The Top 15 Movies of 2020–The 2020 Flickmetic Awards
If you guess what movie is given the top spot I will give you a cookie. (I won’t)
All week I’ve been giving out awards, talking about movies, and just generally making a mess of things. But you don’t want to hear me ramble on about all of that so let’s just jump right into the top 15 movies of 2020.
15: The Hunt
The only thing I despised about The Hunt was the marketing, which painted it as a much bigger deal than it ended up being. I understand that it probably sides more with the conservative viewpoint against a certain progressive type, but that didn’t bother me because a) that’s rare in film and b) it’s just one movie’s outlook.
There’s a lot of debate to be had about the messaging and social commentary, and where you land on the political spectrum will influence that. However, as just a horror-tinged action film it succeeds as an entertaining romp.
14: Sound of Metal
The whole film is admirably pieced together but in my eyes there are two stars here: the sound design and Riz Ahmed. This uses sound in such a brilliant and crucial way that I think Christopher Nolan should watch it. On top of that, I gave Riz Ahmed the best actor honours in a previous article mostly because of his performance here.
If you would have told me that a random Netflix action movie would have been in my top fifteen I would have laughed. I expected this to be generic, but enjoyable, because I love the action genre in general… but what I got was a lesser John Wick in terms of its fight choreography. Even a lesser John Wick is still a great flick, as evidenced by its placement on my list. Don’t sleep on Extraction.
12: Let Him Go
If you would have told me that Let Him Go would have been in my top fifteen I would have laughed. Seriously though, that’s mostly on me. I judged this movie by its cover and who was in it, not realizing that it’s actually an incredibly effective drama that wonderfully captures stressful situations and makes them compelling viewing.
If you would have told me that… okay I’m done going back to the well with that one. Apples completely caught me off guard, however, because I had no idea what it was. Turns out a film about a pandemic that turns people into amnesiacs can be pretty captivating if handled with grace.
There’s a theme forming over the past few picks. Kajillionaire was yet another film that surprised me, mostly because I was unfamiliar with the works of Miranda July. As I said in my review, Kajillionaire takes a premise and flips it in a unique way that plays with more experimental features but don’t succumb to being too out there to be enjoyed by a more casual audience.
9: Weathering With You!
It’s not as good as Your Name but Shinkai did an excellent job of escalating emotions. Sure, some of the musical cues are basic anime tropes and end up being cheesy, but that’s about all that bothered me. It’s not original to symbolically tie weather into emotions but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be a masterstroke when used correctly, which it is here. Weathering With You! is also a movie where the characters deserved the happy ending.
8: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
It would be impossible to talk about this chamber film without mentioning both Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis, who are so superb that it’s insane. But really it’s a tour de force of acting in general, with the interactions between everybody being organic and well written. Since it’s based on a play, that is what is most needed to be successful. Luckily for all of us, everybody behind Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom knew that.
7: We Are Little Zombies!
We Are Little Zombies! plays fast and loose with a few different genres, tones and styles. The soundtrack is mostly chiptune, which wouldn’t work in the context of most films. But this isn’t most films–it’s a very 2000s movie through and through, but Nagahisa manages to mould the chaos into something watchable. An impressive feat, making a coherent film that is also the most original film of 2020.
The director, Chloé Zhao, was hamstrung a bit by the lead performance in her previous film, The Rider. With Nomadland this is not the case because McDormand is a complete and utter powerhouse. This allowed Zhao to focus on her visual strengths, which are vast. It is one of the best directed and most gorgeous films of the year–Zhao understands the fundamentals perfectly but adds just enough flourish to create her own brand.
In turn, this lead to Nomadland being an absolutely spectacular film. One of my favourite elements is that it didn’t need to force drama to attain emotional resonance–it’s too heartfelt and honest for that.
Speaking of heartfelt and honest, here’s Driveways. You want a film where very little happens and yet it’s still one of the most engaging films of the year? Look no further.
The friendship between Cody and Del hit me real hard. It was so personal and so well done, but you can say the same thing about the entire film. Every issue that it touches, it does so with finesse and subtlety, never needing to devolve into cheap dramatics to tell a compelling story. From the gentle piano that soundtracks it to the genuine performances; from the dialogue to the unassuming–but perfectly apt–way in which it’s directed, this is one of the best flicks of the year.
While there is an animated film placed above this one in the list, I’m still declaring this to have the best animation of the year. It’s so alive and vibrant, full of colour and excellent design. It’s also difficult on the heart because it’s jammed full with genuine emotion. I wouldn’t argue too defiantly with anybody who claimed that this was the best film of the year, honestly.
3: Wonder Woman 1984
There are, however, a plethora of people who would debate me about the placement of this gem on my list. I made this the central thesis of my review, but look, I just love superhero movies. Read the review for a more in-depth analysis of that statement, but for the purpose of this article I will say this: once I accepted the film on its own merits, for what it was trying to accomplish, I enjoyed it a lot more. By the end I realized that it’s still one of my favourite flicks of the year, warts and all.
2: World of Tomorrow Episode 3
Don Hertzfeldt has been cranking out these short films and they have maintained a consistent level of quality. This one is better than the second and about on par with the first, with less jokes per capita than the first but more of a plot. It’s actually part romance, part thriller, which is different from the first which is almost entirely “we just monologue the entire time.” Don’t get me wrong, I love those monologues, I just appreciate the direction that this one went on. Check out all three films.
1: Get Duked!
Here we have it, the best flick of the year. If I had any talent whatsoever I imagine I would have made this film. Does that mean that I’m Ninian Doff, or that Ninian Doff is me? It’s possible.
Its emphasis on rabbits and their droppings meant I was destined to love this. But I knew in the opening minutes that it was special. It quickly established these boyz with their mannerisms and the inspired usage of “Ain’t It Funny” by Danny Brown. It’s hilarious, charming and the boyz have great chemistry.
It’s a bit eccentric but not overboard, juggling its genres well. On top of that it’s artsy in how it’s filmed, particularly in how Doff filmed the Scottish Highlands with those atmospheric, wide-angled shots.
Now excuse me while I go eat some rabbit poop.
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