The world that we live in was shook to its cultural core when the worst pandemic of the last century hit our planet. It put a halt to everything we had planned as a species from basic necessitations such as food and transport, but entertainment such as film was no different. The entire calendar of releases by major studios was disrupted and the epidemic caused theaters to shut down in many areas across the globe. While the entire world of cinema was put into a frenzy, a few hidden gems made their way to our screens (mostly home television) and graced us with the reminder that this medium is still strong despite the odds. Admittedly, it was a bit scarce in comparison to the prior years that have given us so many instant classics, but we still have more than enough great films to enjoy.
The following films were good, but just fell short of getting into the list of the best. It could be for subjective reasons or for the fact that they cater a little too hard to a small audience but they are still worth a watch. Films are hard, people, and lets show some respect to some of those films that were awesome to enjoy.
Bill and Ted 3
This long awaited and slightly late sequel from the popular 90s franchise is a bit of a strange addition on this honorable mentions list because it really hits all of the nostalgic beats that it has to. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter portray themselves perfectly, falling seamlessly into their old characters with ease. The issue of this movie comes from the fact that it truly feels like more of a reunion special rather than a feature film. The plot and writing is as cheesy and low-key heartwarming as it always has been, but it really never gets out of its own comfort zone and maintains to be a tribute to the Bill and Ted movies of the past. Rest in Peace, George Carlin.
Birds of Prey
This Cathy Yan film is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand there is a lot of god cinematography by Matthew Libatique and its also one of the most unique films in the DCEU. On the other hand, it seems like the film is way too busy with its female empowerment motif that it loses sight of developing the titular characters. Ewan McGregor was obviously having lots of fun with the portrayal of Black Mask and Margot Robbie seemed comfortable leading the ensemble cast with her powerful portrayal of an independent Harley Quinn. This is a good watch but just a notch below the other films on this list.
Sonic The Hedgehog
While it is not exactly a film that transcends the genre, tries something brand new, or takes a risk with how any of the film is made, Sonic The Hedgehog is still a good VIDEO GAME MOVIE. That is an admirable achievement and while the writing is nowhere near as witty as it wants to be, the portrayals of the characters are convincing enough to keep the pacing fresh and entertaining.
The Top 10
Now for the list. 10 of the best films that came out in 2020 by this writer. From start to bottom, these are necessary and essential watches for anyone who likes film. Subjectively, of course.
Stuntman Sam Hargrave had this directorial debut to start off his career and much like the scenes in this movie, it is an amazingly spectacular set of explosive dares and close calls. It straddles the line between the classic Hollywood blockbuster action flick and an intriguing war thriller with great variety in performance along with pomp. Chris Hemsworth is an excellent leading man as he carries this film with mostly relative unknowns to the general audience and he carries his portrayal with confidence and realistic grit with great gravitas. Watch for the action, stay for the look into what could be Hollywood’s next big director.
Josh Trank got a lot of hate for his work on Fan4Stic, and his it is abundantly clear that his vision was not fully realized in that release. In this film, he gets back to this artsy core of dramatic gravitas. Tom Hardy pretty much carries this film, and it echoes his performance in Nicolas Winding Refin’s Bronson with how he was fearless in portraying the a truly flawed character without throwing caution to the wind. Surreal and raw, this is a movie that is a slow burn that will not adhere well to all viewers.
8. Wonder Woman 1984
This Patty Jenkins film has been controversial for several reasons including its outrageous plot and the implications of some of the egregious oversights in the details. However, this shouldnt distract from the fact that the film itself draws criticism for its lack of depth in the writing. It is a mess of a film, with so many great performances and scenes intertwined with pointless scenes of unnecessary drama. Its still an excellently filmed and casted movie with some entertaining sequences that are genuinely engaging, but while this critic liked the hectic fun of comic-book logic heavy dialogue, it might not be for everyone.
Pixar Studio has been characteristically known as one of the most consistent studios to put out films. This Jamie Foxx-led adventure is no different and provides a gorgeous take on the meaning of cherishing life as we go from different stages of his character’s time on Earth. The animation in this flick is trippy and vibrant, echoing the abstract afterlife properties of the narrative. The voicework throughout is phenomenal and Soul might be the most versatile film of the year in terms of audience appeal.
6. Borat 2
The United States needed a film like Borat 2 to come out at the time that it did. Shrouded in mystery before it came out on Amazon Prime, it served to be the career renaissance piece for character actor Sacha Baron Cohen. The film is more of a long serries of pranks loosely tied in with a hilariously ridiculous plot, but it is still easily one of the best watches of the year with its harrowingly hilarious transparency with how it reveals cultural norms and its digressions.
5. The Devil All The Time
In a year where few films had the scope or depth that could come along with complete productions, The Devil All The Time is easily going to go down as a cult-classic in the future. The ensemble cast is amazing throughout as they go through the sharply written script by Donald Ray Pollock. Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Sebastian Stan, and Harry Melling all shine in their roles and it proves that they can call carry a scene with the command of ease. The look of this movie harkens back to films like There Will Be Blood where the colors aren’t muted but grounded in the tone of the film as it intertwines with the direction of Antonio Campos, instantly catapulting him into the upper echelon of filmmakers to watch out for.
It is difficult for this writer to get into a horror movie, but Freaky takes the genre that it is comfortable in and flips it on its head with its unconventional takes on the classic clichés that usually accompany these movies. Vince Vaughn easily finds himself in a role meant for him, and the entirety of the film feels so well paced and edited that it could very well go down as a horror classic.
Tenet is easily one of the most divisive films in the entire film buff community. Hardcore Nolan fans have been quick to defend the science defying concept and how despite its lack of emotion, still holds enough well-made sequences to give it their stamp of approval. I am one of those. This is an awesome movie that felt like a true test of Nolan’s artistic freedom as a filmmaker and it is my belief that it will take a decade or so before this movie is deeply appreciated for the marvel it is.
2. Da Five Bloods
Spike Lee is one of the most treasured directors in the entire industry and his boisterous voice as an activist for change in America was truly felt in this Netflix release. On its surface, it is a war movie that focuses on the cause and effects of the disrupted lives of those involved in these wars, but it is truly a tale about inner-guilt, greed, loyalty, and what it means to be a human being. This is a truly dark but important film in the current political and cultural climate of the world. Not to mention that Delroy Lindo is easily up for one of the best performances of the year with his deeply intriguing and saddening portrayal in the film.
1. The Gentlemen
When it comes to the most entertaining movie of the year, Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen is the perfect mix of mystery, action, drama, and suspense all wrapped into one energetic package. Performances from Colin Farrell, Charlie Hunnam and Matthew McConaughey help this movie feel like a close-knit stage production of sorts. It might not be gripping with political satire, change a genre, mesh two mediums together to make a brand new type of audience but its a fun ride that engages the viewer. This is the kind of film that reminds us of what the beauty of filmmaking is supposed to bring. This heightened reality of awesomeness.