First off Happy New Year to all. 2020 was a rocky year all around, and I hope the best for everyone for a much more enjoyable 2021. For people of all ages, this was an extremely difficult year just to try to make it through. Films this year, albeit a small issue on the grand scale of things, took a major hit as well with delays and pushbacks being the new “norm”. I understand there is still more to see from this “year”, however, I am confident that I have seen enough to reflect my opinions of the year in film as a whole. So, without further ado… here are my picks for the BEST FILMS of 2020.
- 15. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – B+
- Chadwick Boseman’s Swan Song is beautiful and tragic. It is the best film performance of the year and he is going to win the Oscar.
- 14. Mank – B+
- While this may be Fincher’s least accessible film to date, it is also his most personal. Gary Oldman is wonderful and Amanda Seyfried blew me away. I hope she wins the Oscar.
- 13. Dick Johnson is Dead – A
- One of the most innovative and inventive documentaries of the year. Hope it wins the Oscar.
- 12. Da 5 Bloods – A
- Delroy’s performance still stands among the best of the year.
- 11. Nomadland – A
- Chloe Zhao’s semi-neorealist film provided some of the most powerful conversations and McDormand gave one of the most powerful performances. Quiet and loud all at the same time.
- Never Be Done is one of my biggest “under the radar” finds of the year. I have watched a ton of documentaries, but the way this film was able to capture me was breathtaking. Roy Tighe deserves so much more credit for what he was able to accomplish here, as I think he was one of the best directors of the year. I was also able to speak to Roy and Richard about the film and their lives, and I am just saying I need someone to make a movie about how hard it was for them to make this movie. If you haven’t seen it, it is available in many places to rent and watch. It is powerful, poetic, and one of the year’s best.
9. One Night in Miami… – A
- This film hit me like I never thought it would. The quartet of actors here all gave stellar performances and Regina King absolutely killed it behind the camera. The film is a conversation, and the screenplay from Kemp Powers couldn’t have been more perfect. There was a natural feel to the film that was so relevant, and it seemed as though these four actors were not only friends in the film, but outside of it as well. Leslie Odom Jr. stands above the rest as such an amazing and powerful Sam Cooke and provides one of the best final shots of the entire year. I need a biopic where all these actors can play these characters again.
8. Another Round – A
- This was a last-second addition to the list, but I couldn’t help but put it in my top 10. Where to even begin with this movie. This film is so intoxicating and has so much on the surface that the more you sit with it the more you start to realize some of the underlying complexities that came with what these men were doing. What started as a test into how one can function with alcohol was quickly turned into four men attempting to reclaim their youth and their past lives that they had lost. I empathize heavily with teachers, I was almost one myself, and can understand the rut they felt they were in. This movie is a pure blast, and that’s what I think is so great about it. Because on the surface, it is a joy to watch, but when you do start to peel back the layers of the film you begin to uncover the addictive side of these men. In a sense, as an audience member, you become an addict as well, trying to hide these men’s problems by wanting them to indulge themselves more. There’s so much I can say about this movie, just go watch it.
7. Promising Young Woman – A
- A downright killer of a revenge story that is at the same time one of the most artistically stylish films of the year and one of the most important. Emerald Fennell attacks these situations with the brevity she needs to get her point across, and it is so well said. Carey Mulligan also gives just one of the best performances of the entire year and commands the entire screen every moment she is present. This is one film I could see being a staple for college classes (this is a compliment by the way).
6. Wolfwalkers – A
- The animated film that came out of nowhere and completely won me over. I could compare this film to last year’s I Lost My Body. Not in substance, well… sort of, but just in the sheer fact in this was an animated film that reminded me how special animation is as a medium. It isn’t my top animated film of the year, but it is overall one of the most beautiful and delicate films made this year and an absolute must-watch.
5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 – A
- No film hit 2020 more on the head than this one, and when I say hit I mean with a 50lb sledgehammer. Sorkin is back in his brightest form as a writer and even shows great promise as a director. Sacha Baron Cohen blew me away with his performance, and truthfully I wouldn’t say there was a single “bad” performance from the ensemble. This is a movie about protesting, fairness, and how the justice department undermines the American people. What makes this film even more amazing is the fact that Sorkin never forcibly ties in today into the film. You are left to put the pieces together, and how perfectly they fit is severely eye-opening. I would argue this is the most accessible film of the year as movie lovers to general audiences should be able to find enjoyment out of it.
4. Minari – A
- This is the definition of the American Dream. Immigrants searching for a better life in America and doing whatever they can to achieve that. This film from every aspect blew me away, and Lee Isaac Chung’s very intimate hand was draped all over the film. Yeoh Yun-jung and Steven Yeun give two of the best performances of the entire year. A very important and beautiful film from top to bottom.
- (Review coming soon)
3. Palm Springs – A+
- The first of my “existential crisis trio”, Palm Springs shows you what it means to be alive. And I don’t just mean living day by day, I mean really moving through life with a purpose. One of the absolute funniest films of the year, but also with a ton of heart that proves Andy Samberg’s ability as an actor. The screenplay is also one of the most original, and best of the entire year, providing J.K. Simmons with some of the most powerful lines of dialogue of all of 2020. Even in the worst situations, there is still beauty. For me, this was my most re-watchable movie of 2020.
- p.s. On 5th rewatch I finally bumped it up to A+. I just love this movie so much and felt all of my “existential crisis trio” should be the same rating.
2. Soul – A+
- The second of the “existential crisis trio” truly is an out of body experience in a film. Equal parts hopeless and hopeful, this film feels like each of Palm Springs and i’m thinking of ending things all in one. Pixar really swung for the fences, and hit it out of the park, in what is easily their riskiest film to date. This movie is one that I can easily see parents enjoying far more than kids, as this is Pixar’s most mature film to date. I even had questions during and after the movie if you could clarify this as purely a “kids movie”. Pixar has always done an impeccable job of having cute characters and situations that overshadowed dark thematic elements. Pete Docter decided that in this film he wanted to flip the script, and of course, we have the fun little cat storyline, but most of the film truly is the story before cuteness. This was such a risk, and I think an experiment to see how much they could get away with, and I have to say I loved every second of it. Added in Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross delivered the best score of the entire year. I think this is going to be a movie where we look back and can definitively put it as one of, if not the best of Pixar’s films.
1. i’m thinking of ending things – A+
- The final of the “existential crisis trio”, and definitely the most hopeless and depressing of the three, i’m thinking of ending things shows Charlie Kaufman at his wackiest and most outrageous. The film is a mind trip and for so many reasons the movie seems like a mess. But the mess is a mess until it isn’t a mess and the confusing and ambiguous nature of the film is haunting as well as compelling. I can’t stop thinking about it, truthfully, since my first watch, this movie has been on my mind. The acting across the board is amazing, but Jessie Buckley gives my favorite female performance of the entire year as someone who is constantly changing and altering. With stellar performances, haunting cinematography and score, bizarre editing, wacky direction, and a beautifully weird script this film is top to bottom one of the most put-together films of the entire year. This is the type of ambiguous film that just sticks with me, and I can’t fully explain it but I love it. There are so many different interpretations (including mine), and so many different ways to go about this film. I am happy to say my first A+ film of 2020 finishes the year as my top film of 2020.