Natural and man-made disasters, Trump and Covid-19 will ensure 2020 is remembered for being a crap-show. Although the cinemas have been shut for long periods of the past 12 months, films have kept on coming – albeit more often than not projected into our own homes than onto a big screen.
From a personal perspective, one of the highlights of this year has been the ability to watch even more films than usual, plugging cinematic gaps on top of viewing new releases on the various streaming services we now have at our finger tips.
So here we are, just a few days before the end of this god-awful year, and it’s time to reflect on those movies that have really stood out. Below is a list of my top 10 favourite films of 2020.
Honourable mentions: Lynn & Lucy, 1917, Just Mercy, Parasite, Uncle Frank & The Invisible Man
10. Sonic the Hedgehog: The internet went into meltdown after the first-look of the CGI Sonic didn’t go down well. I think I wasn’t alone in worrying that I might ruin my childhood, but the film turned out to be a delightful surprise. It mixed together the right levels of nostalgia, cheeky charm, Sonic sass, and modern day-isms to form a really well put together family film with a cute sentiment and a charming human lead in James Marsden.
9. Summerland: Will have gone unnoticed by many, but I really got a kick out of Jessica Swale’s Summerland – mainly because Gemma Artherton was at her curmudgeonly best. A beautiful looking WW2 drama that has plenty of heart and character.
8. Half of It: An inventive teen dramedy that will have passed a lot of people by on Netflix, Alice Wu’s film twists the ‘love triangle’ idea, whilst hitting on some big themes of youth and sexuality, in an ultimately interesting and charming fashion.
7. The Platform: A sucker-punch Spanish prison drama, it’s quick, feisty and brutal whilst delving into the world of class society in very different fashion.
6. Vivarium: A weird, discombobulating tale of a young couple slowly losing their minds in a suburban new build. If you like slow and creepy, this is well worth your time.
5. Saint Maud: Some jaw-dropping imagery coupled with some out-of-this-world ideals, it’s a real sledgehammer debut from Rose Glass. I loved its quiet relentlessness, even when nothing appeared to be happening. Big themes, big moments, but also deeply quiet and reflective. A real experience.
4. Host: Less than an hour in run-time, Rob Savage’s Zoom-based horror is relentlessly jump-tactic. Yes, it occasionally dips into cliche in the final third but it more than delivers in character and scary fun as bumps in the night hit our lockdown communication apps!
3. His House: This Netflix psycho-horror had me hooked. It didn’t land so much on the frights as it did through messing with my mind. Very relevant as it delved into the world of asylum seekers and refugees with some fantastically compelling imagery and flashbacks, compiled together with two very good – and contrasting – lead performances.
2. Red, White & Blue: 1/5th of Steve McQueen’s ‘Small Axes’ series on the BBC, the John Boyega-led Red, White & Blue stood out for its intimate story-telling. I though Boyega led this nuanced film expertly, with a story that on the surface was about institutional racism, but underneath was also very much about family.
1. Dating Amber: Think Sing Street, The Inbetweeners and Love, Simon had a threesome and you’ll not be far off. It’s an utterly delightful coming-of-age flick that will warm the soul, make you chuckle and probably make you shed a tear or five whilst cheering loudly for a central pairing that you can’t help but route for. Check it out, now!