Uncut Gems

This image released by A24 shows Adam Sandler in a scene from “Uncut Gems.”

Now that we are comfortably on the other side of the New Year, you will probably have noticed that there have been a multitude of lists to hit newspaper and the internet.

Personally, I wanted to wait until 2019 had ended in full, as there were many movies coming out in late December and I wanted to experience everything 2019 had to offer.

With 2019 being officially over and done, I can now look back and say the past 365 days were a good year in cinema, or at least it turned out to be.

The beginning of the year did not start out so well for the film industry. My initial fear was that we would get all commercially driven Marvel or Star Wars films in 2019 and little else. The end of the year, though, brought a good mix of films to the table to round out 2019 and make the year a much better and more well-rounded year in cinema.

Starting with “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers: Endgame,” 2019 concluded Marvel’s 20-something-year plan for the first three phases of Marvel films, as well as wonderful films such as “Little Women” and “Uncut Gems.”

2019 could give other film years a run for their money. The year of 2019 will go down in film history as probably one of the last great theater years for films, and most certainly the 2010s will, unfortunately, most likely be the last great decade for theaters.

The whispers in the film industry are that this decade marks a movie experience change, and theaters will eventually become either just kitschy places to see films or obsolete altogether.

The model most talked about is one where studios would release films to the public earlier (same as theater release dates now) at a higher price point and the price point would come down at a later date that resembles the dvd release dates now.

This is just one option.

No matter which option the film industry chooses there very obviously is a change coming as theater numbers fall. My personal hope for the future is that spectacle films (Blockbusters) will still have a place in theaters.

The future however did not affect 2019 the theater going experience in 2019 and that made 2019 a wonderful and brilliant year sitting in a theater watching everything the film industry had to offer. For reference, I often rate films unto themselves (unless it is a sequel or trilogy) when I rate them individually.

In this piece, I am rating films in relation to other films from 2019 and this often leads to a film that I really like, such as “Avengers: Engame,” being further down the list.

In lists, how much I like the film comes into account and how well the film is made takes a bigger role too.

That being said, here are the best of those offerings in 2019 were:

25. The Souvenir — The story of a shy but ambitious film student falls into an intense, emotionally fraught relationship with an untrustworthy but very charismatic older man.

IRATE SCORE: 3.5/5

24. Marriage Story — A grueling, coast-to-coast divorce that pushes a stage director and his actor wife to struggle through to their extremes.

IRATE SCORE: 3/5

23. Ladyworld — After an apocalyptic event, eight girls find themselves stranded in a house without electricity. As they run out of food and water they begin to regress to their baser instincts and begin to test their sanity.

IRATE SCORE: 3/5

22. Avengers: Endgame — Tony Stark sends a message to Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle and the remaining Avengers must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos.

IRATE SCORE: 4/5

21. Five Feet Apart — Seventeen-year-old Stella spends most of her time in the hospital as a cystic fibrosis patient. Will, an impossibly charming teen who has the same illness resides in the same ward and there is instant chemistry between the two. Their restrictions dictate that they must maintain a safe distance between them. As their connection intensifies, so does the temptation to throw the rules out the window and embrace that attraction.

IRATE SCORE: 3/5

20. Waves — The story of an epic and emotional journey of a suburban African American family as they navigate love, forgiveness and coming together in the wake of a tragic loss.

IRATE SCORE: 3.5/5

19. The Two Popes — From behind the Vatican walls both Pope Benedict and the future Pope Francis must find common ground in order to forge a new path for the Catholic Church.

IRATE SCORE: 3/5

18. The Peanut Butter Falcon — A man who has Down syndrome befriends an outlaw who becomes his coach and ally after running away from a residential nursing home to pursue his dream of becoming a pro wrestler.

IRATE SCORE: 3.5/5

17. Doctor Sleep — Dan Torrance remains traumatized by the sinister events that occurred at the Overlook Hotel when he was a child. He hopes for a peaceful existence but soon becomes shattered when he meets Abra, a teen who shares his extrasensory gift of the “shine.”

IRATE SCORE: 4.5/5

16. The Kid — In 1879 Rio and his teenage sister go on the run across the American Southwest and encounter the infamous outlaw Billy the Kid and the legendary lawman Pat Garrett. This film may not have made many lists but I am a sucker for western period pieces and if they involve Billy the kid then all the better.

IRATE SCORE: 3/5

15. Portrait of a Lady on Fire — The young daughter of a French countess develops a mutual attraction to the female artist commissioned to paint her wedding portrait in 1770.

IRATE SCORE: 4/5

14. Fighting with My Family — Paige and her brother Zak come from a tight-knit wrestling family and are ecstatic when they get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try out for the WWE. Paige earns a spot in the competitive training program and now she must leave her loved ones behind to become a WWE star.

IRATE SCORE: 3.5/5

13. Midsommar — When a couple travel to Sweden to visit their friend’s rural hometown for its fabled midsummer festival, they find an idyllic retreat quickly but it quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition.

IRATE SCORE: 4/5

12. Booksmart — Overachievers Amy and Molly went through High School keeping their noses to the grindstone and this gave them a leg up on their high school peers. When graduation comes closer to being a reality, the best friends suddenly realize that they may have missed out on the special moments of their teenage years. The duo are then determined to make up for lost time and the girls decide to binge four years of fun into one night and that sets off a chaotic night of adventure.

IRATE SCORE: 4/5

11. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — Actor Rick Dalton gained fame and fortune by starring in a 1950s television Western, but is now struggling to find meaningful work in a Hollywood that he doesn’t recognize anymore. Rick also happens to live next door to Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate.

IRATE SCORE: 4.5/5

10. The Irishman — In the 1950s, truck driver Frank Sheeran gets involved with Russell Bufalino and his Pennsylvania crime family.

IRATE SCORE: 4/5

9. Ford v Ferrari — Carroll Shelby, an American automotive designer and a fearless British race car driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary vehicle for the Ford Motor Co.

IRATE SCORE: 4/5

8. The Farewell — Under the guise of a fake wedding, Billi’s family returns to China to stealthily say goodbye to the family’s beloved matriarch.

IRATE SCORE: 4.5/5

7. The Lighthouse — Two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity while living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.

IRATE SCORE: 4/5

6. Joker — “Joker” tells the story of failed comedian Arthur Fleck as he seeks connection during his life in Gotham City. Arthur is isolated, bullied and disregarded by society and slowly Fleck descends into madness. In the end Fleck transforms into the criminal mastermind known as the Joker, or at least a version of him.

IRATE SCORE: 3/5

5. Parasite — Greed and class discrimination threaten the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan.

IRATE SCORE: 4/5

4. Knives Out — “Knives Out” starts with the death of Harlan Thrombey. Thrombey is a crime novelist who dies just after his 85th birthday creating a mystery for the ages. When an inquisitive detective arrives at the Thrombey estate to investigate, he finds a family of self-serving liars.As the Detective begins to rummage through misgivings and lies a picture starts to emerge.

IRATE SCORE: 4/5

3. JoJo Rabbit — When JoJo discovers that his single mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic, aided only by his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, JoJo must confront his blind nationalism as World War II continues to rage on.

IRATE SCORE: 4.5/5

2. Little Women — Jo March lives in New York in the years after the Civil War and makes her living as a writer, while her sister Amy studies painting in Paris. Amy has a chance encounter with Theodore (Laurie), a childhood crush who proposed to Jo but was ultimately rejected.

IRATE SCORE: 4.5/5

1. Uncut Gems — When a charismatic jeweler makes a high-stakes bet that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime he must balance business, family and adversaries in a precarious high-wire act.

IRATE SCORE: 4/5

Jason Guyer is an avid moviegoer and works in the graphics department at the Eagle Times. For questions or comments he can be emailed at guyerj@eagletimes.com.

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