Film

2020: My year in film

A (paltry, compared to previous years) list of 2020 releases seen this year in NYC, on VOD after March. RIP my 222 weeks in a row at movie theatres.

Initial tweet-reactions to the higher rated films included. In alphabetical order, by star rating…

5/5

The Assistant
The loneliness and weariness across Julia Garner’s face is something to behold. And the sad realisation that those small, scattered compliments will keep her enduring this for a lot longer.

Clemency
Silence speaks volumes, and by golly, Alfre Woodard and Aldis Hodge’s looks crush you over and over. Direction and script are spot on. Why this isn’t all over awards season is beyond me.

Dick Johnson is Dead
The loss of memory. The loss of life. Confronted openly, with love. A breathtaking final scene. I am jealous of Kirsten Johnson’s ability to make this on many levels.

Emma
The costumes, the hats, the dancing! Splendid attention to detail, a lot of fun, and true moments of feeling that get you.

First Cow
The kind of male friendship and characters you never see on screen. Blissfully patient by Kelly Reichardt.

Let Them All Talk
Oh, the conversations! Utterly delightful. Candice Bergen, Meryl Streep, and Lucas Hedges are fun, fun, fun. The moving set being a giant working cruise ship is so Soderbergh.

Lovers Rock
Captures such a colourful, music-filled vibe of a night. The dancing, singing, MCs (!) and soundtrack are the stars, a bit of plotting is sprinkled throughout. A welcome departure from what I’ve associated McQueen with, almost experimental.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Vulnerable, reserved, and unbelievably caring and gentle. That goes for both the actors and film itself. The camerawork felt so apt too.

Soul
HOW DO THEY MAKE YOU FEEL SO MUCH? Another masterwork from Pixar building on the risks from Inside Out. An art style all of its own, new voices at the helm, and a warm, bustling NYC didn’t hurt either.

There’s a 3 second shot of a fork going into pecan pie that did extraordinary amounts. Damn do they know how to montage.

Sound of Metal
The year of Rizwan Ahmed continues as he throws himself into the deep end and thrives. Loved the insight into deaf culture beyond deafness as a disability, and moving forward, albeit not in Hollywood fashion.

4.5/5

American Utopia
Last time I saw Thom Yorke perform I wondered how the hell he has the energy at his age. Today I saw David Byrne’s American Utopia and thought the same. Watch it and feel good. And/Or slightly confused at the dance moves.

Another Round
What do you get with the premise of “human beings are born with a blood alcohol content level that’s 0.05% too low”? Intoxicated masculinity. Mads Mikkelsen holds the line and expertly tumbles over. No one is passing History with those lessons.

The Invisible Man
Elisabeth Moss stares so intently at nothing that you’d be crazy NOT to believe her. Leigh Whannell’s setup is chilling, and the crowd reached a collective catharsis at the end.

Les Misérables (2019)
A, yes, miserable pressure cooker of anxiety that earns its title and homage. Never been more relieved to see a screen fade to black.

Mangrove
Whew, resonant much? Righteous fury delivered by an outstanding ensemble. Liked the framing from the reluctant POV. Have to call out Shabier Kirchner’s cinematography, a rose at times amongst thorny subject matter.

Swallow
An unsettlingly assured eye into how a lack of control and self-worth can manifest itself. Loved where the story and character went, especially that confrontation. Haley Bennett is wow.

Tigertail
Drew me in instantly through its rich characters, acting, and themes, keeping me there for it all. Super impressed with Alan Yang’s feel for emotion (that restraint, UGH), while still bringing a ton of technical filmmaking to the table.

The Vast of Night
The minutiae of the 1950s setting works so well with the head-first, thread-pulling curiosity of the characters and storytelling format.

4/5

The Australian Dream

The Half of It

Shirley

I’m Thinking of Ending Things

The Painter and the Thief

Time

3.5/5

Beanpole

Birds of Prey

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Just Mercy

My Octopus Teacher

The Old Guard

3/5

A Hidden Life

Bacurau

Bad Education

Be Water

I’m Your Woman

Vivarium

2.5/5

Bring Me An Avocado

Palm Springs

2/5

Wonder Woman 1984

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