Pass or Fail – How Well Did 2019 Meet Our Movie Expectations?

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As we wrap up the year, our collaborators looked back at the 2019 films which we enjoyed, and the films which left us disappointed. Join us as we discuss whether or not the films of 2019 lived up to our expectations. 

At the beginning of the year, we always talk about the movies which we are most excited to see. Whether it is the next addition to our favorite movie franchise, a new adaptation of one of our favorite books, or just the next film project from one of our favorite filmmakers – expectations for movies have been higher than ever. However, after it is all said and done, how many of these films actually meet our expectations? And how will we look back at 2019 in terms of the year’s contribution in film? 

Our contributors answered these very questions and more. Follow our discussion below!


Garrett

Films Which Met My Expectations:

  • Avengers: Endgame– How do you conclude one of the most popular and eagerly anticipated sagas in film history? That was a question on many people’s minds, and it seemed like no matter what the filmmakers did, it would be impossible to do all of the characters and preceding films any justice. Thankfully, the fourth Avengers film found a way to be both familiar/endearing and new/exciting at the same time – a difficult combo to pull off. 
  • John Wick 3: Parabellum – The second John Wick film ended on a cliffhanger, and this one picked up right where that left off. More importantly, the film builds to become bigger and bigger as it goes along. It hits the audience hard, and never really lets up – both good qualities for any action movie. In the process it transforms John Wick from somewhat of a fringe cult figure into a mainstream action hero. 

Films Which Didn’t Meet My Expectations: 

  • Zombieland: Double Tap – I enjoyed the first film, and it has since become somewhat of a cult classic over the last decade since its release. But if you are going to have a delayed sequel to a beloved original film, it better have something important to do or say. This film didn’t. It was just a self-indulgent excuse to get the gang back together again. The writers forgot to include the audience in on all of the fun. 
  • Hobbs & Shaw – Say what you will about the outrageousness of the latest Fast and Furious movies, but they have been largely enjoyable. And so taking two of the most charismatic actors from the series and giving them their own spin off sounded like a sure-thing. However, the film ended up being boring. Worst of all, they showed all of the good parts in the trailer. Ugh. 

2019 Overall, Pass or Fail? 

Fail. Don’t get me wrong, there were a number of great films released this year, but overall it didn’t really impress me much. The summer season in particular was lacking outside of Marvel releases, and outside of some foreign films, nothing really surprised me. It may be blasphemous for me to say, but I am tired of Disney live action films – these are part of a continuing trend of movies seemingly riding on past successes, rather than on their own merits. 


Jordan

Films Which Met My Expectations:

  • Us – Jordan Peele made waves with a stellar debut with Get Out. Couple that with some seriously impressive trailers and I went into Us with some lofty expectations. Thankfully, Peele proved that Get Out was no fluke and delivered a poignant thriller that manages to get better every time you watch it. Filled with great performances and oodles of nuance, there’s a lot to love about Us. 
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters – I know King of the Monsters didn’t resonate with everyone, and the box office was tepid enough to force Warner Bros to rethink their Godzilla vs. Kong strategy (pushing it back to account for some reshoots)…But I loved it. I can understand why it didn’t click with fans, but this diehard kaiju lover was all about it and I’ve continued to enjoy it on blu-ray quite often!

Films Which Didn’t Meet My Expectations: 

  • IT: Chapter 2 – Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the IT sequel, and have probably been more forgiving of it than most. Even so, the film couldn’t quite live up to the first and the high expectations it set. The first film was a stellar adaptation and filled with impressive horror elements. Chapter 2 was enjoyable, but between dragging some things out unnecessarily and losing some of the scare factor, it just wasn’t the same. 
  • The Lion King – I’m a big fan of Disney’s The Lion King and it’s still my favorite animated film from them. I was eager to see how the “live-action” adaptation would handle things. Generally speaking, I enjoyed the new version, and it’s a visual marvel. Sadly it lost some of the original film’s heart. There’s no denying it’s technical prowess, but it certainly can’t hold up to the classic animated story. 

2019 Overall, Pass or Fail? 

Overall, 2019 absolutely passed. From major blockbusters like Avengers: Endgame, smaller indie/streaming titles (Jojo Rabbit, Irishman, Parasite), to surprises like Joker, Fast Color, and Ready or Not, there was a lot to love for fans of just about any genre. While there were a fair share of disappointments, or just “okay” releases, I think 2019 did a solid job of engaging movie-goers on a number of levels. 


Dustin 

 Films Which Met My Expectations:

  • Detective Pikachu. Probably the total opposite of one of the movies listed on my did not meet list, Detective Pikachu was a film I didn’t expect much from. Yet the nods to fans of the games, the details exploited throughout the film, everything was just simply wonderfully done. I don’t know why I even doubted a Ryan Reynolds film.
  • John Wick 3. Very few times can I be extremely excited about a movie and hype it up to no end and not come out disappointed. Yet John Wick 3 amazed me every step of the way and had me cheering in my seat for more. The greatest new series of recent years simply got better.

Films Which Didn’t Meet My Expectations: 

  • Avengers Endgame. I’ll start off by saying it wasn’t a bad movie by any means, but the build and anticipation just simply couldn’t match what I was expecting at all. It’s probably not fair to set such a high bar and then say a film failed to reach it, but that’s probably the case. Infinity War is still by far one of my favorite movies of all time. It had build, emotion, action, everything. Endgame, by comparison, felt dull and slow.
  • Lion King. If anything, Lion King shows that Disney needs to slow down a little bit with their live action remakes. They were so good for a while because Disney was trying to put in a lot of detail and truly bring the animated films to life, and The Lion King just fails to deliver on that promise. The attention and carefully thought out details were just not there, and it seemed kind of pointless to be watching it. It wasn’t nearly as disappointing as the horrible Aladdin, but I expected that one to be bad from the get go….The Lion King, I thought, would be hard to mess up.

2019 Overall, Pass or Fail?

Overall my idea of pass or fail for 2019 can be summed up like this. When Star Wars tickets went on sale I went to the theater to buy my tickets for opening night, and I decided hey maybe I’ll stop and just see something since I’m already there. I ended up leaving with just my Star Wars tickets and looked for something else to do. It’s not to say all films released this year were bad,  there just hasn’t been anything really worth talking about. I saw Spider-Man and John Wick multiple times, but beyond that I didn’t really see anything that made me want to go right back in, or rush out and pay high prices for. 


Justin (The Casual Cinecast)

Films Which Met My Expectations:

  • Joker – Lots of films MET my expectations but there were a few films that EXCEEDED them. Nothing exceeded my expectations more than JOKER. I was not looking forward to a Joker film as I’m not that big of a fan of Batman in general. This film felt like a fresh (although copied many classic films) take on a comic book film that is anchored by a fantastic performance from Joqauin Pheonix and some of the best cinematography of the year. 
  • Jojo RabbitOn our podcast, I’m very much on record as not liking any Taika Waititi films that I’ve seen prior to Jojo. The concept looked a little intriguing but I was worried about the humor falling flat as it always does from Waititi for more. But I was pleasantly surprised by the fantastic performances from the main cast and how much humor did land. Even when it didn’t, it was okay because the film had so much more heart than I anticipated. More heart please, Taika! 

Films Which Didn’t Meet My Expectations: 

  • Booksmart – People love this film and I wanted to as well. A female-driven comedy that attempts what this film attempted to do won my heart over on paper but not in execution. The film never worked for me because the characters and plot are too silly at times to get real emotion from while also trying to be too grounded and emotional at times for the silliness to work. I admire all the performances in the film, but I think all the actors were in a movie that wasn’t sure what it wanted to be. 
  • Ad AstraI was really looking forward to this film based on the trailers. Maybe it’s my fault for setting expectations too high but I was all in for a slow-paced character-driven sci-fi film but in the end, the world building and background of this story outshined the characters and left me feeling nothing for Brad Pitt’s character or the plot. It just never grabbed me and I kept waiting for it to get interesting. Couple that with what felt like out of place, studio-mandated action scenes, I was very disappointed even though this is far from my least favorite film of the year. 

2019 Overall, Pass or Fail? 

Absolute Pass. Above I listed some films that exceeded my expectations which were two of the biggest surprises of the year for me. You could add some honorable mention surprises to that list with Shazam, Brittany Runs A Marathon and Good Boys. However, there were also films I was VERY MUCH looking forward to that were fantastic (many of which are better films than the ones that exceeded my expectations). This list would include Marriage Story, The Irishman, Parasite and A Hidden Life. Plus, I’m not getting into the films that were just good without being great or surprising. 

At the end of each year, the podcast counts down each of our Top 10 films of the year and I consider a year to be successful if I feel pain while cutting films out of my Top 10. This year is going to be a painful one. There are so many films that I wish could make the cut and I haven’t even had the chance to catch up on or see all of the things I want to see from this year! There’s no argument for me that this year passes with flying colors.