Lists

Top 10 Best Movies of 2020

Well, here it is, my Top 10 Best Movies of 2020! It’s late, in true fashion of course, because 2021 is really testing my resolve right now. I’d tell you all about it to make my chest feel lighter, but there’s going off topic and then there’s derailing a blog post completely. So let’s stick with the positives, shall we? I already posted my Top 10 Worst Movies of 2020 if you happened to miss that. As much as I love these lists, it can be so confusing with release dates around the world. The UK tends to get the big, Oscars type movies in January but I’ve also been lucky enough to be given screeners for movies that aren’t released in the UK until 2021, so please bare that in mind.

Let’s do this, shall we?

Number of 2020 movies watched: 94
Movies that just missed out: Over the Moon, The Broken Hearts Gallery, Soul, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special

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#10 Kajillionaire – Pre-pandemic I would have had to wait months to see this, when one of the streaming services picked it up. But with a lack of blockbusters my local cinema was playing Kajillionaire in the small summer window that it was allowed to open and it was such a great experience. I love quirky movies like this and I highly recommend it.

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#9 Happiest Season – Christmas is my favourite time of year, it’s no secret. So when new festive movies get released, I get excited. When last year’s biggest offering also happened to star some of my favourite actresses as well as one of geniuses behind Schitt’s Creek, my most adored TV show of 2020 – I was absolutely desperate to see it. And despite some troubled story telling as far as the lead couple goes, I still loved every minute.

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#8 Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga – Just when I was at an all time low living under Lockdown 1.0, this movie came along to brighten my spirits. Let the anthem of 2020 be Jaja Ding Dong! You don’t need to be a hardcore Eurovision fan to enjoy this but you will need to find a bit of joy in being silly.

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#7 Palm Springs – Another entry to the ‘Groundhog Day’ genre but this time featuring Andy Samberg in the glorious sunshine. It shouldn’t have been as good as it was but it had such charm that it was impossible not to love.

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#6 Wonder Woman 1984 – I have to admit, by Halloween I never thought we would have gotten Wonder Woman 1984 released in 2020. I had the privilege of watching it on the big screen at one of the very few open cinemas at the time, just days before they all closed (again!) and it was delightful. It served as a reminder that cinemas are still relevant and needed. Yes, it’s great watching new releases in the comfort of our own homes but you just can’t beat the big screen experience.

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#5 Tenet – Whether you loved it or hated it, Tenet was surely one of the most talked about movies of the year. Once the cinemas closed in March and speculation began as to what would be the first big release when they reopened, Tenet was the one. I needed two watches to fully appreciate it and understand it as much as I was ever going to, but if I were to describe my ideal kind of movie, Tenet is it, so I was always going to be a fan.

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#4 The Gentlemen – I had to check and re-check but yes, The Gentlemen was released on January 1st, 2020 in the UK. It was the first of very few movies I saw at the cinema last year and I loved every second of it. At the time I questioned myself giving it a full 5/5, but it turned out to be only one of four that I gave the rating to in the end! If you’ve only ever seen Hugh Grant as a charming British gentleman, you absolutely need to see how different he is in this!

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#3 The Trial of the Chicago 7 – I’ll admit, I haven’t watched many courtroom dramas. I think they can be quite slow and dry, but when they’re good they tend to be incredible, and that was the case with The Trial of the Chicago 7. I won’t even pretend to understand American politics so the beginning confused me but the trial itself was astounding, and shocking when it’s based on a real case.

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#2 Promising Young Woman – I’ve only recently reviewed this so I won’t ramble much but oh my goodness I loved this movie. Mix together Gone Girl (2014) and A Simple Favor (2018), give it a candy coloured aesthetic and a killer soundtrack and you have…this *chefs kiss*

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#1 Hamilton – I almost left Hamilton out of this list completely. It’s not considered eligible for the Oscars after all as really, it’s an edited recording of a live theatre performance that happened a few years ago. But it is so captivating and so easily the best thing I watched on any screen last year that it would be a travesty to disclude it from this list.

Movie Reviews

Another Round (2020)

another-round-movie-review-poster-2020Director: Thomas Vinterberg

Genre: Drama, Comedy

Runtime: 117 Minutes

Main Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe, Magnus Millang, Maria Bonnevie, Susse Wold, Helene Reingaard Neumann

Plot: Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) is stuck in a rut. His relationship with his wife has deteriorated to the point they barely speak, and his enthusiasm for teaching History is so low his students are complaining about him. That all changes when, together with his 3 friends, the group conduct an experiment to keep a constant blood alcohol level of 0.05%.

My Thoughts: For a few weeks now, every time I open up Letterboxd I can see chatter about Another Round, and I hate feeling left out so I’ve been really looking forward to watching it for myself. Plus, Mads Mikkelsen is one of those actors who is so universally loved, so it was bound to be a winner. Whilst I wasn’t overly in love with it after watching it, it’s played on my mind ever since and it’s destined to be one of those movies I like more and more as time goes on, I think. As much as I’m trying to right this wrong, I’ve seen very few non-English language movies so it was nice to add another to the list.

It’ll surprise no-one that continually drinking to keep your blood alcohol level at 0.05% is a terrible idea, but it’s so interesting to watch it play out. For a time, it actually works really well. Martin is filled with joy for the first time in years, and it translates into him making more of an effort with his family, his friends, and putting so much energy into his work that his students absolutely love his lessons. It’s far too easy to drink that little bit too much though, and it can’t go unnoticed forever. The beauty of a dramedy such as Another Round means we get to witness both the highs and the lows.

If you need cheering up, let me share something with you. When reading reviews of this I kept seeing references comparing it to The Hunt. My dumb ass assumed they meant The Hunt (2020), a crazy movie about hunting humans for sport. I was really confused until I realised they actually meant The Hunt (2012), a movie by the same director as Another Round and starring the same cast. Doh.

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Best Bit: Brittani at Rambling Film sums it up perfectly, Danish graduation ceremonies are something else! What a fantastic scene, amazing dance moves and an absolute banger of a song, What A Life by Scarlet Pleasure. I’ve been playing it on repeat ever since.

Worst Bit: Before the movie was over I thought my best bit was going to be the moment that little kid, Specs scored the goal. I actually cried a little bit. So it’ll be no surprise that my heart broke into a million pieces when we saw Specs again at *SPOILERS* the funeral.

Fun Trivia: Denmark has some of the highest rates of teenage drinking in the world; a World Health Organization report released earlier in 2020 found that Danish 15-year-olds consumed alcohol at nearly double the European average. Recent efforts to raise the minimum age for purchasing alcohol to 18 from 16 have met with resistance, in part because older adults recall their own youthful intoxications so fondly.

My Rating: 3 and a half glasses of wine I wish I’d been drinking whilst watching this!

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Lists

Top 10 Worst Movies of 2020

As the UK enters it’s THIRD national lockdown, and I’m clearly feeling grumpy, why not put that energy into listing the worst movies that 2020 brought? I’ll be back later this week with best movies but for now let’s focus on the mundane and downright awful. Thanks to streaming services there have still been plenty of movies released this year – of varying qualities.

I’m always nervous posting a worst movies list because there’s always something here that someone loves! I also seem to have gone against the crowd a lot this year, if the Twitter noise is anything to go by. So no hard feelings, okay?

As far as release dates go – if you see something in one of my lists and think it’s from a different year, just remember UK release dates can be completely different! Also – bonus points if you spot all the poop emojis.

2020 movies watched: 91
Movies that narrowly missed out: Antebellum, The Witches, Superintelligence, Songbird, Tesla, The Call of the Wild, Bloodshot, Dolittle, Brahms: The Boy II

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#10 Artemis Fowl – I’m not the target audience of this movie, I get it. But the best kids movies have something that appeals to adults and this…had nothing. Other than a horrifying Josh Gad dislocating his jaw to eat dirt and poor Judi Dench with the world’s sorest throat.

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#9 Fantasy Island – This is a shame because the idea was fun, and the movie wasn’t all terrible. Jetting off to a remote island in order to live out a fantasy of yours seems pretty ideal right now, huh? Some plot lines work, others don’t, but the characters are just downright terrible.

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#8 I’m Thinking of Ending Things – Now is when I start to get anxious. I know this is a widely loved movie. Since reading many other reviews I also understand the movie a whole lot better. But I stand by it being included in this list. I don’t mind a movie being so confusing it needs a second watch but if it’s so dull that I can’t even bring myself to give it another go then it’s just not going to work.

worst-movies-2020-rebecca

#7 Rebecca – Reviews for this one are all over the place so I don’t know if mine is a popular opinion or not. If anything I’ve made a mental note to watch the original 1940 Hitchcock version. This remake was just…boring. There’s nothing particularly bad about it, but it felt about 3 hours long.

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#6 365 Days – We all watched this out of morbid curiosity, didn’t we? If you hated the Fifty Shades trilogy then boy…you’re either going to want to avoid this like the plague or hate-watch it with a very large drink!

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#5 Desperados – Huge thank you to Letterboxd and it’s Diary feature because if it wasn’t for the fact I log every movie I watch Ii would have forgotten about this movie all together. I remember it stars Aly and Winston from New Girl and that’s why I watched it but other than that? I can only assume it’s a terrible romcom that fades into nothingness.

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#4 She Dies Tomorrow – This is the exception to the rule, I don’t feel anxious at all telling you how much I hated this. The idea is great, I’ve never seen anything like it, but to be it’s the absolute definition of style over substance.

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#3 After We Collided – Clearly I’m now officially an old person because I had no idea this series was such a big deal. I saw at in the brief summer window that cinemas reopened and made sure I watched the original first. That one was actually a decent watch but this sequel? It felt like Fifty Shades for young teens…wrong on every level!

worst-movies-2020-ava

#2 Ava – This movie is just downright disappointing in every single way. It’s a spy movie, so how is it so mind numbingly boring? It also boasts a stellar cast including Jessica Chastain, John Malkovich and Colin Farrell. It doesn’t feel like anyone is phoning in their performance here but still – ugh.

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#1 Wild Mountain Thyme – Maybe this takes the top spot because it’s the most recent in my mind but it still very much deserves it’s place in this list. Wild Mountain Thyme feels like a TV movie broadcast in the middle of the night with a target audience of insomniacs simply needing to pass the time. And yet it’s not. I thought Alex Baldwin had a dodgy Irish accent in this year’s Pixie (2020) but Christopher Walken manages to speak only around 1 in 5 words with an actual accent. It’s…magnificently bad. The moment that firmly plants this movie though is Jamie Dornan’s confession towards the very end. I won’t spoil it, but ask me in the comments if you want to know without suffering through this movie.

Movie Reviews

Promising Young Woman (2020)

promising-young-woman-poster-review-2020Director: Emerald Fennell

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama

Runtime: 113 Minutes

Main Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Laverne Cox, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Alison Brie, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Molly Shannon, Adam Brody, Max Greenfield, Chris Lowell

Plot: After suffering a tragedy in her past, Cassie (Carey Mulligan) takes her revenge on the predatory men she seeks out on a weekly basis at her local bar.

My Thoughts: A slight ramble from me before I begin. The pandemic has really thrown my creativity out of the window this year but something amazing still came from it. A little dream came true and I was accepted as a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics. One of the perks of memberships is sporadically receiving screener links to not-yet released movies and so finding myself watching Promising Young Woman at home, 2 months before it’s UK release with a screener copy that has a watermark with my name on? That’s made my year, for sure. But on with the review!

We get thrown straight into the thick of it when a group of guys in a bar are leering at Cassie, seemingly drunk and alone. One of the guys eventually comes over to offer to get Cassie home, but they end up at his house instead. When the guy starts pushing himself onto Cassie she snaps, completely sober, to teach him a lesson. YAS Cassie. Her quest for vengeance has taken a huge toll on her life, though. Her relationship with her parents is terrible and she threw away a chance at a highly successful medical career. To talk more about the plot would be doing a disservice because just with movies like Gone Girl (2014) – the less you know, the better.

But it’s more than just the story, there is so much more to marvel over. There are things I rarely pay attention to in most movies such as soundtrack and cinematography, but it’s impossible to ignore here. There’s a harrowing version of Britney Spears’ Toxic that gave me actual goosebumps, and every single shot looks like it was set up to be used for a poster. It’s just stunning. I didn’t know what to expect at all and I think that helped too.

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Best Bit: This would change on a daily basis, but the ending is the bit that sticks out the most to me. I know it’s been one of the few things that others have found fault in, but when my hopes were dashed and my jaw had been on the floor for many minutes, what happened at the wedding just blew me away.

Worst Bit: I’ll be as vague as I can but the bedroom scene at the bachelor party. I don’t remember feeling as awful as I did in that moment when watching any other movie.

Fun Trivia: The title is a reference to Brock Turner, a Stanford University student who was convicted of sexual assault in 2016. Despite his conviction, he was referred to by some as a “Promising Young Man.”

My Rating: 5 out of 5 notebooks, and don’t you ever do something that leads to your name being inside one of them.

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Movie Reviews

What I Watched: December 2020

Happy New Year! I swear it was Christmas Eve, I blinked, and then it was 2021. I’ve loved having all this time to spend with my little girl but crickey I’m tired! I’ve been flaked out every evening so I’ve watched hardly any movies and blogged even less. Next week I’ll be cracking on with some reviews that have been sitting in draft, as well as compiling my best and worst movies of the year lists. Exciting! For now though, I’m putting together my usual monthly round-up of everything I’ve watched in the last month.

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Superintelligence (2020)

I was ready to enjoy this one, despite James Corden’s voice trying to ruin it. This movie just doesn’t know what kind of movie it wanted to be, though. It wasn’t very funny, and tries to be all serious towards the end, by which point my interest had been lost all together. I’ll forever be here for Melissa McCarthy despite it however!

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Run (2020)

My dumb ass completely forgot about this movie. I completely confused it with something entirely unrelated. That’s probably not a good sign but I promise, it’s a great flick! A young girl suffering from a number of illnesses and is also reliant on a wheelchair begins to suspect that her Mother is lying to her about her ailments. Sarah Paulson never fails to deliver.

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Freaky (2020)

I was so mad that the UK went into Lockdown 2 just before Freaky got released (of course, I know a worldwide pandemic is a more serious issue but humour me), this is one of my most anticipated movies of the year. I realise now it takes a lot of inspiration from other slasher movies and as someone who could probably count on 1 hand the number of movies like that I’ve seen, a lot was lost on me. Still a lot of fun and so much gorier than I expected.

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Hillbilly Elegy (2020)

So, everyone who watched this hated it, or so it seems. I went in with low expectations but do you know what? Ii thought it was good. It’s a sad story and it’s quite choppy but I was so invested in Gabriel Basso’s character (if we get a Dexter prequel can he PLEASE play Dexter?) that I was kind of hooked. It’s not a movie I’m ever going to want to watch again probably, but I don’t think it was bad at all. Reminded me a little of Beautiful Boy (2018) for the same reasons.

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Ava (2020)

I’ll admit that I only put this on to watch whilst doing chores, I knew it was never going to be a masterpiece. But UGH, how can a spy movie be so damn boring? What an absolute waste of that cast!

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Nativity! (2009)

I re-watch this almost every December, it’s one of my favourite Christmas movies. It’s set in a city really close to me too so it’s always felt extra special to me.

The Prom (2020)Full review hereĀ 

what-i-watched-sound-of-metal

Sound of Metal (2019)

I’m kicking myself for not getting a full post out for this movie. It was a little too slow for me to truly love it, but I can’t deny how amazing Riz Ahmed is. He plays a musician who loses his hearing and the sound team behind this movie are absolute geniuses. The final scene is so beautiful I sat through the entire credits just thinking about it.

Songbird (2020)Full review here

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) Full review here

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Wild Mountain Thyme (2020)

Thanks, Twitter. I saw so many tweets blasting this movie that I had to see it for myself to find out if it was that bad. It’s…bizarre. A tiny little Irish romance story weirdly acted by a star-studded cast with one of the most absurd plot twists/confessions I’ve ever seen. I’m contemplating making a bee-related movie list now, starting with this and Jupiter Ascending (2015).

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Promising Young Woman (2020)

I’m staying quiet for now because I’m already working on a review for this but let me say this. BELIEVE THE HYPE. Carey Mulligan is a goddess.

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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)

Another one I’m still writing a full review for. I was cynical about the praise, I’ll be honest. We all love Chadwick Boseman but I wondered if people were hyping his performance because devastatingly, it’s his last but he deserves all the praise in the world here. Viola Davis is equally stunning but plays a much smaller role than I expected.

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Soul (2020)

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m planning a full post for this too. It is, of course, an excellent movie. It didn’t grab me as much as Inside Out (2015) did – but only Pixar can create something so meaningful and deep about our very reason for existing, and disguise it as a fun family movie.

what-i-watched-death-to-2020

Death to 2020 (2020)

I chose a very fitting movie to be my last watch of the year, I think. By the creators of Black Mirror, this is sort of a documentary of the year but with fictional characters. Some jokes are laugh-out-loud hilarious and others don’t really land at all, but it’s worth a watch just as a reminder of how batshit crazy this year has been.

Finally – I’m sorry I haven’t been actively reading and commenting on everyone else’s posts this last week and a half. Tomorrow night I’m going to watch my first movie of 2021 and catch up with my new blanket-hoodie and a glass of wine!