In a year in which many of our most anticipated releases have been pushed back to 2021 or beyond it’s been a funny old time to try and write a top 10 films list, with a few complaints of there being ”slim pickings.” Yet whilst 2020 has been a difficult year for film there have still been some real treasures released. From franchise revivals to silly popcorn flicks with underseen indie gems in between, here are the top films recommended by each of the WTF team…
Mysteree’s Top 10 Films
10. Bad Boys For Life: Long overdue but the duo didn’t miss a step. It had all the heart, fun and excitement of the original two. The inclusion of a younger team to potentially take the franchise into the future was a good touch. Nothing groundbreaking but a much loved return.
9. Mulan: Even without the songs or crazy characters, this still delivered a solid take on the classic tale of a woman not allowed to be herself due to her gender. Combining that with some martial arts legends, made this one my whole family and I enjoyed.
8. Bill and Ted Face The Music: This was my childhood brought back almost 30yrs later. The actors totally committed to it and so did I. It might not be great if it wasn’t part of your childhood but for those of us who were there, it was a special moment relived.
7. Enola Holmes: Not overly complex or spectacular but thoroughly enjoyable. Millie Bobby Brown elevated this above average into something I would happily watch more of.
6. Sonic The Hedgehog: My biggest surprise of 2020 was how much I enjoyed this. Being a fan of the game in my youth, I had little faith in this being brought to the big screen, add to that the negative press they received with the original ‘look’ of sonic. But, this film was pure family friendly fun. Jim Carrey managed to change one of the most boring one dimensional video game villains, Dr Robotnik, into the highlight of the film. Great fun!
5. Possessor: This had an assassin, blood, guts, gore and body possession. If you want more, Sean Bean joins the cast half way through. A dark, psychological, off key movie and I was glued right till the end.
4. Hamilton: After numerous recommendations I eventually bit the bullet and watched it. Not traditionally a big fan of theatre or of musicals so wasn’t expecting much. My expectations were met, surpassed and blown away. Great job of bringing a boring subject like American independence and making it so enjoyable, combined with a great soundtrack with one or two of the songs having spent time on my repeat playlist.
3. The Invisible Man: Elisabeth Moss keeps showing up in dark films I enjoy. I’m beginning to think it’s her! I thoroughly enjoyed this interpretation of the classic tale. Making it about a domestic violence relationship rather than a scary bogeyman made it all the more relatable.
2. Jojo Rabbit: Didn’t watch this when it first came out, not sure why but I always knew I would. And when I did there were no surprises. Loved everything about it, especially Scarlett Johansson.
1. Tenet: Tenet came with massive weight on its shoulders, it was meant to single handedly save cinemas. Well it didn’t do that but the almost too brilliant Nolan delivered a film even more amazing and technically brilliant the second time I watched it.
Dani’s Top 10 Films
10. Birds of Prey: well what do you know, the DCEU finally produces a film I enjoyed! Punky, sassy and with a slick aesthetic, Birds of Prey is pure fun.
9. A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood: my concerns about never having seen an episode of Mr Rogers quickly laid to rest, this is rather a film about the nicest man in America helping a journalist mend the broken relationship with his father. Skilled directing from Marielle Heller keeps it playful and moving yet not saccharine sweet.
8. Wolfwalkers: beautifully animated folk tale from Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon who continue to be a real contender to the big US studios. I particularly enjoyed the impressionistic art style and the rousing Celtic soundtrack.
7. Tenet: it doesn’t shoot to the front of the list of my favourite Nolan films but the ambition and scale of Tenet make it a truly jaw dropping blockbuster. Stylish design and insane action set pieces make for a strong package.
6. The Lighthouse: Robert Eggers cements his status as the master of moody period psychodramas. Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson give career best performances in this creepy film about two lighthouse keepers going mad in isolation.
5. The Personal History of David Copperfield: the plot feels nothing more than a contrivance for a selection of the UK’s favourite actors to create intensely loveable, larger than life characters. Led by an effortlessly charming Dev Patel, it’s a joy to watch.
4. 1917: a desperate and terrifying journey through the front lines of the Great War in almost real time, 1917’s ‘continuous take’ cinematography makes it a real achievement. Emotive and innovative in equal measure.
3. Jojo Rabbit: no surprises here given that Taika Waititi is consistently one of my favourite film makers. Jojo delivers on his familiar brand of offbeat humour combined with sucker punch pathos.
2. Portrait of a Lady on Fire: quite simply one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen, it’s like a Rembrandt painting committed to film. The female gaze distilled, Lady on Fire is an achingly lovely thing and one of the most egregious Oscar snubs in many years.
1. Parasite: Lives. Up. To. The. Hype. A bitingly funny yet brutal social satire full of great performances and clever twists that’ll have your head spinning. A genuine work of genius.
Kal’s Top 10 Films
10. Hamilton After seeing the musical, I became a fan of the story of Alexander Hamilton, so I was excited to see how the musical would translate on the Big Screen. I was pleasantly surprised, and though nothing can hold a candle to being in the live theatre, I still had a great time watching and singing along to this fanfare!
9. The Hunt: This was a horror thriller movie that I had heard about and was covered in controversy in regards to the liberal and right-winged movements within the USA. The movie stars Betty Gilpin in the lead role and Hilary Swank as the leader of her opposition. This movie was so bad that I had such a great time with it and I have watched it a number of times since then. I guess you could say this is my 2020 ‘Guilty Pleasure’.
8. Mulan: Mulan is a live action remake of the Disney animated classic of the same name. I was sceptical in regards to how this would turn out as I was a fan of the original, and I am happy to say that it was well adapted. Whilst the story was changed somewhat, it was still enjoyable to watch and fun for all ages.
7. Run: This psychological thriller was a surprise hit in my eyes. Starring the ever talented Sarah Paulson and the new comer to film, Kiera Allen, all is not what it seems with this film. Directed by an up and coming Aneesh Chagnaty, he is currently 2 for 2 in his feature directing after the brilliant 2018 film ‘Searching’, definitely a man to look out for and an excellent movie to watch.
6. Soul: Pixar have done it again. This 2020 animated film starring the voices of Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey, is a soulfully made film about how we chose to be who or what we want to be in life. Whilst this film may be a bit too complex for very young children to comprehend, older children and adults will have a wonderful time with this. Although I was a bit disappointed with the movie, I believe it could very well be due to my very high expectation. That being said, it is definitely worth a watch.
5. Ava: One of Netflix’s own movies is this action thriller that follows a female assassin for hire with a conscience. Jessica Chastain is at her physical best in this movie, holding her own against her adversaries and the movie has some great supporting actors such as John Malkovich and Colin Farrell. Netflix have their very own version of Jason Bourne!
4. Enola Holmes: A surprise entry on my list is this fun frolic of a movie about the younger sister of the famous Sherlock Holmes. Millie Bobby Brown plays the titular character and she gives a great mature performance. This is a good time for all and I can see a sequel coming very soon.
3. Host: This movie was a pleasant surprise to me. I had heard about this British ‘found footage’ horror film on the grapevine and decided to give it a go. I was very impressed and enjoyed it immensely. At only 56 minutes long, it grasps you straight away with a number of scary jumps and a satisfying ending. Definitely worth a watch…. in the dark!
2. Tenet: It took me two viewings to really enjoy and appreciate this masterpiece from the great Christopher Nolan. As the first mainstream film released after the initial COVID-19 lockdown, I was glad to return to the cinema for this film. Although I did initially struggle to comprehend all that was happening in the movie, I must admit that once again, The Nolan has created a thing of beauty.
1. The Invisible Man: Elisabeth Moss gives an outstanding performance of the disillusioned widowed wife claiming to be haunted by an unseen phenomenon. I loved this movie so much that I have watched it numerous times over the year. Though I am not a lover of horror films, the twists and turns of this movie made it a compelling watch.
Matt’s Top 10 Films
10. Death to 2020: Cheating as this wasn’t a film per se but it was released on a streaming platform and thus counts for me! After the worst year for films in living memory due to the pandemic what better way to round out the list than with Netflix’s humorous retrospective look at the year that was starring Samuel L. Jackson and Hugh Grant among others.
9. The Boys Season 2: Not a film at all so this is kinda cheating but in a year devoid of any true superhero films (I’m not counting Birds of Prey as a SUPERhero film) then Amazon’s brilliant adult take on the genre was the best superhero release of the year.
8. The Hunt: This won’t win any Oscars but was a thoroughly fun and enjoyable satirical take on the political ideologies of American citizens wrapped up in a thriller.
7. Queen and Slim: Modern day Bonnie and Clyde that is very relevant and relatable in a year which saw numerous worldwide protests around racial inequality.
6. Jingle Jangle: YES it’s cheesy, YES it’s your typical Christmas film and YES recency bias may be playing a part in this making an appearance here but there’s nothing like a feel-good Christmas film to warm the soul despite what the Bah Humbuggers may say!
5. Just Mercy: Standout performance from Michael B. Jordan which carries the film with a strong supporting performance from Jamie Foxx. Very resonant as a man of colour myself.
4. Bad Boys For Life: Confession – I was NEVER a fan of the original or sequel. I felt that they were overhyped and not worthy of the praise they get but I really enjoyed this one. Interesting fact, the main protagonist Armando despite being Hispanic in the film is actually played by a British actor, born and raised in my home borough of Islington!
3. Trial of the Chicago 7: Brilliant, character-driven retelling of a true story featuring standout performances from multiple actors.
2. The Gentlemen: Hilarious Guy Ritchie crime comedy caper with the director back on the form that made Lock Stock and Snatch such classics.
1. The Invisible Man: Modern re-telling of the horror classic as Universal pivot from their much hyped, failed ‘Monsterverse’ to create an entertaining, chilling film.