With the 2nd anniversary of 18 Cinema Lane comes the start of voting for the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards! The first poll is to determine the best movie I saw in 2019! Just like last year, you are allowed to vote for more than one movie. But you can only vote once per person. This poll will run from today, February 7th to Thursday, February 13th. Below is the poll and the link where you can vote. If you’re having any difficulties, don’t hesitate to mention it in the comment section.
If you want to learn why the polls have changed this year, here’s the like to the announcement post.
Happy New Year’s Eve, everybody! Since I published my list of The Top 10 Worst Movies I saw in 2019 yesterday, it’s time for me to post my list of The Top 10 Best Movies I saw in 2019! Like I said before, I found 2019 has been a better year for movies. I saw a lot of good films, but only ten can be considered the best of the year. As I mentioned in my previous list, this article is based on my opinion and films that I personally watched. It’s also not meant to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. Now that the introduction is over, let’s begin by bringing up the Honorable Mentions!
Christmas Bells are Ringing, Time for Me to Come Home for Christmas, Northern Lights of Christmas, A Gingerbread Romance, Kim Possible (2019), Flip that Romance, Chronicle Mysteries: Vines that Bind, Just Add Romance, Boys Town, Men of Boys Town, Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, The Last Bridesmaid, Toy Story 4, Return to Oz, I Remember Mama, Ruby Herring Mysteries: Her Last Breath, Merry and Bright, A Godwink Christmas: Meant for Love, Time for You to Come Home for Christmas, and The Christmas Club
10. The Nine Lives of Christmas
Who knew I would like this movie as much as I did? As part of the Happy Holidays Blogathon, I watched and reviewed this movie in an attempt to figure out if it was worth the hype it has received. Like I said in that post, I can now understand why so many people like the film so much! The humor within this movie is one of its highlights. Because of the quality of the script and the acting performances, The Nine Lives of Christmas was genuinely hilarious. While watching this movie, I found myself laughing more than I thought I would. Another part of this story that was well-written was the interactions among the characters. They were not only great to watch, but they also appeared natural on-screen. I’m glad I finally realize why this movie always makes an appearance in Hallmark’s yearly Christmas line-ups.
9. Holiday for Heroes
I will admit I had lower expectations for this film than I probably should have. But those lower expectations allowed the movie to surpass them and become the pleasant surprise it was. Holiday for Heroes was so good, that it reminded me of another movie I liked, Operation Christmas. With its genuine sincerity, the messages that were expressed in this story came across very well. I also liked how the formation of the protagonists’ relationship was more realistic than in something like The Christmas Card. Throughout this film, I could tell the creative team’s heart was always in the right place. It made it seem like they truly cared about the project they were working on.
8. Easter Under Wraps
In 2019, Hallmark finally created their first Easter themed movie! Even though it took so long to get to this point, I definitely think it was worth the wait. I really liked the writing within this film, as it created a story that was entertaining. Something I pointed out in my review is how conversations felt like they came from real-life. This helped me stay invested in what the characters were saying and doing throughout the film. Like in most movies from Hallmark Channel, Easter Under Wraps contained messages and themes that were relatable. Just one example is of personal growth. I’m not sure what Hallmark’s plans are for their “Spring Fever” line-up. I hope one of them includes a sequel to this film.
7. Ben-Hur (1959)
This is the first of two movies that I reviewed for a blog follower dedication review. At the beginning of the year, I was thrilled to share this movie with my readers and followers. That’s because I enjoyed it more than I expected to. Ben-Hur is a film that has acquired a lot of critical acclaim. As I said in my review, the hype surrounding it was well-earned. The script itself is one of the strongest elements of the project. Even though Ben-Hur is known as an “epic” picture, it is also a compelling story of faith and perseverance. From the acting performances to the cinematography, these things make this film the masterpiece it is. It’s no wonder Ben-Hur has been able to stand the test of time for so long.
6. Mystery 101: Words Can Kill
One of the newest mystery series that premiered in 2019, Mystery 101, has quickly become one of my favorites. I found the third movie in this series, Mystery 101: Words Can Kill, to be the strongest one. Unlike most of the films on Hallmark’s second network, this movie felt like it had higher stakes. This was caused by the female protagonist’s father being falsely accused on the crime and the male and female leads not being able to see eye-to-eye on the film’s main conflict. I also liked how the book festival was showcased in the movie for a satisfying amount of time. Like I’ll say about another movie on this list, Mystery 101: Words Can Kill shares some of the same positive qualities of its predecessors. It not only keeps up the series’ continuity, it makes me look forward to the future of Mystery 101.
5. Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy
Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy was one of my most anticipated Christmas movies of 2019. After enjoying the second film in the series, Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa, I was looking forward to seeing what was in store for the next chapter. This film did not disappoint! It felt like receiving a hug from a friend one hasn’t seen in a while. The third entry is one of the few Christmas films from Hallmark that tried to do different things with their story. One example is how the script explores the aftermath of the mystery. This is something that is hardly shown in Hallmark’s films, especially in their Hallmark Movies & Mysteries productions. After hearing other people’s positive responses to this movie, I’m hoping that a fourth one is in the cards.
4. Avengers: Endgame
After becoming the king (or queen) of the world, Avengers: Endgame will still be a movie that is remembered for years. Whether debating over the film’s time travel or discussing the highlights and flaws of the project, people are going to find an opportunity to talk about this movie. For me, I found it to be a satisfying conclusion to this particular series of the MCU. Sure, there are things about it that I don’t like. But there is no such thing as a perfect film. Without spoiling the movie, I will say that several interesting decisions were made within this script. These decisions allowed the film to be engaging and, at times, thought-provoking. What also worked in the project’s favor was how it shared some of the same strengths as its predecessor, Avengers: Infinity War. This actually helped it maintain a sense of continuity.
3. Kubo and the Two Strings
For my blog follower dedication reviews, I try my best to talk about films that I feel good about sharing with my readers and followers. When I think about Kubo and the Two Strings, it makes me thankful that I chose to watch this movie! This is the first time an animated film has appeared on my best of the year list. I’m glad this movie was the one to make 18 Cinema Lane history because, to me, it deserves it. The story is enriching and beautifully written. It takes elements that we’ve seen before and crafts them in a way that feel like a breath of fresh air. It also helps that the animation is visually appealing. Even though this is the only Laika film I’ve seen, so far, I’d be more than willing to check out what this studio has to offer.
2. Rome in Love
This movie premiered while I was on an out-of-town trip, so I wasn’t able to review it. But when I did watch this film, it ended up being the best Hallmark movie I saw this year! Rome in Love does so many things right when it comes to cinematic story-telling. It went out of its way to use as few Hallmark movie clichés as possible. But when the film did adopt a tried-and-true cliché, it improved upon that cliché, which enhanced the overall story. At times, this film felt like a theatrical production. This is because of how well done the cinematography is. If I were introducing someone to Hallmark’s library of films, this is one of the movies I would choose to show them.
1. Swept from the Sea
When I look back on 2019, Swept from the Sea is the one film I can’t stop thinking about! As the biggest pleasant surprise of the year, it is definitely deserving of the number one spot. There are no such thing as “perfect” films. However, this movie is the only one I saw this year that comes pretty close to it. There is so much to love about this film. But, for me, the best part of the movie was Vincent Perez’s performance! He single-handedly stole the show, which gave me an opportunity to appreciate his acting abilities more than I expected. From the cinematography to the on-screen chemistry, the other elements of this film certainly added to my enjoyment of it. As I think about Swept from the Sea, I feel that this is a movie I wish more people were aware of.
What do you think of my list? Which is your favorite movie of 2019? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Two weeks ago, I received 60 followers on my blog! Because of this exciting milestone, I decided to review Ben-Hur. While this movie was released 60 years ago, in 1959, it is also a movie that I have never seen before (yes, you read that right). Ben-Hur is one of those movies that a lot of people have said should been seen at least once in your life. Since I now had a good excuse to watch this film, I decided to choose this movie for this specific blog follower dedication post. Over the years, I have become familiar with this film’s general synopsis as well as the existence of the film itself. I also knew that there was some Christianity that was associated with this film. Other than those things, I didn’t really understand the hype surrounding the movie. What did I think of this juggernaut of a film? You’ll just have to read this review if you want to find out!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: I really liked the acting in Ben-Hur! All of the performances were captivating, keeping me invested in what the characters were going through. The three strongest actors in this cast were Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd, and Haya Harareet. These actors brought the emotional intensity that was not only required for their roles, but also complimented the scope of the overall film. Their performances, as well as the performances from the rest of the cast, helped make this film an enjoyable experience!
The sets/scenery: I was very impressed by the sets/scenery in this film! All of the sets were magnificent, feeling larger-than-life and beautiful. Whether it was Judah’s family home or the chariot-racing stadium, these sets were very grand in scale. The scenery was also great to look at! There were various landscapes throughout Ben-Hur, from the desert to the ocean, that were captured very well on film. The natural beauty of these landscapes was eye-catching and visually appealing. The locations in this movie were so great, that it made the experience of watching it so immersive. This aspect of Ben-Hur added to its overall quality.
The incorporation of Christianity/faith: In “sword and sandal” movies, faith is usually not found within that story’s specific narrative. For Ben-Hur, certain Biblical events were incorporated into the overall story. One example is how the movie starts with showing The Nativity, using this event to introduce the audience to one of the film’s characters, Balthasar (who happens to be one of The Three Wise Men). These events were included in a way that seemed to fit within the context of this particular film. They were effortlessly woven in with the main plot of Ben-Hur. It was also interesting to see how faith affected the characters and their actions. With the protagonist, Judah, faith played a significant role in his character development. It showed how he made decisions and chose to live his life. Before the chariot race begins, Judah says a prayer to God to forgive him for seeking vengeance and to place his life in His hands. This component was an interesting and crucial aspect of the story.
The cinematography: Ben-Hur had some interesting cinematography. One example of this was how Jesus’ face is never shown on-screen. While Jesus’ identity is not explicitly revealed in this story, certain events and references make it clear that Jesus plays an important role in this particular narrative. Another example is when Esther meets Miriam and Tirzah after a few years time. During this interaction, Miriam and Tirzah’s face is barely shown. But, this choice in cinematography was effective in showing both the heartbreak and emotional strain that their particular situation would have caused. Because of these faces being either barely shown or never shown on-screen, it keeps the film engaging for its audience, making them wonder if or when these faces will ever be seen. Creative choices like these helped make Ben-Hur as good of a story as it was.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Feeling too drawn-out: Throughout Ben-Hur, the story felt a little too drawn-out. What made me feel this way was how some scenes seemed to drag on more than others. An example of this is how the introduction to the chariot race felt like it was a few minutes too long. The reason for the length of these scenes is, probably, to satisfy the film’s three-plus hour run-time. To me, I think this movie could have been cut down to, at least, two and a half hours. This way, the main plot could have kept the film’s main focus while having the overall story get straight-to-the-point.
My overall impression:
Over these 60 years, this movie has gained “classic” status. From being archived and preserved to appearing on best movie lists, Ben-Hur has earned a respectable reputation as well as many fans. Now that I have seen this film, I can honestly say that the hype was well-earned. I really enjoyed Ben-Hur! I was so engrossed in what I was watching, those three hours felt like they flew by so fast. If you have never seen Ben-Hur, I would highly recommend it! Please don’t let the three-hour run-time intimidate you. This is such a well-told and well-crafted story that truly deserves to be seen. To tell you the truth, if it weren’t for 18 Cinema Lane receiving 60 followers, I might have never seen Ben-Hur. But I’m glad I chose to review this movie for this blog follower dedication post because I had a good time watching it. Once again, I want to say thank you to all my 60 followers!
Overall score: 8.7 out of 10
Have you seen Ben-Hur? Which 1959 released film is your favorite? Please let me know in the comment section!