It’s officially 2020 which means that another year has since passed, and with it went a year of wonderful films. Whether they made me laugh, cry or stare into the void of my dark ceiling at night, certain films were too impactful to not talk about. In no particular order, here are my 10 favorite films of the year.
1. “Us,” directed by Jordan Peele
After his cinematic masterpiece “Get Out,” I was apprehensive about Peele living up to the insanely high bar he set for himself. But man, did he do it. “Us” is brilliant for several reasons, one of which includes the complicated metaphors and symbolism in the original script. Peele’s talented and terrifying cast truly left me speechless and sleepless. Thank you, Jordan Peele. You’re a god. For more thoughts on “Us,” check out my review of the film.
2. “Parasite,” directed by Bong Joon Ho
I walked into this film without any expectations, and yet, was still completely blown away. The Korean film has, rightfully so, been a hit during award season. When expected to take one turn, it takes the exact opposite. It is witty, thrilling and a wonderfully dark social commentary. Do not miss this or you will regret it.
3. “Doctor Sleep,” directed by Mike Flanagan
While I found several movies to be overwhelmingly forgettable, “Doctor Sleep” is one I still think about, months after seeing it only once. This year, Flanagan has taken role as one of my favorite directors, and this film only serves as supporting evidence for that. This sequel not only wraps up the events of Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining,” but creates an entirely new world and story of its own, which I fell in love with. For more, here’s a full review of the film.
4. “Marriage Story,” directed by Noah Baumbach
I was hooked from the moment I saw the silhouette of Adam Driver on a Netflix advertisement. I’m certainly a sucker for a good love story, but I think I’m becoming one for a good divorce story as well. With powerful performances from Driver and Scarlett Johansson of a rather bizarre script at times, “Marriage Story” feels raw and painful in the greatest way. Have some tissues at hand for this one–you’ll need it.
5. “Midsommar,” directed by Ari Aster
The upcoming production company, A24 has been on an uphill spike of anxiety-inducing, hauntingly beautiful movies, and “Midsommar” is no exception. I was extremely cautious approaching this film. With intense themes such as suicide, it is upsetting, disturbing and extremely weird. However, the core of the film is about much more than horrifying audiences. “Midsommar” comments on culture and tradition in ways I’ve never imagined. If you’re willing to risk being scarred for life for the sake of beautiful art, don’t skip this.
6. “The Lighthouse,” directed by Robert Eggers
Once again, A24 falls into the spotlight with possibly the most bizarre film I’ve ever seen. Imagine David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” set at sea with Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. Add a lot of seagulls and uncomfortable sexually explicit imagery and you’ve got “The Lighthouse.” It’s bizarre and oddly beautiful at the same time, with the best cinematography of the year. Just watch it.
7. “1917,” directed by Sam Mendes
I’ve never been interested in war movies, but “1917” had me in its grasp. We’re talking actual rapid heartbeats and an upset stomach. Pure anxiety. George MacKay’s performance is utterly difficult to watch because of his incredible intensity on screen. That paired with the defying camera work makes for a troubling, yet breath-taking watch.
8. “The Art of Self Defense,” directed by Riley Stearns
This indie is more obscure from the others, which makes me love it even more. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, this film centers around toxic masculinity through the lens of a dark comedy. It’s quirky and fun while retaining a heavy message, which I absolutely love. “The Art of Self–Defense” did not get the credit it deserves.
9. “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” directed by J.J. Abrams
Alright, I know. Die-hard fans hated this, I get it. Here’s the thing: I’m not a die-hard fan. In fact, I don’t think I’ve even seen all of the “Star Wars” films. And yet, I sobbed during this exciting, emotional, visually stunning movie. It reminded me of the power of cinema and the wonderful history that has been made for future filmmakers to leap off of. Say what you will, but “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker” reminded me of who I am as a person and an artist. Wild, I know.
10. “Little Women,” directed by Greta Gerwig
Oh boy, that was a long list of movies directed by men. Gerwig’s interpretation of “Little Women” was more than the re-telling of a beautiful, classic story. It reminded me of the complexity, passion and beauty of women, especially female artists. Gerwig captured her work and essence by giving other women a voice, which is not only inspiring, but incredibly empowering for those wishing to follow her footsteps. Also, I would sell my soul to have Timotheé Chalamet dance with me.
Many times our own lives seem emulated through the art we consume. Film can guide through heartbreak, congratulate through triumph and support through isolation. Here’s to the life changing art of 2019 and to the creation of even more in 2020.
Story by: Amanda Walton
Photos courtesy of IMDB.com