A work of art.
|Hamilton is finally available for the masses. And even though it is just a taping of a stage musical, it doesn’t feel like an event that I missed out on (but of course it was; the last four or so years of pop culture discussion made sure of that, but not any more). This is a cinematic wonder where we have the best seats in the house for, especially since the multi-camera taping allowed for multiple angles which we wouldn’t get otherwise.||2020 |
Directed by: Thomas Kail
Screenplay by: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Starring: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr.
|See full review of Hamilton|
#2 Bad Education
A character-rich true story.
|Bad Education is a movie where almost every choice they made was perfect. Let’s start with the casting. Hugh Jackman stars as Frank, a school superintendent, a former English teacher promoted into the world of wealth with higher pay, more responsibilities but less direct impact on the students and adults of tomorrow’s world. He’s an aging man, who tries hard to maintain his youthful looks and works hard to be relevant and popular.||2019 |
Directed by: Cory Finley
Screenplay by: Mike Makowsky
Based on the New York Magazine article "The Bad Superintendent" by Robert Kolker
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney, Geraldine Viswanathan and Ray Romano
|See full review of Bad Education|
#3 The Trial of the Chicago 7
A fascinating period of time, molded into an entertaining movie.
|Aaron Sorkin has a way with words. I love his dialogue which always has this natural rhythm and tempo in line with the importance of what the characters have to say, that the audience just falls in sync. I was expecting it to be enlightening, but the suspense and tension is also notable and builds to a very captivating experience.||2020 |
Directed by: Aaron Sorkin
Screenplay by: Aaron Sorkin
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Mark Rylance, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Jeremy Strong
|See full review of The Trial of the Chicago 7|
#4 Palm Springs
Inventive, clever and funny.
|Palm Springs is clever and funny, and it’s a romantic comedy. The concept may be lifted from Groundhog Day but that doesn’t stop the filmmakers from applying it in a unique and inventive way, adding layers to a mainstream comedy. I love how the plot is explored, love the comedy, and how cohesively meshed the two are within the rom-com structure.||2020 |
Directed by: Max Barbakow
Screenplay by: Andy Siara
Starring: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, Meredith Hagner and J.K. Simmons
|See full review of Palm Springs|
#5 A Simple Wedding
Fresh, joyful romantic comedy, consistently funny and heartwarming.
|Movies that start with a break-up that look (at least to the audience if not some of the characters) like their relationship is turning a corner and moving onwards and upwards, always hook me in, especially if the humour catches you off-guard. It’s a good sign when romantic comedies are this funny from the opening scene. That’s how A Simple Wedding won me over, and it never lets up. I was laughing, laughing, crying, crying-laughing through the entire film. Let me back up and hopefully you’ll appreciate this film as much I do.||2018 |
Directed by: Sara Zandieh
Screenplay by: Sara Zandieh
Starring: Tara Grammy, Christopher O'Shea
|See full review of A Simple Wedding|
#6 Blow the Man Down
Thriller of crime and family - funny, captivating, beguiling.
|From the opening scene and deep-voiced men singing melancholic sea shanties, Blow the Man Down summons you into their grit-filled world -- familiar to some, fictional to others – and takes you on a journey of crime and family. The two are intricately connected, of course, especially when directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy present us with such an atmospheric, tightly-woven thriller where every beat matters. The backdrop is Easter Cove, Maine, a small fishing village where nothing is as it seems.||2019 |
Directed by: Bridget Savage Cole, Danielle Krudy
Screenplay by: Bridget Savage Cole, Danielle Krudy
Starring: Sophie Lowe, Morgan Saylor
|See full review of Blow the Man Down|
Tense, enlightening and heartbreaking.
|Seberg is a sublime mix of biopic and FBI thriller. Set in the 1960s, Hollywood and European actress Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart) is on a flight back to LA from Paris and meets Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie), an outspoken civil rights activist, and Jean watching blatant racial discrimination right in front of her eyes, decides she can’t be silent anymore, and joins in a simple protest.||2019 |
Directed by: Benedict Andrews
Screenplay by: Joe Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Jack O'Connell
|See full review of Seberg|
#8 Straight Up
Thoughtful, tender and absolutely hilarious examination of love and sexuality.
|Straight Up is the romantic comedy that every gay, bi, pan, straight or questioning person has been waiting for. It has a very minimalistic atmosphere that can make it hard to get into, but the dialogue very quickly makes up for that. This is such a brilliantly funny and brilliantly creative take on the typical romantic comedy, that I’m certain I can’t write a review worthy of its screenplay, but I’m going to try anyways.||2019 |
Directed by: James Sweeney
Screenplay by: James Sweeney
Starring: James Sweeney, Katie Findlay
|See full review of Straight Up|
Stylish and funny.
|Jane Austen herself has called Emma silly. It’s true, it is. It’s a lighthearted fare of Georgian aristocracy where the titular heroine concerns herself solely with matchmaking. It’s a comedy that touches on class differences, but it’s also an artistic escape into the 19th century English countryside. And this Emma stars Anya Taylor-Joy.||2020 |
Directed by: Autumn de Wilde
Screenplay by: Eleanor Catton
Based on the novel by Jane Austen
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy
|See full review of Emma|
#10 Shiva Baby
A unique and unnervingly real romantic dramedy.
|Shiva Baby is a unique film. We’ve seen real-time films before but not in this Jewish slice-of-life (and death, we are at a Shiva after all) way. This is a comedy-drama-romance, but told so intimately and unnervingly real that it feels like it’s own genre. It is nothing like a romantic comedy, and yet on it’s surface, it’s a comedy about a young woman in a not-good relationship and what is she going to do with her life.||2020 |
Directed by: Emma Seligman
Screenplay by: Emma Seligman
Starring: Rachel Sennott, Molly Gordon,
Polly Draper, Danny Deferrari, Dianna Agron
|See full review of Shiva Baby|
#11 First Cow
A subtle tale of friendship and capitalism.
|Eight features in and Kelly Reichardt remains a minimalist filmmaker. This time returning to the scene of Meek’s Cutoff and the Oregon territory in the mid-1800s. First Cow is as subtle a film as one could get with still a coherent narrative, and fortunes at stake for the protagonists. While it is a slow burn, eventually the story that forms is very engaging with legitimate suspense and hope for a better future.||2019 |
Directed by: Kelly Reichardt
Screenplay by: Kelly Reichardt and Jon Raymond
Starring: John Magaro and Orion Lee
|See full review of First Cow|
#12 Athlete A
I'm angry and you should be too
|I don’t watch a lot of documentaries because often it results in me being really pissed off and feeling like there’s nothing I can do. Athlete A grabbed my attention though, maybe it was the simplicity and artfulness of the poster, maybe it was because of the high profile names involved, or maybe it was because Larry Nassar’s in prison so I knew going in there was a sense of justice being served. Unsurprisingly, I was angry throughout the film, but that’s also pretty much the point.||2020 |
Directed by: Bonnie Cohen, Jon Shenk
Starring: Maggie Nichols, Jennifer Sey
Available on: Netflix
|See full review of Athlete A|
#13 I Used To Go Here
Relatable, funny and entertaining.
|I Used to Go Here is a funny and clever addition to the not-quite-a-mid-life-crisis, not-quite-a-quarter-life crisis genre. Kate (Gillian Jacobs) is in her mid-30s and the film quickly establishes that things are not going as well for her as she would like. She just got her first novel published – yay! But sales are poor, her book tour is cancelled, and there’s a man she once lived with who is not returning her calls.||2020 |
Directed by: Kris Rey
Screenplay by: Kris Rey
Starring: Gillian Jacobs, Josh Wiggins,
Jermaine Clement and Hannah Marks
|See full review of I Used To Go Here|
#14 Mr. Jones
A poetic and supremely told story in the pursuit of truth.
|London, 1933: Mr. Jones, a young accomplished Welsh journalist has the attention of some of the most powerful men in British politics. He just had the opportunity to interview Hitler and Goebbels and believes an intention to invade Poland. The old, white men laughed. One of them said, “Hitler will soon realize the difference between holding a rally and running a country.” They’re not taking this seriously. It’s even more chilling watching this in 2020, in the middle of a pandemic and an American president who would rather hold rallies than run a country.||2019 |
Directed by: Agnieszka Holland
Screenplay by: Andrea Chalupa
Starring: James Norton, Peter Sarsgaard
|See full review of Mr. Jones|
#15 Another Round
Universal themes of life, love and death.
|My only previous Thomas Vinterberg experience is with The Hunt. A movie I like but oh so frustrating. Another Round, while also starring Mads Mikkelsen as a teacher, is a very different creature. Another examination of human experience and consequences and action, but more sweeping and all encompassing.||2020 |
Directed by: Thomas Vinterberg
Screenplay by: Thomas Vinterberg, Tobias Lindholm
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Magnus Millang
|See full review of Another Round|
#16 Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Make Borat great again.
|Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan seemed like lightning in a bottle. Something that can’t be repeated and the humour wouldn’t translate to another year. Oh, how wrong that was. Sacha Baron Cohen and his fellow Borat writers and producers have made a true comedy sequel. One that picks up where the original left off and made it funnier and more relevant to today.||2020 |
Directed by: Jason Woliner
Story by: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Nina Pedrad
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Maria Bakalova
|See full review of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm|
#17 I Propose We Never See Each Other Again After Tonight
Funny, romantic and real; occasionally heartbreaking but still optimistic.
|I Propose We Never See Each Other Again After Tonight is a stunning achievement for a low-budget Canadian rom-com. Freshman actors pull off this simple story of two strangers meeting and taking a chance on each other to turn this film into a sometimes delightful, sometimes heartbreaking examination of a young relationship.||2020 |
Directed by: Sean Garrity
Screenplay by: Sean Garrity
Starring: Hera Nalam, Kristian Jordan
|See full review of I Propose We Never See Each Other Again After Tonight|
A true-to-life college experience with heart and vulnerability.
|Cooper Raiff is a first-time filmmaker with Shithouse. It’s a small story, but one that is told with a lot of heart and a knack at hitting the awkward truths of college life. Alex (Cooper Raiff) is struggling. In general, struggling with everything about college. He’s not going to classes, failing when he does, he has a roommate who is actively awful to him and he has no friends. His only companionship is his mother and a stuffed animal.||2020 |
Directed by: Cooper Raiff
Screenplay by: Cooper Raiff
Starring: Cooper Raiff, Dylan Gelula, Logan Miller and Amy Landecker
|See full review of Shithouse|
Gratifying entertainment in the hands of talented women.
|There have been a lot of recent period pieces that seem just as timely and relevant today. Misbehaviour fits very nicely in that category. A story of activists centered around the 1970 Miss World competition tackling misogynism and racism. It’s led by a really fun group of actresses and hits all the right notes even if it’s not as big a film as others would like.||2020 |
Directed by: Philippa Lowthorpe
Screenplay by: Rebecca Frayn, Gaby Chiappe
Starring: Keira Knightley, Jessie Buckley,
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Rhys Ifans
|See full review of Misbehaviour|
#20 aTypical Wednesday
A smart, funny and clever comedy.
|Not quite a directorial debut, aTypical Wednesday is, however, the first feature-length fictional film written and directed by J. Lee. It’s a funny and clever comedy that both subverts expectations and gives audiences what they want. The themes are common comedy-drama fodder, namely: relationship issues, bullying and race relations. All three play into one another really well with a lot of laughs along the way.||2020 |
Directed by: J. Lee
Screenplay by: J. Lee
Starring: J. Lee, Cooper J. Friedman
|See full review of aTypical Wednesday|