Sunday, August 30, 2020

Top 10 best movies of the first 2/3s of 2020

 This is definitely the strangest year to be doing this list. Despite the lack of movie theatres, I think 2020 still has delivered a strong list of movies; this year, there's definitely more obscure picks than usual, but by no means is that a complaint. And my pick for #1 just may be one of my favorite movies ever. 

Honorable mentions: 

Lake Michigan Monster, Guns Akimbo, Have a Nice Trip

10. The Half of It **** (Netflix)
While the trailer didn’t excite me all that much, from the first minute of the movie, I was glued to the screen.  It works as a romance, a friendship movie, a coming of age story, and 3 characters you just fall in love with by the end.


9. Birds of Preyand the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn ****

It’s too bad this performed so poorly at the box office.  While at times the movie’s humor was not quite as clever as the writers would like to think, it’s a lot of fun and the best action movie of 2020 so far.  The action scenes are very stylistically shot and the hand to hand combat is so well choreographed.  It’s a turn your brain off and have fuckloads of fun movie.

8. Banana Split ****
While I seriously doubt that I'm the target market for this, this movie was just too damn charming to resist. It's a female friendship movie disguised as a romcom, and it's just absolutely delightful from beginning to end. This is a case where I feel the actors transcended the humor written into the script. Having two sisters scream, "You suck my dick!" "No, you suck my dick!" repeatedly at each other at the dinner table isn't exactly the most high brow stuff, but the actors made the scene work. 


7. Big Time Adolescence ****

I went into this movie with zero familiarity with Pete Davidson and was pleasantly surprised to say that he was absolutely fucking hilarious and knocked this role out of the park. I think he brings something unique to the raunchy coming of age teen comedy. He goes a little over the top, but for him it works. 
I can see him playing this type of character over and over the way Danny Mcbridge sort of plays the same character every time, but it never feels stale.

Shortly after this movie came Judd Apatow's King of Staten Island. Pete Davidson's performance in comparison was toned down and a subdued Davidson just doesn't work nearly as well. If you watched Staten Island your reaction was, "It was okay", watch Big Time Adolescence. It's fuckloads funnier and I'm disappointed to say that as a huge Apatow fan. 


6. Freaks **** (on netflix)
It really is best to go into this movie knowing nothing. Unfortunately the trailer gives way too much away and part of the fun of watching this movie is trying to decipher exactly what kind of movie it is, what genre, what kind of fucked up dystopian setting does the protagonist find herself in and which characters can the protagonist trust? 

It's a jigsaw puzzle of a movie. I had absolutely no clue where the movie was headed, and I loved the way the movie slowly unraveled all the missing information - piece by piece. It started off a bit slow, but by the end, boy did this movie grab me the balls and not let go until the credits rolled.

Nah, the trailer gives too much away. Just watch the movie.

5. Palm Springs ****

We've seen The Groundhog Day premise done a fair amount, but Palm Springs has a fresh spin on it and I think it's one of the best attempts at the formula (only movie I'd rate higher in this is Edge of Tomorrow). Calling it just a romcom would be selling it short, as it's also a bit of a mystery and science fiction with some very interesting twists...but it is easily the best romcom of 2020. Find me a movie couple in recent memory that has chemistry more electric than Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti. 


4. Marona's Fantastic Tale ****
We've seen so many mediocre dog movies from Hollywood that all follow the same formula. Leave it to France to make an abstractly animated existential dog movie; an attempt to realistically depict a dog's thoughts about life, death, their relationships with humans
and the things about us that make them scratch their heads.

"For dog, happiness is different than it is for humans. We want things to stay exactly the same, where humans always want something new. You have a comfy bed, but humans always want what they don't have. They call it dreaming. I call it not knowing how to be happy." Quite profound. To top it all off, the animations of this movie are trippy as fuck! I'd call it the trippiest movie of 2020 if it wasn't for my #1 pick. Trailer:

3. Come to Daddy ****1/2
Why didn't I see this movie at the Toronto After Dark Film Fest? And why wasn't this the closing movie of the festival? This would have been so much fun in a huge crowd, but don't get me wrong...still an awesome movie to watch at home.

I don't expect to see a better horror movie in 2020, though it's ultimately the movie's comedy that seals the deal for me. I've seen a lot of funny horrors, but none with a sense of humor as utterly absurd as this one (and very much on purpose).

"Who was that man?" "His name is Jetrho. He's my best friend." "Then why's he stabbing you with poo pens and chaining you up in the basement?"

If you've seen the movie, you'll know what I'm getting at. Elijah Wood is fantastic. For those of you that got frustrated with Lord of the Rings and how much of a whiney, useless pussy Frodo was from beginning to end, this movie absolutely makes up for it. Elijah Wood starts off as a pussy, but his character arc is beautifully done and when that key moment happens when he has to adapt and turn ruthless or die, that moment legit had me screaming and laughing in pain. After this fucking pandemic is over, I hope I get another chance to see this in a big crowd. Trailer:

2. Why Don't you just Die ****1/2

This has been described as a Russian Tarantino which I suppose is quite accurate, except I think it's easily better than any Tarantino movie of the past decade. I can't say I was super excited to watch this, but then I hit play and it opened with quite possibly the best fight scene in the history of cinema. I was hooked.

It has such a unique, vibrant, energetic style of directing (it deserves a fucking oscar for cinematography), and it may be more sadistically violent than what we've seen from Tarantino. It's darkly funny at times, and a good story that unveils like a puzzle, piecing together everything that happened. Like Tarantino movies, this one jumps back and forth in time and gives every character their own backstory leading into the big climax. It's simple and effective and the movie does not try to be over convoluted with it. It works.

I was so absorbed that I almost didn't notice that 95% of the movie is all in one location. Yet another example of how low budgets often lead to the best creativity. Trailer:

1. The Wave *****

When the year is over, I'll say with 99.9% certainty that no movie will top this. I may have even placed this in my top 3 in my best movies of the past decade list had it come out in 2019.

It's easily the best drug trip movie ever made. The trip is so artfully done, trippy as fuck, absolutely fucking hilarious with the comedy coming out so naturally from the clusterfuck of a mess the protagonist finds himself in, and even basks in those little moments of social awkwardness of life.

I've never thought much of Justin Long as an actor, but holy fuck does he knock this role out of the park as a guy in over his head, over the worst drug trip imaginable. Another special mention goes to Donald Faison...I was that the guy from CLUELESS? I've seen nothing of him, but he sure makes a great comeback as a best friend who's loyalty really is something.

Besides being trippy as fuck and hilarious, it's a gripping, tense as fuck thriller. I'm still not sure I 100% comprehend the whole plot as they do introduce a bit of a twilight zone-ish element to it, but I'll be happy to watch it over and over again to fully get it all. Trailer: