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Ben Is Back
In this late-December release, Julia Roberts pulls off her best performance in almost a decade as a mother who tries obsessively to help her drug addict son.
As he flies off into the night to settle old scores haunting his present, she follows, her mother’s instinct telling her she has to protect him at all costs.
Lucas Hedges had a fantastic year, and also appeared as a struggling gay youth in Boy Erased, but his bravura turn here is his best to date. The emotions in this film are so raw, so real, that viewers are bound to get invested in the story.
A film released too late in a crowded year, if the harrowing Ben Is Back was a 2019 contender, it would be a likely shoe-in for both Roberts and Hedges.
It’s a truly fantastic effort all around.
Mission Impossible - Fallout
After a mission goes wrong, and crackerjack agent Ethan Hunt is betrayed by his own, he must race against time to stop another global issue.
While there was a time Tom Cruise and Mission Impossible were getting long in the tooth, this sequel bounces back as the best in the series.
Cruise is almost superhuman as his 54-year-old body continues to thrive – he even does his own stunts here.
His charisma and star power mixed with Henry Cavill and old friends Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg for comic relief, made for the best action movie of 2018.
With Angela Bassett, Wes Bentley and Alec Baldwin in supporting roles, this is a star-studded, high-voltage, explosive affair.
Bring on the next sequel, because Cruise has proven he’s still got it.
The Boss Baby
Alec Baldwin stars in this quirky, funny kids film about a baby who thinks he’s top dog, but must begin working with his older brother to foil a plot from the CEO of Puppy Co.
Baldwin – known for his voice and numerous speeches, a la Glengarry Glen Ross – is self-referential and actually pretty hilarious here.
Other voice actors Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow and narrator Tobey Maguire fit the film well, and it was nominated for Best Animated Feature in 2018.
It’s an enjoyable little romp, and a whole lot of good clean fun for the entire family.
The Boy In Striped Pyjamas
This gripping drama set during WWII shows the war through the eyes of young Bruno, an eight-year-old German boy who befriends a young Jewish boy being kept in a concentration camp.
Bruno’s father is a high-ranking officer in the German army, but both boys are too young to understand the atrocities or why they’re happening.
The boys become closer and closer before horrifying results tear them apart. Director Martin Herman’s sure hand pushes this feature forward.
But it’s the acting from the young boys – as well as Vera Farmiga and David Thewlis – are truly spectacular. Asa Butterfield, however, is the beating heart of this film, and provides a sheer beautiful performance.
The Five-Year Engagement
This great little comedy from writer-director Nicholas Stoller and star-writer Jason Segel is one of my low-key go-to films after a break-up.
Following the massive success of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the two re-team for this film about a man who proposes to her girlfriend after knowing her for one year.
Segel – of How I Met Your Mother fame – pairs up with the elegant Emily Blunt, and they make an adorable pair here. As things trip the couple up for five years after their engagement, they begin to wonder if they’ll ever actually get married.
Though not as knockout funny as Sarah Marshall, it’s a very cute, sweet romantic comedy with some winning central performances.
Props to a young Chris Pratt and Allison Brie for stealing the show as a couple who seem to be getting all the lucky breaks.
It’s a great rainy day, feel-good movie for sure.
New Releases To May 31, 2019:
- She’s Gotta Have It: Season 2
- The Perfection (Netflix Original Film)
- Nutcracker and the Four Realms
- Animal Kingdom: Season 3
- Bad Blood: Season 2
Jordan Parker's weekly film reviews can be found on his blog, Parker & The Picture Shows