The year was 1999, and it wasn’t easy being a member of the Millennial generation. While the world around you seemed to be embracing innovation and new ways of doing things, you were stuck in a rut, still struggling with the problems that your parents and grandparents had always had to deal with. It wasn’t that things had changed, but you had become disheartened, believing that all the change, all the excitement, was happening outside of your own family.
Entertainment. Music, TV shows, and movies had shifted to be more innovative and progressive, challenging old ways of thinking and creating. It was the perfect breeding ground for change, and you saw it all around you. Even your childhood heroes seemed to have a problem with gender, with old established figures being toppled by new, younger ones who embraced modernity and shook off the shackles of tradition.
When it comes to movies, there were a number of significant events in 2019 that deserve recognition. The year was, in fact, the 20th anniversary of the release of The Lion King, and what a 20th anniversary it was! The film, with its stunning visuals and memorable songs, is one of the most successful theatrical releases of all time, winning an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and earning over $1 billion at the box office worldwide.
In 2019, we also saw the theatrical release of Ready Player One and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, two of the most successful films of 2018. On TV, Netflix’s Marvel shows shook off the shackles of traditional one-hour episodes and became some of the most popular shows of all time. Netflix itself became the biggest movie studio in the world, while Disney+ released the highly anticipated Mulan movie, starring Emma Stone and Awkwafina. The year was also the 20th anniversary of The Hurt Locker, and even that classic film wasn’t spared from the effects of technological change, evolving from DVD to being streamed directly to customers’ homes as part of Netflix’s growing streaming arsenal.
Let’s start with Mulan. If you’re a Disney fan, you’ll no doubt be exited to hear about the upcoming release of the long-anticipated Mulan movie. Directed by Jason Scott Lee, the film stars the incredibly talented Awkwafina in the title role and also features Zhang Ziyi, Gong Li, and Ming Xi. Awkwafina perfectly embodies the spirit of Mulan, with her unique blend of Chinese and American influences. Her unique vocal qualities and dry yet luscious humor will bring the legendary story to life on the big screen. For anyone who has ever struggled with self-image, her story will resonate.
Now for a bit of bad news. While there were many great movies in 2019, none perhaps was as influential or significant as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and its infamous Joker. The character, designed by Hollywood legend Heston Blumenthal, was everything you’d want in a villain. He was vulgar, offensive, and demonstrated a complete disregard for human life. But most importantly, he was unpredictable, changing his M.O. and relying on trickery and stealth to defeat the Man of Steel and his friends. His influence is still felt today, with many actors and actresses choosing to play similar characters. This trend probably won’t be going away anytime soon.
In fact, the Joker is such a significant character in this year’s cinematic landscape that he warranted a spot on our best and worst lists. This is the best Joker we’ve seen in a long time, both in terms of design and approach. Let’s take a look.
Let’s start with the worst. Technically, any list of the worst would be foolishness because there was simply so much bad stuff in 2019. From pandora’s box opening to expose our privacy to an endless stream of bad content, it was a year of scandals, tragedies, and bad behavior. However, there were a few significant titles that deserve recognition as some of the worst movies ever made. These are the titles that made us angry, sad, and frustrated all at the same time.
10 – Baby Daddy (Netflix)
In 2019, Netflix got really, really bad. Almost all their films sucked, and it seemed like a rerun of the same old stories with different costume changes. Baby Daddy was one of the rare exceptions and proved that the streaming giant could in fact produce something worth watching. The movie is about a thirtysomething man named Carl, played by Nick Jonas, who meets and falls in love with Katie, a young, beautiful woman (played by Awkwafina). To earn enough money to buy a new house, he takes a job as an Uber driver, which is where the story takes a turn for the worst. In the first few minutes of the film, Katie cuts off the hose that feeds Carl’s corporate car. The rest of the movie explores his attempts to get it back, culminating in a horrific and extended fight scene that is beyond ridiculous. It’s one thing to question whether or not Netflix is a good value if you’re seeking quality content. It’s another thing entirely to question whether or not they are worth paying for at all.
9 – The Farewell (Lionsgate)
The Farewell is an incredibly sad story about a family who is forced to say goodbye to loved ones when a pandora’s box of secrets is opened and the matriarch is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Based on the play The Farewell by Lanford Wilson, the film follows the family as they grapple with the disease and their feelings toward one another. The ensemble cast features Vanessa Redgrave, Haley Bennett, and John Krasinski in prominent roles, with Bob Hoskins playing the father. It’s a complicated issue, Alzheimer’s disease, and the film handles the subject matter with great sensitivity. It won’t be easy watching, but it’s an important watch.
8 – Captain Marvel (Disney+)
Speaking of complicated subjects, let’s talk about Captain Marvel. This is one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year, and it finally came out last week. While some people may have issues with the fact that it’s geared toward a female audience, we, as movie fans, can’t wait to see what this legendary hero looks like in motion.
Predictably, the trailers don’t do the movie justice. We know Captain Marvel through and through. We’ve seen her comic books, we’ve watched her TV show, and we want to see what the hype is all about. The trailers show us glimpses of superheroes and comic book icons doing cool and heroic things, which is exactly what we’d expect from Captain Marvel. It still doesn’t spoil the fun of seeing these iconic images in motion, especially since it’s the first time we’ve ever gotten to meet some of them. Let’s just say that this is going to be an experience. We’re sure that some of our readers are fans of the Captain too and can’t wait to see what happens next.
Speaking of iconic images and movie magic, let’s not forget about the phenomenal success that was the twenty-year reign of the Lion King on the big screen. The film won’t be available for home consumption until next year, but for now, let’s celebrate the theatrical release of the film, which is one of the most significant and innovative films of the year. It won two Oscars, including Best Picture, and its innovative storytelling and groundbreaking visuals still shine bright today. It’s not hard to see why. The Lion King has never been more relevant.
This is the best Lion King we’ve ever seen. It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re a fan of the character or the TV show. The point is that the narrative, the acting, and the production values are all superb. The song “Hakuna Matata” became famous not only because it’s one of the film’s iconic songs but also because it was used as a leitmotif to represent a utopic Africa in the film’s final shot. It’s one of the most beautiful and memorable images in cinematic history.
In the twenty years since its release, The Lion King continues to be relevant as more people than ever are realizing the importance of conservation and ethics in the animal kingdom. To this day, “Hakuna Matata” still means “No problem” in Zulu, the language of the film’s protagonist, Simba.