Perhaps Forest Gump put it best when he said, “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”. Well Mr Gump, although your philosophical proclamation rings true, I think we call agree that if 2020 was a chocolate it would be the coconut Quality Street that’s still hanging around well into the New Year. And, while it’s been an admittedly terrible year for cinema (we’re still nursing our James Bond withdrawal), there have been a few brilliant releases that battled against the odds to make it to the big (and small) screen. Here is our pick of the best films of 2020…
Christopher Nolan, director of Inception, The Dark Knight, Interstellar, Dunkirk (and many more), produced yet another complex feature to add to his reputable repertoire this year. With all the quirks and confusion Nolan’s movies are known for, Tenet requires a bit of brainpower to properly appreciate. The film follows a CIA agent (John David Washington) who goes undercover to discover the source of “inverted” equipment – in this case a bullet which has been “inverted” allowing it to move backwards in time. It is believed, however, that the bullets have been manufactured in the future.
Once you get your head around it, the movie is an incredibly enjoyable, action packed, science-fiction thriller. We hasten to add that Robert Pattison puts in a pretty impressive supporting actor performance and, given his upcoming roll as Batman, we think it may be high time to look past the fanged figure in Twilight and appreciate his first-class talents.
2020’s offering from the inimitable Guy Ritchie is frankly bloody brilliant. Or, if we’re being accurate, bloody and brilliant. It may not be for the faint-hearted but this release is still a great feature we’ve watched again and again throughout the year. Ritchie’s characters combine bad boy suave with upper class chic and, despite the inevitable dodgy dealings going on, each is portrayed in a compelling, rounded and realistic manner.
From the commanding chief protagonist Micky Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) looking to expand his fortune, to the cunningly wily Shady Fletcher (Hugh Grant) seeking to uncover Pearson’s plans piece by piece, there’s a quintessentially British sentiment about this gangster romp. Plus, were the script not layered with plenty of twists, turns and dark comedy, the costume design alone would make this a film worth watching.
The Personal History of David Copperfield
Armando Iannucci has reinterpreted Dickens’ Victorian narrative and created a truly heartfelt feature. Entwining comedy and drama in this beautifully filmed production, viewers are taken on a journey through the highs and lows of the life of David Copperfield; played by the exceptionally talented Dev Patel. Starting at the very beginning with a young and happy Copperfield, the story quickly develops and highlights the unjust hardships this gentle character endures.
Just as with the original novel, the film is particularly sensitive in its portrayal of those living on the poverty line. Although they suffer, they continue to conduct themselves with great dignity and nobility. Character traits to live by, don’t you think? Assisted by the eccentricity of the individual characters, the movie unfolds into a warm and humorous adaptation of the novel, layered with meaning and emotion.
It’s down to personal preference but a movie starring Tom Hanks in military uniform tends to suggest you’re in for a treat and Greyhound certainly doesn’t disappoint. Set in early-1942, just after America joined WWII, Captain Krause (Hanks) sets off on a challenging journey as the leader of an allied convoy across the Atlantic being stalked by a pack of German submarines. Filled with all the suspense and tension we’ve come to expect from modern war dramas, the film follows Krause (in his slippers) as he makes difficult decision after difficult decision in an effort to navigate his men across the sea. A Sunday afternoon movie if ever we saw one.
The Invisible Man
We’ve all wondered what we would do if we could turn invisible, but it probably isn’t what Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) seeks to do in this movie. Following protagonist Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss), this modern take on the 1933 classic is a harrowing tale of desperation, fear and manipulation. Having escaped the grasp of her abusive tech billionaire ex-boyfriend, Adrian, Cecilia discovers he has committed suicide and left his fortune to her. As the story unfolds, she begins to realise his death may not be a clear cut as it seems. Adrian is very much alive and spending his days hunting her – except no-one can see him. If you’re not a horror fan this might not be for you.
If word counts didn’t dictate that we couldn’t simply write “1917 is a masterpiece. Watch it.” – then that is exactly what we would say. We thought it best, however, to provide a little more insight than that. Not only is the acting Oscar-worthy, the costumes and set design astoundingly realistic and the story line utterly captivating, but the cinematic production is unparalleled. Cleverly filmed in a series of continuous, uncut shots, the movie flows together as if it has been captured in one long take.
The film tells the story of two soldiers, Lance Corporal Blake (Dean Charles Chapman) and Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay), who venture across no man’s land into enemy territory in order to call off an upcoming attack which will lead to the slaughter of 1,600 young men. The bond of brotherhood combined with their race against time creates a truly thrilling production.
He’s hung up Thor’s hammer, but Chris Hemsworth’s not quite finished with action movies just yet – and why should he be? Hemsworth has finessed his fighting flair and crammed every killer move into this gripping Netflix feature. Tyler Rake (Hemsworth), a black market mercenary, has been enlisted to rescue the kidnapped son of an imprisoned international crime lord and he’s not taking any prisoners along the way. If you were a fan 12 Strong, also featuring Hemsworth, then you will most certainly enjoy Extraction.
Daphne du Maurier was a writer well ahead of her time with a wonderfully dark imagination and her most famous novel, Rebecca, is testament to this. It’s been adapted for film many times but the latest production, starring Lily James and Armie Hammer, is one to be applauded. It’s hard to retain originality when a story has been recycled so frequently but director Ben Wheatley has managed to create a beautifully Gothic world so deliciously authentic you can’t help but get sucked in.
The film begins in blissful Monte Carlo where Maxim de Winter, a recently widowed, wealthy aristocrat, meets a beautiful young woman working as a companion to a rich American lady. We’re not giving away any spoilers when we say they end up married. The issue, however, begins when the newlyweds return home to his grand estate, Manderley. While settling into their new life together, the couple finds it hard to shake the looming presence of Maxim’s deceased wife Rebecca among the brooding estate. A psychological romance tied up in a beautifully produced movie, what more could we want?
When one thinks of Marcel Marceau, we often conjure up an image of him from his famous mime routines, notably “Bip the Clown”. What we should be imagining, however, is a superhero cape because, to many, that is what he was: a hero. During the Second World War Marceau helped smuggle thousands of Jewish children across the border into the safety of Switzerland all the while aiding the French Resistance against the Nazis. Resistance sheds light on this crucial and captivating story of a man whose bravery and heroism has been somewhat forgotten among the history books.
Kiss the Ground
There’s no denying that 2020 has been a significant year for multiple reasons. Brexit, economic instability, Presidential elections to name a few. Chiefly, however, it has been the year our eyes have been opened to humanity’s crippling vulnerability. No matter the measures we have put in place throughout the centuries for the ease and betterment of humankind, if Covid has taught us anything it’s that mother nature reigns supreme.
Although it has been a tough year for many and time has necessarily been taken for one’s own sanity, we must not forget the existing problems that continue to grow and develop outside this Covid-bubble – and chief among these is climate change. Kiss The Ground, a documentary narrated by actor and environmental activist Woody Harrelson, provides a persuasive and logical take on tackling the climate crisis that is both backed by science and utterly accessible. Let’s not leave this any longer.