Wow what a year. Such promising beginnings brought a torrent of health, economic and political disasters. The pandemic and the ensuing chaos wreaking havoc on the film world, with cinemas closing and big blockbusters delaying releases. Films such as Wonder Women 1984 (only now seeing the light of day), Top Gun: Maverick, Fast and Furious 9, Dune, Candyman, Ghostbusters: Afterlife and No Time To Die to name but a few being pushed back time and again.
As a result the worldwide box office for 2020 is a very different picture, Bad Boys For Life is second, Sonic The Hedgehog sixth and the critically panned Dolittle at seven. Four Chinese films are in the top ten including The Eight Hundred occupying the top spot and Christopher Nolan‘s Tenet at four.
Everyones viewing has moved online, with Mulan exclusively on Disney plus. At the very least Disney, Netflix and Amazon have ended the year in better positions than they started. Here are my top five films of the year, as always they are my favourites not the best.
5) Tenet –
One of the few blockbusters that came out this year, Tenet is a spy thriller by Christopher Nolan. Someone has discovered time inversion – catching a bullet instead of shooting it for example – but to stop it falling into the wrong hands the person responsible splits the formula (the algorithm) up and hides it. So our heroes – as played by John David Washington and Robert Pattinson – have to find the algorithm and save the world. Despite my simplification the plot is confusing and requires Inception levels of concentration, but it is a thrill a minute spectacle with some stupendous fights, car chases and action sequences that make full use of cause and effect going awry.
4) Soul –
Just when the jazz loving pianist Joe Gardiner (Jamie Foxx) is about to get his big break he abruptly shuffles off this mortal coil. Unwilling to accept this he somehow gets paired up with soul 22 (Tina Fey) and is tasked with helping her find her spark and desire for life. Soul touches upon death, life and the purpose of it all in an intelligent, enchanting and endearing way – great for children and adults alike. Director Peter Docter has quite the knack at crafting classic Pixar flicks, having helmed Monsters Inc, Up, and Inside Out.
3) Spontaneous –
From the uninspired poster and the opening scenes this looks like every other American teen caper then in the middle of class one of the students explodes. The story is centred on Dylan (Charlie Plummer) and Mara’s (Katherine Langford) blossoming romance in amongst the horror, the panic and the rush to find a cure. Directed by Brian Duffield, Spontaneous mixes black comedy, horror, satire, tragedy and romance into one thoroughly enjoyable whole reminiscent of Heathers. An explosive love story with a carpe diem message.
2) Parasite –
Directed by Bong Joon Ho is the South Korean, fusion of genres Parasite – the deserved oscar winner for best picture. The Kims are a poor family in Seoul working multiple jobs and nicking wifi to get buy, who slowly but surely managed to worm they way into employment with the rich Park family. Their trickery and slyness pays dividends but alas things take a turn in this richly rewarding film – with many shocking twists – that perfectly joins together elements from comedy, drama, satire and thrillers.
1) 1917 –
Set in the titular year we follow Will Schofield (Geroge MacKay) and Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) who are given orders to stop an attack from happening otherwise 1600 men will fall foul of a German trap. Director Sam Mendes created this one take film by seamlessly joining together long shots, the result is an enthralling, visceral and brutal journey through the horrors of the Great War. 1917 is an excellently made and immersive thrill ride from start to finish and one that I would happily watch again.
Holding positions six to ten are Lost Girls, VFW, Color Out of Space – a crazy, visually stunning horror based on the H.P Lovecraft book available on Amazon Prime, and yes it stars Nicolas Cage. The Invisible Man and Blow The Man Down – a Fargo like black comedy on Prime.
The accolade for the worst film of the year was a straight fight between The Old Guard and Spenser Confidential. The latter – uninspired, cliche ridden, action packed buddy cop bilge – won by a length.