2020 may have been a shitty year in a myriad number of ways, but when it comes to movies...it was pretty damn good. I've got two 5 star movies in this year's top 10, and there were so many surprising obscure discoveries this year. There's a chance you haven't heard of a lot of movies on my list and that's a good thing. I hope you discover some new shit.
Best Short film of 2020:
2020 (a parody of 1917)
Definitely the best covid movie there is. It's a bit of a parody of 1917, using the single long take style, but the mission...get toilet paper. Everything that was batshit crazy about 2020 all captured in this comedy adventure in a slim 18 minute runtime, while managing to brilliantly reference 1917. Just like 1917, it's extremely well shot on a tiny budget (though too bad they couldn't do the camera in the water shot, but I imagine they didn't have the budget for that).
This movie should be the calling card of these filmmakers. If they can make THIS with a tiny budget, imagine what they can do with a hundred thousand dollars. A million. I'll be looking out for these guys. For now, they made the best short film I saw in 2020.
AND NOW...The top 10 best movies of 2020 Extravaganza list!
Honorable mentions: Banana Split, #Alive, Soul, Freaks, Birds of Prey: The Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, The Social Dilemma, Let Them All Talk, Relic, South Park's Pandemic Special
Thought I'd use the word extravaganza, a nod to the writers group I'm in, we call: The Fuck Robert Mckee Writer's group Extravaganza. Though on a resume, I go with our alternate name: Do the Write Thing.
10. Big Time Adolescence ****
I went into this movie with zero familiarity with Pete Davidson and was pleasantly surprised to say...when it comes to crass, raunchy comedy, played way over the top, Pete Davidson has fucking nailed it. I'd be happy to see him play this character in every movie he's in, the way that Danny McBride kinda plays the same character in everything, but fuck it, he's great at it.
And for those of you that have seen KING OF STATEN ISLAND and not Big Time Adolescence, get this movie immediately. I was so excited for a Judd Apatow - Pete Davidson collaboration, and his comedy just felt...neutered in comparison to Big Time Adolescence.
9. Kajillionaire ****
I agree with the person who said that KAJILLIONAIRE is like America's answer to PARASITE and SHOPLIFTERS. Though if I had to pick a favorite of those 3, my pick goes to Kajillionaire. It's Miranda July, so it's definitely odd, awkward as fuck, has a quirky sense of humor that doesn't always work and has some very uncomfortable moments. At times I was on board, and at times, I wasn't sure, but it was always interesting. But...I thought back to Robert Mckee's secret advice he gave Charlie Kaufman in ADAPTATION, "I'll tell you a secret. The last act makes a film. Wow them in the end, and you got a hit. You can have flaws, problems, but wow them in the end, and you've got a hit."
That's the ending of Kajillionaire. When people ask what are the best feel good endings of all time, Kajillionaire just might be in that conversation, and the movie builds up to its ending so well. Kajillionaire lingered in my mind for a long time after I watched it, and the more I think about the movie, the more things I appreciate.
8. Palm Springs ****
It's another movie that follows the groundhog day formula, and you know what? It's one of the best attempts at it (Edge of Tomorrow still reigns supreme). It's a romcom mish mashed with a science fiction, with a few very creative tweaks, making it a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to solve. If someone was like, "You wanna watch that Andy Samberg movie?", I'll probably react with a, "Uhh...what else do you have?" But he is shockingly good and so charismatic. Then you have Cristin Milioti, who I've never heard of, but I'll definitely seek out more of her stuff after this. Their chemistry is electric as fuck.
Romcoms often get a bad rap, but there's so much untapped potential if writers can just think outside the box, mix it with other genres, and find unique ways to have a love spawn out of a crazy necessity and yeah...two strangers who find each other due to being stuck in a time loop is pretty damn creative, and it's easily the best romcom of the year.
7. Love and Monsters ****
This movie gets my FUCK COVID FOR DEPRIVING US OF SEEING THIS MOVIE IN IMAX award. Come on Cinesphere! Once we're all vax'd by Moderna or those Viagra guys, bring this movie to the Cinesphere!
What a fun concept for a post-apocalyptical movie and when it comes to giant creature features, this is really fucking creative; a strange radiation that causes animals of all kinds to grow to gigantic sizes. The attack of the giant frog is one of the most fun set pieces of the year.
And the characters...they're really fucking good and same with the relationships between them. There's just something so likable about every friendship that happens out of necessity; survivors that happened to find each other, after all their loved ones were killed. This movie even has a scene where in the midst of all the madness, our protagonist goes into an empty house and encounters a super high tech robot, who's owners are long gone. The AI is happy to encounter a human being. Then they bond and have such a deep connection with each other and it is such a beautiful moment and I appreciate blockbusters that have scenes such as this one. It puts just as much focus on the humanity as it does the cool CGI.
It's my pick for the blockbuster of 2020. Try to watch it on a big screen. My friend watched it on her phone. I gave her shit for that. What the fuck?!
6. Marona's Fantastic Tale ****1/2
I know that many people will pick SOUL as the best animated movie of 2020, but my pick goes to the very abstractly animated, existential dog movie from France. They're not trying to entertain kids; made obvious by starting the movie with a dog getting hit by a car and coming to the realization that he's going to die. His life then flashes before his eyes and we get to see his life story. They tell a grounded, realistic life story about an average dog, his birth and separation from his family, the joy and pain that he faced in life, his existential views on life, happiness, his relationships with humans, and his musings about humanity. Name another dog movie that goes this deep into a dog's psyche.
"For a 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.
OTHER NOTABLE AWARDS:
Trippiest movie: Marona's Fantastic Tale
(honorable mentions: The Wave, Soul)
Best cinematography: Why Don't You Just Die!
Best scene: The boardroom scene in The Wave
Best Ending: Kajillionaire
Relic (truly the most haunting, fucked up ending images I can ever remember to a horror movie, but kind of beautiful when you think about it)
Best Villain: Jethro in Come to Daddy (gotta give it to the poo pen stabber)
Best Performance: I'll give this one a tie. Justin Long in The Wave, and Katherine Langford in Spontaneous
Best Documentary: My Octopus Teacher
Best Nothing happens, but still a captivating movie: Let Them All Talk
Best Foreign language film: Marona's Fantastic Tale