Best Films of 2020

Pod City: 19 Popcorn-Worthy Movie Podcasts (Part 2) | Mental Floss

Going into 2020, we had a stacked line-up of big releases across all genres to be excited about. Unfortunately, by March, the Covid Pandemic was spreading at a frightening rate and the world effectively went into lockdown. Inevitably, 2020 films would mostly be pushed out indefinitely and most are still without a release date today.

Fortunately streaming and VOD services had several releases lined up throughout the year and in some circumstances got access to films initially set for theatrical releases. While I moved my focus away from new releases to focus on a variety of articles in 2020, I caught plenty of quality new releases that make up this list. Due to lack of availability to all streaming services and last visiting the cinema in February 2020, there may be some glaring exclusions from this list. Also, release dates vary to regions, so some films may have seen a 2019 release stateside but only dropped in Ireland last year.

Color Out of Space

Color Out of Space' and 'The Shed' Acquired by Shudder for Streaming  Arrival Later This Year - Bloody Disgusting

23 years after his infamous firing on the disaster that was The Island of Dr Moreau, Richard Stanley returns to the director’s chair for an adaptation of the H. P. Lovecraft story, The Colour Out of Space. Stanley may have a small filmography but his films have gained cult followings and many of us have been dying for him to return to directing. Color out of Space is a film out of its time; an unapologetic 80s B movie shot in an LSD experimental art-house style. Stanley and cinematographer Steve Annis have crafted a wonderfully bizarre film seeped in a hypnotic quality filled with lush colours and gory practical effects which play perfectly to the source materials cosmic/body horror. One of the best Lovecraftian films ever made.

Read full review here.

The Vast of Night

The Vast of Night Trailer: First Look at Amazon's New Sci-Fi Film

The Vast of Night is a low budget sci-fi wonder, a call back to shows like The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits putting storytelling and snappy dialogue before spectacle and cheap thrills. The Vast of Night never tries to hold your hand or play to the average audience member with a brief attention span, instead it relies on robust characters and heavy dialogue to advance its narrative. Ignoring the show-don’t-tell approach to filmmaking, the dialogue conjures both thrills and chills through lengthy conversations that only raise more questions than answers. Indie film is rarely this confident.

Read full review here.

Richard Jewell

Richard Jewell': The Big Lie of Clint Eastwood's Movie - Variety

Most people would be lucky to live to 90 years old, and yet Clint Eastwood is still getting behind the camera and making movies. While his latest films have been pretty hit or miss, Richard Jewell is a no frills, tightly compact, and weighty drama which encapsulates the film icons’ best traits as a director. Paul Walter Hauser gives a stunningly accurate portrayal of Richard Jewell, a hero torn down by the media because he didn’t fit the bill of what a hero should look or act like. Richard Jewell is an engaging and emotionally explosive film with a contemporary message. While it might muddle its message by taking a clear side in the story, the focus on Jewell is ultimately the film’s biggest strength.

Read full review here.

His House

His House (2020) - IMDb

His House plays out as a sort of haunted house horror that quickly moves beyond eerie noises and things going bump in the night. Our two leads, Rial and Bol, have escaped a war torn South Sudan at a great personal loss and find themselves conflicted in their outlook to this unknown land (an undisclosed location in England). Their decrepit temporary lodgings hide horrors and ghost from their past which rial recognizes as an entity from their homeland that has followed them. Genuinely scary and featuring fantastic performances all round, His House doubles as a fantastic horror and drama with clever social commentary on the refugee experience and trauma.

Read review here.

1917

The True History Behind the '1917' Movie | History | Smithsonian Magazine

Sam Mendes and Roger Deakins do a monumentous job of shooting 1917 to appear as one continuous take from the eyes of a soldier forced to endure the chaos of World War 1. A technical marvel and one of the best war films released in years, 1917 is a cerebral experience that will have your heart racing one moment and clearing your eyes of tears the next. Never quite as pitch black as other war drama contemporaries and thankfully devoid of any patriotic ego stroking or emotionally engineered acts of heroism.

Read review here.

Da 5 Bloods

Spike Lee's “Da 5 Bloods,” Reviewed: Vietnam and the Never-Ending War of  Being Black in America | The New Yorker

Da 5 Bloods is a wonderfully entertaining film that crosses genres between a war film, a heist movie, and an emotional drama. Integrated throughout is an abundance of heavy themes such as friendship, filial ties, civil rights, injustice and most pertinent, post-traumatic stress. It explores each theme in a thoughtful and respectful way, even accounting for Vietnamese character’s reaction to the war. Featuring an ensemble cast of established actors, the acting throughout is the highlight of the film, especially from Delroy Lindo who practically steals the film.

Read full review here.

Soul

Soul: Critics describe Pixar's latest film as bizarre, ambitious, and  emotional

Soul is the perfect film to leave 2020 behind with an uplifting message of living every moment to the fullest. The animation is wonderful, probably Pixar’s best to date, and the score is a revelation, fully embracing jazz music into the film’s very core. With a lot of Pixar/Disney’s latest animated features focusing on diverse communities or cultures, Soul does an amazing job of infusing the jazz scene with an authentic New York backdrop (the subway and pizza rat) as an ode to African Americans and real representation.

Read full review here.

Palm Springs

Palm Springs' Review: Lonely Island Crashes an Endless Wedding - Variety

We seem to have no shortage of time loop films and tv shows lately, and while all bear the weight of being compared to Groundhog Day, those that can offer something fresh are usually worth the watch. Palm Springs not only takes this well-worn concept and gives it a contemporary coat of paint, it delivers plenty of laughs and dark humour, and a genuinely engaging romance sub plot. The highlight of the movie lies on Samberg and Milioti’s shoulders, who both deliver stellar performances with an abundance of chemistry and sharp wit.

Read full review here.

Relic

Watch Relic | Prime Video

Relic was easily my favourite horror film of 2020. An emotional slow-burn that relies on atmosphere and unnerving sound design to make your skin crawl. Relic makes no bones about its theme, dementia. The entirety of the film is an allegory for the illness and uses the medium of horror to exemplify the toll it takes on the individual and those close to them. Very few horror films can delve into such a heavy theme and close out with such a satisfying conclusion.

Read full review here

Another Round

Another Round review: Mads Mikkelsen anchors a tipsy Danish export | EW.com

Centering a film on alcohol consumption is a risky move as presenting it in too positive a light feels irresponsible, and too negative could come across as preachy or inauspicious. Another Round is a brilliant film about embracing life and learning to live and love again. Spearheaded by a terrific cast, a spirited soundtrack, lively cinematography, and a deep sense of losing oneself and choosing the wrong vices to find your way back. Another Round captures that sense of adventure when your friends come together on a project and the exhilaration and giddiness that follows in the face of how ridiculous the project may be.

Read full review here.

Wolfwalkers

WolfWalkers Review | Movie - Empire

Wolfwalkers is a beautiful film, and the best animated film I’ve seen in years due to its sheer creativity and confidence from the artists who use a wide range of techniques and line drawing to bring the film to life. Tackling numerous themes such as religion vs folklore, oppression, colonization, kinship, and female empowerment, Wolfwalkers story covers each topic thoughtfully with a wonderful story that left me teary-eyed by the final credits. A triumph for the Kilkenny studio and one of the greatest films to come out of this small island.

Read full review here.

Parasite

How “Parasite” Falls Short of Greatness | The New Yorker

Parasite is a film that not only lives up to the hype but far surpasses it due to the expert craftmanship from Bong Joon-ho. The script is near perfect, with impactful and hilarious dialogue sprinkled with intense moments and shocking twists. Expertly shot to show the contrast in both family’s circumstances, Parasite is a master craft in cinematography and visual filmmaking, much of the story unfolds with no need for the subtitles. Foreign films don’t quite get this much mass appeal and that is solely because of the film’s strength to present a universal theme is a relatable but Shakespearean tragedy.

Read full review here.

Author: Reel Time Flicks

Passionate about film and writing since 2015.

5 thoughts

  1. Glad to see a fellow Palm Springs appreciator. Seems doomed to be forgotten now that the awards race is in full swing. Mad respect for selecting His House, it still haunts me.

    Hmmm, I may have to check out Color Out of Space after all…

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s