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.

Love and Monsters: An Instant Classic – 13 Reviews of Halloween

This movie just came out and it’s amazing. 

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

An asteroid is about to hit Earth, so all of the nations fire their nukes in an attempt to stop it. They succeed, but the combined radiation and chemicals raining down upon the planet apparently mutate multiple types of non-mammalian life into gigantic monsters. During the initial attack by the creatures, Joel Dawson (Dylan O’Brien) is separated from his girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick). It’s now seven years later and Joel has been living in an underground bunker. Joel manages to make radio contact with Aimee, who is in another colony. Determined to see her again, Joel goes above ground and risks his life to join her colony. Along the way, he is joined by a stray dog, who he names Boy. Together, the pair must survive in a giant monster apocalypse.

He’s a good Boy. Yes, he is.

END SUMMARY

First, I have to apologize to the film Bubba Ho-Tep which is being bumped off of the 13 Reviews of Halloween because I cannot possibly ignore this film. It only came out last week, but I was told by two people that this was an amazing movie that I had to watch. They were completely right. Bruce Campbell, I will have to make it up to you later. 

I’m so sorry, King.

The first thing that I noticed about this film was that, despite not being an indie movie, it was apparently not based on a book or a comic. Amazingly, this was apparently an original spec script that somehow got green-lit without a major star or director attached. It does have Michael Rooker in a supporting role for a few minutes, but that’s about it. While the film has a lot of shared tropes with other apocalypse shows and movies, it’s still its own animal. The writers of the movie were Matthew Robinson, the guy behind The Invention of Lying and Dora and the Lost City of Gold, and Brian Duffield, who wrote The Babysitter and Underwater, so maybe I should have expected the combination of inventive scripting with fun dialogue. Add in some fun monster designs and you have a hit. Well, you WOULD have a hit, if theaters weren’t closed down almost everywhere and Video On Demand was more successful for non-Trolls movies.

I will never say no to a Rooker, though.

A big part of this movie is that Joel is fairly relatable. He’s the only single person in his colony, with everyone else paired up. That makes his desire to meet with Aimee at any cost a lot more rational and believable. Additionally, he tends to freeze up when he’s confronted by monsters, something that I’m pretty sure everyone can understand. If you saw a thirty foot tall crab, you might get scared out of your mind, too. By starting the film off with him being the lovable underdog, it naturally allows the story to have a great traditional character arc. It capitalizes even further by having him bond with Boy, who manages to help keep Joel alive at multiple points and vice-versa. The film uses traditional story tropes but puts them in this extremely hostile and creatively populated world so that they feel fresh again. 

I mean, you should probably be afraid of this.

The film hinges on Dylan O’Brien’s performance. Despite his character being essentially the wimp in the apocalypse, he never comes off as annoying. He’s more likable than Jesse Eisenberg’s sidmilar character from Zombieland, which is necessary when you don’t have a grinning Woody Harrelson to play off of. He’s on his own, or accompanied solely by a dog, for much of the movie, so he has to carry a large portion of the film and he has to showcase his growth largely through his actions. During the film’s third act action set piece, though, he demonstrates that growth in such a way that both you and the characters will simultaneously say “holy sh*t.” 

There’s also a robot for like five minutes.

Overall, just a great movie. It’s worth the rental. I’d go see it at a drive in if I could. 

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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