Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG’s Movie Talk, where I talk about everything film-related. Well, guys, we finally made it. 2020 has officially wrapped, and my God, it has been one heck of a year. Not just for us, but also for the film industry. We had a share of good moments this year, like getting a decent “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie. However, those moments were quickly overshadowed by the coronavirus. As a result, most of the films that were supposed to come out in 2020 were either pushed back to next year or released straight to streaming. There were also some pretty bad stuff that happened this year, such as losing so many people to the virus, the death of George Floyd that sparked a ton of “Black Lives Matter” marches, and the loss of many talented people from the film industry like Sean Connery and Chadwick Boseman. Yeah, I guess you can say that this is a pretty horrible start to a new decade. But you know what they say, in every bad year, there’s always a silver lining, which is seeing some of the best films either in the theater or on streaming (mostly the latter). That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, I am once again finishing off the year with my top ten best films list. Now this list was a bit challenging for me compared to my previous top ten lists because I haven’t got the chance to review all of the movies that came out in theaters or on demand or on a streaming service and again, almost all of the films I wanted to see were delayed to next year. I also realized that there were also some more well-received films that came out already in the theater or on demand, but due to some circumstances such as saving money and staying safe, I wasn’t able to get to them. So for those who wanted me to review something like “Wolfwalkers” on Apple TV+ this year, I apologize for not getting to watch it before I make this list. I heard a lot of great things about it, but sadly, I got enough streaming services on my plate as it is, and I already used the free trial deal to review “Greyhound”. If you’re wondering why I didn’t use it again to review “Wolfwalkers”, the only answer I can give you is…I have no idea. As always, this is my personal list of the films that I believe were exceptional or just plain fun experiences. If you’re expecting it to be like the other critics’ top ten lists, then you’ve come to the wrong place. With that said, let’s count down the winners.
Let’s start this list off with a documentary that you might not have recognized until I mentioned it. After premiering in theaters two years ago, “Howard” finally made its way to our televisions as a Disney+ original, and it’s something that should not be missed, especially for Disney fans. This is such a heartwarming and informative tribute to one of Disney’s most inspiring workers of all time, Howard Ashman, the man behind such memorable songs like “Under the Sea” and “Be Our Guest”. With its unique presentation, its passionate essence, and a subtle musical score, “Howard” is a fascinating and interesting look at the songwriter’s career and how he inspired those around him. He may be gone, but his work will live on forever.
Christopher Nolan has reinvented the scientific wheel in his films for quite some time, and the final results were nothing but spectacular, and this film is no different. “Tenet” saw the filmmaker combining time and quantum physics with its spy thriller elements to create one of the best theatrical experiences I have ever witnessed. This was one of the first two films I saw in theaters since they reopened back in late August, the other being “The New Mutants”, and while I can admit that it has problems, it reminded me why I enjoyed the cinematic experience in the first place. It’s far from Nolan’s best film due to its troubling sound design and its uninteresting main character, but it’s an engaging and well-directed thriller that features a talented cast and some incredible technical qualities. Yes, the story can be convoluted for some people, but that’s what makes Nolan so special to begin with. He likes to challenge his audience’s brains as well as entertain them. Once you get used to its complexity, you’ll also be enjoying the ride in no time.
If I have to choose which day I want to relive over and over again, it would have to be the day when I first experienced this charming time-loop comedy. “Palm Springs” is a refreshing and humorous take on the plot element that was made famous thanks to the likes of “Groundhog Day”. Max Barbakow’s directorial debut features plenty of suitable moments that overshadow its rom-com cliches, such as the irresistible chemistry between Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti, its humor, and a well-executed screenplay by Andy Siara. If you have a Hulu subscription, make sure you put this film on your watchlist.
We can all agree that war is just as hellish as 2020, but we can also agree that no one can represent that nightmarish death trap from an African-American veteran’s perspective better than Mr. Spike Lee himself. “Da 5 Bloods” was the first great film I saw this year, and it deserved to be on my top ten list for numerous reasons. It’s ambitious, it’s honest, it’s unnerving, and more importantly, it’s crucial to the current problems we’re facing today in terms of race. Lead by a strong cast (most notably Delroy Lindo and the late Chadwick Boseman), Lee’s direction, and a stellar screenplay, the film honored its sole purpose and delivered an emotional story about a broken brotherhood in the midst of greed, war, and trauma. Its grisly imagery and its runtime might be a bit too much for those who are squeamish, but for fans of the brilliant filmmaker, it’s another call to action that must be answered.
Two years ago, Aneesh Chaganty made himself known to the public thanks to his directorial debut, “Searching”. Now, he managed to continue his winning streak with another amazing low-budget thriller. “Run” is a tension-filled and small-scale thrill ride that’s packed with tons of surprises and plenty of effective scares. Sarah Paulson delivered her most frightening performance of her career, and Kiera Allen made a stunning acting debut as the wheelchair-bound teenager. Combine them with Chaganty’s direction and its splendid use of anxiety-inducing suspense, and you get one of the best thrillers in recent years. Here’s hoping the filmmaker can maintain his success with his next project.
The next film on my list is something that’s completely different compared to my other picks because this isn’t really a film at all. It’s actually a live recording of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s successful Broadway musical, “Hamilton”. I know that this isn’t technically an actual movie, but hey, how else am I supposed to fill up this empty slot? I had not watched “Hamilton” when it first came out, but thanks to the power of Disney+, I was now able to, and honestly, it’s just as fantastic as everyone said it was. The cast was phenomenal in their roles, the music was energetic and catchy, and its narrative was unique, but also respectable given its culture. Excessive runtime aside, the musical succeeded in celebrating both America then and America now. This is one of the reasons why you should subscribe to Disney+.
In order to be successful, you have to find your own voice. This is another film that you may not be familiar with, but is worth checking out. “The Forty-Year-Old Version” recounts the real-life experience of Radha Blank’s career as a playwright and a rapper through the eyes of the woman herself. This is an inspiring and well-written comedy-drama that’s not only gorgeous to look at in terms of its black-and-white cinematography, but also subtle and truthful with its social themes. Lead by an outstanding performance by Blank and her direction, the film signals a bright future for her as both an actor and a filmmaker.
You want to know what living with hearing loss feels like? Try checking out this small film from Amazon Studios. “Sound of Metal” doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to its subject matter, and because of this, it transforms itself into a realistic and well-made representation of the difficult struggle towards acceptance. Riz Ahmed delivered his best performance of his career, and the sound design perfectly reflects the perspective of the person who’s experiencing hearing loss. Darius Marder also did a fantastic job at understanding the process and paying respect to how the deaf community operates in terms of his direction. Not only does it work as an engaging and thoughtful drama, but it also works as a learning tool for its viewers because it gives them an idea on what they would expect if it would happen to them. These things alone make this a must-watch for Amazon Prime subscribers.
Haven’t heard of this part of history before? Don’t worry, this film has got you covered. This couldn’t have come at a better time when it comes to the racial tensions we’re dealing with today, and the fact that it’s brilliantly well-handled and no one has ever mentioned the trial it’s based on makes its existence even more worthwhile. “The Trial of the Chicago 7” is an emotionally-driven and thought-provoking legal drama that showcases Aaron Sorkin as a gifted screenwriter and a skilled filmmaker. The performances from the cast were spectacular, the dialogue-driven sequences were heart-pounding and powerful, and its screenplay honored its political and legal themes through stellar dialogue. This is one film that you definitely don’t want to miss out on, especially during this time.
I’m pretty sure you guys saw this coming a mile away. Given how much I love Pixar and animation, you should already know that the studio’s latest film is worthy enough to join this list as my number one pick. Pete Docter returned to take audiences on a life-changing journey through creativity and animation, and boy, was it a marvelous one. “Soul” is not only beautifully animated, but it’s also emotionally compelling when it comes to its visual storytelling and its themes. It shows why Pixar is one of the best animation studios of all time and why Pete Docter is one of the best animation directors ever. They create stories that entertain the kids with their charming characters and colorful worlds as well as the adults with their meaningful messages and emotional depth. I’m happy to say that “Soul” is one of the films that fit that description perfectly. The story was superbly well-told, the characters were great, its screenplay was smartly-written, and the animation was sensational. This is something that I can easily relate to because I have a strong passion for movies, and I always dream of being a part of the film industry. After watching the film, it made me realize that life is more than just following my dream. It’s also about spending every minute with the ones I love and the world I live in. The film serves as a perfect reminder to appreciate every little moment we have in our lives, and that is why it deserves a spot as my favorite film of 2020.
That concludes my list of the top ten best films of 2020. While the year will be remembered for its infamous moments, it will also be remembered for its amazing films, whether they’re in theaters or on a streaming service. I also want to apologize for not including an “honorable mentions” section on this list, which happens to be a first for me in terms of top ten lists. The reason why is that I haven’t seen enough films this year that managed to impress me as much as the films on my main list. Hopefully in 2021, I’ll have enough great films to bring that section back for my next top ten best list. Until then, this will have to do. Stay tuned for my next episode where I share my top ten least favorite films of 2020.