What a year 2019 has been for movies! We've seen the epic conclusions to more than one long-running series, thrilling expansions of franchises we love, and wonderful success stories from films that became big hits without the sort of advertising push that many big films enjoy.
As the year comes to a close, we want to look back at the best movies of 2019 in theatres, and the top movies to watch in the days before the New Year arrives.
[Image Credit: Marvel Studios]
2019's top movie at the box office was, no surprise, AVENGERS: ENDGAME, from Marvel Studios. The more than $850m domestic haul for the film was based on massive fan engagement, thanks to a decade of Marvel movies and more than 20 other movies that led to ENDGAME. With amazingly strong storytelling, big narrative surprises and an intensely emotional ending, ENDGAME gave us everything we could have wanted as a celebration and culmination of the first ten years of movies from Marvel Studios.
[Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]
While ENDGAME wasn't exactly an unexpected success, other movies did surprise us in pleasant ways. JOKER, from Warner Bros., pulled in more than $300m to become the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time, while also proving that there might be a lot more elasticity to the superhero movie than we thought. Having an actor on the caliber of Joaquin Phoenix to star as the man who becomes the most dangerous clown in Gotham City certainly didn't hurt.
Other superhero movies were powerful, too, from SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME to CAPTAIN MARVEL. Disney and Pixar had some of the biggest 2019 films, with THE LION KING and TOY STORY 4 taking the number two and three slots on the domestic box office chart, and the live-action ALADDIN charming audiences as well.
[Image Credit: STX Films]
And HUSTLERS, the movie from STX Films starring Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu, snuck in from the side door to become one of the top movies at the box office this fall, and also one of the best adult leaning dramas of the year. HUSTLERS felt like a movie from a different era, and we loved it.
STX also had a huge hit with THE UPSIDE, which came to theatres early in the year. Thanks to significant word of mouth and repeat viewings, the comedy/drama pulled in more than $100m to become one of the top 2019 dramas.
We enjoyed several big scary movies in 2019. On the horror side, IT: CHAPTER TWO and US kept audiences riveted, to take the number eight and nine spots on the domestic box office roster.
[Image Credit: Sony Pictures]
Quentin Tarantino released the second-most successful film of his career, as ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD earned more than $140m in the United States to come in just behind DJANGO UNCHAINED as the filmmaker's top movie. If not for the spat between Tarantino and China's National Film Administration, which blocked the release of the new movie in China, ONCE UPON A TIME would almost certainly have taken the top spot for Tarantino. Regardless, at three hours long and without a traditional narrative, the elegiac look at second chances in a rapidly-changing Hollywood stands as an impressive success, and one of the best movies of 2019.
[Image Credit: NEON]
Another top 2019 movie, and one which could be a big Oscar contender, is PARASITE, the South Korean movie in which a poor family manages to insert itself as the full domestic staff for a wealthy family. The film rapidly earned $20m in the US and over $100m worldwide, which is certainly small compared to something like AVENGERS: ENDGAME, but is more than enough to make PARASITE the top-performing foreign-language movie of 2019.
Even as we publish this, a few other films are still to be released. STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER is on the horizon, as is 1917, the war film from director Sam Mendes (SKYFALL) which started to build Oscar buzz as soon as it began screening for critics and limited audiences.
When it was all said and done, the 2019 movie lineup was strong enough to bring more movie fans to the theater than in 2018. We're looking forward to a similarly impressive 2020!