DISCLAIMER: These are movies from the calendar year 2020 (released in the United States). I have not seen a ton of movies from the calendar year 2020 because of the closing down of movie theaters. Also I don’t have a desire to pay 20 bucks to watch a movie at home when it’ll eventually be streaming. If I am not going to be getting an experience, then I am not gonna shed the cash.
Now with that being said, since I have begun tracking more rigorously on Letterboxd in March, I have seen at least 65 movies that were released in the calendar year 2020. (For the curious, I have watched over 215 movies overall since March).
And here are the five best movies from the calendar year (released in the United States) 2020.
Number 6 (BONUS)
The Devil All The Time
Director: Antonio Campos
Writer: Antonio Campos, Paulo Campos, Donald Ray Pollock
Cinematographer: Lol Crawley
Staring: Bill Skarsgård, Tom Holland, Sebastian Stan, Jason Clarke
Release Date: September 16, 2020
The Devil All The Time is slow moving and methodical. Running across multiple timelines and through various point of views, this drama excels at picking the moments to truly shock the audience.
The most talked about aspect of The Devil All The Time is Robert Pattinson’s creepy ass preacher. It does deserve some discussion, but the entire movie deserves talking about. This is the most interested in a Tom Holland character I have ever been, and credit to Jason Clarke again for being a great creep.
Stanko Rating: A- (4.0/5 Stars)
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: Sam Mendes, Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Cinematographer: Roger Deakins
Staring: Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay
Release Date: January 10, 2020
TECHNICALLY SPEAKING, THIS MOVIE WAS RELEASED IN 2020!
Alright, so now that all the people reading this can get off my back…1917 is just a stunning cinematic achievement. Sam Mendes and Roger Deakins joined forces to make a movie that stuns the eye. It is impossible to now get goosebumps during numerous different scenes.
The reason it stands at number five is because it is a little tough to rewatch with the relatively simple plot. It works for what 1917 is and there is ZERO denying that. Just in an effort to not put this higher and rehash something from last year’s Oscars race, I will knit-pick here just because I can.
Stanko Rating: A (5.0/5 Stars)
Yes, God, Yes
Director: Karen Maine
Writer: Karen Maine
Cinematographer: Todd Antonio, Somodevilla
Staring: Natalia Dyer, Timothy Simons, Wolfgang Novogratz
Release Date: July 24, 2020
The more I write about Yes, God, Yes, the more I want to re-watch the movie. Natalia Dyer is perfect in the role and her working off the deception and hierocracy of the church tickles all my fun buttons.
Even though Yes, God, Yes focuses on the female sexual discovery, there are things relatable to both sexes throughout the movie. i.e. Learning new things on the Internet that you didn’t mean to and wanting to ask questions that you have no idea are worthy enough of uttering.
The discussion between Alice (Natalia Dyer) and the biker at the bar is illuminating and heartfelt. It is true that everyone is just faking it till they make it, and it’s amazing that a real person can deliver that message rather than religion! (can you sense my tone and point of view here?? haha)
Extra bonus points for being an hour and 18 minutes long. Short sweet and to the point.
Stanko Rating: A- (4.5/5 Stars)
The Invisible Man
Director: Leigh Whannell
Writer: Leigh Whannell
Cinematographer: Stefan Duscio
Staring: Elizabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen
Release Date: February 28. 2020
Here is a hot take (possibly): Based off the movies I have seen in 2020, I think that Elizabeth Moss should be nominated by Best Actress at this year’s Academy Awards.
The Invisible Man is within my top five not only because it was an excellent horror movie that was truly chilling, but also because writer and director Leigh Whannell made this movie better than it had any write to be.
Whannell and his team use the empty space to perfection in The Invisible Man. Knowing that the audience is constantly looking at the vacant space on the screen to try and see where Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), Whannell creates extra unease shifting the eyes of the viewer constantly.
This was also the first movie that had to deal with the COVID-19 saga in full. It was in theaters but had its run cut short when the entire country shut down. Luckily though, The Invisible Man persevered through all the chaos and still managed to capture a scared audience at home.
Stanko Rating: A (4.5/5 Stars)
Director: Aneesh Chaganty
Writer: Aneesh Chaganty, Sev O
Cinematographer: Hillary Spera
Staring: Sarah Paulson, Kiera Allen
Release Date: November 20, 2020
I think I might be buying all the stock on Aneesh Chaganty. Run is his follow up to Searching (2018) which was a break through with its incredibly unique visual look. Chaganty didn’t stay with the same motif of his breakout hit, but rather went darker and drearier.
What makes me personally such a big fan of Run is how a simple story is told in beautiful fashion. A very simple logline: “A homeschooled teenager begins to suspect her mother is keeping a dark secret from her”; but it unfolds with wonderful terror. There are so many subtle moments of tasteful filmmaking, i.e. when Kiera Allen (Chloe Sherman) is peeling off the label and discovering the treachery.
I think Allen was amazing in Run. She was the best of the two, comparing her to Sara Paulson (who plays her mom).
A sharply made thriller that is quick-paced, well-crafted, and effectively told. Everyone should run to see Run as fast as they can. (I am ashamed of myself.)
Stanko Rating: A (4.5/5 Stars)
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire
Director: Céline Sciamma
Writer: Céline Sciamma
Cinematographer: Claire Mathon
Staring: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami
Release Date: February 14, 2020
I have song the praises of Portrait Of A Lady On Fire before, and I will continue to do so again.
Director and writer Céline Sciamma has created one of the best love stories ever put on the silver screen. Using stunning visuals and highlighting the subtleness of nonverbal communication, the story of Marianne (Noémie Merlant) and Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) is told with beautiful heartbreak.
The ending to Portrait Of A Lady On Fire rivals some of the best “what if” endings one can remember. Does Héloïse see Marianne during the musical performance? Is there purposeful ignorance to ensure no further heartbreak?
What Portrait Of A Lady On Fire does such an amazing job of highlighting is the undeniable fact that love, even lost lost, affects everyone forever. It is part of human nature to still care for all past relationships, and one as powerful as Héloïse and Marianne’s leaves a brand of appreciation and regret. Their love grows with time, but the burn deepens as time passes on.
Also with the ending, it is one of the few scenes with music in it. The chanting by the fire, and the orchestral sorrow in the finale; two scenes that are arguably most crucial to the story and purpose of Portrait Of A Lady On Fire.
Stanko Rating: A+ (5.0/5 Stars)
HONORABLE MENTIONS: ###