by Mason Kupiainen
2019 was a huge year for movies, with nine films hitting the billion dollar mark. With many of the big blockbusters like Avengers: Endgame, Joker, and Aladdin tearing up the box office, there were many other great films released during this year that didn’t get the respect they deserved. Whether this was due to audiences not having enough time, or wanting to go see one of the bigger films, some of the best films of 2019 didn’t have droves of audiences see them. With this list, I have compiled five of my favorite films from 2019 that didn’t get enough recognition at the box office as they should have.
Coming out in the latter half of 2019, Code 8 is now available for streaming on Netflix. The film is set in a futuristic world where a select few are gifted with special powers, with the rest of the population living in fear of these unique individuals. In the movie, we follow a young man in desperate need of money who turns to crime in order to get his sick mother's treatment.
In a world saturated with superhero films, it’s nice to see a lower budget film take a different approach to the genre. Even though the film takes inspiration from already established superheroes like X-Men, the movie is still able to take a more realistic and unique approach. Also, for being a very low budget film, the movie has great action and special effects. Ultimately, what makes this movie work is the great cast and incredible world-building.
Alita: Battle Angel
One of the first major blockbusters of the year, Alita: Battle Angel wasn’t a complete flop, but was surely a disappointment considering the large budget. The movie takes place in the far future, where many people are becoming more cybernetic. It follows a robotic girl, Alita, as she learns about the world around her and her special abilities.
Based on the manga series Battle Angel Alita and produced by James Cameron, Alita: Battle Angel has many things going for it. Since it has the support of Cameron’s production team, the look of the film is on-par with some of his other films, like Avatar. The movie is also packed with incredible action sequences and CGI that is above the quality we are used to seeing today. The driving point of this movie is the character Alita, and the question the movie asks is: can AI become human? Despite having many plot lines crammed in and feeling like a set up for a potential franchise, Alita: Battle Angel is a great sci-fi film with awesome characters, exciting action, and incredible special effects.
Coming out 39 years after The Shining, Doctor Sleep follows a now adult Danny dealing with the events of the previous film while trying to help a young girl named Abra as a cult tries to kill her.
Personally, I believe Doctor Sleep is superior to The Shining. Ewan McGregor is fantastic in his portrayal of adult Danny, and Kyliegh Curran manages to outshine him as Abra. Probably the biggest praise to give to this film is that it is able to be a follow-up to Stanley Kubrick’s movie while also being an adaptation of the Stephen King book. Since Kubrick made numerous changes when adapting The Shining from book to film, being able to please both the movie and novel fans was a tough task that these filmmakers were able to pull off, effortlessly blending Kubrick’s style with the spirit of King’s original novel. Another great part of the film is how it was able to carry over themes from The Shining to Doctor Sleep and improve on them. One such theme is alcoholism: we see Danny struggling with the same things his father did, but we get to see a more hopeful and interesting approach, making it a must watch.
Similar to Code 8, Brightburn takes a unique approach to the superhero genre. The film is ultimately a retelling of Superman’s origin story, but asking 'what if Superman was bad?' Throughout the course of the movie, we see how this would have unfolded and the dangers of a child with god-like powers using them for evil.
For being a low-budget horror film, with a budget of only $6 million, the movie has great special effects with action sequences on-par with more expensively produced superhero films. For those who are fans of the superhero genre, this is a nice film that takes one of the most well-known superhero origin stories and adds a twist. However, the movie is also able to tell its own story instead of relying on the popularity of Superman. With great action and horror sequences, Brightburn is an entertaining film that lends itself to the potential for more films that would take this same approach to some of the other Justice League members.
Crawl follows a young college swimmer desperately trying to find her father amidst a hurricane. While trying to get her father and herself to safety, she finds herself trapped in a house while gigantic alligators try to kill them both. Haley uses her years of swim training and her instincts to battle alligators while trying to outrun a fast approaching hurricane. What began as a search for her father during an emergency evacuation turns into a heart-wrenching tale of survival and the depth of a daughter's love. Being an over-the-top monster flick, Crawl is a super entertaining big budget B-movie. Stuffed with thrilling scenes and tense moments, Crawl is one of the better horror films of 2019. Even though the idea sounds ridiculous, the movie is able to pull off the stupidity of the concept with many edge-of-your-seat sequences that leave you nervous for the characters until the screen turns black.
Did we miss any of your favorite hidden gems from 2019? Let us know in the comments section!
Featured Image: IMDb