01 Feb 2021
Top 5 Films of 2020
2020 was a very tough year for the film industry. Releases got pushed back, studios tried to put a film out here and there into theatres but with COVID outbreaks occurring worldwide, it was hard to get bums on seats. And even with vaccines in place over the next couple of years, will people return in the same numbers as before? Studio's had no choice but to pivot and look to streaming options. Personally, I love the option of both. There's nothing better than a cinematic experience with lovers of movies in a big theatre. But at the same time, we're a while off before we return to a 'normal' so at-home screenings are also welcome for many. Despite these changes, amazing movies are still being made and these were my top picks for 2020.
5. Doctor Sleep
Making a direct sequel to one of the greatest horror movies of all-time is always going to be a challenge, especially when the original was directed by Stanley Kubrick. Luckily for Mike Flanagan, it's a mighty impressive feat to continue the story of The Shining years later with a now adult Danny, and sit comfortably beside a classic. Flanagan is one of the better horror directors working today. He's excellent with the camera, the tone of the movie feels like an appropriate continuation, yet he manages to craft something altogether new and at times horrifying. Is it as great as The Shining? No... but it is a highly effective sequel that should please fans of the original Kubrick film and actually improves upon Stephen King's sequel novel. I daresay this will age incredibly well.
Peter Docter always makes the best and most inventive Pixar films (see Up (2009) and Inside Out (2015)). Gone are the days of simple stories about animated toys, Soul is one of Pixar's more existential experiences, a welcome change that sees them becoming more mature as an animation studio. Visually, the film is also their best work to date — the lighting alone is absolutely stunning. And for jazz lovers (which I'm not), they will love the soundstage. Whilst it didn't hit the peak emotional depths of some of their previous works, it is a beautiful looking, finely crafted multi-layered film that I'm glad Pixar continues to make in between the business as usual sequels.
3. Sound of Metal
Accepting big change in your life is always a challenging time. We tend to stick with what we know and our habits and so when we're forced to embrace a new way, it's life-altering. Riz Ahmed gives the performance of his career (so far) in this powerful low-key drama of a musician who loses his hearing. He fully immerses himself in the role, and the film respects the subject matter admirably. Another beautifully shot film on the list, with moments of self-reflection and nuance scattered wonderfully throughout, Sound of Metal is a must-see experience.
Films like these ALWAYS floor me. Films that touch you on a very human level with forever be my favourites. Beautifully shot, directed, performed, and scored, Minari is a simple yet powerful story of Korean immigrants moving to America in the 1980s. Those little moments with family are everything and there are plenty of touching moments throughout. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll feel every bit of struggle in this family's cultural assimilation. A timeless story, yet so perfectly timely. Steven Yeun, who is probably most known as Glenn from the original The Walking Dead series is fantastic here but so is the entire cast from the little kids to the grandmother.
1. Palm Springs
No film throughout 2020 made me feel more awake and alive than Palm Springs. The Hulu hit from The Lonely Island (though not directed by Akiva) landed a worldwide rights figure of US$17,500,000.69 and it was precisely what we all needed smack bang in the middle of first wave COVID lockdowns. A great reminder that despite most days feeling exactly like the last one, that it can suck a little bit less if you get to share it with the people who mean the world to you. Christin Milioti and Andy Samberg are pitch-perfect in this Groundhog Day/Happy Death Day type dramedy. A tonne of fun, some truly hilarious moments throughout, and it all wraps up within a tidy 90 mins. Thank you Lonely Island for the best time I had watching a film in 2020.