Top Four Films of 2020
Nothing released last year came close to the best of 2019: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite and The Irishman. Overall, it was a down year and probably would have been even without Covid. Still, here are my own four best and seven pretty good (all available on streaming services).
News of the World – Tom Hanks is travelling “news reader” in post-Civil War Texas who must deliver young Helena Zengel to what’s left of her family. A companion piece to John Ford’s The Searchers.
Mank – David Fincher’s glowing black and white recreation of 1930s Hollywood combines a dreamlike desert setting with complicated political/economic questions that are still with us. Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried are excellent.
Nomadland – Odds-on favorite to win Best Picture (and several other awards), Chloe Zhao’s tale of a woman (Frances McDormand) who chooses to live “houseless” in her van and travel from job to job is an evocation of the Western landscape and a particularly ornery kind of independence.
The Invisible Man – Reimagination of H.G. Wells’ story puts the focus on Elisabeth Moss as the target of an unseen madman. Solid script, horrifying effects and an Oscar-quality performance by the star.
Seven Worth a Look:
Blow the Man Down – comic neo-noir in a Maine fishing village with an inconvenient body and Margo Martindale as the town’s ruthless madam.
The Little Things – Director John Lee Hancock and Denzel Washington twist the conventions of serial killer suspense.
Da 5 Bloods – Spike Lee goes back to Vietnam to retell Treasure of the Sierra Madre with a terrific performance from Delroy Lindo.
The Vast of Night – Ultra-low-budget sci-fi is an extended episode of The Twilight Zone with a few dazzling touches.
Greyhound – Tom Hanks directed and stars in an old-fashioned WWII naval adventure with nice CGI touches.
Palm Springs – Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti co-star in an s-f/fantasy comedy about two people who keep reliving a weekend at a desert resort.
One Night in Miami – What was said in 1964 when Cassius Clay, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X compared careers and beliefs?