The Academy Awards are approaching and I’m reminded of a pre-Oscar gathering in 1992. We debated which film would win Best Picture. The host ended the discussion by declaring that My Cousin Vinny was the year’s best movie. It wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture, but we’re still quoting that comedy. Why is the Academy so reluctant to honor comedies? Only seven have won Best Picture. 

While you consider that, here is my list of the best films of 2019: 

Jexi is a foul-mouthed comedy about a loser who is controlled by his phone. This is a perfect premise because many of us are dependent on our phones. The problem begins when the loser breaks his phone and buys a new one with the voice of Jexi. The main character is played by Adam Devine, Jexi is perfectly voiced by Rose Byrne, and Alexandra Shipp is adorable as Devine’s love interest. I laughed my head off both times I watched it. 

Charlize Theron is the adorable love interest in Long Shot. She portrays a very accomplished Secretary of State who finally loosens up when she falls for Seth Rogen. This unlikely couple has great chemistry and many misadventures. 

The Intruder is so bad it’s good. An incredibly naive couple, played by Michael Ealy and Meagan Good, buy a house from an old man, who just can’t let it go. The main characters do incredibly stupid things and there are large holes in the plot. The real pleasure, though, is watching Dennis Quaid shamelessly overact as the old man. He’s so over-the-top, you expect him to literally chew the scenery.

Yesterday is also unintentionally funny. The premise that no one in the world remembers the Beatles is shaky enough. Why include worldwide amnesia about Coca-Cola, cigarettes and Harry Potter?

Dolemite is My Name stars Eddie Murphy as real-life movie director Rudy Ray Moore who struggles as a comedian until he invents an outrageous character named Dolemite. Moore stars as Dolemite in a 1975 Blaxploitation movie. The making of the movie is hysterical but the funniest scene is when Dolemite and his buddies attend a mainstream comedy, The Front Page. They not only don’t laugh, they’re mystified that anyone else is. 

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a perfect Best Picture movie, but it wasn’t nominated. It’s a biopic drama with a feel-good ending. It’s also one of the most wholesome movies I’ve seen and carries a powerful message.  

The Irishman was a joy to watch, if only to see Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino play mobsters again. A friend thought they were too old for their roles. He also said that De Niro, playing the title character, must come from County Calamari. His criticism may be valid but for me the three-and-a-half-hour film flew by.

1917 is unlike any war film I’ve seen due it its camera technique. Otherwise, it’s like every war movie I’ve seen, a combination of Dunkirk, Saving Private Ryan, and Paths of Glory. 

Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood was shot on real film! Some criticize it for long stretches in which little happens. I could watch Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie do nothing all day. The fairy tale ending is perfect. 

Jo Jo Rabbit is a zany movie that makes fun of Hitler. It’s about a German boy during WWII who idolizes Nazis and has “der fuehrer” as his imaginary friend. This movie is shocking, heartbreaking and hilarious. It ends on the perfect note. In those respects, it’s like The Apartment, the comedy that won Best Picture in 1960. 

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.

John Rice

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.