Saturday, December 26, 2020

My Favorite Movies of 2020

Presented in no particular order except the order I saw them in, maybe. 2020 has been ten thousand years long, and a couple of these movies might have actually come out at the end of 2019, but I saw them in 2020 and we’re not going to be perfectionists now, alright? Not so close to the end of the year.

Due to the pandemic and being on lockdown for basically the last nine months, I watched what must be a personal record number of movies this year (over 90 new-to-me horror movies, mostly from 2020). It was practically impossible to narrow it down to my favorite favorites, but I decided to go with the movies I felt most inspired to talk about afterwards. I think these are the films I’ll remember and want to rewatch years from now, but who knows. Some of these I didn’t even like until a second viewing, and then I loved them. Movie-watching feels more tied to emotion than ever for me these days.

So anyway. Here are my favorites for the moment.

The Platform. “A vertical prison with one cell per level. Two people per cell. Only one food platform and two minutes per day to feed.” That sums up the literal premise, but this movie is multi-layered and rich in symbolism. I love a twisted allegory of a film like this one, there’s so much to chew on.

Birds of Prey. I think this is the last movie I saw in theaters in 2020, and what a lovely movie to have linger. Just pure, unadulterated, female-centric joy. This movie felt made for me, a heartfelt gift from the filmmaker in a time when I sorely needed it.

Doctor Sleep. I was supposed to see this movie back when it came out in theaters in 2019, but the gate to my shitty apartment broke and we never made it out of the garage. This is something I’ll probably never get over, because I had to watch this perfect film for the first time on my television instead of projected on a gigantic screen the way the lord intended. Anyway, it’s a beautiful and terrifying film.

Horse Girl. Not a horror movie, but an intense watch that’s at times genuinely horrifying. Alison Brie does an incredible job (as an actor and as one of the writers) balancing an emotionally devastating story with moments of levity and kindness. This one hits surprisingly hard.

Vivarium. This movie really got released at a fortuitous time – about a month or so after the pandemic hit the U.S., I think. Vivarium is about being stuck in a sort of one-size-fits-all adulthood (literally, in a Twilight Zone way), but the movie obviously takes on a much more literal meaning when watched from the confines of one’s home during a global pandemic. A very cool movie, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget watching it when I did.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things. Having never read the book, I found this film almost completely inscrutable upon first watch, and I still loved every minute of it. You’re probably just a Charlie Kaufman person or you’re not, I don’t know. But it made me feel things.

Shirley. Elisabeth Moss put in an incredible performance in The Invisible Man, which was also very high on my list this year, but her impressionistic performance in Shirley—as a surly, complicated, sometimes-dazzling Shirley Jackson—blew me away. This movie plays out like part biopic, part fever dream.

Swallow. This gorgeous movie was my most cathartic watch of 2020. Understated yet so emotionally rich, a perfect film from beginning to end.

Possessor. Perhaps, if I truly had to choose, I would say Possessor is my favorite movie of the year. It’s the one I watched three times in a row, anyway, unable to get the imagery out of my mind. “It was inhuman. I’ll never get the sin stain out,” as they say.

I May Destroy You. This is actually a show, but I had to mention it for Michaela Coel’s incredible performance (and writing and directing!). Raw and honest to the extreme, full of nuance, and beautifully done. Deserves to be discussed with friends.

Horror Honorable Mentions: The Invisible Man, The Other Lamb, Scream Queen!, The Beach House, Relic, The Rental, The Dark and the Wicked, Anything for Jackson, Spree, Gretel & Hansel, The Lodge, Promising Young Woman, Color Out of Space, The Amaranth, The Mortuary Collection, Sightless, His House, Daniel Isn't Real.

Non-Horror Honorable Mentions: Selah and the Spades, Yes God Yes, Unpregnant, Black Bear, Pen15 season 2.

That's it for this year! What were your favorites?


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