Toward the beginning of this year’s round of polls for the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards, I posted the first two polls; the Best Movie Award and the Best Story Award. After these rounds were over, I discovered there was a tie in both divisions! To determine a winner, I have brought back both polls! You’re allowed to vote for more than one nominee. However, you can only vote once per person. This poll starts today, April 10th, and ends on April 16th.
It’s time to vote for the Gold Sally Award’s Best Story of 2019! In this poll, you will help determine which movie I saw in 2019 had the best story. You’re allowed to vote for more than one story. However, you can only vote once per person. This poll starts today, February 21st, and ends on February 27th.
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, 18 Cinema Lane received a hundred and twenty-five followers! However, because my blogging schedule revolved around the four blogathons that are scheduled for August, I haven’t found the time to publish this review. I knew I wanted to post this review before the end of the month, so I made some room in my schedule for this review to become a reality. For this post, I chose a movie that was released in August of 2016. I had the option of two Hallmark Channel films and Kubo and the Two Strings. Since I reviewed a Hallmark Channel movie for my previous blog follower dedication review (that film was Desolation Canyon) and since the last time I reviewed an animated film was back in February (the movie I talked about was All Dogs Go to Heaven 2), I decided to talk about the latter. Kubo and the Two Strings is a movie that I had not seen, but definitely had heard about. Mostly positive things were said about it, with the animation itself being a highlight. I don’t watch stop-motion animation often, so that means this is the first film of this kind to be reviewed on my blog! Even after reviewing over a hundred films, there’s still a “first for everything”.
Things I liked about the film:
The animation: Stop-motion animation can be hit or miss. You can either get something that looks whimsical, like The Nightmare Before Christmas or off-putting, like Coraline. Kubo and the Two Strings, however, falls more on the whimsical and imaginative side of the genre. The use of colors is what makes this movie stand out, as the balance between bright and dark palettes was complimentary. A good portion of the landscapes looked very realistic. Water, cliffs, and snow are just a few examples. I also liked how each character had a unique design. No two characters looked alike and their personalities were different from one another. All of these factors made for a truly stunning visual!
The humor: Family-friendly/children’s films sometimes try to incorporate humor by telling the same types of jokes. These jokes can be so overdone that they fall flat or become offensive. The humor in Kubo and the Two Strings was witty and clever. Funny moments felt like they were naturally extracted from the situation, instead of having the characters say or do something hilarious for the sake of it. Kubo and the Two Strings’ humor was well spaced out. It was mostly placed in the quieter scenes of the film, where there was less action and suspense. These moments never overshadowed or took away from the movie’s dramatic and serious parts.
The messages and themes: Kubo and the Two Strings contains several messages and themes that not only compliment the narrative, but help create an enriching story. An overarching theme is family, which plays a huge role on more than one occasion. It provided a moral compass for the characters and even put a new take on a familiar trope from family-friendly/children’s films. The message of how powerful story-telling is was impactful, changing the way certain things are presented. Something as simple as a piece of paper or the sounds of a bird as just two examples. Kubo and the Two Strings is a movie that gives the audience valuable words of wisdom!
The pacing: As I previously stated, the film’s humor was placed in the quieter scenes that featured less action and suspense. I should also add that the humor played a role in assisting the movie’s pace. Kubo and the Two Strings’ pace felt like the ebb and flow of an ocean’s waves. When an action scene came into the story, calmer scenes soon followed. These scenes were used to provide character development and feature interesting character interactions. Because of this balance between action-heavy and dialogue-focused scenes, it never made the movie feel drawn out or longer than its run-time. It made the movie-viewing experience that much more enjoyable!
What I didn’t like about the film:
Choppy movements: Whenever characters moved, it was always in a fluid motion. Some examples include walking and putting up objects. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the motion of human characters’ mouths. Any time a human character spoke, the movements of their mouth appeared choppy and they didn’t flow with the rest of the animation. The only character I didn’t feel this way about was Monkey. I’m not sure if this is a production issue or if it’s because I don’t watch stop-motion animated films often. But it got to the point where these choppy movements were distracting.
My overall impression:
When it comes to my blog follower dedication reviews, I always try to choose films that are worth my followers’ time. Because they helped my blog reach the milestones that it has, I feel they deserve a good, quality movie as well as review. Well, I can honestly say that Kubo and the Two Strings is that film! This movie has everything I could ever want or ask for in a cinematic story, holding on to my attention from start to finish. While we’ve seen the “hero’s journey” narrative before, this film takes that template and breaths new life into it. It’s a story with so much heart, that it feels like the creative team behind this film truly cared about the movie they were making. With relatable and inspirational messages and themes, Kubo and the Two Strings makes me want to be a better person. Speaking of people, thank you to all of my one hundred and twenty-five followers, as well as my readers, for helping me get to this point. You have and will always play a vital role in this blogging journey.
Overall score: 9.1 out of 10
Do you like that I review animated films? Which movie from this genre would you like to see me talk about? Let me know in the comment section!