My 7 Favorite Movies of 2020*

It’s been over a year since I saw a movie in theaters. What a weird thing to consider. While I lived in Saratoga Springs, I’d go to a movie a couple times each month. It became this constant escape. The easiest way to kill time while having an excuse to eat Sour Patch Kids Watermelon.

I miss it.

The movie I saw, “The Invisible Man,” makes as a pretty good “Last Movie I Saw in Theaters Fun Fact.” It’ll change soon. I’m not entirely sure of the movie that’ll get me back, but I’ll see one on a big screen soon.

Since the Academy Awards won’t happen until later this month, thus allowing movies released in the early part of 2021 to be eligible, I decided to hold off writing my annual favorite movies list.

The wait is over. I’m ready to share.

A quick aside— since I don’t typically write about television shows. I thoroughly enjoyed Ted Lasso and DAVE among shows debuting in 2020.

I usually pick a random number to cap for my favorites. Last year I chose “13” for who knows why. This year I settled for SEVEN.

Again, no reason.

With apologizes to… “Promising Young Woman,” “Palm Springs,” “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” “Onward” and more.

Here we go…

7. The Half of It, directed by Alice Wu (Netflix)

I’ve written this before, and it remains true—I am a sucker for coming-of-age stories. This one hit me in a different way. It’s a genuine feature about a brewing high school romance, or friendship. Depending on how you look at it. It’s smartly told, specifically the revealing scene at the church.  

6. First Cow, directed by Kelly Reichardt (Hulu)

Before last March’s shutdown, I had this movie circled as the one I wanted to see next. It tells a tale about two unlikely travelers in the 1820s. It’s slow at times but increasingly attentive and pure to an improbable friendship. The major theme of survival rings true. The Pacific Northwest is also just a majestic setting for a movie to take place.

5. Shithouse, directed by Cooper Raiff (VOD)

I felt a strong personal connection to Cooper’s character almost immediately. It’s his freshman year of college, and he’s hours away from home. His lone friend, a stuffed animal. He doesn’t really know anyone yet. He hasn’t had the typical college experience because of his own stubbornness. Cooper directs and stars in this truly delicate film about those times where you feel most vulnerable. A Mavericks fan as he reps a t-shirt illustrating one of their many playoff appearances during the movie, Cooper joined The Lowe Post (NBA writer Zach Lowe’s Podcast) to discuss the movie and his fandom. It became a crossover episode I didn’t know I needed. Anyway, it’s an honest film about that first year away from your family and the intricacies of figuring out yourself.

4. Nomadland, directed by Chloé Zhao (Hulu)

I’m always amazed at how directors like Chloé Zhao and Sean Baker operate. They mostly work with non-actors. Real people who go through these hardships. Everyday people simply living their lives. “Nomadland” builds off journalist Jessica Bruder’s novel about the modern-day nomad. Frances McDormand, to nobody’s surprise, excels as Fern, a widower who packs up everything she owns to live a life on the road. Working odd, seasonal jobs, living out of a van. The scenes displayed throughout the movie—of Western skies, National Parks, roadways that extend for miles and miles—make it worth watching on its own.  

3. Minari, directed by Lee Isaac Chung (VOD)

What a beautiful film featuring a Korean family in 1980s America. It’s about a father trying to provide for his family in the way he believes is most necessary. It’s about a mother trying to hold it all together. It’s about a boy and girl navigating new challenges, including hilarious exchanges between a boy and his grandma. It’s wonderfully shot, too. A simple yet exceedingly satisfying story.

2. Judas and the Black Messiah, directed by Shaka King (VOD)

Daniel Kaluuya’s portrayal of Fred Hampton is revolutionary. There’s nothing really else for me to say about this film other than that it’s important and well worth your time.

1. Sound of Metal, directed by Darius Marder (Amazon Prime)

The last time a movie left me feeling so hollow, so at a loss of words is probably Chloé Zhao’s “The Rider.” “Sound of Metal” has a similar feel to it, and maybe it cuts even deeper.

It happens suddenly. Someone who’s biggest passion, essentially their life, abruptly ends. It’s a meticulously beautiful film that stays with you long after it’s over. Riz Ahmed puts everything into his role as Ruben and it works at every level.

I don’t own any photos used in this post.

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