I know, I know… the year that shall not be named. 2020 was a year that none of us saw coming and for all of us film fanatics – a lot of our most anticipated films were being delayed, cinemas were closed for months on end and the overall cinematic landscape looked nothing but uncertain. However, this article will be focusing on the bright spots of our 2020.
It was truly the year for the smaller, independent films to make their mark on a new decade of film while the blockbuster action gets pushed to 2021 and beyond. As a collective group, this is our Top Ten Films of 2020:
10. Love and Monsters
A well-timed release from Amazon Prime Video, comes Love and Monsters which follows Joel Dawson who embarks on a journey to reach his high-school girlfriend seven years after the monsterpocalypse – a world in which monsters own the land. Love and Monsters provided a fun action-adventure film in a world that felt pretty dim. Dylan O’Brien provides a performance with vigour and charisma that allows us to embrace the character and feel compelled by their motivations. Void of big studio money, Love and Monsters still manages to create a convincing alternate world with real (enough) looking monsters. This story reminds us that in difficult times – it is worth holding on to hope for a better tomorrow.
9. The Invisible Man
Hot off the furnace from his 2018 film Upgrade, director Leigh Whannell recreates this classic horror in his own vision. The Invisible Man twists the generic and tropey construction of the classic film into a full-bore psychological thriller, complete with paranoia and mental breakdown. While more narratively accomplished films like La Llorona take credit for being more dialogue focussed films – we commend The Invisible Man for actually sticking within the horror genre and providing enough substance to leave one satisfied.
Minari’s simple premise and abundant heart is what really brings it into the fold this year. With stand-out performances from the young, middle-aged, and elderly – this drama about generational struggles in small town America has the power to emotionally grab a wide range of people. There’s a lot to unpack from Minari, much of its themes and messages are left unspoken, instead, we’re here to simply observe it all happening before our eyes – much like the reality we live in. This is what makes Minari so effective, it’s ability to truly relate to reality.
7. Sound of Metal
Sometimes all a film needs is development, buildup, and payoff — that is precisely what Sound of Metal provides. Metaphorically speaking, this is a film about a man thrown into the depths of a category 5 hurricane — the wind is so strong he loses sight of everything in front and must find a new way to navigate throughout his life in the aftermath. Sound of Metal is slow, concise, and clear about who its character is, it’s a film in harmony with what it wants to say and how it wants to say it. Alongside the fantastic performances and assured direction, this is a film that provides catharsis in all the right ways.
6. Palm Springs
During the middle of lockdown, who knew that one of our top movies would be one we didn’t even review! Palm Springs is a delight to watch as its time loop adventure seems to be heavily inspired by Groundhog Day. The interactions between Andy Samberg and Christin Milloti is a highlight of this film as we get to see them freak about being stuck in this loop while slowly falling for each other.
Another film released during lockdown, Spontaneous quite easily the hidden gem of 2020. With a wacky unexplained concept of students suddenly combusting, this film should not have really worked but with interesting characters and an intriguing story this film deserves a spot on our Top 2020 list and continues to showcase Katherine Langford as a rising star.
4. The Trial of Chicago 7
A film that is completely reliant on Aaron Sorkin’s rapid-fire rhythmic dialogue and sharp editing. The Trial of the Chicago 7 adapts the famous 1969 trial of seven defendants who are accused by the Federal Government of conspiracy and crossing state lines with the intention of starting riots with the police. A star-studded cast which includes stand-out performances from Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Rylance and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. Aaron Sorkin helms the script and right from the prologue – you are hooked into what feels like the most interesting court case and the film has no intention of losing your interest.
How could we do a Top 10 2020 list and not include Christopher Nolan!!! Albeit Tenet may have been a tad controversial in regards to it being too Nolan and confusing, but that doesn’t change the fact that Tenet is overall a well made film and the feats Nolan and the crew could achieve visually should not be forgotten. Lets not forget the intense score from Ludwig Göransson which elevates the tension in the scenes they are played in and the genius of having the score played backwards in the inverted scenes.
2. Promising Young Woman
A frontrunner candidate for the upcoming awards season, Promising Young Woman literally left us speechless and shaking after the film was done. Carey Mulligan was outstanding in this film as she sought revenge on those who wrong her friend, and well deserves every award she will be nominated for. With a captivating story and jaw dropping plot twists, Promising Young Woman deserves a place on our Top 10 Movies of 2020 list.
Following Onward, one might’ve thought that Pixar had lost its touch for even their original films – well that thought is immediately diminished with the release of Soul. The film sees Joe, a jazz enthusiast one day discovering that his soul has been transported into another dimension to help a soul find their passion – he soon finds out what it means to have a soul. Arguably, Pixar’s greatest films to date – Soul finds itself to be amongst the best in Pixar’s rich catalogue of films. Soul is a philosophical film that is content on exploring some of life’s biggest questions and is successful in this while exploiting along the way. Soul may not connect as much in pop culture as Pixar’s other titles, but it surely tops Disney and Pixar’s list as their most accomplished animated work yet.