2019 has had its ups and downs, but it’s certainly been a great year at the theater. Here are what we at Fangirlish think are the best movie moments from 2019!
The Wandering Earth
Wow! Based on the novella of the same name, The Wandering Earth is a moving and beautifully shot cinematic experience. I don’t normally watch a lot of foreign language films, but this one came so highly recommended, I had to see it. The courage and self-sacrifice shown by Liu Peiqiang (Jing Wu) at the end had me choking up. This one is worth seeking out.
I’ve always been a Marvel girl, but had minimal knowledge of Captain Marvel going into this film. I left wanting to get my paws on every Captain Marvel book ever made. I think the piece of this film that sticks with me the most is watching Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) blast Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) into a crater and saying, “I have nothing to prove to you.” This film made me really stop and consider how many times I’ve changed my own behavior to try to earn the “approval” of men, be it in work, hobbies, etc. when I should be walking in confidence for just being myself. Captain Marvel has nothing to prove and neither do I.
I love a good horror movie and Jordan Peele’s work is always worth checking out, not just for a solid horror flick, but also for his poignant social commentary. Us has a phenomenal cast, score, and absolutely gorgeous cinematography. While there are so many things to appreciate about Us, Adelaide and Red’s final showdown is one of the most brilliantly shot fight scenes I’ve ever seen, especially with one actress playing two characters! The choreography, the music, the camera work, and lighting combine to create a powerhouse of cinematic art with this scene. I watch it with my jaw on the floor every time! If Lupita doesn’t get an Oscar nom (and frankly, she deserves an Oscar win for this), I’ll be staging a revolt. Aside from the top notch performances, Us might be the most important film of 2019. It’s not one to miss.
I was expecting to enjoy Shazam! for a few reasons–first, it’s a superhero film, which is always in my wheelhouse. Second, I adore Zachary Levi and want him to be my big brother. Third, a superhero comedy from DC is not something you see every day, so I was eager to see what is effectively their cinematic response to Thor: Ragnarok. I was certainly to expecting to laugh myself silly. I was NOT expecting to ugly cry and effectively have an emotional therapy session in the movie theater, but that was what Shazam! did for me. If I must choose a favorite part, I think it’s where Billy chooses to truly become a hero. “If a superhero can’t save his family, he’s not much of a hero.” Shazam!’s message about what it really means to be a hero (doing the right thing to care for and protect the innocent, even when it’s not safe to do so) and the theme of found family deliver an emotional gut punch for me every time. This one is worth watching again and again.
Endgame brought about some mixed reviews from our crew, but I’d have to say the best moment for me in the entire film is “She’s got help,” revealing every single super lady in the bunch. I wept. I want to go back to my 10 year old self and tell her that it’s okay that she loves comic books and superheroes and wants to be a superhero, even if practically everyone in her life thinks it’s dumb, save for a few friends (no other girls though). I want to tell her that she’s just avante garde; that in a few years she’ll get multiple superhero movies a year and there will be more than one girl superhero on her screen. That was a punch in my feels, but even more so because I know my niece will never have to grow up in a world where there are no female superheroes on her screen.
I’ve long admired the work and life of J. R. R. Tolkien, but the Tolkien biopic really got me. While there are some things that would make Tolkien scholars quibble, overall what really punched me in the feels was the way the film portrayed Tolkien working out his PTSD through his art. His story has done much to help me cope with and work out hard things in my own life, Tolkien’s included. I was so grateful for the scene when Tolkien met with his friend’s mother. “I believe this can change the world.” It did. It still does today. It will in the future.
I’ll take or leave any of the live action remakes of Disney films, but Aladdin was really something special. The entire cast was great, but what really took my breath away was Naomi Scott as Jasmine, especially her new song, “Speechless.” I love the adjustments made to the story, giving Jasmine more agency, but “Speechless” really captures the heart of those changes, especially with Naomi Scott’s vocals behind it.
Ready or Not
Ridiculous premise. Top notch horror-comedy execution. Ready or Not was a surprising amount of fun, but the way I know the film connected with me is that by the end I wanted to cosplay Grace–wedding dress, orange Chuck Taylor high tops, bandolier, and shotgun over my shoulder. The finale of this film had me cracking up laughing in a crowded theater. It held up for me on the second go around as well. Her transition from victim to full on heroine really sealed the deal for me. This is one worth watching.
I normally stick to the sci-fi/fantasy/horror/superhero genres when it comes to film, but I made an exception for The Farewell. I have a bit of a girl crush on Awkwafina. I love her voice and she never fails to make me laugh. When I saw the preview for The Farewell, I knew I had to see Awkwafina do a heart-wrenching drama. The tension felt in the family dynamic is so relatable, but watching the relationship between Billi (Awkwafina) and her grandmother is really what sealed the deal for me. Her grandmother’s humor and gentle nature reminded me of my own and endeared her to me. Watching Billi say goodbye to her grandmother as she gets in that cab was an emotional gut punch. I loved it. Check this one out if you missed it in the theater.
IT Chapter Two
There are so many things to enjoy about Stephen King’s IT, whether you’re looking at one of the film adaptations or the book, but what I enjoyed about IT Chapter Two is the same thing I enjoy about the story in general–watching adults process and face down their childhood trauma. Pennywise has always been the physical manifestation of that trauma, but he’s also a metaphor for the trauma. The final showdown each character has with themselves, which subsequently allows them to beat Pennywise, is what puts the finale of Andy Muschietti’s IT adaptation on my list. IT reminds the viewer that not only the evil that we’ve faced in our lives is real and that we must face it, but also that it can be beaten. That’s a story worth telling any day of the year.
Terminator: Dark Fate
The Terminator series is the one James Cameron creation that I really love, aside from Aliens. Even if it adheres to nearly every science fiction trope in existence, Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor is one of my favorite sci-fi leading ladies because of how she transitions from victim to survivor to kick-ass defender. Of all the previous films, I think the first and second are the best, but Dark Fate just dethroned all of them as my favorite of the Terminator franchise. First, we have the return of Linda Hamilton, who previously said she’d never do another Terminator after her grueling filming experience during T2. I squealed with delight at the first preview when she showed up. I also decided that I would comb baby powder into my hair and get a lot of big guns for my next cosplay as Sarah Connor. Second, Mackenzie Davis added herself to my list of cosplay goals with her performance as Grace. But finally, it was Natalia Reyes’ performance and her role as Dani that elevated the film for me. The first appearance of Sarah Connor in the film is my favorite moment. Sarah shows up, guns ablazin’, then tosses grenades like it’s nothing. This is the Sarah Connor that we should’ve seen in Terminator 3. I’m glad they effectively decanonized the later films with this one.
Did you catch Harriet at the theater? No? If you hurry, it might still be there. Cynthia Erivo’s performance in this biopic is what makes this film for me. While I was somewhat familiar with Harriet Tubman’s story, I had no idea about many of the other details of her life, particularly her methods of leading slaves to freedom (singing “Go Down, Moses”), the sheer number of times she made the trek, leading a Union company in the Civil War, and her Christian faith that compelled her to risk her life again and again to complete the task of setting the captives free. I left the theater moved, in awe, and in tears, not only by her courage, but because her story spoke to me on a spiritual level as well. Her line during her showdown with Gideon in the finale is my favorite moment from the film–
“You’ll die right here. On a frozen, blood-soaked battlefield, the moans of a generation of young men in your ears, dying in agony around you, for a lost cause. For a vile and wicked idea! For the sin of slavery! Can you hear them? God don’t mean people to own people, Gideon! Our time is near!”
Do NOT miss Harriet.
I’ll be the first to admit that The Shining isn’t my favorite Stephen King story, but Doctor Sleep was a lot of fun. Chronicling an adult Danny Torrance, Doctor Sleep is yet another Stephen King story about processing childhood trauma as an adult. However, what really made this a great watch is Rebecca Ferguson as Rose the Hat. I’d really only seen her in The Greatest Showman before, so I was pleasantly surprised to see her play someone truly sinister and evil. Watching her face off against Danny and Abra at the end of the film was a creepy and suspenseful delight.
I’ve loved every Rian Johnson film I’ve ever seen, so I was expecting to enjoy Knives Out. And with such a star-studded cast, there was very little doubt that I’d have fun with Knives Out. However, I was not prepared for just how hilarious, fascinating, fun, and culturally poignant Knives Out is. This is a film to watch with open eyes and open ears. Don’t leave the theater or you’ll miss something. In a cinematic world of adaptations, reboots, and sequels, an original script like Knives Out is a rare breed. The film is a modern-day parable, one you should bring your racist uncle to see, and then have an honest conversation with him afterwards. It’s the most fun I’ve had at the theater all year. My favorite part? The big reveal at the end. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, so I’ll tell you the part that made me laugh the most during the film–Ransom walking in and asking, “What is this? CSI KFC?” I knew it was coming and I still cackled. Run and catch this one at the theater before it’s gone.
There you have it–our best movie moments from 2019. Did we miss your favorite film? Leave a comment and share your favorite with us!