The Best of Cinema in 2020: The Best Films from a Very Bad Year
So, 2020 may not have been the best year in recent memory. A global pandemic. Businesses shutting down. So many people sick and dying. A president who didn't care one iota about any of it - or any of us. Nearly half the country blinded by the very same grifter-in-chief. Police brutality telling 2019 to hold it's beer. Protests and counter protests and counter counter protests. Quarantining. A jobless rate through the figurative roof. Overworked first responders. Overstuffed hospitals. Record amounts of deaths. People refusing to do the right thing. Did I mention the president? Yeah, I did.
With all this turmoil, most movie theatres were closed for a good portion of the year. Most potential blockbustery movies (most of the big superhero franchises, the new Dune, all the so-called tentpole films) were postponed until sometime in mid to late 2021. Even the Oscars & their brethren, were delayed until the end of April, and eligibility deadlines were pushed from December 31st to February 28th. All this said, 2020, for as godawful as it was as a year in history, was a pretty darn good year in cinema. With so many of the big superhero films pushed back (perhaps they should have sent the new Wonder Woman with the rest of her super heroic ilk) that left so much room for smaller films to shine. Films that in another year, would have been buried beneath the box office boffo of Disney's output alone.
Another big and important deal this past year was the output of films by women directors. Granted, it is still a rather low percentage of films, at just 18% of US films (up from 13% in 2019 and just 8% in 2018). Given more of chance to direct films than ever before, and proving the Hollywood patriarchy as wrong-headed, women could, and maybe should, be taking over the old Hollywood guard. So much so that six of my top ten films this year, were directed by women. What a delightful outcome. Great smaller films and by great women directors too.
These smaller films, female and male directed both, got the time to show they're stuff. Granted, for the most part, their collective shining moments were not on the big screens of the nation's movie theatres, but instead on the smaller (but some still quite large) screens of our living rooms and bedrooms and family rooms. These films that finally got their moment in the sun, so to speak, were helped even more by the unadulterated accessibility to themselves. I know the last film I actually saw in an actual brick & mortar movie house was Birds of Prey, and that was more than eleven whole months ago. But that didn't stop me from binging, even more than in a so-called normal year, everything I could find on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Apple TV, and all the other platforms I've forgotten.
With all this in mind, I am now able to reveal my Best of Cinema in 2020 list. So here are my choices for the 10 best films, and another 10 to extend to a top twenty, and maybe a few more runners-up while I'm at it. So, to reiterate, here are my choices for the 40 best films of 2020. And awaaaay we go....