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Sunday, January 3, 2021

TwoOhSix.com Presents - Favorite Films of 2020


Hello friends and welcome to my 2020 recap post where I break down all my favorite films in various categories and now I also get to add in a selection from my podcast as well which debuted in May. 2020 has been quite the decade and it's interesting to look back and see how it all unfolded in the context of movies, being able to watch movies, studios being able to release movies, fighting through injustice, and managing a global pandemic. No big deal right? Okay, let's get to it.

I have broken everything down into categories that have meaning to me and I feel they also reflect the year we've had. You will find selections of films directed by women, documentary films, feature narrative films, movies from film festivals, horror movies, movies that feature LGBTQ characters, movies that in some way focus on mental health, and then acting performances and podcast interviews. When it comes to my podcast interviews, there's no way I could play favorites so it's going to be a breakdown of the eight most listened to episodes since the TwoOhSix Podcast officially launched.

Directed by Women:
One thing that was very obvious about 2020 was that female filmmakers were not messing around and the end result is an amazing lineup of movies that I somehow narrowed down to twenty so my apologies to any I may have missed or just couldn't fit onto this graphic or may have come out since I created this post (Edit: Special shout out to Alaska is a Drag). This isn't a ranking or a best of, it's just pure recognition so I've listed these films and organized them in the graphic alphabetically so you can match the posters with the movies. Each one is a quality work of art and definitely worth a look. Consider this a to do list.

  • A Thousand Cuts - Ramona S. Diaz
  • Birds of Prey - Cathy Yan
  • Coded Bias - Shalini Kantayya
  • Dear Santa - Dana Nachman
  • Finding Yingying - Jenny Shi
  • Go Back to China - Emily Ting
  • I Will Make You Mine - Lynn Chen
  • Life Untitled - Kana Yamada
  • Lingua Franca  - Isabel Sandoval
  • Miss Juneteenth - Channing Godfrey Peoples
  • Mulan - Niki Caro
  • My Prince Edward - Norris Wong
  • Nomadland - Chloé Zhao
  • One Night in Miami - Regina King
  • Promising Young Woman - Emerald Fennell
  • Proxima - Alice Winocour
  • Relic - Natalie Erika James
  • The Donut King - Alice Gu
  • The Half of It - Alice Wu
  • Yellow Rose - Diane Paragas


Documentaries:
This has been an amazing year for documentaries with so many being released and the variety of topics on display has been truly unprecedented. Out of all the ones I watched, these are the ten that stood out among the crowd. Of special note, half of the documentaries on this list were directed by women.


10. All In: The Fight For Democracy
9. 76 Days
8. Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds
7. I Am Greta
6. Collective
5. A Thousand Cuts
4. Finding Yingying
3. Dear Santa
2. The Donut King
1. Coded Bias

Coded Bias is a fascinating journey of discovery and a warning to the world that our freedoms, our thoughts, and our beliefs are under attack by programs and algorithms that are constantly dehumanizing the human experience. Shalini Kantayya has created an essential documentary that puts a spotlight on one of the most important and pivotal topics of our time.


Film Festival Movies:
Film festivals this year were of course not the same experience as they normally have been in previous years although you can say that about anything, I guess. I will say though that for me it didn't change a whole lot outside of the canceled Seattle International Film Festival because it's the only one I normally cover in person. With festivals going virtual all over the world, it did allow access to a lot of movies I may not have otherwise seen leaving me with a pretty amazing crop of movies to choose from. Honestly, the top five in this list might just be my top five overall if any of them had been eligible.


10. Anything for Jackson
9. A Thousand Cuts
8. Fly Me Too Saitama
7. The Traveling Cat Chronicles
6. Finding Yingying
5. Bloody Hell
4. Sheep Without a Shepherd
3. The Paper Tigers
2. Dinner In America
1. Life Untitled

Life: Untitled is a powerful and fantastic debut from Kana Yamada as both a writer and director and the movie is filled with terrific performances across the board. The story is tragic yet told in a way that helps you understand who these people and gives a bit of hope that society can identify people who are on this path and then get them the whatever help they may need.


Horror Movies:
Horror movies will always remain as my favorite genre of movie, even in a year when a lot of people would have considered real life to be a bit of a horror show what with the pandemic and everything else that 2020 brought to the table. Still, there was no shortage of content as Underwater came out early and was one of the last movies I was able to see in a theater, Host came out mid pandemic and filmed under quarantine and then Shudder was dropping dime like Host, La Llorona, and The Mortuary Collection all year long.


10. La Llorona
9. Relic
8. Possessor
7. Underwater
6. The Witch: Subversion
5. #Alive
4. The Mortuary Collection
3. The Invisible Man
2. Bloody Hell
1. Host

Host is a movie that will give you the "Spookies" with several legit scares, a great premise, and a cast of characters you will be rooting for until the very end. Check out my Zoom interview with the cast of the Zoom horror movie!


LGBTQ:
This category, movies that feature LGBTQ characters, is not ranked or listed by favorites. I just want to show people that there is good, quality content out there for just about anyone if you are willing to look for it and give it a try. The one I will point out in particular is Lingua Franca because it was written, produced, and directed by Isabel Sandoval, an American Filipino Trans Woman who just so happens to star in the movie as well. Isabel also happens to be just as beautiful of a person as her movie is and you can listen for yourself in my interview that you'll find just below the list of films.

  • Alaska is a Drag
  • Almost Love
  • Ammonite
  • Funny Boy
  • Happiest Season
  • Kajillionaire
  • Lingua Franca
  • Monsoon
  • The Half of It
  • Uncle Frank


Mental Health:
One more category that's not ranked. This year, more than any other, we have all come to accept and hopefully manage some sort of burden within the world of mental health. It's also important to understand that there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, it's okay to exist in that world, and it's okay to have discussions about our own mental well being. Talking about mental health, learning about it, and supporting each other should all be as normal as talking about the weather. Here are ten movies that cover topics related to mental health.

  • Belushi
  • Da 5 Bloods
  • Inside the Rain
  • Never Rarely Sometimes Always
  • Promising Young Woman
  • Sound of Metal
  • Swallow
  • The Invisible Man
  • The Way Back
  • Words on Bathroom Walls


Podcast Interviews:
As I mentioned before, there's no way I'm going to rank my podcast interviews, that would be weird and I love them all equally so it's a futile exercise. What I have done is rank the eight episodes you see below by the ones that people listened to the most. This also isn't the ideal way to go about it because I have posted two interviews in the last week before making this list so take it for what it is.


8. Jenny Shi for Finding Yingying
7. Emily Ting for Go Back to China
6. Lynn Chen for I Will Make You Mine
5. Isabel Sandoval for Lingua Franca
4. So Yun Um - for Liquor Store Dreams
3. Van Ditthavong for All Roads to Pearla
2. Bao Tran for The Paper Tigers
1. Diane Paragas for Yellow Rose


Acting Performances:
As strange of a year as this was for movies, there was still no shortage of great acting performances so it was hard to narrow it down to just ten. The ones I have chosen are each very unique and each character left a lasting impression in some way that really stuck with me. These are the men and women I most connected with and most appreciated from this year's selection of talented performers.


  • Atsuko Maeda - To the Ends of the Earth
  • Aubrey Plaza - Black Bear
  • Carey Mulligan - Promising Young Woman
  • Chadwick Boseman - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
  • Elizabeth Moss - The Invisible Man
  • Eva Noblezada - Yellow Rose
  • Haley Bennett - Swallow
  • Isabel Sandoval - Lingua Franca
  • Riz Ahmed - Sound of Metal
  • Stephy Tang - My Prince Edward


Narrative Feature Film Honorable Mention:
Before we get to the TwoOhSix.com top ten favorite movies of 2020, let's take a look at the ten movies that just missed the cut. Honestly, if I sat down and did this a week from now of if I had done it a week ago, these results might be a bit different but here I am typing away right now and the results are in and they are official. Special note: This does not include documentaries as I gave them their own category although I have to say if they were included here, a few would have definitely made the cut.


20. Nomadland
19. Words on Bathroom Walls
18. Lucky Grandma
17. The Mortuary Collection
16. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
15. Minari
14. Soul
13. Mulan
12. Lingua Franca
11. Promising Young Woman

Narrative Feature Films:
Here it is! The TwoOhSix.com Top Ten Favorite Films of 2020 in all of its amazing glory. These are the movies that moved me, that made me feel all the emotions, and set themselves apart as truly special movie going experiences. In a year that we all look at as an exception, these films are exceptional in every way.


10. Over the Moon
Over the Moon is a movie everyone should watch and a story anyone can enjoy. As a story about family and love and loss, it is filled with inspiration and contains lessons we can all learn from. I generally rate movies on my emotional connection and how they make me feel after watching so them, with that in mind, I will definitely be including this one somewhere in my year end favorites. - Full Review

9. The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man will scare the crap out of you in unexpectedly terrifying ways. Director Leigh Whannell adds to an impressive resume as a producer and director within the horror genre and Elizabeth Moss defies genre stereotypes by delivering a stunning performance that we'll be looking at for quite some time. - Full review

8. Birds of Prey
Birds of Prey is a fun, stylish, and colorful movie that totally kicks ass. This is easily one of the best and most entertaining entries into the DC Cinematic Universe we have seen to date. Margot Robbie is amazing as Harley Quinn and Cathy Yan has proven without a doubt that she can hang with the heavyweights when it comes to directing a major franchise film. - Full Review

7. Sound of Metal
Right off the bat, this movie should be up for all the awards when it comes to sound design, sound editing, and anything else pertaining to sound. The music, the dialog, the way hearing loss is portrayed, all of it is so thoughtfully and meticulously rendered, it helped me to really understand what Riz Ahmed's character is going through as the story unfolds. - Full Review

6. Black Bear
Black Bear is a movie I struggle to describe in a single sentence and I mean that in a good way. Aubrey Plaza is fantastic in this movie and shows she has abilities far beyond anything we have seen from her before while still sticking to the formula that has brought her so much success. - Full Review

5. I Will Make You Mine
I Will Make You Mine will make you fall in love with story telling, with cinema, and with a film maker that I believe is just getting started. This movie not only completes the Surrogate Valentine trilogy, it makes the other two films better.  In a year that so far has been quite a bit different from any we have experienced during our time, this movie easily stands out as 2020's first truly great film. - Full Review

4. Ashfall
Ashfall is exactly what I was looking for and hoping for in a Korean action, disaster spectacle. The stakes are high, the action is intense, and the star power is A list across the board. Go see this movie as soon as you can. - Full Review

3. Sylvie's Love
This movie is a beautifully crafted throwback to the yesteryears of Hollywood love stories when you would see the biggest names on the marquee and people just knew they were going to see something special unfold on the screen in front of them. - Full Review

2. Yellow Rose
Yellow Rose is a beautiful movie that has a ton of heart, is filled with memorable songs, and features a knock out performance from Eva Noblezada. Diane Paragas' message of hope and resilience strikes right into the heart of our current political climate while taking nothing away from the experience of great cinematic storytelling. - Full Review

1. Host
Host is a movie that will give you the "Spookies" with several legit scares, a great premise, and a cast of characters you will be rooting for until the very end. The way this movie was made is just as amazing as the movie itself and is further proof that talent and creativity can beat out any obstacle, even if that obstacle is a global pandemic. - Full review

Host directed by Rob Savage. Does any movie or image capture 2020 like this one?

Thank you so much for making it all the way through my Favorite Films of 2020 post, I appreciate you spending any time at all reading or listening to me here on the website and podcast. I hope you have an amazing year filled with lots of movies and maybe at some point we'll all be gathering in theaters and film festivals like we did before. Until that time comes, please be safe and take care of each other.

Annual Favorite Film Recaps:
 



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