Top Ten of 2020
I put off this list as long as I could because there always seemed to be more and more movies added to my watch list every single day. While I still haven't gotten to see everything I wanted, I knew I had waited long enough and had to get my list out sooner rather than later. So while there's still some movies that could weasel their way in once I've seen them, this will have to do for now! So without further ado, here's my list of my favorite movies that came out in 2020.
10. DA 5 BLOODS
Okay, I'll be honest, this film took quite a long time for me to get into (honestly about an hour), but then suddenly the film gripped my attention and wouldn't let it go. The film follows a group of Vietnam War vets who return to Vietnam seeking to find treasure they buried there back during the war. It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt, and until they have to confront some of the ghosts of their past. Da 5 Bloods is shocking, thrilling, and devastating. You just have to have the patience to get through.
9. WANDER DARKLY
Wander Darkly is a deep dive relationship exploration film, which happen to be one of my favorite types of movies. It feels almost like a spiritual sequel to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (except a tad bit more accessible) in both subject manner and the way this couple's story is relived. This is one of those films where the less said the better so as not to spoil how the movie gets where it's going, so I won't say much more than that... but I will say it made me cry like a baby.
Nomadland is a quiet, understated portrait of grief anchored by another wonderful performance from the always solid Frances McDormand. Nomadland is a slice of life film, where there's not a lot going on aside from the observance of a lifestyle that many, myself included, may be unfamiliar with: the life of a nomad. While it's interesting to learn about this culture, the best material the movie has to offer are the character driven moments and there's a real beauty to the wisdom the film has to share.
7 TIE: HIS HOUSE, THE LODGE & THE INVISIBLE MAN
I couldn't settle on which horror movie I liked best from 2020, so I'm cheating and giving you three for the price of one. Each play with the concept of ghosts in different ways, but to analyze each here would get us into spoiler territory. The Invisible Man is a fresh modern take on one of Universal's famous "movie monsters." It's thrilling and features one of the most gasp inducing scenes of the year. I saw The Lodge two Sundances ago, but it only made its debut last February or I would have included it on my 2019 list. It excels in giving the viewer both paranoia and claustrophobia that truly puts you in the characters' shoes. I saw His House at least years Sundance and it featured some of the most terrifying scares in recent memory pretty early on into the film's runtime and it just doesn't let up. Each of these films haunts their characters and the audience in different ways and all are excellent.
Swallow is such a bizarre movie based on a real life compulsion: swallowing weird objects. Swallow follows the life of Hunter, a newlywed who tries to convince herself she's blissfully happy, despite having in-laws who seem to find various ways of controlling her life. I found Swallow to be absolutely fascinating and captivating. I was on the edge of my seat about what could happen next, even though what happens in this film is mostly psychological. This film is certainly not for everyone, but I loved every minute.
5. PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
I saw this at last year's Sundance back when seeing movies with an audience was still a thing (sniff), and I have to say I'm so glad I did. This movie almost would be a totally different one without a crowd, which actually kind of shows how many layers it has. Seeing it at Sundance, the dark humor of it came alive, while watching it alone, I think the dramatic elements would feel far more prominent. The truth is, Promising Young Woman is both and features a firecracker performance from Carey Mulligan as a woman looking to teach men that take advantage of women very dark lessons.
4. SOUND OF METAL
I can't think of another movie that more fully puts you in the shoes of its protagonist than Sound of Metal, the story of a heavy metal drummer who loses his ability to hear. The film benefits tremendously from both fantastic sound design that truly lets you experience what the character is experiencing, coupled with an outstanding lead performance by Riz Ahmed. Sound of Metal is truly a film that takes you on a journey and makes you feel pretty much every emotion in the book.
Tenet seemed to polarize audiences, but I'm in the camp that really enjoyed the ride Christopher Nolan took us on. Sure, it wasn't one of his strongest creative efforts (like Inception or Interstellar), but it still was a blast featuring some of the coolest action sequences I've ever seen. I would have loved more character development, heart and backstory, but the creativity of it all wins major points with me and I still left the theater thrilled and amazed.
2. BLACK BEAR
Black Bear is a tale of two halves and the whole picture it creates. I hate to say much about this movie because I really fear spoiling everything that makes it what it is. I thought about this film for days after I saw it because it's the type of movie rife with different interpretations and analyzations. In fact, my husband and I both came to different conclusions on what was real and what wasn't. It's the type of movie that reminds me why I love movies.
1. PALM SPRINGS
Nothing ever really came along to knock the sunny time warp comedy off the top spot from when I saw it at Sundance (especially since my favorite from the festival, Nine Days, didn't get an official release last year). In a year where we all felt stuck in a time loop, this movie couldn't have come at a better time. I have a soft spot for romantic comedies, and seeing one so sweet and earnest, while also being hilarious was so refreshing. I love its message and it's one I see myself watching over and over.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: MINARI, THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND, FREAKY, THE GENTLEMEN, MANK, COLOR OUT OF SPACE, THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7, BABYTEETH