Raul de Leon’s Top 10 Films of 2020

We round out our year-end lists with Raul and his top 10 films of 2020, but fear not, we’ll be back next week with our most anticipated movies of 2021 so stay tuned.

Be sure to click here to read all of our year-end lists.

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10. The Twentieth Century (Matthew Rankin)

Totally off the ****ing wall. No commercial cinema would dare screen this grotesque picture. Matthew Rankin’s “biopic” is filled with impressive German Expressionistic sets, political farce, tense sexual mania, and absurdity in every corner. You might not like what you see, but you won’t forget it.

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9. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (Charlie Kauffman)

Who else can glue you to the screen with a twenty-minute car ride dialogue but Charlie Kauffman? Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons vitalize the master penman’s script with perfectly subtle performances. (Toni Collette on the other hand was directed off the deep end.) Kauffman’s signature ultra-puzzling-continuity will both confuse and stimulate your brain.

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8. Rewind (Sasha Neulinger)

A must-watch documentary for its importance. Rewind shines a bright light on child sex abuse; why it happens and why it’s often swept under the rug. With exceptional editing, abuse victim and director; Sasha Neulinger, gives us one heck of an inspiring story.

Full Review

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7. The Painter and the Thief (Benjamin Ree)

A truly fascinating premise: A painter meets with the criminal who stole her work, to get to know him and paint his portrait. Barbora (painter) and Karl (thief) open their personal struggles and imperfections up to the camera to create quite the creative double character-study documentary. Observing this dichotomy of personalities and the friendship they subsequently form offers us so much to learn about humanness and the power of art. 

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6. Palm Springs (Max Barbakow)

Wanna kick your feet up and forget your troubles for a couple hours? Visit Palm Springs. Yeah, it’s a total rip-off of Groundhog Day but who cares?! We’re here to chill with Samberg, have a laugh, enjoy life, suspend our disbelief from a story and conclusion that make no sense and learn a thing or two about romantic relationships along the way. Simply put – the funnest movie of the year.

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5. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Eliza Hittman)

Never Rarely Sometimes Always stands out in its absolute authenticity. Eliza Hittman’s latest indie-film realistically illustrates the woe of a teenage girl’s pregnancy. Her young leads, Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) and Skylar (Talia Ryder) perfectly showcase teenageritis and the resilience of the feminine spirit, as they traverse through the very adult New York City, giving us a strong dose of womanhood in an overly-masculine world. 

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4. The Painted Bird (Vaclav Marhoul)

The story of a young Jewish boy seeking refuge during World War II is fittingly bleak as hell. Using a plethora of languages, people, and lands, all full of hate and sin, fully illuminates the alienation the Jewish people felt during a most destructive time. The tribulations young Joska (Petr Kotlar) endures are purposely overdone and foreseeable to hammer the nightmare of the holocaust into our memories and ensure we never forget.

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3. A Whisker Away (Junichi Sato, Tomotaka Shibayama)

The Japanese title, Wanting to Cry, I Pretend to be a Cat, better represents what the film is about. Writing an adolescent character who turns into a cat to escape the depth of their human emotions and spend time with their schoolmate crush is as brilliant as it is bizarre. Miyo’s (Mirai Shida) outgoing personality and unfulfilled desires juxtaposed to Kento’s (Natsuki Hanae) reserved personality and repressed emotions is a clever way to demonstrate how we can become overtaken by the same cloudy emotions through different means.

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2. Bacurau (Kleber Mendonça Filho, Juliano Dornelles)

This drama-mystery-comedy-neo-western-political-satire is just that – a wild and intelligent film that can’t be pinned down to a single genre, or even a couple. The sudden mysterious events happening in and around the fictional Brazilian town grip you with questions and confusion, and then you’re hit with a ludicrous answer, ultimately leading to an awesome John Carpenter-esque mob versus mob showdown that packs a political punch.

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1. Mank (David Fincher)
David Fincher throws us back to the golden age of cinema with style. And what better way to pay respect to a renowned writer than with a top-notch, air-tight screenplay? David’s late father, Jack, delicately typed up a slew of well-thought-out characters, all with purposeful relationships to the story’s main; Mank, that serves both as an impression of the man’s life and as inspiration for the story of Citizen Kane. You just can’t get enough of the super-witty, always smartest-ass in the room, drunk Herman Mankiewicz – played superbly (as always) by Oldman.

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