(This article is part of our Best of 2020 series.)
2020 may go down as the year that killed the theater industry. I know I certainly hope that isn’t the case. Ethan Hawke said it best, “Cinema and movies are the church of my choice”. Theaters are more than a place to see a movie to me. They have the power to move large numbers of individuals to feel the wide spectrum of human emotion. We laugh, cry, cringe, and fear together in theaters. It does take a good movie to get those visceral reactions out of people. You can totally have those feelings alone in your home by yourself, but there is something special about having them in a dark room with 100+ strangers from which all come for different backgrounds with different experiences. It’s a communal experience.
We didn’t have the normal summer blockbusters in 2020. We at SAW made a list of our most anticipated movies of 2020 last February. Oh how little we knew. No Bond, Dune, or Fast and Furious. Many movies were delayed or pushed to streaming. As disappointing as that is to me, there were still plenty of really good movies that came out either on Netflix, Hulu, or VOD.
Honorable Mentions: Bill and Ted Face the Music, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, The Devil All The Time, First Cow
Can I just say I love the direction modern horror is taking? We have the likes of Ari Aster, Jordan Peele, Robert Eggers, and now apparently Remi Weekes making fresh, new, and genuinely scary horror movies. Weekes took the haunted house trope and completely turned it on its head; while telling a relevant story of an immigrant couple leaving their war torn country to find asylum. If you haven’t already, please check out His House on Netflix and watch Sope Dirisu and Wunmi Mosaku put on a clinic.
Da 5 Bloods
To be honest, I am not a massive fan of war movies. There are a ton of great films set around history’s greatest wars. I guess because I half paid attention in history class and the fact I don’t know any German is an indicator of how I know how most war movies end. Allies win. A few main characters die. The end. So when I heard Spike Lee was making a movie about Vietnam, I didn’t look much into it. Then the trailer hit. The Vietnam War is like its own character in the film. It is the reason for so many of the personality traits of our main protagonists. The lasting effects of war interest me far more than the war itself. The film follows a group of black men who served together during the war going back to fulfill a promise to a fellow soldier, played by the late Chadwick Boseman who puts in his typical stellar performance. Not to be out done, Delroy Lindo may have serious Oscar talk for his performance as well.
Possessor is not for everybody, but it most definitely is for me. This is Hitman meets Mandy. Brandon Cronenberg is forever on my watchlist now because of this movie. It is a crazy violent LSD trip of a sci-fi action flick. Go in as blind as you can. You’ve been warned though.
In a year where we needed comedy the most, Palm Springs delivered. It deservingly gets compared to Groundhog Day because of the premise, but it is absolutely its own film. Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti are pure electricity together. Andy Siara not only wrote a hilarious movie, but one with all the heart and existential dread required for 2020. Everything works for me. The R-rating isn’t for cheap f-bombs but allows for real gut busting moments. Again, maybe it came out at just the right time on a streaming service, but I may have gushed over Palm Springs to my friends more than any other movie this year. Comedies, to me, have been on the decline. We have a few standouts from the past few years like Booksmart, Game Night, and Blockers. I feel like we’re close to a generation of kids that don’t have a Superbad, Mean Girls, Step Brothers, etc. Hopefully this is the birth of a new wave of top notch comedies.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Based on the novel of the same name, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is Charlie Kaufman’s latest mind bending entry. The film is about a young couple played by Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons who are on the way to visit Jake’s (Plemons) parents. Buckley’s character billed simply as “Young Woman” has internal monologues where she debates ending the relationship with Jake. This isn’t a love story in the traditional sense. For me the movie serves as a warning to not overly romanticize love or a person. It is a story about “what if” and “what could have been”. I had to sit on this movie for a good while before even determining if I liked it. It has a lot of uneasy moments. I think it is one of the best movies about being lonely, wanting love, and never feeling good enough. It’s not a movie I recommend lightly unless you are familiar with Kaufman’s style of work. After much reflection, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is my favorite movie of 2020.
That’s my list and I’m sticking to it!
Let me know your favorite movies. Was there anything that came out this year that you would have killed to see in the theater? Personally, I would have loved to see Borat Subsequent Moviefilm with an audience. How do you plan on seeing movies in the future? Are you a purist like myself and loves the theater experience? Or are you cool chilling on your couch with the perks of a pause button, a familiar bathroom, and no overpriced concessions? Let us know!