(This article is part of our Best of 2020 series.)
I had so many high hopes for my movie viewing in 2020. I had a list of movies I intended to watch and my desire to hit the theaters at least once a week. And then 2020 had other plans and everything went down the pooper, along with my movie goals. However, I did manage to watch some films last year that I absolutely adored and made the year a little more tolerable.
One of the freshest, most original romantic comedies in quite some time, Palm Springs has only grown on me since I watched it. Sure, it plays on the time loop trope perfected by Groundhog Day, but it adds it’s own set of rules, allowing it to stand out from the dozens of rom-coms that have tried the same premise, usually with mild to meh results. Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti are delightful to watch together as they go through the various emotions of being stuck in this time loop together. JK Simmons, who makes every movie better, adds a touch of darker humor as a man stuck in the same time loop who takes his revenge out on Samberg’s character any chance he gets.
Birds of Prey
Admittedly, I have not been a huge fan of DC movies. There are very few I found even remotely interesting and my high hopes for Suicide Squad were squashed flat when I finally saw the movie. But there was a bright spot in the movie, and that was Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. I was really excited when I learned that she was getting her own movie, but I had been disappointed before so I tempered my expectations. Thankfully Birds of Prey delivered everything I had wanted from Suicide Squad. A kickass anti-heroine who finds her strength in independence and brings together a group of very different women to take down a sadistic gangster in order to protect a young girl. I loved how colorful this movie was and it struck the perfect balance of humor, violence, and yes, heart. This is definitely one of my favorite DC movies and I hope we get more Harley Quinn in the future.
It takes a certain kind of charm to take a potentially unlikeable character and turn them into someone you can root for and Anya Taylor-Joy has it in spades. I adored her take on the titular character. Her chemistry with Johnny Flynn, who plays Mr. Knightley, was swoon-worthy (yes, I said swoon-worthy) and the always excellent Miranda Hart gives the movie its heart (see what I did there?) and humor. It’s also very faithful to the source material while still somehow seeming fresh, despite all of the adaptations that have come before it. One of the things I’ve always loved about Jane Austen, and the films created from her work, is that her stories are the kind I want to read or watch when I just want to believe in love and feel happy. For me, Emma. absolutely achieved that.
For an incredibly long time, the only LGBTQ representation you could find in romantic comedies were those of the token gay best friend. The stereotype was there to spout humor, wisdom, and advice while the straight hero or heroine found true love and a happy ending. It was a rare thing to find a queer romance in film, let alone a queer romance in a romantic comedy. Happiest Season not only centers around a queer couple, but it also includes the gay best friend who, yes, spouts wisdom and humor. It doesn’t hurt that the gay best friend is played by the fabulous Dan Levy. But it’s not just romance and wacky shenanigans. Happiest Season also deals with the very real trauma that coming out can cause. I found moments of the story to be incredibly frustrating, but I think that was the point. It was just refreshing to see a rom-com that dealt with very real, relatable issues while still maintaining the proper feel of the genre. This is a movie I’ll probably want to watch next holiday season.
One of the very first movies I saw in 2020, The Gentlemen was entertaining, hilarious, and sprinkled with just enough action and violence to remind me of why I fell in love with Guy Ritchie’s movies in the first place. The entire cast is fantastic, most notably Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant as a marvelously amoral journalist. It’s extremely stylish and well-paced, full of unexpected (and sometimes expected) twists and turns. It’s also full of homoerotic innuendo, which I found to be an absolute delight. This is a movie that, when it’s on television, I will absolutely stop to watch. While 2020 may have ended with a whimper, movie-wise, I’m glad I got to see The Gentlemen in theaters and start the year out with a bang.
Have you watched any of these movies? What were some of your favorite movies from 2020?