Well well well, what can one possibly say about 2020 that hasn’t already been said? This has been a year to forget societally, medically, and to a certain extent, cinematically. Many of the year’s big movies were postponed, and from a personal standpoint, many of the big movies that did go ahead proved to be disappointments. Nevertheless, I still managed to clock in a total of 71 new releases in this wild twelve months, and guess what, I have favourites! Without further ado, here are Oh! That Film Blog’s top ten films of 2020, as always, dictated by UK release dates.
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire arrived in my town on the back of a huge hype train, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. It’s a film that I still think about almost a year later, and actually a film that I am scared to go back to and rewatch for fear of dampening the sheer tide of emotion and tension that I experienced the first time around. Portrait Of A lady In Fire was massively slept on by all of the predominantly English language focused awards bodies this year, and I just can’t understand why. My favourite of the year by a mile.
What can I say about Parasite that hasn’t already been said? A popcorn movie that also has a million deep things to say, it shocked the world by winning Best Picture (among others) at the Oscars, and it really feels like the film might have opened the door in terms of more interesting choices from voters going forward. Just an awesome film that goes down surprisingly easily given its strong metaphorical content. If you haven’t seen it, what the hell have you been doing in quarantine all year!?
Kajillionaire was without doubt my favourite surprise of the year. I knew virtually nothing about it going in, and came out both thrilled by the innovative story and touched by the poignant themes explored. On the surface of things this film is a kooky crime caper, but there is so much more going on. Brilliant performances all round, especially from Evan Rachel Wood.
I don’t know how Pixar keep doing it, but they just fucking do. I wrote in my review of Soul that I hadn’t been so floored by one of the studio’s pictures since the amazing Coco, and that should give you an idea of how good I think Soul is. The animation is rich and interesting, and the message is one that hits almost too hard in 2020! I watched this late in the evening on December 26th, and turned 31 at the stroke of midnight. I can’t think of a better movie to experience I could have had, even if it did leave me in a puddle of elderly tears!
This one had been on my radar for a long time, and it didn’t disappoint. A speculative biographical romance that is filled with delicious tension and thematic poignancy, not just from an LGBTQ perspective, but also from the perspective of women and their positions/expectations in the Victorian era. Kate Winslet is the star of the show, giving one of her finest performances since The Reader.
Much like Kajillionaire, Eternal Beauty came out of nowhere and instantly became one of my favourites the year. Sally Hawkins is at her enigmatic best as a woman battling schizophrenia whilst trying to live as ‘normal’ a life as possible. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, she’s one of the industry’s most underrated actresses.
Saint Frances is one those ‘millennial’ type movies that follows a female protagonist as she navigates adulthood and responsibility in varying fashions, to varying success. A real gem of an indie comedy drama that covers a wide range of themes from abortion to toxic relationships to simply trying to figure out one’s place in the grand scheme of things.
In a year without a lot of high profile releases, Da 5 Bloods felt like a really big deal. Spike Lee’s latest joint is probably his most ambitious to date, and I was enthralled by every crazy second of it. It’s a Vietnam story like you have never seen, made even more retrospectively impactful with the tragic passing of one of the film’s biggest stars, Chadwick Boseman.
I you were to ask me to describe Babyteeth to you in basic terms, I’d day The Fault In Our Stars, but good? An Australian drama about a cancer battling teen who falls for a sweet but problematic boy, it’s got all of the usual hallmarks of a classic ‘star crossed lovers’ type narrative, but there is something about Babyteeth that feels more gritty and more visceral than the countless Lifetime movies that do the same thing. Amazing performances from the likes of Eliza Scanlen and Essie Davis elevate Babyteeth massively.
If it hadn’t been for closed cinemas and postponed releases this year, I probably would not have seen System Crasher. German film isn’t usually on the top of my priority list, but I turned to System Crasher when the pickings were slim and I was punched in the face by a forceful and unrelenting drama about the realities of the foster care system for perceived ‘problem children’. I haven’t seen such a striking performance by a child actor for a long time. This is a film that will stay with you.