Joker’s Top 10 films of 2020

I’m sure there were a ton of these lists out there, but here’s another. 

10) Enola Holmes – Netflix

Look, I was as surprised as you that I enjoyed this film, but I really thought the film did a great job bringing a fun and new character to life inside of a fairly established universe. Millie Bobby Brown nailed the role, being just the right amount of charming to be a fourth-wall breaker in an only moderately comedic film. I also appreciate that the mystery at the core of the film is one worthy of a Holmes character.

9) Birds of Prey (Harley Quinn) – HBO Max

This film should have failed completely but somehow just decided to be as fun and possible and it worked. While the structure of the film isn’t the best, the performances of all of the main characters are great and the humor is on point. The action sequences, also, are some of the best in the DCU despite almost no one in the film having superpowers. Plus, it gave us more of Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn despite that awful Suicide Squad film.

8) Hamilton – Disney+

I never thought we were going to get this film, but, at a time when we needed it most, Disney decided to go ahead and drop one of the absolute best musicals I’ve seen in my life. Hamilton brings everything: Amazing cast, great songs, creative choreography, and f*cking rap battles in place of boring policy debates. It’d be higher on here if it was more of a movie, honestly, but it’s still one of the highlights of last year.

7) The Old Guard – Netflix

If you had pitched me the idea of the Director of Love and Basketball doing a superhero film about Charlize Theron being a Scythian who wields a battle-axe in the modern day leading a team of immortals, I’d have offered to help you find a doctor for your stroke. However, this film worked brilliantly. Great action sequences, great acting, and deeper characters than you’d think this film could manage; this was a pleasant surprise.

6) Bill and Ted Face the Music

We had to wait a long time for this film, but it finally arrived and it managed to somehow secure Bill and Ted as one of the most successful trilogies of all time. In addition to having the talents of Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, it incorporated Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine as their daughters who perfectly duplicate their fathers’ idiosyncrasies. The film is hilarious and it ends with one of the best messages in a film we got all year. Just a great end to a franchise.

5) Dick Johnson is Dead – Netflix

This is the blackest comedy I have ever seen. It’s a documentary by a daughter, Kirsten Johnson, discussing and acting out with her dementia-suffering father, Dick, all of the ways in which is he likely going to die.  It’s truly disturbing because her father constantly plays along with her in a grim acceptance of her mortality. It’s also the only film I couldn’t bring myself to review on here, but it’s still one that has stuck with me and will stick with you.

4) Love and Monsters – Rent on Prime

One of my friends messaged my movie group to say that this was a great new “boy and his dog” film and that is definitely a solid aspect of this story. However, this film is much bigger than that. It’s got drama, comedy, a pupper, and, of course, an unrequited romance all contained in a well-designed apocalyptic setting. It needs to get on streaming so that more people can appreciate this.

3) Soul – Disney+

Coming in right at the end of this year, Pixar gave us a true return to form. Everything in this movie is well done. Animation, pacing, writing, voice cast, and design all combined to create something that ranks among the best animated films Pixar has done. Moreover, it’s one of the most mature stories they’ve ever done and I appreciated that decision.

2) Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Netflix

Helmed by great performances by Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis, this adaptation of August Wilson’s play is captivating in the truest sense of the term. You will be completely entranced by the monologues and dialogue as the characters share their loves, losses, hopes, and dreams. It’ll hit you in places you didn’t even know you had.

1) Palm Springs – Hulu

I know people will disagree with this ranking, but this was the only film this year where I had to pause it just to let myself express how much I was enjoying the experience. This new take on Groundhog Day featured Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti and brought an amazing amount of novelty to an overdone trope. It made me laugh as hard as any movie has in a while and I needed some laughs this year. 

Disagree? Tell me in the comments.

Bill and Ted Face the Music: I Miss Hope (Spoiler-Free) – Amazon Review (Day 20)

This is one of the best ways to end a trilogy.

BACKGROUND

Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves) are two teenagers who dream of musical success as the band “Wyld Stallyns.” In the first film, Bill and Ted are confronted by a time-traveler named Rufus (George Carlin), who gives them a time machine so that the pair can pass their history final and keep the band together. In the process, they meet a number of historical figures, but also two princesses named Joanna and Elizabeth (Kimberley Kates/Jayma Mays and Diane Franklin/Erinn Hayes). They succeed in passing the exam and, with the help of Rufus, start the band with the princesses. Rufus reveals that Wyld Stallyns’ music will one day turn Earth into a utopia. In the second film, Chuck De Nomolos (Joss Ackland), a villain from the future, kills Bill and Ted using two evil robot copies, forcing them to confront Death (William Sadler) and go through the afterlife in order to defeat the bad robots. At the end, the pair stop De Nomolos, marry the princesses, have two kids, and perform a hit song in front of the entire world.

Yes, Death is from Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Well, turns out that the concert was not the act that changed the world into a utopia. Now, almost thirty years later, Bill and Ted are still trying to figure out the song they need to write to create the perfect future while raising their music-enthusiast daughters Billie Logan and Thea Preston (Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving) with their wives. The duo are confronted by Kelly (Kristen Schaal), the daughter of Rufus, who comes to take them to meet the great leader, her mother (Holland Taylor), who informs the pair that they have only a few hours to perform the song or else the entire universe unravels. Bill and Ted set off to create the single greatest musical hit in the multiverse. 

Traveling through time in a phone booth? Who does that.

END SUMMARY

The category for this one was “Film World You Want To Live In,” and this was a tough one. You’d think you want to live in Middle Earth or in Star Wars, but a lot of the time those places are in constant turmoil. If you’re not a chosen one, you’re probably going to get killed. Narnia? You’d better worship Lion Neeson. Harry Potter? Fine if you’re a wizard, but if you’re a muggle somebody might mind-erase you into forgetting your kids. Also, wizard Hitlers abound. So, my finalists were originally Star Trek, because it’s a future in which all of humanity lives in a constant state of self-actualization, and Mirrormask, because the City of Light is amazing as long as you occasionally stop a thief on their way out of the town. However, on August 28th, the universe (and United Artists), gave me a sign by releasing Bill and Ted Face the Music. Not only was it a fantastic third entry to the franchise, but it was a stark reminder of the attitude that made the first two films amazing. Plus, it removed the somewhat cringeworthy-in-hindsight homophobia.

God, it was so good to see these two again.

Bill and Ted, the characters, stood out among the litany of similar characters because they were always positive. Despite the fact that Ted’s dad ridiculed the two or that they had absolutely no musical talent, they always had an optimistic outlook towards not just themselves, but the world in general. No matter how much the world threw at them, up to literally sending them to a Tim Burton-esque Hell, the two never surrendered that point of view. It often seemed connected to their valley-boy/stoner personalities and seemingly lower intelligence, but as they constantly prove to be smarter than most people expect, that doesn’t appear to be the case. In fact, it’s revealed that they seem to instinctively understand the universe better than most people, from time travel to the meaning of life. Instead of just being idiots, it’s that the two have an incredible ability to try and move past any injustice done to them. It’s honestly like a form of enlightenment summarized as “Be excellent to each other” and “Party on, dudes.” The fact that Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves were completely perfect in their portrayals was just the icing on the cake.

The “True” Bill and Ted stay positive even when seeing themselves go negative.

A big reason why this universe is so amazing, and why I’d want to live in it, is that these two form the backbone of the future. Not some great orator or a general, but two relaxed guitar dudes who just want everyone to get along and have fun. It’s somehow the most optimistic version of the future I can think of. Almost everyone is happy, the universe is peaceful, and, most amazingly, history and the arts are the most influential subjects. When we see the future of Bill and Ted, it’s not driven just by science or exploration like most sci-fi futures, but by appreciation for the humanities. In fact, when we see the flaws in the future, they’re almost all associated with people who are opposed to music or too dedicated to the sciences to appreciate anything else. 

Hence why the future has such dope fades and shades.

Also, unlike most films depicting a great future, the one presented by Bill and Ted is focused heavily on education reform. While Bill and Ted might be failing history in High School when they’re repeatedly drilled on facts, they manage to learn a great deal in a short period (less than a day) when they start interacting with the historical figures. We then see in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey that, in the future, this is how education works, through interactive learning. Moreover, they constantly find ways to use what they do know (song lyrics and pop culture) and apply it to other situations, something that I, a person who loves to integrate pop culture with everything, really appreciate. 

The fashions did not age well. Damn you, 1990s!

But the biggest reason why I love this universe came in the third movie. So, ****SPOILER ALERT*** if you haven’t seen it. Go buy it now and come back after you’ve enjoyed it. At the end of Bill and Ted Face the Music, it’s revealed that Bill and Ted actually aren’t the key to the universe. While they do play part of the song, and amazingly, it’s their daughters that arrange the music by going through history and combining a number of styles of music into a song that can appeal to anyone. Music is one of the few things that almost every culture has created since the dawn of humanity, so it makes sense that it’s the thing that can unite humanity. Then, the film ends not with a dedication to the song, but with the simple observation that the song wasn’t the important part: it’s that everyone played it together. Everyone managed to just find one thing for one second that they could agree on, and that’s all it took. And I find that hopeful, because even though the world may seem super divided, there is always a chance that someone out there will find that one thing that can bring us together and that it probably won’t be some grand speech or some scholarly lecture. It’ll be something that everyone can appreciate. Maybe it’ll be a drunken blog post, who knows.

Also, these two nail being their daughters so damned hard. Amazing.

Overall, I loved this movie and the two that preceded it. Be excellent to each other, and party on dudes.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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