2020 has been a rough year for film and film releases. Many of the most anticipated films were continually pushed back to a date so far out they may end up being forgotten forever, and many which were in production got put on hold indefinitely. The pickings were slim despite the massive amount of original content released from streaming powerhouses like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Without the movie going experience to bolster blockbusters and independent films for awards season, viewers were left with very little to rave about. That’s not to say the whole year was a bust, though. While there wasn’t anything that knocked it out of the park (for me at least), there were certainly some that made the year feel a little less grim.
Let’s take a look at the 7 best films of 2020.
Ya, ya, ya another disclaimer paragraph. I hate to have to keep doing this with these lists, but it is an unfortunate necessity given the argumentative climate of this year. There are a LOT of movies I did not get a chance to see, so there will probably be some that were your personal favorite that will be absent from this list. This list will be comprised films that were released in 2020 only, and will be films I have actually seen, not pulled from a long list of critics choices or consensus. And (this goes without saying but I say it every time), films ARE subjective, so my list may not look like yours at all and that’s ok. I know it’s hard to believe in 2020, but we really can have different opinions about good and bad movies and still be friends. I promise.
Ok, NOW let’s get to the movies!
“The Old Guard” (Netflix)
Full disclosure, there’s gonna be some controversial picks on here, so I’m gonna ease you into it with one of the stronger outings from Netflix with “The Old Guard.” While not without its issues, it was certainly entertaining and delivered on just about every aspect you would want from a tale of immortal soldiers fighting against evil tech forces. I really enjoyed myself here, and in a year of more bad than good, it was refreshing to watch a female led action film that gets more right than wrong.
“Vampires vs The Bronx” (Netflix)
This was probably the biggest surprise of 2020. I only watched this film for work and not out of any desire to actually give it a go, but “Vampires vs The Bronx” was way more fun than I anticipated. I was left feeling very glad that I had watched this film, and it was no longer a task at hand. Well written and acted with a strong “Attack the Block” vibe, the film captures the heart of Brooklyn and provides you with some good old fashion vampire hunting. There are a few misfires in the third act, but if you’re looking for a sleeper hit that’s tons of fun, “Vampires vs The Bronx” delivers.
“The Witches” (Warner Bros. Pictures / HBO Max)
This is a weird one for me because it is so inextricably tied to its original, but to say I didn’t really enjoy “The Witches” remake on its own merits would be a lie. Despite all of its story elements that divert from the original in bizarre ways, Anne Hathaway is having the absolute time of her life here, and that’s hard not to give top marks for. Seriously, she’s absolute blast, and carries the film all the through even when it gets a little muddled. Overall, “The Witches” a good family film for 2020, not quite the magic of original, but still really fun to watch.
If you know anything about at all, “Hamilton” being on this list should surprise no one. As a champion of the broadway smash hit, getting to watch the production at home in 2020 couldn’t have been more needed or more perfect. “Hamilton” on Disney+ does a terrific job in bringing the stage to the screen, and being able to get up close and personal with the actors in almost every shot is truly something special. This was probably one of the highlights of movie watching experiences this year, and deserves to be on this list. You can read my full review here.
“Bill and Ted Face the Music” (Apple TV)
This was one of those releases that I was simultaneously excited for and most apprehensive about. Luckily, “Bill and Ted Face the Music” delivers on just about every level you would want it to considering its a sequel no one asked for decades too late. Trailers love to use this idiom, but it really is the feel good movie of the year. It does a solid job of bringing our heroes back, makes good use of recurring franchise favorites, and the new additions of their daughters are doing fantastic imitations of their fathers. “Bill and Ted Face the Music” is just downright fun and joyful, something sorely lacking 2020. You can read my full review here.
I don’t want to hear it. I’ve spent way too much time being lambasted on social media for even watching the film in the first place, then attacked relentlessly for reviewing it (full review here) , so I’m in no position or mood to apologize for including it on this list. Yes, “Cuties” is wildly controversial and it is absolutely not for everybody. Hell, I wouldn’t even recommend it to MOST people even if it wasn’t as controversial. But to say that it isn’t a well made film in just about every way would be a discredit to the merits of the film itself. It intentionally stirs emotions and executes on a high level of cinema that very few filmmakers are able to achieve. “Cuties” isn’t for everyone, and you’re just as right to refuse to watch it as you are to watch it for yourself. It’s a damn well made film and I will not be moved. It deserves to be on this years best list even that means you remove me for your favorite writer’s list.
“Bad Education” (HBO Max)
For as versatile as he actually is, Huge Jackman still has a hard time being seen as anyone other than Wolverine. “Bad Education” is a stark reminder that Jackman is more than capable of delivering a terrific, dark, emotional performance outside of the superhero genre. Star studded and darkly cynical in its tone, “Bad Education” is a brilliantly made film that deserves far more praise than it’s already received. The fact that it’s based on a true story is even more intriguing, making “Bad Education” a strong contender for one of the best of the best films of the year. You can read my full review here.
Added Bonus: Onward
2020 has felt like Dormamu, existing in a world without time. So it’s easy to forget that “Onward” hit Disney+ at the start of the chaos and time disruptions, which is unfortunate, because it’s wonderful. It had the misfortune of being released in a time of uncertainty with little to no marketing, but “Ownard” is a triumph in the Pixar canon. Heartfelt, funny, and enough nerd D&D references to satisfy the most staunch dungeon master, the film is better than the marketing and timing would dictate. Seriously, it is a magical adventure story packed with charm and emotion, and my enjoyment of “Onward” can’t be overstated.
What were some of your favorite films of 2020?