I hope you’ve been enjoying your leftovers this Boxing Day. We’ve already counted down the worst blockbusters of 2019, with some interesting films being thrown into the mix together, and now, as we come to the end of the two-day Bank Holiday here in the UK, it’s time to look at the very best big budget movies the year has had to offer.
There have been some real highlights this year. Some have been unexpectedly great, while others we always knew they would turn out to be fab. Here are my picks for the best movies of 2019 (from the blockbuster category of course).
#5 Avengers: Endgame
What a behemoth of a film this was. The conclusion of a staggering number of films that began way back in 2008, Avengers: Endgame was a huge ask of the Russo brothers and a cast of characters that is way too big for any film. Nevertheless, the end result was a beautifully shot film, filled with incredible performances and great special effects. Some of the more poignant moments were disappointingly brief, but as an exercise in how to make a blockbuster, this ticks all the boxes.
#4 Pokémon: Detective Pikachu
Detective Pikachu has a special place in my heart, mainly because I grew up absolutely adoring Pokémon and wishing they would bring these lovable creatures into the live-action arena. Of course, that didn’t happen until this year when Ryan Reynolds played the titular ball of electric cuteness. As a film, it’s not particularly original, but as a video game movie, it’s just the best. The special effects are on point, there’s something pleasing character development and true emotional heart.
Director Dexter Fletcher is no stranger to the musical biopic. But where Bohemian Rhapsody was a little flabby around the edges, Rocketman is taut, nicely directed and features an Oscar-worthy performance from Taron Egerton as Elton John. The music is very nicely integrated into the film and features some of John’s best hits. It’s also super stylish and represents a good leap for films that represent the LGBT community.
I swapped about between Joker and my number one pick numerous times before deciding on the positions that they are in now. Todd Phillips’ Joker is one of the best “super” films of all time, never mind of 2019. Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal as the clown with the Chelsea smile is never anything but eerie, and his dedication to the role is clear throughout the runtime. This is not a film you can sit down and enjoy in the typical sense, but my god, it packs a punch. If this is the direction DC is heading in, I’m excited for what’s to come.
#1 How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
It’s not the first time that this franchise has appeared at the top of my end of year retrospective. HTTYD2 is in my mind one of the finest family films ever made, and the conclusion of the trilogy this year with The Hidden World cemented it as a true future classic, and one of the great trilogies of our time. The culmination of this engrossing story, coupled with a gorgeous soundtrack and exceptional animation make it the very best film of the year. That main theme will never not give me goosebumps.
Most underrated film of 2019:
Alita: Battle Angel – A labour of love from director Robert Rodriguez and producer James Cameron, Alita was released at the very beginning of the year and was missed by many. It was a beautifully shot film that showed the progress made in MOCAP technology. It grossed just $400million on a budget of over $200million (plus marketing). What a shame.
Aladdin – Better than the other two live-action remakes released by Disney this year, Aladdin was a stellar effort from director Guy Ritchie. Will Smith’s questionable genie (from the trailers at least) proved to be one of his best roles in years, carefully carving a new path for a character so pertinent to Robin Williams.
Spider-Man: Far From Home – Finishing off Marvel’s Phase 3 was never going to be an easy task for any film, never mind one that had to pick up the torch from the ending of Avengers: Endgame. While Far From Home wasn’t quite as good as Homecoming, it had another arresting villain in Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio, and Tom Holland is the perfect webslinger for this generation.
Toy Story 4 – Another lovely franchise closer among many for 2019. Toy Story 4 has heart in spades and delivers emotion by the bucket load. The animation has been really stepped up a gear, and along with How to Train Your Dragon 3, proves just how far we’ve come since these franchises began all those years ago.