2019 was a stellar year for films. A wonderful way to end the decade. The films for “Best and “Worst” are listed in alphabetical order. Enjoy.

 Best Films of 2019 In Alphabetical Order   

A Marriage Story (rated R) ---Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver are the couple who marry and then begin to wonder what is happening to their marriage. Told with sparkle and Laura Dern who is an attorney, is one you want on your side. 

Amazing Grace (no rating) ---Aretha Franklin shines in the music world and this documentary of how she got her start is natural and down to earth. 

Knives Out (rated PG 13) ---Agatha Christie would have liked this film that combines family relations and greed with suspense and who-done-it. You may not recognize Daniel Craig right away and Don Johnson is having too much fun here. 

Little Women (PG 13) ---Greta Gerwig’s presentation of the Louisa May Alcott story of sisters trying to achieve their best in the 19th century.  This story never gets old. Stars Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Meryl Streep and Laura Dern. 

The Irishman (rated R) ---Martin Scorsese has done it in this story of a mob hit man who reminisces about his life, when he is in his declining years. Robert De Niro has the title role, but Joe Pesci (maybe an Oscar) steals his scenes. 

Motherless Brooklyn (rated R) ---Edward Norton does the jobs of script adaptation, director and star in a film about boys who escaped the orphanage system to become private detectives and what a wild life it becomes. Norton plays a detective with Tourette’s Syndrome. 

The Two Popes (PG 13) ---Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict XVI   and Jonathan Pryce as Cardinal Bergoglio (later to become Pope Francis) meet and converse about the Church, politics, music and get to know each other. The audience can understand  theological reasoning and against the background of Rome. 

Judy (PG 13) ---Renee Zellweger takes the role of the late Judy Garland and runs with it (probably to an Oscar) for her portrayal of a troubled woman behind the scenes. 

Arctic (R)---Mads Mikkelsen in a solo performance of a man trying to find help in a frozen wilderness that seems endless. Just reading this makes one shiver. 

The Mustang (rated R) ---Matthias Schoenaerts plays a convict on a horse rehab ranch and learns how, not only to feel affection for another being, but to know himself, too.  All against the background of the wide vista West. 

Almost Ran

Pavarotti (documentary)--- story of famed operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti and the film is directed by Ron Howard. 

Peanut Butter Falcon (PG 13) ---a story of finding one’s self in a world where to have Down’s Syndrome is to be treated differently.  Shia LaBeouf and Zack Gottsagen make the film shine. 

Star Wars (rated PG 13) ---this is the last of the “original Star Wars” films, and having lived with their characters for most of my life, this is a fitting farewell. Adios, amigos.  Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver star. 

The Laundromat (rated R) ---not washing clothes by any means, this is laundering money and the story takes the audience to various locales as we see what not paying your bills can add up to. Meryl Streep and Gary Oldman star. 

Abominable (PG) – an animated film with heart, conservation-minded, family and a girl violinist who can charm a forest. Families are a combination of features, but all with love. 


Best Independent Films Reviewed In 2019

A Ghost Light (PG 13) ---Cary Elwes and Carol Kane are part of a traveling theater group performing in an unusual place. 

Chasing The Win (PG)---a documentary about raising and training a race horse to run with the Queen’s champions. Director Laura Sheehy. 

Purdah (rated PG) ---Jeremy Guy’s documentary on a girl in India who wants to be a cricket player. 

Tater Tot and Patton (rated PG 13) --- Jessica Rothe and Bates Wilder agree to disagree in the farmlands of the Midwest in this story of finding family in unusual places.


Worst Films of 2019 in Alphabetical Order 

Brightburn (R)---as if Kansas didn’t have enough to worry about, here comes an alien from space to terrify everyone. Stars Elizabeth Banks and Jackson A. Dunn. 

Cats (PG 13) ---Your favorite stars dressed in exotic costume, belting out lyrics and leave audiences wondering where animal control was at the moment. So many stars---Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, Judi Dench and Ian McKellen---where is the plot? 

Dark Phoenix (PG 13) ---what happens when individual characters from a hero comic group, have their own film. Does not compute. Stars Sophie Turner as Jean Grey. 

Doctor Sleep (R)---Ewan McGregor should have skipped this one and gotten a part in “Star Wars” instead. 

Horror Film Haven (rated R) ---Includes such titles as “Annabelle Comes Home,” “Child’s Play,” “Crawl,” “Midsommar” and “Us”.  Predictable outcomes with the exception of “Us” which left audience with question of “what just happened?” 

Joker (R)---Joaquin Phoenix does a joker as only he can, but the story line was rambling and audiences could wonder when Batman would appear. 

1917 (R)---Director Sam Mendes has two films in one here.  The first half is a story and the second half wanders around the European countryside during WWI wartime. Roger Deakins cinematography, though,  is a teaching class in itself. 

Richard Jewell (R)---taking a story from the headlines, Clint Eastwood has directed a film that has dramatic moments, but those moments do not make a film. 

The Kitchen (R)---the ladies living within the Mob take matters into their own hands, and should have left well enough alone. Stars Melissa McCarthy. 

Where’d You Go Bernadette (PG 13) ---When this woman leaves home, she leaves home, period, such as Antarctica?  The story line wanders. Stars Cate Blanchett. 

Copyright 2020 Marie Asner