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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Top 10 Movies of 2020: Specifically 2020 Edition

It’s the end of the year and that means end of the year lists. Of course, this is the end of 2020 which, it goes without saying, though I’ll say it anyway, was a weird, miserable year. Many of the movies that were supposed to be released in 2020 had their release dates moved to next year. Movie theaters were shuttered across the country, some indefinitely, some permanently. What strange, new, possibly bleak future awaits the entire industry is subject to whenever we manage to extricate ourselves from this unrelenting pandemic. I watched 2020 movies, sure, many of them, if not as many of them as I would have in any other year. I liked some of them a lot. But now, as my inbox is flooded with year-end screeners, I feel, frankly speaking, burned out on streaming and just burned out in general, less inclined to watch new movies than ever. A typical year end list through this lens feels not so much impossible as something closer to a lie, not the kind of list to match the mood. Perhaps if this was another blog, another publication, subjected to an editor’s exacting standards, we’d have to play by the hoary rules. As it is, this blog answers to no one but itself. Here, in alphabetical order, are the best movies I watched in 2020. 

Top 10 Movies of 2020: Specifically 2020 Edition

The August Virgin (2020)

In evoking the languid atmosphere of a few hot August weeks in Madrid, director Jonás Trueba, who co-wrote with his star Itsaso Arana, equates Finding Yourself with an earthly miracle. 

Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets (2020)

The Ross Brothers’ not-really-a-documentary documentary reimagines the edge of the earth of ancient times as the last 24 hours of a Las Vegas dive bar, or something. 

Dark Waters (2019)

I want more Diane Lane Goes To Pretty Places movies, certainly, I have not been shy in professing that, but do you know what I really want? I really want more movies like “Dark Waters”, pop filmmaking with a serious auteurist bent. 

The Edge of Democracy (2019)

Less a documentary, really, than a personal essay, Petra Costa brilliantly, sorrowfully suggests democracy is less a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives, than an impossible dream always waiting to come true. 

First Cow (2020)

Kelly Reichardt’s tale of a bovine brought to 19-century Oregon is moving in its unlikely friendship and transcendent in its storytelling patience. 

Last of the Mohicans (1992)

In my single experience, your favorite movie just pops that much more during a pandemic. 

Monterey Pop (1968)

With live music effectively canceled in 2020, I rejoiced in going back to Monterey Pop. Turns out Janis Joplin singing “Ball & Chain” was the prototype for Ally singing “Shallow.” 

Roman Holiday (1953)

Entertaining and affecting, affecting and entertaining, two Movie Stars acting and two actors being Movie Stars, director William Wyler utilizing an impeccably crafted screenplay by Dalton Trumbo, Ian McLellan Hunter and John Dighton to visually tell the story, yeah, I’m pretty sure “Roman Holiday” is the perfect movie.

Tokyo Olympiad (1965)

I’ll think about the Olympian eating a sandwich at the Olympics during his Olympic event for the rest of my life.

The Vast of the Night (2020)

Evokes the simultaneous terror and wonder in simply listening and looking up.

3 comments:

Unknown said...

I completely agree, Nick - what a weird, miserable year. I feel you with being burned out on streaming. I've tried to balance watching films and TV with being outdoors, but it's been difficult. Thankfully I have my dog to keep me active!
Out of you list I've only see The Last of the Mohicans. It is such a wonderful film. I regularly listen to the soundtrack.

- Claire @ Cinematic Delights

Ruth said...

Hi there Nick, boy it's been ages since we chatted about movies. I've been revisiting my ol' blogging friends, glad you are still around as a few have stopped blogging completely. Well, happy new year! I still haven't seen a few new ones on your list. I hear ya about feeling burn-out... and I too have been avoiding some of the endless screeners that come my way, and I've been re-watching some old favorites too.

I LOVE, LOVE Roman Holiday and your brief writeup here is so spot-on! Makes me want to rewatch it again, pronto!

Ruth @ FlixChatter

Derek Armstrong said...

Well, I don't have any top ten movies in common with you because half your movies were not from 2020. As is your right!

I of course saw 149 and just posted about that yesterday.

I do have The Vast of Night in my top 2020, though. It might have been a bit higher if it remained in the glorious mystery of those interviews (the screen goes black!) rather than kind of putting a finer point on things at the end. That crazy shot, though ... I'll have to find the YouTube video where they explain how they did that.

Onward and upward ...