LAST CHRISTMAS (Paul Feig, 2019)

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Made the “C” in Christmas stand for cheesy cringe-fest.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MARRIAGE STORY (Noah Baumbach, 2019)

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It’s no Kramer vs Kramer (or evene dissolution of a marriage and the effects of divorce on family relationships.

Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson were both fantastic.

These are real people with real people problems.

ut still a devastating look at the dissolution of a marriage and the effects of divorce on family relationships.

Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson were both fantastic.

These are real people with real people problems.

Rating: ★★★★☆

KNIVES OUT (Rian Johnson, 2019)

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A very modern and clever murder-mystery that went beyond the whodunnit tropes and skewered topics such as social inequity, immigration policies, and… Hallmark movies starring The Wonder Years’ Danica McKellar?! (That last bit made my laugh echo in all four corners of the theater.)

Sure, any amateur Hercule Poirot could have guessed the ending pretty quick (plus I would have preferred less telling and more showing), but it was still a pretty enjoyable ride.

And what a wonderful ensemble!! (If I had to choose my faves though, I’d go for Ana de Armas, Christopher Plummer, and the hysterical Toni Collette.)

That entire donut speech alone probably deserved an Oscar nomination.

Rating: ★★★★☆

CHARLIE’S ANGELS (Elizabeth Banks, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

I felt bad that this reboot flopped in the US box office since there were several things that I actually liked here. Sure, I would have wanted it to be more fun/campy/action-packed and less serious/dragging/TV-ish, but it still delivered the goods.

The new Angels were really adorable/interesting/badass and it was great to see them with distinct personalities. My favorite was Ella Balinska as Jane, who had the right amount of elegance/fierceness/charm (her chute-sliding scene was amazing).

Not too keen though on that Mission: Impossible (the movie, not the show) -type twist. Also, Sam Claflin probably gave the worst performance in cinema this year.

In the end though, it was hard for me not to appreciate a movie that really screamed girl power (bulletproof bras!) and feminism and respect, especially one where a male character asked for consent before he could touch a woman’s back.

“Women can do anything!” Hell, yes!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

FROZEN II (Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck, 2019)

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The story felt too complex for the young ones (“Dad, what’s permafrost?”), but might also not be as engaging to the older crowd (the mother sitting next to me had a well-deserved hour of nap before she tends again to her kids for all of eternity).

I really liked the 80’s vibe of Lost in the Woods and almost everyone was humming/singing Into the Unknown as they stepped out of the theater. The rest of the songs were not as catchy, although they would fit right in a Broadway musical.

Plus one star for Olaf’s hilarious recap alone (don’t miss his post-credits scene). Oh, and those gorgeous new dresses of Elsa would be perfect for Halloween 2020. Get your wallets ready, dear parents!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

FORD V FERRARI (James Mangold, 2019)

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As someone who wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a carburetor and radiator (and had the best nap during The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift), I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this racing drama slash male ego-fest.

Best viewed in a theater with excellent sound system. I watched it in the ATMOS cinema of Ayala Malls Manila Bay (sponsor me please!!) and I braced for impact every single time a race car zoomed past the screen.

Terrific ensemble cast led by Matt Damon and Christian Bale (“The bloody door won’t close!!!”), with the latter probably headed for his nth Oscar nomination.

Rating: ★★★★☆