The Best and Worst Films of 2020

Hello, Spongey here.

It’s time for our annual tradition of looking back at the past year in cinema, with the best and worst it had to offer. Except this time it’s gonna be….weird. Yeah, this is one of the harder lists I’ve had to do and it really isn’t my fault…sort of.

That pandemic forced theaters to shut down so there wasn’t a lot to pick from this year. Sure, studios made do and released plenty at home (and even still in theaters eventually) but tons had to be delayed. This meant many things, like the rise of mid tier Netflix movies, but for our sake it means not quite as good end of year lists.

At least people like me saw tons of things we usually wouldn’t give the time of day although really most of that ended up being just decent/fine . This ended up being one of the weakest film years in a while due to a lack of movies in general. But in some way, covid can only take so much blame.

I swear this was the year of movies I wished were better. A theme among so many is that they are good/fine, but not quite as good as I hoped. This even applied to more acclaimed ones and even the ones near the top had this a bit. Maybe if everything went as planned, those delayed movies would have swayed things but who’s to say. I just know that while there was plenty I liked, there wasn’t a lot that wowed me.

This could be all on me. As I said, some more beloved ones did have me wanting more in some ways. It’s weird going from previous years where I rated things arguably higher than they deserved to me doing the opposite this year. A positive rating is still good, I just wish a lot of these ignited more of a fire within me.

All of this also meant a lack of motivation to watch more so as of now, I’m at 80 and likely more when this comes out which is is a ton but not as much as previous years. Then there’s the fact that some Oscar movies like Nomadland and Minari won’t be released until February and even then it seems like it’ll only to be in theaters for late Oscar qualifying run so I’ll have to wait even longer for that DVD/digital release anyway.

(And now the former has been announced to go to Hulu on the same day so…still waiting though…and now the latter will be VOD same day. Whatever, point stands lol)

I’m not waiting that long so here we are. I really want to deeply apologize for this not being as good as it should be. I’ll go more into it when we get to the best but a lack of heavy hitters means I don’t have as much to really say about most of what ended up making that list.

I really wish I could say more and have as good of a post as I’ve had for the past years but that’s life. Most of it is out of my control but some is certainly my own failings as a critic. Either, let’s see what did end up standing out among al the stuff that actually did come out this year.

This, is the Best and Worst Films of 2020

WORST:

Believe it or not, the lack of movies effected this list way more. Granted, even last year it was bordering on not being able to be done. But most of the theatrical releases that were canned didn’t seem worthy of this list. Still, I tried hard to get a good list here. My taste plays a part as some movies that would seem like easy choices that would have a lot to say ended up either not riling me up or just not being that bad.

Examples include Dolittle, Fantasy Island and The Last Days of American Crime. They weren’t good, especially the latter two but they were just kinda meh/mediocre, I don’t really see what makes them horrible per say, I’ve already forgotten most of them. But I’m really surprised I didn’t hate Bobbleheads the Movie. I mean, a movie with that concept, from the studio behind Foodfight? How did I not dislike that more?

But after some work, I had a good bottom 4…and that’s it. I couldn’t get a good number 5. The one that holds that slot right now is Homeward and I hardly remember it, and as blah as it is, being better than Trolland made me be nicer to it anyway. Behind that is Artemis Fowl which came close but once again I’ve forgotten most of it and don’t care enough. It’s pretty blah but didn’t piss me off to really get higher.

Usually I’d just ditch it but I had some sections written, and I had plenty to say about those. And I didn’t want to have suffered through my number one for no reason. Plus, one is a tie so I do have a top 5 in a way.  We get to have our balance after all. With that said, let’s see what managed to get to me enough for me to write about.

4, The War With Grandpa (dir. Tim Hill)

Tim Hill had a weird 2020. On one hand we have Sponge on the Run, which had quite the interesting production and was dicked around a fair bit. That got released on Netflix everywhere…except the U.S. where we gotta wait for February and even that wasn’t announced until way after it hit everywhere else.

Meanwhile, we have this. It had the bad luck of being a Weinstein movie that went into limbo after all…that came to light. You can tell which ones they cared about as some were quickly picked up while this was in limbo until this year where they finally dumped it out in theaters, during a pandemic. They didn’t even go with a VOD release like some others, they knew no one would care.

I wasn’t sure where to rank this as it has less good things than the next entry but the worst things in that entry bugged me more. After some thinking, I put it here. I’m used to crappy family movies so this didn’t hurt me as much as it may for others. Plus, there are mild positives.

The main one is actually Robert De Niro. He actually pulls off a good performance, being decently likable and being able to make the somewhat forced “nice” moments work a bit better. The rest of the cast isn’t able to be quite as good since either their materiel is worse or they just don’t get much to do but at least Robert was good.

The premise is that a boy declares war on his grandpa when he comes to live with the family, taking his room. The main bulk of this one is just whatever. Not exactly good or fun but not awful. Things like that dodge ball scene are dumb but just that and not much more.

However, a lot of the rest secured a place here. The editing is off at points and the pacing is really rushed at first. I get wanting to get into the plot but it’s way too fast with we setup the reason he has to live with them and the war is declared way too easily and hardly even 15 minutes in. Yet it still takes a bit for it to truly start, with grandpa joining in.

There are pointless plot points here and there. There’s a subplot where the older sister, played by Laura Marano, is seeing some guy the mom doesn’t approve of for…reasons. It amounts to a few scene and despite it being revealed to the others in a climatic scene, it doesn’t amount to much. You could cut this and lose nothing.

I like seeing Laura play a different character type but she sadly went to the Debby Ryan school of barely being in a movie enough for my liking. There’s the usual problems with movies like this, just like the over dramatic music and cheap humor.

There’s smalls signs that this meant to be a slightly more PG-13 movie. It could just be typical radar dodging but there’s things like ass being said, or the joke where it’s implied that mom was gonna say the F word before the little sister walks in. There’s also a dark-ish bit involving a funereal that could have worked if they pushed it further but it’s a family movie so they couldn’t.

Maybe an edgier sense of humor would make this at least more interesting. However, my biggest problem with this movie is the main kid. I get that kids often make big deals out of nothing but all this war over being in the attic instead of his room? Really? As soon as the kid claimed he had no rights, I knew he sucks but it goes further.

He has basically no longer moments, even though he does learn his lesson at the very end. He pulls a prank using his phone, knowing Grandpa was going to a funeral which is pretty messed up. Then before the little sister’s birthday party, Grandpa makes him promise to do a truce. He agrees…and yet still pulls a thing anyway!

And yet when their war is caught by the family, Grandpa is punished more harshly. He gets yelled at, Laura gets 2 months grounding for being with some guy. The kid who started everything? A slap on the wrist. What?

Then there’s the usual dumb joke these end on, that brings him back to being a brat. It’s weirdly sequel bait-y but hopefully that doesn’t happen. This is based on a book and it has no sequel so it doesn’t even have that excuse.

There are portions where it is just weak, and Robert does do a good job. Plus, it makes a good point about how pointless war is, even if it’s this silly way. But weak plotting, cheap humor, and an unlikable lead makes this a pretty lackluster effort.

Not quite a horrible kids movie by any means, but it’s certainly a pretty weak one as a whole. I don’t have any clever way to end this, it’s just not very good.

3. The Kissing Both 2/After We Collided (dir. Vince Marcello/Roger Kumble)

Here’s that tie! You may remember the first one of these making my worst of 2018 and 2019. You can check those lists for more info but basically the former was annoying with a toxic relationship that of course was still seen as good and the latter was a generic bad boy romance that I ended up disliking more.

They both got sequels and I double featured them once the latte came out. They are pretty close alongside being similar types of movie. Plus in both cases they are a bit better but not by much and still had their own problems. Weirdly enough, both have similar setups where the lead and the love interest are away from certain reasons and the first quarter or so generally goes into how they deal with that.

Plus the lead actress of the latter was also in Wish Upon, which had Joey King!

Starting with Kissing Booth, the boyfriend is better in this one which is the main reason the movie as a whole comes across as a slight improvement. My memory is slipping which is why I wrote notes back when I saw it but basically there’s a lot of filler and weak drama that makes it clear they didn’t know where to really go from here.

It still tries too hard at times, and there’s a few scenes that are annoyingly edited, especially early on. The conflicts are contrived and eventually Ellie just comes across as not that smart, especially at the end which proves she has learned nothing.

There is some fine stuff here and there, there are some charming moments involving her with other characters as she seems to fit better with anyone but the guy she ends up with. Figures.  Joey King continues to  be way too good for this stuff, please get a new agent.

Also, there’s a gay subplot with these two students that one hand, is the only romance that actually flows naturally but also feels forced in just so they can get in some extra points. If it were a bigger part of the plot, it could have worked but as it is it’s somehow one of the better parts while still being a problem since it should have been all about them.

As for After 2, the boyfriend is just as toxic as before. It’s made worse by them pointing it out but not really fixing it that much in the end. The very start undoes the ending of the first in a weird way. The first half has some okay parts as Tessa has some charming parts with other people.

Man, this really is the same movie in some ways.

Again a lot of the drama is forced and this being more dramatic makes it pretty boring and frustrating at the same time. Even with my notes I struggle to remember a lot of this. It has a different kind of plot than Kissing Booth but hit a lot of the same problems with the forced drama that makes it clear they didn’t know what to do with a sequel.

They both have a cliffhanger setting up a third one. In After 2, it’s just kind of dumb but in the former, as I said, it makes it so Ellie has learned nothing. Kissing Booth 3 is not only gonna happen but they already made it in secret, shooting it back to back with 2. So I guess I’ll see you for that in the worst of 2021 list. After has its next movie in development…back to back with a 4th one. Yay.

It’s worth noting that After 2 actually made it to theaters (and VOD) and actually did well. Usually that would be good but…imagine risking your health for this movie lol.

As for which is worse, I’m going with Kissing Booth 2. Despite some good aspects, it was far more annoying due to having the comedy alongside all the forced drama. There’s also the fact that it was 2 HOURS for some ungodly reason. That made it harder to get through for me. After 2 in comparison had more just dull spots.

Plus, it at least tries to be self aware, like a line saying they know this sounds pretentious, even if it doesn’t go anywhere. And hey play a Dove Cameron song at one point, that was the highlight.

Either way, both were fairly weak and annoying. It is possible for these to both be hits with teens and be at least tolerable but neither of these were able to do that. They may have been a bit better than their originals but they were still not good.

I expect better from the director of Liar Liar Vampire, and the director of Furry Vengeance. …Wait, what?

2. The Wrong Missy (dir. Tyler Spindel)

Adam Sandler’ s Netflix movies started off the on the wrong foot but have been slowly improving. They aren’t good quite yet but they have been making admirable strides. Clearly, Happy Madison won’t put up with that so they’ve been making ones without him to make up for it.

I went into Father of the Year in the worst/best of 2018 list, which was a plotless mess. The same director returns for something that’s really only better because it actually focuses on the thing in the title. How novel. Actually, this one is weird because there are some parts that attempt to balance out the bad stuff that makes my brain like it a bit more than it should.

I wasn’t sure about the ranking as a result but this had less good things than the above entries so here it is. The premise is that David Spade goes on a blind date with a woman named Melissa, nicknamed Missy, played by Lauren Lapkus who is quite awful. It’s only the one date and he meets a woman named Melissa he actually likes…but when he invites her to retreat, he texts the titular one instead so she show up to mess things up. Antics ensue.

So first off, this is yet another Happy Madison movie that is an excuse to take a vacation. It reminded me of Just Go With It since it has some plot similarities, also has Nick Swardsen being annoying and also feels pretty aimless. At points they didn’t seem to know what to do with this loose plot so there’s dumb filler like a part with a shark attack where Rob Schneider makes his obligatory appearance.

It’s not nearly as bad as that one though, since it’s thankfully much shorter but does it feel longer at times. The main problem is Missy herself. She’s really annoying and quite destructive. Not always intentionally per say but it doesn’t make her any more tolerable. She’s even manipulative, at times threatening suicide. And at one point attempting it!

And if you thought that was in bad taste, wait until I mention the scene where hears him saying sexual things in his sleep and thus starts trying to fuck him without fully consent. …I don’t need to say the word for that, right? Yeah the context makes it slightly less awful but still!

I like Lauren Lapkus but she doesn’t really save this. It’s not her fault since she is written and directed to be annoying and psychotic as possible so of course she plays it that way. But her general charm doesn’t peak through that often even though it should, cuz the character is just that bad.

But here comes the balancing out thing I mentioned. She does exactly one good thing for David Spade, so he turns around and they start to bond better. She hasn’t become actually good but this softens her slightly so Lauren is finally allowed to be a bit more charming. Thus, the part where the liar revealed crap comes in and she gets mopey, the sympathy is act is slightly less annoying than other movies that do this.

Oh it’s still annoying for obvious reasons. Plus, they focus more on David missing her instead of actually pulling out some depth that could have actually made her more sympathetic. It’s very rushed. Even Jack & Jill put more effort into that aspect and my god did I just give Jack & Jill credit? Well it doing that made me hate it more so silver linings I suppose.

Look, the movie is bad no matter how you slice. It’s aimless, generally annoying with one really obnoxious character, topped off with a romance with them that I did not buy at all. The best comparison is things like Identity Thief where it’s mainly mediocre with one really bad character just sinks it all together. It’s still a bit better than movies that are terrible all the way through though.

It has those minor things that balance out in my brain and make just wanna be nicer to it. It doesn’t make the film any more enjoyable to watch although it does cause lulls in the annoyance. Trust me, the worst parts are really hard to get through but those lulls do make it slightly better.

But that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement. It doesn’t have too much to like and it has one really annoying that toxic character that is just forgiven. It may have slight attempts to tone it down that make it less bad but as a whole, it fails. It’s not quite a Fuck This Movie deal though, sorry.

If you wanted an actually good movie, you are looking at the wrong movie. Shut up, I tried.

And my least favorite movie of 2020 is…

  1. 365 Days (dir. Barbara Białowąs & Tomasz Mandes)

Some of you may not know about this one but that’s mainly because the height of when I heard about it feels like ages ago. This is a polish film that was released on Netflix over here and quickly gained infamy for basically the same reasons as 50 Shades. It got pretty hated for that which of course (currently has a 0 on Rotten Tomatoes) also made it highly viewing on the service.

But then everyone just kinda forgot about it and I only recalled it as I was looking hard for bad movies to watch for this. I guess Cuties stole its spotlight except this actually was worth the anger. Look, this isn’t the kind of thing I’d watch without the backlash, I bet Netflix puts tons of random foreign movie all the time. It’s unfair to give more attention to it but a bad movie is a bad movie in the end so it doesn’t matter too much why I saw it.

Plus, there was always the chance I didn’t find it too bad, like with so many others. Nope, it was pretty bad. There’s so much to unpack in the premise alone but there’s other problems. For one, this is a Polish movie but a good chunk of it is in English and it seems like it’s that way to begin with, this wasn’t a dub as far as I know. It switches which is fine but it would just be easier if it ws all in Polish. Plus, the acting is much better when they are speaking Polish since ya know, it’s their first language.

Then there’s the soundtrack. There’s tons of pop songs all over, which would fine if they didn’t all sound like ass. Aside from being just bad most of the time, they blare so loud and so often that it gets annoyed. In the second half, it’s especially bad. I just wanted it to stop. They even do during scenes where not much is happening or to make certain parts sem more important or sexy I guess.

Sorry but a woman masturbating is no more exciting with this song on.

While it does filler and drags, It went by a bit faster than I expected but then around the 90 minute point, it reaches a fine stopping point…and keeps going on. And going on. And it was to show pointless shit and shove even more montages. I was getting legit angry at this point, it just refused to end.

When it finally did, it was a note that was…well unexpected at least and slightly respectable but after everything I went through, it was just bleh. Also they want to do a sequel so that ruins the nature of what they were implying here.

But of course, there’s the whole premise: This gangster guy sees this woman and after spending 5 years tying to find her, he kidnaps her and gives her 365 days to fall in love with him. …Yeah, there’s obvious problems here.

It’s one of those movies trying to be basically smut but actual smut is at least better than this. Is it at least possible to better premises for these? Now, he does say he won’t do anything sexual to her without permission and he actually keeps that, even checking for consent at one point.

I give it credit there…but that’s basically the bare minimum as he’s still very much an abusive asshole who just happens to have that promise. There’s a thing about teaching him to be gentle since all he knows how to be rough that goes nowhere. I will say that sex scenes being rougher gives it an edge over the weak shit in 50 Shades but that doesn’t make the rest any better.

He saves after she falls off a boat (because he pushed her during a fight, just so you know) and somehow that’s what makes her want to fuck him. They fall in love after that. Yes, that’s all it took. There’s hints of something deeper but it never goes there so this romance is all based on sex. Which is fine for porn but this isn’t even good at being that.

The real problem here is that he’s basically rewarded for doing the bare minimum while still being the worst at all other times. He’s better once the non-transition happens but by that point it’s too late. I know what I said about Wrong Missy but this goes on much longer so other problems were able to get in my way.

Actually come to think, 3 out of these have bad romances with people that the lead should not get with. Weird.

There’s an attempt at a style which is fine, it just got to be annoying as it tries too hard. This is based on a book so again like 50 Shades, perhaps some of it was trying to improve the source but just like it, it didn’t work.

This is an overlong mess with a style that didn’t work in improving it, an awfully handled “romance”, and a shitty soundtrack. This got to me as it went along, and I tried to make excuses. Sure, some rough fantasy is fine but you still need more outside of that. At best, you should look up the sex scenes to see if that’s hot enough and skip the rest. And even then, there’s gotta be better options.

Either way, by the end it felt I had spent 365 days with it and I am certainly not in love, making it my least favorite film of 2020 very easily.

And before we get the best…

FINE MENTIONS:

Due to a combination of both having to stick to streaming movies and my own tastes, this year had a lot of movies that just…fine. Enough to like but not enough really solid either. However, a lot of them still had plenty to offer and for at least this year I think they deserve at least some mention. This is mainly for those I’d rate Decent or a just a light Good.

My Spy; The only thing more surprising than yet another “big guy with little kid” movie is that despite all the flaws, it had enough of a weird charm/edge due to the PG-13 to be passable.

The Opening Act/Horse Girl: Two movies where Debby Ryan appears for a grand total of like 20 minutes, and that’s if you combine them together. The former was a fine enough story of a comedian and the latter has Allison Brie being pretty good in a movie that gets a bit too out there for me at times.

Upside Down Magic: Might not rise to anything too special but having another at least decent DCOM after a couple average ones is certainly something to celebrate.

Trolls World Tour/Scoob!: Gotta give the former credit for the odd impact it had and the latter is still fine, ya’ll just mean.

An American  Pickle: HBO Max’s debut film has Seth Rogen putting on an accent as one of two characters and it was actually good despite a lack of big laughs and an odd third act turn. Neat.

A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting: This reminded me of those kid friendly “horror” movies you’d watch as a kid and quite like and then grow up and still enjoy for that charm even if it’s not as good as an adult. Just has that feel so I  enjoyed it.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things: Film Twitter won’t like this landing here but while I thought Jessie Buckley’s performance was really good, the rest was interesting got a bit too needlessly confusing compared to some of Kaufman’s other work, which I mostly like way more.

Stargirl: I could have put most of the live action Disney+ movies here but this gets points for being the first to get above Decent. It tries a bit too hard at times but it’s mostly charming enough.

With those out of the way…

BEST:

And here’s the part that was very hard. As I said, it was so hard to get a good looking top 10. This thing got dominated mainly by pretty good movies which aren’t really as interesting to talk about in a top 10 context. I don’t always have a lot to say in these but having really strong positive feelings helped and that wasn’t really here.

I have only given four higher than Good at this current moment. Yeah. I don’t have any beef with those pretty good movies, I can say plenty about some just good movies, just not as much as I would for others. Plus my memory is getting worse these days and despite having some of these high up on my overall ranking, I just didn’t recall enough of some to want to say much.

I mostly wanted to knock the number 10 entry which I thought would be easy given what it is but yet only came even that close. I kept watching candidates and eventually I just gave up.

So after thinking it over…I decided to take a page from Mr. Coat’s book and make this a Top 5. I know, it feels like I’m cheating you all out of a better post but man this really feels more fitting given the lack of really strong content with enough to go over. This just seemed like the easier route.

Despite this being just another silly blog post, I feel like I’m failing you all. Christ, I’m sounding over dramatic. It’s not that big a deal but still something I tore myself up over. Anyway, enough of my own failings, let’s do it.

5.  Onward (dir. Dan Scanlon)

https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2020/03/06/general-review-onward/

I know it’s been said already but this poor movie didn’t have a chance. The opening numbers were fair enough but then you know what happened and suddenly there wasn’t a box office. The movie was already Pixar’s B tier entry compared to Soul and then all that was just the cherry on top.

Well, it may not have made my list in any other year but this year it was able to get here. I do still think this is my favorite of Pixar’s merely “Good” movies. It doesn’t quite get to Very Good or anything but it was close in places.

This movie just doesn’t everything pretty right. For the most part I wouldn’t say any element is amazing which is why it doesn’t get higher but everything is just solid. I said it before but I did expect it to be a bit funnier in places. One underrated-ish aspect of Pixar movies is how funny they can be and this seemed to be a return to more focus on that but as it is, I think the ones more lauded for drama are funnier.

Anyway, they do fun things with the fantasy stuff and the more I thought of it, the more I appreciate the ending. The execution is really good and it hits the emotional spot well when we get the resolution of all this. I get some people may have wanted what Ian wanted but I like how they handled that in the end.

Onward may have had he worst luck ever but it still manged to be a solid suburban fantasy road trip with likeable leads and well executed emotional ending. I said it would likely forgotten by the time Soul came out and while it forever be in its foreshadowed, the circumstances it came out will certainly make it more remembered….so there’s that.

Also, still love that title drop. Wait, if I did the full bottom 5, the 5th slot would have been Homeward. …Huh.

4. Palm Springs (dir. Max Barbakow)

There isn’t a whole to say for this one. It was on the lower end of very good but it managed to get there. Time loop stores tend to be fun. It’s hard to make a bad one, at worst they are just bland but most people tend to do fun things with this. From Groundhog Day to even It’s the First Day Forever, they offer up creative possibilities with how the character handle this.

In this case, it has a bit more of a laid back approach, where the main character has been already been in this for awhile and is just used to it. Plus he gets someone else involved in it and it’s basically rom com version of this story.

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milloti have really good chemistry and that carries the movie. Both are pretty likable, although Andy does up getting most of the development. Given some of her family stuff, I was expecting her to get a bit more but there are some moments that make up for it. There’s solid drama too and they have fun with the time loop stuff.

Also, I love how understated the ending is, it’s a sort of rushed ending done right. Oh and I dig that it’s less than 90 minutes but mostly uses the time well and isn’t too rushed. Also, JK Simmons is in it and that’s always a win.

…And that’s about it. It’s pretty simple to go over, really. It’s just pretty enjoyable with solid leads and a good take on time loop stuff. This is our first example of why I grumbled going into this list, I just don’t have lot to say for some of these, either because of my memory or just not having much to say anyway.

But whatever, the movie is still quite good. Again, it’s closer to just Good but it caught me in a good mood so I put it higher. Besides, it would still be on here regardless I guess. Anyway, if you haven’t seen it yet it’s worth watching.

If it got to a slightly higher rating than using, clearly it did something right.

3. Wolfwalkers (dir. Tomm Moore)

Those who followed me in the past few years may recall that I praised the work of Cartoon Saloon when talking about their movies in my animated films of each year ranking, plus that requested review of The Breadwinner.

Secret Of Kells fell short of being better than Good but Song of the Sea was great and The Breadwinner was very good. They’ve got such a unique style and have made some lovely works in their small lineup. Thus, I was pretty exciting for their next film and it managed to be really good. Although I do have my notes and even it fell to the curse of 2020 movies that I wished was a tad better.

To get my flaws out of the way, it can be a bit too similar to their other works, especially Secret of Kells. The first act essentially has a similar setup with someone wanting to get outside of where they live but not being allowed to and eventually meeting and befriending a girl. For this first part, I was liking it fine but I was worried we’d be back to Kells levels.

Thankfully it did pick up but that did hold it back. It has its own cliches but once it gets there it’s able to breath life into the story so it’s not a big deal. Of their works, it does feel the most familiar and it does sort of coast off the style so I’d put it below Song of the Sea and Breadwinner.

However, it ended up getting to Very Good so I’d put it above Kells. Once it gets the Wolfwalkers, it really picks up. The bond that forms with the main characters is really nice and the story ends up going on some interest directions. It hits expected beats when the townspeople find out and want to kill the beast but it still works.

The style really is what elevates it. The music especially brings a lot of this to life and there’s plenty of beautiful moments. The third act does go on for a bit but this is a case where that mostly works as it keeps getting better as it goes on. This is a rare movie that went on for longer than I expected and I wasn’t upset, that takes talent.

For some of the cliches, it does manage to throw in some surprises later on that kept it moving. As a whole, it isn’t my favorite from the studio as it does feel like it falls into familiar patterns. I’m glad they are turning it over to the director of The Breadwinner for the next one since it’ll likely feel more unique.

Thankfully, it makes up for those trappings with a story that ends up being pretty well told, with likable characters and more of that fantastic animation and music. Even early on the whole thing just feels nice and solid. It’s still really good and is another worthy movie to add to their lineup,.

I don’t have a clever way to end this, it’s just a very solid movie.

2. The Invisible Man (dir. Leigh Whanell)

A lot of other people have praised this movie enough that I feel like I don’t have much to add. Still, everything that has been said is totally sure. Universal has had trouble bringing back their classic monsters, especially when it came to that Dark Universe. With this, they managed to nail it by simply allowing the filmmaker to make a good movie that put a fresh and interesting spin on a classic character.

Leigh previously directed Upgrade and while that was pretty good, this is better. The concept of having the invisible being an abusive boyfriend who is essentially gaslighting the main character through all this is a really fascinating one that ends up working. Frankly, the opening alone is a better drama about a woman escaping from an abusive relationship than every Lifetime movie ever.

They get some great suspense out of this and the direction really sells it. Elizabeth Moss gives a really good performance to round it all out as well. And…yeah, that kind of sums it up. It brings a fresh take on the idea that it manages to handle strongly. Bringing in a more serious subject matter to something like this is always risky but it’s generally done with tact and works out well.

I wish I had more to say but as I said, it’s all been said before and I don’t have much to add as I basically agree. It didn’t get to fully great I suppose but Very Good is like my honorary Great anyway so it’s not a big deal, I don’t recall much really wrong beyond the usual things you could nitpick.

If any upcoming Universal monster revivals do more interesting takes like this, I’m on board as well being on board for anything Leigh directs since he clearly has a talent for bringing in a fresh execution to some old ideas.

I’m allowed one crappy pun so: The good qualities of this one certainly aren’t invisible. Shut up.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

To make up for it, I’ll not only include the full rest of the top 10, but also the other 5 that would have been the honorable mentions if this were a full top 10. Also, expect overlap with the animated film ranking in the Soul review.

15. Freaky (dir. Christopher Landon): A fun horror twist on Freaky Friday that in some ways does the horror better than the comedy.

14. Weathering With You (dir. Makoto Shinkai): The ending is…iffy and it runs too long later on but it’s still very lovely with solid leads.

13. We Bare Bears the Movie (dir. Daniel Chong): A pretty solid and charming way to end this series.

12. The Willoughbys (dir. Kris Pearn): Again, has some pacing issues but is mostly a darkly fun story with neat animation.

11. Big Time Adolescence (dir. Jason Orley): Not, it’s not the long lost Big Time Rush episode, just a pretty solid coming of age movie that has enough of a charming to it to make it stand out at least a bit from those, even it doesn’t hit quite as hard as the best ones.

10. A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (dir. Richard Phelan and Will Becher): Yes, was somehow the movie that would not budge. It’s not like it was that great, it’s just that it was more consistently solid than the others I watched. It has some of the cliches of this kind of thing and the first is likely a bit better but it’s still a pretty fun romp.

9. His House (dir. Remi Weekes): This is a thriller that ended up on Netflix about some refuges facing the usual problems as well some of other horrors. I don’t remember a ton so I’m glad I did it this but it was a solid one with an interesting look at this experience.

8. #Alive (dir. Cho Il-hyung): Ignore the title, this is actually good. It’s a Korean zombie film where the protagonist is someone who usually stayed inside anyway. In other words, the most relatable zombie movie ever, which is probably sad but I don’t care. Still a solid movie.

7. Birds of Prey (dir. Cathy Yan): https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2020/06/05/a-look-at-the-theatrical-dc-movies/ Easily my second favorite DCEU movie next to Shazam as it overcomes some sloppy aspects to create a fun movie with a cool style and a team of solid characters plus a fun villain.

6. Love and Monsters (dir. Micheal Matthews): This got dumped to VOD and while not getting a ton of attention, it has been on the Amazon/iTunes and such charts for a while so there is that. It’s about a guy trying to get to a girl in a world that is being ravaged by monsters, forcing everyone to mostly not be outside.. Real life similarities aside, this was a pretty fun one that I can see getting a bigger following in the future. Also, the town the characters are from is Fairview which explains why this happens: It’s in the Strange Matter universe!

…Anyway, my favorite movie of 2020 is…

  1. Soul (dir. Pete Doctor)

https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2020/12/25/general-review-soul/

Yeah, this was basically the only option given this was the only Great I gave to a 2020 movie. While having a movie that only barely got to great towards the end as number one seems weak, I think it’s fitting that this got to being my favorite of the year.

This movie does the premise justice, as it explores how souls come to be and Joe deals with having his life stripped away from him like this. It starts well and gets better as we get to know the characters better. That barbershop scene really is a standout, I’ve grown to like it more as I’ve thought about the movie.

It all the great humor, animation and heart that you’d expect from Pixar and all that is nice.. I went into all that. I also said that the message is what put the movie over the top by the end. I couldn’t spoil it there and while I still won’t, I will say at least a bit more without totally away what exactly happens.

The moral is basically about how you don’t need a grand purpose to enjoy life. There’s more detail it than that but that’s essentially what it is. Of course, stories about slowing down to enjoy life are common (I mean, that’s basically Cars) but they add more depth to it here.

It’s a message that I really appreciated, given so many people worry about making some mark in history or focus a lot of not being able to achieve their dream exactly. In reality,not everyone will do something big or anything like. For some, it’s fine to just enjoy life for it’s own sake.

I’ve seen people be mixed on the ending in regards to what happens to Joe and in this case, I get it. But I’m on the side of thinking it was the right choice in the end, but really either option would still get the message across, I just found the ending we got a bit better. The filmmakers went back and forth themselves, so it wasn’t easy to nail it at least.

As someone who has managed to more than they expected but still doesn’t always think it’s enough, this message was rather nice to see and the execution really made it work. So yeah, it’s one that has grown on me further as time has gone on.

Soul is not only a great movie but one with an important message that it conveys very well. For all that, it is indeed my favorite movie of 2020.

And those were for my least and most favorite 2020 movies. This year was not what we wanted per say but no matter what, at least some high quality movies will be there. But man, it sucks how dry things were for me, on both ends! I again apologize this wasn’t my best work. There were more I maybe wanted to get, like Tenet, but when I made the choice to do a top 5, my 2020 movie watching energy just zapped away so I went with what I had.

There isn’t a lot to add, I’m just ready to fully embrace 2021. With the vaccine here, I hope things can get back to normal. That is as long as we get it rolled it more and everyone continues to wear a mask and ll that jazz. Seriously, we still need to do all that and just not act like everything’s fixed.

It upsets me how so many people didn’t take this seriously and how it took longer than needed for there to be a light in this tunnel. But whatever, hopefully we’ve learned some good lessons from all this and we can slowly move on. As much as I want to get back to theater, I feel like it may take a while but hopefully that can happen sooner rather than later.,

I do not want to do this over again next ye4ar.

And now for my usual most anticipated of each month. Hopefully they actually come out this time. Btw, I had to shift some because of new announcements at least twice before this went up.

January: We’re almost done and really nothing notable came out, so uh…I got nothing, sorry.

February: Not a lot here but there is a few streaming movies like Malcolm and Marie starring Zendaya, so I’ll go with that. And eh, we’ll see how Tom & Jerry goes.

March: Finally more to pick from, I’ll go with Raya, along with and Godzilla Vs Kong.

April:  Last Night in Soho .

May: Not as many here but there is an MCU with Black Widow, as well as Free Guy. Oh and Fast 9 comes out too.

June: Okay, for sure the Fear Street trilogy starts here so of course I pick that. Plus, In the Heights and Luca and Vivo.

July: Slim pickings so far but again, there’s an MCU with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings so I pick that. I’m also curious about Space Jam 2 and looking at the list, the next M Night movie is slated for this month.

August: The Suicide Squad, plus Candyman and The King’s Man.

September: A Quiet Place Part II, plus Death on the Nile…and honestly, kinda Boss Baby 2.

October: No Time To Die, and Halloween Kills, plus Dune.

November: Eternals, and Encanto, plus Ghostbusters Afterlife.

December:  West Side Story, and apparently the next MCU Spider-Man comes out here. I feel like it’ll get moved though.

 

About Spongey444

I'm 25 and I mostly spend my time watching TV and movies, hence why I ended doing a blog all about those things. I tend to have weird tastes, but I like think I'm just fair on things. Actually nah, I have bad tastes.
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