Jacob Hall’s Top 10 Movies of 2019

Jacob Hall's Top 10 Movies of 2019

Here’s the dirty little secret about end-of-the-year lists on movie websites: every year is actually a great year for movies if you see enough of them. Still, with that out of the way, 2019 was an exceptionally great year for cinema. The films that didn’t make this list could fill another top 10 and no one would blink! But because honorable mentions are a coward’s way out, I’m only offering you the final list after I scraped away everything I could afford to lose. Sorry, everything else.

These are the 10 best movies of 2019 according to little ol’ me.

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WandaVision poster D23

Now that The Mandalorian has finished its first season, Disney+ has to do something to keep those millions of subscribers satiated (you know, beyond that massive catalog of classic films and such). A new video announcing what’s coming to the streaming service in 2020 is mostly familiar titles, but there’s one noteworthy addition. WandaVision, the second of Marvel Studios’ streaming series starring characters introduced on the big screen via the Marvel Cinematic Universe, will now arrive this year after originally being announced for 2021.

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A Quiet Place was one of 2018’s perfect cinematic storms. A crowd-pleasing horror adventure with a big, emotional heart. A box office smash, grossing $340 million worldwide on a $17 million budget. A critical darling that used its high concept to tremendous effect. A reminder that Emily Blunt is the profoundly talented leading lady we don’t deserve. And perhaps most surprisingly, evidence that John Krasinski has some serious chops as a filmmaker and that “Jim from The Office” made one of the strongest genre films of the decade and probably shouldn’t be referred to as “Jim from The Office” any longer.

But that means A Quiet Place Part II has a lot to live up to now. Can the story of a family struggling to stay together in a post-apocalyptic landscape filled with monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing continue to prove surprising and terrifying and moving? We shall see, but the first proper trailer for the sequel certainly suggests yes.

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Bloodshot trailer

Were you ready to watch Vin Diesel launch the new Valiant superhero universe in two months? Well, you’ll have to be patient for just a little bit longer, as Bloodshot has been pushed and given a new release date. But it’s not that much of a delay and fans of the character can take solace in today’s other big Valiant news: a series of video games based on the comic publisher’s characters are on the way.

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Jacob Hall’s Top 10 Movies of the Decade

Jacob Hall's Top 10 Movies of the Decade

(This article is part of our Best of the Decade series.)

Look, most of these best of the decade articles start with a warning, saying something like “this list could have changed if I wrote it on another day.” And that’s fair. That’s fine. I’m sure that’s true for most folks. But not me. No, sir. These are my ten favorite films released between 2010 and 2019 and I feel awfully good about it. These ten films represent not just ten years in cinema, but ten years of my life and the movies that shaped me into my current self. My list is perfect. Sorry, but that’s the truth.

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Rise of Skywalker Posters

Hey everyone: press pause on your post-Thanksgiving antics, because there’s more Star Wars to be had. New Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker posters have arrived, reminding us that this series has had its fair share of incredible poster art…and its fair share of total mediocrity. And on top of that, a new TV spot has slipped past Imperial blockades and arrived online, so you know what that means: the hunt begins every new sliver of footage.

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has been billed as the conclusion of the “Skywalker Saga” that began back in 1977. But those are just words. Do you you know what is more than just words? A surprisingly lovely featurette filled with behind-the-scenes footage from the entire Star Wars series from 1977 through 2019 that feels specially built to make those eyes of yours water.

However, this video also seems to indicate that a previously unannounced character from the original trilogy will return in The Rise of Skywalker. And honestly, I’m not sure any of us saw this coming.

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rise of skywalker ending

Breaking news: a Star Wars movie is poised to make a lot of money. Shocking, I know! Snark aside, early projections for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker have director J.J. Abrams’ saga-concluding chapter making between $175 and $200 million during its opening weekend. That’s a number that most studio executives would sacrifice a child or three to have happen on their watch, even if it’s just a tad low for a modern Star Wars movie.

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knives out review

When I sat down to speak with director Rian Johnson the day after his new murder mystery thriller, Knives Out, closed Fantastic Fest 2019, I had one question on the top of my tongue. That question: “What defines a Rian Johnson movie?” After all, Johnson has spent his career leaping between genres, from grim modern noirs like Brick to quirky comedies like The Brothers Bloom to serious-minded science fiction like Looper and even giant blockbusters like Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I had a theory about this. One that tied straight into Knives Out, which is unquestionably one of the year’s straight-up most entertaining movies.

But before we got there, we talked about other things. We talked about the differences between Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie. We talked about the beauty of a detective’s final monologue. We talked, spoiler-free, about the unique perspective from which the film takes place. Perhaps most interestingly, we talked about how Knives Out was designed to be a movie specifically set in 2019, a period piece before any time has passed at all.

Our full conversation begins below.

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Doctor Sleep Jack Torrance Scene

The most important scene in Doctor Sleep isn’t in the trailers. You won’t find a glimpse of it in the marketing. And a recognizable actor, who appears exclusively in this scene, has been left out of just about every cast list. It’s all by design, of course. Because the most important scene in Doctor Sleep is a big swing from writer/director Mike Flanagan, one that he knew would prove controversial with horror fans. Somehow, it works. Heck, it’s even the scene that convinced author Stephen King to give the movie his blessing.

I was able to speak with Flanagan and his longtime producer Trevor Macy about the scene, their conversations with King, the casting of that actor, and more. There are major spoilers for Doctor Sleep from this point on.

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