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10 Great 90s Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen

Let’s be honest – we’ve collectively tried our best to forget a lot of things about the 1990s. The questionable fashion choices speak for themselves, and before the internet stole our attention, many millions of dollars were improbably spent amassing such oddities as Beanie Babies and Troll Dolls.

But a few relics of the 1990s have been unjustly collecting layers of dust, and these 10 movies are among them. We think it’s high time that these forgotten gems receive a piece of the spotlight, along with the respect they richly deserve. Thanks to an abundance of streaming options, added to advances in the home video market, they’re easier than ever to rediscover for yourself. So take a walk down memory lane with these 10 products of the 1990s which prove that the decade wasn’t completely cringeworthy.

 

10. The Limey (1999) – Steven Soderbergh

The Limey

When a retired “professional” – whether it’s an assassin, a cop, or some other kind of ultra-cool character – comes out of retirement to pursue a personal vendetta, it usually makes for a good movie. The Limey is one of the better entries in that film tradition, with Terence Stamp filling the shoes of the anti-hero with calm but unstoppable determination. The quiet authority of Stamp’s voice alone could carry the role, and his vast acting experience makes him the perfect choice for Soderbergh’s film.

He plays a former criminal from England whose daughter dies in Los Angeles under mysterious circumstances. The ex-con travels to America to find answers, but when the L.A. crime scene violently interrupts his search for clues, Stamp shifts into full revenge mode. With cool precision on both sides of the camera, The Limey tells its story with maximum impact.

 

9. Great Expectations (1998) – Alfonso Cuarón

This 1990s adaptation of the classic novel Great Expectations transplants the perennially beloved story from Victorian England to the lush green landscapes of modern Florida. Cuarón’s entire film is bathed in a beautiful green color palette, which makes it a real pleasure to watch. This timeless tale of frustrated love flourishes in its modern setting with the aid of wonderful performances by Gwyneth Paltrow, Ethan Hawke, Anne Bancroft, and Robert De Niro; the always underrated Hank Azaria and Chris Cooper are no less impressive in their supporting roles in this star-studded cast.

Great Expectations is about the cycle of unrequited love, passed from one generation to another. Bancroft plays a bitter recluse who was deserted by her fiancé in her youth, and who teaches her niece how to gain the affections of men before breaking their hearts in return. Enter Finn, played by Hawke, who falls for the girl and spends the rest of his life paying for it. Finn’s journey to become a successful artist while pursuing his elusive crush is at the heart of this excellent adaptation.

 

8. The Indian Runner (1991) – Sean Penn

THE INDIAN RUNNER

Over the years, Sean Penn has proved his talents in front of the camera, but fewer people are familiar with his work behind the camera. Penn’s directorial career began in 1991 with The Indian Runner, an exceptional film about two brothers and the family dynamics that play out between them. Viggo Mortensen and David Morse are perfectly cast as the siblings, with Charles Bronson, Patricia Arquette, and Dennis Hopper among the supporting cast members.

Penn took his inspiration for this story from Bruce Springsteen’s song “Highway Patrolman.” Mortensen and Morse play brothers with contrasting personalities – one is a criminal and the other a small-town deputy. When fate causes their paths to cross after several years, the character of each is tested by the presence of the other. Family loyalty collides with personal principles, and neither of their lives will be the same afterward.

 

7. Nell (1994) – Michael Apted

Before Liam Neeson was busy playing wise mentors and vengeful fathers, he was paying his dues in the shoes of ordinary, vulnerable citizens like the rest of us. Alongside his soon-to-be (and now, tragically, his late) wife Natasha Richardson, Neeson delivers a heartfelt and emotional performance; watching the two of them together in the same film is a genuine pleasure.

Jodie Foster turns in an unforgettable performance in one of her most unexpected roles – a young woman who has lived in remote isolation in the North Carolina mountains with her mother. Growing up with little to no contact with the outside world, Nell has developed her own language and possesses few social skills. After the girl’s mother dies, a local doctor and a caring psychologist take over her care, and try to prepare her for life in a society she doesn’t understand. It’s a moving, well-made film by Michael Apted.

 

6. Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990) – James Ivory

Though a couple of films by James Ivory (namely The Remains of the Day and Howard’s End) are almost universally famous, his catalogue runs much deeper for those willing to explore it. Each Ivory movie oozes class, with the technical restraint and polish of the upper class that he frequently profiled. Mr. and Mrs. Bridge is one of the very best of these lesser known works, and with a cast to die for (Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward), it simply can’t be missed by film fans.

Real-life partners Newman and Woodward play a couple living in 1930s Missouri, and the film is a wonderful study of the subtle dynamics of an average family. Mr. and Mrs. Bridge maintain a successful marriage despite hints of growing emotional strain, while their children push the boundaries set by their more conservative parents. As with many James Ivory films, this story is simple, but loaded with keen insight into human nature; it’s also remarkably beautiful to watch, and deserves a spot on your to-see list.

The 10 Most Immersive Movies of All Time

There are two types of films in existence, broadly categorized. One offers us a glimpse of the real world from the comfort of cinema that might be too harrowing and disturbing for us to directly experience; and the other provides us a welcome escape from the hard ways of life through a deftly created fantasy world through sound and images, visible on the screen.

In either case, believability holds or breaks the interest of the viewer on the screen, and a good film creates the atmosphere with such precision and intelligence that the viewer loses themself in it. That’s how a good immersive film is made. Whether they’re a hellish dreamscape or an otherworldly fantasy – the films mentioned on this list are a technical marvel to marvel at. Without further ado, these are the 10 most immersive films ever.

 

10. 1917

“1917” is a cinematographer’s film. Not to under-appreciate the tremendous work of director Sam Mendes, but “1917” is best enjoyed for the illusion of the immersive one-take exercise that master cinematographer Roger Deakins created in this film. War films have been always blessed by fantastic sound mixing and editing and in “1917,” the amalgamation of the brilliant cinematography and spectacular sound mixing made a striking effect.

The continuity of motion is another difficult task to accomplish and here Mendes shines the most; “1917” is never static, blessed by Deakins’ aesthetic vision and Mendes’ great staging and choreography. Sometimes the obsession with constant movement creates a distraction, but the viewer is always there, present at the scene and sharing the frustration and happiness with the key players of the film.

The continuous take of the film is a spectacular technical achievement and a visceral sight to behold. Historical accuracy, technical virtuosity, and the hard-hitting drama makes “1917” an important historical cinematic representation for the coming generation, and gains an obvious recommendation for being one of the greatest immersive films of all time.

 

9. Enter the Void

Enter the Void (2009)

“Enter the Void” is a brave cinematic exercise created by cinema’s enfant terrible Gaspar Noe. Noe described the limbo state after death to us through his typical imagination with a little bit of help from the Tibetan philosophy and the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The resulting picture is nothing short of an acid trip, complete with fantastic hallucinatory visuals and an uncomfortable, nauseating soundtrack that reminds us of his other masterpiece “Irreversible.”

Noe’s vision of limbo is not always utopian or something to be desired, but certainly, a place to gasp at from a distance. His characters are as always dangerously alone and frustrated in the maze of life and in this case, helplessly bound to an unanticipated and unpredictable present.

A special mention should be given to the film’s cinematographer Benoît Debie for the fantastic out-of-body sequences he created that the protagonist Oscar experiences throughout the film. DMT-induced trips have never felt so real on the screen without taking some. The viewer would easily get immersed in the surrealistically real and realistically surreal mixed environment that Noe imagined and built in the film. A mad Freudian experiment in the context of drug culture, “Enter the Void” has history written all over it.

 

8. Sunset Boulevard

Decorated with exuberant period detailing and a chillingly dystopian noir storyline, Billy Wilder’s “Sunset Boulevard” is a bad dream that everyone would like to forget. Behind the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood epoch when the industry was transitioning toward the talkie period, lied a self-conscious, destructive psychological problem, epitomized in the lifestyles of the faded silent-era film stars.

Billy Wilder cast Gloria Swanson in the role of an old egomaniac, a lonely silent film star who wanted to cling to her glorious past that had passed for a new era of sound filmmaking. The legendary filmmaker’s other masterstroke was casting silent film director Eric von Stroheim in the role of a sycophant servant and an ex-husband who takes great efforts to maintain the illusionary lie that the film star wanted to believe. She wants to make a new film out of a script that she had written for herself and hired a new screenwriter to develop it for her.

As it is a noir film, a tragic ending is to be expected, and Wilder presented a brilliant climax in the film. The film has become alive not only for the brilliant direction of Wilder, but the great performances from the supporting cast and one of the career-best performances of Gloria Swanson. One couldn’t help but sympathize with the tragic life trajectory of the main protagonist and immerse themself in the dark, brooding atmosphere of the film.

 

7. Rope

The reason for the immersion of brilliance that the great English director Alfred Hitchcock aimed for and significantly achieved in his revolutionary film “Rope” lies in the very technique he used in making him. A film made in one shot doesn’t call wonder now – film history is now overtly populated by one-shot films like “Russian Ark,” “Birdman,” “1917,” and for some of those, the brilliance ends there –  but it was one of the first for its time.

Although “Rope” is not technically a one-shot exercise, because at that time, films were shot with analog cameras whose reels had to change frequently. Thus, Hitchcock planned the shooting schedule with immense care so that whenever the need arose to change the showreel, he shot a visual portion on some character’s black coat or some dark corner of the room. This meticulous planning would later be embraced by future directors like Alejandro G. Inarritu, Sam Mendes, and others. Totally shot on a soundstage, the film sadly eschewed any exceptional thrilling moments for which Hitchcock was famous, but it balanced with almost real-life, immersive cinema.

 

6. There Will Be Blood

there will be blood opening

Paul Thomas Anderson slowly and steadily builds the historical narrative of “There Will Be Blood” with the care reserved for a newly born child. Daniel Day-Lewis morphed into a cinematic impersonation with his trademark method acting techniques and the audience became hooked on it. Adapted from the Upton Sinclair novel “Oil!”, “There Will Be Blood” is stuffed with tension and suspense that comes partly from the deliberately slow pace and Day-Lewis’s acting, and partly from Robert Elswit’s great cinematography.

Anderson successfully used the folk tunes and small rhythmic musical notes with the escalating violence thrown on the scene. It is a brutally capitalistic wild west where the competition would be won by any means and by any sacrifice. Religion was always a competitor of the capitalist industrialist mindset, and here, Anderson brilliantly veiled them in subtext, through gestures and body language. The animosity only escalates over the course of the film and when the ending comes, it is a long suspicion. The viewers submerge in the naive burlesque world and a fear of fatality grasps them soon.

All 10 Noah Baumbach Movies Ranked From Worst To Best

American filmmaker Noah Baumbach has been widely celebrated since his first film was released in the mid 1990’s. The majority of Baumbach’s films take place in or around New York City and the iconic settings are explored by the Brooklyn-born director in a terrific manner, almost harkening back to the iconic city’s rich filmic history. Baumbach’s sensibility possesses a deadpan humor that is unique to his style of filmmaking. Arguably Baumbach’s most distinguishing talent as a contemporary director comes through his storytelling, he is able to explore the universal questions of existence faced by all such as growing older and the maintenance of important relationships.

While it could be argued that the characters of Noah Baumbach’s films are too restricted to the upper-middle class and do little to represent society outside of creative spirits and well-off New Yorkers, the stories told in his films undeniably tap into experiences and crises that are faced by everyone in crossroads of their lives. This pragmatic sincerity is what makes the director stand out as one of the most relevant filmmakers of today’s world. Here is a list that considers ten of Baumbach’s films over the past twenty-five years, ranking from worst to best:

 

10. Margot at the Wedding

Margot at the Wedding

Arguably Baumbach’s most difficult and criticized film came in 2007 with Margot at the Wedding. As with many of Baumbach’s films, this one concerns itself with a dysfunctional family going through phases of change, specifically focused on a successful writer named Margot as she travels from Manhattan to Long Island to attend her sister’s wedding. While Margot at the Wedding possesses many solid elements of Baumbach’s filmmaking style, the story and characters ultimately ward off viewers from relating to the film’s overall direction.

The film’s eponymous character is well-acted by Nicole Kidman, but she experiences very little character development for the audience to connect to. Margot is selfish, critical and at times manic. While the audience does learn a bit about Margot’s difficult childhood and traumatic past, many of her self-centered actions seem still difficult to understand, especially when she is taking for granted the care and compassion she receives from her son and estranged husband.

As the film continues, Margot’s sister’s wedding grows closer and the relationships between family members begin to collapse in a frenzied fashion that would be interesting to watch, if only the film’s characters were more lovable or even more detestable. Overall, Margot at the Wedding is not a terrible film but it misses too many opportunities to resonate with viewers, making it a rather lifeless film to sit through in comparison to Baumbach’s other work.

 

9. Kicking and Screaming

Baumbach released his first feature film Kicking and Screaming in 1995. A story based on four young men left in an existential standstill after graduating from college, Kicking and Screaming shows Baumbach’s fascination with people in stages of life transition from the very beginning of his successful career.

The basis for Kicking and Screaming is quite simple – after graduating four friends refuse to leave behind their rambunctious college days and start their lives as autonomous adults. Young adults in crisis are a theme that Baumbach will come to deeply explore in his career, luckily so because this first film presents as an amusing but disjointed portrayal of youth in development. The ensemble cast of Kicking and Screaming is rendered in an uneven manner, focusing predominantly on certain characters and leaving others to be an afterthought. Superfluous storylines are present in the film that lack purpose, detracting from an otherwise charming and relatable plot.

Baumbach was just twenty-five when he released Kicking and Screaming. Although the film is weak in comparison to the director’s other work, it is still a decent film in the bigger picture that shows much of the Baumbach’s talent that will come to blossom.

 

8. While We’re Young

In 2014 Baumbach released While We’re Young, another star-studded film with a cast including Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, Ben Stiller, and Amanda Seyfried. The film largely concerns itself with the trials of growing older and finding success, in alignment with the director’s recurring existential themes. While the film is rich with humor and great performances as with Baumbach’s other work, in ways it falls into stereotypes and assumptions of youth that can feel outdated.

Josh and Cornelia (Stiller and Watts) are a middle-aged New York couple experiencing rough times in their relationship. Both working in different aspects of the film industry, Josh is still chasing success while Cornelia is more assured with her position. The couple’s lives are shaken up when they meet a young couple (Driver and Seyfried) who freshen up the older couple’s outlook. The film continues on and Josh and Cornelia soon learn the consequences of idolizing youth.

While We’re Young takes on conventional themes of a couple enduring a midlife crisis with Baumbach’s specific vision, but the director’s treatment of the young couple seems unlike him. The film’s youth are portrayed as the stereotypical Brooklyn-hipsters, which is a bit too shallow and conventional when considering the complexity of other Baumbach characters. While they need to be built up in a certain idealistic manner to serve the plot, the representation of New York youths seems out of tune with Baumbach’s usual precision.

There is no film directed by Noah Baumbach that should not be seen, but While We’re Young is definitely one that could be put on the back burner before viewing many of the director’s other films.

 

7. Greenberg

Greenberg (2010)

Baumbach swaps his typical New York setting for Los Angeles to create a more expansive and isolated film with Greenberg in 2010. Starring Ben Stiller and Greta Gerwig, Baumbach examines two people who strangely come together in the face of very different transitions in their respective lives.

Stiller’s character is Roger Greenberg, a middle-aged man who leaves New York City to stay with his wealthy brother in L.A after suffering from a nervous breakdown. Initially very dislikable, Roger is perceived to be aggressive and codependent in his social interactions.Soon Roger meets his brother’s assistant Florence, played by Gerwig, a twenty-something in the crossroads of adulthood who has recently suffered a breakup. The two begin an awkward, flaky romance and learn much about themselves from the experience.

In divergence from his expected performances, Stiller plays the lead in Greenberg with a special melancholy and detachment that thoroughly services the history of his character. Roger can be easy to hate because of his harsh words and actions, but his broken spirit makes it much easier to sympathize with his perspective. Los Angeles does much service to Roger’s isolation, a New Yorker in a city where a car is practically a necessity, he is constantly walking and asking for rides.

While Greenberg can be taken as one of Baumbach’s most melancholic films, it still finds strength through its interesting storytelling and strong performances. With the exception of being slightly lengthy in its runtime, it is a solid film made by Baumbach during the upswing of his career.

 

6. Mistress America

Mistress America

Another writing collaboration between Baumbach and Gerwig, Mistress America was released in 2015. A bit of a departure from Baumbach’s typical formula of families or couples, Mistress America centers its story around two young women. Arguably one of Baumbach’s funniest films, Mistress of America maintains a hilarious non-stop pacing that is a breath of fresh air from the director.

Barnard freshman Tracy is having difficulty adjusting to life in New York City, so she reaches out to her future step-sister Brooke. The women meet for an impromptu dinner and Tracy instantly falls in love with Brooke’s lifestyle. Brooke is a bit older – a self-proclaimed autocrat who lives in Time Square, knows everyone, and finds success wherever she seeks it. Tracy continues to trail Brooke’s life in a little-sister fashion, soon learning that Brooke does not have the hold on life that others may believe.

In typical Baumbach fashion, Mistress America contemplates existential worries of success, envy, and isolation in a nuanced manner that only the director is capable of doing. As the film progresses, the story becomes slightly ludicrous as Tracy and Brooke try to figure things out, but ludicrous in an entertaining way that aligns with the unpredictability of the characters. With an undeniably slap-stick climax, Mistress America is an awkwardly playful and funny film that should be seen by all Baumbach fans.

10 Movies From 2019 With The Best Ensemble Casts

There are some films where you struggle to find the MVP, and even if you can’t, you get surprised how the cast is so packed and somehow every single member of the cast is a perfect choice for their part. That’s the way it is; sometimes the cast is the real star. Unfortunately with the exception of the SAG Awards, not many award bodies recognize the whole cast. However, they should – not only the cast but also the casting directors as well. This year was also full of some great ensemble pieces with amazing and memorable performances. Here are 10 films with such casts that we can call great for various reasons.

 

10. Her Smell

This is not a widely discussed film because it’s a small indie and definitely not an easy watch. Those who watched it were mostly floored by Elisabeth Moss’ raw, impressive, beautiful, remarkable turn. It’s the kind of a performance that would sweep the awards if it had a better distributor. Honestly, it may very well be the female performance of the year. She just gives it all here. Director Alex Ross Perry’s campaign letter beautifully describes the process, how it’s a performance that kept on surprise and fascinated not only the audience, but even the director itself.

Nobody else in the film’s cast had this kind of a strong role as it’s Moss’ show, but then, why is this movie on this list? Because everybody is expertly picked for their parts, everyone is very convincing, and it’s a cast full of familiar names that we’re glad to see; I mean Eric Stoltz? Virginia Madsen? This is how you choose the right actors for the right parts. This is why “Her Smell” deserved to get recognition here.

It’s a story of alienation to some degree, how Moss’ character alienates or has conflicts with her bandmates (Agyness Deyn and Gayle Rankin), their label owner (Stoltz), her mother (Madsen), her ex-husband (Dan Stevens), a newish collaborating band that seemingly worships her (Ashley Benson, Cara Delevingne, Dylan Gelula), and a friend who is now more successful than her (Amber Heard). All of the performances here are small but pivotal and effective. They all complete each other. Everybody fits their parts like a glove, so organically and naturally that, even though most of them are recognizable faces, no one feels out of place. It’s a great example of a film that benefited from excellent casting.

 

9. Waves

Kevin Harrison Jr, had two great roles this year and one of them is his powerful part in “Waves.” It’s not just him – everybody is powerful here. The movie itself is great and once again shows that Trey Edward Schults is a talent to keep an eye on. Harrison’s performance is gripping here; what makes his and other cast members’ work so effective that they don’t overdo any moment, all of them manage to find the right subtle tones in their performances and they know when it’s the time to go big.

There’s a natural turn from Taylor Russell whose part is more flashy but not without depth; it’s a lovely, enduring and touching performance and hopefully brings her more great opportunities. Each cast member delivers; Sterling K. Brown would make a great candidate for Best Supporting Actor if it wasn’t such a packed year. He comes off like your typical tough movie dad at first, but then you start to sense humanity in him. Renée Elise Goldsberry comes close to stealing the film in one scene, and she showcases one of the most interesting and compelling portrayals of motherhood of recent years.

Most of the praise seems to be focused on Brown, Harrison and Russell so people seem to forget her, but when she’s on screen, you can’t take your eyes off her. Alexis Demie also deserves a shout out for excellent work. Lucas Hedges’ plot is a bit too long and maybe the film needed less of his story, but still he turns in with a charming performance. “Waves” is a beautiful, impressive film that is also a strong technical achievement, but the raw, transparent performances of its cast is one of the main reasons why this film hit us this much.

 

8. The Beach Bum

This is definitely not a film for everyone. None of Harmony Korine’s films are for everyone, anyway. He’s a unique voice in the cinema, no matter if you love his work or hate him. Here he gives his actors roles that they can both have fun with and the audience can as well by watching them.

Matthew “McConaissance” McConaughey was great and his post-”Interstellar” turn was more of a mixed bag, but McConaughey still delivered touching work in “The Sea of Trees” (unfairly bashed) and “White Boy Rick,” while showcasing his more cool side in films like “The Gentlemen.” His range is impressive, of course, but this is what we missed seeing from McConaughey – playing washed-up stoner poet, no surprisingly hailed as the “role of a lifetime” by many critics.

This is an absolute trip of a movie and will probably have a cult following in upcoming years. McConaughey basically plays the modern day cinema’s The Dude – though, of course, in Korine’s style. While most of the praise was focused on him, the movie is much more than just McConaughey; everybody shines here. Is this an acting stretch for Snoop Dogg? Maybe not, but he’s having tons of fun here. Jonah Hill’s short appearance is hilarious, Isla Fisher is charming as ever, but the real scene-stealer is Martin Lawrence, who hasn’t had a great role since the late ‘90s. His appearance as a sleazy dolphin-watching tour guide is sheer brilliance. Now that he’s back with this and “Bad Boys for Life,” one wonders if he’ll get more great opportunities.

The only problem is that some of the supporting cast members needed more screen time as one couldn’t get enough of them; Fisher in particular has never been better. In fact, nearly every actor in the film gives some of their best performances ever. Who knows whether or not the cast is having fun while filming this movie, but they sure give the impression that they did have fun. And if you get into the style and tone of the film, you’ll have a lot of fun by watching them.

 

7. Luce

Ambiguity is at the center in “Luce.” You never get too sure about some of the character’s motives, what they think and/or what actually happens. It’s a movie with no easy answers and the story doesn’t really build up to some big conclusion, which is why it can be a frustrating watch for some.

One of the main strengths of the film was its all-around terrific cast. Kelvin Harrison Jr. gets his breakthrough moment here and he keeps the audience guessing; is this an overly nice guy trapped in misunderstandings, or there’s something darker to it? Octavia Spencer was better than most of this year’s Oscar nominees in the Supporting Actress category, yet she played another kind of character that you’re not too sure if you love or hate at times. It’s her most complex and maybe her best role. Perhaps if it wasn’t a summer release and a bigger movie, she’d get more talk.

Seeing Tim Roth and Naomi Watts together can give you “Funny Games” flashbacks, but they get totally different kinds of characters to deal with here. Some of Watts’ film choices in recent years have been totally awful and did no justice to her talent, but finally in “Luce,” she got to play a very interesting, conflicted, complex character. It’s a mother who wants to protect her son but after recent events, is also suspicious and somewhat confused about him.

One can say Roth doesn’t have enough material to work with, but that’s what makes his performance impressive, because it could become uninteresting if it was portrayed by your average actor. Roth still finds layers that keep his performance fresh and his character engaging. Andrea Bang and Marsha Stephanie Blake make you feel impressed in their brief moments. “Luce” was one of the most overlooked films of the year, and its cast was certainly worthy of a nomination.

 

6. Little Women

Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” is a fresh look at the beloved classic novel, with a new structure. She proved that some stories are truly timeless and it’s possible to re-tell them in an effective way again and again. But for a familiar subject material to work this great, you don’t just need great directorial and writing chops, but you should also get the most appropriate actors possible and she did it. Even though there’s one disappointing stunt casting (Bob Odenkirk just feels so out of place), the rest of the cast is stellar.

Saoirse Ronan doesn’t get tired of proving that she’s the best actress of her generation; her recent film choices can be easily dismissed as “back-to-back period dramas” but these are all complex roles and as Jo, in both timelines, she just nails it. You see that it’s a young woman with big ambitions, dreams, and creativity but is also kind of a mess. Up there with Winona Ryder, she can be the best Jo on film. Florence Pugh is also a revelation, since Amy is notorious for being one of the most hated characters of the novel, but she comes up with such a new amount of depth that now it’s possible to empathize with her. Eliza Scanlen is heartbreaking; Laura Dern gives such a warm, humane performance; Timothee Chalamet is at his most charming; and then, of course, there’s Meryl Streep, who needs no words.

The film focused on mostly the female cast members, and Chalamet probably got the most mention out of male actors, but the male actor choices are all great here. Tracy Letts’ sequence is fun, Chris Cooper is effective as always, and Louis Garrell is an absolute perfect casting choice as Friedrich Bhaer. The movie is full of great actors and Gerwig shows that she’s a great actors’ director by giving most of them great material to work with. Emma Watson didn’t get enough mention in reviews, but her performance is lovely as well, and certainly plays to her strengths as a performer.

10 Great Horror Movie Sequels You’ve Probably Never Seen

Sequels are everywhere today, and the horror genre might be the king of sequels. Unfortunately most of them are uninspired, boring and worst of all: not scary. There was, however, an abundance of material to sift through. Horror films can be really cheap to make, which is why there are so many, and over the years many young entrepreneurial directors have tried their hand. Often working with small means they had to get creative, and this is one of the strengths of the genre. It forces people to think outside the box.

When coming up with this list, one of the main criteria was: does the director (and his team) care about this film? Did they find inspiration in the movie and its themes? Did they get creative in making you scared? Making you flinch? Or in using horror to explore other themes?

Unfortunately when watching horror sequels, these questions are usually answered with a resounding no. But finding those diamonds in the rough, where these questions are answered with a yes, is made even more exciting by their rareness. Especially for those with a passion for horror.

 

10. Ouija: Origin of Evil

ouija-origin-of-evil

Having seen the first ‘Ouija’, one could easily come to the conclusion that this series would be useless. Fortunately this sequel by Mike Flanagan is vastly superior to the original film.

‘Origin of Evil’ fits for the fans of films like ‘The Conjuring’; that is, family is living in a creepy old house with spirits roaming and suffers the consequences. Director Flanagan and his writing team deliver a tightly shot film that starts of slow but is never boring. Especially the middle of ‘Origin of Evil’ is strong and there are some really creepy scenes with the youngest daughter (are kids in horror films ever not scary?).

The ending of this film hits harder than I expected going in, and that is a welcome surprise in a horror film. That the cast is on the whole quite solid as well only helps.

 

9. Alien 4

Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s ‘Alien: Resurrection’ is an odd one in the Alien series. Often unfavourably compared to the classic first two instalments, it might be skipped by casual watchers, and that is a shame because ‘Resurrection’ has a lot to offer.

Whereas ‘Alien’ is more of a slow burn, ‘Resurrection’ goes for overall chaos and insanity. Scientists use Ripley’s blood to not only clone her but also new xenomorphs for testing. As expected things go out of hand and Ripley finds herself stranded on a spaceship with numerous xenomorphs and a crew of oddballs (played by Winona Ryder, Ron Perlman and Dominique Pinon). With the rub; in the cloning Ripley got some of the xenomorph characteristics as well, like increased accuracy and strength and, not to forget, a strange connection with them too.

Jeunet’s bizarre mix of body horror, drama, action and sensuality was not easy to swallow for the unsuspecting viewer, even if it makes sense for the watchers of his earlier horror-comedy ‘Delicatessen’. ‘Alien: Resurrection’ is certainly not perfect, but it is most definitely unique(-ly gross) and entertaining. The colourful cast is fun to watch. Especially the scene where Ripley meets her failed clones is memorable, and so often parodied that people don’t even seem to remember where it originated.

 

8. Four Flies on Grey Velvet

Four Flies on Grey Velvet

Third instalment of master of horror Dario Argento’s ‘Animal Trilogy’, because no horror-list is complete without a giallo film. Like so many Argento’s films, ‘Four Flies’ has an intricate plot related to a killer whose POV we often see without knowing their identity.

Drummer Roberto accidentally kills a man that has been following him, immediately he realises he was set up by a masked stalker. The rest of the film consists of Roberto trying to get out of his predicament meeting a colourful set of characters while those that know too much get killed off.

Argento skilfully builds the tension in this horror-mystery but the strength in the film lies in its inventive, stylish visual direction. ‘Four Flies’ uses slow-motion bullet effects way before the Hong-Kong action films do, and certain shots have inspired many films to come (especially the scenes in the park). Add a cool soundtrack by Ennio Morricone and you’ve got a classic giallo!

 

7. The Devil’s Rejects

DevilsRejects-Haig

One would be forgiven to not carry high hopes for a sequel to ‘House of a 1000 Corpses’ by Rob Zombie. ‘The Devil’s Rejects’ is a bit more down to earth and its gritty feel makes the violence and horror stand out much more. In this sequel, three of the Firefly family members are on the run from the force of law, which is personified in a demon-like sheriff that is ethically barely above the criminals he chases. Despite being hunted, the Fireflys take every opportunity to brutalize people they run into and their hostages.

There are some truly demented scenes in this film that might make even the more grizzled horror fans flinch. Rob Zombie’s direction and design here creates a dirty but much more realistic Southern US vibe that fits well with the cat and mouse game being played out on the screen. For the lovers of a Tobe Hooper-like vibe that are not afraid of a little violence.

 

6. Final Destination 3

‘The Final Destination’ series is all about creative and gruesome deaths. People that stopped watching the series after the second instalment can rejoice that the third one lets go of the more pompous plotlines of the second film and goes straight for the horror.

‘Final Destination 3’ above all excels in finding new Rube Goldberg-esque ways for ‘death’ to reign back in its cheaters. Think of such creative ways as tanning beds and a complicated series of events involving gym equipment (which will give you some new phobias in the process). This third chapter in the series also boasts one of its darkest finales.

It is worth mentioning that Mary Elizabeth Winstead is arguably the strongest lead in a series plagued by mediocre acting, and her role elevates the tension by creating a character that one actually cares about. That some deaths have ironic and darkly hilarious elements only adds to the experience.

10 Great Movies Ranked Lower Than 6.0 On IMDb

IMDb is among the best resources for cinephiles, and has provided film fans with a great database of movie news, trivia, production information, and references. It is largely seen as the best way for moviegoers to look up details about their favorite movies. Among IMDb’s most popular features is its system of ratings and rankings, and a lot of publicity has surrounded the films that rank highly enough to place on IMDb’s Top 250 movies of all-time.

However, not every film gets that sort of acclaim, and as with any system that allows the public to vote on ratings, there are films that have struggled to grow past their low rating. It’s easy to look at a low IMDb rating, particularly one below the threshold of 6.0, and automatically dismiss it. That being said, there are certainly films that for one reason or another carry a low user rating, but should be checked out regardless. Here are ten great movies with an IMDb rating lower than 6.0.

 

10. High Life (5.9)

Claire Danes is a signature filmmaker with a passionate fanbase, but considering that High Life was her first English language film and starred one of the world’s most famous actors, Robert Pattinson, more novice audience members may have been caught off guard by Danes’s spiritual, sexually motivated science fiction mystery. The film has echoes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, as most space movies do, but it is not a traditional space adventure in any sense.

Between its abstract visuals, metaphorical science fiction plotting, and a generally pensive and pessimistic view of humanity, High Life is an abrasive experience, but its rich themes and jaw dropping visuals make it a rewarding film upon rewatch. Pattinson has proven again that he is one of the bravest and most adventurous actors of his generation, and his performance as a father who loses one family and finds another gives a human heart to the often obtuse story. High Life may not be for everyone, but it’s certainly worth a look for its craftsmanship alone, and doesn’t deserve its low rating.

 

9. The Holcroft Covenant (5.7)

Sometimes movies are just lost to time, and The Holcroft Covenant is one of those films that didn’t get a fair shake back in 1985, and has never received its deserved critical appreciation. Based on a Robert Ludlum novel, the film follows the son of a Nazi associate (Michael Caine) who becomes wrapped up in an international conspiracy to discover secret funds and stop a future rise of the Third Reich. Energetically directed by the legendary John Frankenheimer, the film bounces between locations with grace and condenses the novel’s material into a lean and thrilling espionage thriller.

Caine isn’t an actor normally associated with action films, but he’s surprisingly dynamic in the role, and is able to bring a flawed character to life while still being riveting in the action sequences. The plot is intricate to the point of being incomprehensible, but Frankenheimer’s energy keeps the momentum going and is able to land all the key plot twists. Mostly forgotten, The Holcroft Covenant won’t be remembered as one of the great espionage thrillers of all-time, but it’s certainly worth a look for fans of the genre.

 

8. The Trust (5.4)

Nicolas Cage has had an interesting career over the past ten years, and now almost solely stars in micro budget direct-to-DVD or streaming genre films. It seems like Cage can never say no to a script, and due to the fact that his reputation has been almost permanently soiled, it’s hard to take a chance on one of his new projects. However, Cage will occasionally remind moviegoers of the great actor he is, and The Trust is a thoroughly underrated dark comedy that gave the surprising duo of Cage and Elijah Wood.

Cage and Wood play corrupt cops who decide to pull off a dangerous heist, and the planning and preparation for said heist is creative and refreshingly unpolished. The characters were definitely written for the actors specifically, and the film makes use of Cage’s eccentricities and Wood’s ability to play softer, straight laced characters. Combining low budget thrills with a good dose of ultra-violence, The Trust is one of Cage’s best films in the later stage of his career, and should be an enjoyable watch for heist movie enthusiasts.

 

7. Rules Don’t Apply (5.7)

Rules Don’t Apply was intended to be Warren Beatty’s comeback vehicle; he wrote, directed, and starred in the film as an aging Howard Hughes, and although the film received a flashy premiere at the AFI film festival and was initially seen as a prime Oscar contender, it became a colossal box office bomb and essentially sowed the seeds for Beatty’s retirement. Yes, Rules Don’t Apply is sprawling and somewhat messy, but it’s also haplessly sincere, and gives Beatty a great role to chew on that also serves as a means of self-reflection.

As Hughes, Beatty looks deeper into what it means to be larger than life, and the consequences of his behavior is felt through the shattered romance between an aspiring actress (Lily Collins) and a charismatic driver (Alden Ehrenreich) that find each other through their mutual employment under Hughes. The production design is lavish and nostalgic, and the frequent cameos from A-listers and rising stars breathe life into an eccentric cast of supporting characters. Rules Don’t Apply is an essential film for fans of Beatty, and his presumably final film should be appreciated for the personal text that it is.

 

6. Digging for Fire (5.8)

Jake Johnson and Joe Swanberg have one of the most unique actor/director collaborations of this generation; between films like Win it All and Drinking Buddies, they’ve been able to capture relaxing and moving stories of mundane life that are both emotionally intimate and refreshingly low key. Digging for Fire is an exercise in artistic freedom, as the entire film was shot with only a loose outline and only basic plot points conceived ahead of time.

Such an endeavor requires the actors to have full knowledge of their characters and interpersonal relationships, and the film’s excellent ensemble, which includes Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jenny Slate, Chris Messina, Brie Larson, Sam Rockwell, and Mike Birbiglia, are all charming as a group of loosely connected friends whose weekend is thrown off by the discovery of a gun and bone. It’s a hangout movie that explores priorities and midlife realizations, and it is surprising that this charming film didn’t gather more audience support.

10 Movies From 2019 Critics Liked But Audiences Didn’t

As with every year, 2019 had its share of films that critics praised, Rotten Tomatoes deemed as certified fresh, and… were panned by audiences.

If we are to look at the reviews they’ve received, the movies on this list were supposedly among the better films of 2019, with a few titles even appearing on best of the year lists, some of them on our page too. However, based on the audience reaction, the films on this list are at best mediocre, with some of them not even getting a 6/10 on platforms such as IMDb or Metacritic, and all of them being rotten judging by the Rotten Tomatoes audience score.

Without further ado, here are 10 movies from 2019 that critics liked, but audiences didn’t. As always, let us know in the comments what is your opinion on these films.

 

1. The Souvenir

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A semi-fictionalized version of director Joanna Hogg’s experiences at film school, “The Souvenir” is set in the 1980s Sunderland and stars Honor Swinton Byrne as Julie, a young film student who falls in love with Anthony (Tom Burke), an older man who works at the Foreign Office. What starts as an intense relationship shortly stumbles because of Anthony’s untrustworthy character and hidden addictions.

Critics praised Joanna Hogg’s film as a uniquely impactful coming of age drama. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw said that “the director confirms her status as a modern visionary with a deft, distinctive and deeply personal story of young love”, while Monica Castillo from RogerEbert.com called “The Souvenir” “the most empathetic movie to capture that kind of bad romance”, referring to the toxic relationship depicted in Hogg’s film.

With a 90% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes (and an 8.12 average rating), it is obvious that critics really liked “The Souvenir”, yet that isn’t the case with most viewers. The film has a rotten 36% audience score, and many audience reviews call it a dull, boring, and hard-to-sit through experience, and criticize the hard to swallow relationship between the two main characters.

It is true that the film might have benefited from a shortened runtime, as it drags during its second act and at times becomes a little tedious, yet the charming performances from Byrne and Burke combined with Hogg’s very personal script and David Raedeker’s grainy cinematography make “The Souvenir” stand out as one of the year’s better-crafted dramas.

 

2. See You Yesterday

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Perhaps the most divisive film of 2019 when it comes to critics’ vs audience reaction, this Netflix original science fiction film produced by Spike Lee follows C.J. Walker and Sebastian Thomas, two teenage prodigies who create time machines in order to save C.J.’s brother from an incident that claimed his life.

The critical reaction for “See You Yesterday” was overwhelmingly positive. It has a 95% Tomatometer score (with a 7.34 average rating), and a 74 Metascore. Brian Tallerico from RogerEbert.com labeled it “an ambitious, striking debut that takes unexpected creative risks and heralds the arrival of an exciting new filmmaker”, Benjamin Lee from The Guardian called it “a smart, often ingenious, new film that takes a depressingly familiar scenario and then adds some time travel to the mix” and the list goes on.

Surprisingly, the audiences didn’t feel the same – at all. On Rotten Tomatoes, the audience score is a disappointing 34% (with a 2.45/5 average rating), IMDb rates it as a 5/10, and even the user score on Metacritic is 4.9/10. So what happened?

Most viewers found the film too juvenile, complained about the poor screenplay and acting, felt like the critics praised it only because of political correctness, and above all felt cheated by the film’s lack of an ending.

 

3. High Life

Claire Denis’ ambitious science-fiction film features Robert Pattinson as Monte, a troubled man who has been sentenced with a deadly space mission whose purpose is to extract an alternate form of energy from a black hole.

The film was lauded by critics for its compelling narrative, dark atmosphere, great production design, and Robert Pattinson’s stellar performance. However, its non-linear and somewhat confusing narrative didn’t appeal as much to audiences, neither did the film’s slow pace and overall strangeness. On Rotten Tomatoes, “High Life” has a certified fresh 82% Tomatometer score (7.42 average rating), while viewers gave it a 42% audience score, with a 2.8/5 average rating.

 

4. Ad Astra

“Ad Astra” disappointed at the box-office, was panned by audiences, yet it was still one of the best-received films of 2019 if you are too look at the critics’ reactions.

With an 84% fresh score on the Tomatometer, critics praised James Gray’s cerebral sci-fi for Brad Pitt’s fantastic performance, the impressive visuals and technical aspects, and the intelligent and provocative script. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called the film “absolutely enthralling”, David Ehrlich of IndieWire said that “Ad Astra is one of the most ruminative, withdrawn, and curiously optimistic space epics this side of Solaris. It’s also one of the best.”, and Xan Brooks of The Guardian called it a “superb space-opera” and praised Pitt’s performance.

At the opposite pole, audiences weren’t impressed at all with Gray’s movie. With a 40% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and a mediocre 6.6 on IMBd, “Ad Astra” was criticized by many viewers for being too slow, monotone, and unimpressive apart from the beautiful imagery and Pitt’s performance.

Audiences expected another “Gravity” or “The Martian” and instead received a quasi-Tarkovskian, slow-burn, and melancholic space opera that only appeals to a certain type of moviegoer.

 

5. In Fabric

This Giallo-inspired horror-comedy directed by Peter Strickland (“Berberian Sound Studio”, “The Duke Of Burgundy”) tells the story of a cursed dress and the devastating consequences it has on two of its unlucky owners.

As with Strickland’s previous movies, the critical reaction to “In Fabric” was overwhelmingly positive (the film holds a 94% score on Rotten Tomatoes), while the audiences were less enthusiastic. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw rated the film a 4/5 and called it a ghost story that is “utterly unlike anything else around”, while David Ehrlich from IndieWire gave it a B+ and called it a “mordantly funny and unapologetically fetishistic homage to vintage Euro-horror”.

However, audiences weren’t as impressed with Strickland’s latest film (it holds a 6.3 grade on IMDb, a 5.8 user score on Metacritic, and a 48% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes), with many of them considering “In Fabric” too strange for its own good, and a hard to sit through movie.

“In Fabric” certainly isn’t a film for everyone and it indeed suffers from a somewhat disjointed narrative that loses its steam in the less interesting second act, but if you are into Giallo or you’ve enjoyed the director’s previous work, you will surely find many things to like about it.

The 10 Most Surprisingly Good Movies of 2019

Every year, Taste of Cinema takes it upon themselves to write countless end-of-the-year lists. We make an effort to provide lists that highlight the best and the worst cinematic experiences of the year. Historically, the more positive lists tend to get stronger, more positive reactions.

That’s why this list is so special. It’s primarily composed of movies that absolutely could have wound up on any number of negative lists. The films listed below initially appeared to be questionable in terms of quality. Few, if any, were guaranteed failures, but none of them stuck out for the right reasons.

The entries on this list are by no means the greatest accomplishments of last year. That kind of discussion can be found in another list. Instead, you’ll find a selection of films that surpassed expectations in one way or another.

 

1. Brittany Runs a Marathon

Okay, so maybe the Sundance hype may have clued people into the level of quality beforehand, but there were still a few question marks surrounding Amazon’s $14 million acquisition. Before its theatrical release, the biggest question was probably, “is this thing really worth that kind of investment?”

The short answer is no, but not because of a lack of quality. Brittany Runs a Marathon stumbled at the box office, where it only made $7.4 million. It actually forced Amazon to rethink their release strategy. This sort of financial turmoil didn’t help the film’s prospective viewer-count, which is probably why nobody is taking the time to hype it up.

Honestly, it deserves hype. Brittany Runs a Marathon is an inspiring redemption tale that will make you want to reach for the stars. This based-on-a-true story tale of a lazy woman who gets her butt in gear is equal parts charming and emotionally impactful. Jillian Bell gives a career-defining performance, while Paul Downs Colaizzo struts his stuff in his directorial debut. You won’t want to miss it, even if everybody else did.

 

2. Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep must have been a daunting film to direct. On the one hand, Mike Flanagan had to create a film that appealed to the Kubrick-loving masses. On the other hand, he needed to create a film that appealed to Stephen King, who notoriously hated Kubrick’s vision. It’s really hard to imagine someone striking that balance, but if anyone could do it, Flanagan could.

Surprise, surprise – he pulled it off. Some people have taken issue with the recreated scenes from the original movie, but all in all, Flanagan’s interpretation of Doctor Sleep does the source material justice and serves as a love letter to its classic predecessor. It isn’t quite as scary as its predecessor, but it’s a different kind of story. Doctor Sleep’s fantastical storytelling devices work in their own way.

The box office numbers were weak, but that means nothing in the long-run. The fact of the matter is, Doctor Sleep was the best Stephen King adaptation of last year. In the Tall Grass, It Chapter 2, and Pet Sematary all failed to compete. This is the crowning achievement of 2019.

 

3. Alita: Battle Angel

If you were to think back on past anime and manga adaptations, you’d have a list of some positively wretched examples of cinema. From Dragon Ball Evolution to Death Note to everything in between, it’s borderline pointless to have any sort of expectations going into these kinds of adaptations. This remains true even when people like Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron are involved.

Big names meant that people would approach Alita: Battle Angel with cautious optimism, but the key word is “cautious.” Prior to release, we still knew that this was an adaptation of a manga. We couldn’t even trust it with Martin Scorses. People had been burned too many times, so what would make this any different?

The answer depends on who you ask. For the purpose of this article, we’ll say that Alita: Battle Angel does run into some pretty common roadblocks that seem to plague every adaptation of this sort. At the same time, it is able to stand out as a result of lavish visuals and adrenaline-pumping action. This is a blast to sit through in spite of the occasional cliché.

It’s also a blast to sit through because the crew clearly cares about the source material. Seriously, there are several moments that come straight out of the original manga. Watching them on a big screen feels euphoric at times. While familiarity with the source material is beneficial, it should also be noted that the final product can be appreciated on its own merits. Long story short, Alita has broken the curse.

 

4. Hustlers

Hustlers is probably one of the more straightforward entries on the list. The cast was iffy, the subject matter was questionable, and the director hadn’t really proven herself yet. There doesn’t need to be a drawn-out paragraph describing why Hustlers fits the bill. It just didn’t look very good.

Somehow, miraculously, everything just comes together. The hit-or-miss Jennifer Lopez gives the best performance of her career, Lorene Scafaria’s daring script knows exactly when to switch between funny and empowering, and the twists-and-turns are liable to keep the average viewer invested. This doesn’t look like the type of film to pick up awards season momentum, but it actually gained some traction.

That traction was well-deserved. Beyond Lopez, who got most of the attention, there’s a strong script and an impressive level of polish. This is more than a crime movie about strippers. This is a movie that ticks all the right boxes.

 

5. Always Be My Maybe

Romantic comedies are more maligned than any other genre. Given the abundance of star-studded money grabs consisting of eye-roll-inducing narrative tropes, this level of hatred seems natural. With that in mind, a predominantly Asian cast didn’t do much to stop people from hating on Always Be My Maybe. Representation is certainly something Hollywood has been improving upon as of late, but formulaic is formulaic no matter how you slice it, and this definitely looked like another lazy romcom that liberally borrowed from other sources.

As we all know, looks can be deceiving. Structurally, Always Be My Maybe may follow a certain template, but there’s more than meets the eye. Beneath the familiarity, you’ll find a movie with a message. There’s a social commentary here that’s missing from most of the competition. Sure, this could function as a typical date movie, but there’s also depth aplenty.

Overall, Always Be My Maybe works because it offers the best of both worlds. Viewers are able to quench a variety of metaphorical thirsts because of the whip-smart script coupled with the surprising thematic depth. The much talked about cameo appearance is the cherry on top.

All 10 Superhero Movies of 2019 Ranked From Worst To Best

Superheroes. The very word triggers many reactions – some of awe, wonder, and distaste. They may be the defining films of this generation, inspiring numerous filmmakers to come. Maybe superhero movies are just theme parks, a passing fad, a mega-billion blockbuster monster that has contorted cinema into an industry. Although spandex and capes might be rutted in a bit of a controversy due to the 2019 comments from the great Martin Scorsese, we all can agree on one thing – they are one heck of a good time.

These are 2019 superhero movies, ranked.

 

10. Dark Phoenix

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Unfortunately, the X-Men franchise didn’t go out with the bang that was James Mangold’s “Logan,” instead ending with the pathetic sizzle that was 2019’s “Dark Phoenix.” We’ve seen this story time and time again, first perfectly told in comic form back in 1980, then perhaps in its most definitive form in 1994’s X-Men animated series, then averagely redone in 2006’s “X-Men: The Last Stand,” and finally in 2019, but this time around with much less grandiose and fun (and without the fine performances of Hugh Jackman, Sir Ian McKellen, and Sir Patrick Stewart).

The film follows X-Men Jean Grey as a cosmic flare bestows upon her powers she cannot control, powers which cause her to harm those around her as she fights her inner demons and generic villains around her. With a cliched storyline, bland dialogue (that the otherwise good actors couldn’t shine past) and bland action sequences, this trainwreck of a movie definitely deserves to be the back catalogue caboose of this list.

 

9. Brightburn

Despite the title, “Brightburn” is a lackluster film that struggles to maintain its audience’s attention. It’s a horror-superhero combination with an interesting premise: what if Superman was evil?

“Brightburn” tells the tale of barren couple Tori and Kyle Breyer, who are gifted by the stars an alien son, whom they name Brandon. After unearthing part of his mysterious heritage, Brandon acts on his most depraved desires, beginning to hurt Brightburn’s residents with his newfound superpowers.

While “Brightburn” does offer us a few entertaining shock value moments, that’s it. Actor Jackson A. Dunn does the best he can with the material, but it is not scary in any way. He comes across as an edgy, goth, imitation Clark Kent. The movie tries to delve into themes of nature versus nurture and suburbia subversion, but those two topics have been explored so much and so well in dozens of other movies that “Brightburn” misses the mark.

 

8. Hellboy

“Dark Phoenix” wasn’t this year’s only franchise killer. There was also “Hellboy.”

Originally proposed as a sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s 2008 “Hellboy II,” studios probably realized that the more the project got stuck in development hell (due to behind-the-scenes drama stemming from del Toro being unable to keep full creative control) the less relevant “Hellboy II” became, and the solution was a “Hellboy” reboot.

“Hellboy” follows its titular character, the half-demon Hellboy and his quest to stop the ancient resurrected sorceress Nimue the Blood Queen without causing the world’s end.

“Hellboy” does have some redeeming qualities. David Harbour, while not as iconic as Ron Perlman, is still pretty good in the role. There are some cool, fun, gory action scenes and creative character designs, and the urban fantasy/medieval aesthetic is refreshing for a superhero movie, but they don’t beat the film’s flaws. “Hellboy” is extremely rushed, unfocused, and overstuffed with a bunch of storylines that are developed better in the original comic form. It feels like a desperate attempt to cash in on this generation’s superhero craze and failed miserably in doing so.

 

7. Glass

The trailer for “Glass” looked extremely promising. A superhero crossover that was supposed to bring together director M. Night Shyamalan’s three best characters into some climactic development of a storyline, mashing together “Split” and “Unbreakable,” two unique films in the top tier of Shyamalan’s lineup. The idea of an auteur-driven superhero franchise seemed fresh and exciting.

One can’t help but respect the film’s ambition. There’s a good movie hidden somewhere in there, but it never reveals itself. Shyamalan has an obvious reverence for superhero mythology, but his passion transmits into boring scenes of villains and heroes being self-aware about the archetypes they represent. These concepts were executed well in the previous two movies, but Shyamalan doesn’t build on it. (Shyamalan also seems to think we don’t remember the past two movies, since he keeps on inserting annoying flashbacks to them that detract from the film’s experience.)

When the action finally hits, it’s underwhelming, and the movie’s twists only seem to exist for the sake of being twists.

The only good qualities of “Glass” are its performances (expected from masterclass actors like James McAvoy, Samuel L. Jackson, and Bruce Willis) and its ambition, but aside from that, it isn’t worth checking out.

 

6. Captain Marvel

“Captain Marvel” is a solid, average blockbuster that feels like a dated Marvel Phase One throwback. It’s definitely an attempt at a progressive step forward since “Captain Marvel” is Disney’s first female-led superhero feature, but the movie unfortunately isn’t able to hold on its own.

It tells the story of Starforce member Vers, a Kree warrior in an intergalactic conflict between her race and the shapeshifting Skrulls. When the conflict brings her to a 1995 Earth, she finds herself having recurring memories where she lived another life as United States Air Force pilot Carol Danvers. She and American spy Nick Fury uncover the secrets of her human heritage as she uses her powers to end the Kree-Skrull war.

Brie Larson is a great actress, doing the best with what she has (at her best when she’s bantering with de-aged Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury) but Larson isn’t able to do much with such a blandly written character.

“Captain Marvel” also lacks the life and personality that recent solo Marvel outings have come to grasp. The costumes and makeup look great, but the space action feels uninspired, maybe because co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck are more used to directing character-driven indies, and it shows. The film’s strongest moments are either Vers’ flashbacks as Air Force pilot Carol Danvers or the buddy-comedy dynamic between Larson and Jackson. The in medias res style of storytelling fails to separate from other superhero origin stories, and the ‘90s setting feels like a gimmick spawning from today’s nostalgia craze.

While still enjoyable, “Captain Marvel” was full of wasted potential. It introduces some interesting, inspiring feminist commentary that becomes less subtle as the movie goes on. The first female-led Marvel movie deserved better.