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The first half of 2019 is over, and with that, half a year in movies have been shown in theaters around the world.

So far, this year has stacked up to be a solid year for cinema, with notable exceptions. But it’s only fair that I focus on the best for a more positive outlook. This list is a subjective list of the top five films I have personally seen in theaters and streamed this year.

5. Shazam!

Superhero films are dominating the market. Either you’re in or you’re out.

Fortunately, even in a world of familiar themes and storylines, certain performances and characters keep things fresh and inventive. The less successful powerhouse of the two production companies pumping them out left and right has a winner with Shazam!

Picture Big written as a superhero movie. Shazam! is this plus more.

Warner Brothers and DC have found a gem that’s just as good as, if not better than, Wonder Woman.

Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer are standouts in this battle against evil. Their chemistry works wonders, bleeding a family-friendly rush of fun.

Shazam! is a must-see for superhero fans and for those who think that superhero movies are a been-there-done-that market. This will change your mind.

4. Rocketman

Don’t let the title fool you. Rocketman is neither a movie about superheroes nor Kim Jong Un.

Rocketman is an unconventional musical about Sir Elton John’s entrance and struggle with drug addiction and fame.

If 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody taught the world anything, it’s that flamboyant artists of yesteryear are relatable to today’s audience, especially with a beautiful portrayal of the artist.

In Rocketman, Taron Egerton, of Kingsman and Eddie the Eagle fame, plays the original Rocket Man to the point where I couldn’t even see Egerton as an actor, but rather as this music icon that dealt with anguish.

On top of the great lead, and the brilliant Jamie Bell as John’s writing partner Bernie Taupin, the soundtrack elevates John’s biographical stage.

It isn’t enough to just include music in a movie about music. The filmmakers need to use an artist’s music as part of the story, rather than a hammed in plot device to move the story along.

I shed tears. I smiled consistently. Rocketman is a feel-good musical delight that asks the audience to ask for help in their own lives when they need it.

3. Toy Story 4

The sequel no one was expecting turns out to be the sequel everyone needs.

I hadn’t realized it until the end of Toy Story 4, but the entirety of Pixar’s Toy Story franchise is Woody’s subtle character arch, and it’s a storyteller’s dream.

There are only a handful of characters in modern cinema that I feel are important for a person to observe.

Among those are Planet of the Apes’ Caesar, Christopher Nolan’s Batman and Marvel’s Iron Man.

Tom Hanks as Woody is now on that list.

Every character, old and new, feels fleshed out. One of the best accomplishments in storytelling is getting the audience to fall in love with well-thought out relationships. Toy Story 4 doesn’t shy away from playing with our emotions, following these relationships.

From the O.G. Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear to the cool-as-hell Keanu Reeves as Duke Kaboom, you’ll love every character with all your heart.

Hell, the very first scene had me bawling like a baby. Toy Story 4 is among Pixar’s greatest films and one of this year’s magnum opus’.

2. Avengers: Endgame

Speaking of magnum opus’, the seemingly never-ending journey that some of our Marvel Cinematic Universe heroes have traveled is now at an end.

Since 2008, when Iron Man released, an intricate web of films has formed into one of pop culture’s most talked about ideas.

Robert Downey Jr. leads an ensemble that will be talked about for decades. Every actor and actress have a purpose with their role and, crazily, doesn’t outshine another. Of course, because Downey Jr. has been almost like the godfather of the MCU heroes, in Endgame, as Tony Stark/Iron Man, he is a revelation.

Avengers: Endgame is an ending for the ages and perfectly cuts off the story arches of characters that audiences have latched onto and love.

1. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

The cinema is all about leaving the real world and entering another.

After thinking about the more than 40 movies I have seen in theaters, my top five have allowed me to escape my problems for a handful of hours. It all comes down to taste.

In today’s Keanu-sance, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum takes the cake.

Keanu Reeves performing the majority of his own stunts, sword fights on horses and ferocious dog companions. What’s better than that?

Amp up the violence and body count, bringing the shoot-em-up genre to an all-time high?

Count me in.

Reeves has taken over internet culture and invaded the conversations about what badass means. I can’t get enough of it, especially since his kindness is a meme, at this point.

If you aren’t on board, the John Wick train will move without you and take over the world. In other words, Parabellum is a moment in time that capture Reeves at his pinnacle beating the crap out of the villains.

With all the divisiveness, 2019 needs a hero like John Wick.

There isn’t anything better than an appropriately, over-the-top Reeves playing an assassin, a “boogeyman,” that, more or less, is the god of kicking ass.

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