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Films of 2020/Awards Season

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    Films of 2020/Awards Season

    I've listed the 33 new/cinematic releases I saw this year ranked in order, sort of. An asterisk denotes a cinema visit (some of them seen twice) and obviously they were a little harder to make this year.


    Uncut Gems *
    Parasite **
    Tenet **

    Highly commended

    1917 *
    Marriage Story
    The Vast of Night
    Days of the Bagnold Summer
    Queen & Slim *
    Bill & Ted Face The Music *
    On The Rocks *
    The Trial of the Chicago 7
    The Kid Detective *
    Happiest Season


    The Personal History of David Copperfield *
    The Gentlemen
    The Lovebirds
    Mr. Jones
    Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn)
    Emma. *
    The Old Guard
    Summerland *
    Elvis - The Way It is *
    Power Project
    Rebecca *
    The Invisible Man
    The Rhythm Section
    A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood


    Jojo Rabbit *
    Dating Amber
    Da 5 Bloods
    Pixie *

    Pretty Awful

    Eurovision Song Contest : The Story of Fire Saga
    Wonder Woman 1984*

    I think we normally roll this on to other people's lists and thoughts and predictions on nominees and winners for the Oscars et al.
    Last edited by Ray de Galles; 01-01-2021, 00:06.

    A chunk of these are last year's Oscar bait, some of the list is pilfered from Ray's list, and then there are the random others I remember:

    2020 Oscar Bait

    Parasite - Brilliant
    1917 - Technically brilliant but so many contrivances. Over-rated.
    Joker - A lot of overacting, but OK. Better than expected
    Little Women - Fine, but it felt pointless. Did it need to get remade?
    Jojo Rabbit - I really enjoyed it, but I can understand why others wouldn't
    Marriage Story - Despised it with such a deep, deep passion. Probably my least favourite best-pic nominee since Boyhood

    Pilfered from Ray's List

    Uncut Gems - I don't understand why anyone likes it. Adam Sandler has not redeemed himself
    Happiest Season - Fine holiday fluff, although you don't want to think too hard about it
    The Gentlemen - Absolute tosh. Guy Ritchie hasn't grown up at all in quarter of a century
    Birds of Prey - Just about the most entertaining comic-book based film I've seen in ages, but then I hate comic book films
    Eurovision Song Contest - Objectively terrible, but also completely harmless and a kind of painless thing to enjoy in the early pandemic.

    Others I can remember

    Kajillionaire - there's a good film in here underneath all the tediously overblown quirkiness
    21 Bridges - very average action film
    Midnight Sky - dull as dishwater, but pretty
    Escape from Pretoria - Very good
    Palm Springs - Charming, enjoyable, lovely scenery and one of the better revisitings of Groundhog Day
    Call of the Wild - Lots of uncanny valley CGI, and most of the drama removed to make it safe for Disney. Best to avoid
    Borat 2 - Offensive


      I've been waiting for this thread. Not that I've seen much this year. I'm not a subscriber to any of the streaming services and cinema had been a bit of an issue.

      Long Day's Journey Into Night
      I'm still thinking about this film I saw at the beginning of the year. It was mesmerising and the second half, filmed in a single shot, was magnificent.

      Portrait of a Lady on Fire
      A beautiful, tender, powerful film. I can still hear the sound of the waves.

      The rest...

      A Personal History of David Copperfield
      It's was alright, a great cast, nothing bad about it really and some nice cinema touches like the reuse of actors and the framing.

      Bill and Ted
      Just missing a step at this level. Not actively bad but never found its rhythm.


        I watched a load of films this year between April and late November, starting after Covid hit and petering out a bit at the end. My top 20 looks like this:

        Uncut Gems
        Jojo Rabbit
        Tenki no Ko (Weathering With You)
        The Devil All The Time
        El Hoyo (The Platform)
        I'm Thinking Of Ending Things
        Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway
        Survival Skills
        Looks That Kill
        The King of Staten Island
        I Wrote This For You
        Tom of Your Life

        Of the fancied films, I didn't see Tenet or 1917, and The Lighthouse didn't make the top 100. I wrote a blog about the genre/cult films I watched here, if that's your thing.


          I saw 6 newly released films, 3 in cinemas and 3 on Disney Plus.

          Soul was probably the best one. Certainly it's the one I'm most keen on seeing again.


            Ma Rainey's Big Bottom is going to be a big hitter this Oscar season. Posthumous (and merited) Oscar for Bose Chadwick is pretty much nailed on. Only question is, lead or supporting actor.

            If Chadwick gets leading actor, I think Sasha Baron Cohen might be in with a shout for supporting actor for The Trial Of The Chicago Seven (which will get a clutch of nominations).

            Candice Bergen may well be a strong contender for supporting actress for Let Them All Talk.


              I think this sums up at least some of the problems I had with JoJo Rabbit :


                We've started on this year's Oscar Bait with Trial of the Chicago Seven last night. It's fine.

                If I was inventing an Oscar Bait Film it would have these elements:

                Based on a true story
                Period piece set in Prime Boomer Years
                Sorkin Script
                Michael Keaton, Eddie Redmayne and Mark Rylance

                It's perfectly well made, and it's a story I didn't know. But it wasn't great. It's pretty Sorkin-y in places, for better and worse. It was just fine.


                  The next bit of Oscar bait that we watched was

                  One Night In Miami.

                  It is yet another "based on a true story" film. Yet another set in Peak Boomer Years.

                  It really, really wasn't for me. It has something like 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, which I find a little baffling.

                  The idea behind it - a meeting with Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, Cassius Clay and Jim Brown - could have been interesting. But it was originally a play and it looked like a play, and a boring play at that. It was basically just four famous people talking in a room, with no real narrative. I'm not a fan of plays at the best of times, and films of plays so often feel like films of plays with the cadence of theatre rather than the dialogue cadence of real life (or cinema). And with little action because as a play all the content has to fit on a stage.

                  Basically, I was mostly just bored. I suspect that this will be a very minority opinion.


                    I'm not sure if I've mentioned it since but when I started this thread I didn't realise how late in the year the Oscars and other major awards had moved back to (with the subsequent widening of their eligibility period).

                    This is good from Robbie Collin in the Telegraph (I've used an archive site to get around the paywall - as it's the Telegraph) :

                    Why this year's Oscars will be like nothing we've seen before

                    Out goes the usual dull predictability; in comes chaos, panic – and possibility


                      We watched the Netflix version of Rebecca last night after I‘d declared that I‘d rather shoot myself than watch the second half of Stuttgart-Mainz. But it soon became clear that Rebecca was the Stuttgart-Mainz of cinematic releases, though without the diversion of filthy midfield fouling. God-awful over-acting leaving nothing to be guessed at, from first scene to last. I loved the novel, but have never seen the acclaimed Hitchcock version. Definitely avoid this hideous, hackneyed spectacle.

                      And I missed a spectacular 80-yard run for a superb solo goal by Silas Wamangituka during the second half of Stuttgart-Mainz.


                        'One Night In Miami' worked well for me. It's really a debate about the political responsibilities of famous black men at the crossroads of the Civil Rights/Black Power era. Can Malcolm X bring Jim Brown and Sam Cooke around to his way of thought and prevent them from swaying Cassius Clay to reject Islam? The writing and acting are magnificent. Sure, it's a filmed play not a cinematic work, and you need to be invested in the themes, so if it's not for you, no big deal, but I would definitely recommend it to my students as an aid to understanding debates around the black masculinity, celebrity and politics.


                          I watched Ma Rainey last night. As with One Night In Miami, I was massively underwhelmed. I really struggle to get past plays made into films, particularly when the film maker appears to be completely unbothered with trying to make it into less of a play. The acting, again, just felt like stagey acting. The monologues and dialogues were clearly lifted straight from the theatre and had that cadence. Even the props looked like the kind of cheesey wooden props you’d put on a stage. The music was great, and I understand that the performances were good stage performances, but the only person who seemed to know they were in a film was Viola Davis who really stood out. It’s frustrating because there should be a great movie to be made from the content, if only someone had been more ambitious,


                            Couple of newish films I've seen on Netflix are the White Tiger and The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. I'd recommend both
                            Certainly well over that awful ennervating piece of dogshit Uncut Gems


                              Finally saw Jojo Rabbit last night. Absolutely marvelous, but wow ... was that risky. Could have gone so sideways that people might have said 'what the fuck were you thinking?'

                              If it bothered anyone, I can certainly see why, but I thought it was terrific.


                                Just seen 'Judas and the Black Messiah' which is every bit as good as the reviews say. I knew the basics of the story but my wife & younger two children who watched it with us didn't and they found it jaw-dropping. It was certainly interesting to see their added tension from not knowing the outcome for Hampton.

                                I would love to know how the hell both the leading male actors Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield get nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars, apart from the Academy being idiots. If you can't split them then nominate them both as leads, surely?! Having only seen three of the supporting nominees I would say Kaluuya has to be a good bet to win.

                                Dominique Fishburne really should have got a nomination too but all the performances are excellent. Great script, soundtrack and production design as well.
                                Last edited by Ray de Galles; 20-03-2021, 17:09.


                                  It was an incredible piece of filmmaking, and both Kaluuya and Stanfield should have gotten Best Actor noms for their performances, let alone Supporting.


                                    I don't think the nomination weirdness is the Academy's doing, for once. My understanding is that they were entered into the Supporting Actor category by the film-makers. Who, presumably, were trying to avoid getting their toes trodden on by Chadwick Bozeman's widely expected victory.


                                      It's an interesting theory and the issue of avoiding Boseman looking a lock for the lead actor award if plausible but I'm not sure.

                                      I've seen a lot of comment similar to this article that states "Warner Bros. campaigned for Stanfield to be nominated as the film’s lead and marketed Kaluuya as a supporting player.." which would seem the logical choice if you are looking not to split the votes for the two of them in one category (and I also certainly agree with HD that they could both be nominated as leads).


                                        A couple more of this year's Oscar Best Pic Nominees:

                                        The Father is way better than I could possibly have expected. As I mentioned up this thread I normally react terribly to plays made into films, but this one worked really well. Perhaps because the actors are great, but also because there was a lot of visual stuff and there weren't great long monologues and dialogues that feel totally unnatural. In some ways it plays out like a murder mystery or a thriller - you're always looking for clues and there are so many clues. It is, though, very hard to watch and I imagine would be almost impossible for people who have a lot of experience with dementia and elder care.

                                        Minari, meanwhile, is very charming and incredibly beautifully shot. But I ended up feeling just a little underwhelmed compared to what I expected. I can't criticise it - there's nothing wrong with it. I don't regret watching it at all. But - perhaps unfairly - I was expecting more.


                                          I've just watched The Father and was in tears by the end. As SB says a tough watch (and I have no experience of dealing with such issues). Very very good. We're watching Minari next as part of our double bill as we tick off all the Oscar nominees. Nomadland, The Trial of the Chicago 7, One Night in Miami, Another Round, My Octopus Teacher and Hillbilly Elegy have been personal favourites so far of the available films we've watched.


                                            And seconded with Minari. I enjoyed it but would be surprised if it won any Oscars. Chicken sexing. Tricky.


                                              Judas and the Black Messiah last night - I know that I was meant to love it but (for different reasons to Minari), I just found it a bit underwhelming. I never got caught up in the drama of it until right near the end.


                                                Just watched Sound of Metal and I thought it was superb, although another tough watch. Riz Ahmed gives a hell of a performance. It should win the Best Sound Oscar if nothing else.


                                                  Same here. Sound of Metal completes the set of this year's Best Pic nominees, and I thought it was fantastic. And the sound editing was something else.

                                                  My favourites in no particular order have been (my opinion changes quickly, so this is not set in stone):

                                                  Sound of Metal
                                                  Promising Young Woman

                                                  Next tier:

                                                  The Father


                                                  Trial of the Chicago Seven
                                                  Judas and the Black Messiah



                                                  But any of the top five of those would be a deserving winner of the Best Pic oscar.