Movies Watched, January 2019

Still from “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Ugh, the Oscars ceremony was last night. Seeing the results this morning, there’s so much to complain about, but it’s probably better for me to skip all that and just get to my very delayed round-up of the sixteen movies I watched last month.

That included two that I got to see in theaters: “Roma,” which I watched in 70mm, and “If Beale Street Could Talk,” Barry Jenkins’s unflinchingly painful adaptation of the 1974 novel by James Baldwin. Both were gorgeous on the big screen (“Beale Street” perhaps even moreso than “Roma”), and are clearly the work of true masters of their form. But I’m honestly bewildered by the relative lack of attention paid to the latter; this was one of the very best films of last year.

Meanwhile, at home, I also undertook a long postponed project: watching the entire run of “Harry Potter” films. I’ve never read the books and had only seen the third film (the one directed by Alfonso Cuarón) before, but my daughter has been fanatically immersed in J.K. Rowling’s world for some time now, so I wanted to experience some of it for myself. I managed to watch “only” the first seven (the first seven!) before the end of the month and finished the eighth early in February. My reaction: Wow. That was a long way to go to arrive at some pretty obvious conclusions.

Here’s the full rundown:

  1. Solo: A Star Wars Story” (2018) When are we all going to admit that we’ve dragged this “Star Wars” thing out way too long now?
  2. If Beale Street Could Talk” (2018) A beautiful and brutal achievement.
  3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (2001) It’s hard to believe how dated this looks already.
  4. Free Solo” (2018) A monument to stupidity.
  5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (2002) Chris Columbus was the wrong director to kick off this franchise.
  6. Roma” (2018) Intimacy on a huge scale.
  7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004) Wait, maybe this is going to be fun after all?
  8. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (2005) I guess not.
  9. The LEGO Ninjago Movie” (2017) Confirmed: I’ll watch anything that Phil Lord and Chris Miller are involved in.
  10. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (2007) I have no idea what even happened in this one.
  11. Shirkers” (2018) I try not to watch documentaries. This is why.
  12. Die Hard” (1988) A stone cold classic.
  13. The LEGO Movie” (2014) Still good, but not really all that magical on rewatch.
  14. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (2009) Something important happened in this movie, I’m sure.
  15. How to Train Your Dragon 2” (2014) Apparently our current decade’s films are obsessed with the idea of mother figures being banished to purgatory.
  16. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” (2010) What this franchise needed but never got was a creative team more interested in making good movies than in adapting the books.

You can also see everything I watched in 2018 (and more) in my year-end roundup. And, if you’re interested, you can follow along with my movie diary at