Films of 2019

All of the films I watched that came out this year, subject to very frequent re-ranking. Note: I live in Australia, so some films show as 2018 releases, but came out locally this year. We get stuff late, in Australia.

  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    1.Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    ★★★★★

    A doomed romance, in an ends-of-the-earth location; strikingly shot, brilliantly acted, desperately romantic. And the final moments, their parting of ways, the gallery portrait, 'page 28', the crying at the opera: Fucking hell. Knockout.

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  • The Souvenir

    2.The Souvenir

    ★★★★★

    Girl meets world: the amplified emotions of a first true love, an event that leaves an enormous imprint. You never know when that significant person will walk into your life, and you never know when they will leave.

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  • Los Reyes

    3.Los Reyes

    ★★★★★

    Two stray dogs live in a skate park in Santiago (the sort of place you would walk past a million times and never notice); they hang out, chase a deflated football, and sleep alongside one another in the sun. A unique and very special little documentary..

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  • Parasite

    4.Parasite

    ★★★★½

    Class warfare goes BONKERS in this wild satire; revealing any of its many twists is unthinkable. One of the most original and exciting films of the year.

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  • The Farewell

    5.The Farewell

    ★★★★½

    Sprawling Chinese-American family prepare themselves for the passing of the family matriarch... without telling her. Funny, sad, smartly observed, economic in its story telling, with depth but not overt complexity; this film has got a lot. Ha!

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  • Woman at War

    6.Woman at War

    ★★★★½

    A frustrated Icelandic music teacher goes to war with the local aluminium smelter, to help protect the environment; less of a movie, more of a blueprint for my future self.

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  • Her Smell

    7.Her Smell

    ★★★★½

    Elisabeth Moss sings Bryan Adams' 'Heaven' to her estranged daughter, while her equally estranged former bandmates sneak in and watch, and the world goes quiet; THE film scene of the year. Incredible.

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  • Uncut Gems

    8.Uncut Gems

    ★★★★½

    Adam Sandler unleashes his megawatt charisma and runs fully amuck on the modern day Mean Streets of NYC. The best nerve shredding film experience ever.

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  • Hustlers

    9.Hustlers

    ★★★★½

    'It's all a strip club; you have some people tossing money, and some people doing the dance.' A lot of films shoot for the big closing line summation, they always fuck this up. This one NAILS it, and nails life in these economically brutal times.

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  • Honeyland

    10.Honeyland

    ★★★★½

    Transportive documentary featuring wild bees, chestnut hair dye, animal related tragedy (prepare yourself) and the unbreakable Hatidze Muratova.

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  • Little Women

    11.Little Women

    ★★★★½

    Everyone will have their cast fave, these are mine: Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Chris Cooper, TC, and the astounding Laura Dern. A lovingly made version of a venerated classic.

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  • Marriage Story

    12.Marriage Story

    ★★★★½

    This is what can happen: we are mean and hateful to those that love and care about us, polite and accomodating to total strangers, and always take the wrong things for granted.

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  • The Last Black Man in San Francisco

    13.The Last Black Man in San Francisco

    ★★★★

    A misfit young man finds a purpose; reclaiming the upmarket house that was built by his dead grandfather. Striking debut feature, echoes early Spike Lee but with a fresh vibe of its own.

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  • For Sama

    14.For Sama

    ★★★★

    Doco about the war in Syria, told via handycam footage from the last functional hospital in Aleppo. The explosions, the chaos, the twisted, blood spattered corpses, the dead children, the screaming parents, the fucking horror of it all; the woman sitting next to me in the cinema SOBBED the entire time. Genuinely, devastatingly, shocking.

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  • The Beach Bum

    15.The Beach Bum

    ★★★★

    Matthew McConnaughey IS The Beach Bum; running fully amuck in this delirious satire of out of control capitalism.

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  • Knives Out

    16.Knives Out

    ★★★★

    A donut hole WITHIN a donut hole.

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  • I Lost My Body

    17.I Lost My Body

    ★★★★

    Your classic severed-hand-seeks-body-while-young-man-woos-girl-coming-of-age-love-story.

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  • Border

    18.Border

    ★★★★

    A Scandinavean troll (the under-the-bridge kind) works a boring job, finds love, eats a few insects. A perfect parable for our times.

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  • Birds of Passage

    19.Birds of Passage

    ★★★★

    'The Godfather', set in remote Columbia, featuring marijuana smuggling, sacred talismans, dream interprestation, and ritualistic dance. Are you the word bringer?

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  • Midsommar

    20.Midsommar

    ★★★★

    Sinister goings-on in Sweden.

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  • Under the Silver Lake

    21.Under the Silver Lake

    ★★★★

    Neo-noir with Andrew Garfield as your classic shabby detective, looking for a missing girl, wandering through the weirdness of modern LA.

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  • Booksmart

    22.Booksmart

    ★★★★

    A couple of straight A nerds decide to cut loose on the last day of high school; nothing you haven't seen before, but perfectly done. And Kaitlyn Dever RULES.

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  • Minding the Gap

    23.Minding the Gap

    ★★★★½

    Unfiltered view of growing up in America in the new millenium; my generation has let these kids down very badly.

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  • Diamantino

    24.Diamantino

    ★★★★

    A disgraced soccer star, secret DNA experiments, a lesbian pretending to be a male refuge, sinsister siblings, money laundering, Brexit-style nationalism, and giant, fluffy, puppies.

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  • Monos

    25.Monos

    ★★★★

    Waiting for Godot in the Amazon; child soldiers guard a hostage in a remote location, physcially and mentally disconnected from the outside world.

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  • Us

    26.Us

    ★★★★

    Ideas abound in this horror themed take on race relations in the US; not very scary but tense, strange and provocative. Lupita Nyongo is tops in a dual role.

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  • Bacurau

    27.Bacurau

    ★★★★

    Genre mashing western-action-thriller-comedy set in remote Brazil, as American thrill seekers beseige a kooky small town.

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  • The Irishman

    28.The Irishman

    ★★★★

    Goodfellas: The Mafia as a party that you never want to leave. The Irishman: The Mafia as a vampire that sucks you dry. And Anna Paquin: the greatest mute performance in history.

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  • In Fabric

    29.In Fabric

    ★★★★

    A cursed red dress wreaks havoc on two different families, in this demented satire of consumer culture. Fatma Mohammad KILLS as a sinister department store clerk, who only speak in loopy, circular epigrams.

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  • At Eternity's Gate

    30.At Eternity's Gate

    ★★★★

    Van Gogh loses his mind, while painting some of the most famous paintings ever made; a quiet, slow, meditative movie about immortality, creativity, and the joy of standing in the sun.

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  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

    31.How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

    ★★★★

    Reading the 'letterboxd' user reviews of this is a wonderful, wonderful experience. People genuinely love these characters. I cried at the end of the movie, and I cried reading the user reviews.

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  • Capernaum

    32.Capernaum

    ★★★★

    A young Lebanese boy inherits an infant when the baby's mother is sent to jail; tough look at life in a dysfunctional society.

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  • Little Woods

    33.Little Woods

    ★★★★

    The wild west is reborn in present day America; the shale oil boom creates a cash rich, regulation free zone, where hustlers try to make a living, and everyday folk try to stay afloat.

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  • Ad Astra

    34.Ad Astra

    ★★★★

    Brad Pitt goes to Neptune to work out his father is a misanthrope. Moody, visually striking, philosphical space times.

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  • Brexit: The Uncivil War

    35.Brexit: The Uncivil War

    ★★★★

    Benedict Cumberbatch plays one of his patented smug genius types; this time unleashing the mob as he runs the 'Leave' campaign during the Brexit refererendum. Excellent re-telling of recent history.

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  • Knock Down the House

    36.Knock Down the House

    ★★★★

    Four American women, political novices all, run for office in the 2018 mid term elections. The movie that helped make AOC a superstar, but all of the candidates profiled are just as good. A welcome tonic, in a dark time.

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  • Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

    37.Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

    ★★★½

    Leo is washed up, Brad drives him around, Margot is happy (yay!). Stylish and occasionally arresting, except when it's doing nothing. Also a bit like playing GTA.

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  • Jojo Rabbit

    38.Jojo Rabbit

    ★★★½

    Jojo Rabbit: A pretty good anti-hate satire. Thomasin McKenzie: One of the world's greatest actors, 5 stars for her.

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  • John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

    39.John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

    ★★★½

    John Wick is REALLY back, and he'll be back again; great looking, silly, fun nonsense.

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  • Dolemite Is My Name

    40.Dolemite Is My Name

    ★★★½

    Just a warm hearted movie about a bunch of friends who like doing creative things together. And: Eddie is back!!

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  • Rocketman

    41.Rocketman

    ★★★½

    WAY better than 'Bohemian Rhapsody', with a much better lead performance, yet destined to make less money and less Oscar impact. The film industry, is weird.

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  • Doctor Sleep

    42.Doctor Sleep

    ★★★½

    Durnh! - Durnh! - Durnh! - Durnh!

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  • The Unknown Saint

    43.The Unknown Saint

    ★★★½

    A buried bag of cash is mistaken for an unmarked grave, and turned into a shrine to an invented saint. Droll, satirical comedy makes great use of its remote setting, and its co-starring German Shephard guard dog.

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  • Okko's Inn

    44.Okko's Inn

    ★★★½

    A young orphan girl learns the value of work as she helps her relatives run a small rural hotel, aided by some friendly ghosts. A little in the shadow of 'Spirited Away', but has an irrisistable charm of its own.

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  • A Reindeer's Journey

    45.A Reindeer's Journey

    ★★★★

    Ailo RULES.

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  • Wild Rose

    46.Wild Rose

    ★★★½

    There's no place like home.

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  • Destroyer

    47.Destroyer

    ★★★½

    Kidman goes all out as a messed up cop, trying to solve the cold case that derailed her life. Close to brilliance at times, but the movie oddly climaxes half way through, and has nothing left for the final reel.

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  • Children of the Sea

    48.Children of the Sea

    ★★★½

    Metaphysical anime that morphs form a cute story about misfits kids who can communicate with sea creatures, to a psychadelic free form jam on the meaning of existance. Weird, wild stuff.

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  • The Nightingale

    49.The Nightingale

    ★★★½

    Brutal behaviour in colonoial era Tasmania, as a violated woman seeks revenge. Uneven to be sure, and flawed, but bold and ambitious, both rarities in Australian cinema.

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  • Toy Story 4

    50.Toy Story 4

    ★★★½

    'Trash?'

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  • Terminator: Dark Fate

    51.Terminator: Dark Fate

    ★★★½

    No Dark Fate but what we make.

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  • Vox Lux

    52.Vox Lux

    ★★★½

    Kindof the toxic flipside of 'A Star is Born'; fame is a corrosive force, poisoning everything it touches. Portman is excellent, the film's use of Lars Von Trier style 'Chapters' is very odd.

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  • High Life

    53.High Life

    ★★★½

    Very weird goings on in deep space; a horny scientist uses young prisoners for sexual experiementation. Wildly praised, and certainly interesting, but also ugly and unpleasant. And... the point?

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  • Happy New Year, Colin Burstead

    54.Happy New Year, Colin Burstead

    ★★★½

    Like an updated take on a Tennessee Williams play; a sprawling family gather for New Years, and air all of their dirty laundry on the dancefloor.

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  • Avengers: Endgame

    55.Avengers: Endgame

    ★★★½

    Finally.

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  • After Midnight

    56.After Midnight

    ★★★½

    Cracking indy horror-comedy; when a regular schmo is dumped by his GF, he starts being stalked by a mysterious beastie that lives in the forest near his house. The best jump scare I have seen, in years.

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  • American Factory

    57.American Factory

    ★★★½

    The sequel to 'Roger and Me'.

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  • The Australian Dream

    58.The Australian Dream

    ★★★½

    Adam Goodes; footballer, activist, lightning rod for white fuck wits. Rock solid re-telling of his life and times, with some important, risable, commentary from racist in chief, Andrew Bolt.

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  • Apollo 11

    59.Apollo 11

    ★★★½

    Exactly what it says on the box; rock solid re-telling of the Appollo 11 mission to the moon, told entirely through striking archival footage. Visually arresting, but this story has been HEAVILY covered lately.

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  • The Kid Who Would Be King

    60.The Kid Who Would Be King

    ★★★½

    An old school throwback to 'The Goonies', and other fun movies from an earlier time, made by a talented film maker and a top cast.

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  • The Two Popes

    61.The Two Popes

    ★★★½

    What's better than one pope?

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  • The Sisters Brothers

    62.The Sisters Brothers

    ★★★½

    Two thirds engrossing, revisionist Western; one third weirdo drama about ... the dangers of chemicals? Note: this last bit, sucks.

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  • Stan & Ollie

    63.Stan & Ollie

    ★★★½

    Cinema's great early comic duo were not that nice to each other, behind the scenes. Well made but not that illuminating, and relentlessly bleak.

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  • Mr. Jones

    64.Mr. Jones

    ★★★½

    Amazing sequence depicting life in Russia, during Stalin's forced collectivisation, bookended by some less distinguished melodrama.

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  • The Report

    65.The Report

    ★★★½

    What if there was a report tho? What if there was a report.

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  • High Flying Bird

    66.High Flying Bird

    ★★★½

    Machiavellian shenanigans behind the scenes in the NBA.

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  • Ready or Not

    67.Ready or Not

    ★★★½

    Rich people are bad: who knew?

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  • Bait

    68.Bait

    ★★★½

    Rival fisherman, and brothers, tangle in small town England, in this unusual, hand made artefact, like something straight from the craft market.

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  • The Truth

    69.The Truth

    ★★★½

    Perpetually thankful that we live in the Juliette Binoche Age.

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  • In My Blood It Runs

    70.In My Blood It Runs

    ★★★½

    Straightforward doco about life in remote Indigenous Australia, and how the kids are pulled between traditional and western ideas and values.

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  • Free Solo

    71.Free Solo

    ★★★½

    An excellent extreme clmbing doco, but an even BETTER doco about history's most disfunctional relationship; the main character buys his girlfriend a house, so she will leave him alone!

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  • Missing Link

    72.Missing Link

    ★★★½

    Not hitting the high notes of earlier Laika movies, but still a fun, silly adventure. Link may have been better off as the only character.

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  • The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

    73.The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

    ★★★

    'This song's gonna get stuck inside your: head, Head, HEAD!'

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  • Captain Marvel

    74.Captain Marvel

    ★★★

    I found the whole Capt Marvel sucks, Endgame rules, debate a bit confusing.

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  • Fast Color

    75.Fast Color

    ★★★

    A sombre Sundance melodrama, injected with a super-hero subplot; interesting but slight.

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  • Escape Room

    76.Escape Room

    ★★★

    Isn't the world just one, big, escape room?

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  • Happy Death Day 2U

    77.Happy Death Day 2U

    ★★★

    Mashup of Scream, Back to the Future, and Rick and Morty starts brilliantly, but runs out of steam.

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  • The Art of Self-Defense

    78.The Art of Self-Defense

    ★★★

    Jesse Eisenberg is a nerd; a role you may have seen him do in other, better films. Sporadically funny but obvious, huge waste of Imogen Poots.

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  • Joker

    79.Joker

    ★★★

    Joaquin goes nuts, wears a cool suit, locks himself in the fridge.

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  • Crawl

    80.Crawl

    ★★★

    There are not enough alligators-run-wild movies.

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  • Dumbo

    81.Dumbo

    ★★★

    If I was 7 years old, probably my all time favourite movie.

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  • It Chapter Two

    82.It Chapter Two

    ★★★

    Longer, weirder, scarier (imo), more baffling, more climaxes, more Hader, more magic jar.

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  • Gemini Man

    83.Gemini Man

    ★★★

    The future is here, and it will be screened at a VERY high frame rate.

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  • Pokémon Detective Pikachu
  • Spider-Man: Far from Home

    85.Spider-Man: Far from Home

    ★★½

    Oh, they're still making these?

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  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    86.Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    ★★½

    Busy but not exciting, loud but not bold, sentimental but not effecting.

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  • The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot

    87.The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot

    ★★½

    And then had a Sioux City Sasparilla

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  • Welcome to Marwen

    88.Welcome to Marwen

    ★★½

    The strangest mainstream Hollywood film, in a very long time.

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  • Cold Pursuit

    89.Cold Pursuit

    ★★½

    So what's with all these nicknames?

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  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters

    90.Godzilla: King of the Monsters

    ★★½

    Really not as bad as everyone made out. I mean, not good obviously, but still.

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  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

    91.Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

    ★★½

    Moderately creepy stories to tell in the dark.

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  • Greta

    92.Greta

    ★★½

    The world's greatest actress has a fun time playing a psycho who wants to lock CGM in a cupboard.

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  • 6 Underground

    93.6 Underground

    ★★

    Very crass, mostly bad, sortof offensive. But lively. Perfect Netflix time filler, in other words.

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  • Cats

    94.Cats

    ★★

    Digital Fur Technology

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  • Aladdin

    95.Aladdin

    ★★

    Why did they bother? I guess the costumes are nice.

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  • Serenity

    96.Serenity

    ★★

    Justice, is a fish.

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  • Velvet Buzzsaw

    97.Velvet Buzzsaw

    ★★

    The art world is full of pretentious idiots; watching them get slaughtered by a malevolent spirit is fun... for 10 minutes.

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  • Alita: Battle Angel

    98.Alita: Battle Angel

    ★★

    This is what happens when Ed Norton is in charge.

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  • The Mule

    99.The Mule

    ★★

    Old Man Clint meets "Modern America" once again. Note to Clint: please fuck right off.

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  • Domino

    100.Domino

    ★★

    Hot take: Brian De Palma was NEVER that good of a film maker.

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