Obviously, 2020 sucked. It ruined movies for movie fans everywhere. I only watched 44 movies that were released in 2020. In comparison, last year I was at 114, in 2018 I was at 105, and in 2017 I was at 135.
I say all of that because my list is pretty dire compared to previous years.
One last thing, I am missing a lot of the movies that will be Academy Award front runners such as “Mank,” “Da 5 Bloods”, “One Night in Miami.”
Here we go.
Six friends hire a medium to hold a séance via Zoom during lockdown — but they get far more than they bargained for as things quickly go wrong. When an evil spirit starts invading their homes, they begin to realize they might not survive the night.
“Host” was the most fun I had watching a movie all year. It also scared the living shit out of me. I consider myself a horror movie snob, and I don’t really get scared during movies anymore, but “Host” got me. The jump scares the tension, the atmosphere – perfection. It was a simple premise but did so much. I was on Zoom most of the year for school and meetings, so the Zoom aspect of the movie worked for me. All of the actors did a tremendous job, and I cannot wait to see what director Rob Savage has up his sleeve next. If you have not seen “Host” yet, please do yourself a favor and watch it.
When Cecilia’s abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.
“Invisible Man” was the last movie I saw in theaters before the world shut down. It was at the world premiere, and director Leigh Whannell opened up the movie. This movie is fantastic. The way Whannell reimagines the classic Invisible Man story is brilliant. He makes you think that this could happen. Elizabeth Moss gives a powerhouse performance. My favorite scene of 2020 occurred in the movie as well – the dinner scene. The cinematography is beautiful and is a character in the movie. I just loved this movie.
A school district superintendent works for the betterment of the student’s education when an embezzlement scheme is discovered, threatening to destroy everything.
Not enough people saw “Bad Education.” It came out on HBO as a ‘made for TV movie,’ but it’s not. Hugh Jackman gives a fantastic performance; he gives off real Patrick Bateman vibes. Allison Janney is excellent as well. The script is crisp. Director Cory Finley follows up on the unappreciated 2017 movie “Thoroughbreds” and is on my directors to watch list.
“A drummer begins to lose his hearing and has to come to grips with a future that will be filled with silence.”
Riz fuckin’ Ahmed. This role might just be his Academy Award winning performance.
“Sound of Metal” might be the best movie of 2020. Before I gush over Ahmed, director Darius Marder is the other star of the movie. The way he plays with the sound is terrific. The way he chooses not to use subtitles when people are signing because Ruben doesn’t know sign language was genius. The script and screenplay were written with passion.
Ahmed was tremendous. He is one of the gems in Hollywood right now. Acting as a deaf person must be difficult, but he pulls it off. The way he acts with his eyes is something special. Ruben is a recovering heroin addict, and while he isn’t using heroin, there are other addict traits. IMPULSIVENESS. I won’t spoil some of the decisions made, but there are different ways to screw up your life up other than using drugs.
After making a harrowing escape from war-torn South Sudan, a young refugee couple struggle to adjust to their new life in a small English town that has an unspeakable evil lurking beneath the surface.
“His House” came out of nowhere. I was scrolling on Netflix, and the movie poster caught my eye. I didn’t even watch the trailer; I just went in blind. “His House” is excellent. The performances were incredible. Sope Dirisu was a real presence in the movie and was very memorable. Wunmi Mosaku continued to thrive in 2020 as she was also excellent in “Lovecraft Country.” The camera work in “His House” is eye candy. The story is thrilling, with a nice twist. The scares work and are scary. Remi Weekes is another director that I cannot wait to see what he does next.
When carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honor Sarah have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated as they are unable to escape the venue, themselves, or each other.
“Palm Springs” was a wonderful surprise. While we might have seen the “Groundhog Day” premise done in every way possible, director Max Barbakow finds a way to make it fresh. The movie is funny yet has a lot of heart. The premise could have gotten old, real fast, but it doesn’t. Andy Samberg is funny as usual. The real star was Cristin Milioti, who steals every scene. The chemistry between them is awesome. “Palm Springs” is just delightful.
“At the dawn of the space-race, two radio-obsessed teens discover a strange frequency over the airwaves in what becomes the most important night of their lives and in the history of their small town.”
The Vast of Night” is Andrew Patterson’s coming out party. Yet another director who knocked it out of the park. He does so much with so little. This is a movie that makes you love the indie movie making process. The camera work in the movie is jaw-dropping at points. There will be a long seven-minute one shot, and then there will be quick 13+ cuts. It truly is breathtaking. The actors are all good, and the sound design is beautiful and eerie. It gives you a real “Twilight Zone” feel, and I loved it.
“American expat Mickey Pearson has built a highly profitable marijuana empire in London. When word gets out that he’s looking to cash out of the business forever it triggers plots, schemes, bribery and blackmail in an attempt to steal his domain out from under him.”
When Guy Richie is on fire, he makes some of the best movies out there. Well, Guy Richie was on fire. Right out the gate, “The Gentlemen” lets you know exactly what kind of ride you’re in for a stylish, violent, with odd, quirky characters brilliant Ritchie dialogue. “The Gentlemen” is cut from the same cloth as “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels,” but it just had more of a budget. Voice-overs, freeze frames, twists, and violence – you can tell Ritchie had a great time making this. The twists and turns are great, and keep you guessing. All of the acting was great, so there is no need to single them out.
“True crime meets global spy thriller in this gripping account of the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of the North Korean leader. The film follows the trial of the two female assassins, probing the question: were the women trained killers or innocent pawns of North Korea?”
I end my top ten list with two documentaries that I paid money for through virtual theaters. “Assassins” details the crazy story of Kim Jong-Nam’s assassination and all of the people involved. The story is genuinely crazy. It is a wild thrill ride from start to finish. Fascinating might not even do this documentary justice. Ryan White is becoming a must-watch true crime documentary filmmaker. All of his documentaries are fantastic, and “Assassins” is no different.
Raw and intimate, this documentary captures the struggles of patients and frontline medical professionals battling the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan.
To say this documentary is heavy might be the understatement of the year. This movie documents the first 76 days of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is set in a single hospital. There is no narration. It is just raw and harrowing footage of the nurses and doctors trying to save people’s lives. How director Hao Wu got inside the hospital is wild to me, but I thank him for sharing it.