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.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020)

Well this was a shock. The character of Borat was thought to be dead, and for good reason; how can you trick someone when everybody knows who you are? Plus, what would it have to say? Didn’t it say everything it needed to say in the first movie?

So it was a genuine shock when they announced this film, not that it was being done, but that it had already been completed and was being released in a few weeks time. I love a surprise release, and they haven’t come more surprising than this.

What’s a bigger surprise is how easy it was for him to get people to say some really stupid shit. The character may be from Kazakhstan but the film is very reminiscent of Russia, in that it’s funny, until it very suddenly definitely isn’t. And it happens very quickly when he goes into a shop and asks whether one of the gas they sell will kill gypsys. The shop assistant replies that he needs to get the bigger one.

It gets much worse, with a scene late on in the film where he gets a festival full of people to sing that journalists should be executed, after choosing between that or injecting them with COVID. Oh yeah, this film mentions COVID, and brilliantly. COVID is the first pandemic in the age of mass misinformation, and the stuff that people say in this is shocking, but also not unexpected. Maybe that’s a weakness. A few years ago, someone saying that the leader of the opposition in America created a disease in China and then unleashed it on the world just to take down the president would seem insane. Today it’s actually US government policy. So how can it be possible to shock and surprise when stupidity and hate is the default setting of half the population?

Enter Rudy Giuliani, a guy who led New York through the aftermath of 9/11, and has since destroyed his reputation with, well just his general personality, although launching a fundraiser and asking guests to donate $9.11 probably didn’t help. In this film it’s not so much what he says, but what he does, he goes to a hotel room of young woman who is interviewing him, lays on her bed, and then he, well he fluffs himself. It’s incredibly creepy and is filmed in almost haunting silence, like you’re watching a slow-motion disaster. This was huge news, in that it made the actual news. On the downside this meant you knew it was going to happen, on the upside it means that there’s a slight chance (very slight) that Borat decided the election, weird.

What’s also weird is that this actually has a good plot(brilliant segue there, fucking seamless). It acknowledges the first film, and focuses on Borat living in shame and Kazakhstan being ashamed of him (which is very based in reality considering their reaction to the film), which causes him to have to go in disguise for this, travelling US with his daughter. Oh yeah, he has a daughter (Tutar, played expertly by Maria Bakalova), and truth be told she provides some of the most shocking moments. Not only the aforementioned Rudy moment, but she swallows a plastic baby from top of a cupcake and goes to get an abortion, saying her dad put it inside her. To which the doctor tries to talk her out of having an abortion because America.

She also provides a lot of the emotional weight. Particularly when a babysitter (Jeanise Jones), is genuinely shocked and tries her best to help Tutar. She’s not scripted, her initial behaviour was to help this poor woman, that’s her genuine human nature, and it’s wonderful to see it in this film. Obviously people agree, as they raised $150,000 for her. I think that’s thee important message of this film, and I don’t know where it was intentional or not. But when rich white guys are dicks to people, there will always be others there who are looking to help. Whether it’s a black babysitter who is concerned for Tutar, a young white girl who calls her own father out on being a creepy bastard, there will always be kindness in the world, you just need to find it. There’s a moment where Borat goes to commit suicide by hugging a Jew (it makes sense in context) and ends up having a beautiful conversation with a holocaust survivor. Keep in mind he enters the synagogue dressed in what can only be described as “Jewface”, dressed head to toe in hate. And this woman, who has seen what this hate leads to, she approaches him without hesitation and gives him a hug. It’s stunningly beautiful and incredibly heartwarming. Sacha Baron Cohen obviously thought the same as he actually broke character and told her that he was just playing a character.

The most beautiful moment comes at the very end, and I’m not entirely sure if it’s Sacha Baron Cohen as himself, or as Borat. He tells Tutar (or Maria), “you were amazing”. It makes sense in the film to be said by Borat, but he says it in Hebrew, which makes me think it was Cohen. It’s…..it’s beautiful. And weirdly, that’s what I’ll remember from this film, the love. And I NEVER thought I’d say that coming into this.