As a senior film major, I don’t know everything when it comes to film. However, I do greatly enjoy watching movies and I watched a lot of movies in 2019, and with the Oscars coming up this weekend I thought this was the perfect time to reflect on some of my favorite films from the year. Here is my opinion and reasons for what I claim to be the top 5 films of 2019.
Forever alone in a crowd, failed comedian Arthur Fleck seeks connection as he walks the streets of Gotham City. Arthur wears two masks — the one he paints for his day job as a clown, and the guise he projects in a futile attempt to feel like he’s part of the world around him. Isolated, bullied and disregarded by society, Fleck begins a slow descent into madness as he transforms into the criminal mastermind known as the Joker.
I know, I know. This film seems to be all people can talk about lately. But this film truly blew me away in every aspect. First off, Joaquin Phoenix is such an incredible actor, and his performance in this film does not disappoint. While I did not find this film too disturbing. The thing that stuck with me the most was known as an actor what mental place Joaquin had to get into. The camera work in this movie also blew me away. Every shot was so beautiful to look at I couldn’t look away. When I watched the film a second time I realized just how much symbolism was put into each shot whether that be lighting, positioning of the actors, or use of shadows. There is this thing in the theatre called the suspension of disbelief, and it is when the audience is no longer aware they are watching a play because they are so transported into another universe. Very few times in my life have I experienced this in a film, and this was one of them. The lighting and overall production design was incredible, and it all tied together amazingly.
Another thing I really liked about this movie was the themes and the overall message. The message of this movie in that society needs to be more supportive of the poor and the mentally take care of its people as well. The Joker in this film clearly has some mental problems, and he is left to rot by those around him. Society even takes away his therapist and meds from him. As a whole I think society has done a lot better in dealing with mental illness, but there is such a strong stigma against mental disorders and for those people this movie gave a strong warning to what becomes of a person who needs help and doesn’t receive it. We need to take care of each other and not turn our backs on the problems of everyday life.
Lastly, the psychological element I really enjoyed about this film is the idea that a criminal is made and not born. Arthur (Joker) has no knowledge he is becoming the leader of a political and social movement until the end of the movie. But everything that has happened in the movie and in his life has led him to act out the way he has. I’m not saying he is justified in murder, but it’s interesting that he still has some sense of moral. Notice in the scene with his two clown friends he kills the one that ultimately got him fired from his job in a bloody scene. However, the other friend that had only been nice to him he lets leave. Society and the way people have treated him make Auther into the leader of the movement we see at the end of the movie.
The Professor and the Madman
Based on the 1998 book `The Surgeon of Crowthorne’ by Simon Winchester, the life of Professor James Murray is portrayed as he begins work on compiling words for the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary in the mid-19th century. As he led the overseeing committee, the professor received over 10,000 entries from one source in particular – a patient at Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, Dr William Minor.
Unlike the Joker, I truly feel this movie has not talked this movie about enough. Sean Penn is also one of my all-time favorite actors, and his performance with Mel Gibson was amazing to watch on screen. The two actors had great stage chemistry that portrayed a deep forming friendship and brotherhood. I love watching films based on true stories, especially when I was not aware of the story to begin with. The thing I appreciate and love most about this film (beside the acting) is the writing and the plot structure. The film flows effortlessly and does a good job of transition through a period of time in order to tell the story. The dialogue given to the characters is really natural and engaging.
This film also deals with mental insanity and the audience also witnesses some unethical practices done by psychologists in mental institutions. The film does a good job of humanizing Dr. Minor’s character (Sean Penn) while showing how he really is struggling mentally. He suffers greatly from PTSD and the film takes on an interesting look at just how much that can impact a man and his life. I really am shocked and upset at how little attention this movie has received since it’s coming out.
Young Reginald Dwight changes his name to Elton John and collaborates with singer-songwriter Bernie Taupin to become one of the most iconic figures in pop history. Set to his most beloved songs, it’s the epic musical story of Elton John, his breakthrough years in the 1970s and his fantastical transformation from shy piano prodigy to international superstar.
I have always deeply appreciated Elton John’s work. In face, me and one of my dearest friends became friends to Rocketman back in high school. However, I never really knew all that much about his life story, only bits and pieces. Something I think really helped this film be as amazing as it was is that Elton John was so heavily involved in its creation process. Taron Egerton does such an incredible job portraying such an icon. I’m sure it helped to be able to interact with the real Elton John himself to do him justice.
One of my favorite elements of this film is how experimental it is. The way the movie transitions from dialogue into song is effortless and smooth. Each musical number is like watching a musical on screen and its done creativity and innovatively. I really enjoyed the use of color and symbolic shots in the film. The whole film is extravagantly done and is an emotional experience. It fully matches the style of Elton John and embodied his life in a creative way.
Throughout the entire film young Elton John is learning to love himself for who he is while battling past demons that have held him down. It gives a powerful message to the viewer regarding not caring what anything thinks of you but to do what you love and to be whoever you want to be. I think everybody has felt demons holding them down, or felt the fear of truly beings oneself. In this way, I think this film can touch almost anyone watching the film in a relatable way. While also making you respect Elton John even more for coming out on the other end stronger than ever.
Invited to his first kissing party, 12-year-old Max asks his best friends Lucas and Thor for some much-needed help on how to pucker up. When they hit a dead end, Max uses his father’s drone to spy on the teenage girls next door. When the boys lose the drone, they skip school and hatch a plan to retrieve it before Max’s dad can figure out what happened.
This film probably made me laugh the hardest of any film in 2019. The comedy of this film is really amusing as its someone an older audience can relate to. Most of the comedy of this film is centered around the three main characters in the films innocence and lack of knowledge when it comes to adult things. Which makes an easy laugh for the R-rated movie watchers as they are aware of what these objects really are and what they are used for. One of the most comedic parts is when the boys sell what they think to be a dummy to practice kissing on which is really a sex doll.
I also really enjoyed how this film addressed growing up and not always keeping the same best friends you had when you were little. People grow and change and this is something the movie did a nice job of addressing amongst all the comedy. This is also something I think most people watching the film could relate to from their own personal childhood. Overall, this film is a fun and enjoyable watch. It had me laughing every moment while still making some personal and relatable life events.
The Two Popes
Behind the Vatican walls, Pope Benedict and the future Pope Francis must find common ground to forge a new path for the Catholic Church.
This film was an enjoyable watch for me. All the production elements tied in perfect to create a uniform style for the film. I’ve heard some people say they didn’t like the movie because it was a little slow paced. Most of the movie is watching dialogue between the two Popes. However, this is something I really liked about the movie because it felt so realistic. I felt like I was watching two actual popes in a real-life situation.
The film did a good job of establishing both of its central characters in a way that the audience fell in love with both of them despite their vast differences. I also really enjoyed how the film tied in modern music and the soundtrack of the music tied in perfectly with the film as a whole. Another obvious impressive aspect of the film is the acting. Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins both did such a good job completely becoming the character they were portraying, it was easy to forget you were watching a film and not real-life events.
Lastly, I really enjoyed the look this film gave me into the life of the pope, and the initiation process to vote in the new pope. I did not understand how it worked with the cardinals getting together and releasing specific colored smoke to the public depending on whether they came to a consensus or not. It that retrospect this film was very informative and interesting to watch.