worked well together. Plus, I listened and sang to “A Whole New World” for a month or two after that and I loved every moment of it.

Pokémon Detective Pikachu

Hold your horses. Yes, I add Detective Pikachu to the list cause’ I frigging loved the film! It’s no Ash and his adventure, but it’s pretty darn good. The faux-Tokyo streets, psyduck, pikachu and mewtwo, the fight, flying, buildings, ryan reynolds (ok maybe not him) are so, so good.

Midsommar

I was expecting this to be another Hostel situation, but it’s… weirder than that. Maybe it’s the ethereal Sweden background, or the drawings, or the fucked-up ritual, Midsommar is a great cult-hit.

Ready or Not

It’s so rare to have a good thriller with an equally good ending, or in this case a gory, explosive ending. Ready or Not is by far the most-entertaining thrillers this year that screams fun, fun and fun. Thinking it back, I enjoyed this more than Peele’s US.

Yes, I said it… again.

Ford V Ferrari

Not a big fan of racing genres (fun fact, I stopped watching Fast & Furious after Tokyo Drift), but who knew Ford V Ferrari is so much more than that? Christian Bale’s epic performance as Ken Miles is inspiring and heart-breaking at the same time. Brava!

Alita: Battle Angel

Alita is what Ready Player One is for 2018. Amazing CGI, action scenes and script – I read the comic book afterwards, but the film is much better.

The Two Popes

A good Catholic sensation (think Doubt, Spotlight) makes for a great film and The Two Popes is no different. Starring Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins as two different God men with separate ideologies, the dialogues here are literature-worthy and the performances are one of the best.

The Irishman

Who knew Scorsese directing another mafia film would actually be his best? I enjoyed MS’ films in general, but mafia-genre isn’t my favourite. But, there’s something special about watching Robert DeNiro as Frank Sheeran and Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa. The two polar characters create great entertainment, while the jaw-dropping twist really punched me in the stomach. I ended up liking Frank a little too much, and I really wished Peggy would talk to him. Scorsese, you bastard!

Parasite

Wow. Wow. Wow.

I have seen Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite about six months ago and I still can remember its dark-humour scenes vividly. Remember when Ki-Woo and family ate together in their damp apartment? When Park Yeon-gyo savour that delicious ramen noodles? Jessica tutoring the kid? Or when the family has to hide underneath the table when the Park’s return? Parasite is a testament that not every masterpiece should/would derived from Hollywood and that’s a very exciting thing.

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2 thoughts on “13 Wonderfully Surprising Films of 2019

  1. Orca Flotta

    Out of this list I only watched …

    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood:
    https://orcaflotta.blog/2019/12/12/otm-another-roundhouse-kick/
    Disappointingly boring. Tarantino at his film-scholar bragging best.

    Alita:
    https://orcaflotta.blog/2019/07/01/otm-alita-battle-angel/
    I’d expected more from this anime adaptation but maybe the source material wasn’t good enough.

    Parasite:
    https://orcaflotta.blog/2019/11/21/otm-parasite-gisaengchung/
    Super movie, did everything right, and then some. I didn’t like it,actually suffered through it. 😦

  2. 13mesh

    I guess I know which one in Parasite you’re talking about, I felt it was bit “meh”, but didn’t affect the film too much 😀

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