Living Up to Expectations: The Good, the Better, and the Best of 2019by DareDevilKid | created - 9 months ago | updated - 1 week ago | Public
This is my annual effort to filter the good, the better, and the best from the rest that cinema has to offer every year. It's an initiative I began back in 2010, and I hope that this year, too, the list will be enjoyable, informative, and up-to-the-mark.
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1. Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood (2019)
R | 161 min | Comedy, Drama
A faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood's Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles.
Votes: 265,208 | Gross: $135.37M
Tarantino's love letter to Hollywood's golden days is a masterpiece from start to finish.
A masterpiece in direction.
A masterpiece in plotting and executing a screenplay sans the crutch of a story.
A masterpiece in dialogue writing.
A masterpiece in characterization.
A masterpiece in camera panning, angles, and shot taking.
A masterpiece in buildup, tension, and anticipation.
A masterpiece in song placement and BGM.
A masterpiece in making the audience fall in love with every move of the characters.
A masterpiece in making the audience gush over each frame.
A masterpiece in making everything look ultra-cool.
Quentin Tarantino hits it out of the park once again in hitherto his most artistic film minus any compromise on the entertainment quotient.
A masterpiece from head to toe, destined to go down in the annals of cinema as a classic for the ages.
Miss Once Upon a Time in Hollywood at your own peril.
2. Joker (2019)
R | 122 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
In Gotham City, mentally troubled comedian Arthur Fleck is disregarded and mistreated by society. He then embarks on a downward spiral of revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his alter-ego: the Joker.
Votes: 508,358 | Gross: $192.73M
Joker is an enchantingly evil portrait of descent into madness, depravity, manipulation, and narcissism, culminating in a deliciously dark, tantalizingly twisted, and seductively sinister masterpiece. Who'd have thought that Todd Phillips — the guy who made The Hangover movies (as funny as they were) — would be capable of pulling this off (the homages to Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver and the King of Comedy as also the graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke lay the icing on the cake)? And kudos to Joaquin Phoenix for gradually evolving into the unapologetically psychopathic and brutally vicious fiend that was the hallmark of both Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger's portrayals, which not only renders it one of the great cinematic acts, but also seamlessly differentiates itself from the two aforementioned performances. As for Robert De Niro...well what do you say about a legend who can still chew every frame even in an extended cameo? If I really have to nitpick, then the only minor grievances I had with the film (purely as a diehard comic-book aficionado) is in its depiction of Thomas Wayne (Batman's father) and the age difference between Bruce Wayne and his future nemesis. Otherwise, this is diabolical art mixed with gloriously absorbing entertainment.
3. Avengers: Endgame (2019)
PG-13 | 181 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to reverse Thanos' actions and restore balance to the universe.
Votes: 614,957 | Gross: $858.37M
Watching Avengers: Endgame evoked such a sea of emotions within me that I'd rather dwell on them than pen a conventional review as nothing else really needs to be said for a film that's far more than just a film. It made me feel joyous yet sorrowful. Fulfilled yet desirous. Whole yet empty. Utterly jubilant yet terribly melancholic.
As for the highlights of the film, well, five moments completely stand out: a.) When the Avengers assemble, b.) When the female Avengers assemble, c.) Captain America 's fight with Thanos , d.) The historically epic climax (seriously, how did the Russo Brothers pull that off), and e.) An extremely heartbreaking finale (I really can't reveal more.) There are sequels, and then there's Endgame, which is more of an emotional, spectacular, unforgettable culmination of an odyssey that began 11 years ago with a group of visionaries and many devoted fans whose numbers infinitely rose over this period. It's truly the end of an era, and a might befitting one at that.
4. Us (II) (2019)
R | 116 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
A family's serene beach vacation turns to chaos when their doppelgängers appear and begin to terrorize them.
Votes: 165,265 | Gross: $175.01M
Turning the home-invasion theme on its head and acting as a quasi-horror-sci-fi hybrid, writer-Director Jordan Peele takes a regular situation, based on an overlooked location, and mangles it into a living nightmare, begging us to ponder what could be lying just beneath our noses, particularly those things and places most of us seldom notice. Extracting ingenuity from such simple scenarios, Peele weaves tension than can be cut with a knife, envelopes us in suspense where we won't budge from the edge of our seats, and hits us with jolting twists and turns, not least of which occur in the finale, where the rug is yanked from beneath our feet.
Add a killer background score and dialogues that are smartly laced with dark humor to offset the tension a bit, and you have a film without a single dull moment. While taking you on a joyride through hell, this is a horror film that also demands your undivided attention to each minute detail, because it is 2019's first horror masterpiece, backed by the year's first Oscar-worthy performance from Lupita Nyong'o. If you thought that Peele made a fine directorial debut with the Oscar-nominated Get Out (another horror film), then Us will knock your socks right off.
5. Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019 Video)
PG-13 | 87 min | Animation, Action, Adventure
Batman, Batgirl and Robin forge an alliance with The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to fight against the Turtles' sworn enemy, The Shredder, who has teamed up with Ra's Al Ghul and The League Of Assassins.
Entertaining, exhilarating, amazing — Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles unleashes a gush of wonderful memories while knitting a dream crossover that's sure to transport fans of both entities to seventh heaven. Moreover, it does so with a crackerjack script, directed with breathtaking energy, and an audacious style that pulls out all the stops from assembling almost every single one of Batman's and the Ninja Turtles' villains to pitting them against everything from mutated wild animals to half-man-half-dinosaurs, you name it. This has got to be one of the coolest, funniest, and most adrenaline-pumping viewing experiences ever, peppered with surreal animation, insanely choreographed fight sequences, witty one-liners, a killer background score, and moments of awesomeness galore. Easily the best Batman movie since Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and also serves as brilliant nostalgia for TMNT fans. A "Cowabunga" masterpiece! Don't miss it for the world, and definitely don't miss the post-credit scene.
6. Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
PG-13 | 132 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
The crypto-zoological agency Monarch faces off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah.
Votes: 100,098 | Gross: $110.50M
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is utterly, deliciously, fantastic, or rather, should I say, monster-static. It delivers first-rate enjoyment from first frame to last, without a moment to pause and catch your breath. For those who've closely followed Godzilla and his buddies over the many Japanese films from the 50s to the early 2000s, this'll be nothing short of a sleek, modernized mash-up in seventh heaven, purely because of how closely it follows the Toho classics. As for the others, there's enough of kaiju action, larger-than-life set pieces, and no-holds-barred, sock-em, bash-em monster mayhem, to strap in and have a joyride. Godzilla II: King of the Monsters may not boast high art, a deep narrative, or great character arcs, but it guarantees an A-grade blast of entertainment (literally speaking, in places), and sometimes, that's all you need to have a jolly good time at the movies. Oh, and pay close attention to the various Easter Eggs, not to mention the post-credit scene.
5/5 stars for diehard fans of Japanese-kaiju films
4.5/5 stars for neutral viewers
7. Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
PG-13 | 122 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
A deactivated cyborg is revived, but cannot remember anything of her past life and goes on a quest to find out who she is.
Votes: 174,971 | Gross: $85.71M
Just two months into 2019, and we already have the first cinematic extravaganza, demanding the big-screen experience. Alita: BattleAngel is hands down one-of-the-finest sci-fi films ever made, not to mention being a truly creative story that comes to life on screen after eons — not needing the support of comic books or YA novels to deliver the goods (for a change, it's based on a Japanese manga, and thank goodness for that). No surprises then that it takes James Cameron's magic wand to come up with a euphoric larger-than-life experience (with due respect to Director RobertvRodriguez, this has Cameron's stamp all over it), filled with all his sublime hallmarks — immersive world-building, spectacular visuals, absorbing plot development, fleshed-out character arcs, engrossing backstories, with meticulously executed action scenes and several thrilling moments serving as the icing on the cake.
For all its modern chutzpah, this is surreal old-school sci-fi, deeply rooted in a layered narrative and set against a sprawling canvas, where jaw-dropping action sequences serve as an enhancement tool to an already exciting screenplay, rather than a crutch to make up for what a screenplay might lack, and who better than the auteur Cameron to show the young guns how it's done. In its own Frankenstein meets Rollerball meets Terminator sort of way, Alita emerges every bit as an inventive, imaginative, and intelligent sci-fi masterpiece that also packs the necessary emotional punch and insists to be watched on the big screen. The only haggle one may have is that proceedings appear a tad stretched toward the end, with a few scenes that could have easily been pruned, but that's a minor issue in an otherwise great film.
8. Uri: The Surgical Strike (2019)
Not Rated | 138 min | Action, Drama, War
Indian army special forces execute a covert operation, avenging the killing of fellow army men at their base by a terrorist group.
Votes: 35,645 | Gross: $4.19M
Besides being gut-wrenching, emotionally stirring, and deeply invigorating, Uri is also quite simply a masterpiece of the war genre, shot with high-caliber cinematography by Mitesh Mirchandani, performed brilliantly by the ensemble cast, and directed with surgical precision by debutant Aditya Dhar. It's extremely well researched, packs a punch right where it matters, and engulfs you with myriad emotions without once resorting to jingoism or xenophobia. Vicky Kaushal delivers the performance of a lifetime (especially observe him in the scene where he fights back his tears while watching his fallen comrades), effectively backed by Paresh Rawal, Kirti Kulhari, and Mohit Raina in a terrific debut. The Indian Army received their long awaited catharsis rendering the 2016 surgical strike. Two years later, it's time for every Indian to feel cathartic by living the experience on the big screen.
9. Dream Girl (III) (2019)
132 min | Comedy, Romance
Rom-com Movie, directed by Raaj Shaandilyaa, stars Ayushmann Khurrana who plays a 'dream girl'. In every love story, there is always one trying to win the heart of the other, who could be the 'dream girl'.
Dream Girl is the pitch-perfect throwback to Govinda-David Dhawan films of the 90s — an out-an-out laugh riot from start to finish that can be seen with the entire family over & over again, due in no small measure to an avalanche of rib-tickling dialogues, hilarious performances by Annu Kapoor, Abhishek Banerjee, Manjot Singh, Vijay Raaz, Nushrat Bharucha, Raj Bhansali, Nidhi Bisht, and above all, Ayushmann Khurrana's hitherto career-best act (yes, even better than AndhaDhun). It would have been so easy for Khurrana to slip from comedy gold to caricature cringe, but he toes the fine line with effortless ease. The icing on the cake is a simple, beautiful, non-preachy message during the finale. This one will set fire to theaters. It's a sure-shot blockbuster.
10. Article 15 (2019)
Not Rated | 130 min | Crime, Drama
In the rural heartlands of India, an upright police officer sets out on a crusade against violent caste-based crimes and discrimination.
Hard-hitting, thought-provoking, and above all, very, very engaging — Article 15 is by far Director Anubhav Sinha's best work yet, where the writer-Director weaves a topical subject against a gripping narrative, backed by superlative performances from Ayuahmann Khurrana, Manoj Pahwa, Kumud Mishra, and Sayani Gupta. The romantic track between Khurrana and Isha Talwar doesn't gel well with the rest of the film, and a couple of plot elements are abruptly abandoned midway, but that should take nothing away from what's otherwise a masterstroke of a crime film that asks pertinent, uncomfortable questions while holding your attention down to utmost detail.
11. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)
PG-13 | 108 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
On Halloween 1968, reclusive Stella and her two friends meet a mysterious drifter, Ramón, and uncover a sinister notebook of stories.
Votes: 35,278 | Gross: $62.74M
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark weaves an interesting spin on the tried-and-tested ghost story with creepy, chilling results. Deliciously atmospheric, it ranks right up there with writer/filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro's (Pan's Labyrinth, The Shape of Water, Pacific Rim, Hellboy) best works and includes several of his trademarks such as gnarly monsters, edge-of-the-seat moments, and a flair for the gothic. Admittedly, there are influences of Death Note (for those familiar with Japanese anime) mixed with some Harry Potter and Final Destination, but not more than a handful of ideas, which are creatively worked upon in a whole new direction where fairy tales meet supernatural and slasher horror, culminating in a scary, spine-tingling ride, which leave things tantalizingly poised for a sequel that I can't wait to watch.
12. Section 375 (2019)
Not Rated | 124 min | Crime, Drama
A celebrated Bollywood director Rohan Khurana stands accused by a female member of his crew, Anjali Dangle of having raped her at his residence.
Gripping, riveting, absorbing, and all kinds of amazing — Section 375 weaves one of the best courtroom drama/thrillers in Hindi cinema, raising several valid points, while never loosening its clutches on your attention from first frame to last. But the film is as brilliant as it is as much 4 Ajay Bahl's meticulous direction and Manish Gupta's detailed writing as it is for its performances. MeeraChopra and Rahul Bhat are in top form, debutante Annuup Choudhari shines in a small yet important part, whereas Akshaye Khanna knocks the ball right out of the park, begging the question why we see so less of him on screen. Of course, it helps that he's given many of the best lines. Richa Chadha is surprisingly (she's usually on point) the only drawback, appearing almost disinterested in several scenes, which kind of sticks out like a sore thumb when her legal opposite is on fire. A Bollywood courtroom film right up there with Damini, Kanoon (1960), Jolly LLB, OMG, and Pink —this can't be missed by lovers of serious cinema.
13. 47 Meters Down: Uncaged (2019)
PG-13 | 90 min | Adventure, Drama, Horror
Four teen girls diving in a ruined underwater city quickly learn they've entered the territory of the deadliest shark species in the claustrophobic labyrinth of submerged caves.
Votes: 9,384 | Gross: $21.11M
Tense, tense, and more tense — that's the best way to describe 47 Meters Down: Uncaged — the sequel to 2017's 47 Meters Down. The tension remains on a knife's edge through the film, with genuine jump scares galore, leaving you on the edge of your seat, fists clenched, heart pounding, pulse racing, and eyes riveted to the screen. I don't remember the last time I said "fu*k" on so many occasions while watching a movie. Also, what separates this shark film from scores of other ones out there is how it amplifies fear and foreboding manifold by a simple tweak of replacing the surroundings from the open seas to an underwater labyrinth of caves — very smart touch by the makers. Director Johannes Roberts (The Strangers: Prey At Night, The Other Side of the Door, and this film's prequel) thrusts you into the mouth of terror and uses extreme claustrophobia to evoke palpable paranoia. Sure, it may not be Jaws, but then again, no film can be. It's right up there though with other classic shark movies like Deep Blue Sea, The Shallow, The Reef, and Bait. Some, minor questionable plot points aside, this can't be missed by lovers of horror films, especially those who dig creature features.
14. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)
PG-13 | 137 min | Action, Adventure
Lawman Luke Hobbs and outcast Deckard Shaw form an unlikely alliance when a cyber-genetically enhanced villain threatens the future of humanity.
Votes: 117,618 | Gross: $165.55M
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw has a run-of-the-mill plot with a narrative that serves as an excuse for globe-trotting at exotic locations over what's essentially a 2-hour+ chase sequence, but who really cares when the action set-pieces are so meticulously executed, the stunt choreography is deliriously insane, and the fight scenes pack a humongous wallop. To add to the bonkers fun, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham share chemistry to die for, embellished with a smattering of laugh-out-loud punchlines. Also, Vanessa Kirby proves to be the ideal foil to their bickering bromance and Idris Elba is perfectly cast as the baddie. Topping it all off are a couple of starry cameos as the icing on the cake. Hobbs & Shaw may defy logic & physics in more ways than one, but it's also the kind of over-the-top joyride that's tailor-made to be carried off by big stars as a big-screen spectacle. So, if u haven't got a giant stick up where the sun doesn't shine, you're guaranteed an extreme dose of no-holds-barred, A-grade entertainment.
15. Dumbo (2019)
PG | 112 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy
A young elephant, whose oversized ears enable him to fly, helps save a struggling circus, but when the circus plans a new venture, Dumbo and his friends discover dark secrets beneath its shiny veneer.
Votes: 51,159 | Gross: $114.77M
Dumbo unleashes all the wonder, awe, and magic that we expect and love about Disney movies. It pays rich tribute to the animated classic, with several nods to some of the more memorable moments of the 1941 film (even the timeless song, Baby Mine, plays twice in the background) while also taking the story forward in necessary, noble directions. More importantly, the entire film revolves around humans needing to respect animals, acknowledge their rights, and understand that they, too, are sentient beings capable of profound emotions. The climax could have played out better, but Director Tim Burton (rediscovering his form after eons) still conjures a lovely spectacle for the entire family to lo and behold, along with infusing a beautiful lesson for present and future generations.
16. Brightburn (2019)
R | 90 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery
What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister?
Votes: 54,456 | Gross: $17.30M
What if Superman — the most powerful superhero we know of — used his powers for unimaginable evil? This question is answered with chilling results in Brightburn — a film that subverts the superhero genre with an efficacious mix of shock value, gory scenes, and, at times, blood-curdling moments. Even though it might not fully reach its ominius potential, this first ever superhero-horror movie still proves to be a dark treat for both horror fans and those looking for a sinister streak to go with superpowers. What's more, it also plays as a terrifically grim origin story, set up brilliantly for future parts.
17. A Dog's Way Home (2019)
PG | 96 min | Adventure, Drama, Family
A female dog travels four hundred miles in search of her owner throughout a Colorado wilderness.
Votes: 10,723 | Gross: $41.95M
A Dog's Way Home checks all the boxes as it leaps its way into the pantheon of heartwarming animal-based family films. A loving family? Check. An adorable furry buddy? Check. Affable characters along the way? Check. A meanie creating problems for our furry buddy? Check. But what helps to it stand is how it makes Bella (the dog) the center of attention, with every human character playing a periphery part in her adventure. It also helps that said adventure pans out in a non-outlandish, mostly organic way that the entire family can relate to. Plus, Bryce Dallas Howard does a swell job of voicing Bella. Though not without a few loopholes and parts where suspension of disbelief is required, if you're an animal lover, then A Dog's Way Home would be right up you're alley. If you're not, then the film is likely to convert you into one as it wins you over with warmth, sincerity, and a canine friend who steals your heart. Also, don't forget to carry some tissue, especially for the climax. It's a real tearjerker.
18. Crawl (2019)
R | 87 min | Action, Drama, Horror
A young woman, while attempting to save her father during a category 5 hurricane, finds herself trapped in a flooding house and must fight for her life against alligators.
Votes: 38,868 | Gross: $39.01M
Gnarly, grisly, gruesome — Crawl packs major bite with plenty of tense, heartpounding moments and a well-crafted narrative that doesn't rely on the aforementioned moments alone to keep you on the edge of your seat for most of its compact runtime. It also helps that Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper share amazing chemistry as a father-daughter duo coming to terms with their fractious relationship while trying to survive through a life-threatening ordeal. There are a few instances where you might question the wanton homicidal display as well as the size of the gators (particularly if you're aware of the difference between them and crocs), but those serve as nothing more than minor footnotes in an otherwise terrific horror film. Together with 47 Meters Down: Uncaged (slightly better than this in terms of tension, but only just), Crawl goes a long way to rejuvenate creature features in Hollywood.
19. Ready or Not (I) (2019)
R | 95 min | Comedy, Horror, Mystery
A bride's wedding night takes a sinister turn when her eccentric new in-laws force her to take part in a terrifying game.
Votes: 36,507 | Gross: $26.74M
Ready or Not takes the best tropes of slasher horror, and turns them on their head with a wickedly innovative setting, where you're constantly kept on edge as much from the unpredictable nature of the plot as from the shocking twists and turns, buoyed in no small part by the star-making act of Samara Weaving and a game ensemble supporting cast, including veterans like Henry Czerny and Andie MacDowell (great to see her in a commercially successful film after long). Director-duo Matt-Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett finally come into their own as a force to watch out for in the horror genre, crafting a gleefully gory, salaciously sinister, and deliciously dark tale offset by intermittent moments of fiendish fun. Honestly, it's no small task to extract humor in the midst of grotesque mayhem, yet they do so with effortless ease. The denouement does feel a tad hurried compared to the smooth flow preceding it, but that doesn't take away much from a sinfully good slasher showcase that also ingeniously injects a bit of supernatural with all the slice-and-dice thrills.
20. Romeo Akbar Walter (2019)
Not Rated | 141 min | Action, Drama, Thriller
Prior to the India-Pakistan war of 1971, an Indian banker is recruited by the Research and Analysis Wing for a covert operation deep inside Pakistan.
Votes: 3,934 | Gross: $0.24M
An uneasy, demanding watch that ends up rewarding you abundantly — Romeo Akbar Walter tests your patience to the limit (the first half is quite slow), but wading through it is well worth the effort, with several hidden clues being uncovered later on. It takes guts to make such a difficult and slightly controversial film. This is India's answer to John le Carré's serious, gritty spy novels — a far cry from Ian Flemming's escapist Bond novels. Raazi, which released last year and is based on a similar premise, may be the better spy film (if not for the slow first half and incongruous placement of songs, this could have been as good, if not better than the Alia Bhatt starrer). But, Romeo Akbar Walter poses the tougher questions and presents the uneasier moments while also offering a welcome message on the true sense of patriotism in these confounding times of hyper-nationalism vs the privilege to remain apathetic toward your country's interests. A line uttered by Jackie Shroff sums it all up beautifully: " He chose motherland over mother."
21. Triple Threat (2019)
R | 96 min | Action, Thriller
When a billionaire's daughter intent on bringing down a major crime syndicate is targeted by a group of professional assassins, a team of mercenaries must stop them before they kill her.
Votes: 7,192 | Gross: $0.08M
Triple Threat is an orgasmic paradise for diehard action lovers, offering added incentive for marital-arts aficionados, with various fight forms coming together for some exceptional hand-to-hand-to-leg-to-hand combat scenes. And just to spice things up, some exciting shootouts and chase sequences are also thrown into the mix. The plot is pretty run-of-the-mill stuff, but when the current Gods of Action are gathered under one roof, with copious thrilling scenes and exhilarating moments to boot, the result is a joyride through kickass kingdom. Perhaps the best thing about the film is how the stakes are raised by dividing its stars who can actually fight equally among the heroes and villains. Those accustomed to watered-down superhero film may not get what the big deal is all about, but fans of raw, old-school, hardcore, violent action movies will totally dig this.
22. The Lion King (2019)
PG | 118 min | Animation, Adventure, Drama
After the murder of his father, a young lion prince flees his kingdom only to learn the true meaning of responsibility and bravery.
Votes: 143,728 | Gross: $540.08M
Disney's live action adaptation of The Lion King embodies the core essence, sprawling sense of adventure, peppy music, beautiful life lessons, Shakspearean ethos, and (dare I say it) Bollywood-esque lost-and-found-styled family drama, which made the 1994 animated original a classic for the ages. However, owing to the ingenuity of Director Jon Favreau and writer Jeff Nathanson, the plot is tweaked with more excitement, better action, some additional scenes, deeper characterization of the supporting players, and wonderful symbolization of the film's profound messages sans ever succmbing to preachiness, making it a far cry from by-the-numbers, copy-paste fare like Aladdin, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast. It may not be as good as the original in the vein of remakes such as The Jungle Book (another one that benefited from Favreau's smarts), Maleficent, and Dumbo, but it comes pretty darn close.
23. Batla House (2019)
Not Rated | 146 min | Action, Drama, Thriller
After a deadly encounter, a police officer struggles to catch the fugitives and prove the police acted lawfully, while being despised by the whole nation.
Votes: 6,116 | Gross: $0.49M
Gritty, serious, with a no-nonsense approach — Batla House goes down as one of the better Bollywood cop films, shedding light and offering clarity (the extensive research is evident) on an extremely controversial and pertinent chapter in Indian policing history albeit and thankfully, with its commercial elements intact so as to not alienate the general audience. Admittedly, the film could've been even better, or rather more gripping, particularly a few portions in the first half, but the second half, and especially the courtroom scenes during the climax, more than make up for it, marking a welcome return to form for Director Nikhil Advani while also showcasing how John Abraham improves as an actor with each film.
24. The Highwaymen (2019)
R | 132 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
The untold true story of the legendary detectives who brought down Bonnie and Clyde.
Netflix's The Highwaymen is a gritty, old-school-styled crime film of the true story behind the lawmen who brought an unavoidably violent end to two of America's most notorious outlaws, Bonnie and Clyde. Veterans, Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson are both in top form, and kudos to Director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks, The Founder) for presenting a distinct and much-needed de-glamorized touch in sharp contrast to erstwhile romanticized accounts of the murderous-marauding duo. A few portions are weighed down by a slightly pedestrian feel (especially for those with decent knowledge on the criminals' infamous exploits) and a bit of focus on the ruthless pair wouldn't have hurt, but, all in all, this makes for an absorbing cat-and-mouse tale, particularly if you're interested in real-life crime stories.
25. Gully Boy (2019)
Not Rated | 153 min | Drama, Music
A coming-of-age story based on the lives of street rappers in Mumbai.
Votes: 23,009 | Gross: $5.57M
Gully Boy is a very well-made, immersive underdog story, boasting dialogues that stay with you long after the film's done and fine performances from each and every member of its cast (the actors even succeed in elevating the film whenever the pace lags or narrative threatens to dip). However, it just falls short of being a classic on account of Director Zoya Akhtar being unable to curb her pretentious instincts in a few scenes and a slightly underwhelming denouement.
26. Murder Mystery (2019)
PG-13 | 97 min | Action, Comedy, Crime
A New York cop and his wife go on a European vacation to reinvigorate the spark in their marriage, but end up getting framed and on the run for the death of an elderly billionaire.
Netflix's new film, Murder Mystery — a thriller comedy hybrid is what one would describe as just plain good ol' fun. Sure, neither is its murder-mystery element, set against age-old tropes of a whodunnit, presented in the most novel fashion, nor is its humor completely fresh, but veteran stars Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, and a game supporting cast bring all their experience and energy to the table to make this a breezy joyride from start to finish, where all you need to do is sit back, relax, and have a good laugh. Unless you're a prude or snob; then this film is certainly not meant for you.
27. Toy Story 4 (2019)
G | 100 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy
When a new toy called "Forky" joins Woody and the gang, a road trip alongside old and new friends reveals how big the world can be for a toy.
Votes: 135,703 | Gross: $433.03M
Toy Story 4 basically rehashes all the best bits of its predecessors, which is still saying a lot, given how almost everything about those films screams classic. One toy gets lost — check. One or more toys set out to rescue lost toy — check. Said toys encounters one or more new toys with nefarious intentions — check. A finale that tugs at your heartstrings — check. But that's not to say that the film doesn't have its moments, of which there are quite a few due to how debutant Director Joshua Cooley , and writers Andrew Stanton and Stephany Folsom go about telling their subject. The narration has heart, the jokes are fresh, eliciting roars of laughter, and the denouement is pretty emotional. If this is (and it should be) the conclusion to the Toy Story franchise, then it indeed is a worthy one.
28. Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota (2018)
134 min | Action, Comedy
It is a story of a young boy Surya who has a rare condition of Congenital Insensitivity to pain meaning he can not feel pain, and he sets out to learn martial arts and hunt down muggers.
Those who love old-school, martial-arts action movies made famous by Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan; fondly recall larger-than-life Hindi-film villains of the 70s, 80s, and 90s; and generally like their cinema with a dash of quirk and zaniness will totally dig Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota — a film that serves as a perfect marriage between madcap energy and enduring characters against an electrifying martial-arts backdrop. Abhimanyu Dassani (son of yesteryears' actress Bhagyashree) makes a smashing debut (literally speaking). Radhika Madan proves to be as convincing in action as she's in dramatic scenes. And Gulshan Devaiah 's brilliance is finally unearthed with a bang by Director Vasan Bala who has made a very enjoyable action movie, without forgoing the importance of a strong plot and characters.
It could have even better though had he resisted the urge to give into his pseudo predilections by alternating between mainstream and art territory. Either make an out-an-out mainstream film or an artistic indie one, which could be just as much fun. But switching between both worlds runs the risk of confusing a section of the audience, which is what happens at times with MKDNH. Leaving that bit aside though, it's still a lot of fun.
29. The Lift Boy (2019)
153 min | Comedy, Drama
The Lift Boy is a coming of age story of a 24-year-old vagabond who is forced to work at a posh building in Mumbai as a Lift Boy when his bread-winning father falls ill.
Writer-Director Jonathan Augustin's Hinglish film, The Lift Boy, is one of the most naturally portrayed and organically felt coming-of-age dramas to emerge from Indian cinema in a long time, full of warmth, maturity, simplicity, laidback humor, and sentiments just done right. Centered on four engaging principal characters, and anchored by two effective central performances courtesy Moin Khan and Nyla Masood, the film keeps you genuinely interested in the journey of its protagonists, and leaves you feeling more appreciative about life's little things along the way.
30. Justice League vs the Fatal Five (2019)
PG-13 | 77 min | Animation, Action, Fantasy
The Justice League battles the Fatal Five, (Tharok, Emerald Empress, Validus, Mano and the Persuader). Based on the characters created by Jim Shooter.
Justice League vs The Fatal Five, the latest in DC's animated DTH (direct-to-home) movies has a pretty interesting premise, taking one of the rarer comic-book story arcs, where the Justice League is pitted against a bunch of its most fearsome foes (from the future), and adapts it to film with good results. There are few issues with continuity and flow, and sometimes you get the feel that the action, which is certainly mind-blowing, is a tad overdone to compensate for the bits where the script remains undercooked. Overall though, it's quite an entertaining movie, more so for superhero fans. Not a patch on the recent Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (another DC-animated product), but easily one of the better such films in recent times.
31. Lucifer (2019)
Not Rated | 175 min | Action, Crime, Drama
A political Godfather, who ruled the God's Own Country, dies and a lot of thieves dressed up as politicians took over the rule. When question arises on the replacement of the 'God', just one name emerges; 'Stephen Nedumbally'.
Intelligent Malayalam masala entertainer set against the sprawling canvas of political intrigue that could have easily been abridged by at least half an hour. The mass moments, too, seem a tad less. All in all though, Prithviraj makes a confident directorial debu with Lucifer, giving both Mohanlal fans and neutral viewers a pretty engaging film for most part. Vivek Oberoi and Manju Warrier are also very good in their roles.
32. Uriyadi 2 (2019)
Not Rated | 119 min | Action, Thriller
A man leads an agitation against corrupt politicians and an unethical businessman whose factory has released toxic gas into the air, resulting in a tragedy.
A gripping political thriller from start to finish — Tamil film Uriyadi 2 lays bare the corruption, casteism, vote-bank politics, apathy of those in power, and helplessness of the low-income stratum in India. The pre-climax scene is a bit stretched and the climax itself feels a tad unsatisfying compared to the intensity of the rest of the film, but otherwise, the narration and treatment by writer-Director-lead actor Vijay Kumar are just right for a socially conscious film that's also high on entertainment. Watch out, in particular, for two riveting sequences on either side of the interval. Almost as good as 2016's Uriyadi, and the best thing is that it can be enjoyed even without having watched the previous film.
33. Posham Pa (2019 TV Movie)
Crime, Drama, Thriller
Based on true events, the story revolves around a psychologically disturbed mother who coerces her daughters into a life of crime. Their case becomes a national sensation in India, overnight, these women are monsters personified.
ZEE5 's web film, Posham Pa, is dark, disturbing, twisted, and all kinds of engaging, but what really elevates it is the potent ensemble cast, especially, Mahie Gill, Sayani Gupta, and Ragini Khanna, who fire full throttle on all cylinders. The final 15-20 mins dip when compared to the gripping narrative that precedes them, and the big twist at the end can be seen coming, at least to the discerning eye, but a subject that would've been nigh unbelievable had it not been true, and the aforementioned performances keep you hooked through the film.
34. Fractured (I) (2019)
TV-MA | 99 min | Mystery, Thriller
A couple stops at a gas station, where their 6 y.o. daughter's arm is fractured. They hurry to a hospital. Something strange is going on there. The wife and daughter go missing.
Despite a plot that's been around the bend more than a few times, and a few loopholes in the script notwithstanding, Fractured benefits handsomely from nifty execution, rendering it a seriously tense thriller with some neat twists and a narrative that keeps the guessing game on to the very end. Full marks must be given to Director Brad Anderson (Transsiberian, The Machinist, Session 9) for brining all his expertise and dexterity in the genre to the table. It also helps that Sam Worthington has one of his better days before the camera. This one makes for a very engrossing watch.
35. Bharat (2019)
Not Rated | 150 min | Action, Drama
At the cusp of India's birth as an Independent nation, a family makes an arduous journey to freedom at a cost. A young boy Bharat, makes a promise to his Father that he will keep his family together no matter what.
Votes: 17,467 | Gross: $2.97M
Bharat brings back Director Ali Abbas Zafar and superstar Salman Khan for a third outing, one that’s certainly more emotionally charged than their earlier two films, Sultan and Tiger Zinda Hai — both immensely enjoyable features. And while Bharat may lack a tad in the entertainment section, it’s filled with moments that stay with you and scenes guaranteed to open your tear ducts. Some sequences in the film really stand out, with the Arabian-mining and ‘Mere Apne’ TV show segments being the highlights. These parts alone are worth a trip to the theater as are Salman and Katrina Kaif’s performances. The former pitches in hitherto his best, even better than the one in Bajrangi Bhaijaan — nobody will be able to point a finger on Salman’s acting credibility with a straight face after watching Bharat — while the latter keeps improving by leaps and bounds.
What prevents the film from being as good as Zafar’s two erstwhile collaborations with his star headliner are a few slow portions, which impede the pace, some up-and-down narration in the second half, and a couple of silly bits that come across as cartoonish in what is otherwise a fairly serious film that rides high on emotional content. Bharat should’ve also been about 20 mins less as the film’s high point comes 20 minutes or so before its denouement, and could’ve easily been ended there. Kudos to Zafar though for adapting it very well to an Indian milieu, only retaining the essence of Ode to My Father (I’ve seen that film), and completely bringing his creativity to the fore. All in all, Bharat is a pretty good film, with many touching moments. The single-screen audience may feel a tad don’t disappointed by the lack of “Bhai moments”, but everyone will unanimously applaud his career-best performance bar none.
36. Downton Abbey (2019)
PG | 122 min | Drama, Romance
The continuing story of the Crawley family, wealthy owners of a large estate in the English countryside in the early twentieth century.
Votes: 18,866 | Gross: $31.03M
Downton Abbey may not rise to the upper echelons of costume dramas, but it certainly holds its own both as a charming throwback to a bygone era and as fulfilling closure to its legion of fans out there. It also offsets the starched outfits and starchier moods of such period pieces with an air of effortless humour and breezy charm, helping it to strike out and carve its own space. Moreover (barring a few reference points), you can perfectly enjoy it regardless if you've seen the six seasons of the TV show that preceded it. However, despite each of the vast eclectic assortment of characters appearing meaningful and having sufficient dramatic interplay, a sub-track or two could've been avoided, plus the film could've been trimmed by 10-15 minutes. That being said, the sharp wit in the dialogues, crackling performances, royal shenanigans, and overall pleasant vibe, makes this a satisfying watch for both fans and neutral viewers.
37. A Dog's Journey (2019)
PG | 109 min | Comedy, Drama, Family
A dog finds the meaning of his own existence through the lives of the humans he meets.
Votes: 10,769 | Gross: $22.55M
A Dog's Journey is as sweet and sentimental as 2017's A Dog's Purpose, but just as its predecessor, the sequel, too, errs on the side of contrived schmaltz at times, marring its sincere sentimentality with a pinch of unnecessary saccharine, which just about prevents it from an occupying a seat with the best #animal based family films out there. Nevertheless, the emotional moments still resonate, the cuteness overload manages to work its magic, and by the end of the film, you may be tempted to take home a furry buddy with you.
38. Happy Death Day 2U (2019)
PG-13 | 100 min | Comedy, Horror, Mystery
Tree Gelbman discovers that dying over and over was surprisingly easier than the dangers that lie ahead.
Votes: 41,487 | Gross: $28.05M
Though not as fun and unexpected as its predecessor (partly due to our familiarity with the concept), Happy Death Day 2 U still packs a lot of entertainment, retains the freshness of its slasher/sci-fi-hybrid tone, and further showcases the range of its lead star, Jessica Rothe. The one aspect where the sequel falls short of 2017's Happy Death Day is in not ratcheting up enough tension by diverting from slasher territory and making the mistake of entering the teen-comedy zone. After all, fans are still coming to witness and exciting horror film with a vicious killer in that creepy baby mask. Also, the big twist in the finale isn't as shocking as that of the first part. Still, there's enough here to satisfy slasher fans and the makers also leave things well poised for a third installment on a bigger scale.
39. De De Pyaar De (2019)
Not Rated | 135 min | Comedy, Romance
A 50-year-old single father faces disapproval from his family and his ex-wife when he falls in love with a 26-year-old woman.
Votes: 5,552 | Gross: $0.43M
De De Pyaar De has a decent first half, but the important thing is that it picks up big time in the second half, with several punchlines and gags hitting the mark, and many emotional moments also hitting the right chord. There are portion where the screenplays drags and the narrative dips, but that's where the brilliance of the actors come in.
Ajay Devgn is a portrait of humorous helplessness, stuck in the middle of a combustible scenario. Plus, kudos to the #superstar for taking a backseat and letting the ladies have a field day post interval, where Tabu chews every frame (especially watch out for two stunning scenes toward the end) and Rakul Preet finally gets to showcase her talent in Bollywood , going tooth-and-nail at her senior costar in various comical confrontations.
If you don't go in expecting another Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety or Pyaar Ka Punchnama (producer Luv Ranjan 's earlier films that he also directed, unlike this one), you'll be well entertained. Moreover, though being a family film, the progressive nature and subtle complexities of the script demand a more matured approach.
40. Blank (II) (2019)
Not Rated | 107 min | Action, Thriller
A suicide bomber loses his memory and has a bomb attached to his heart. It is up to the police officers to prevent this bomb from taking innocent lives.
Despite a screenplay and ensuing narrative that skirts amateurish and melodramatic territory at times, not to mention a few loopholes, Blank manages to hold up as a pretty engaging thriller while it lasts, with some interesting twists and turns, and the grizzled-pro, Sunny Deol, once again, in good form, playing against type; though he still packs a mighty punch when the plot demands it. Plus, at just under two hours, the film doesn't overstay its welcome. However, debutant Karan Kapadia has miles to go in terms of expressions, body language, dialogue delivery, or basic onscreen charisma is he's to make it as a Bollywood hero.
41. Kabir Singh (2019)
173 min | Drama, Romance
Kabir Singh is a remake of a Telugu movie Arjun Reddy (2017), where a short-tempered house surgeon gets used to drugs and drinks when his girlfriend is forced to marry another person.
KabirSingh is a carbon copy of Arjun Reddy, so, obviously, a good film from a cinematic perspective. Shahid Kapoor does a commendable job of an obsessed, alcoholic lover on a path of self destruction. However, he falls just short of recreating the depth and trauma of Vijay Devarakonda's superlative eponymous act. Kiara Advani, on the other hand, is actually slightly better than Shalini Pandey as the demure, reticient girl, unable to make her own decision after being thrust in a overwhelming situation. Arjan Bajwa and veteran Suresh Oberoi also lend good support.
The message is still horrible though as just like the original, the remake, too, doesn't shy away from glorifying male entitlement, chauvinism, bullying, and domestic abuse. And when writer/Director Sandeep Reddy Vanga (who also helmed the original) doesn't glorify these traits, he makes exasperating excuses for them. The talent is there for all to see as despite several uncomfortable moments of misogyny, his skills to grip your attention and make his characters engaging shine for the entire duration of almost three hours. You just wish that he uses this talent on a better subject the next time he puts pen to paper and calls the shots on a film set.
42. In the Tall Grass (2019)
TV-MA | 101 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller
After hearing a young boy's cry for help, a sister and brother venture into a vast field of tall grass in Kansas but soon discover there may be no way out...and that something evil lurks within.
Helped by strong performances, especially from the experienced Patrick Wilson (Conjuring films); In the Tall Grass is a pretty creepy horror film that also alludes to a bit of sci-fi like traveling between parallel dimensions, including vague references to time travel, all while keeping an aura of mystery intact. However, Vincenzo Natali would've only done himself more favors had his script and direction offered some clarity (the difference between slowly peeling the layers or leaving them obscured) so as to have made the film better accessible and enjoyable to a larger demographic of viewers. Or he'd have been better served by simply being more faithful to Stephen King and Joe Hill's source material. This is quite engaging stuff, provided you're able to wrap your head around its deeply veiled subtexts.
43. The Curse of La Llorona (2019)
R | 93 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother suspected of child endangerment, a social worker and her own small kids are soon drawn into a frightening supernatural realm.
Votes: 26,700 | Gross: $54.73M
The Curse of La Llorona is a pretty effective horror film that could have been better had it reasoned why a few plot points occur the way they do and also if it hadn't deviated from some of the rules it had built for its spooky world. Nevertheless, it serves as a decent (if not derivate) spooky watch while it lasts.