2020 was not a great year for new releases, which should come as no surprise, considering… well, everything, pretty much.
Still, the few films that did manage to get released this year didn’t disappoint. Like Nolan’s Tenet and Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm, the long-awaited sequel to Borat (2006). I didn’t watch either of them: I’ve heard Tenet made no sense and Borat 2 wasn’t as good as the first one. Because I can say whatever I want here, that’s enough reason for me to pick Netflix’s historical drama The Trial of the Chicago 7, as film of the year.
Jokes aside, Trial of the Chicago 7 is a deserving pick for film of the year. It’s got a gripping and interesting story, made even better by the fact it’s a fairly accurate representation of the facts, albeit with some creative liberties. Yes, Bobby Seale did get tied down to his chair and gagged during court. (Although he wriggled out, and wasn’t effectively silenced, as the movie shows).
The story it tells is also one of much significance, and there’s a good number of parallels to the modern political situation and lessons to be taken from it, (even if they are tinged with naïve American patriotism) The ensemble cast is overflowing with talent, the editing is beyond amazing, and the cinematography, costumes, set design, are all perfect and true to the era portrayed.
A lot of hard work and talent went into the movie, and the people portrayed are those worth remembering, which is why I think it was a high note for 2020 cinema.
Rose Glass might not be the name you are expecting to see in this section. “Who is she?” I hear you all cry and to be honest, I wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t sure who she was, so far she only has one film to her name – her directorial debut Saint Maud (2020).
Yet despite this only being Glass’ first feature film, she has shown talent and vision greater than most directors with several films under their belt. The quality of Saint Maud is astounding, from its unnerving cinematography and tone to its amazing performances from Morfydd Clark and Jennifer Ehle. In just a single film Glass has been able to bring a breath of fresh air into the horror genre, making for a film that despite its short run time, has left a lasting impression on me.
In an industry and genre dominated by men, Rose Glass is the next best step in horror and is sure to be a household name in the not so distant future. If Saint Maud shows what Glass can make on a minimal budget and just starting out in the industry, just imagine the level of quality we will be getting in 5-10 years.
If there is one name to keep your eye out for, it’s Rose Glass.
I feel like 2019 and 2020 have really been Robert Pattison's years, even if they have been terrible for literally everyone else. From Twilight (2008) teen heartthrob to indie darling, to starring in a Christopher Nolan film, he truly has done it all.
I saw Tenet (2020) twice in the cinema, and whilst I do not remember the plot at all (except funky floor dances), I do remember a beacon of light in the film, Robert Pattinson. Every time he was on screen, I was either smiling or laughing. Partially as a Robert Pattinson fangirl who is proud that he is finally getting the recognition he deserves as a good actor, but also because Neil was just such a likeable character in a film where no one else had many defining personality traits. Sure, John David Washington was great, but did he wear a scarf and suit combo? I think not.
Boosted with the information that Pattinson himself had no idea what was happening whilst filming, this just makes Neil all the more likeable
I particularly enjoyed that Neil was essentially there so that important information could be reiterated for the very confused audience of Tenet. Didn't understand the last five minutes? Don't worry, Neil's got your back. Boosted with the information that Pattinson himself had no idea what was happening whilst filming, this just makes Neil all the more likeable.
Pattinson's natural charisma and smug charm really shone through, and I think he deserves to be the best actor for 2020 purely for his execution of the line "Well, not from the air. Don't be so dramatic", which I have ingrained into my mind.
Last year, if you were to tell me that The Invisible Man remake was going to be one of the best films from 2020, well, I’d be sceptical at best.
I wasn’t ready for a lot of what the film had to offer, but boy oh boy was Elizabeth Moss’ performance a standout. Playing Cecilia Kass, a woman who flees her rich, abusive husband and is subsequently terrorised by his invisible figure after faking his death, Moss delivers the performance of her career. Moss doesn’t just capture lightning in the bottle; there’s a whole whirlwind of emotions in there too. Frailty to determination, paranoia to cunning, kindness to rage, Moss delivers an entire expose without ever feeling that the performance hasn’t been meticulously designed.
What I particularly loved were Moss’ facial expressions, each one more revealing and iconic than the last. In a tale of a woman’s psychological descent at the hands of an abusive patriarch, Moss takes control and steers the audience’s own psychoanalysis of Cecilia Kass. It’s rare that the performance takes such a strong hold of this aspect, especially over cinematography and lighting, in psychological thrillers and horror – and that’s what makes it so commendable.
The Invisible Man and, by association, Elizabeth Moss almost certainly won’t receive the awards recognition it deserves – not with the Academy Awards’ relationship with horror and certainly not with Oscar-bait films, such as David Fincher’s Mank, fitting awards convention. But that’s exactly why I’m giving Best Actress to Elizabeth Moss!
I have a few movies lined up for the best score in 2020 but let's start with the most recent one, which also is my first choice due to its evident paradoxical and off-putting nature: The Devil All the Time. The film, as heard from the people I know in my life, could be quickly reviewed as weird. But it's more than that to me. The themes are dark and cult-based yet, somehow, its seamless mix into the daily lives of the late 1960s and 1980s America is petrifying. The events which unfold in the film come as a shock and turn into deeper and darker secrets as the story progresses.
However, the contrasting upbeat and sing-along soundtrack of the film ranges from being comical to downright tragic. It's almost as if - if the visuals and soundtrack were to be separated - it would become a whole different thing on its own. The film's music has been said to belong to the Country genre, but its innocence rests far beyond anything good in nature.
The one silver lining in no way takes away from the grim reality of the over-romanticised theme of "quaint country life." With the music of the songs giving away cheerful and easy vibes, the lyrics of the song portray the shadows of living in an insane world, where fear must make itself evident when coming across a stranger. So, I think The Devil All the Time should as recognised of its musical genius as it is for the terrific cast.
Featured Image: Robin Kaur & David Denny
David Denny: www.daviddennyart.com