Today i’m going to be counting down my top 10 films of 2020 to qualify for my list. A film must have been completed in 2020 so any 2019 films that were released at the start of this year do not count. This year has been a turbulent one for the film industry with many films going straight to streaming services whilst cinemas have been closed. That said there are still plenty of excellent films to choose from so hold your coke and hear me out.
10. Eurovision song contest the story of fire saga
This may seem like a strange choice. It is an American parody of a contest that is widely unknown outside of Europe and it’s not a film about to win any awards. However it coincidentally filled a gap in a year where the actual contest was cancelled due to covet.
Its rambunctious characters sheer delight of the story. Catchy music captured the feeling of the contest perfectly it deserves a spot for not only providing some much-needed joy but also introducing new people to this weird and wonderful contest.
9. Wonder woman 1984.
This is one of the few films on this list to get released in cinemas followed closely by release on streaming service HBO max. I managed to see it in a cinema right before tier 4 lockdown here in the UK. With a beautiful score and breath-taking visuals. Wonder woman 1984 provides an opportunity to escape daily life and enjoy a spectacle.
This experience trumps the minor issues that i had with it. There are many films especially in the genres of fantasy adventure and action that seek to do precisely this. I think wonder woman passes with flying colours.
8. The Willoughbys
This animation is delightful. Where spider-man into the spider versus genius was in how it replicated the experience of reading a comic book, though Willoughbys replicates the experience of one of those touch and feel baby books that has different materials in it.
The story is simple at times surprisingly dark but the whole visual language of the film is rich with textures that you can feel just by looking at them. This is what made the film a standout animation for me.
7. Borat subsequent movie film
Sasha baron Cohen is an astonishing actor. His films may be crude uncomfortable and sometimes utter nonsense but they are also incredible feats of filmmaking. Cohen puts himself in difficult and sometimes dangerous situations and yet remains in character.
Behaving in such a way so as to catch people off guard and provoke an honest response. What makes this film so special is that Cohen is joined by Bakalva who performs so well as Borat’s daughter that it’s as if they’ve always been a double act. Whether you’re interested in American politics or not this is a film worth appreciating for all of its satirical madness and insightful commentary on contemporary society.
6. The five bloods
As with every spike lee joint the five bloods has some really important things to say. Throughout his career lee has been and still is a crucial voice seeking to educate and increase awareness of the black experience especially in America. In this film we learn about Vietnam from the perspective of four African-American veterans.
It is incredibly moving to see how they are still struggling with the past each in their own ways. At times lee’s signature directing style may take people out of the story but it is usually for good reason to underline the facts behind the fiction. This is undeniably one of the best uses of film as a medium.
5. The social dilemma
I consider this documentary an absolute must-see. The things it discusses are becoming an increasingly universal experience and language. There has never been a time in human history where fake news has spread quicker than it does now and it sometimes has devastating effects.
Understanding the very logical business models and systems behind the apps and websites we use every day is crucial to differentiating between what is the truth and what is not. The knowledge given to us by this documentary is only going to get more relevant with each coming generation.
4. Ma Rainey’s black bottom
This film is a masterpiece. It packs two immensely powerful divided yet united stories about the black experience in 1920s America into one very simple premise. Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman’s performances are riveting and at a smidge in over 90 minutes. This film sustains the drama seamlessly within the walls of one recording studio over a period of barely a day.
I think it strikes a perfect balance between being a play and a film taking the best of both mediums to better serve the story.
Ah tenet this film will forever hold a special place in my heart for the wonderful audience it has brought to this channel. Whilst other studios cowered in fear of losses and delayed releases warner brothers released tenet into cinemas despite COVID. For the support to the film industry alone it deserves a spot in this list.
For the cinematic spectacle ambitious premise and extensive post cinema afterlife it certainly deserves a lot of recognition. However i cannot comfortably put it higher than third on my list because i found it especially on first viewing way too confusing. Don’t get me wrong i enjoyed unravelling this mystery, i loved doing the research. However i think a perfect cinematic experience should leave you satisfied that you have understood what you have seen at least at a surface level with some leeway in terms of leaving a few things up for interpretation.
As it stands post what has been several months of intermittent research i am finally satisfied with tenet and i hope that i’ve helped some of you guys get to that stage as well.
2. The devil all the time
This is a tough film. It is so dark and worlds apart from the films that are on the other end of this list. It still haunts me such horrible characters and such an incredible cast. Every morose note on the score and every moment where they cut just a little later than i expected to make me feel uneasy. Everything came together to give this story impact.
As i mentioned in my review when a film is over two hours it has to work extra hard for me to accept those usually unnecessary extra minutes. But this film knocked it out of the park. The slow build of action reflects the pace of this tiny town. The characters go from potentially redeemable to wholly irredeemable like a lovely apple going mouldy over time. I hate this film but i love this film as well.
Honorable mention the trial of the Chicago seven
I am very conflicted about this film. As a piece of cinema it is fantastic. Aaron Sorkin is well known for his aptitude in writing rapid-fire dialogue that conveys the required information whilst also retaining an emotional connection between audience and character.
However the reason i didn’t give it a place on my list is because it is very one-sided. Not showing the fear felt and injuries faced by the police officers and many of the events shown on screen did not actually happen that way. I do appreciate the effort it went to, to create a connection between protesters past and present in terms of the ongoing fight for fairness and equality.
But i do recommend that you do a fact check after watching this ultimately powerful film.
Honorable mention soul my second honorable mention is the soul
Which i have not yet seen because i do not have Disney plus. However when i get to see it eventually i know that i will enjoy it judging by the storyline, ratings, reviews, reputation of the Pixar name and my past experiences with their films. They are masters of ripping out our hearts and then sewing them back in with surgical storytelling precision.
This is one of those films that i get to look forward to bawling my eyes out watching next year.
But i did not want it to miss a spot in this 2020 list.
I was as surprised at my choice for number one as you likely are right now. But unhinged was an absolute curveball for me this year. I only went to see it because it was one of a few films that were released when UK cinemas reopened briefly back in July.
If it wasn’t for that circumstance i likely would not have even bothered. I expected nothing from this ridiculous premise. But i watched up to my local cinema happy to be back wanting only 90 minutes of vaguely acceptable action that i would be able to immediately erase from my head when i got back to my car.
What i actually got was one of the tensest thrillers that i have experienced. An experience shared by perhaps a sixth or a seventh of people who watched it with others baffled by the high ratings. If it gets you though it gets you good. Five months later and i can still remember that knot in my stomach. That feeling of being totally engrossed to the point where i think i quickened the pace of my breathing as the adrenaline of the characters rubbed off on me. The act of not saying sorry usually leads to some unpleasantness but this film asks what if it means everything.
It strikes a good argument for always saying sorry because you aren’t quite sure how bad the day has been for the person opposite you. I am so surprised to see such a profound life lesson in a film where Russell Crowe plays a middle-aged white dude in an obnoxious truck with a character name that is simply man. Perhaps he represents the dire state of mankind and how each of us deep within us is just a little bit unhinged.
There we have it my top 10 films of 2020