10. Lovers rock
Lovers Rock was released as part of the anthology series Small Axe directed by Steve McQueen. It stars Micheal Ward and Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn as two lovers who meet at a reggae house party in 1980 in West London.
I absolutely adored this film. Lovers Rock brings us some reggae music at it's finest. And is one of the most gorgeous films of the year. It is phenomenally well shot and perfectly captures the atmosphere and the excitement of a house party. Music is the main focus of the movie. However, there are also underlying themes like sexism and violence being played out. But in the end, it is lovely to see these characters scaping from their problems for a night.
Great vibes, and social commentary. Perfect for anyone who loves music and having fun.
9. I’m thinking of ending things
Written and directed by Charlie Kaufman, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is based on the 2016 novel of the same name by Iain Reid. It stars Jessie Buckley, Jesse Plemons, Toni Collette, and David Thewlis. It follows a young woman who travels with her new boyfriend to his parents' secluded farm. Upon arriving, she comes to question everything she thought she knew about him, and herself.
I really liked this mind-bending film. It is abstract, very difficult to understand and sometimes it feels like a lucid dream. Kaufman’s films usually aren’t easy and he doesn't like to spoon-feed the answers. But that is why they are celebrated and influential films. If you are into this kind of challenge, this will be a treat for you. If not, stay away.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a cerebral experience. And at times, I thought I was going insane while watching it. But I loved it.
Mank is a passion project for David Fincher. The script was written by his father Jack who passed away in 2003. The film is about screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and his development of the script for the 1941 classic Citizen Kane.
I love films about the movie industry. And this one is a brilliant homage to the 1930's Hollywood style. The film was shot in black and white and looks quite beautiful. I loved how Fincher used shadows to create texture and depth. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross collaborated with Fincher again. And this time they’re using only instruments from that period.
Mank is also filled with top-notch performances, Amanda Seyfried has to get at least an Oscar nomination and should be the front runner to win. Gary Oldman, Charles Dance, and Arliss Howard also deliver amazing performances and should be getting some awards recognition as well.
Mank is very different from all the other Fincher films and I know for sure that a lot of people will be put off by the idea of watching a black and white film or just dismissed it as boring. But I’m super happy with the results and very grateful for getting a new Fincher film after 6 years of waiting. And if you’re a cinephile like me, you owe it to yourself to see this.
7. One night in Miami
One Night in Miami is a fictional account of one incredible night where icons Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown gathered discussing their roles in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the 60s.
Regina King’s directorial debut is such an amazing film. Seriously, this woman can do no wrong. Based on Kemp Powers’ play, One Night in Miami is a fascinating watch. The first hour alone has some great and provocative conversations that fit really well with everything that happened in 2020.
The production design, costumes, and cinematography are all great and the film has also brilliant performances all around.
Although the film is pretty much set in one location and has a lot of dialogue, it will still keep you engaged until the very end.
6. First cow
Two travellers, on the run from a band of vengeful hunters in the 1820s Northwest, the dream of striking it rich - but their tenuous plan to make their fortune on the frontier comes to rely on the secret use of a landowner's prized dairy cow.
First Cow is an enjoyable slow-burn film. Definitely not for everyone but I liked it a lot. It has a simple but beautiful story that was executed to perfection. The atmosphere was captured so well. It has some wonderful cinematography with beautiful shots of the Oregon countryside. It was also refreshing seeing a story about a genuine friendship between two adult guys.
Kelly Reichardt has made some overlooked and amazing independent films and he is finally receiving the recognition she deserves.
5. Never rarely sometimes always
This movie is about a pair of teenage girls in rural Pennsylvania travelling to New York City to seek out medical help after an unintended pregnancy.
What a powerful film with beautiful lead performances. These two girls, Sidney Flanigan who plays Autumn, and Talia Ryde who plays Skylar are going to be megastars.
Writer/director, Eliza Hittman does a brilliant job creating a complex, uncomfortable, and unapologetically raw movie. It was so painful to see the challenges faced by Autumn throughout the film. But it was also beautiful to know that Skylar was there for her every time she needed it.
The scene that gave the film its title, is such an emotional climax. A really great cinematic moment.
I loved this film and I’m really happy to see that it is getting a lot of buzzes. Hopefully, it will be recognized during the award season.
4. Another round
Four friends, all high school teachers, test a theory that they will improve their lives by maintaining a constant level of alcohol in their blood.
Director Thomas Vinterberg crafted a bittersweet celebration of alcohol and friendship. Another Round tackles midlife crises and alcoholism in a way that I have never seen before in a film. The result is another instant classic from Vinterberg.
The premise of Another Round is simple but also very entertaining and provocative. It highlights the troubles of the Danish drinking culture and the challenges that come with middle age. When most people start having that feeling of losing purpose and motivation. And their life becomes boring and without any passion or excitement.
I loved the friendship between the main guys and all performances are great. But Mads Mikkelsen really shines here. He gives another outstanding performance and should definitely get a Best Actor nomination. I would not be surprised if the movie ends up winning the best foreign film at The Academy Awards.
I loved the film and I hope my midlife crises will have a dance number too.
3. Sound of metal
Sound of Metal fallows Ruben Stone (Riz Ahmed), a drummer in a hardcore metal duo that is thrown into free-fall when he begins to lose his hearing.
This is very a depressing film but man, it is so good. There's a whole lot more here than just a musician losing his hearing. The film also touches on other issues like addiction and addictive behavior. Also, I really enjoyed how Sound of Metal subverts expectations. At some point, I thought the film was going on a cheese route, and honestly, I was disappointed for a minute there but to my surprise, it never happened.
Riz Ahmed's performance is gut-wrenching. One of the best performances of the year. You really get the sense of him going through all these emotions while dealing with a life-changing situation. I hope he is recognized this award season.
The film makes a strong case for why representation matters as well. I loved the scenes with the hearing impaired community. It was lovely to see them on the screen sharing beautiful moments with Ahmed.
The ending will probably annoy some people. But it worked for me. So simple but so powerful.
2. Promising young woman
Promise Young Woman is a black comedy thriller film directed, written, and produced by Emerald Fennell, in her feature directorial debut. The film stars Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, and Connie Britton, and follows a woman who takes revenge against men who have wronged her.
Fennell's debut feature tackles a devastating topic, sexual assault, and the psychological effects caused by this horrible act. But PYW is much more than just a revenge film. It is a never predictable thriller and a fresh perspective for the #MeToo Era. Very bold and super provocative at times. And an on-point statement on sexual misconduct.
The film has a good balance between style and substance. It is very well written and every line of dialogue has intentions. Carey Mulligan’s performance is outstanding and she deserves a second Academy Award nomination. Bo Burnham is also really good in the film. And shares interesting chemistry with Mulligan.
PYW is definitely one of the best movies I saw this year and it is going to generate a lot of discourse and hopefully, awards recognition too.
Following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern (Frances McDormand) packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad. The film features real nomads Linda May, Swankie, and Bob Wells as Fern’s mentors and comrades in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West.
Chloe Zhao really knows how to tells stories about people on the margins of society. She did that with The Rider and she does it again with this film. Here she introduces us to modern-day nomads. The film is moving, intimate, and has a lot of raw emotion. Monadland has a documentary style of filmmaking that worked perfectly.
On the technical level, the film is flawless. The cinematography is stunning. With beautiful landscapes with a natural look that will make you feel like you are there. Zhao’s decision to include actual nomads to play supporting characters worked very well. It is awesome to hear their stories get to know how life on the road really is.
Francis McCormack fits in perfectly with the non-actors. She really looks like she belongs and works as a guide to this world. You never feel that she is acting. But as if, you're on a journey with a non-fictional character. She may be about to get her third Oscar. We’ll see.
Chloé Zhao is without a doubt one of the most interesting directors right now. And if she is killing it directing low-budget movies like this one, I can’t wait to see what she will do on the upcoming Marvel blockbuster The Eternals.