I don’t really follow current media. Characterizing me as a neophobic or anti-hype would probably be quite the precise depiction. That is the reason why my lists of favorite things from the year past usually feature a few things that came out in that year. Now that I got that public announcement out of the way, here are my favorite films that I have seen in 2020:
1 The Apartment
Billy Wilder is one of my favorite screenwriters/directors. Few people can surprise you in a movie as he can. And I don’t mean those jumpscares that the average modern horror movie director thinks are the bread and butter of a successful film. What I mean are Wilder’s surprising twists and turns in situations that might at first seem obviously predictable.
But no, not on Wilder’s watch. He and probably only George Eliot can regularly write a beautiful, good or optimistic ending that is both surprising and not formulaic.
This movie is a prime example. It follows a life of an average Joe, yet another cog in the business machine, in love with an elevator girl. He lets his bosses use his apartment when they want to have some fun time with their lovers.
The mirror scene in this movie is my favorite and is equally heartbreaking and beautiful.
2 The Social Dilemma
The Social Dilemma is by far the best horror movie that I have seen in the last couple of years. I know its genre is supposed to be documentary but to me, it’s purely a horror film. Mainly because of the scene that destroys the family nucleus but also all the statistics and experts who paint a pretty grim picture as to what exactly Facebook, Instagram, etc do to us, our lives, and the lives of our loved ones.
I really pity every single person, female especially, who will grow up in this digital age. The social and other pressures on them are immense and it is already showing how overall mental health around the globe seems to be on the decline. I for one am happy that I’m social media free for more than 2 years.
3 Minding the Gap
Another amazing documentary that I saw this year. Follows the lives of three underprivileged kids for almost a decade I think. Their love for skateboarding is what bonds them at first, and eventually, throughout the movie, we discover if it is enough to keep them together as they grow and accept their realities and responsibilities.
There is one scene in this movie with Keire and his brother that really made me want to jump on a plane and help this poor kid.
4 Planet of the Apes
Movies can be something magical. My experience watching the original Planet of the Apes reaffirmed my belief in that. I have already seen the movie before, and I know as probably everyone else does, the big moments, twists, and reveals in this movie. But it didn’t matter. From the first moments, the first scene I was gripped. The movie does an amazing job at making your notice everything, to amplify your focus to your max and never blink. One thing that it also does quite well is directing your emotions towards a particular character. Even my mild self wanted to damn those dirty apes!
Venom was really awesome. I know starting a paragraph about a movie this way is probably the worst thing you can do, but it is true. Sometimes you just need to have pure, mindless fun watching a movie. Like most Spiderman fans I really liked Venom as a character growing up. He was the first part-time anti-hero, part-time villain that I really liked.
The movie doesn’t follow the comics to a T and that’s the beauty of it. The creators of the movie took some creative license with the character and his back story which I really liked. Makes me think what is wrong with me by wanting to be around a parasitic genocidal maniac, but hey, 2020 scarred us all in many different ways.
6 Borat 2
Watching the surprise sequel to Borat reminded me a lot of watching the anime Samurai Flamenco. Both the movie and the anime make it seem like they are making it all up as they go along, but it ends up as a brilliant comedy.
Cohen is clearly a genius, loved all his stuff throughout the years. The actress playing his daughter Maria Bakalova was by far the biggest breakout star. The woman is immensely talented and manages to keep up with his. Hard to pick a favorite scene from the movie, but Borat’s talk with the two old Jewish ladies was probably it.
7 Heroin Town
This film list is turning into a rollercoaster.
While Borat, as well as Venom, were peak fun, Louis Theroux’s the Dark States falls on the opposite spectrum. Addicts are usually shunned away and belittled by everyone around them. But as someone once said, “One step is what separates us all from the abyss”.
Nowhere is this more true than in watching the people Theroux follows in the Heroin Town part of his Dark States. We follow multiple people who are living in the abyss of addiction. There is a lot of overdosing in this episode, luckily not all fatal. You don’t really know who looks worse, the EMTs or the drug addicts. The life and times of a girl named Katillia really touched me. There is a scene when she speaks to the man who raised her that really breaks the heart.
8 The Florida Project
It is really hard to find good kid actors and a lot of movies suffer or even fall flat becuase of that. The director and casting people that were in charge of The Florida Project. It centers on a couple of single mothers trying their best to take care of their kids. And it gets really dark from there.
But the kids don’t know that, and their parents try to keep their childhood as innocent and fun as possible. But they fail miserably. Towards the end of the movie, there is a scene when one of the child actors does something, something so real and unexpected that it will leave you flabbergasted.
9 Spiderman Into the Spiderverse
Spiderman Into The Spiderverse was the coolest movie of the year for me by far. The animation was stunning, gorgeous. While I’m more drawn towards animation that gives off the impression that it was still drawn and colored by hand, this movie looked impeccable from start to finish.
In every new Spiderman movie, they create a better and better teen version of the character and I’m happy that they finally managed to do something so obvious. Love the Sam Raimi movies, but this is how Spiderman should be done.
The whole cast of interdimensional characters are a joy to be around and the post-credits scene got me really excited for what’s to come.
10 Source Code
People might not know this, but Jake Gyllenhaal is a great actor and a great leading man. He also has a talent for deciding on great, unique scripts. The Watch still remains one of my favorite movies, and probably my proudest “Cried during a movie moment” ever. He was also in Enemy and stole the show in Spiderman Far From Home.
In this movie he plays an amnesiac soldier who works on a secret goverment mission.
If you are a nerd, you will really love this movie. It’s got time travel, multiple universes, twists turns, thrills, and a complicated ending that would leave DeGrasse Tyson wondering if everything was up to scientific standards. (He usually bitches right away so a plus for the movie).