I love the movies but 2020 has seriously thrown a spanner in the works for the movie industry. The second best cinema of all time* has temporarily closed its door because of COVID and I can only hope and pray that it gets back on its feet soon. It’s a Brighton institution after all.

As such I’m not going to do my official Best films of 2020 post but instead here’s a bite-sized version. I’ve been all over the place trying to shortlist my favourites as I’m not sure if some of them are late 2019 films. If any of them are you’re going to have to forgive me.

In no particular order:

Kajillionaire

A woman’s life is turned upside down when her criminal parents invite an outsider to join them on a major heist they’re planning.

Such a wonderfully oddball movie about a very unconventional family and how your parents really can fuck you up. It really moved me. I wouldn’t expect anything less from my girl Miranda July though. Her style is so unique, so inimitable that she constantly surprises and impresses me. My friend Helen is also a die hard fan which means the world, loving Miranda is like sharing a magical secret only we know.

Evan Rachel Wood is perfection as physically and emotionally awkward Old Dolio, while even the usually irritating Gina Rodriguez smashes it out of the park as warm-hearted Melanie.

It’s a very tragic, funny romp and I enjoyed every single minute of it.

Host

Six friends hire a medium to hold a seance via Zoom during lockdown, but they get far more than they bargained for as things quickly go wrong.

Host takes its place on this list not by being the most amazing film but because it genuinely put the shits up me, brought a few really fresh effects to an arguably ‘done’ genre and captured a now familiar moment in time perfectly. I’ve seen a couple of things now inspired by lock-down and the pandemic but this was the first horror movie that took the concept of quarantine and used that set up to its advantage – and really well too. There’s one particular scene using screen filters which still haunts me now.

Most impressive though is the fact the movie’s director, Rob Savage had to direct his cast remotely under strict COVID regulations. And they had to handle lighting and effects themselves, after attending an online workshop. Imagine how fun it would be to work that way as an actress!

Parasite

Greed and class discrimination threaten the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan.

Winner of this year’s Best Picture Academy Award – and rightly bloody so. There’s not much I can say about this one apart from: it’s brilliant, nerve-wracking and surprising, while also keeping that all-important element of black humour. Bong Joon Ho is a long term favourite of mine and this is up there as one of the best in his rich body of work.

Every performance he gets from this cast is flawless. I’m actually quite tempted to sit down with it again this afternoon but part of me likes to avoid a rewatch of ‘perfect’ films in case I somehow break the spell.

The Lighthouse

Two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity while living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.

Robert Eggers is responsible for one of my favourite films of all time – so I was excited for this follow up. I can quite see it won’t be everybody’s cup of tea but for me it’s just the perfect amount of pretentiousness. I also found it darkly funny – and it has one of those incredible monologues within that leaves you gobsmacked at the end of it. I went in not having much information and I think that steered me well. So no spoilers here.

I will say that I thought RP was bloody marvellous, while his screen partner Willem Dafoe was surely born for his salty sea dog role. I loved it – its ambiguity, its mystique, the atmosphere – its sense of humour. C’est magnifique!

#alive

The rapid spread of an unknown infection has left an entire city in ungovernable chaos, but one survivor remains alive in isolation. It is his story.

Who’d’ve thunk a lowly zombie movie would settle its butt firmly in my top five this year? Not me. While I don’t hate the genre by any stretch, I do feel fatigued at times. This is a lovely reminder that there’s still life in the old dog yet.

A South-Korean film, the second in this post actually, it has a simple premise and it delivers deliciously. It’s incredibly tense and stressful actually but central characters, distant neighbours Oh Joon-woo and Kim Yoo-bin will have you whooping until the bitter end. Can they stay… #alive though?

I have to give special mention to the following also because they were dope:

Would you look at that? I could’ve done a top ten after all. 😉


What are your favourites from the year?

*Number one is long gone but thanks for the memories Curzon, Bexhill ❤️