Sunday, January 05, 2020

Movies Round Up 2019

First up, apologies for posting this on the 5th of Jan, 2020. Not only my miss, but also in the process 2019 became the first year since I started blogging 15 years back, that went without a single post. Holiday travel is to be blamed a bit but all excuses really. Anyway, moving on to the annual update.

This is the 11th year of this tradition, and as always here's a recap of the prior years -
20092010201120122013201420152016, 2017, and 2018.

The big story of this year for me was the sudden U-turn of quality cinema in Bollywood, which had been steadily picking up steam through the decade. This was especially amplified by some of the best international cinema had to offer (e.g. the much praised Parasite from South Korea and Shoplifters from Japan). Hollywood was a bit of a mixed bag with plenty of high quality content from surprising corners, while the stranglehold of Disney on the box-office was near complete with an Ironman grip - more billion dollar earners than ever before (and the all time highest earner, after a 2nd release - Avengers Endgame).

On the movie related personal front this year saw 3 changes to the movie chronicling efforts:

1. My movie review podcast Worth A Watch, launched in 2018, was revived in its new form as a collaborative weekly podcast with Shabeer Ahmad, Diptakirtiu Chaudhuri, and a few other movie loving friends. We slipped a bit again towards the end of the year but plan to get back to a regular weekly cadence soon.

2. The ratings had been on a 0-10 scale for over a decade, but realized this takes away from the finer points of the overall experience and makes it into a soulless ratings game. 2019 saw the switch to 4 ratings groups - Terrible, Bad, Good, and Great. However, here's announcing the next change starting 2020 - no more ratings, period.

3. Created a mega Twitter thread of all movies watched in the year which makes it for easy reading for anyone picking up at any point. Here's the 2019 Twitter Movie Thread. Received many responses from a lot of you, and this is something I plan to proceed with in the next year.

Now time to look at the numbers.

Here is the Summary Table (in its 13th year) of movies released in the same year (2019 for this post) that I watched.

Year     # Seen    Hindi:English:Others   Top Rating  Avg. Rating
2007     32               22:10:0                           9.0             5.78
2008     30               23:7:0                             8.5             6.35
2009     24               18:6:0                             9.0             6.85
2010     25               16:9:0                             8.5             6.62
2011     22               15:6:1                             8.5             6.77
2012     28               12:11:5                           9.0             7.33
2013     28               14:14:0                           9.0             7.12
2014     16               10:6:0                             9.0             6.16 
2015     26               20:6:0                             9.0             6.55
2016     30               17:13:0                           9.5             6.98
2017     31               17:13:1                           9.0             7.03
2018     87                23:59:5                          9.0             7.29
2019     86               12:65: 9                          10.0           7.45

The split of the movies by source (not just 2018 movies) was as follows.

Amazon Video9
Grand Total118
And now for rankings. As always, Top 5 Hindi and Non-Hindi movies of the year (released in 2019). Disclaimer: I haven't watched a few highly acclaimed movies such as Uncut Gems, Little Women, Bala etc but on the whole with 86 current year releases I feel I have done justice to most. Also, tweet reviews of every movie watched can be found the in 2019 Movies Twitter thread.

Non-Hindi Movies (not including documentaries)

5. The Peanut Butter Falcon (English)
How good was this movie? Not once you realize it's the directorial debut of  Tyler Nilson

 and Mike Schwartz, the camerawork is breathtaking, but it's the story, and Shia Labeouf and Dakota Johnson AND ZACK GOTTSAGEN - what a performance!

4. Us (English)
That truly rare 'spook'tacular movie which is more of a puzzle with layers that you Peele as you keep going back to it. Goes a step or two beyond Get Out in his social-horror wheelhouse. Writing, sound and of course performances raise the bar very high.

3. The Farewell (Chinese/English)
Moving, humorous, attention to detail & while set in China with a American-Chinese protagonist, was taken aback to see the similarities with Indian culture. Nai Nai wins & melts your heart, but the entire cast creates several moments that stay with you. 

2. Marriage Story (English)
How good was this movie and Adam Driver & Scarlett Johansson? Breezy handling of the complex subject of marriage/divorce/custody makes this feel like a comedy, but the angst & anguish keeps seeping through the pores, with a climax to remember. Brilliant.

1. Parasite (Korean)
Social commentary, intelligent and wacky comedy that goes from ticklish to real dark real soon, to a second half that keeps getting better with every twist. Impeccable performances by entire cast and the house. As close to perfection as a movie can get.

Hindi Movies (not including documentaries)

5. Badla
Gets a three thumbs up Worth A Watch rating from Shabeer Ahmad, Diptakirti Chaudhuri, and me. Listen to our podcast for the details and let us know your thoughts. Streaming now on Netflix.

4. Gully Boy
Didn't go in very convinced about the plot and theme, and won't say I came out a convert as a desi (or any) hip hop fan, but that's the benchmark of a good work of art to keep you engaged through something you aren't necessarily gravitating towards. Strong performances by the core team.

3. Section 375
Bollywood's follow up to the 'No Means No' trendsetting Pink, and this one takes a more provocative look at the #MeToo movement. Some tense courtroom scenes, but at the heart of it, this perhaps defends #MeToo more than some more obvious movies and stories. 

2. Article 15
This hard to watch (but must watch) movie by Anubhav Sinha on India's present day caste based atrocities gets a [Great] from me. Link to podcast where Diptakirti, Shabeer and I discuss it (now streaming on Netflix worldwide). Link to podcast.

1. Sonchiriya

Maybe the biggest underrated Bollywood movie of the year. Superb performances, sometimes hard to watch, but you always remain invested, in various ways. Flipping through and mixing genres seamlessly throughout. Please watch when you can.

Oscar Predictions

The final segment of the post started from last year is the Oscar predictions. 5 movies that I feel will get a Best Picture nomination. My score last year was 3/5 (Got Blackkklansman, A Star Is Born, and The Favourite correct). This year's predictions are:

The Irishman, Joker, Parasite, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and Jojo Rabbit. 

We will know in a few days.

Final list of ALL movies watched in 2019 (including documentaries, alphabetically ordered)

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood
A Crooked Somebody
A Private War
Ad Astra
All Is Well
Always Be My Maybe
American Woman
Angry Birds 2
Article 15
At Eternity's Gate
Avengers: Endgame
Billionnaire Boys Club
Bohemian Rhapsody
Brittany Runs A Marathon
Captain Marvel
Cold War
Dark Waters
Deadpool 2
Dragged Across Concrete
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
Fast & Furious: Shaw and Hobbs
Fighting With My Family
Ford v Ferrari
Giant Little Ones
Gloria Bell
Good Boys
Gully Boy
High Life
Honey Boy
Hotel Mumbai
How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
If Beale Street Could Talk
Incredibles 2
It: Chapter 2
John Wick - Chapter 3: Parabellum
Jojo Rabbit
Kumbalangi Nights
Late Night
Leave No Trace
Lego Movie Two
Long Shot
Luka Chhupi
Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota
Marriage Story
Missing Link
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Plus One
Queen & Slim
Ready Or Not
Richard Jewell
Section 375
See You Yesterday
Shubh Mangal Savdhan
Spiderman: Far From Home
Spirited Away
Stan & Ollie
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
Star Wars: Episode II - The Attack of the Clones
Star Wars: Episode III - The Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return Of The Jedi
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi
Sui Dhaaga
Super 30
Super Deluxe
Support The Girls
Terminator Dark Fate
The Art of Self Defense
The Breaker Upperers
The Farewell
The Front Runner
The Guilty
The Irishman
The Lighthouse
The Lion King
The Mule
The Mustang
The Peanut Butter Falcon
The Report
The Souvenir
The Two Popes
Toy Story 4
Vinci Da
We Have Always Lived In The Castle
Wonder Park
Working Woman

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