Tuesday, June 18, 2024

List: Ryan McQuade’s Top 10 Films of 2020

2020 can be looked back on as one of the worst years in our lifetime. A global pandemic put us at home for most of the year, shutting down theaters around the world and leaving us to discover the best movies of the year at home. We were isolated, frustrated, and longing for it to all be over. Heck, my family got the virus and it took me out for two weeks. Basically, 2020 sucked. As we have entered 2021, hope runs through our veins with a new political administration and a vaccine to return us to normalcy sooner rather than later.

As for the movies of 2020, it clearly wasn’t the jammed packed year January promised us. But there were still plenty of movies to inspire us beyond their runtime, leaving lasting impressions and becoming the first batch of movies to consider for a brand new decade. We may not have seen everything in the theater, but these films below are what got me through COVID-19 and will get me back to normal when all is said and done.

Boys State' Review: Give Me a Teen and I'll Show You a Politician - The New York Times

10. Boys State

If I’ve learned anything from my co-host Jay Ledbetter, politics is a very cynical experience that can make all of us feel useless and empty when it’s all said and done. When I first saw Boys State, I found optimism in Renee and Steven’s point of view and hope for the future of our country. But as the year has gone on, and with what we have experienced in another harsh election and recent events in Washington, I realized the world is going to bring out more politicians like Ben, who see people’s lives and the future of our country as a joke and game. But yet that’s the power of the film, you can see our future as both hopeful and alarming, leading this to really be the scariest movie of the year, and I don’t know if that should be seen as a compliment.

The Nest Movie 2020 Trailer With Jude Law Carrie Coon: WATCH

9. The Nest

It’s been almost 10 years since we last saw Sean Durkin bring us a new project, and with this welcomed return, we get a dark look at the American dream set within 1980s London. Its ideas on wealth, marriage, and one’s legacy are frighening, obsessive, and weirdly relevant. Coon and Law back and forth at one another in some of the best sparring matches in a cinema this year and Durkin’s direction and writing of this movie is one of dread and horror, yet you can’t help but fall under its spell. We need Durkin to return sooner with another wonderful film, but if it takes this much time for him to make great movies, I’m sure it will be well worth the wait.

I Carry You With Me': Film Review | Sundance 2020 | Hollywood Reporter

8. I Carry You with Me

As intimate of a movie as you will find this year. Tells the story of these two young Mexican men who fall in love with one another in a country and time that doesn’t accept them. While I just recently saw this movie, I can feel it will grow for me as time goes on because I personally don’t see movies like this made for people I can relate to so much with. Its love scenes are restrained and its dialogue and narration remind me of Terence Malick. Director Hiedi Ewing is mostly a documentarian, and in her narrative debut, this beautifully tells a deeply personal story, for reasons I don’t want to get into until more people see this gem. When it comes out, see it as fast as you can and experience something truly special.

I'm Thinking Of Ending Things Review | Movie - Empire

7. I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Kaufman’s look at love, loss, legacy, and musicals is just downright bonkers. It’s his signature style of ‘this shouldn’t work’ yet it all meshes together to create a world completely of its own. His screenplay, along with his wonderful cast, creates a full relationship shelf life with equal parts of sadness and warmth. You have to see this more than once, but when you do, you will find more and more things he is really talking about under the surface, including a writer looking at his future and where it fits in this lonely world. It’s a special film by one of the most creative minds working today.

Minari - Festival du Cinéma Américain de Deauville

6. Minari

Lee Isaac Chung’s look at a Korean family immigrating to Arkansas is a tantalizing experience filled with so much togetherness, hardship,  and true beauty. It’s also as much a movie about the future as I could remember in that it tells our future generations to build, grow, and take risks like our families once did. By doing this, they created their own destinies and place in this beautiful country. You can’t wait for it to come to you, you have to go get it yourself. We need to get our hands in the dirt again and find our passions again. And we need to do it together, with whatever family you have in your life. Minari shows us this through events inspired by Chung’s childhood experiences, and by the end of the film, there is one word that can describe what this movie is, magic.

Who is Kirsten Johnson? Meet the Dick Johnson is Dead filmmaker!

5. Dick Johnson is Dead

As moving of a movie as I’ve ever seen. Such a personal documentary about a daughter not wanting to let go of her father and best friend. And as most artists do, they use their medium to cope with their sadness and frustrations. There is something pretty special about watching this family experience the subject of death together. Death doesn’t have to be a lonely, sad process; it can be one of joy, double fudge chocolate cake, and spending as much time as you can with the ones you love. It also hit me in a way I could never imagine after what happened to my dad recently this year and it made me feel closer to Johnson and what she is going through, as well as the cinematic badass of 2020, Dick Johnson. Long live this man and I hope he gets as much cake as he wants.

Mangrove Sets a High Bar for Steve McQueen's Ambitious Small Axe Series | Vanity Fair

4. Mangrove

There are moments when watching a movie where you know you are in the hands of a true master of cinema. That moment came to me when Steve McQueen shows owners of the Mangrove restaurant dancing in the street with their customers, enjoying the freedom they have to live in a country of property and joy. It doesn’t last long because Mangrove is about the protest and trial of the Mangrove Nine and the battle for their lives in 1970s London. McQueen is a sucker for giving us stories about historical heroes we know nothing about, and just like his other films Hunger and 12 Years a Slave, he’s able to find empathy and compassion for these victims and explore how broken race relations are around the world. Mangrove is the crowning achievement in his Small Axe collection and will leave you tearful and educated by the time the credits roll.

Tenet: everything we know about Christopher Nolan's time-travel epic

3. Tenet

Christopher Nolan’s puzzle box Bond film is one of the most original films in quite some time. A movie, as I said before, that should be made every single year. As we enter a new age of blockbusters, and IP dominating the landscape, in steps Nolan to show the world that these big movies can and desperately need to be made. By giving us a new hero to root for and a world to fall in love with, I’m ready for movies like Tenet to be Nolan’s way of the future; less explanation, more confidence in what he wants to make, and don’t worry about what anyone else says. It’s what great directors have always done and it’s what Nolan wants for everyone working in the industry today. At the state of the last decade, Nolan gave us Inception and now Tenet, giving the blueprint for Hollywood to give artists the chance to make big, original projects instead of more useless IP. We need more Tenets and if the film world is going to give him the title of the savior of cinema, then he’s going to lead the fight to save it along with the rest of the amazing artists working in Hollywood.

David Fincher's 'Mank' Trailer Debuts

2. Mank

On Extra Film this year, we covered the films of the great David Fincher in full. We went in-depth on a 30-year career, spanning most of my lifetime and I concluded that Fincher might just be the best director of his generation. With Mank, he made my case for me. Inspired by the true events that led to the making of Citizen Kane, David Fincher, along with his wonderful screenplay by his late father Jack, use the past to examine the present and warn about the future of Hollywood and everything that goes on around it. It’s a scathing critique of famous people and the political underworld who have powerful hands in the cookie jar. Is it his most accessible film to date? No, but who cares? We got a new Fincher movie in 2020 and it was very much a Fincher movie. Don’t believe me? Then go watch all of his movies again, then watch Mank and you will understand why this movie is so damn good.

American Utopia review: David Byrne takes us on the road to a better world

1. David Byrne’s American Utopia

I watched 130 plus films this year, and I don’t have time to see things twice. But I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I saw this movie around five times. With American Utopia, Byrne gives us an honest, joyous conversation about what we should see and expect in our country. He doesn’t do it in a demanding way, but more of a cautious take to inform everyone what he has learned throughout his time on this planet. And in between these thoughts, he gives us the toe-tapping music that has stated these themes for over three decades. It’s all about everyone coming together, using music and film to bring us all together in a time where we are divided and isolated. With this, it totally makes sense that director Spike Lee worked with Byrne to bring us American Utopia. We need hope and love in our lives right now and Byrne and Lee give us that hand over fist. It’s nice to see people grow, admit they need to change, and reflect on a life’s imperfections. It’s also just great to get up and dance and feel like everything in life is going to be okay. America Utopia is a warm, funky, intelligent, important blanket we all need to wrap ourselves up into right now.

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