Like a lot of people, I’ve not found the time, tickets or tenacity to have seen anywhere near the usual amount of new movies this year. With release schedules as changeable as my local bus timetable, theatres closed for a large portion of 2020 and purse strings tighter than ever, I’ve relied heavily on the major streaming services for my source of “new” and although that means I haven’t seen a lot of the blockbusters – it also means I’ve still got plenty to look forward to watching while we’re stuck indoors again in 2021! That’s not to say the film industry hasn’t been adapting to accommodate this bizarre landscape – streaming has never been bigger and 2020 has seen some major shakeups in the way movies are released; changes likely to stay with us long after we take our masks off. However, though the pool is a small one, I thought a little about some of my favourite films I’ve seen that were released this year and listed them below; my recommendations.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
This is a film that knows what it is. The performances are about as over the top and ridiculous as the song contest normally is and the storyline is pure silliness. Right from the beginning there’s a party for the Icelandic contestants, our main characters aren’t invited and as the party boat blows up Lars and Sigrid start screaming in horror as arms, legs and body parts fall from the sky; they’re identifying which contestants they belong to as they start to realise they’re the only ones left and start celebrating. It’s horrific yet hilarious and that’s kind of what the film is! I’ve always enjoyed the random cheesiness of Eurovision and this movie captures it perfectly. If you liked Blades Of Glory, this is right up your street.
The Old Guard
Based on a comic book series and released in a year that’s felt a little thin on the ground when it comes to blockbuster fantasy action, this certainly filled the Star Wars, Marvel, DC, James Bond shaped hole. I hadn’t read the comics so I didn’t know the story but I felt they gave enough background to set the scene for a newbie. Charleze Theron was a first class action heroine and although the villain and the final showdown seemed to turn into more of a Johnny English spin-off, ultimately, I liked it. Probably more for the escapism action and lack of options this year but if they make another one – I’ll be there.
This was a lot of fun. It’s obviously got a timely message in it’s storyline about racism and police brutality in America but the film doesn’t get overly “messagy”. It fights against the injustice with what it’s good at, punchlines; non-stop laugh to laugh. We’re taken on an increasingly periliess and ridiculous journey as the main characters are on the run whilst trying to solve the case and clear their name whilst also attending a party so that their friends don’t suspect anything unusual. The cast are fantastic and if you want a film that’s relatively short by today’s standards and doesn’t waste any time in getting to the laughs – this is the one. Loved it.
The Personal History of David Copperfield
A fantastic reinvention of a classic story, given a really modern twist and told in a way that I’ve never really seen before; it cleverly blends writing, narrating and shooting a scene all at once. The film portrays a young man with a tragic backstory whose path is continually shaped by the crazy, mad and bizarre characters that come into his life. The cast in this are brilliant, all of them have such off-the-wall and memorable performances that I left with a renewed sense that ultimately life is full of strange characters who make our stories what they are.
Sam Mendes’ epic war film. I thought this was stunning and so immersive in what we can only imagine it must’ve been like to live and be in the trenches of World War One. It brilliantly demonstrates how fragile and thin the margin between winning and losing, surviving and dying really was in war. In the trailer there a some massive show stopping scenes but in the actual film it focuses more on the danger and peril. We follow one soldier’s journey through the film as he creeps around battlefields, abandoned villages and trenches, trying not to be seen by the enemy and I think that might’ve disappointed some people who were expecting another Saving Private Ryan. However, I thought in the same way Valkyrie leaves you with a new perspective on a particular moment in history, for me, 1917 really gives a new insight into being on the ground in war away from the Hollywood battle scenes. It’s pretty intense but wow, what a film.
What have you enjoyed watching this year?