Friday, April 23, 2021

My Favorite Movies of 2020

My Favorite Movies of 2020

It's that time again. Time for me to list my 20 favorite films I watched that were released in 2020. Without further ado, here is this year's list.

  1. Synchronic

  2. Jingle Jangle

  3. Onward

  4. The Vast of Night

  5. Judas and the Black Messiah

  6. Borat 2

  7. Wonder Woman 1984

  8. The Big Ugly

  9. Driveways

  10. Alone

  11. Balloon

  12. The Half Of It

20. The King Of Staten Island I underestimated Pete Davidson. Certainly, most others did too. His acting chops and depth of performance was on point. Major kudos to Marisa Tomei and Bill Burr, who also surprise with terrific performances. Based loosly on his own life, Pete carefully helps us understand his personality and past. There are many funny scenes, but what sticks with you more is the lives of the characters. Quite possibly, Apatow's best film. It's just too long. They needed to trim about 20 minutes. 19. Love And Monsters
Looking for a movie worth going back to the theaters for? This might be the one. Just be prepared to suspend your disbelief and take it for what it is: A fun, ridiculous, apocalyptic ride.
Combine a very lovable main character, played by Dylan O'Brien, an adorable dog, the end of the world, a love story and giant insects, and you have yourself quite the movie. Sure, it sounds terrible, but it's in fact a blast, and the perfect film to see in theaters. I feel bad for this film, as it likely won't make near the money that was spent on it due to COVID, and it deserves to make more than it will. The special effects are actually quite good. My only complaint was the corny ending.

17. Babyteeth8Let it be known, this is a sad movie. I was not expecting a sad movie, but let it be known that it is. Great performances by the cast and well filmed. This movie will make you think, it will make you uncomfortable and in the end, it will make you sad. It will make you sad, but it's a very good movie.

17. Swallow This flick was not at all what I was expecting. The DVD case said, "the horror," but it did not mean horror in the cinematic sense. Youtube calls it a "thriller," but that definitely does not describe it accurately ata all. The cover, apparently, meant "horror "in how you react and then feel for the main character (who suffers from Pica.) Horror as in distressing and worrisome empathy. This movie was not a horror movie, rather a deep dive into mental illness, abuse and depression. It will both startle and move you. Superb performance by Haley Bennett, this is one of the best movies of 2020. 16. I'm Thinking Of Ending Things
For those of you that didn't cancel your Netflix subscription over a movie you haven't seen and still have Netflix, Netflix REALLY wants you to watch this flick. They are pushing it hard right now and I don't get it because I sincerely believe that more people will hate it than like it. (My wife hated it.) And I'm okay with that.
The first act of the movie is downright terrific and straightforward. The plot keeps you on edge, wondering if this is a horror, drama, comedy or mix of all three. (My wife actually loved the first third of the movie.) The surreality and tone of the film keeps you engaged and thirsting for what comes next. Until the second act.
During the second act, you really start scratching your head about what the crap is going on. Without giving too many spoilers, the plot time jumps around and it is up to the viewer to put together the clues about what's happening. I was able to catch the direction and foreshadowing. My wife, not so much, which is strange because she is much smarter than me.
The third act goes from the strange to the downright bizzarre. But when you realize at the end, you realize the entire thing was a touching and saddening look at aging and loneliness.
The acting in this film is absolutely off the charts good. Jesse Plemons is always enthralling, but this might be his best work yet. Toni Collette has scene stealing moments and the transformations that Jessie Buckley make are superb.
My only complaint is that the director could have been a little more clear about where the story is headed and not quite so criptic. I think it would have made the film more accessible and easier to understand.

15. Bad Education For educators like myself, this movie will make you extra angry that an administrator would violate the sacred trust of being over eductional funds. What sounds like a boring story is actually enthralling. Additionally, so well acted by Ray Romano, Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney. Hard to believe this is a true story and people would stoop this low. 91 minutes of intrigue. 14. The Trial Of The Chicago 7
A superstar cast with some of the most sublime acting of the year. Too many great performances to name, but just naming a few, these are the ones I particularly enjoyed: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Frank Langella, Mark Rylance and ESPECIALLY Sacha Baron Cohen!
Glorious writing and storytelling unfold slowly but curiously and then builds quickly. One of 2020's best for sure. 13. One Night In Miami Fictional, yes. Nonetheless powerful. Kudos to Amazon Studios for two of the year's best films (the other one being Sound of Metal). This film is seemingly done in one act and plays out like an on stage play. Its thoughtful, deeply written dialog strikes between four clasic African American heroes from the 60's strikes at the very heart of today's ongoing race issues. Brilliantly written and even more brilliantly performed, my only complaint is that sometimes the heroes seem more of charictures of the people they actually represent than who they truly might be. Entirely enjoyable and one of the best movies of the year. 12. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Superbly acted, this story based on a play hits hard and powerfully. It captures a time in US history with near perfection. From the costumes to the music to the scenery, you will be sucked in to the 1920's. Again, the acting makes this film and I can't recall a more well acted movie in recent memory. I expect there will be some Oscar nominations coming its way. It's on Netflix and it is definitely worth watching, Netflix-aholics. 11. Da 5 Bloods This is in no way a perfect movie. In fact, there are several things that hold it back, specifically its length and its overarching preachiness when preachiness is not needed. It also has some strange editing choices that work both for and against the movie at times. But in the end, the overall whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. It is at times potent, emotional, enraged and sullen. Most of all, it is a remarkable work of art and commentary by Spike Lee on both our country's past and its present. Heartbreaking and absorbing performances by Chadwick Boseman and Delroy Lindo. 10. News Of The World
There is not many surprises here. A straight up western, but with an enormous amount of heart. I can't imagine anyone not liking this movie (except, maybe those that don't have a soul). It's exciting and heartwarming and everything you look for in a movie.
Besides a few hokey, or I will call them "Hanksy" moments, this film does not disappoint. It's a road trip story and a western... but at its heart, it's a movie about overcoming childhood trauma with human connection. Kudos also to young Helena Zengel, who absolutely nails her role as a twice orphaned girl. Without a doubt, one of 2020's best. Go support your local theater and see it, with a mask on. 9. The Wolf Of Snow Hollow You expect a horror, but you laugh, a lot. I haven't laughed so hard in a movie for a long, long time. 70% comedy, 30% horror, the horror is also well done, but it's the comedy that makes it special. I loved every second except the somewhat sappy, predictable ending. Bonus: Filmed and set entirely in UTAH. (Also, be warned, F bombs.)

8. Manari
Minari (2020): 4 out of 5 stars - Jam packed with both feel good and feel sad moments. Superbly acted, excellent script. Moving performances by the entire cast, but specifically Yuh-Jung Youn. Also, maybe the cutest kid ever cast in any film, Alan S. Kim.

Some movies are slow and boring. Some movies are slow and hold your interest. Put this one in the later category. While it moves slowly, I never took my eyes off the screen. Much of this was due to an absolute master class of acting by a captivating Frances McDormand, in one of the best displays of acting I have ever witnessed.
While this movie is basically the year in the life of a nomad, homeless (well, by homeless, I mean she sleeps in her van) traveler. However, it is actually a love story. What is interesting is that it is a love story between a character you grow to love and one you never actually get to meet. It is also about loneliness, aging and most of all, getting over loss. Definitely a must see. (BTW, this movie would be rated PG if it weren't for a 2 second clip of Frances McDormand swimming naked in Yellowstone.)

6. The Father
The Father (2020): 4 and 1/2 stars out of 5. 2 hours of heartwrench. Wonderfully and creatively made. You feel the pain, confusion, fear and lonliness of what it's like to suffer from dimentia. Several times I got the chills. Anthony Hopkins absolutely deserved the Oscar.

The Invisible Man (2020) 4 and 1/2 stars out of 5 - I am not sure I have ever felt this level of anxiety in any movie. Not in A Quiet Place, not in Misery, not ever. I was on edge the entire movie, and what for? Nothing! Pan to an empty door frame - noting there, but creepy as heck. And that is the beauty of this film. Sometimes the fear of nothing is more profound than the fear of something.
Noboody plays the abused, angry woman like Elizabeth Moss and she plays essentially the exact same role as she does in A Handmaide's Tale. She is terrific, but Aldis Hodge steals the show with his portrayal of a caring, tough-guy cop.
Kudos go to the score of this movie. And the sound editing. They both build such unbelievable tension you think nothing can ever live up to the build up. But ultimately it satisfies. My only complaint is occasionally the effects take you out of the creepy world the director has built and puts you in a hokey Marvel-type universe. Ultimately, that is a minor quibble. The payoff at the end is worth the wait. If you are wondering why this is R, it is not for language or sex, I didn't hear a single F bomb. It is certainly for some fairly graphic gore. I absolutely loved this one and it is without a doubt the first truly great movie of 2020. 4. The Little Things Denzel Washington, Rami Malik, Jared Leto - That's why I paid to watch this film. Not sure the film was meant to highlight their acting chops, but these three do not disappoint. In this murder mystery thriller, expect the unexpected and expect to be creeped out by Jared Leto. Enthralling from beginnng to end, the first big movie of 2021 is a great one! This movie knows its job and it does it's one job well.
3. Princess Of The Row This film is filled with so many poignant and forceful moments. It's downright dynamic. This film speaks to so many issues in society today: race, ethnicity, class, gender, poverty, mental illness, treatment of veterans. Mostly it's about a daughter's love for her dad. Absurdly well acted, there is not a wasted moment. Highly recommend. 2. Sound Of Metal
(On Amazon Prime for Prime members) - The first truely greatr movie I have seen that was released in 2020. It's about a drummer that suddenly goes deaf, but it is more so about how people and life change and how we adjust to those changes. It's about noise and peace and finding a balance of both.
Riz Ahmed's earnest and fervent performance is one of the best of 2020. He is a legit Oscar contender! Paul Raci is a scene stealer in every scene he's in. The sound editing is superb in this film, making the viewer feel almost what it is like to lose your hearing. This is the best movie I have seen so far that was released in 2020. (Viewer be advised: there is some course language in this film.) 1. Promising Young Woman Wow. This movie has laughs, twists, emotion. It will make you angry. It will confound you. It thrills. It keeps you on edge. It tricks you into thinking it is going to be a romantic comedy. It is not that. It will make you uncomfortable. So very uncomfortable. Most of all, it is thought provoking. Very timely and incredibly well written. The ending... holy smokes. Nominated for Best Pictiure and Best Actress... perhaps it should win both. An absolute roller coaster ride of emotion, it's a movie you will be thinking about for a long time.

2019: 10. Parisite 9. Rocketman 8. The Art Of Self Defense 7. Greener Grass 6. The Mustang 5. A Marriage Story 4. Richard Jewell 3. 1917 2. Peanut Butter Falcon 1. JoJo Rabbit
10. Upgrade 9. What They Had 8. Leave No Trace 7. Three Identical Strangers 6. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs 5. Free Solo 4. A Quiet Place 3. Green Book 2. Won't You Be My Neighbor 1. Eighth Grade

10. Dunkirk
9. Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi
8. The Shape of Water
7. Get Out
6. The Big Sick
5. Logan Lucky
4. Lady Bird
3. It
2. Brigsby Bear
1. Only the Brave

2016: 10. 10 Cloverfield Lane 9. Sully
8. Eye In The Sky
7. La La Land
6. Life, Animated
5. Pete's Dragon
4. Hidden Figures
3. Hacksaw Ridge
2. Arrival
1. Lion 2015
10. Spotlight
9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
8. The Martian
7. The Revenant
6. Ex Machina
5. Ant Man
4. Inside Out
3. The Walk
2. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
1. Room

10. The Hobbit
9. Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
8. The Theory of Everything
7. Joe
6. Big Hero 6
5. Boyhood
4. The Imitation Game
3. Big Eyes
2. Whiplash
1. St. Vincent

10. The Heat
9. Mud
8. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
7. Despicable Me 2
6. Gravity
5. Short Term 12
4. Nebraska
3. 12 Years a Slave
2. Philomena
1. The Kings of Summer

10. Premium Rush
9. Moonrise Kingdom
8. The Amazing Spiderman
7. Looper
6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
5. Argo
4. Frankenweenie
3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
2. Sleepwalk With Me
1. Safety Not Guaranteed