2020 may have been garbage, but we were fortunate enough to see some pretty damn great movies in theaters, for three months… Then we were even more fortunate to see some fantastic flicks right in the comfort of our own homes! Some of my favs this year include Palm Springs, Hamilton, Bill & Ted Face The Music and so many more – check out all 20 here >
#20. The King of Staten Island
“Bill Burr is legit”
I wasn’t a fan of Pete Davidson prior to watching Judd Apatow’s latest flick, but I will say.. The dude really sold me with The King of Staten Island. The movie works as part biopic/ part alternate reality in which Davidson explores what would have happened if he hadn’t started doing stand-up comedy but followed in his late father’s footsteps as a firefighter.
Like most of Apatow’s later directorial efforts, this one walks the line between comedy and drama, sometimes shocking the audience with a dark and emotionally gripping moment where we dive into Davidson’s psyche and tackle his bouts of depression and post traumatic stress disorder as he starts to navigate his own path in the world. Also Bill Burr is f***ing brilliant as his firefighter mentor, who also happens to be dating his mom. Burr is a genius stand-up comedian but he’s really coming into his own as a dramatic actor and this may be his finest work to date.
#19. The Old Guard
“Immortality redefined for a new era of action cinema fans”
I didn’t read the Image comic book from Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernandez , but now I really want to… That’s the genius of effective world building and The Old Guard manages to deliver a brand new and very dense mythology surrounding a group of immortal freedom fighters who are all extremely likeable. Charlize Theron may be the star, but I’d like to shout out the coolest same-sex cinematic couple of 2020 – Joe and Nicky, played by Marwan Kenzari and Luca Marinelli respectively.
Letting the writer of the comic book create the screenplay for his own adaptation was a smart move, because Rucka crushed it. The direction from Gina Prince-Bythewood was superb as well because she managed to deliver a movie that didn’t rely solely on its splendidly violent carnage. This is a character study, with several very deep characters – and none of it felt boring. Can’t wait for that sequel.
“A trippy & beautiful spectacle of classic animation“
From the animation studio (Melusine Productions) that brought us The Breadwinner and Song Of The Sea, comes Wolfwalkers, an Irish folk tale with an insanely effective voice cast including the one and only Sean Bean! My kids and I loved this flick and we can’t stop thinking about not only the beautiful animation and art style, but the story was one of the most original and powerful of the entire year too.
We’re all used to 3D animation so a film like this is becoming more and more unique, but I hope that this movie’s debut on Apple TV starts to create a craving for more brilliant original hand-drawn cartoons like this badass fairy tale featuring a feral red-headed child riding wolves into battle.
#17. Class Action Park
“The coolest theme park in USA history AND the worst”
I remember watching a YouTube documentary about New Jersey’s infamous Action Park and how people had DIED there while rides opted for maximum fun at the very potential cost of human life. It looks like the same people who made that short film, worked on expanding it into a feature for HBO Max – and oh my god the legacy of this theme park is even wilder than I could have ever imagined.
You’ll see interviews with people who attended the park, the new owners, the old owners, the workers who treated that place like a party 24/7 and more… The rides are all insane, including a water slide featuring a full LOOP in which the swimmer goes upside down before exiting the tube. Turns out the top of that loop was EMBEDDED WITH PEOPLE’S TEETH AND THE STUCK TEETH WERE SCRATCHING OTHER RIDERS’ BACKS AND CAUSING BLEEDING DURING THEIR RIDE. Holy shit this place – I wish I could have went.
#16. The Way Back
“Ben Affleck + Sadness = Sadfleck, the inevitable Oscar Nomination”
Art imitates life imitates art or something to that effect? Without sounding like a complete dick, does it not feel like this is the most personal film that Ben Affleck has ever starred in? Everyone who loves them some Affleck is all too familiar with the sad photos of him staring at the ocean while smoking a bent cigarette wearing nothing but a towel and covered in triad tattoos. He’s publicly battled alcoholism just like his character Jack in The Way Back and seeing the similarities of his struggles made for an all-too-real and gritty experience that felt like I was a literal fly on the wall here as Jack maintains his drinking routine, constantly ensuring there’s always one freezer-chilled can of beer ready to be downed. Full review HERE.
“The best entry of the Freaky Friday body swap genre to date”
The body swap plot has been an enduring genre of comedy film for years but none of them deliver the goods like FREAKY. The concept of a serial killer switching bodies with a teenage girl is such a genius gag that I’m shocked noone thought of it sooner. Vince Vaughn is having a blast with this one and just watching him run after the body swap is hysterical, let alone seeing how his mannerisms change too over the course of the movie.
I had a lot of fun with this one so I’ll probably have to check out director Christopher Landon’s Happy Death Day franchise too, which opts for a Groundhog Day + Horror mashup. I’m seeing a trend here – what other comedy sub-genre should Landon tackle next? Rom Com Horror? Meet The Murder Parents? Look Who’s Talking to a Future Serial Killer? I’m down with all of these.
#14. The Invisible Man
“Finally, a really cool spin and refreshing take on a Universal Monster movie classic”
Director Leigh Whannell has quickly established himself as one of the best directors in the business (go watch Upgrade – now) and The Invisible Man isn’t just a major win for him as a filmmaker, but a massive victory for ALL horror fans in general. That’s because this movie actually manages to do something new and original while still honoring the legacy of this old ass character.
Elisabeth Moss deserves an Oscar nomination for her breathtaking performance as an abuse survivor struggling to cope with the fact that her ex is now stalking her AND NOONE BELIEVES HER BECAUSE IT SOUNDS CRAZY. She’s insanely talented and I think this may be her best work to date to be honest. Best horror film of 2020.
#13. Borat 2 (aka Borat Subsequent Moviefilm)
“The most heartwarming and shockingly vile comedy of the year. Yes both”
Sacha Baron Cohen is a comedic genius and that’s very evident with Borat 2; a surprise sequel not only better than the first, but a movie that manages to tackle ALL of the awful political and social issues of a disastrous 2020. The mockumentary examines everything from COVID19 to Trump and more, using hysterical prank comedy as a coping device. Plus – we were introduced to the biggest breakout star of the year – Maria Bakalova.
There’s a lot going on with Borat 2. The gags are gross (that dance at the rich white people Ball?), laugh-out-loud and always uncomfortable as Hell (hey Rudy Giuliani – you’re gross). But what got me the most, was the chemistry between Cohen and Bakalova, who plays Borat’s daughter in the film. If anything – she steals the damn movie and a lot rests on her shoulders to pull off the major punchlines. I can’t wait to see her in more projects.
“The hardest emotional gut punch in animation since The Lion King”
Pixar has been known to pull on the heartstrings of their fans for decades now and that’s never been more evident than the Dungeons and Dragons inspired ONWARD. The film manages to encapsulate so many nerdy fantasy tropes (THE GELATINOUS CUBE!) while still maintaining a very well planned and emotionally powerful story about two brothers trying to reconnect with their late father.
Disney Plus scored a major hit by debuting this gem on their streaming service right near the start of the lockdown this year and I’m thankful they did even though the ending nearly flooded my livingroom with tears. Seriously – I know everyone will be raving about SOUL early into 2021, but please don’t forget about ONWARD and how special this family film is.
#11. Love & Monsters
“The apocalypse looks dope”
I’m happy to see Dylan O’Brien getting a legit chance to flex his chops and lead a different type of film, hopefully this time it’s one that doesn’t try to kill him in a Maze – literally. Love & Monsters may be the best overall surprise of the year – a film that came out of nowhere and delivered a fun and visually gorgeous action adventure experience unlike anything else.
Sure it’s an apocalypse movie, set during a sort of actual life apocalypse scenario, but that won’t hinder your experience. Just enjoy the giant mutant bugs which look DOPE as Hell and watch Dylan O’Brien deliver a performance that makes me wish he was going to be Nathan Drake in the Uncharted movie. Seriously – he’s got it.
#10.You Cannot Kill David Arquette
“The best pro wrestling film since Mickey Rourke strapped on tights”
You Cannot Kill David Arquette, in addition to being one of the greatest wrestling films of all time, also works very well as a character study in that it reveals some very uncomfortable personal moments where Arquette is dealing with depression and addiction (the Ketamine sequence still makes me sad). I truly applaud David and his family for being so honest and authentic about their personal and professional lives AND the insanity that this wrestling mission has spurred upon them. Full review HERE.
#9. Guns Akimbo
“Trying to pee with gun hands is truly peak 2020”
Guns Akimbo is a riot and a perfect follow-up to (Jason Lei) Howden’s cult classic heavy metal horror masterpiece Deathgasm. If you’re a fan of Daniel Radcliffe, be prepared to see him in ways you never imagined (check for that pissing with gunhands sequence people….) and Samara Weaving gets to annihilate damn near everybody which is reason enough to see the damn flick. Full review HERE.
#8. The Hunt
“Though shall not delay a movie this good for no reason ever again please”
Did Betty Gilpin (Netflix’ GLOW) just become an action hero badass? Yeah she did. There’s a moment in ‘THE HUNT‘ where she says the line “You f***ed up b*tch” before blowing someone’s head off with a shotgun, point blank, where I kinda just sat back in my chair and accepted her awesome new status as someone who could probably take out John Wick.
This movie was delayed so much because of the political rhetoric hatchet job in 2019, courtesy of Trump and more, due to the fact that CONSERVATIVES are being hunted like wild animals in this film’s plot. That was all such bullshit – I’m happy the film finally came out, but I do wish that it came out LAST year, so that Gilpin could become a star IN THEATERS for more people to see. She’s awesome.
“Old Man Logan meets Unforgiven meets Santa Claus meets Goggins”
I was not prepared for the Fatman. Not in the slightest was I anticipating a Christmas film that felt like a long lost Coen Brothers holiday special. Directors Ian and Eshom Nelms have created an inevitable cult classic with Fatman, which also kinda feels like the Old Man Logan of Santa movies. I don’t know what I was expecting here, but it wasn’t this. What “this” was exactly, was NOT an over the top B-movie loaded with gratuitously over the top gore and cheesy one liners. Fatman, in spite of its silly name, is a dead serious affair because the Nelms bros are damn good filmmakers and they knew that the film they were making, was actually pretty damn spectacular. Full review HERE.
#6. Birds of Prey
“The most punk rock comic book movie since Guardians of The Galaxy”
Cathy Yan deserves a lot of love for the work she’s done directing this wacky ass movie for DC and WB. Birds of Prey is JUST as good as last year’s JOKER (which won an acting Oscar) but I fear that because of the low turnout in theaters (just before Quarantine hit — it was actually my LAST film in theaters before the chaos of 2020), that we likely won’t see a sequel. I don’t know what happened there to be honest, because Birds of Prey was a helluva fun time. I laughed, I said “oh sh!t” A LOT and all of those memories from the theater, were still there watching the Blu-ray, which looks damn tasty and sounds even tastier. Blast the volume for that prison-break sequence. Full review HERE.
“The Expendables by way of classic John Carpenter “
I haven’t seen a movie quite like this one since 2018’s Mandy – a similar film in that it was made with love for another time period of filmmaking but was still created with enough visual flair and unique touches that it transcended the older films and works that inspired it. VFW has that same vibe in that it is most definitely NOT just some throwback B-Movie romp. Begos is absolutely creating art amidst a canvas of mayhem and blood. I love that the most inspired cinema of the past few years has been created in a genre that has always been criticized by the mainstream as being the very opposite. Full review HERE.
#4. Bill & Ted Face The Music
“The best of the franchise? Yes. Also the most feel-good movie of this dreadful year”
I grew up re-watching Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey on repeat for days on end because that film was my ‘Animal House’. It got me at a young age – it was a bit edgy, hilarious, strange and metal as f***. I never, in a million years, expected them to make a direct sequel to that movie. Low and behold – Bill & Ted 3 is here and it’s everything and more that I could have ever asked for.
If you wanted to see Bill and Ted, actually fight for the survival of humanity, using music as their weapon – then my god holy sh!t to the high heavens, this movie WILL DELIVER. This is a true fantasy spectacle in every way – complete with futuristic bounty hunter Dennis stealing every single scene along the way. I didn’t even know that Barry star Anthony Carrigan was in this movie until the credits rolled. What a fun stand-out performance in an already kick-ass film.
#3. Palm Springs
“What Groundhog Day didn’t do, Palm Springs does – and it is MESSED UP”
A holiday resort which also happens to be some sort of purgatory for vacationers is just the setting for Palm Springs. What turns this ‘Groundhog Day’ themed indie comedy into something far more twisted and original, are the insanely well thought performances of Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti and JK Simmons.
Palm Springs explores all of the horrors, joys and emotional struggles with someone who is learning that no matter what they do – they will wake up the next day in Palm Springs and they will re-live that very day no matter what. Now imagine all of the twisted, messed up, Grand Theft Auto type stuff you may be tempted to do out of boredom/losing your mind. They will go there in this film and you have to see what happens when they do.
“The world turned upside down and Disney + came to our rescue”
Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton was supposed to hit theaters in 2021, but because the world wound up shutting down in 2020, Disney Plus came to our rescue and delivered what has to be one of the most phenomenal Broadway musicals ever made right into our living rooms. I was blown away by the music (never bothered to listen to it ahead of time) and even more so, was fascinated by how I never once cared that I was watching three hours of song and dance set in one location. Now release the F Bomb cut Disney! I f***in dare you.
#1. The Trial of The Chicago 7
“Aaron Sorkin’s masterpiece – his absolute finest work as a director”
The 1969 set film showcases the BATSHIT CRAZY trial in which the US government was exposed as trying to indict seven (actually eight) people on unfounded charges of conspiracy to cause violence and mayhem during the Democratic National Convention.
It’s an event I didn’t know much about, especially when it came to the trial and how truly awful the judge was. Introducing Frank Langella (Skeletor and Nixon) who manages to outdo every other villainous performance in his career with a showstealing display of absolute evil. You will NEVER see another courtroom drama with a judge this bad my friends. Langella is off the rails crazy and just watching how the courtroom reacts to his outbursts is what makes The Trial of The Chicago 7 so intense and emotional. Full review link below: