2020 Year in Review

Another year is over, and for this I’m sure we’re all grateful. I’ll go into more detail with how 2020 treated me personally in a future post, but for now it’s time for the annual listing of every new release I watched this year, from worst to best. It’s a shorter list than previous years at just 39 new releases (as always, bear in mind these are UK releases, so there’s a fair few films many of you would consider 2019 films on here), so I’ve also listed some shorts/TV specials, and listed my top 10 new-to-me, non-2020 films at the bottom too.

39. Underwater

It’s certainly no Deep Blue Sea.

38. Spenser Confidential

Barely remember even seeing this.

37. Primal

Should’ve been Con Air meets Snakes on a Plane, but on a boat. Alas it was hardly any fun at all.

36. Miss Americana

This has all but completely fallen out of my head.

35. Rebecca


34. Lady and the Tramp

Better than expected, still a bit creepy. F. Murray Abraham, what happened?

33. Project Power

A decent premise wasted on RIPD-level visuals.

32. Military Wives

Fine, by the numbers.

31. Bad Education

Good performances but otherwise meh.

30. Bad Boys for Life

Way over-hyped, but enoyable.

29. Enola Holmes

Everyone is having more fun than the viewers.

28. The Lovebirds

Some funny and unexpected moments in an otherwise predictable comedy.

27. Blackbird

Full review here.

26. Misbehaviour

Phenomenal cast, but the plot needed to focus on one or two of the many plot strands on display, as such none are fleshed out enough.

25. Happiest Season

Great cast, great idea, fumbled ending. Dan Levy steals every scene he’s in, but Mary Holland and Mary Steenburgen are nipping at his heels.

24. Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary

A documentary about the legacy of one of my favourite movies? Hell yes.

23. The Hunt

Some great shock moments and one hell of a performance from Betty Gilpin. It’s not subtle, but it is fun.

22. Richard Jewell

Hard-hitting, well acted, solid drama.

21. The Gentlemen

Yeah there’s some awkward racism here, and it sucks. However Colin Farrell has never been better. His reaction to a video is one of my scenes of the year.

20. On the Rocks

Better than expected, Bill Murray is delightful and yes, it’s better than Lost in Translation. Mainly because it’s actually watchable.

19. Host

Very impressive given the circumstances, but even outside of that it’s a great low budget horror.

18. Birds of Prey

One of the better DCEU entries, but that’s not saying much. A lot of fun though.

17. Togo

Way better and more emotionally draining than it has any right to be.

16. Onward

The 2020 film I’ve watched the most (mainly due to my wife loving the heck out of it). I’ve gotten a little tired of it at this point, but that’s just from over exposure.

15. Uncle Frank

Peter Macdissi is the MVP as Walid. He’s just delightful.

14. Queen & Slim

The better-in-every-sense-except-comedically version of The Lovebirds.

13. Soul

Beautiful animation, as expected, but tied to an imaginative, original story with real heart and purpose.

12. Extraction

Higher than it should be? Absolutely. But show me another film this year where Chris Hemsworth effortlessly defeats a gaggle of kids literally trying to kill him, and is just annoyed at the whole thing more than anything else.

11. The Trial of the Chicago 7

It’s Sorkin, so I was probably going to like it regardless, but I found this gripping and informative, of an event I knew very little about.

10. Emma.

I did not expect to like this anywhere near as much as I did, but it’s wonderful. Nighy is, as always, a delight, and everyone else involved is great too.

9. The Personal History of David Copperfield

Another fun, stacked cast having a great time.

8. Tenet

The climax lost me a bit – my mind wandered at a crucial exposition point – but the scale and technical achievement on display made up for the dodgy sound quality. Looking forward to a re-watch where I can control the volume and subtitles.

7. Jojo Rabbit

Equal parts hilarious and heart-breaking. The scene with the butterfly is masterful and devastating.

6. Da 5 Bloods

Damn I loved the dancing scene, and Delroy Lindo is utterly phenomenal throughout.

5. The Invisible Man

So tense, highly impactful jump scenes, very solid thriller.

4. Uncut Gems

I watched this almost a year ago and there’s still a know in my stomach from how damn tense this whole damn film is.

3. Hamilton

My most listened to soundtrack of the year, possibly of any year, even though I refused to listen to a single song until after seeing the whole production. I’m incredibly grateful for it being picked up by Disney+, as it’s highly unlikely I’d have ever seen the stage show, and it’ll be years before a studio film gets made of it.

2. 1917

A technical marvel, a thing of beauty, a thrilling ride from start to finish.

1. Parasite

A very deserving Best Picture winner that’s really stuck with me. It’s a crime I’ve not re-watched it, but I aim to correct that soon!

It didn’t feel right stacking the full releases up against the following shorts, so here’s a quick list of other non-films I saw this year too:

7. Playdate with Destiny

6. Burrow

5. Lego Star Wars Holiday Special

4. Loop

3. Out

2. Dirty Streaming

1. Death to 2020

That’s all the new releases dealt with, but what other films did I watch this year? A lot of bad ones, it seems, but also some great first-time watches. Some of these should’ve been reviewed by now, but unsurprisingly none of them have been. Regardless, here’s ten films I’d never seen before 2020 that I really enjoyedm for various reasons. These aren’t ranked, they’re just in date order.

The Thin Man (1934)

I was a guest on the Pop Art podcast to discuss this and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. A great tangentially festive mystery, led by the sparky duo of Myrna Loy and William Powell.

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

Hey, Myrna Loy is in this too! A best picture winner I’d barely heard of before, this should be discussed far more than it is.

Kelly’s Heroes (1970)

The Dirty Dozen meets Three Kings, it’s a WW2 gold heist! Clint Eastwood is a bit stiff and there’s some bonkers stuff in the climax, but Sutherland, Savalas and Rickles are entertaining as anything.

Nine to Five (1980)

More fun and prescient than I was expecting, everyone should watch this.

Disclosure (1994)

This is not a good film, especially post-MeToo, but I cannot possibly convey how deliriously thrilled I was by the mid-90s virtual reality batshittery on display.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

The weirdest Christmas film I’ve ever seen, and also the only one to feature a herd of naked old men chasing a young boy through the snow. Bizarre, dark, and worth a watch.

The Skin I Live In (2011)

I thought I knew where this was going. I did not know where this was going. What a ride.

Blue Ruin (2013)

A grisly revenge story that pulls no punches and plays out almost painfully realistically.

One Cut of the Dead (2019)

It’s basically three films in one. Separately they’re fine, together this is awesome. Find it on Shudder.

Ready or Not (2019)

Wish I’d seen this at the cinema, in a crowd, but even just watching it at home it had one of the best endings of 2019. Samara Weaving is fantastic.

Clearly I’m missing a lot of huge releases from 2020, as usual. Some haven’t come out here yet, some are too expensive right now, many I just haven’t found the time for. What should I look out for? What should I avoid? What were your favourites of 2020? Let me know! And be sure to come back soon for an update on the rest of my 2020, and plans for the future!

8 thoughts on “2020 Year in Review

  1. Nice list! Hamilton is definitely in my top five for 2020 too. I don’t know how many times I listened to it on Spotify or watched on Disney+. Definitely missed out on watching a lot of new releases this year too, but there’s always 2021 to catch up.

  2. Pingback: 2020: What Kind of Year Has It Been? Plus Plans for 2021 | Life Vs Film

  3. great recap Jay. You’d be surprised, but u’ve given me a few recommendations here that Id never heard of before. I also never heard the soundtrack of Hamilton before watching it and enjoyed it much more than I expected. Would prefer to see a studio film of it tho. The songs are great and I too have listened to the songs over and over ever since. Still think 1917 is better than Parasite 🙂

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