2020 was a tough year for the release of movies. However, 2020 was not a bad year for movies. While there are many movies that came out this year I have yet to watch, a good plenty I’m glad I had the opportunity to watch.
In no particular order, my ten favorite films of the year:
“Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets” is a quasi-documentary about a bar’s last day before closure in the outskirts of Las Vegas. There the barflies lament about years past and they drunkenly reflect on their accomplishments and lack of. It’s both hilarious and tearful, and a slice of Americana not always shown.
“Promising Young Woman” is the debut of writer-director Emerald Fennell. Cassie (Carrie Mulligan) is a woman with a vendetta against toxic “nice guys” who take advantage of women when they are vulnerable. The black comedy thriller is one of the best feminist movies in a while, and the performances by Mulligan and Bo Burnham are really great, too.
“The Nest,” the sophomore feature film by Sean Durkin, is as close to a horror movie without being a horror movie as possible. Centering around a family falling apart after moving internationally, “The Nest” examines the family system and just how fast things can sour.
“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is one of the most important films of the year. It follows two teens navigating New York City in search of a safe abortion procedure. Painfully realistic and emotionally moving, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is a movie every person should watch.
“Palm Springs” is a really heartfelt sci-fi comedy starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti as two strangers stuck in a 24-hour time loop. It’s witty, cute and one of the most creative movies of the year. J. K. Simmons also stars, and he knocks it out of the park.
“On the Rocks” is a nice little romantic comedy (or maybe a parody of a romantic comedy) by Sofia Coppola starring Rashida Jones and the incomparable Bill Murray. It follows a wife and her father tailing her husband whom they suspect is cheating on her.
“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is a cold, twisted movie written and directed by Charlie Kaufman, whose reputation of convoluted, mind-bending stories precedes him. On its surface, it follows a man introducing his new girlfriend to his parents on a farm in a snowstorm. Weaving in and out of streams of consciousness creates a head-scratcher that is sure to entertain.
“Jumbo” is a quirky French drama by Zoé Wittock in her feature debut starring Noémie Merlant (of “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”) as a young woman attracted to a carnival ride. A charming story of love and pleasure, “Jumbo” is a beautifully-made movie that takes audiences on a, well, tilt-a-whirl of emotions.
“First Cow” is a drama by Kelly Reichardt (“Meek’s Cutoff,” “Night Moves”) set in 1820 and follows the friendship between an American chef and a Chinese immigrant. They team together to operate a small food business for fur trappers on the American frontier. A minimalist, quiet film about the bond between cultures, this story runs deep and has topped many best of 2020 lists.
“Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution” is this year’s best documentary about one of the world’s most overlooked demographic. It captures the 1970’s summer camp for teens with disabilities and the resulting movement involving some of its counselors and attendees. “Crip Camp” is an incredible story filled with amazing raw footage of voices that are not heard loudly enough.