all the films i watched in 2020

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from the before times // quick thoughts in the parentheses.
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missed em’ the first go round.
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the bad boys of film podcasting // they cover directors filmographies // rewatches included.

Jonathan Demme

Something Wild (Jeff Daniels!!!)

George Miller

Mad Max (good but it unleashed Mel Gibson upon the world, so electric chair for this one, actually)

Nora Ephron

When Harry Met Sally… (Nora invented autumn)

Robert Zemeckis

Back to the Future (a classic, obviously)

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other notable non-2020 first-time watches.
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The year just lived, obviously:
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i’m doing these first because they’re not films per se but they’re not NOT films either.

Pete Davidson: Alive from New York

More a TED-Talk than stand-up comedy. Who “Pete Davidson: Celebrity Figure and/or Comedian” actually “is” remains a huge question mark for me. I really enjoyed the Ariana gossip, but the “jokes” fell flat.

Hannah Gadsby: Douglas

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Hamilton

Epic Rap Battles of History, no? All seriousness, I have a lot of reservations about Hamilton. I loathe act one (struggled to follow the war plot), Lin Manuel Miranda is a great writer but should not have cast himself in the lead (very nasally vocals), and I don’t really jam with a lot of the songs (sorry!). The entire “is it un-woke to cast black people as slave owners?” discourse feels reductive, if you worry about this you’re missing the point. As far as self-insert fanfic’s go, there’s been much worse. On an ~objective level~ this is fantastic, it’s just not for me.

Taylor Swift — Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions

Love folklore enough to watch this once. Don’t love this enough to watch it again.

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Musical

Finding out Matthew Morrison channelled Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker for his portrayal of The Grinch really is just the icing on top of this particular hell-cake.

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i’ve had enough of these.

Birds of Prey and the Fabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

Dodges all the superhero stuff I hate. The jokes ruled — the egg and bacon sandwich bit, if you know, you know. Loved every performance, Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winsted especially. Margot Robbie is also great, leagues above her Suicide Squad effort (what are we, some kind of birds of prey?).

Bloodshot

The editing was so deranged it could probably pass as post-modern art.

The Old Guard

The kind of nonsense I gobble up! The premise is “what if The Age of Adeline but instead of Blake Lively its Charlize Theron in action-mode (and she has an axe)”. The meditations on immortality and its affect on one’s ability to empathise are genuinely stellar? The silliness and and seriousness don’t always sit well together, but world-weary Charlize sits surprisingly well with action-mode Charlize (and her axe). Kiki Layne is also a treat. I’m very keen to see what she does next. Could watch one of these every year. “Charlize Theron fights men” might be my favourite niche genre (she has an axe in this one). Cant wait for Atomic Blonde 2.

The New Mutants

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Wonder Woman 1984

A nightmare. One would think my international relations degree would equip me to talk about the Middle-East, Cold War, and Reagan subplots and yet…? Pedro Pascal is the Eddie Redmayne in Jupiter Ascending of 2020. I had a blast, naturally.

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sequels, prequels, spinoffs, remakes, etc.

Miss Fisher & The Crypt of Tears

Fully incomprehensible; I think it might be a masterpiece? All the flashbacks look like they were shot by a 15 year-old with their home camera. They found the titular crypt with trigonometry! Miss Fisher changes her outfit all the time (I too change my outfit all the time!). This was lowkey about Israel-Palestine and British colonialism; for $5 and a subway cookie I will explain politics to you (I have a degree in international relations). This also straightwashes Alexander the Great, the most famous twink in history? I think this is the best Australian film (Miss Fisher has so many outfits! And a rhinestone covered pistol — not a euphemism). I’ve never seen an episode of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

Trolls World Tour

Calamitous. What if Trolls was about international relations, but international relations was music (not in a fun Eurovision way either).

Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe

Easily the most fun — and funniest — film of the year (missed out on my top 10 by the slightest of margins):

Mulan

Their hot new take was? What if Mulan? Had midichlorians?

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plugging my whole-ass column on literary adaptations.

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

A film in which a demon child and his imaginary polar bear best friend try to give Wallace Shaw a nervous breakdown. Thank you Tom McCarthy, director of Spotlight.

The Personal History of David Copperfield

Victorian-era Slumdog Millionaire complete with Dev Patel.

Enola Holmes

Fleabag for kids. Millie Bobby Brown is great when she’s allowed to speak (increasingly anti-Stranger Things). Love that Henry Cavill’s take on Sherlock Holmes is “what if Sherlock Holmes was played by Henry Cavill.”

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the book was better.

To All The Boys P.S. I Still Love You

Lara Jean should have picked John Ambrose.

Color Out of Space

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maybe we just shouldn’t adapt Lovecraft?

The Kissing Booth 2

Really enjoyed the DDR Olympics subplot?

Artemis Fowl

Never read the books but I’m told this is a Percy Jackson-level bad adaptation. Kenneth Branagh arguably committed a hate crime against Ireland by making this. Happy for Judi Dench, who has made a late-career pivot into playing insane characters exclusively (see also: Cats, Murder on the Orient Express, Tulip Fever, and Red Joan).

The Devil All The Time

At no point does Robert Pattinson, in his silly little accent, say “What the devil?”

The Witches

A triumph.

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not great!

Love Wedding Repeat

Love Olivia Munn Repeat.

Extraction

About as good as an action film with a Bush-era mentality toward international relations can be. Starts with execution of an asian child and then get’s worse from there.

The Lovebirds

If you want to ruin any perfectly good film just put ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry on the soundtrack.

A Nice Girl Like You

I am not taking questions at this time.

Over the Moon

2003 Disney called???

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she said it better than i ever could.

Onward

All year my Twitter friend Angie had a running bit where she would say I look like Tom Holland Elf:

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Selah and the Spades

Annoyingly plotless. If Riverdale committed to being a The Secret History rip-off, it would be kind of like this, but better I think. Again: plotless.

A Mermaid in Paris

Straight men be like: splash splash gonna objectify the lady fish.

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i’ve had months to reach some conclusions and yet…

Miss Americana

Perfect runtime but perfect little else. I thought about Taylor Swift more in 2020 than I, or anyone I know, expected me to; wrote a piece about her for Kill Your Darlings (plug) and analysed folklore for class. And while this did turn me into an out-and-out Swiftie (sorry), I’m not so uncritical as to ignore the numerous issues here.

Da 5 Bloods

Don’t even know how to begin approaching this one. Hate the way it looks, the Netflix Original aesthetic can die, honestly. Love what this is about, but I don’t know if I love how Spike Lee went about talking about it — including on-the-ground footage of Vietnam War casualties really din’t sit well with me. Still grappling with the depiction of Vietnamese people (here’s a great Vulture piece about it). I’m the only person on planet Earth who didn’t like Delroy Lindo’s performance? That said, this still rules. Scrappy, insane premise, works well as an allegory. Da 4 stars out of 5.

The Vast of Night

For 90-minutes this is a transcendent experience. Then the last 30-seconds happen.

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come on.

The Invisible Man

You would think in a film about believing women who have been through abuse you might want to develop your female characters, and yet…

Black is King

Love Beyoncé, love Beyoncé’s Homecoming, love Lemonade, truly believe she should have been artist of the decade for the 2010s, but this 2019 Lion King tie-in capitalist nightmare masquerading as a social issues art film was real yikes moment for her.

Relic

Bargain bin Hereditary.

Beauty Water

No.

Mank

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wig.

Soul

All my favourite Pixar films are the one’s that feel least like Pixar films (Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Wall-E). Love when they want to tell a good story rather then getting too caught up in Being About Life’s Big Questions. All this is to say while I understand why this film — which is essentially Inside Out 2: Electric Boogaloo — works for most people, it really does not work for me.

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who even knows?

Ride Your Wave

Bluewater High meets the final two episodes of Dance Academy season 2.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Weird of Hollywood to make a Sonic film that’s about current issues in modern international relations. Even weirder that it kind of works?

The Old Man: The Movie

This is to comedies about cows and tree fucking what Mother! was to environmentalism and The Bible.

Trial of the Chicago 7

A real “ok, boomer” moment for Aaron Sorkin. Love the man’s writing, but he is a reprehensibly bad director, everything that works about this works in spite of him and not because of him. Sasha Baron Cohen, Mark Rylance, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II are great, though.

Happiest Season

Feels like Clea Duvall’s answer to every creative question was “sure, why not?” Kristen Stewert and Mackenzie Davis as girlfriends? Mary Steenburgen, Dan Levy, and Aubery Plaza all eyebrow reacting to girls fighting? A scene where Alison Brie loads up large ornamental plate with two (2) comically small pieces of Turkish Delight? Sure, why not!

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disclosure.

Disclosure

Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen

Lilly Wachowski politely explaining how important bugs bunny is to her trans narrative is a cinematic highlight of 2020 for me.

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i could watch a million of these.

Feel The Beat

Not especially good but all emotional bits absolutely walloped me, so who’s to say?

Work It

Fun. Great use of a Dua Lipa song. Someone give Jordan Fisher and Sabrina Carpenter a rom-com.

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i was lucky enough to (virtually) cover MIFF this year for Film Daze.

Shirley

This is what I imagine my honours year will be like.

No Hard Feelings

Would love for a queer indie-film to try having a plot some day.

The Killing of Two Lovers

What Marriage Story but the Adam Driver character had a gun?

Kill It and Leave This Town

Deeply-upsetting, beautiful looking film that is (possibly) impossible to enjoy.

She Dies Tomorrow

Moody in a way I really liked. That said if I thought I was going to die tomorrow I wouldn’t waste time being “depressed”. Rather I would write a nice letter to each of my loved ones and then throw them a mad pizza party where we listen to Fleetwood Mac and otherwise be chill, ya’know?

Servants

Catholic guilt by way of Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma. Hoped the two main boys would kiss but no dice.

Wendy

Hook but good. The cinematography is wonderful, all lacquered and honey-looking. Features the largest amount of non-irritating child performances since The Florida Project.

Bombay Rose

Four short films cobbled together and stretched out for 90-minutes.

Ema

A film about the dangers of letting performance students out into the wild. At one point they give the main character — who looks like a young Tilda Swinton cosplaying as Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie — a flame thrower? As I understand it this is meant to be a metaphor for performance but also a metaphor for motherhood.

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just really liked these ones.

Beanpole

Oh my God I’m so sorry but this is also about international relations.

The Half of It

Would that it were so simple.

Bad Education

An essential text in “be gay, do crime” canon. Allison Janney and Hugh Jackman are bitchy little friends — amo!

Miss Juneteenth

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single mums are superheroes :’)

Babyteeth

That one Card’s Against Humanity card that says “cancer teens”.

Tenet

A perfect example of how one can (as Lindsay Ellis puts it) enjoy a piece of media while still critically engaging with its flawed, problematic, or pernicious elements. I have a laundry list of issues with it: why does Christopher Nolan think he can critique class without addressing his own class? I don’t like how it treats the one (1) female character! Does it “have” coherent “themes”? That said, I still like this. It is a romp that blends James Bond with Doctor Who — always a recipe for success is my books. Also, Robert Pattison is boozy and sweaty and Elizabeth Debiki is 6'3.

On The Rocks

I’m such a sucker for the Sofia Coppola formula that I still found myself delighted by this collection of scenes stacked atop each other, wearing a trench coat, calling itself a film.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Loved whenever Chadwick (RIP) played his little trumpet: toot toot, honk honk, etc.

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in ascending order (duh):

In My Blood It Runs

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Wolfwalkers

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Emma.

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Palm Springs

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Matthias & Maxime

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I’m Thinking of Ending Things

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Marona’s Fantastic Tale

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David Byrne’s American Utopia

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Martin Eden

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First Cow

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Holly Hunter movies are to me what lamps are to David Byrne.

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