2020 has been a weird year for movies. Thanks to COVID-19, governments had to shut down movie theaters. Movie studios paused productions and shifted the entire year's movie release schedule. With the limited number of new releases, I struggled to find movies that actually caught my attention but in the end, I think I managed to come up with 10 solid movies.
Da 5 Bloods
This Netflix production, directed by Spike Lee, is about four African American Vietnam war veterans returning to Vietnam in search of the remains of their fallen squad leader and the promise of buried treasure. I don't think this film is as good as Lee’s last joint, BlacKkKlansman. But I enjoyed it a lot. I thought it did a great job showing how the American military exploits black men. The friendship at the core of the movie is great, their interactions are wonderful. The use of music was phenomenal, too and I loved all the Marvin Gaye sprinkled throughout.
Da 5 Blood has powerful commentary on racism, war, political bigotry, and greed. The movie also portrayed PTSD better than any other film I've seen before. The cast is top-notch and Delroy Lindo's performance is an all-time great.
Spike Lee produced another great movie.
The Way Back
Honestly, I’m not a big sports movie fan but this one was a pleasant surprise. Director Gavin O'Connor gives us another depressing, but very moving drama that portrays a realistic view of alcoholism and all the problems it can cause. The movie isn’t breaking any ground, but It embraces all its cliches and somehow, elevates them.
Ben Affleck's raw performance seems to draw from his real-life experiences. And it is heartbreaking. You can felt his pain every time he opened a beer can. Affleck proves in this movie that he is one of the most underrated actors working today and he definitely deserves an Oscar consideration.
This is definitely a slow-burner film but it has some incredible payoff. Shirley is very finely crafted and well-directed by Josephine Decker. The film tone is set early on and it is maintained well throughout. An interesting story of manipulation and deceit. Very complex and visually stunning. Shirley is also incredibly acted. Michael Stuhlbarg and Elisabeth Moss are both phenomenal in this. They completely disappear in their roles.
I really enjoyed watching this story unfold. It was a weird and trippy experience.
The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man is an interesting remake that blends genres. A great update to this old story. The movie is very gripping and entertaining. A refreshing suspense/horror film with good tension throughout. That restaurant scene totally caught me by surprise. It has a very intense atmosphere with great music and beautiful cinematography. Leigh Whannell, the director of Upgrade did a great job here. And Elisabeth Moss once again gave an amazing performance.
Despite some plot-holes and the incredible and unrealistic incompetence of the cops in the movie, I really enjoyed it. It is a different and fun take on the Invisible Man cliché.
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
This movie is about a pair of teenage girls in rural Pennsylvania traveling to New York City to seek out medical help after an unintended pregnancy. What a powerful film with beautiful lead performances. These two girls, Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryde are going to be megastars.
Writer/director, Eliza Hittman does a brilliant job creating a complex, uncomfortable, and unapologetically raw movie. The scene that gave the film its title, is such an emotional climax. A really great cinematic moment.
I really liked the movie and can’t recommend it more.
The Assistant is a very unusual movie and definitely not for everyone. The kind of movie that you actually have to pay attention and not have your phone out while watching it. The movie is an incredible representation of office power dynamics and also a look at sexual harassment in the workplace. And I’m pretty sure it was inspired by the Weinstein story. It is set in the course of one day in the life of a young female assistant. It literally starts at the beginning of her shift and finish’s at the end of her shift. And she spends most of the film doing the most mundane stuff while working for this awful media mogul. It's almost like a documentary. Julia Garner delivers another absolutely amazing performance, marking her as one of the finest young actors right now.
The Assistant is not a comfortable watch but a really interesting experience.
The King of Staten Island
The King of Staten Island is a semi-autobiographical movie with a strong lead performance by Pete Davidson who also co-wrote the movie alongside the director Judd Apatow. The film tells the story of a young man who lost his father at a young age and is struggling with mental illness, an autoimmune disease, and a lack of purpose in life. And it is obviously based it Davidson’s own experiences. Apatow does a great job balancing the dark sense of humor and the drama. But like some of his other movies, The King of State Island is a few minutes too long,
Davidson is basically playing himself but he delivers an awesome performance. And so does his co Star, Bill Burr. I had no idea Burr could act like that. He is amazing in the movie.
Overall, the movie does an excellent portrayal of a young man and his struggle to find his place in the world.
Beastie Boys Story
I grew up with the Beastie Boys and this documentary was like a blast from the past for me. Beastie Boys Story is an extremely well-crafted documentary. The director Spike Jonze shows once again that he is one of the most creative people out there. The whole thing is so refreshing. A free-flowing story of music, life, and friends. A really cool retrospective with so many amazing photos and great footage. Very entertaining. And I love how the BB has done a documentary their own way. Just like they did it with their music.
Mike D and Adam Horovitz get on stage and tell it like it is. And how devastating it was to lose MCA, their bandmate and best friend. They are incredible storytellers.
This is for sure a fun and creative way to share their amazing story.
Written by Mike Makowsky and directed by Cory Finley (Thoroughbreds). This HBO movie is based on real events. This was America's largest school theft. A scandal of 11 million dollars from Roslyn school district which took place in 2002. Bad Education is an interesting character study into people that abuse their positions. It is so interesting to see the way the story unfolds and the concept of the scam. It really hooks you from the get-go. I would advise you to not research anything about the case beforehand. Going in clueless about the case will definitely make the movie more interesting.
The film writing is sharp, darkly funny, and very entertaining. It has some superb acting by all cast members. Hugh Jackman is excellent as superintendent Frank Tassone. His performance is so complex and layered. Allison Janney is also amazing in it.
It is very fascinating to watch people that were supposed to be examples for their community go bad, it's tragic yet devastatingly entertaining.
Color Out of Space
This is an adaptation of the HP Lovecraft cosmic horror story of the same name. Color Out of Space has a nice B-movie touch to it. And it delivers something genuinely psychedelic with trippy imagery mixed with genuine horrific imagery.
Director Richard Stanley did an excellent job with the film. The cinematography is beautiful and the effects were pretty good. I really liked the acting too. Nicholas Cage is magnificent in his slowly increasing insanity. He goes full over the top cage. And Madeleine Arthur is equally brilliant.
I totally recommend Color Out of Space if you like weird horror flicks.