Top Ten Best Movies of 2020
Hello, everyone! With the year of 2020 officially over, it’s time to exam the “best” and “worst” movies that of that year. Indeed, this particular year wasn’t exactly “the best”, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting virtually everyone around the world. This also extended to the 2020 movie releases, which saw a great majority of studios shuffling and / or delaying their features through this crisis. Because of this, I was only able to see (and review) 61 films in 2020. In truth, 2020 saw a few movies that, despite the “great shuttering” of movie theaters across the globe, still managed to make an impression on me.
I’ve already posted my list for my Top 10 Worst Movies of 2020 and now I’m ready to share with my list for what were the best movies of the 2020 year. These films, whether met high expectations, creativity imaginative, or just simply really good, were my personal best choice of the movies I saw throughout the course of the 2020. But before I begin with number 10, take a look at some honorable runner-ups that almost made it on my top ten best movies of 2020.
(Click on the picture for full review)
“What you can’t see can still hurt you”
THE CROODS: A NEW AGE REVIEW
“A charming and entertaining sequel”
“We’re going on a quest!”
And now my top ten!!!
10: Just Mercy
Rating: 4.0 Out of 5
Review: Just Mercy Review
Legal dramas have always been a type of “comfort food” both the big and small screen viewing experience. Bountiful its gritty and realism, yet subversives to make for compelling courtroom dramas throughout many avenues…. both in fictional settings or “based on a true story” endeavors. 2020 saw the release of Just Mercy, a legal drama film that’s follows the latter format of narrative, exploring Bryan Stevenson’s case for the injustice of Walter McMillian. While staying close to some commonplace narrative tropes for a project like this, the movie still manages to rise above those challenges (for the most part), especially thanks to Destin Daniel Cretton’s direction (shaping and storytelling), a meaningful examination of injustice / a flawed legal racism, and some great performances all around (most notable in Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx). While the movie isn’t the quintessential legal drama motion picture and doesn’t push the envelope in cinematic innovation, Just Mercy still is able to manage to be a compelling drama that’s powerful in its story, meaningful in its journey, and strong within its statement. Just like Bryan Stevenson says in the movie….” If we could look at ourselves closely…. we can change this world for the better”. Amen to that!
Rating: 4.1 Out of 5
Review: Mulan Review
The truth of Disney’s live-action remakes of its beloved classic animated features is (at its heart) a bit of a fickle business, with the moviegoer fanbase being ever-so “whishy washy” onto what is changed, altered, or stay in adapting such a project. Some have worked, while others have failed. 2020’s Mulan, a live-action remake to their 1998 animated film, is the former than the latter, especially thanks to director Niki Caro approaching the material, the action-oriented tones, the visual aspect / appeal, the solid cast, and its entertainment value. After seeing the other live-action remakes by Disney (i.e. Aladdin, Dumbo, and The Lion King), 2020’s Mulan is definitely a step forward in the right direction. To me, the movie is a finer adaptation from the “House of Mouse” as I’m sure fans of the 1998 animated film will like it as well as causal moviegoers. In the end, while Disney will most likely continue its trend of revisiting and updating its beloved animated properties for new cinematic presentations, Mulan stands as something that the studio should aspire; keeping one foot firmly in its past and the other in new territory. In this regard, Mulan is a remake “worth fighting for”.
8: The Last Full Measure
Rating: 4.2 Out of 5
Review: The Last Full Measure Review
War is waged by nations, but it is human beings that pay the price. While many wartime tales of battles being fought and over the victories that have been won, the aftermath of war has affected millions of individuals and, while the hardships of civilian lives are numerous, the “war coming home” for the soldiers is another war entirely. The Last Full Measure, a wartime drama feature seems to uncover such moments in several soldiers; offering up a film that’s both equally measure of its sincerity and poignant meaning. Yes, the film does tread familiar grounds, but still shines due to the palpable narrative being told, the thematical message of veteran soldiers of life after war, and a solid / respectable cast. It’s definitely a crowd pleaser feature; one that I would recommend viewing. In short, The Last Full Measure is still a wholesome endeavor; one that salutes unsung heroes such as William H. Pitsenbarger (the film’s main subject point), but to all who gave up something / did acts of valor during their time in military service. And to that…I salute you all.
7: Bad Boys for Life
Rating: 4.2 Out of 5
Review: Bad Boys for Life Review
Long awaited / belated sequels have become a thing in Hollywood; dusting off proven and successful franchises for a new generation and to fully capitalize nostalgia and expectations. While most do falter in a little bit “too little, too late” type, 2020 saw the return Mike Lowery and Marcus Burnett of in the Bad Boys franchise with the release of Bad Boys for Life, the third entry in the series. Overall, the movie carries a fun action blockbuster appeal that’s both reminiscent to past iterations as well as in today’s filmscape of viewing; presenting a feature that manages to settle into a fine and theatrical groove of high action thrills, comical beats, and pure movie escapism at its best, especially thanks to the film’s directors (creating fun spiritual successor to Bay’s features) as well as the film’s cast. The film’s ending leaves the possibility opened for a fourth installment and I would be happy to see a Bad Boys 4 materialize. Whatever may come in the future for this action film series, Bad Boys for Life is another successful entry in the franchise and is one of the better belated sequels that has Hollywood has produced in quite some time. The boys (Mike and Marcus) are back….and that’s a good thing.
6: Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Rating: 4.4 Out of 5
Christmas movies have been a “time honored” tradition. During the holiday Christmas season, seasonal feature films get their chance to shine; dazzling viewers with its yuletide cheer and overly sentimental narratives of love, family, and Christmas celebrations. With plenty of holiday classic films and TV specials making their circulation during this time of year, it’s been a struggle to find a somewhat “new” memorable / timeless holiday Christmas film of late. Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey seems to break the mold; offering viewers a delightfully colorful feature that speaks to anyone of wishing, dreaming, and the power of belief. Despite a few minor criticism points, the bulk of the feature is teeming with yuletide spirt, thanks to Talbert’s direction, creative steampunk / storybook set designs, vibrant costumes, lyrical musical songs, a strong cast of talent, and reinforcing fundamental messages of grieving, believing, and wonderment. If looking for something a tad different from the classic Christmas movies out there, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is the perfect remedy; soaring within its imaginative moniker; delivering a touching / timeless narrative of love and magic that’s perfectly wrapped in a colorful world of dazzling colors and musical numbers.
5: Let Him Go
Rating: 4.4 Out of 5
Review: Let Him Go Review
In today’s cinematic landscape, the western film genre, a once “go to” genre for both the big and small screen, have changed and adapted to modern times; becoming what is now called “neo-westerns”. In this particular category, movies reflect upon the traditions of the western genre, but are set in the modern / contemporary setting. The movie Let Him Go definitely speaks to the medium, with director Thomas Bezucha’ s film jumps into the foray of the neo-western film genre by presenting a very human character-based narrative of family, parental guidance, and suspenseful vengeance. While the movie does have a few blemishes in its undertaking (i.e., a slow burner pacing and artistic flourishes), the film succeeds in being a gripping narrative of revenge and compelling drama, especially thanks to Bezucha’ s direction, an engaging source material, and a superb acting quality in the feature’s cast (most notable in Costner, Lane, and Manville). Personally, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from it, but what I got out of it was something that was profound and engrossing; a fine piece of cinematic work that’s worth the watch. Overall, while the neo-western genre isn’t quite as popular nor dominate as say the film genres of action, horror, or comedy, Let Him Go stands tall and proud as a beacon for its subgenre category as well providing a talented and enthralling tale of family and how far one would go to protect the ones that they love the most.
Rating: 4.4 Out of 5
Review: Tenet Review
Director Christopher Nolan has become a very successful and widely-known film director over the past several years in Hollywood moviemaking; producing several memorable high-brow and / or cinematic blockbuster hits such as Inception, Dunkirk, and The Dark Knight trilogy. Whenever Nolan announces his newest film to direct, the internet newsfeeds light up as many moviegoers and critics eagerly start counting down the days to its release. In 2020, moviegoers everywhere saw the release of the movie Tenet, Nolan’s latest cinematic endeavor, which certainly brought a lot of “buzz” amongst many, especially in its delayed release dates and in the subject plot points of the film’s narrative. It’s not his best work, but Tenet is a Nolan movie through and through, with Nolan’s signature style and direction, beautiful cinematography, bombastic musical score, a well-laden overall presentation, ambitious concept / themes of time, and a solid cast. For better or worse, Nolan’s Tenet is an immersive project that simple showcases Nolan’s creative mind playing with lofty concepts and his own unique style of filmmaking as well as showing what non-serial blockbuster endeavors can be achieved in film landscape dominated by tentpole studio releases of sequels and franchises.
Rating: 4.4 Out of 5
Review: Soul Review
Much like Christopher Nolan’s movies, Pixar Animated Studios has dominated the animated film landscaper for better part of two decades; producing high quality cartoon movies that speak to many (both young and old alike) and are memorable with the studio’s signature style of story, characters, and thematic meaning. Soul is Pixar’s latest film (one of two releases in 2020) and, while it doesn’t it doesn’t beat out Coco or Inside Out, but stands tall and proud in the studio’s animated library as a great and entertaining movie; one that really does speak to everyone in the light of events of the year 2020. While the complexity of the narrative can be a bit too much for the younger viewers out there, the film is still a resounding and beautiful feature that certainly encompasses all of what Pixar’s signature style conveys with each of its installments, thanks to Pete Docter’s direction, a solid story, a heartfelt message, strong themes, and solid voice talents. Whether you’re a fan of Pixar movies or just looking for a great animated feature to watch (or even some soul searching), Soul is the perfect choice; promising a lot of heart, humor, and to be a beautiful reminder of not to miss out on the joys of life.
Rating: 4.5 Out of 5
Review: Wolfwalkers Review
While major animated studios such as Disney, Pixar, and Illumination Entertainment have dominated the cinematic limelight, with their animated features topping the charts at the worldwide box office and being fan favorites to many, some smaller studios have had their share in the spotlight; producing some of the finest and most imaginative cartoon tales for the ages. Cartoon Saloon’s fourth animated film titled Wolfwalkers is a perfect example of what a smaller studio can achieve; presenting a film that boast a fine blend of mixing poignant storytelling and creative artistry to help enrich an animated film with pure fanciful delight. The movie is pure wonderment of magic and friendship and deserves high praise from the film’s directors, a meaningful story, incredibly amazing style of animation, beautiful score, a solid voice acting across the board in all facets and positions. With the conclusion of this movie, Cartoon Saloon closes its chapter on what it’s calling it “Irish Folklore” trilogy of films. What does that mean for the future of the company? Who knows? Let’s hope that the studio will continue more fascinating features of various tales and myths, including more Irish folklore perhaps. Nevertheless, Wolfwalkers is a cinematic experience that acts as a breath of fresh air; boldly taking viewers on an enchanting adventure that both entertains and symbolizes what strong and palpable storytelling can occur from such a small animated studio.
Rating: 4.5 Out of 5
Review: Hamilton Review
So….who could beat out a legal drama of freeing an innocent man, a new holiday classic, a threequel entry in the Bad Boys franchise, an immersive Christopher Nolan feature, and Pixar’s latest animated film. One word…. Hamilton! Yes, while it was a close race between Wolfwalkers and Hamilton on what I would say is the best movie of 2020, but there was just something about Hamilton that pushed it over slightly to be in the #1 slot.
Broadway. The name was literally becoming iconic within many shows and productions that have come and gone; gracing their names, star-studded performances, famous musical songs on the mainstage for all to see and producing memorable hits throughout the decades. Through the years, musical Broadway productions and shows have showcased the theatrical arts in its various forms. One such recent mega hit was Hamilton, a 2015 Broadway musical that was created by Lin-Manuel Miranda and received rave reviews. However, the events of the COVID-19 pandemic, while shuttering movies around the world, also effected Broadway, with productions shutting down since the start of the pandemic. It was probably because of this that Disney decided to move up the time’s table to release a taped version of the Hamilton Broadway show to 2020. The result is something wonderful!
Yes, the movie is quite technically a movie of 2020 (since it was taped several years ago), but, given the variant nature of this year, I do consider this a part of the 2020 movie line-up.
Director Thomas Kali production of the staging and filming the iconic Lin-Manuel Miranda stage play is ever bit as enjoyable and immersive as it to actually seeing the Broadway show; capturing the essence and spirt and critically showcasing the modern masterpiece in delightful and spectacular fashion. The presentation of the show is incredibly solid and effectively works in this theatrical feature medium, thanks to the original cast performances and in the palpability of the show’s musical numbers and energetic meaning. It was definitely something great and certainly deserves all the praise (the original Broadway show) that it received. The stage play production, acting, and singing were all well-played and entertaining. It is truly something to behold, especially if you never saw the theatrical stage play or the original cast members. Altogether, the 2020 release on Hamilton on Disney+ is truly a captivating and engrossing presentation of the famous Broadway production (with the original cast) and is the next best thing to seeing the show from…. well…. just like the song says….in the room where it happened. And that is why Hamilton is personal favorite movie of 2020.
And so that’s my top ten “best” movies of 2020. There were some movies that I didn’t get to see, so (naturally) I can’t critique them and pass my movie critic judgement on them, which is why they might not be on my list. So, what do you guys think? What were your “best” movies of 2020?