The oscars are coming up soon, and with a lot of snubs on the board and non-award-built movies out in the wild right now, I need to give some other pictures some shine. Lets get to it:
25. Our Friend - 86/100 - (Rent: Prime Video)
After learning that his terminally ill wife has six months to live, a man welcomes the support of his best friend who moves into their home to help out.
Jason Segel is sneaky one of the better dramatic actors with a comedy background, and this movie is proof positive of that. He is fantastic and totally steals the show. Warning: this is a big time tearjerker.You gotta be in the right mood to watch something like this before smashing that play button.
24. Bad Education - 86/100 - (HBO Max)
A superintendent of a school district works for the betterment of the student’s education when an embezzlement scheme is discovered, threatening to destroy everything.
I may be a bit of a homer for this movie since it hits close to home, but I also think that it is objectivly very interesting. Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney play off eachother perfectly, and their performances make this movie what it is: A quick, mostly serious but kind of funny look at one of the worst school embezzlements in history.
23. The Call - 88/100 - (Netflix)
Connected by phone in the same home but 20 years apart, a serial killer puts another woman’s past — and life — on the line to change her own fate.
If you are a fan of suspense or horror, you will love this Korean movie. The core concept of the movie is really interesting, and the performances are heartbreaking AND bone-chilling.
22. The Windermere Children - 88/100 - (Rent: Prime Video)
The story of the pioneering project to rehabilitate child survivors of the Holocaust on the shores of Lake Windermere.
This true story based on children of the holocaust is honestly something I would have never heard about if it wasn't for this movie. The child actors are tremendous and it takes you to some dark emotional moments with great subtlety.
21. Nomadland - 88/100 - (Hulu)
A woman in her sixties embarks on a journey through the Western United States after losing everything in the Great Recession, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.
You've probably heard of this movie if you watch any award shows or follow critics. It's an Oscar darling that is an odds-on favorite to run the show this year across a lot of the major categories, and with good reason. From a purely technical standpoint, it is extremely well made. I think the story could have used some work, but it was great outside of that. Director Chloe Zhao uses a lot of real-life nomads in this movie which make it feel extremely authentic and raw, while also being easy to empathize with despite most of us never having lived in a situation like that before.
20. Enola Holmes - 89/100 - (Netflix)
While searching for her missing mother, intrepid teen Enola Holmes uses her sleuthing skills to outsmart big brother Sherlock and help a runaway lord.
I thought this movie was going to SUCK. An offshoot of sherlock holmes thats trying to reap viewers based on the name notoriety? That's gross! After watching it, though, I could not have been more pleasantly surprised. MBB was great, adding her own flair to the lore of the Holmes family while also giving us some of the classic Holmes-isms. The biggest compliment I can give this movie is that, after watching it, I wanted to see another Enola Holmes movie. You know how rare it is for me to want a sequel from ANYTHING?
19. Shithouse - 90/100 - (Rent: Prime Video)
Lonely college freshman Alex has closed himself off from his peers, who all appear to have this whole "college thing" figured out. But everything changes one night when Alex takes a leap and attends a party at Shithouse - a legendary party fraternity - where he forges a strong connection with Maggie.
The title of the movie might make you think that this is some stoner or college comedy, but it's actually a very solid romantic dramedy. I don't know if that even works a genre, but I'm sticking to my guns on it. Anyway, there is great chemistry between the two leads, a genuine, charming story and a interesting shooting format.
A Group of criminals begin plans to murder a King. Upon realising their cover has been blown, each member must survive the ever present threat of the Law.
I fucking loved this movie and I'm actually pissed off that it didn't get the play it deserved. It's classic Guy Ritchie crime comedy with smooth, sexy characters, hilarious dialogue and solid suspense. What more could you ask for?!?
17. Mank - 90/100 - (Netflix)
1930s Hollywood is reevaluated through the eyes of scathing social critic and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish the screenplay of Citizen Kane.
Mank was a passion project for Fincher, as the first script for the movie was written by his father before he passed. I think that he made exactly the movie he wanted to make and you'll either be really into it, or not like it at all. As someone who is interested and ignorant of that era in Hollywood history, I was the former. Gary Oldman was really good, and Dem Fincher Boyz (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) made a phenomenal score to compliment the setting.
A taciturn loner and skilled cook has traveled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon Territory, though he only finds true connection with a Chinese immigrant also seeking his fortune.
Like most A24 movies, First Cow is small, sorta quirky, and artfully done. In the same vein as Mank, either you're gonna love it or hate it. I do think that, regardless of how much you enjoy it, you can appreciate this movie. PS I wana try those cakes that they make in this. It's like cuban sandwich from 'Chef' level desire.
15. I Care A Lot - 90/100 - (Netflix)
A court-appointed legal guardian defrauds her older clients and traps them under her care. But her latest mark comes with some unexpected baggage.
This movie was a lot more divisive than I thought it was going to be when I watched it. I consumed it as a ridiculous, black satire and I fucking loved how well done it was. Rosamund Pike is the master of playing extremely hate-able characters, and I wanted nothing more than for her to fail from start to finish.
14. Vampires Vs. The Bronx - 90/100 - (Netflix)
Three gutsy kids from a rapidly gentrifying Bronx neighborhood stumble upon a sinister plot to suck all the life from their beloved community.
As a big fan of the comedy/horror blend of movies, I can safely say that this movie rocks. It's goofy, sweet at times, and gave me that very nostalgic, goonie-type vibe of kids vs overwhelming odds that I love. Super easy and fun to watch.
Eight-year-old Cody is spending the summer in an unfamiliar setting with his mom Kathy. Though he can't relate to the neighbourhood kids, things take an unexpected turn when he develops an unusual friendship with grouchy old Del from next door.
One of the late, great Brian Dennehy's last roles is one of his best. Like with the previous movie, a lot of the success of this movie was riding on a child actor. The child actor in this case, Lucas Jaye, was great and his relationship with both his mother and Dennehy's character felt very organic and full of heart.
12. Bacurau - 90/100 - (Rent: Prime Video)
Bacurau, a small town in the Brazilian sertão, mourns the loss of its matriarch, Carmelita, who lived to be 94. Days later, its inhabitants notice that their community has vanished from most maps.
This Brazilian movie is very hard to explain. It's part thriller, horror, socio-political story, and more. The one way I can describe it, though, is good. Not 'City of God' level good, but a tier just below that. It is going to hold your attention from start to finish, especially with the crazy third act.
11. Soul - 90/100 - (Disney+)
Joe Gardner is a middle school teacher with a love for jazz music. After a successful gig at the Half Note Club, he suddenly gets into an accident that separates his soul from his body and is transported to the You Seminar, a center in which souls develop and gain passions before being transported to a newborn child.
Soul is probably the most adult-focused Pixar movie ever made. It resonated with me a lot, but also had a few issues that kept it juuuuuust outside of that Pixar S-Tier of movies that we all expect.
10. The King of Staten Island - 90/100 - (HBO Max)
Scott has been a case of arrested development ever since his firefighter father died when he was seven. He’s now reached his mid-20s having achieved little, chasing a dream of becoming a tattoo artist that seems far out of reach.
As a guy who does not particularly care for Pete Davidson, I was NOT really looking forward to this when it released last summer. That said, this movie rocked. This was obviously a very passionate story for Davidson to tell, and that came across in a big way. The story has a ton of heart, but I'm also burying the lede. Bill Burr is unbelievable in this movie. I had no idea that he had acting chops like that.
9. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom - 90/100 - (Netflix)
Tensions rise when the trailblazing Mother of the Blues and her band gather at a Chicago recording studio in 1927. Adapted from August Wilson's play.
This is based off a stage-play, and I love how the movie embraced that and makes it basically a taped play versus trying to adapt it as more of a movie. The cast across the board is fantastic, but the late Chadwick Boseman stands out a ton. He was obviously going through a lot when he took on the character of Levee, who was a character that was also basically fighting for his life. He delivered an intensely dramatic performance that is my personal favorite of his career. RIP.
8. Palm Springs - 92/100 - (Hulu)
When carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honor Sarah have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated when they find themselves unable to escape the venue, themselves, or each other.
If you told me like, 2 years ago that I would be loving time loop movies in 2020, I would say you're dumb. But Palm Springs is so fucking good that it managed to completely destroy any fatigue I had for the genre. Milioti and Samberg play off eachother so well both on the comedic and dramatic levels, and my close personal friend J.K. Simmons is fantastic as well. It's funny, quick and simple with complex undertones.
7. Promising Young Woman - 92/100 - (Rent: Prime Video)
A young woman haunted by a tragedy in her past takes revenge on the predatory men unlucky enough to cross her path.
This movie was extremely impressive not only because Carrey Mulligan has one of the single best performances of the year, but because Emerald Fennell successfully wrote the book this was based off of, adapted it to script, AND directed this while completely excelling at all three levels. This was a directorial debut by her which is crazy considering how great it came out. If you like stylish revenge thrillers, this will be right up your alley.
6. The Father - 94/100 - (Rent: Prime Video)
A man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.
This movie broke my damn heart. If you have a loved one going through a problem like alzheimer's or dementia, be ready for it to do the same to you. Anthony Hopkins has one of his career best roles and makes you feel for him like maybe no other actor did this year. Compared to these next 5 movies, it doesn't have nearly the same level of hype which is bullshit. So maybe make this movie the one to watch out of this whole grouping.
5. Judas and the Black Messiah - 94/100 - (Rent: Prime Video)
Bill O'Neal infiltrates the Black Panthers per FBI Agent Mitchell and J. Edgar Hoover. As Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton ascends, falling for a fellow revolutionary en route, a battle wages for O’Neal’s soul.
This is incredible character work from both Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield. They have such different roles but absolutely fucking nail them respectively in 2 of the best performances of the entire year. The story is heartbreaking and raw, and is going to leave you feeling probably pissed off.
4. Da 5 Bloods - 94/100 - (Netflix)
Four African-American Vietnam veterans return to Vietnam. They are in search of the remains of their fallen squad leader and the promise of buried treasure. These heroes battle forces of humanity and nature while confronted by the lasting ravages of the immorality of the Vietnam War.
I love how Spike Lee put this movie together because he successfully managaed to tell a ton of narratives without having to stretch out the story too much. It's intriguing, sad, happy, and suspenseful. You're gonna get run through the god damn gamut while you watch this movie. Plus, Delroy Lindo. God. The single best acting performance of 2020. Bar none. Thats not just me saying it either. And not even a single fucking nom to show for it. FUCK YOU ACADEMY.
3. Another Round - 94/100 - (Hulu)
Four high school teachers launch a drinking experiment: upholding a constant low level of intoxication.
Killer performances across the board, a quick and easy plot that brings you deep into the funky drinking culture of Denmark, alcoholism, and the sort of sociology behind casual drinking. It goes through a ton of ups and downs, and is sealed with an insane third act (especially the final 10 minutes).
2. Minari - 94/100 - (Rent: Prime Video)
It’s the 1980s, and David, a seven-year-old Korean American boy, is faced with new surroundings and a different way of life when his father, Jacob, moves their family from the West Coast to rural Arkansas. Hell-bent on creating a farm on untapped soil, throws their finances, his marriage, and the stability of the family into jeopardy.
Something that I think we're noticing is that stories that are personal passions to film makers are turning out to be the best. This is a semi-autobiographical work from director Lee Isaac Chung and that passion comes across screen in a huge way. It's a unique, authentic look into the experience of the American dream that is also a very intense family drama. Steven Yuen and Han Ye-ri are great, but the star is Youn yuh-jung, who plays Monica's mother.
1. Sound of Metal - 97/100 - (Prime Video)
A drummer begins to lose his hearing and has to come to grips with a future that will be filled with silence.
Like I said before with passion, it can make a movie feel so much more real. Director Darius Marder was intensely affected by the deafness of a family member, and when casting the co-lead for Riz Ahmed in this movie, he picked Paul Raci. Raci is a CODA (Child of Deaf Adult), and his life experience was instrumental in making this movie my personal favorite of the year. It's going to shred your heart into pieces and uplift it, all without wasting a single frame.