(This article is part of our Best of 2020 series.)
To say 2020 did not go according to plan would be the understatement of a lifetime. Most of the movies I had planned on seeing were pushed back to 2021 (or later), something I am still bitter about. Despite everything, I did manage to see a few good movies during 2020 and I’ll share them here. These aren’t ranked in any particular order, as I loved all five of these films equally.
From the first time I saw the trailer for Soul, I knew this movie was going to be something special. The instant the “soul” form of Joe dropped into the frame, it was obvious Pixar was aiming for some deep, deep, DEEP territory. And while I was disappointed to miss out on seeing this film in theaters, getting to see Soul on Christmas Day was pretty awesome. And what a story! As I mentioned before, Soul has one of the deepest plots I’ve ever seen in an animated film. This story openly discusses life and death, possible reincarnation, the afterlife, chakras, and even references the astral plane! That’s a lot to pack into a single film, especially one that appears to be geared towards kids just as much as adults. I love how the film addresses the idea of finding “purpose” in life and what that can look like. This is without a doubt one of the best films I saw in 2020.
Birds of Prey
I was looking forward to Birds of Prey for the longest time, mostly because it gave me another chance to see Margot Robbie play Harley Quinn (a role she was born to play). This film turned out to be everything I wanted it to be and more. Watching Harley step out from the Joker’s shadow was exhilarating to watch, and she faces such a worthy villain in Ewan McGregor’s Roman Sionis. Seriously, Roman is such a delightfully villainous character, it’s fun to watch him get what’s coming to him. Not to mention the interactions between Harley, Montoya, Cassandra Cain, and Huntress was simply delightful. We need more comic book movies like Birds of Prey and I sincerely hope we get a sequel eventually.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow
This is a film that I was actually going to skip over until I got the chance to listen to the film’s soundtrack. What I heard intrigued me so much that I decided on the spot that I needed to check this film out. What I saw surprised me greatly. Rather than being a straight up werewolf story, The Wolf of Snow Hollow perfectly deconstructs the traditional werewolf film in ways that you will not expect. I still don’t know how I feel about the mixture of comedy and drama in the story, it’s such a mixture that I got severe mood whiplash several times. I will say that Jim Cummings (writer, star, AND director) puts in a memorable performance, one that you will not soon forget. Anyone making werewolf movies in the future should watch The Wolf of Snow Hollow first and take notes.
Sonic the Hedgehog
I initially only went in to see Sonic the Hedgehog because I wanted to see as many movies as possible in 2020 (having no idea that lockdown was about a month away). I was convinced I would barely tolerate this film at best, but then it got going and to my surprise I found myself totally absorbed in the story. While I’ve never gotten to play any of the Sonic the Hedgehog games, the movie does a great job of setting up a backstory for Sonic and his mortal nemesis Dr. Robotnik. And speaking of, Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik is the absolute best part of this film, stealing absolutely every scene he’s in. Best part of all? The film teases an expanded universe right at the end of the film in a way that has me itching to see a sequel.
Last, but not least, I have to mention Mulan. I’m normally 50/50 at best when it comes to Disney’s live-action remakes, but from the first teaser I could tell that this one was different. Instead of being (as many remakes are) a shot for shot remake of the animated original, this live-action Mulan went back to the story’s roots and retold the story of Mulan in a more traditional fashion. There are elements of traditional Chinese martial arts films all over this story, which is so much fun to watch, especially during the battle sequences. I was also pleased to note that there are more than enough references to the original animated Mulan film to satisfy any hardcore Disney fan. This is also the first time since Maleficent that I’ve seen a live-action Disney remake that I want to see a sequel to. There’s so much potential for this story to continue, I’d be happy to see what Disney came up with next for Mulan (as long as it bears no resemblance whatsoever to the animated Mulan II).
These are the five films I enjoyed the most during the crazy year that was 2020. Given everything that went on, I’m pretty impressed that I managed to find five films I enjoyed. Hope you enjoyed checking out my list, here’s to a great 2021.