Every year we create our infamous “Most Anticipated Lists,” and sit down to watch those films only to find out that maybe they didn’t exactly live up to our unattainable expectations. But every once in a while, we are pleasantly surprised by those films that flew under our radar. Instead, of doing any type of “Worst of the Year” lists, I want to be a little more positive when it comes to discussing movies. So this year, here’s a list of the Most Surprising Films of 2019.
A dark comedy about a family who plays a game on a member’s wedding night. It’s not exactly the most promising of movie concepts, but boy, this was good. Ready or Not doesn’t have a superior cast, nor does it have a well-known lead. But Samara Weaving is so wonderfully cast as Grace, the young bride who fights for her life as she unfortunately draws the “Hide and Seek” card from the game pile. What ensues is pure chaos with eccentric storylines, and plenty of blood to go around. While it may not be a “great” movie, it’s surely an entertaining one.
I didn’t know what to think before walking into the theater to see Booksmart. In fact, I thought it was going to be another “teen movie” that would soon be spoofed by some comedic entity. No, it was so much more than that. Powered by relatively unknowns, Kaitlyn Deaver and Beanie Feldstein, not to mention the talent behind the camera from new director, Olivia Wilde. Wow! Booksmart is the most accurate, while still absurd, take on high school life as the film doesn’t shy away from the odd antics that high schoolers find themselves in. But I will say, the funniest element of the film has to be Billie Lourd. Lourd’s performance is filled with an overabundance of wit and humor with every scene she’s in. Though Booksmart may be excellent as a whole, this film wouldn’t be as brilliant without Lourd.
Yes, I put Murder Mystery on my Most Surprising, but how was it not? I found myself watching one of those “forced trailers” that automatically starts on Netflix if you don’t click fast enough. Well, I guess I didn’t click fast enough, because it proceeded play the trailer before my very eyes. But as it continued to play, I noticed that I was laughing at various moments. What’s that? Laughing at a new Adam Sandler movie? I soon gave in and selected Murder Mystery for my next viewing. Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, who play husband and wife traveling overseas only to find themselves embroiled in a scandalous whodunit, are funny in their own unique way. It may not be the funniest of movies, and some may still despise it. But as for me, Murder Mystery is a decent take at a whodunit comedy.
Luce is vastly surprising to me mostly because of its indie presence that shrouds it from finding any real notoriety. Director Julius Onah only had his work in Cloverfield: Paradox to pave the way for this film, and we all know how Paradox was. Luce’s story is amazing, and one that will stay with you long after you’ve left the theater. I recommend seeing it with someone, and engaging in a dialogue after. Most likely, you will see the film from two completely different perspectives. Not only is this film exceptionally done, but it also offers us Octavia Spencer’s best performance to date as she plays the teacher, Mrs. Wilson. Her questionable behavior, along with her strict tone, offer one heck of a character. But its Spencer’s chemistry with newcomer Kelvin Harrison Jr. that makes this film so compelling. As you watch the fallout from these two, it makes you question, who is the one at fault?
Director Bong Joon-ho has always pushed the boundaries by creating cinematic films that aren’t just thrilling, but also a piece of art. So why is Parasite on this list of most surprising? Well, I expected to enjoy it, but my love for this film has exceeded any expectation of what I thought I was going to feel. The acting, the pacing of the film, the story, everything is perfect. Joon-ho shows off his amazing talents once again, and proves to audience members across the globe that he isn’t about to slow down any time soon. I cannot wait to see what incredible things he has in store for the future.