#MovieTalk 2019 Review

Feels like a good time for my final #MovieTalk… So what movie was the best? Guess what? THERE’S NO SUCH FUCKING THING… ART IS SUBJECTIVE YA BITCH… Don’t let these year-end lists fool you. Was this the year TV officially became better than the movies? I mean a number of pretty good movies dropped in 2019, perhaps even a handful of very good ones too but will we still be talking about any of them 10 years from now? Who knows?

Certainly not the underwhelming climax to the Skywalker Saga, or the starstudded bombastic payoff to Marvel’s 10 years of RDJ as Tony Stark. Perhaps not even the sublime coming together of DeNiro, Pacino and Scorcese at last. Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” is the one standout that feels like it’ll remain an integral part of film discourse for years to come but more on that in a bit. (Oh and perhaps “Joker” too which, love it or hate it, has indelibly reshaped our understanding of “the comic book movie”.)

Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell” was hands down my favorite movie-going experience of the year. I was intrigued, amused, moved and totally undone by that film which will forever hold a special place in my heart. It reminded me how many similarities there seem to be in Buganda and Chinese family traditions. Jordan Peele proved definitively that “Get Out” was no fluke by giving us an equally unique puzzle of a film in the form of “Us” and Lupita better get some awards recognition or we riot!

Lorene Scafaria’s “Hustlers”, the Bale/Matt Damon racing movie”Ford Vs Ferrari” and the Daniel Craig allstar whodunit “Knives Out” were much needed reminders (to Hollywood financiers) that folks are still hungry for mid-range, original movies (aka modestly budgeted, not remakes nor part of a franchise or shared universe), while solid adult fare like “Dark Waters” with Mark Ruffalo, Clint Eastwood’s true crime story “Richard Jewell” and the incredibly ambitious “Ad Astra” with Brad Pitt were superb films that just couldn’t find an audience.

“Harriet” and “Queen & Slim” were mainstream wins for black female directors (Kasi Lemmons and Melina Matsoukas respectively) so now they get their own superhero or Star Wars movie like every mildly successful white male director does, right Hollywood? Let’s keep it pushing. It’s nuts that more people didn’t go see Gurinder Chadha’s spirited Bruce Springsteen jukebox, coming of age, immigrant tale “Blinded By The Light” but I hope folks discover it on streaming cos it was extreeeeemely my shit. As was the riotously funny “Good Boys” and fuck all y’all but I loved “Zombieland 2” as much as the first one.

“Dolemite Is My Name” was a welcome return to R-rated movies for Eddie Murphy and he deserves whatever awards buzz is swirling around him (including a Golden Globe nomination). Wesley Snipes deserved some love too. Non-English language films had a helluva showing, some noted above, but also the wonderful Japanese family tragicomedy “Shoplifters” (which won the top prize at Cannes last year but was released Stateside in 2019); Ritesh Batra’s touching Indian love story “The Photograph” and of course, this year’s Palme D’Or winner which we’re going to be hearing a lot more about as the Oscar’s draw close, “Parasite”.

Listen I don’t really wanna say much about “Parasite” because it is absolutely a film you want to know as little about going in. I can’t even tell you what genre it is as that’s kind of a spoiler but if ever I was to put my stamp on a recommendation, it’s this one. Remember how when “Inception” came out you immediately knew you’d never seen a film quite like that? Like it was almost a new genre… I feel like that perfectly fits “Parasite” too, which is nothing at all like “Inception”, but is also kind of like no other movie I’ve seen. Fuck, watch it if you can. It’s dope, insanely relevant in 2019 and it’s in Korean. “Parasite”.

“Uncut Gems” turned out to be nothing short of fucking legit! I thought it would just be hype based around Adam Sandler playing out of his comfort zone… it is SOOOO much more! I was a fucking nervous wreck for 2 whole hours!! The Safdie Brothers are the real deal. Easily one of my top 2 movie experiences of the year along with “The Farewell”. “1917” (looks pretty good) or “Little Women” (looks HELLA WHITE but it’s got Saoirse so I gotta see it?) and while I seem to have missed “A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood”, it’s cool since I saw last year’s spellbinding Mr Rogers documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” so like I get it.

2019 will forever be known as the year they released that “Cats” movie. Brrrrrrrr.

Be kind to each other and push your local leaders to get behind clean energy and sustainable climate policies.

(Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck! I totally forgot to mention Mati Diop’s surreal tale of lost love at the coast of Senegal, “Atlantics”… another honest to God unique film experience which floats through different genres without ever losing sight of the characters at its centre and it packs one hell of an emotional wallop. A real poem of a film and I was so stoked that the one person I was convinced would take to it, absolutely did and couldn’t stop talking about it after she’d seen it. Now playing on Netflix.)

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Written by Rich Wagaba (2)

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  1. Rich, I finally watched parasite and even though I agree it was a skillfully shot and engaging story, It didn’t hit me as hard as you built up my anticipation for it. I’ll give it another watch and see if it enters properly this time. Otherwise, thanks for all the wonderful recommendations and thoughtful reviews in 2019.

If I was a candle