Top 10 Films of 2020

It’s New Years Eve and I’m counting down my favourite films of 2020. Here are my 10 favourites from each genre. Of course I have shared two movies from horror as most of my viewing experiences have been dedicated to this genre in 2020. If I have already reviewed these I have linked to my previous posts. Happy viewing all!

Best Action Film- The Hunt

A fast paced action satire with punchy dialogue directed by Craig Zobel (Compliance) ,The Hunt explores the effects of social media and the rumour mill . With an action-packed performance from Betty Gilpin as Crystal it focuses on the political divide in America as a group of liberal elites start hunting humans for sport.

Link to full review :

Best drama- The Assistant

A thought provoking watch from Kitty Green(Casting JonBenet)exploring the structures and systems keeping women out of power on a daily basis. The Assistant follows Jane(Julia Garner), an ambitious young woman as she navigates her toxic work environment , deciding to do something about it. Sometimes slow yet well acted with a powerful message, the subtleties in this film add up to a picture of abuse that stays with a viewer.

Link to full review:

Best crime film- Good Time

An action packed crime thriller from the Safdie brothers about a man who can’t stop running , Good Time produces meaningful performances from it’s actors creating complex characters presented at the speed of the main character’s decision making. Robert Pattinson portrays Nicky a man who does everything he can to free his brother from prison after a robbery gone wrong.

Link to full review:

Best Horror Films: Rose: a love story and the Invisible Man

Rose: a love story directed by Jennifer Sheridan explores the relationship of a couple who keep a deadly secret. The strong chemistry between the two leads, supported by a dialogue that introduces the viewer to the ins and outs of their life together provides a fresh take on a topic that is usually romanticized.

Link to full review:

The Invisible Man

An insightful, well-acted look at an abusive relationship from the victim’s perspective ,The Invisible Man sets a foreboding tone through it’s soundtrack and cinematography, starting with subtle horror elements which become more prominent as the film progresses. Written and directed by Leigh Whannell(Insidious: Chapter 3 ,Upgrade, also acted in the first Saw movie) who chose to tell the story from the point of view of a victim who is questioning if what is happening to them is real. The plot follows Cecilia as she runs away from her abusive partner. After she hears about his death strange occurrences start to disrupt her new life.

This impactfully shows how a victim deals with the aftermath of a physically abusive relationship. Cecilia is afraid to step out of the house or meet her sister in case her abuser follows her. It also deals with themes of gaslighting and how abusers can be attractive, charismatic people that others think the best of . Victims can in this way be alienated from their friends and family as their abusers can twist words and make them seem unstable. An urgency and tense tone is set throughout the film to underscore these important themes.

A sense of place is created in the restaurant where Cecilia meets her sister through the music, décor and long shot used to frame the scene. This is the best scene of the movie with rotation shots used to represent the situation at hand . The other locations where this is filmed also produce a sense of place, the crashing of the waves in a wide shot at the mansion, the establishing shot of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It will come as a shock to many this was partly filmed in San Francisco, the majority of filming happening in Sydney . The Mansion is in fact Headland House designed by Atelier Andy Carson. Shaky, disoriented camera work is used to represent Cecilia’s state of mind. The cooking scene where she steps out of the kitchen and the first horror effects appear is absolutely chilling . Whannell was lucky with the scenes that required wet weather as it rained heavily and rain machines were not required as a result.

The friendship and chemistry between Cecilia , James and Sydney is shown through the celebration scene and is a realistic portrayal of having good friends, making the viewer care about all of these characters. Elizabeth Moss realistically portrays the difficulties a victim of abuse would face through Cecilia’s actions and the multiple close up shots of her expressions throughout. Harriet Dyer, Aldis Hodge and Storm Reid convincingly portray her worried friends and family who try and help . The unsettling, foreboding score composed by Benjamin Wallfisch also added to the scary elements of the film.

One of my favourite horrors of the year, The Invisible Man adds further depth to the original story in a modern setting.

Best Superhero film: Birds of Prey

Ok technically this is slightly cheating as Harley Quinn is an anti-hero , however this film is still DC so I will let this one slide. Anyone who knows me is aware that I love this character making Birds of Prey an exciting time for me. A thorough character study of Harley Quinn(Margot Robbie), the film creates a range of settings through elaborate costuming, punchy dialogue and well-coordinated action sequences all in tune to a killer soundtrack. Directed by Cathy Yan(Dead Pigs, According to my mother) written by Christina Hodson, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm this explores Harley Quinn’s life in the aftermath of her breakup with the Joker . When Cassandra Cain steals a diamond, Harley is enlisted to get it back.

Have a read of the full article here:

Best Science Fiction: Black Box

My favourite of the four Blumhouse films released on Amazon this year, Black Box explores the challenges of memory less and it’s effects on families brought forward through captivating acting and glitchy VR cinematography.

Link to full article:

Best Thriller- The Lie

Another Blumhouse, what a surprise. I gave this film four stars due to it’s predictability but I thoroughly enjoyed it’s themes and believe it’s one of the most thought provoking movies I have seen this year. The Lie directed by Veena Sud(The Stranger) explores a realistic situation against a backdrop of snow capped mountains with it’s actors delivering on all fronts.

Link to the full article :

Best Comedy- Unpregnant

A fun roadtrip comedy , reminiscent of Booksmart , Unpregnant follows seventeen year old Veronica( Haley Lu Richardson) as she and her childhood best friend Bailey(Barbie Ferreira) embark on a mission to get her to the abortion clinic in New Mexico. Written and directed by Rachel Lee Goldenberg(The Mindy Project, A Deadly Adoption, Valley Girl) who created a film to destigmatize the topic of abortion, an experience many women decide to go through. This film brings forward the conversation of pro life and choice presenting that it’s ok to have this discussion.

Being your authentic self with your friends is explored here as Veronica learns that her current friends are not helpful for her current situation and she actually wants Bailey’s help. There is a fun chemistry between the leads which makes for many laughs. Both Barbie Ferreira and Haley Lu Richardson bring across the fun nature of Bailey and the unsure nature of Veronica as she uncovers who she truly is. There is also an outstanding performance from Giancarlo Esposito as libertarian limo driver Bob who saves the day. The cinematography used during the carnival scene brought a sense of fun to the film. The actors had to go on the tilt a whirl ride multiple times to get those shots. This is Goldberg’s favourite scene as Veronica’s serious decision is talked about during a ridiculous situation when they are on this ride.

A smart comedy, Unpregnant gives heavy subject matter the tone it deserves while also bringing humorous elements to a road trip comedy about reconnecting with old friends and stepping into your authenticity.

Best Animation: Soul

In true Pixar style, Soul is engaging and relatable providing the viewer with a meaningful message and interesting characters. The story follows Joe, a school band teacher who wants to play piano professionally for a band, feeling trapped in his current situation. When he accidently falls into a manhole he uncovers a new world and begins to revaluate everything he once knew. Written by Pete Docter and Mile Jones and directed by Pete Docter and Kemp Powers this film takes a look at what the world is about and if there is such a thing as a successful life. Docter has researched how different theories look at this such as existentialism and nihilism as well as religions around the world and their perceptions.

A key message that there is more to life than purpose is explored creating a unique story. I enjoyed how personalities are explained and that Joe Gardner is a relatable character who just want to follow his dreams. The viewer experiences his journey as he starts to question what is truly important . The character development is impeccable .Bean counter Terry is an interesting character and voiced by extremely talented New Zealander Rachel House. Similarly, voice acting from Tina Fey and Jamie Foxx created believability in the characters of 22 and Joe.

I didn’t tear up as much as Coco but Pixar studios have once again delivered a piece of cinema that tugs on the heart strings, containing a good dose of humour and characters the viewer will care about.

That’s it for my top films of 2020 . In 2021 I’m starting off the year on a light note with a review of three horror parodies: Happy Death Day, Freaky and Scare Package.

As always check out my letterboxd to see what I’m watching

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