2019 Midyear Report: The 15 best movies (so far)

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Shazam!, Toy Story 4 and Rocketman (Photos: Warner Bros./Disney-Pixar/Paramount)

another classic concert film, it’s also a movie that should be played loud.” data-reactid=”43″>In January 1972, Sydney Pollack brought a camera crew into L.A.’s New Temple Missionary Baptist Church to film Aretha Franklin recording her fourth live album. But technical issues — as well as the late singer’s own legal maneuverings — conspired to keep the footage out of public view until its April theatrical release. While it may have taken nearly 50 years for us to see (and hear) Amazing Grace on the big screen, the wait was worth it. The finished film, which was overseen by producer Alan Elliot and editor Jeff Buchanan (Pollack died in 2008), is a remarkable recording of a remarkable performer, one that captures her creative process without intruding on it. To borrow a line from another classic concert film, it’s also a movie that should be played loud.

toxic masculinity is dangerous) and some dynamite new characters, including Tiffany Haddish’s hilarious Queen Whatevra Wa’Nabi.

those women could have been any of us, given the right set of circumstances. By the end of this chilling, heartbreaking movie, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the monsters still live among us.

Real-life good guy, Zachary Levi, brings the right amount of humor and humanity to the role of a troubled kid (Asher Angel) trapped in the body of the titular caped crusader. Shazam! is also quietly revolutionary in its depiction of a diverse super-family who don’t need to be related by blood to support and love each other. We can honestly say that the DCEU is a better place with this Marvel-ous clan in it.

Romantic comedies are treading water in cinemas right now, but thankfully, some of the best ones have found a safe harbor on Netflix. This heartfelt and wickedly funny comedy with an Asian-lead cast, is the brainchild of real-life friends Ali Wong and Randall Park. The two play childhood besties who take two very different life paths: She becomes a globetrotting chef, while he never leaves their old San Francisco neighborhood. When they’re unexpectedly reunited, they must figure out if they were always meant to be, or if they grew apart for a reason. It’s a sweet and believable story that contains the funniest movie scene of the year so far: a double-date at an outlandishly pretentious restaurant, where Wong’s character brings Keanu Reeves (playing himself). What could have been a one-note gag turns into a memorable riff on fame, ego and foodie absurdity.

Two Thousand and Keanu Reeves has been so far.” data-reactid=”73″>The John Wick movies continue to get more and more ridiculous — and in turn, better and better. Parabellum finds Keanu Reeves’s ace assassin brutally assaulting NBA star Boban “Big Sexy” Marjanovic with a thick book of Russian Fairytales, as well as dispatching of henchmen by horsekick to the head, and engaging in what feels like a solid (and spectacular) 7-minute knife-throwing fight. It also has Halle Berry stepping into the action and some kick-ass dogs, natch. What a year Two Thousand and Keanu Reeves has been so far.

childhood friends Talbot and Fails in crafting this must-see love letter to their ever-changing (ever-worsening?) hometown that makes a profound statement with one of its most deeply resonating lines: “You can’t hate something until you love it.”

with a thing for eyes. Who could ask for anything more?

time-travel adventure generates satisfying, emotional endings for some of our favorite heroes, while setting the stage for a new generation to take over. And if the plot is sometimes a little loopy, the character interactions are perfection — from Thor tossing Mjolnir to Captain America, to Ant-Man and Captain Marvel joining the team, to Black Widow and Hawkeye’s tragic goodbye. The very definition of a crowd-pleaser, Endgame generated spontaneous cheers in the movie-theater audience like nothing we’ve ever seen. Marvel has big plans for the next ten years, but this will be a hard act to follow.

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