2020 Awards

Worst Film

Babyteeth

A film that by all rights, I should have loved, instead I hated it with a passion. Part of that is probably just because I didn’t like the characters. But part of that also might be because it has a euthanasia sex scene.

Fantasy Island

The only film I paid to see at the cinema this year. But even if I got in using my trusty cineworld card, I would have been disappointed with this. A lot of the things made no sense. Character motivations were muddled, and it was a complete waste of the potentially exciting premise.

Brahms: The Boy 2

I’m assuming this is bad, I genuinely can’t remember anything from this movie. For all intents and purposes, it’s like I never watched it.

Unhinged

An ugly film with an ugly soul, seemingly directed at similar people.

“Winner”

Artemis Fowl

Fuck you, disney. Your desire to do a book series yet take out the one thing that made the series stand out is a ridiculously stupid idea. It would be like if the makers of Harry Potter didn’t want to put any magic in the films. This film was doomed from the moment they posted the casting notes. I don’t get how you can fuck up a property more than this unless it’s deliberate.

Most Disappointing

See the section about the worst? Yeah, but every single film from that list (with the exception Of Brahms: The Boy 2 Electric Boogaloo) there. All of them I had, well maybe not high, but I had hopes for them. I expected them to be fun, or in the case of Babyteeth to make me feel things. But added to that list are:

Harley Quinn

No I’m not putting the full title here. I really wanted this to be more fun, but for a lot of the time it felt restrained, like it was an 18 film cut down to a 15. It had bits of brilliance, there’s one set-piece in particular which is creative and a lot of fun to watch, I just wish the rest of the film was like it.

Run

Controversial choice, as I did really like this film. But this subject is “most disappointing”, and that, sadly, is the case for this. I went in with incredibly high expectations, I expected this to be a 10/10. I wanted this to be one of the best films I’ve ever seen, and it’s not, it’s just very, very, very good. So yeah, that’s on me.

The Witches

Again, that might be on me, in retrospect I should have realised beforehand that this would not be a good movie, based solely on the complete lack of advertising for it. I really, really wish this was better. I wanted to love this movie. I love the original, and I love Anne Hathaway. Plus I wanted it to be so unquestionably brilliant that racists wouldn’t be able to attack it “see, you change the leads to black people, and it ruins it”. Truth be told, they could have done more with the racial aspect and played it into the story, especially considering when and where the film was set.

Winner

Tenet

The film that was supposed to save cinema, and which had such bad sound design that it would have been better to watch it at home where I could have had subtitles. I’m starting to realise I don’t love Nolan films as much as it seems I should. Interstellar, Dunkirk, they all left me feeling emotionally hollow if I’m honest. They’re very well made, and I appreciate the undeniable genius of the craft that goes into them, but I have no love them. On a personal level, they mean nothing to me.

Best Music

1917

Glorious and epic. Just what a film like this needed.

Spree

If only for the SENSATIONAL use of “I Will Follow Him” over the end credits, will definitely use that in my own stuff.

Babyteeth

One of the few good things about this film. I’m not going to buy this film, or even watch it again. But if possible I would purchase the soundtrack. It created an aural soundscape that complimented the colour scheme. It was weirdly beautiful, and fantastic.

Winner

Bill And Ted Face The Music

OBVIOUSLY! The music is a big part of this, bigger than it has been in any of the previous two films. So if it didn’t work, the film wouldn’t have worked. The final scene with the song is a moment of pure beauty, and the music is a big part of that.

Best Moment

Sonic The Hedgehog – Closing Credits

Weird choice I know, and this won’t be the last time I mention a credits sequence in this section. But the closing credits are essentially the film told but in the style of the old sonic games (a.k.a, the only good ones). No reason for them to do that and nobody would have noticed if they didn’t, but they did, and it’s wonderful. It felt like the only part of the entire film made with love for the source material.

1917 – The Trench Run

Incredibly tense and wonderful. Weirdly enough, it seemed to be improved by a mistake. There’s a moment during this run where the actor stumbled and nearly fell over. It was kept in and it weirdly enhances the scene. It makes you realise that for all the chaos going on around him, he is essentially just a scared youngster. He’s not a badass super soldier, he’s human, fallible, and fucking terrified.

Vivarium – The Drive

There’s a short moment in this film where the couple drive to a house. That’s all it is, a couple driving to look at a new house whilst a song by The Specials plays. Yet the way it’s filmed means it’s one of the best things I’ve seen. Incredibly tense and creepy, a great example of how a director can change a written scene so the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

Underwater – Opening Credits

Again, a weird choice. But the way these were done were almost perfect. They set the location up, gave us plot background, and let us know the tone of the movie, so by the time the actual film started you were not only informed of what was going on, but you were also in the right state of mind and knew exactly what film you were about to see. Other films have done this, obviously, but few have done it quite as masterfully as it was done here.

Winner

Parasite – Peach Fuzz

When the family put their plan into action to get the housekeeper fired. It has the pacing and style of a comedic heist movie. It’s interesting to watch, the performers absolutely nail every moment of it, and most of all, it’s fun and playful. A bit of lightness in the darkness of the rest of the movie. If you showed someone this with no context they might think it’s just a cheerful light comedy as opposed to the genre-defining genius it is.

Best Looking

Babyteeth

Considering this was one of the worst films I saw this year, it’s appearing a weirdly high number of times in positive awards.. That’s how good it looked, good enough for me to look past the annoyance I felt. The colour schemes, the saturation, it reminded me of Lady Bird in terms of visual style. It seemed like a throwback of some sorts, but not to a specific time in reality, but to a specific time in your life. Very strange, but very good.

Birds Of Prey

Not a great film, but it had a great look to it. Like being shot in the face with a cocaine paint gun.

Onward

It’s Pixar, their films always look good. They have a certain elastic reality to them so they look both real and fake at the same time. Also, the colours! OMG the colours. Watching this film is like eating a unicorn laced with LSD.

Parasite

The colours! Nah I’m just kidding, this is not about the colours, I’m not some kind of weird person with a child-like mind who looks at films like “ooo, look at the pretty colours”, nope, this is about the pretty shapes instead. The way the director constructed each shot and used the straight lines visible in modern architecture to highlight the class divisions between the characters is masterful.

Winner

1917

This would be there based solely on a single shot. The shot of the town at night, the way shadows and light were used is a showcase for how great cinema can be sometimes. As it is, the rest of the film looks great too.

Best Character

Birds Of Prey – Huntress

Part of that is due to how Mary Elizabeth-Winstead plays her. A superhero lacking confidence and who is slightly socially awkward due to how they know they are supposed to behave. I would definitely watch a solo film by her. I really wanted more from her in this. Maybe if there’s a sequel it will be more focused on her.

JoJo Rabbit – JoJo

Brilliantly played, and brilliantly written. Yes, he’s a nazi, but he’s not fuelled by hate, more by ignorance. He has a definite innocence to him, Difficult to do, if you make him too innocent he comes off as stupid, if you make him too knowledgeable, he’ll come off as, well, like a nazi.

The Invisible Man – Cecilia

Obviously, for the reasons listed in the best performer, oh no, I’ve spoiled that section now. Ah well, I’ll live.

Winner

Onward – Ian and Barley. 

I put them together as they function as a pair. Without the relationship between the two, the film would be a lot worse. It’s essentially a family love story. It goes through the same story beats, just without the kiss at the end obviously.

Best Performance

An American Pickle – Seth Rogen

Anybody who plays two roles convincingly in the same film is doing a good job. Especially when you can always tell which character is on screen all the time. He carries both of them differently enough that even when they’re not speaking, and are in the same clothes, you know exactly which one is which. That’s not that easy to do unless you resort to extreme physical performances which can be distracting. The differences here are different enough for you to pick out, but subtle enough that you can’t define them.

JoJo Rabbit – Roman Griffin Davis

He’s 12, and this was his debut. How the hell did he manage this? I assumed he was one of those stage-school kids who’s been acting his whole life due to being related to someone in the industry. For him to come in and do THIS well shows he’s either got a hell of a future in acting, or a hell of a drug problem in his mid 20s. Either way, big things are coming.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm – Maria Bakalova

Another great newcomer. and something even more surprising considering it’s not her native language. Not just that, but she’s anchoring the film alongside someone who is an expert in this field, and she more than holds her own.

Winner

The Invisible Man – Elisabeth Moss

She has strength, but is fragile. Kind of like a flower made of iron. A lot of that is due to how well the character is, so I’ll go into that in that section. But the way Moss plays her is perfect. She needed to play her as someone who has gone through severe trauma and is still suffering mentally from the damage done to her which restricts her ability to live a normal life, yet also strong enough that you know she has the mental strength to do what needs to be done. If Moss played her too far towards either side it would have been ruined as she would have either come off too weak, or so strong that you don’t believe she’s still suffering. It’s a REALLY difficult line to walk, and she not just confidently walks it, she’s doing fucking cartwheels.

Best Film

1917

January was a great time for cinema, saw so many good films in that month (including JoJo Rabbit, which you’ll be hearing more of), but this was the first film that was simply stunning from a technical view.  Not included as the best because I’ve only seen it at the cinema, I’m not entirely sure whether it will also work on a small screen or whether you’ll lose something.

JoJo Rabbit

A film with this subject has to be REALLY good or it will be deemed a failure. It has the potential to offend so many people that the slightest flaw will cause the general public to circle around it like sharks circling around handbags at a disco, or food. Trust me, this is superb, one of the funniest and sweetest films I’ve seen all year. The rest of 2020 may have been bad, but at least it gave me this piece of brilliance.

Onward

Not a lot of love for this film, and I don’t get why. Even by Pixar’s incredibly high standards, it’s still really good. The voices are well-suited to it, and the story is emotionally satisfying. It deserves it’s place among Pixar’s greatest, and it disappoints me that people don’t seem to love it as much as I do.

The Invisible Man

A real surprise. I expected it to be kind of cheap and schlocky. Like it would not be great, but would be entertaining and fun. I was very wrong, this is not a fun watch, and it’s not cheap. This is a script that you felt the writer HAD to get out of them. It has the air of a passion project for everybody involved. The best part? It didn’t NEED to be this good. It didn’t need to have this much care to make money. It could have been made cheaply and still made money. But the fact that they spent enough money to get this film made, the fact that the script is THIS good, the fact that it has power and emotion to it, THAT’S why I love this film. A film about an invisible man has no right to be as well-crafted as this is.

The Personal History Of David Copperfield

A late entry, but deserves it’s place. This is the best of British film-making, showing the best writing, the best actors, and the best locations. The whole film is basically a showreel for British cinema. Despite watching it at home, I felt like I was watching it at the cinema. It just sucked me in completely until I forgot that I was just sitting in bed watching it while eating pringles.

Winner

Parasite

Incredibly haunting. Been almost a year since I saw it and I’m still not entirely sure I’m over the ending. This is one of those films that sticks with you, the kind of film where after seeing it, you want to have hour-long discussions in the pub afterwards. It’s annoying that soon after this we were banned from going outside, because I wanted to go out onto the streets and tell everybody to go see this film.

2020 In Film Day 3: The Meh

Films which had moments, but I felt nothing.

An American Pickle

This should have meant more to me. It was heartwarming, and featured Seth Rogen doing something original. So why didn’t I? I guess it’s the script. It feels like it’s never quite sure what the story is, going from possible plot to possible plot before any of them get a chance to develop. Maybe it would have been better as a miniseries I don’t know, all I know is that there was a lot of ideas in this that could, and should, have been expanded upon but instead only lasted for about 10 minutes before never being mentioned again. This meant that it felt nothing in the film mattered as it wasn’t a story but a series of sketches, so if you missed something you wouldn’t have needed catching up on anything as what you missed didn’t effect the plot at all. 

Original review here

+Seth, without a shadow of a doubt. He carries this movie.

-The lack of identity the film has.

Best moment: When we find out what the company is named after. Very sweet.

Sonic The Hedgehog

A film that is nowhere near as terrible as I expected it be. Yup, high praise indeed. The script is an inconsistent mess, it sacrifices logical storytelling for jokes which sometimes aren’t that great. I can’t tell whether Jim Carrey ruins or makes this movie. His character seems to be from a completely different movie, at times it resembles Kate McKinnon or Will Ferrell at their best, adding an air of manic energy and humour to scenes which otherwise would have been dull, and at times it resembles, well, Kate McKinnon or Will Ferrell, being embarrassingly unfunny and just awkward to watch. 

Original review here

+Has some genuine laugh out loud moments (the line about a duck stealing a bagel made me lol)

-Seems very “first draft”

Best moment: The scenes of Sonic at superspeed resemble the Quicksilver moments from the X-Men movies, in the best possible way.

Tenet

Some people may be surprised that this film ranks so low and may think less of me for putting it here. Maybe they’re annoyed that I rate it so low. Well prepared to get even more annoyed: it’s very lucky to be in this section and not the “bad”. It JUST made it into here. Nolan is a great director, but oh do I hate his choices when it comes to sound. He seems to make a conscious choice to make his films difficult to listen to. His defence of this is that it makes the audience “lean in”, but to be honest it makes me tune out, there’s a reason Taxi Driver didn’t have all the dialogue drowned out by the sound of traffic, or why when you’re filming a scene and a plane flies overhead, you stop filming until the sound dies down.  It ended up frustrating me to the point where it soured me on the film, especially when important plot details get told in a single line of dialogue which you can easily miss. I think from now on I’m only going to see Nolan films at cinemas if they have subtitled screenings. And considering how little cinema seems to cater towards those who are hard of hearing, that might prove difficult.

Original review here

+The fight choreography was amazing to see.

-The waste of talented performers.

Best moment: Hard to pick, so let’s just say the action scenes. 

The Gentleman

The cinematic equivalent of a greatest hits album that confusingly is missing a few of their best songs. Guy Ritchie needs to adapt, and needs to do it soon otherwise he runs the risk of seeming like a relic. He needs to justify why he belongs in a modern cinematic world instead of just replaying the Lock Stock formula. Not the easiest thing to do for him as his moves away from that have been his biggest flops, so he inevitably comes back to what he does well. And he does do it well, there’s no denying that, but we’ve seen it all before. There’s nothing new, nothing that makes you sit up and take notice. Really, there’s no reason you HAVE to see this.

Original review here

+Fun at times.

-The ending is too “oh look how clever we are” for my tastes.

Best Moment: Everytime Hugh Grant is on screen.

An American Pickle (2020)

I should have liked this. It’s a funny idea, and it’s something quirky and strange, I like strange. It just didn’t land with me, though. I went in not knowing what the story is, I came out and still didn’t really know, it goes through multiple ideas so quickly that it never really has an identity.

Essentially it’s about a guy who falls into a pickle vat and ends up being uncovered still alive 100 years later and you think the film is going to be about him adjusting to a modern age. Nope. He meets his great grandson who he hopes is a success, and you think it may be a family based drama about the two connecting, nope, although for the brief moment where it is that, it is superb. He finds a billboard in the graveyard where his family is buried and vows to get enough money to take it down. That storyline lasts about 20 minutes. He gets into an argument with his relative and starts selling pickles out of spite, becoming internet famous among hipsters. That is part of the previous story and is how he gets the money, so also doesn’t last that long. He goes on twitter and tweets offensive shit, which people love. He then slightly suggests running for President before offending Christians and having everybody hates him. That lasts about 5 minutes. He is about to get deported so makes up with his relative and the two try to smuggle him into Canada. That lasts about 10 minutes. He swaps places with his relative (they’re both played by Seth Rogan), so his great grandson gets deported to a place he doesn’t know. That storyline takes about 20 minutes, then the film ends.

It was first showcased on HBO’s streaming service, and it’s definitely a streaming movie. I would probably be more charitable towards it if I watched it online instead of cinema. As it is I just wish it was a TV show instead. If it was then each of those storylines I mentioned would have time to be fleshed out and breathe, they’d be able to develop into actual stories instead of just a collection of scenes.

It’s a shame, as Seth Rogen is great in it. Even when they are supposed to look exactly the same you can tell which one you’re looking at due to the way they carry themselves. It’s a testament to his talent that despite some characters being confused as to who is who, the audience never is. I would compliment the other actors, but most of them turn up, do a few scenes then are never heard from again as their story is dropped. So in summary, I’m not sure whether to recommend this. It had some good moments, but they were too fleeting to offer the film a full recommendation I’m afraid.