Opinion: The top ten movies of 2020
Well, that's over, here are ten movies that managed to come out in 2020, an accomplishment in and of itself; so full marks for that!
This is a top ten year end list, it's not hard to figure out. You can check back with older lists to see the "rules". Surprisingly, they didn't change, even with the weird year we had. If you're unfamiliar with a listed movie, there'll be a link to IMDB or a Flayrah review on the movie's title. This is not a furry list, but I will say Wolfwalkers is my choice for Best Furry Movie of 2020.
10. Birds of Prey
Directed by: Cathy Yan
So this movie currently holds the distinction of being the last movie I have ever seen in a movie theater. It's literally been over a year since I've been inside one. Not that that is the reason I'm putting in my top ten list. Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn has been compared to the titular character in the Deadpool movies, and she comes off as very similar.
But I really like Deadpool in the Deadpool movies, and also the style of humor that comes with characters like him. Robbie's take on that type of character is different enough to be her own thing. Kaley Cuoco's version is better, though. Might have ranked it higher if Bruce the hyena had more screentime.
Directed by: Francis Lee
In a bit of synchronicity, I was unaware of the historical figure of Mary Anning until late last year, until I read a book on the economics of fossil hunting that had nothing to do with this movie.
It's not very historically grounded; there's no evidence of the love affair at the center of the story. Still, the character of Anning and her place in history is an interesting one, and the movie does try to give us a glimpse of what it must have been like to be a woman in a man's world. It's about discovering things you didn't know were always there; that's a theme I can get behind.
Directed by: Joel Crawford
Speaking of egregious liberties taken with the fossil record, it's The Croods! The main joke of this movie is essentially the main joke of The Flintstones; the modern Stone Age family. Of course, that's just the starting point. The Croods and the Flintstones travel in wildly different directions after that.
The movie has great creature designs, though maybe not as good as Chris Sanders' in the original. These two movies are some of DreamWorks Animation's best in the last few years. Hey, the competition isn't as fierce as it once was, but they still work!
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan definitely lost some goodwill by declaring this movie had to be seen in cinemas. As we've already covered, I wasn't inside a theater much last year. I watched this on my television. If this hurts Nolan's feelings, well, that's too bad. The important thing is I watched it, and liked it.
Nolan almost certainly did his movie a disfavor by setting it up to be the savior of the cinemas, because it's not that. What it is is a satisfying, well made action movie with a nice wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey twist. I appreciate those. It didn't need to save cinema. Just be what it is.
Directed by: Paul Greengrass
This Western movie tells the tale of a man who goes from town to town, making money by reading newspapers to gatherings of people who otherwise might not get that kind of information to them. He reads the important news, and things that are more what journalists themselves call "human interest". But he gives them their money's worth.
It should be obvious why a story about what amounts to a proto-newscaster would appeal to me. We're in the same business, more or less - both on the frontiers of what it means to tell the news, spreading the information people need to hear, and trying to do the best we can at that.
Directed by: Pete Docter
Some people familiar with my opinions on various animation studios might be a bit surprised to find a Pixar joint on my top ten list, never mind as high up as number five. Well, now they've kicked out John Lasseter, it seems the company is making an effort to move, um, Onward.
Onward wasn't very good, actually. But Soul, well, that's a different story. I liked the visual weirdness of the movie; on one hand, there's some of the most "realistic" animation Pixar's ever done. On the other hand, there's some of the most stylistic. It was pretty neat.
Directed by: Emerald Fennell
This is not a very happy movie. I mean, it belongs to a genre of movie known as rape/revenge. Aren't you happy you know that exists, now? Promising Young Woman avoids the exploitative part of the genre by skipping over the first part. And the heroine isn't even the victim being avenged. But it's still a dark, messed up movie.
This one stuck with me long after I saw it. One of the great things about it is that, at first, we don't know what the revenge entails, so we're left asking what really happened (best cinematic usage of ketchup I've ever seen). But what lingers is, unlike the exploitative trash, it acknowledges and exacts revenge on the unspoken system that sometimes protects the wrong people.
Directed by: Leigh Whannell
During an early scene in this modern updating of a classic human monster flick, the invisible man sneaks into the house the heroine is currently living in, makes his way into the kitchen and proceeds to burn the leading lady's breakfast! The monster!
The scene is ridiculous, and I thought it was silly, at first. But then you realize just what kind of evil this movie's monster is dealing in. It's petty and pointless and definitely ridiculous, but it escalates. A man who would go as far as invent a method of turning invisible just to mildly inconvenience his ex's morning is a very scary thing.
Directed by: David Fincher
David Fincher is a director I like more when he's in his creepy, kind of trashy genre mode of directing, and really don't like as much when he's in his big important biopic mode. Tell me all you want about how great The Social Network is, but it leaves me cold. I don't care at all about anything that happens in that movie. Give me another Gone Girl, Fincher, please.
There are exceptions. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo stunk. Mank, a big important biopic about the writer of Citizen Kane, was perfectly enjoyable. Hey, just as there's no accounting for taste, there's no accounting for swerves in it.
I loved the style and grace of the animation, as well as its purposeful roughness, when necessary. It's so different from anything else you'd see out there. It's absolutely gorgeous to look at, and has lots to say beneath its pretty exterior.