2020 has been a serious ride filled with ups and downs. Cinema on its own had to deal with their own set of challenges as movie theatres all over the world were shut down and studios had to find a way to get their content to the public. Some succeeded, some seriously failed. But what a year it was for cinema. Editor in chief, Seth Eelen, has put together his own personal top 20 films of 2020.
(note: some films have been screened early at film festivals and might not yet be available to mainstream audiences at time of publishing)
20. The Forty-Year-Old Version (streaming on Netflix)
Starring, writing, producing and directing her own film, taking full control of her own project, just shows how much of a powerhouse Radha Blank really is. The Forty Year Old Version is extremely clever and an instant favourite.
A star is born!
19. Uncle Frank (streaming on Amazon Prime Video)
The dynamic between main trio Lillis, Bettany and Macdissi is unreal. Uncle Frank easily blends humour with pain, and even though it walks a familiar path of coming-of-age/coming-out structures, it does so with much heart and bravura.
18. Black Bear (available on VOD)
Black Bear is a unique whacky psychological drama that does what it wants to do – fuck with your expectations. Aubrey Plaza gives a career best performance, but really the entire cast is delivering the goodies. An intriguing, adventurous, oddly satisfying surprise on all counts.
17. Possessor (available on VOD)
Possessor is a brilliant mind-bending fever dream that even though it stays quite on the surface, manages to stay intriguing until the very end, mainly because of the convincing performances, fantastic cinematography and exquisite (bloody) practical effects. Bravo, Cronenberg.
16. The Half of It (streaming on Netflix)
The Half of It deserves to be up there with indie coming of age films, such as ‘The Edge of Seventeen‘ and ‘Lady Bird‘. Not only is Asian representation a necessity, the unforced LGBTQ+ story in the middle of it all is invigorating and from the heart. Like the movie states at the start, this was never supposed to be a love story – it’s about friendships and new beginnings. What is love anyway?
15. Happiest Season (streaming on Hulu)
‘Happiest Season‘ is a classic in the making, as it changes the formula of what a Christmas film is expected to be, significantly. DuVall has made something surprisingly endearing, that’ll trigger a wide range of emotions. It’s A Wonderful Queer Life after all.
14. Meat the Future (screened at Doc Edge Festival 2020)
Meat The Future is a revolutionary eye-opener that could easily change the way consumers look at food forever, without losing their appetite.
13. Bad Hair (streaming on Hulu)
Simien delivers an exceptionally suspenseful horror satire, with subtle (and not so subtle) political undercurrents, first-rate acting and superlative world building. A hauntingly bewitching slasher that makes you wish today was just a regular bad hair day.
12. Wolfwalkers (streaming on Apple TV+)
Visually appealing is an understatement. ‘Wolfwalkers‘ raises the bar for rivaling animation studios by not using popular techniques, while staying true to themselves and bringing extraordinary stories to life. Another gem in Cartoon Saloon’s catalog. Wow, just WOW.
11. Another Round (screened at TIFF20)
Another Round isn’t groundbreaking in their obvious message on addiction and the side effects of intoxication, but many nuanced topics that cover family and friendship amidst the dangers of pleasure in any shape or form, are. An all round beautifully crafted film that impresses with its level of quality. I must admit, drunken Mads dancing jazz ballet tops 2020 for me. Time to wine down.
10. Pieces of a Woman (coming to Netflix January 7, 2021)
A harrowing story filled with stunning scenery and camerawork. Credit to Wéber, whose naturalistic dialogue keeps the intensity alive, even if the film loses some of its magic after that unimaginably painful event. Depressing, overwhelming, soul crushing storytelling.
9. BULA (screened at PÖFF20 – wide release in 2021)
BULA goes full force ahead from the moment it kicks into gear, never losing steam, joining an eccentric league of dark comedy knockouts. If a hippie-detecting chicken after a bad trip in some dodgy abandoned building doesn’t have you in stitches, then I don’t know what will. Brilliant.
8. Athlete A (streaming on Netflix)
Remember Oscar-winning film ‘Spotlight’? This doco is just as enraging and heartbreaking, while a group of investigative reporters uncover the horrific abuse of children by USA Gymnastics. The survivors’ stories hit hard, but need to be heard loud and clear. Terrific!
7. Unpregnant (streaming on HBO Max)
SURPRISE OF THE YEAR!
Haley Lu Richardson and Barbie Ferreira’s on screen chemistry make this wholesome AF cross state road trip movie a winner. It’s an important, informative and heartfelt story that needs to be told. This filled my heart with so much love 💖
6. The Invisible Man (available on VOD)
Whannell directs his retelling of the classic horror tale with much confidence, while Moss rules the screen. Sound and atmosphere are co-stars as it helps keeping you on the edge from the start up until the shocking and satisfying finale. One of the strongest psychological horror films in recent history.
5. Lapsis (screened at Fantasia International Film Festival 2020)
Lapsis has something to say about monopolies, exploitation of employees and private health care without being preachy. The way Noah Hutton successfully makes you listen, while blending all of these serious subjects into a clever scifi/mystery adventure is not only remarkable, but also unlike anything I’ve seen this year. An exceptionally effective debut feature film.
4. Dinner in America (screened at Fantasia International Film Festival 2020)
‘Dinner In America‘ is the fucking tits! If you decide to watch one film on FIFF’s program, it better be this one. This crazy coming-of-age romantic punk dark comedy is by far one of the most heartfelt and unique films I’ve seen all year. I can’t wait to watch it again. Stay punk.
3. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (streaming on Netflix)
‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom‘ is a formidable drama that represents the time period accurately through the inspiring and heartbreaking stories these musicians share with each other. This being Boseman’s final, and best performance of his career, makes every scene he’s in even harder to witness, resulting in a saddening final act that’ll leave you in tears.
2. Disclosure (streaming on Netflix)
If there’s a documentary you should be watching sooner rather than later, it’s this eye-opener. This film is powerful in so many ways. Thought provoking, riveting and educational like no other! 👏🏳️🌈
- Une Vie Démente (screened at Festival International du Film Francophone 2020)
In ways, ‘Madly in Life‘ is a coming of age story. Sirot and Balboni’s film will touch a lot of people, and not just those who’ve seen relatives affected by dementia. Accepting change is never easy, but loving someone doesn’t change just because they have.
That’s it for 2020! If your favourite didn’t make the list, I might not have seen it yet or we just didn’t share the same opinion. On to a new year of cinema and hopefully we get to experience them on the big screen again.
Happy New Year from our tiny into:screens-team!!!