It’s that time again, although this year has certainly been drastically unlike any other in recent memory and the world of film has been changed dramatically to accommodate the lack of theaters open. Fortunately, while there may have been significantly fewer big blockbusters than usual seeing a release this year, there was still no shortage of great films released during 2020 in one way or another. As is usually the case, there are many that I haven’t yet had the pleasure to check out, but based on what I’ve seen over the year I’ve once again compiled the ten best films of the year in my opinion. Continue below to check out my Top 10 list for 2020 and then sound off in the comments with what some of your favorite films are from this year!
#10: The Gentlemen (Guy Ritchie/Universal)
Returning to the gritty and humorous style of his earlier offerings that largely focused on criminals in sticky situations that tend not to go as planned, filmmaker Guy Ritchie’s ‘The Gentlemen’ takes a star-studded cast and the unique, witty style that first boosted Ritchie to stardom and serves up a massively entertaining, swiftly paced comedic crime gem that’s a unique and fresh breath of air that never becomes the slightest bit stale along its course. Quick witted, clever and violent, ‘The Gentlemen’ is old school Guy Ritchie at his finest. It weaves its way through a plethora of colorful characters, each with their own strengths and hilarious quirks to match, then tears along at full speed with an almost tongue-in-cheek style that still has its powerful and painful moments grounded in reality.
#9: Freaky (Christopher Landon/Universal)
Director Christopher Landon continues his trend of breathing new life into previously tired and overdone tropes and scenarios, following up his insanely enjoyable and clever horror comedy ‘Happy Death Day’ (and its sequel) which took the Groundhog Day concept and merged it with horror before flipping it on its head, and now he tries his hand at doing something similar with the body swap genre and the result is equally spectacular. After a deadly serial killer and an average high school girl find themselves swapped, the girl must convince those closest to her of the truth while wearing the face of a mass murderer as the killer takes advantage of his new teenage, female body in order to continue his killing spree undetected. It’s a hilarious and ridiculously fun film with enough over the top death scenes to appease even the diehard genre fans and the impressive performances by leads Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton really seal the deal and allow ‘Freaky’ to become something quite special.
#8: Hunter Hunter (Shawn Linden/IFC Midnight)
‘Hunter Hunter’ is one of the most pleasant surprises of the year, an intricately crafted thriller that balances the threat of nature and that of man and explores just how deadly each can be, although often for quite different reasons. It wisely never tries to keep things hidden from the viewer and allows the story to be relatively straight forward along the way without many big surprises, instead concentrating on the exploration of nature in all its forms and what one family who lives a quiet life as fur trappers in the wilderness must take on when their home and livelihood is threatened. The film utilizes an almost painful level of tension that only increases along the way until finally exploding into an unforgettable and magnificent conclusion that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. Shawn Linden does a fantastic job at the helm directing his own script and his careful work behind the camera is greatly complimented by impressive performances from the limited cast which includes Camille Sullivan, Devon Sawa, Summer H. Howell and Nick Stahl.
#7: Bad Boys For Life (Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah /Sony)
Our favorite pair of Miami cops is finally back, and perhaps even more surprisingly, better than ever. Arriving seventeen years after ‘Bad Boys II’ hit screens in 2003, the third installment in the franchise sees directors Adil and Bilall taking over the helm from Michael Bay this time around (although Bay does appear in a brief cameo) and serving up a sequel that manages to provide everything fans hoped for while somehow even exceeding those expectations. Delivering all of the bloody action and hilarious fun that made its predecessors so memorable (and one of my favorite franchises personally) while also taking things to a far more serious and tense level than either of its sequels which results in some unforgettable and even painful moments that really hit home. Fortunately, it capably balances the darker moments with the lighter aspects in a way that works beautifully and never causes one to detract from the other.
#6: The Invisible Man (Leigh Whannell/Universal)
‘The Invisible Man’ is a creepy, powerful and masterfully crafted tale of paranoia, fear and the unknown that delivers magnificently on all fronts. Borrowing the general concept and ideas from the classic Universal movie monster and cleverly crafting a new, modern take on the tale that offers an update fitting of our modern world, while still staying true to the general concept and realm of the original. Everything is carefully guided along by director Leigh Whannell with a fittingly uneasy tone that continually builds the tension throughout, combined with a riveting and altogether impressive performance by Elisabeth Moss in the lead that all allows this new take on the classic movie monster to become something truly special, and very much its own unique monster in the process.
#5: Love And Monsters (Michael Matthews/Paramount)
A tense, touching and cleverly constructed tale of a world where everyday bugs and critters have been transformed into monstrous creatures that could squash us as simply as we could once squash them, and one young man’s brave journey through treacherous terrain to find the woman he loves who he was separated from years prior at the onset of the apocalyptic event that changed everything. It’s a beautifully made tale that does a fantastic job of balancing the action and tension with heart and hope, not to mention offering a boy and his dog tale at its core that’s almost more touching than the rest (which is really saying something here). Carefully guided along by director Michael Matthews and further benefitting from a solid performance by lead Dylan O’Brien, ‘Love And Monsters’ is a wonderful and unforgettable gem that delivers on all fronts and won’t be quickly forgotten after the credits roll.
#4: The King Of Staten Island (Judd Apatow/Universal)
‘The King of Staten Island’ is fantastic, a touching and hilarious exploration of one man’s journey to find himself as everything familiar around him begins to change and he must decide how to handle it. It does a great job of finding a fitting middle ground between the emotional content and the laughs and manages to keep you laughing consistently throughout its duration while never allowing the humor to detract from the more serious content and the heartfelt manner in which it’s approached. It’s a wonderful and powerful film loaded with heart and hilarity that balances the emotion and humor perfectly in order to move you one moment and then have you laughing hysterically the next.
#3: The Hunt (Craig Zobel /Universal)
‘The Hunt’ is a humorous, notably bloody and wildly enjoyable film that takes off at full speed and sends viewers along for a hectically paced fight for survival. Always approaching the material with a tongue-in-cheek style that never leaves the viewer struggling, while tackling various opinions, politics and income classes in the most over the top manner possible, tending to keep the jokes and nods at real life content more comical than serious and never really taking a side; instead throwing the most ridiculous extremes of each viewpoint at the viewer while tearing through the violent atmosphere our characters are stuck in the middle of, and all the while keeping things from ever becoming the slightest bit dull or uninteresting along the way. It’s a clever and unique look at both sides of a coin that’s not to be missed and one that curiously managed to attract more controversy than it probably should have considering just how evenly it balances the politics and opinions within.
#2: Possessor: Uncut (Brandon Cronenberg/Well GO USA)
‘Possessor: Uncut’ is a gorgeous, wildly brutal and mind twisting ride from Brandon Cronenberg that follows an assassin who infiltrates her targets by taking over the minds of those closest to them but finds herself in a dangerous clash when her latest takeover doesn’t go quite as planned and the mind of the man she’s possessing begins trying to fight back and reclaim control. It utilizes a fittingly calm pace with spurts of aggression and carnage that slowly builds the tension within as the clash between these two people reaches a crescendo. The clever use of almost psychedelic visuals that showcase the interior fight for control between the two perfectly captures what we’d imagine the internal fight for control and clarity to represent. While the beautiful pacing and uncompromising bloodshed paired with the unique visuals form something stunning in their own right, it also never wastes any time trying to fill in the audience on every detail which only works to its benefit in keeping the viewer on their toes and trying to decipher some of the minor curiosities within even as things become increasingly more chaotic onscreen.
#1: Tenet (Christopher Nolan /Warner Bros)
While it’s no secret that not everyone was quite as impressed as I was with Nolan’s latest, after a few viewings it’s quickly become my favorite film of the year. ‘Tenet’ is a wildly entertaining and complex spy thriller on a level like we’ve never seen. It balances a general love of spy films with intricate twists and turns that will keep you glued to the screen for its entirety without ever becoming the slightest bit bored or uninterested. It’s another magnificent and enthralling piece of cinema from master filmmaker Christopher Nolan that may require a couple viewings to fully understand and appreciate, but actually offers moviegoers something unique and original that requires us to think along the way. Anyone who appreciates a unique and/or complex film with plenty of breathtaking action throughout won’t even want to consider skipping ‘Tenet’.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my list and maybe I’ve even provided you with a couple of fresh ideas to check out if you haven’t seen any/all of them. As mentioned above, there are definitely a handful of films that I may have missed or simply been unable to check out as of yet, therefore I’d love to hear what some of your favorite films of the year are. Do you agree with any of my selections; are there any phenomenal films that you feel are among the best of the year that weren’t included? Don’t hesitate to sound off in the comments with your own personal favorites from 2020!