What books/TV/movies/podcasts did you like in 2019?

This thread is for talking about whatever movies/TV/books you enjoyed (or hated, or just want to mention) in 2019. So please use the comments for that!

(I haven’t seen the new Star Wars yet, but I’m planning to see it soon, so no spoilers please!)

I’ll go first:

I’ve been seeing people posting “top ten movies of the year” lists and it made me wonder, did I even see ten movies that were released in 2019?

So I looked at this list of all the movies released (in the US) in 2019, and it turned out I’d seen way more than I thought. Twenty-six, in fact. Which seems like a lot. Still only a tiny fraction of the films that came out.

My favorite movie of 2019: Parasite. Followed by Toy Story 4.

My favorite TV show of 2019: Unbelievable. Followed by Bojack Horseman.

My favorite graphic novel of 2019: Berlin.

Anyway, here’s the list of movies.

  1. Happy Death Day 2U
  2. Alita: Battle Angel
  3. Fighting With My Family
  4. Captain Marvel
  5. Gloria Bell
  6. Ash Is Purest White
  7. Us
  8. Shazam!
  9. Avengers: Endgame
  10. John Wick: Chapter 3
  11. Booksmart
  12. Rocketman
  13. Toy Story 4
  14. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  15. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
  16. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbes & Shaw
  17. Ready or Not
  18. Judy
  19. Parasite
  20. Zombieland: Double Tap
  21. Terminator: Dark Fate
  22. Frozen II
  23. Knives Out
  24. Jumanji: The Next Level
  25. Richard Jewell
  26. Little Women

Thirteen of the movies I saw were either sequels or, if not exactly a sequel, parts of a pre-existing franchise (Captain Marvel and Shazam!) or intended as the start of a franchise (Alita). Two were subtitled (Parasite and Ash Is Purist White). Four were (at least nominally) horror movies. Four were superhero movies. Twelve were action movies (more or less, genre boundaries are fuzzy). Thirteen had female main characters. Five had visibly non-white main characters. Ten are sort of art-housey movies. Two were animated.

I enjoyed all of these movies to some degree, although there are some here I certainly wouldn’t recommend. The 2019 movie I most regret not seeing is The Farewell: Hopefully I’ll catch it at some point.

Okay, your turn!

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34 Responses to What books/TV/movies/podcasts did you like in 2019?

  1. 1
    JohnW says:

    I’m going to stick to TV, and in no particular order:

    Gentleman Jack, His Dark Materials, and True Detective S. 3 on HBO. Dublin Murders and Vida on Starz. Pose, Snowfall, and Mayans M.C. on FX. I Am The Night on TNT.

    And just so you know, Doctor Who would definitely be on the list, if there’d been any new shows in 2019. Excited for New Years night, however

  2. 2
    LTL FTC says:

    TV: Fleabag, On Becoming A God in Central Florida, Barry, Sex Education

    Movies: Didn’t watch many new ones this year. Good Boys was surprisingly good.

    Podcasts: Not a banner year either. Some of my old favorites got stuck in ruts. Reply All is still a winner.

  3. 3
    Ampersand says:

    Oh, and I just saw the new Star Wars, so add that to my list.

  4. 4
    sharon cullars says:

    Didn’t do much this year while I was battling kidney failure, but did get time to finally read Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven which came out almost a decade ago. Saw Knives Out a weekend ago. Want to see Parasite. Saw Marriage Story on Netflix. Also, discovered a wonderful anime called Carole and Tuesday which offered a diverse and gender fluid cast. Also saw Vida on Starz. Loved HBO’s Succession. And of course, I had to follow up on the latest season of The Expanse; one of the few reasons to be grateful to Amazon.

  5. 5
    J. Squid says:

    I think the only movie I saw in the theater this year was “The Silence of the Lambs.” Great audience and event, terrible movie. (Yes, it was the first and only time I’ve seen it. So that counts, right?)

    I did see an immersive theater performance of “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. Yes, that’s the first time I’ve seen the story. No, I had not read it previously. Yes, it was a marvelous experience.

    Books have swum through my head never to be remembered again. But! I do remember that I’ve been continuing to enjoy The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman, so I haven’t been a total tangent today.

  6. 6
    annqueue says:

    What is that picture from? That looks like a movie I would like to see.

  7. 7
    Ampersand says:

    It’s a picture from Parasite.

  8. 8
    Ampersand says:

    LTL FTC: I loved Fleabag! One of my favorites of the year.

    JohnW: Gentleman Jack was amazing. I want a highlight reel showing nothing but the main character striding places.

  9. 9
    Ampersand says:

    Good Omens wasn’t my favorite show of the year, although I liked it, but the cold open to episode three – “the longest cold open in the history of television” – was easily my favorite part of any episode of any TV series I watched all year long.

  10. 10
    J. Squid says:

    Yes, Good Omens was surprisingly entertaining given both the source material and distance in time. David Tenant saved it all by himself, never mind the other great performances. I’d have preferred if they’d dropped the Queen fanservicing. It felt terribly out of place. But, overall, it was very – and, once again, surprisingly – entertaining.

  11. 11
    Mandolin says:

    Yeah, Tenant and the other actor (forgive me) saved it. The angel scenes have some really neat material. The scenes with the other characters and children received severely short shrift, although IIRC this was a problem with the book as well.

    (I read the book when I was 18 and had a severe cold. I am now 38 and have a mild cold. I don’t much remember the book.)

    Russian Doll hands-down for me, though. Not you, Barry?

  12. 12
    Ampersand says:

    Michael Sheen is the other actor – he’s not as geek-media-famous as Tenant, but he has an armload of Oliver Awards and such. He also had a five-episode arc on “30 Rock,” playing Liz’s “Future Husband” love interest. He’s one of those actors who can be absolutely unrecognizable from role to role.

    And I forgot about Russian Doll! That might be the one I liked better than Unbelievable. Hopefully we’ll get season 2 of RD by the end of February.

  13. 13
    J. Squid says:

    I loved Russian Doll, but I really, really do not want a 2nd season. If there is one, I probably won’t watch it because it will ruin the whole thing for me.

    Watched the last episode and said to the domestic cohabitant, “That was wonderful. An entire, complete story in a single season. I hope to gods that they don’t make more.”

    And now here we are. I am coming to the realization that I have become very, very picky in my enjoyable entertainments. In any case, there’s so much good stuff to watch, there’s no need for me to look at a 2nd season and ruin it for myself.

  14. 14
    Ampersand says:

    I’m not sure where they’ll go with a second season, but the creators have said they have a three-season story in mind. Season one was so good that they’ve earned some trust with me.

    (Of course, maybe season 2 will bite and I’ll regret watching!)

  15. 15
    J. Squid says:

    I would absolutely watch another show if they did one. I’m just sure that continuing this story will just make it worse. For me, anyway.

  16. 17
    Harlequin says:

    I think it’s very funny that Michael Sheen doesn’t have much name recognition in nerd media because I always think of him as “the weirdly hot werewolf from Underworld.” Like, “Oh, there is the weirdly hot werewolf from Underworld as Tony Blair!” (The Queen). I know it wasn’t his first role but it’s the first thing I remember him from.

    I didn’t read or watch much new stuff this year. I had a lot of life upheaval so I found comfort in rereading and rewatching old favorites. I did like Umbrella Academy and Russian Doll and Gentleman Jack, as well as Knives Out. Absolutely loved Rocketman. The only new book I really remember adoring is Any Old Diamonds by KJ Charles, which is a historical gay romance with a really fun and surprising plot; I have trouble recommending romances to people because so much of your enjoyment depends on whether you click with the characters, but I personally loved it, anyway. (I spent most of the fall rereading Charles’ entire ouevre.)

    One other thing I loved was The Beautiful Brain, which has a listening experience like a limited podcast series but is actually an audiobook you can get on Audible. It’s about CTE, the brain disease caused by repeated concussions, mainly focusing on soccer/football players in England. It is extremely difficult and extremely graphic about the details of the cognitive decline, so be warned, but that’s actually one of the things I really appreciated about the piece. I knew a lot of statistics and facts about CTE going in, but I feel like I didn’t understand it until I heard those narratives. It also has a whole chapter on CTE in women. If you have an interest I’d really recommend it (but listen with a box of tissues near you, I was full-on sobbing at several points).

  17. 18
    J. Squid says:

    Umbrella Academy! How could I forget about that? Only the 3rd superhero thing I’ve enjoyed in the last 20 years or so (for the curious, the others were: seasons 1 & 2 of Jessica Jones and Kick Ass).

    But I’m being forgiving of myself and my lack of memory this past year. It had been so long that I’d forgotten exhaustion was a symptom of hypothyroid. Or, maybe, forgetting was just another symptom (of which I have them ALL).

  18. 19
    RonF says:

    Damn, Amp, you sure do watch a lot of movies. I think I’ve seen 3 all year and right now I’m wracking my brain to remember any of them except for Star Wars IX, which I just saw 2 days ago.

    Now I’m going through a list. I also saw Rocketman and Judy. What struck me about Rocketman is how self-involved it depicts Elton John as. When I saw Bohemian Rhapsody there was quite a bit of plot that centered around Freddy Mercury’s relationship with the other members of Queen (and other people) and how the multiple changes in that relationship affected them, him and his music. In Rocketman Elton John seems to me to be incredibly self-absorbed. He uses the name of one of the members of the band playing with him exactly once. Other than that we have no idea who they are, what their lives are like, what their relationship is with Elton John; or indeed if they even had one. They seemed to have had exactly zero input into the music, as if they were just hired hands. Frankly, after watching Bohemian Rhapsody I liked Freddy more, but after watching Rocketman I had a less favorable impression of Elton John than when I started.

  19. 20
    Ampersand says:

    Rocketman definitely didn’t paint a very positive portrait of Elton John; it makes it clear that John was an unbearable asshole for much of his career.

    To be fair, although it didn’t look at all at the relationship between John and his band (I couldn’t even tell from the movie if he had a consistent band over the years or if he switched a lot), it did spend a lot of time on the relationship between John and his lyricist – it was really the most important relationship in the movie.

    Looking at Elton John’s website, there’s a page for band members (linking to individual pages for each current band member). Three of the people in John’s band today have been playing with him since the early 1970s. Of course, John’s been doing this for long enough so that some bandmates have passed away – Bob Birch played with John for 17 years until his death.

  20. 21
    Ampersand says:

    One of my favorite films I saw this year was A Man Escaped, which is a French film from 1956. I was really impressed with how well the solid, no-frills storytelling worked; everything that might be inessential to an escape movie had been pared away.

  21. 22
    Gracchus says:

    While Mercury was Queen’s dominant stage presence, Queen was creatively much more of an equal partnership – no one band member decisively dominated the songwriting. Elton John, by contrast, was always a solo artist with a backing band.

  22. 23
    Mandolin says:

    Barry – that’s a trait that I really like in movies, and it’s why I was really impressed with Clerks but not very interested in other Kevin Smith as much. I wonder if I would like Clerks now, I don’t know.

  23. 24
    Harlequin says:

    The fact that Rocketman made it clear Elton John was kind of an asshole is one of the things that made me like it better than Bohemian Rhapsody to be honest. Like, they’re both fictionalized accounts that change things for both narrative and hagiographic reasons, but Bohemian Rhapsody felt VERY edges-filed-off to me. I believed it less. That sounds very cynical, ha! (I’m also prejudiced because of the treatment of queerness in the two films is, uh, different, and not in Bohemian Rhapsody’s favor.) But also, as Amp said, the movies had different goals. Bohemian Rhapsody is a band movie and hits the usual band movie notes–you could trace out a number of story beat similarities between BR and That Thing You Do!, for example. Whereas Rocketman is more of the story of Elton John as a person and artist.

    I forgot two things that were not new, but were new to me: Schitt’s Creek and They Shall Not Grow Old.

  24. 25
    Ampersand says:

    Barry – that’s a trait that I really like in movies, and it’s why I was really impressed with Clerks but not very interested in other Kevin Smith as much. I wonder if I would like Clerks now, I don’t know.

    I haven’t seen that in decades. I remember really liking it, but I’m afraid it might not have aged well.

  25. 26
    RonF says:

    Well, that then takes me back to Purple Rain, where Prince, who clearly starts out as a complete asshole in dealing with his bandmates, originally doesn’t listen to them at all regarding the direction of the music, but eventually starts to do so and benefits thereby.

    Hm. While I go to few movies, I seem to have a preference for ones about musicians. I still can’t figure out how Ray didn’t win “Best Soundtrack” in 2004.

  26. 27
    RonF says:

    Harlequin:

    Bohemian Rhapsody is a band movie ….

    Hm. Looking at Wikipedia’s entry for the movie, it says:

    Bohemian Rhapsody is a 2018 biographical drama film about Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the British rock band Queen

    Looking at various reviews, some reviewers saw it as a band movie but others saw it as a biopic about Freddy Mercury; that last is the way I saw it and heard about it. I wonder if the difference is simply that a biography about Freddy Mercury would have to involve the band more because he involved the band more in the music, whereas a biography of Elton John would have less involvement of the band because he treated his fellow musicians more as a backing band? Maybe this is just semantics ….

  27. 28
    J. Squid says:

    I remember really liking it, but I’m afraid it might not have aged well.

    I’ve seen it a couple of times in the last 10 years and I still like it. If you think The Godfather, for example, aged well, you’ll probably think the same of Clerks. Like The Godfather, Clerks is definitely, at this point, a period piece. It’s stuck in the culture of its day, for better or worse. The pacing is so…. much…. slower…. than most of what’s been made over the last few decades. But the story is still there, the humor is still there, the student filminess of it is still there.

    I find it aged much, much better than, say, Mallrats, which wasn’t half the story of Clerks.

  28. 29
    Eytan Zweig says:

    RonF – one other difference between the two films is that Bohemian Rhapsody was written with the input of Mercury’s bandmates and managers, who obviously would mostly be able to recount incidents in which they themselves were involved, and, for obvious reasons, without input from Mercury himself. Rocketman, on the other hand, was written with John’s direct input.

    This also might explain why John comes out as more of an asshole in Rocketman, because it may have been easier for him to be self-critical than for Mercury’s bandmates to be publically critical of the dead.

  29. 30
    Gracchus says:

    I would say Clerks largely holds up. It is definitely a period piece now, and would be an immensely valuable anthropological resource for somebody doing a degree on white male nineties slacker culture, but that isn’t a bad thing – white nineties male slacker culture isn’t innately a bad thing, and period pieces are entertaining.

  30. 31
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    I recommend The Sol Majestic by Ferrett Steinmetz– a very odd science fiction novel about a young man who was raised in sort of a political cult and is in dire poverty. He gets picked up by a high-end restaurant…

    And not recent, but I liked A Monster in Paris, an animated steam punk movie rather in the style of Disney– the musical numbers (a giant singing flea who plays guitar) and chase scenes are excellent.

  31. 32
    nobody.really says:

    And just so you know, Doctor Who would definitely be on the list….

    I’ve heard very mixed reviews of Doctor Who. People love the new doctor–but some think the writing has fallen well below par.

  32. 33
    Gracchus says:

    I thought the last season of Dr Who was a bit lackluster. I really wanted to love it, because I really like the idea of a female doctor (and, less revolutionary, I also like the idea of a big group of companions), but while the acting was great, the writing was just a bit meh. It compared quite poorly to the last Capaldi season, where the writing was top notch.

    However! The Christmas/New Year specials were brilliant, so who knows, perhaps season 2 will be better – perhaps this writing/producing/directing team just took a long time to start firing on all cylinders.

  33. 34
    nobody.really says:

    How ya likin’ Dr. Who now?

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