Before 2020, if someone asked you to name your favourite movie, and you couldn’t round it down to one, you’d be forgiven.
This year, we’ve spent so much time indoors with nothing to do but expand our knowledge of the cinematic and televised arts that it should be obvious by now.
If you watched something over and over again, and it brought you joy every time, then congrats, you have something definitive to add to your social media profile.
Film snobs will toss a couple of French directors in your general direction, whilst others prefer some action with their popcorn, and for some, there’s a film from halcyon days that takes them back to their happy place.
But people change, and the range of movies on offer is ever-expanding.
Rolling Stone took a stab at narrowing down the 20 best films of 2020, with some contenders for your new top flick.
You can scroll through all of them, or join us on a journey through the top five, starting with:
Grindhouse is always a compelling genre and usually comes with a side of humour.
This looks a little more serious.
Already a contender for modern arthouse/grindhouse classic status, Brazilian filmmakers Juliano Dornelles and Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Western/horror/white-hot bullet of a movie introduces us to the good (and not so good) people of a rural village that’s been wiped off the map — literally: Almost overnight, you can’t find the town of Bacurau on satellite grids. It seems that a local politician may have sold out the populace to high-paying tourists interested in human prey for sport hunting. Except this prey has a long history of fighting back.
We could all use a little catharsis right now.
4. First Cow
The cow is definitely the star in this one.
A manifest-destiny epic in D minor, Kelly Reichardt’s moody, brooding, brilliant Western follows a cook (John Magaro) — named, what else, “Cookie” — and a fugitive, King Lu (Orion Lee), who decide to partner up for a business venture.
Cookie makes the best “oily cakes” for miles around; Lu knows how to market them to hungry prospectors and furriers dying for a taste of home.
It’s a frontier capitalism success story, albeit one predicated on the duo stealing milk from a cow owned by an an effete Englishman (Toby Jones).
I’m sure the Englishman had it coming.
3. American Utopia
Stage collides with screen.
David Byrne’s greatest-hits revue-cum-performance art piece ran on Broadway from November 2019 until February 2020. If you didn’t manage to catch it live, don’t worry: Spike Lee has your back.
And like Jonathan Demme, he’s treated the opportunity of working with the former Talking Heads frontman in the spirit of artistic collaboration as opposed to simply press-play documentation.
It’s Spike Lee – I’m surprised it’s not at number one.
2. Lover’s Rock
Short, but sweet.
… And here’s what was responsible for our single most joyous moviegoing moment in 2020. Steve McQueen’s ambitious, five-part whatsit Small Axe — is this an anthology series, a suite of feature-length films, a dessert topping, a floor wax? Discuss.
No, please, by all means, endlessly discuss — takes a look back at black life and West Indian diaspora culture in Britain from the late Sixties to the early Eighties.
And finally, number one.
It’s a dark but engaging ride.
On October 30th, 2015, in a rock club in Bucharest named Colectiv, a fire killed 27 people and injured another 180. There was enough public outrage to cause protests and a shift in Romania’s government. And then a journalist at a sports newspaper began to hear about some of the club patrons dying while convalescing in the hospital.
He and his team of investigative reporters decide to dig a little deeper, and soon, a massive scandal involving power, corruption, lies, and even the Mafia slowly begins to come into focus.
Rolling Stone also ranked the best songs of the year, if you’re keen to see how they fared on that front.
Unsurprisingly, The Weeknd’s ‘Blinding Lights’ made the top five, but, much like the films listed above, there were a few that I didn’t see coming.
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