What an incredible year of film it has been! I hope you all have enjoyed the recent breaks and gatherings this holiday season. As the year comes to a close, I’d like to share with you my favorite films of 2019. These are the films that I personally found myself enjoying the most this past year and that have remained in my thoughts well after the end credits. I have not seen every film released in 2019, and needless to say, there may be some other great and enjoyable films I have yet to see that I look forward to discovering in the days and months ahead. I highly recommend you consider these films in your own time, and may you all have a wonderful and Happy New Year!
– Tyler Pacholski, Creator/Head Writer
[The following films are ordered by their release date]
Release Date: April 5, 2019
Fun, witty, and surprisingly dark at times, Shazam! is a heartwarming and thrilling superhero romp of a film. Dare I say, a new Christmas classic.
Release Date: April 26, 2019
An exhilarating spectacle and fitting end to an era of incredible MCU storytelling. Avengers: Endgame is an epic of scale and scope in each and every way.
Toy Story 4
Release Date: June 21, 2019
Toy Story 4 is a gem of a film that marks the end and beginning of relationships both old and new in true Toy Story fashion. Keep your Kleenex box near, tears are guaranteed to abound.
Release Date: July 3, 2019
A hypnotic, daytime haunt that is in equal parts a breakup movie as it is an engrossing look at family and cultural relativism. Having seen both the theatrical and director’s cut, Midsommar cast its spell with a most disturbing and dreadful fright.
Release Date: August 9, 2019
Both laugh-out-loud funny and balling-your-eyes-out crying, The Farewell is a poignant and amusing look at a family both different and similar to us all.
The Peanut Butter Falcon
Release Date: August 23, 2019
A tale of triumph and brotherly love, The Peanut Butter Falcon is a sweet and darling film that left a lasting smile on my face from beginning to end.
Release Date: October 4, 2019
Brutal and visceral in its content and presentation, Joker is a masterful character piece and commentary that is sure enough to burn the most sturdy of facades down and piss on its ashes. With a tour de force turn from Joaquin Phoenix, expect a slew of award nominations (and wins) in the coming months.
Release Date: November 27, 2019
A class act of filmmaking and acting that harkens back to the epic gangster films of the 1970s, The Irishman succeeds in both its patient and pressing telling of events behind the scenes in one of history’s most notorious and unsolved disappearances.
Release Date: November 8, 2019
One of the best films of the year, Parasite is a most wicked ride crafted by stunning writing, taut direction, and a stellar ensemble of actors. If there ever is a sure winner for a film in a best feature category, this is the one to beat.
Release Date: November 27, 2019
Devilish and delightful, Knives Out is a film that relishes in its subversive take on the whodonit genre and wins with its wry wit and charm.
Honorable Mentions: It: Chapter Two, Doctor Sleep, John Wick 3: Parabellum, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood
Wichita, KS – It’s that time of the year again, and while many of you look forward to the new releases coming out promising new and exciting scares this season, take a dive back into some classic chills and thrills! Filled to the brim with plenty of shock and terror to satiate your thirst for scares, the 9th Annual October at the Oldtown Horror Movie Festival in Wichita, KS returns to serve you a frightful and blood-soaked trip down nightmare alley. Check out the many features returning to the big screen at Regal Warren Old Town below.
Killer Car Double Feature – Christine (1983), Maximum Overdrive (1986)
Directors: John Carpenter (Christine); Stephen King (Maximum Overdrive)
Cast: Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, and Alexandra Paul (Christine); Emilio Estevez, Pat Hingle, and Laura Harrington (Maximum Overdrive)
Synopsis (from IMDB):Christine – “A nerdish boy buys a strange car with an evil mind of its own and his nature starts to change to reflect it.” Maximum Overdrive – “A group of people try to survive when machines start to come alive and become homicidal.”
Cast: Gary Miller, Michael Gisick, and Randall Aviks
Synopsis (from Wikipedia): “When a group of boys come home after a concert they find plenty of reasons to be afraid of the dark. From the shadows of the night a legion of human-like bloodthirsty vampires breaks. The boys arm themselves to the teeth with chainsaws, machetes, guns and holy water. A pitched battle between the living and the undead is prepared. When the dawn is near, all eyes of humanity head towards a face that overwhelms even the dead.”
Cast: Virginia Madsen, Xander Berkeley, and Tony Todd
Synopsis (from Rotten Tomatoes): “Researching urban folklore, a University of Chicago student snoops around the housing projects of Cabrini Green to find more about the legend of the Candyman who supposedly appears (whenever one looks into the mirror and repeats his name five times) to slash his victims with a metal hook. Only after she witnesses the atrocities herself, does she believe he exists. To her horror, he wants her to join him in his afterlife dimension. This unsettling feature is based on a short story by Clive Barker.”
Aquatic Killer Double Feature – Piranha (1978), Humanoids From The Deep (1980)
Directors: Joe Dante (Piranha); Barbara Peeters (Humanoids From The Deep)
Cast: Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies-Urich, and Kevin McCarthy (Piranha); Doug McClure, Ann Turkel, and Vic Morrow (Humanoids From The Deep)
Synopsis (from IMDB): Piranha – “When flesh-eating piranhas are accidentally released into a summer resort’s rivers, the guests become their next meal.”Humanoids From The Deep – “Scientific experiments backfire and produce horrific mutations: half man, half fish, which terrorize a small fishing village by killing the men and raping the women.”
Showtimes: Monday, October 28, 2019 – 7 PM (Piranha) & 10 PM (Humanoids From The Deep)
Ticket Price: $10
The Fog (1980)
Director: John Carpenter
Cast: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Janet Leigh
Synopsis (from IMDB): “An unearthly fog rolls into a small coastal town exactly 100 years after a ship mysteriously sank in its waters.”
The following is a break down regarding the surrounding intrigue and ensuing theories as to who Dark Rey is. For the purposes of shorthand, I shall be referring to Dark Rey as Drey. Who is this Drey and where did she come from, and where has she been this whole time? Find out below with the following theories considered in my opinion from least likely to most likely to happen.
1. It’s All a Red Herring
It’s not uncommon for footage in trailers (or special looks) to include some interesting shots not in the theatrical cut come release time, but perhaps the biggest mistake Lucasfilm and Co. could make is including something as big as this and pulling it away from us entirely. To do this would be insane. For those who believe this may be the case, arguments suggest that this may perhaps be a marketing ploy to rouse the attention of both casual and hardcore fans to build intrigue and further discussion and speculation. Considering the sharp divisiveness of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the question follows: how does one bring Star Wars back to the forefront of the conversation? How about dropping something as wild and unexpected as a red-lightsaber wielding Rey in Sith dark cloaks. If one light saber is not enough—then two! Hot damn! Seriously though, as possible as this may be–albeit slim, let’s hope this is not the case.
2. Drey is Rey
Talk about being catfished this whole time. I really don’t know how to explain this other than two things: 1) Rey is possessed, and 2) utter reckless abandonment of all previously held compassion and conviction. Ballsy? Yes. But revealing it so soon in the game? Just might be as bad as prematurely ejaculating in your pants.
3. Drey is a Force Vision
Force visions are a staple of the Star Wars universe heading warnings and laying mysteries yet to be resolved for our main characters. While the image of Rey as a Dark Sith Lord is as surprising as it is insane, the fact that this could be a force vision in disguise is highly plausible. Despite that, it all seems too obvious. While the former theory remains as wasteful and incredibly insulting as a false promise, this one seems all too plain and leaves little to be surprised upon seeing in a darkened movie theater. Big whoop.
4. Drey is a Clone
Bonkers? Yes. Out of the realm of possibility? No. Surprising? Yes and no. Depending on your knowledge of currently approved canon and previously expanded universe lore, clones are not unfamiliar to the Star Wars universe. Clones have been used to build armies a la the Grand Army of the Republic displayed in Attack of the Clones, and they have been previously made known to yield dark apprentices as in The Force Unleashed video game series. Would it behoof us to think that Drey is a clone? No, but like the dark force vision aforementioned, it would feel trite and simply set up another baddie with little to no personal stakes for Rey considering lack of investment or personal history. Unless, there’s much more to the story. If Drey is not Rey, not a mere copy cloned off of Rey, not the component of a dark vision, and not a fake creation for marketing and merchandising purposes, then who the hell is she?
5. Rey and Drey are Twins(Clone or Not)
Drey is Rey’s long-lost twin sister separated at a young age and kept hidden from sight until now. Let’s consider a few things first: it’s not a stretch to say that twins are no stranger to the Star Wars universe. Consider Luke and Leia, the two most famous twins at the center of the Star Wars saga. At the core, Star Wars has always been about characters embarking on a journey leading them through adventure and trial and revealing bits about self and their place among the stars. It’s also about family, and for Rey, that question has lingered with us all. The Last Jedi will make you think that she doesn’t belong to anyone worthy to note; and if she does, it is yet to be revealed.
As has been established in current canon, we now understand that the nefarious Sheev Palpatine conceived Anakin with the dark powers of the force in the virgin, Shmi. With Palpatine having alluded to his understanding of transcending death, it’s not hard to believe that Palpatine may be up for another repeat. And with what results? A pair of female twins: one groomed as an apprentice to an evil master while the other forced into exile and hidden from the Emperor by saving grace. This would not only call back upon themes of family, but it would be just as surprising. It would markedly add dramatic depth and complexity to her current struggle, and it would justify and satisfy those calling into question her most extraordinarily quick and powerful understanding and use of the force. If she is indeed a consequence of cloning, it could also play into further questions of family and what it means to be human. I think either of these is likely, and come December, I think it will be revealed as so.
What are your thoughts, and where do you side on the origin of Drey? Comment below and let me know! Make sure to follow or subscribe for more reviews and bits into movie hits.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is expected to arrive at a theater near you December 20, 2019.
As we come to the end of one of Hollywood’s more epic and memorable box-office summers, I’d like to take some time to consider some of the many films coming out later this year. Here is a list of my most anticipated films for the rest of 2019 with reviews to follow as each rolls out in their wide release. Afterwards, be sure to comment and let me know what your most anticipated films are for the rest of the year. Are there films I missed, or others I should consider? What films are you most excited for, and what are your lists? Let me know and comment below. Without further ado, here are nine of my most anticipated films to look out for in the coming months ahead.
IT Chapter Two
Release Date: September 6, 2019
Director: Andy Muschietti
Cast: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader
Final Rating: 3/4 Stars
Hot off the heals of 2017’s immensely popular hit IT (now added with a much more suitable subtitleof Chapter One in honor of its source material), one of Stephen King’s most popular and enduring horror works to date continues to account the remaining story of now adult Loser Club members coming face-to-face once again with a most terrifying and timeless evil in Pennywise the Clown. Based on footage released thus far in trailers and with King’s personal stamp of approval, the hype and anticipation for this film is as white hot as it can get. Mind your yellow rain slickers, and keep your red balloons at bay, It: Chapter 2 looks to be a hellish tale here to stay.
Release Date: October 4, 2019
Director: Todd Phillips
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, Robert DeNiro
Final Rating: 4/4 Stars
What is it about clowns that is so damn terrifying? With arguably the most famous clown of all time, Joker promises to give us a closer and more intimate look at the infamous Clown Prince with an origin-story set outside the realm of the current DCEU timeline. Considering the perfect casting of Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role, and the talent both on and off-screen, many are excited to see the birth of an iconic character come to life like never before. Let’s just hope we don’t get anything near as disappointing as the level of 2007’s Hannibal Rising.
Release Date: October 18, 2019
Director: Robert Eggers
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson
Final Rating: 3.5/4 Stars
Batman and Green Goblin in what appears to be a trippy, claustrophobic, and wild descent into madness from filmmaker/writer, Robert Eggers, of The Witch (2015). What more can you want? With wide unanimous praise from critical circles and with one of the more visual-striking and haunting trailers in recent memory, The Lighthouse is looking to be a powerhouse experience.
Terminator: Dark Fate
Release Date: November 1, 2019
Director: Tim Miller
Cast: Mackenzie Davis, Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger
FinalRating: 1/4 Stars
Is this real life? Promised to be a true [and tried] sequel following the events of James Cameron’s first two Terminator films is the prevailing message we’re getting from everyone involved. Reservations considered [and more than valid in the wake of three godawful or-at best-mediocre entries], let’s hope this is the sequel Terminator fans have either been curious to see or clamoring for since 1991. Please, James. For the love of God, let this be true.
An adaptation to both Stephen King’s source material and Kubrick’s well-revered classic, The Shining, Doctor Sleep is looking to be something special aiming to honor the legacy of both master story-tellers. Considering Mike Flanagan’s more recent work including Gerald’s Game and The Haunting of Hill House (2018), we can expect a most chilling experience come this November.
Release Date: November 8, 2019
Director: Alma Har’el
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe
For those of you looking for the official biographical account of former Even Stevens star, Shia LaBeouf, look no further. This may be the closest thing you will ever get. Written by Shia LaBeouf himself, Honey Boy looks to be an introspective and uniquely meta tale of a young Hollywood kid, Otis, trying to cope with and make sense of the world around him as he matures into adulthood under and in the shadows of the spotlight. With LaBeouf acting in what could be one of his most challenging and cathartic roles to date as Otis’s struggling father, Honey Boy will no doubt shed insight into the actor’s own personal experiences of reconciliation to himself, his father, and everything else around him.
Release Date: November 27, 2019
Director: Rian Johnson
Cast: Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Daniel Craig, Toni Collette
Final Rating: 3.5/4 Stars
After coming off both the critical and financial success (ahem, and much divided fan response) to 2017’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson assembles one of the more memorable ensembles in recent ages in what appears to be a slick, fun-fueled and witty whodunit set within modern times. With a first trailer cut and edited with enough energy to wake you up from that second serving of turkey come Thanksgiving time, Knives Out looks to be a promising dive into thrills and intrigue behind the mystery of who killed patriarch Harlan Thrombey. What better way is there to bring families and loved ones together come this holiday season other than a good ole fashion murder mystery? Double down on those mashed potatoes and that green bean casserole because Knives Out looks to feather your feasts come Thanksgiving Day.
Release Date: TBA
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino
Mean Streets. Goodfellas. Casino. The Departed. Now, The Irishman. Anticipated, you say? Considering the ensemble cast of legendary actors, and a narrative/subject matter Scorsese has proven time and time again to succeed in telling, sign me up. With the premiere set to take place at the New York Film Festival on September 27, 2019, enthusiasts await for a most special union of actors and director coming together for the very first time.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Release Date: December 20, 2019
Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac
The decade-spanning space opera and cultural phenomena that is Star Wars wraps up the Skywalker saga in what is promised to be one of the most satisfying and exciting entries yet. Coming off the more divisive response to The Last Jedi, one can hope that J.J. Abrams and crew will deliver on what was established in The Force Awakens. The amount of pressure riding on J.J. Abrams and Co. to bring the saga to a satisfying conclusion is incredibly heavy as fans both old and new alike await to revisit a galaxy far, far away.
Honorable Mentions: Ford v Ferrari, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Gemini Man, Jumanji: The Next Level, 1917