My 2019 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: The Top Ten

The Farewell!

Okay, who wants to tell Grandma that Awkwafina won a Golden Globe and she didn’t?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: In 2019 I made 28 trips to the theater to see films made that same year. In Part 1 we ranked the majority from pretty-keen to The Worst. And now, the countdown concludes with the ten most relatively awesome:

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My 2019 at the Movies, Part 1 of 2: Everything Below the Top Ten

James McAvoy!

James McAvoy gave his all for three different movies, all sunken into this list’s bottom half. Better luck next year, my dude.

It’s listing time again! In today’s entertainment consumption sphere, all experiences must be pitted against each other and assigned numeric values that are ultimately arbitrary to anyone except the writer themselves. It’s just this fun thing some of us love doing even though the rules are made up and the points don’t matter.

I saw 32 films in theaters in 2019 — another new personal record, beating last year’s record-breaking — but four were Best Picture nominees officially released in 2018 and therefore disqualified from this list, because I’m an unreasonable stickler about dates. Ranking those four from Best to Least Best:

  1. The Favourite
  2. Vice
  3. Bohemian Rhapsody
  4. Green Book

Of the remaining 28 contenders that I saw in theaters, we had seven super-hero films; three animated films; nine non-superhero sequels, two of those animated; just one prequel; and four book adaptations. Obviously you’ll note the following list is far from comprehensive in covering 2019’s release slate. Once again this was a busy year during which I failed to spend gas money on every film that caught my attention.

Here’s the rundown of what I didn’t miss in theaters in 2019, for better or worst-of-the-worst. Links to past reviews and thoughts are provided for historical reference. And now, on with the bottom half of the countdown:

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Yes, There Are Scenes During and After the “Toy Story 4” End Credits

Toy Story 4!

Utensil friend and me! Utensil friend and me! When your aunt makes her chili, or you’re eating cole slaw at KFC…

The Toy Story trilogy remains an unparalleled cinematic achievement in animation with its track record of consistent excellence through every chapter. The original put Pixar on the map and legitimized three-dimensional computer animation as a feature film-making medium. The follow-up was loaded with at least as much humor and heart, and arguably topped the original for some viewers. The grand finale may have been a hairbreadth beneath its predecessors in quality, but it brought the series full circle, gave us fully satisfactory closure on the saga of Andy’s room, and remains the only animated sequel ever nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. All three remain shining jewels in Pixar’s crown, a fixture in millions of childhoods, and an object lesson for anyone who wants to teach kids what grade-A movies look like so that they can judge the hollow offerings of other Hollywood studios all the more harshly.

It’s therefore with a sigh that we now give a round of polite, lukewarm applause for the arrival of Toy Story 4, the Zeppo of the series. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, mind you.

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My 2018 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: The Year’s Least Worst

mary poppins returns!

Off we go!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: In 2018 I made 24 trips to the theater to see films made that same year. In Part 1 we ranked the bottom twelve. And now, the countdown concludes with the twelve most relatively awesome:

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My 2018 at the Movies, Part 1 of 2: The Year’s Least Best

pacific rim uprising!

We live in topsy-turvy times when Transformers don’t star in the worst robot film of the year.

It’s listing time again! In today’s entertainment consumption sphere, all experiences must be pitted against each other and assigned numeric values that are ultimately arbitrary to anyone except the writer themselves. It’s just this fun thing some of us love doing even though the rules are made up and the points don’t matter.

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“Incredibles 2”: Further Feats of the Fantastic Five

Incredibles 2!

The expressions every time Emily Blunt gets top billing over some quote-unquote “A-list” dude.

Writer/director Brad Bird’s 2004 The Incredibles remains one of my all-time favorite Pixar films, and not just because it was about superheroes. I could relate to a film about an aging guy who considers himself talented but thinks he should be doing something better with his life, but whose family had much more important concerns than his, and everyone has to dive deep into their conflicts but come out all the stronger for it as a unit. And a film where there are spectacular chase scenes. And just so happens to draw on seventy years of mainstream super-hero culture.

Fourteen years later Incredibles 2 brings back Bird and the family to pick up where they left off. But are the viewers in the same place fourteen years later?

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Yes, There’s a Scene After the “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” End Credits

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom!

Can scaly and sweaty live together in perfect harmony?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: in 2015 we saw Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World, groused a little, but ultimately thought:

While the human interactions grow increasingly awkward and superfluous in the final hour, I’d have to be a humorless, eightysomething stick-in-the-mud to rebuke the film’s grandest spectacle, the great big Godzillatastic dino-bashing showdown that so blatantly aims for the kid’s heart in all of us. I have to wonder if it was the first scene they wrote, and then the rest of the screenplay was reverse-engineered purely to make it happen by any plot device necessary. I wish life had found a way for the rest of Jurassic World to match that same giddy zeal, or the heartwarming cleverness of too-brief scenes like the baby triceratops petting zoo or the one touching moment where The Land Before Time meets Where the Red Fern Grows. And it’s a shame the wink-wink self-parody gags are short-lived. On average, though, this stockholder-pleasing sequel is thankfully a bit more fun than flipping through a museum gift shop catalog.

Once again it’s time for a trip to the deadliest theme park known to man, but at least this time they’re not selling tickets to future civilian casualties. With the next chapter Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Spanish director J.A. Bayona (The Impossible, Penny Dreadful) revisits the blockbuster-thriller foundation that Steven Spielberg laid down in the original with gusto, succumbs to bouts of sequelitis, but finds ways to make at least a few dinosaurs exciting all over again.

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My 2017 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: The Year’s Least Worst

Last Jedi!

The indefatigable Rey, future head of the New Jedi Order alongside her new best pal Mara Jade. Look, we can dream, okay?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: In 2017 I made 21 trips to the theater to see films made that same year. In Part 1 we ranked the bottom eleven. And now, the countdown concludes:

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My 2017 at the Movies, Part 1 of 2: The Year’s Least Best

Transformers 5!

Academy Award Winner Sir Anthony Hopkins, exchanging Merchant Ivory dignity for the opportunity to earn zillions spouting toy robot origin gibberish and Witwicky family lineage mythology balderdash.

It’s listing time again! In today’s entertainment consumption sphere, all experiences must be pitted against each other and assigned numeric values that are ultimately arbitrary to anyone except the writer themselves. It’s just this fun thing some of us love doing even though the rules are made up and the points don’t matter.

I saw twenty-five films in theaters in 2017, but four were Best Picture nominees officially released in 2016 and therefore disqualified from this list, because I’m an unreasonable stickler about dates. (Ranking those four from Best to Least Best: Fences, Lion, Hidden Figures, and Manchester by the Sea. Of those four, nothing has haunted me throughout 2017 more than the Attack of the 50-Foot Viola Davis.)

Of the remaining 21 contenders that I saw in theaters, we had eight super-hero sequels or continuations, though one of them didn’t reveal that till the final scene; five non-superhero sequels; one reboot; two adaptations of printed works (one already famously done); one non-superhero animated film (possibly an all-time low for me); and four live-action original works. Obviously you’ll note the following list is far from comprehensive in covering 2017’s release slate. This was such a busy year for us that spare time for theater-going was in much shorter supply than usual, to say nothing of the impact that Netflix’s strong TV-series slate has had on my viewing habits. On the bright side, 21 films is a 10% increase over my total for 2016, which wasn’t much of a year.

(For what it’s worth, I decided to set aside most Oscar-potential films until after the official nominations announcement is made on January 23rd. I definitely plan to get around to Get Out soon, and for light kicks maybe Cars 3 if it ever reaches Netflix, where I noticed the other day they now have Pirates of the Caribbean 5 for any die-hard cheapskate Captain Jack Sparrow fans willing to kill 2½ hours to catch up on his antics. Last year I was not one of those.)

In the meantime, here’s what I didn’t miss in theaters in 2017, for better or worst-of-the-worst. Links to past reviews and thoughts are provided for historical reference. And now, on with the bottom half of the countdown:

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My 2016 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: The Year’s Least Worst

Ghostbusters!

Not perfect, but still 100 times better than Sucker Punch.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: In 2016 I made 19 trips to the theater to see films made that same year (well, 20 to be honest — I saw one of them twice). In Part 1 we ranked the bottom nine. And now, the countdown concludes:

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My 2016 at the Movies, Part 1 of 2: The Year’s Least Best

Bruce Wayne!

My absolute favorite moment in what was not the Year’s Worst Film.

Once again it’s National List Month, that only time of year when all of Hollywood buys “For Your Consideration” ads in newspapers to impress the AMPAS over-70 voting bloc. Meanwhile on the internet, where newspapers can’t touch us except when they’re spreading propaganda or puff pieces that their supporters have pre-approved, we dedicated theater-goers can overlook the stars’ campaigns, hash out our opinions free of influence, and vote with our bullet points. It’s just this fun thing some of us love doing even though the rules are made up and the points don’t matter.

I saw twenty-two films in theaters in 2016, but three were Best Picture nominees released in 2015 and therefore disqualified from this list, because I’m an unreasonable stickler about dates. (Ranking those from Best to Least Best: Room, The Big Short, and The Revenant…though throughout the year I mentioned The Big Short in conversations more often than any other 2015 film.) Disqualified from inclusion are four 2016 releases I watched via Netflix, Redbox, or Black Friday Bluray (which are ranked in that entry), because I let convenience and budgetary concerns talk me out of a few extra theater trips.

Of the remaining 19 contenders that I saw in theaters, I saw nine sequels (five of which were super-hero universe expansion packs), one reboot, one would-be big-budget YA series launch, three Based on a True Story (none of which were grade-A), five animated films (two of which were not-great sequels included in said count), one original musical and one original science fiction film. To be honest, 19 may be the fewest films I’ve seen in theaters in any year so far this millennium. Here’s hoping 2017 tempts me out the front door a bit more often, time permitting and quality pending.

Links to past reviews and thoughts are provided for historical reference. And now, on with the lower half of the countdown:

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My 2015 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: The Year’s Least Worst

Ultron!

2015’s movie theme: The Year of Trying to Bury Your Father.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Once again it’s National List Month, when all of Hollywood runs down to Hallmark and buys “For Your Consideration” cards to mail out to their fifty thousand closest friends. Meanwhile on the internet, where no one sends us free stuff to buy our love, we dedicated theater-goers are forced to make up our own minds, revisit our opinions, and vote with our bullet points. I saw twenty-six films in theaters in 2015, but five were Best Picture nominees released in 2014 and therefore disqualified from this list, even though two of them amazed me, because I’m an unreasonable stickler about dates…

And now, on with the countdown:

Right this way for our picks of the year’s best films!

“Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”: Spy vs. Spy vs. Spy vs. Spy

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation!

We once lived in a cinematic age when pushing a series to five or more installments was a generally unwise move. Rocky V. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. Superman Returns. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. An unwatchable army of various grade-Z horror also-rans that made it to #5 only through the undiscerning benevolence of the direct-to-VHS market. Many of us remain thankful the producers of Jaws and Lethal Weapon quit while they were behind.

Today, sequel failure is no longer a given. X-Men: Days of Future Past and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix may not be the greatest of either franchise, but they’re nonetheless commendable works that furthered their sagas, asked more of their actors, challenged themselves to create their own unique moments, and validated their existence. They confirmed it can be done. Along that same line of logic comes Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Any other series built around any other A-list star might be accused of being a soulless cash-grabbing machine if they repeated a role this many times. Maybe not all the parts are brand new, but the ones that worked before shine up really nicely and fit together into interesting new shapes if you know how to tweak them.

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“Jurassic World”: Johnny Karate’s Super Awesome Wild Kingdom

Jurassic World!

Drunk Gyrosphere accidents are probably why all the Jurassic World Boardwalk restaurants stopped serving alcohol years ago.

After a fourteen-year suspension due to unremarkable behavior, the world’s greatest CG-animated dinosaurs are back! All your favorite monsters and toys have returned in Jurassic World with a few new friends and plenty of merchandise for everyone. For viewers who also like actors, they’ve invited a very special guest: this year’s It Guy, Chris Pratt from Parks & Rec, Guardians of the Galaxy, and nifty supporting parts in lots of other, smaller movies that all led up to his second, even bigger opportunity to headline a CG-heavy big-budget summer action blockbuster. Those of us who first knew him as Ann Perkins’ freeloading boyfriend Andy Dwyer can all agree we never, ever dreamed of the places he would go.

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The Super Bowl XLIX Movie Spot Roundup

Tomorrowland!

George Clooney and director Brad Bird welcome you to the World of Tomorrow!

Longtime MCC readers know sports aren’t really my thing, and Super Bowl XLIX is no exception. My wife and I spent the evening dining out, trying new foods, and wandering a deserted downtown Indianapolis to our heart’s content with virtually no other humans around. And then I came home and waited patiently for the internet to tell me which new movie spots I missed.

Please join me in sampling the following summer action blockbuster EXPLOSIONS-filled mini-teaser trailers that apparently aired during the Big Game. Leaving out Seth MacFarlane’s Ted 2 (bleah) and the one infamous gargantuan big-budget slashfic adaptation (zero intention of watching a single trailer for it, let alone the movie), the internet notified me of six different contenders that may or may not make zillions this year at the box office:

Right this way for potential movie awesomeness! Plus a very special party-ruining appearance by the Nationwide Kid!

My 2014 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: the Year’s Least Worst

Interstellar!

“…so then I said to the bull, ‘Take the long way, huh? Thank you, Cyrus.’ So I turned my Mercury around and just kept going and going and…next thing you know, here I am.”

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Once again January is National List Month, that left-brained time of year when everyone’s last twelve months of existence must be removed from their mental filing cabinets, reexamined, and refiled in specific pecking order from Greatest to Most Grating. The final tabulations reveal I saw 19 films in theaters in 2014 and four via On Demand while they were still in limited release…

And now, on with the countdown:

Right this way for the Year’s Best Films according to some guy!

My 2014 at the Movies, Part 1 of 2: the Year’s Least Best

Horns!

Harry was pretty sure he’d gone terribly wrong somewhere on his Defense Against the Dark Arts homework.

Once again January is National List Month, that left-brained time of year when everyone’s last twelve months of existence must be removed from their mental filing cabinets, reexamined, and refiled in specific pecking order from Greatest to Most Grating. Here on Midlife Crisis Crossover, we enjoy our annual tradition of spending at least two posts looking back at our year in movies, trying to remember what we thought about them at the time and ultimately deciding which films can beat up which other films. When I reach that realization that my opinions sometimes change over time upon further reflection or second viewings, that’s when the process turns messy and I end up hating my own list. But internet bylaws insist it must be done. And I like lists more than I like internet bylaws.

The final tabulations reveal I saw 19 films in theaters in 2014 (tying with 2007 and 2010 as worst moviegoing years ever) and four via On Demand while they were still in limited release. This count doesn’t include seven 2013 films I attended in 2014 for Oscar-chasing purposes, or any films I watched on home video long after their theatrical run. As one sad example, this harsh rule of mine disqualifies Boyhood from the list since I just watched it via Redbox rental two nights ago. If I’d gotten out of the house for a three-hour theater visit just one more time last summer, it would’ve made my Top 3. Consider this paragraph my version of a Very Honorable Mention.

Links to past reviews and thoughts are provided for historical reference. On with the reverse countdown, then:

Right this way for the weakest of the herd!

My 2013 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: the Year’s Least Worst

Matt Damon, Elysium

The Bourne Upgrade. District 18. Green Zone 3000. Good Will Exploding. And so on, and so on.


Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Once again January is National List Month, that magical time of year when everyone’s last twelve months of existence must be dehydrated, crammed into enumerated little packets, and lined up on the shelf in subjective order for re-inspection. The final tabulations reveal I saw twenty-five films in theaters in 2013 and one via On Demand while it was still in limited art-house release…

And now, the countdown concludes:

13. Elysium. Some say the 99%-vs.-1% feud will end in negotiations; some say in explosions. Neill Blomkamp’s sophomore extrapolation of the effect of humanity’s self-hatred on its own future stops asking questions halfway through and solves nearly everything with chases and showdowns between Matt Damon’s everyman underdog imperfect sinner Average Joe antihero and Sharlto Copley’s cyborg Snidely Whiplash. In some respects this deserved to be ranked a lot lower, but something about Blomkamp’s vivid underclass aesthetic and leftover District 9 effects cachet boosted it a tad unfairly over the other popcorn-film competition.

This way for #12 through #1…

My 2013 at the Movies, Part 1 of 2: the Year’s Least Best

The Rock, Bruce Willis, GI Joe Retaliation

John McClane and the Scorpion King: sequel survivors perpetuating the vicious circle of lame.

Once again January is National List Month, that magical time of year when everyone’s last twelve months of existence must be dehydrated, crammed into enumerated little packets, and lined up on the shelf in subjective order for re-inspection. MCC’s first full calendar year consequently allowed me to submit entries for everything I saw in theaters in 2013. Even if this site didn’t exist, since 2000 I’ve saved lists of every trip I’ve made to the cinema, year by year. The best part of this compulsion is rereading previous years’ lists and seeing names I no longer remember. (Disney’s Teacher’s Pet? Past Me swears my son and I saw it, but we’ve mutually wiped it from memory.)

The final tabulations reveal I saw twenty-five films in theaters in 2013 and one via On Demand while it was still in limited art-house release. This count doesn’t include five 2012 films I attended in 2013 for Oscar-chasing purposes, or any old films I watched on home video. Because lists such as this one must have rules.

Links to past reviews and musings are provided for historical reference. On with the reverse countdown, then:

26. GI Joe: Retaliation. Once again Hollywood forgets the lessons learned from Halloween 3 and Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift — i.e., if you dump too much of the original cast, why even bother with a theatrical release? While Ray Park is good for a few minutes of aerial man’s-man ballet, Bruce Willis and the Rock are called in as scabs from other macho action series to shoulder the rest of this silly, overlong commercial for military weaponry and boys’ toys, in that order.

This way for #25 through #14…

Spoilers for “It’s a Wonderful Life 2: the Final Bell Rings”

It's a Wonderful Life

Nope. They don’t believe it, either.

Because nothing good can remain untarnished and self-contained:

Variety reported Tuesday a small movie company that doesn’t own It’s a Wonderful Life is planning an official sequel — somehow, for some reason, possibly because greed minus self-awareness. Tentatively titled It’s a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story, the superfluous production will show George’s grandson being taught a lesson by his aunt Zuzu, now transformed into an angel. The company is hoping for a holiday 2015 release so it can compete against Star Wars Episode VII and look that much more foolish.

So what else could they possibly do?

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