Fraley Film Guide 2019




”Parasite” – Bong Joon-ho directs Korean masterpiece on upper and lower class families

”1917” – Sam Mendes salutes grandfather with WWI trench mission shot like one long take

“Little Women” – Greta Gerwig masterfully adapts the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott

“Ford v Ferrari” – Matt Damon & Christian Bale shine in James Mangold’s expert racing flick

“Harriet” – Cynthia Erivo shines in long overdue biopic of the courageous Harriet Tubman

3 1/2 STARS

”Marriage Story” – Noah Baumbach directs divorce story of Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson

“The Farewell” – Awkwafina leads true story of family lying to dying grandmother about illness

“Joker” – Joaquin Phoenix rivals Heath Ledger in disturbingly realistic villain origin story

“JoJo Rabbit” – Taika Waititi channels Mel Brooks & Charlie Chaplin to spoof the Hitler Youth

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” – Tarantino’s 9th laments end of Golden Age in 1969 L.A.

“The Irishman” – De Niro, Pacino, Pesci reunite for Scorsese’s eulogy to the gangster genre

”A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” – Tom Hanks becomes Mr. Rogers in plea for kindness

“Waves” – Sterling K. Brown plays father to family grappling with loss in Southern Florida

“Peanut Butter Falcon” – Kid with Down Syndrome embarks on journey to be a pro wrestler

“Avengers: Endgame” – The 22-film saga culminates in a fitting finale and a somber sendoff

“Yesterday” – Danny Boyle & Richard Curtis whimsically explore a world without The Beatles

“Blinded by the Light” – Delightful indie film is wonderful tribute to music of Bruce Springsteen

“Rocketman” – Taron Egerton dazzles as the flamboyant rock showman in Elton John biopic

”The Two Popes” – Jonathan Pryce & Anthony Hopkins play Pope Benedict and Pope Francis

“Abominable” – Animated gem about a young girl from Shanghai who befriends a magical Yeti

“Queen & Slim” – Daniel Kaluuya & Jodie Turner-Smith go on the lamb like “Bonnie & Clyde”



“The Highwaymen” – Costner & Harrelson track Bonnie & Clyde in companion piece to 1967

“Judy” – Renee Zellweger delivers dazzling performance as Judy Garland in tragic later years

“Always Be My Maybe” – “Fresh Off the Boat” creator helms Ali Wong & Randall Park rom com

“Toy Story 4” – Woody leads a rescue mission to save Bonnie’s kindergarten creation Forky

“Knives Out” – Rian Johnson weaves a star-studded whodunit like a tongue-in-cheek “Clue”

“Ready or Not” – If you can buy into the absurd concept, you’ll dig this delicious horror flick

“Us” – Jordan Peele horror flick is freaky, but a few notches below his masterpiece “Get Out”

“The Mustang” – French film about American convict rehabilitatied by training wild mustangs

“The Last Black Man in San Francisco” – Lyrical indie drama poetically tackles gentrification

”Frozen 2” – Elsa and Anna return for complex sequel to Disney’s animated phenomenon

“Hobbs & Shaw” – The Rock & Jason Statham battle Idris Elba in “Fast & Furious” spinoff

“Brittany Runs a Marathon” – Jillian Bell is uplifting as a New Yorker battling her body image

“Ad Astra” – Brad Pitt stars in sci-fi journey that combines “Interstellar” and “Apocalypse Now”

“Spider-Man: Far From Home” – Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal lead creative sequel

“Zombieland: Double Tap” – Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson deliver sequel

“Captain Marvel” – Brie Larson stars as Marvel’s first female lead in the run-up to “Endgame”

“The Lion King” – Disney remake is nostalgic and photorealistic, but pales to 1994 classic

“Aladdin” – Fresh Prince meets Prince Ali as Will Smith stars in Disney’s live-action “Aladdin”


2 1/2 STARS

”Dolemite is My Name” – Eddie Murphy in blaxploitation. First half raunchy, second half great

”Booksmart” – Olivia Wilde directs with flair in a somewhat overhyped coming-of-age flick

“John Wick 3” – Opens with craziest action scenes ever but the violence becomes overkill

“Midway” – Roland Emmerich directs standard-issue account of Pacific turning point of WWII

“Missing Link” – Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis lead this bizarre stop-motion animation

“Isn’t it Romantic” – Rebel Wilson wakes up trapped in a PG-13 rom com in clever spoof

“Triple Frontier” – J.C. Chandor’s action-adventurge becomes “Sierra Madre” greed warning

“The Kitchen” – Elisabeth Moss, Tiffany Haddish & Melissa McCarthy star in uneven script

“Gemini Man” – Will Smith squares off against himself in Ang Lee’s high-tech sci-fi flick

“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” – Spooky books would have been better as a TV series

“Glass” – M. Night Shyamalan delivers solid sequel that’s more “Split” than “Unbreakable”

“Stuber” – Kumail Nanjiani & Dave Bautista mine buddy comedy in predictable action script



“Motherless Brooklyn” – Ed Norton’s “Chinatown” undercut by playing Tourette’s for laughs

“The Lighthouse” – Robert Eggers’ follow-up to “The Witch” is too experimental for audiences

“Charlie’s Angels” – Elizabeth Banks writes/directs unnecessary reboot with Kristen Stewart

“The Fanatic” – Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst directs John Travolta as obsessed fan of movie star

“Men in Black: International” – Fourth installment misses Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones

“X-Men: Dark Phoenix” – Sophie Turner can’t save this dark conclusion to 19-year franchise

“Mary Magdalene” – Rooney Mara & Joaquin Phoenix star in revisionist take on Biblical icon

“Lego Movie 2” – The Lego gimmick is starting to wear thin in this jumbled fourth installment

“Wine Country” – Amy Poehler rounds up her “SNL” cohorts for a girls trip to Napa Valley

“Dumbo” – Tim Burton’s live-action remake is far too sad for its intended child audience



“Rambo: Last Blood” – Stallone sequel cheapens a beloved action hero with gory violence

“Serenity” – Matthew McCanughey and Anne Hathaway noir ruined by ridiculous plot twist


Reviews from Past Years:









Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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