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Added by MaxL on 31 Dec 2020 08:55

My Top 10 Favourite Movies of 2020

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People who added this item 294 Average listal rating (213 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.1
This modern take on the H.G. Wells novel (and, by extension, the classic movie from 1933) starts out very promising because of the easily discernible context of the opening scene, and the deathly silence ramps up the tension to agonising heights. Its most impressive aspect is the pertinent allegory for abusive relationships, and Elisabeth Moss brilliantly portrays the trauma and torment her character is going through. Ironically, it's when the action escalates that the movie weakens, because it clashes with the much more grounded ideas previously. It's not a patch on the 1933 classic, but as its own horror film, it's pretty solid.
MaxL's rating:
People who added this item 392 Average listal rating (311 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 8
Pixar's contemplation on the meaning of life should, in theory, be inspiring and provocative (and I can see why others would see it that way), but it just didn't resonate with me that much. I think it's because its message about what really matters was a little too intangible for me to grasp, and it didn't help that I never cared for the idea of the beforelife. That said, I still found the characters' journey in the second act amusing, and the animation is terrific as always. It's definitely a good movie, but a little too abstract to blow my mind like other Pixar movies.
MaxL's rating:
People who added this item 145 Average listal rating (104 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.8
Aaron Sorkin's second film as a director is based on the real-life trial of a group of Vietnam War protesters charged with conspiracy to cross state lines and incite a riot. It's a legal drama, which Sorkin is best at, but I think its jumbled narrative prevents it from having the impact it could have had. However, it does successfully convey how much public scrutiny the trial was under and the frustration of dealing with a clearly incompetent and bigoted judge. So this is basically a repeat of my feelings on Soul: it's not my favourite of Sorkin's works, but still a good one.
MaxL's rating:
People who added this item 143 Average listal rating (117 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.9
Dylan O'Brien stars as Joel, a young man who sets off on a journey across a monster-infested apocalyptic world to reunite with his girlfriend. Apocalypse stories are a dime a dozen, but this one has its own charm stemming from fun characters and a jovial sense of humour, which allows it to stand out from the crowd and keep you interested in the world it sets up. What makes the world so intriguing is that we learn about it at the same rate Joel does. The last thing to mention, of course, is the CGI, which is above average for the most part.
MaxL's rating:
Much like Avengers: Endgame, this is the epic conclusion to a series of interconnected films. And, with its huge cast and cataclysmic storyline, it's certainly an impressive finale. :-) You feel the devastation that the inciting invasion causes, and the plan the heroes concoct when they unite to combat the threat is intriguing, adding to the desperation that makes the action scenes so thrilling. Its one downside is that the violence is so grisly that it doesn't really enhance anything; in fact, combined with the swearing, it feels like it's just pretending to be mature. That doesn't detract from the intensity of the plot itself, though.
MaxL's rating:
People who added this item 61 Average listal rating (42 ratings) 5.5 IMDB Rating 6.4
It was actually hard to choose whether I preferred this or Apokolips War, but I went with this one because it has the advantage of being a standalone film rather than a sequel. Based on Mark Millar's acclaimed miniseries, it's a fascinating character study of an alternate Superman enforcing the supposedly noble Soviet ideals, and it shows how even good intentions can be misguided and destructive. Even the politics are explained well enough that I could easily follow them and was always interested. Its only issue is the pacing, which definitely feels more like a comic book series than a three-act movie.
MaxL's rating:
People who added this item 240 Average listal rating (173 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.8
The Gentlemen (2019)
It's not often that the first movie I see during the year remains one of the absolute best, but here we are. :-) Writer/director Guy Ritchie gives us another of the crime comedies that he used to excel at. Like Love and Monsters, it's supported by a witty script and fun characters, but I especially enjoy the way the story is told: it's mostly in flashback, with a little speculation from the character narrating the events (after all, even he isn't clear on all the details), which keeps the conclusion a mystery until the very end. I'd say it's a return to form for Guy Ritchie.
MaxL's rating:
People who added this item 182 Average listal rating (133 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.4
This comedy drama involving a time loop is potently funny and sentimental, and once again, it's all held together by likeable characters. Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti give charming performances, and I found myself surprisingly invested in their romance despite their selfish actions. I love the various ways in which they approach the idea of inescapably repeating the same day, ranging from partying without concern to discussing the effects of aging in such a situation. When it comes to time loop stories of this nature, most people instantly think of Groundhog Day, but Palm Springs could become a new modern classic in the same league.
MaxL's rating:
People who added this item 242 Average listal rating (187 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7.4
Yep, both this year's Pixar movies made the list, and I might be the only one who prefers Onward by far. The trailers piqued my interest, promising a fantasy world evolving to include modern technology, but the film is also a tribute to the entire fantasy genre. The story is a quest as classic as you can get, which delightfully ties into one of the two starring brothers being an avid RPG player. The characters are endearing (yet again), my personal favourite being the Manticore. The third act is where the real heart of the story becomes apparent, but I won't spoil it.
MaxL's rating:
As grand as Pixar remains, both their offerings this year ended up beaten out (for me at least) by a smaller movie boasting hand-drawn animation. And hot damn is said animation impressive! The effort really shines through at times: moments where you can see every stroke in the linework, and sometimes you can even see the shapes of the rough sketches. As well as engaging you in the animation process, you could argue that the crudeness contributes to the vagueness and uncertainty of its fantastical subject matter. However, other imperfections are less forgivable. The dialogue is a little too simplistic for my liking, and there's often no reason for the characters to not just tell the truth. But the film's emotional impact more than makes up for that. The second half brings both intense joy and intense sadness in equal measure; the scene where Robyn first learns to be a wolf is glorious, and the climax is spectacularly poignant. It's a magnificent showcase of animation and emotional storytelling, and it gets my vote as the best movie of 2020.
MaxL's rating:

Well, the year 2020 is about to end, and I'm sure none of us are sorry to see it go! I don't think anyone would deny this has been one of the worst years in recent memory. To perfectly sum it up, all you need is two words: "social distancing". Anyone who was trying to predict the future and what great developments would unfold in the first year of a new decade, there's no way they could have foreseen a highly contagious virus that would almost cripple society altogether! Personally, I'm thankful that neither I nor anyone I know has contracted the virus, but obviously a lot of people weren't so lucky.
We were all affected in other ways, though. A lot of public places were forced to close, including cinemas. As a result, my movie-watching experience this year was an especially lame one. Not in the sense that there were tons of bad movies, like in some previous years. I said last year that I was retiring my worst-of-the-year list and therefore giving up on actively seeking out bad movies, and I meant it. So an overabundance of bad movies wasn't the problem. It's more that my schedule was starved of anything super exciting. In the absence of any big tentpole releases in cinemas, my main source of information this year was the films page on Letterboxd, which is sorted by popularity by default. That's how I kept track of what were the year's biggest hits, as it were. I didn't see nearly as many movies as in previous years, but on the plus side, there weren't too many stinkers among the ones I did see. I still saw enough that I disliked for a top five of the year's worst, but I stand by what I said before: I'm not going to make that list.
So this will be my only year-end top ten list this year, but before we get started, let me go over my usual reminder of my year-end list's criteria, my definition of what movies qualify for a particular year. The movie simply has to have been released for public consumption by the end of the year โ€“ which, in this case, usually meant streaming. So anything that's only been seen at a film festival so far doesn't count. Neither does a movie that was released in another country in a previous year. After all, most of what I saw at the cinema in those first two months was 2019 movies that were only just making it to the British Isles, including The Lighthouse, Jojo Rabbit and Parasite.

So now let's move on to my ten favourite examples of movies that fit that bill for 2020. :-)
Like I said before, this wasn't exactly a spectacular year in terms of movies. There were several good movies, but none that impressed me enough to even warrant a five-star rating. In any other year, several of the movies on this list wouldn't even have made the shortlist of runners-up, let alone the top ten. So should the ones that came out on top consider themselves lucky or not?
Now, when I do these year-end lists, I usually list off some examples of popular movies that I haven't seen yet, but I wouldn't even know what to include this time. I've seen just about everything that sounded appealing to me. I've heard it suggested that part of the reason cinema seemed so meagre this year was that, because the cinemas were closed, there was no film journalism either, so there was almost no way to stay informed on what was being released. It'll be interesting to see other people's lists and find out what comes most highly recommended. But for the time being, these are the movies I personally saw and enjoyed the most.
So sit back and enjoy my top ten favourite movies of 2020.

The Devil All the Time
Guns Akimbo
The Hunt
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Uncle Frank

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