2020 was a weird and shitty year for a multitude of reasons and as such, I feel like my top movies sort of reflect my state of mind for the bulk of the last 365 days- longing for an escape.
10. Host (Rob Savage)
The first (and best) major motion picture using the pandemic as a backdrop, Host manages to both be a technical achievement, filming in isolation during COVID and a satisfyingly impressive horror movie to boot.
9. Bacurau (Kleber Mendonça Filho, Juliano Dornelles)
Darkly satirical, brutally violent, and wildly entertaining, this Brazilian thriller had me hooked from minute one and makes for one of the most memorable films of the year.
8. Jallikattu (Lijo Jose Pellissery)
Jaw-dropping on a technical level, the premise is simple- a buffalo rampages through a small Indian village, but as the hours progress the populous begins allowing their carnal instincts to overcome them. It’s fantastic.
7. Possessor: Uncut (Brandon Cronenberg)
Impeccable sci-fi world building blended with the most intense, grizzly violence I’ve seen this year make Brandon Cronenberg’s second feature one that I will not be able to shake anytime soon.
6. David Byrne’s American Utopia (Spike Lee)
One of the most emotional journey’s I’ve experienced this year, Lee’s filmed version of David Byrne’s Broadway show was the precisely what I needed to remember that there’s always hope and goodness in the world.
5. The Wolf of Snow Hollow (Jim Cummings)
Thunder Road, the feature debut of Jim Cummings made it on my top 10 in 2018, and his sophomore effort, The Wolf of Snow Hollow is now on my 2020 list. Cummings’ brilliantly funny script and some top notch editing make this genre-mashup one that I plan on revisiting on the regular.
4. Bill & Ted Face the Music (Dean Parisot)
All Bill & Ted 3 had to do was make a bare-bones story that featured a bunch of call-backs in order to pander to nostalgic fans of the original two features. While indeed there’s plenty of nostalgic fun to be had, the surprise here is the amount of positivity this movie exudes, daring the audience to not be grinning ear to ear by the time the credits roll. We all need a bit more joy in our lives right now and Bill & Ted Face the Music is happy to accommodate.
3. Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell)
A love a good revenge story, especially when it’s as expertly crafted and thoughtfully presented as Fennell’s Promising Young Woman. Sporting some of the best casting choices, music, and production design of the year, this is a darkly comedic thriller that hits hard and doesn’t let up until its surprise conclusion.
2. The Invisible Man (Leigh Whannell)
Whannell took my favorite of the Universal Monsters and brought it into the 21st century with a new and deeply nerve-wracking experience with some top-notch cinematography and thrilling set pieces. This was the last movie I saw in the theater before the world changed.
1. Minari (Lee Isaac Chung)
Lee Isaac Chung’s tender, autobiographical, drama about a Korean family buying some land in Arkansas in the ’80s is the type of brilliant filmmaking that I just let wash over me like a warm blanket. Though the family’s struggles are constant and palpable, their determination and love for one another make this one of the most emotionally resonant experiences I’ve had with cinema this year.
11. Tenet (Christopher Nolan)
12. Deerskin (Quentin Dupieux)
13. Blow The Man Down (Danielle Krudy, Bridget Savage Cole)
14. Palm Springs (Max Barbakow)
15. First Cow (Kelly Reichardt)