2020 may have been rough on movie theaters, but the movie industry thrived thanks to VOD. Here are our picks for 2020’s movie of the year.
Marcus Orchard – His House
I usually wouldn’t pick a horror movie for any given year’s best film, but His House just feels different than anything else in the genre. The film about a refugee couple trying to build a life in a rundown home with haunting going ons is absolutely riveting. Stellar performances by Sope Dirisu and Wunmi Mosaku bring the entire experience together, making His House an intimate look at the struggle that refugees often have to cope with. What’s even more impressive is how the film manages to avoid characters that just do dumb things in a horror movie. For once, the main characters can’t just leave the house, and that only makes the narrative more haunting.
Alexander Cole – Sonic the Hedgehog
2020 hasn’t been a fun year. The film industry has been crippled for most of it. Sonic the Hedgehog is one of the few big movies that managed to make it out despite the epidemic. It’s a movie filled with light-hearted fun. James Marsden puts in an entertaining performance as a glorified sidekick to Sonic. The hedgehog himself was a bit annoying at times but he grows on you. The one weak spot in my opinion was Jim Carrey as Doctor Eggman. Carrey’s performance doesn’t really reflect the video game villain that well but it’s still Jim Carrey. You’d find it difficult not to enjoy him. If there had been more released this year then I might be writing about a different film but this movie was one of the rare, fun movie releases in this miserable year. It’s no masterpiece but it’s worth watching.
Brandon Carlisle – Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Although released in France in 2019, Portrait of a Lady on Fire was released in America in 2020, and it happened to be the last film that I got to see in a movie theater for the rest of the year. (Will extend later)
Kila Panaretou – Birds of Prey
DC films have always been something of a miss for me, and I’ve usually always preferred the Marvel universe. However, Batman is one of those franchises I’ve always somewhat enjoyed – not for the brooding man in the cape but for the diverse and complex villains that often featured. Birds of Prey centres around one of these “villains” – the eponymous Harley Quinn. Played by Margot Robbie, she perfectly sets the fun tone for this film as well as creating something which perfectly critiques the more masculine interpretations of her character. Created by and starring an amazing team of women, this film was a zany, hilarious wild ride, full of the kind of sheer fun usually seen in the Guardians of the Galaxy films.
Hunter Sandlin – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Charlie Kaufman’s adaptation of Iain Reid’s already renowned novel gives the viewer, not only a metaphor filled movie to dissect with countless hidden moments to find on multiple viewings, but also a tragic story that brings to light sorrowful experiences most of us try to forget. Seemingly insignificant moments on a first viewing become heart dropping on a second or third. I have never felt the emotions and inner thoughts of a character so vividly as in this film – their unspoken ideas haunt me.
Matt Dillon – Da 5 Bloods
In the newest Spike Lee joint, four Vietnam War veterans return to the country to reclaim their lost riches and honor their fallen leader. Chadwick Boseman’s performance as Norman, their departed sergeant, and the Bloods’ icon, was already tragic yet triumphant. With Boseman’s passing, Da 5 Bloods might be the most emotionally powerful film of 2020. In addition to that, Spike Lee creates a very different Vietnam War film, one that’s perhaps more about the present than the past. The blend of humor, action, and sorrow makes it a noteworthy addition to an already well-worn film canon.
Ethan Maddux – Birds of Prey
The Birds of Prey are some of my favorite characters in DC, and to say I was disappointed to see that they’d been sidelined in favor of Harley Quinn. This is why I was surprisingly so delighted by this movie. It has a stylish flair that’s rare in superhero movies, which contributes to its frantic pace and enjoyable nonlinear storytelling. All of that aside, what really puts this movie over the top for me is Ewan Mcgregor’s Black Mask. I was in a packed theater, yet I was the only one stifling laughter at pretty much every one of his lines, which either means I have a poor sense of humor, or EVERYONE else does. Either way, it’s a delightful performance that elevates an already fun movie.
Greg Mysogland – Da 5 Bloods
In 2020 America was forced to reckon with its long history of systemic racism yet again, and while it may specifically be about the Vietnam War, master filmmaker Spike Lee’s latest work is the film that best captures the national sentiment of outrage and weariness. Delroy Lindo’s startling, provocative performance as a particularly disillusioned veteran easily makes it his movie but the rest of the cast, especially the late Chadwick Boseman also does exceptional, powerful work. Lee is most focused on expressing his righteous anger at the minimal progress America has made toward equality but the film also provides a comprehensive look at the influence the war continues to have on Vietnam, while also touching on more universal themes like family.
Chris Green – Soul
Pixar released two movies in 2020, and while Onward ended up being a movie that moved me more than I expected, Soul spoke to me as no other Pixar film had before. Soul is a story about finding one’s purpose and discusses adult themes like existentialism and obsession versus inspiration while maintaining an atmosphere that is friendly to the whole family. Not only this, but we get to experience the plot of the film through the lens of the black experience through protagonist Joe (voiced by Jamie Foxx). I wouldn’t call this a black movie, but it is the first time that Disney took the black experience and normalized it onscreen without fetishizing it. Soul made me feel both seen and heard, and by the end, I was reflecting on my own life and wishing to live my life to its fullest.