I’ve watched 805 films on Netflix over the years, and here are the 50 best I’ve seen in 2020. Some of them are reviewed on here.
Here’s the 40 best films I’ve watched on HBO Go in 2020. You can find reviews for some of them on here. If you’d like me to review any of the others, please comment below. This is a list I’ve created on my letterboxd, and thought I’d also paste it in here, just like last year.
Check out my 2019 list: https://joanneholly.com/2019/12/07/45-best-films-watched-on-hbo-go-in-2019/
I watched 91 films at the pictures in 2019, but because of the pandemic, I’ve only seen 23 films at the cinemas this year. These are the 10 best. I’ve copied this list from my Letterboxd and thought I’d post it in here. Some of these have been reviewed on here throughout the year. If you’d like me to review any of them or any other film, please leave the title in the comments.
Check out my 2019 list: https://joanneholly.com/2019/12/10/30-best-films-watched-in-cinemas-in-2019/
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A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood
I love Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys and yet this still managed to disappoint me. I watched ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ earlier this year and it was one of the best documentaries I’ve seen all year. I wish it was still available on Netflix, so I could rewatch it now.
I cannot believe that apart from the ‘temporary jail’ scenes, the film was shot on the day of the football match! I loved every minute of it.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
I finished reading book last month, after meaning to do so for the last 15+ years. Sadly one of the things I learned is that my favourite character from the film dies tragically in the book. My favourite quote from the book:
‘I can’t wipe the razorblade scars off your wrists, or the cigarette burns off the back of your hands.’
‘Jesus, I mean, you guys do nothing but complain about how you can’t stand it in this place here and you don’t have the guts just to walk out? What do you think you are, for Chrissake, crazy or somethin’? Well you’re not! You’re not! You’re no crazier than the average asshole out walkin’ around on the streets and that’s it.’
‘Is that crazy enough for ya’? Want me to take a shit on the floor?’
The Notorious Betty Page
This would have been so much better if they continued the story past the 50s. There’s nothing here about her nervous breakdown and assaulting her landlord that ended with a decade long stay at a psychiatric hospital. The film suggests that all the sado-maso modelling was a result of Betty’s PTSD after years of sexual abuse and another unrelated attack. In one of the scenes Sarah Paulson tells Gretchen Mol ‘I believe the female form can stand on its own’ when Betty takes out a racy corset, then proceeds to take topless photos of her.
Greer Grammer struggled to find the toilet at the Hecks’ house on The Middle, but managed to carry a shitty Lifetime film. This aired on Filmbox Action at 2am.
I’ve read some really bad reviews for Ron Howard’s new film Hillbilly Eledgy, so I thought I’d give this Oscar Nominated film of his a shot instead, especially since it’s disappearing from Netflix tonight. Hans Zimmer successfully brought tears to my eyes as always, but the script failed to do the same.
Being John Malkovich
Let’s be honest, none of us expected it to suddenly turn gay. A wonderfully twisted mind game and insight into a character’s head. So original, it hurts. Last time I was this nicely surprised with a story was when I watched The Platform on Netflix.
Don’t Look Back
I’m a huge fan of Parenthood, the NBC TV series and Bob Dylan’s Forever Young played in the opening credits of every episode. I feel like I haven’t learned anything new about Dylan after watching this documentary. If you like Bob Dylan, you’ll love this. This is the first musical documentary of the film crew following an artist as they travel from city to city on a tour.
I watched this in my Intro to Animation class this morning, and It’s one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen. An extremely graphic short story of greedy children brutally killing animals to get extra points from a magical genie. The kids get just what they deserve as nature gets its revenge in this BBC animation.
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The minute you’re done watching the trailer, you know exactly how the storyline will unfold, but you can look past it’s predictability. The very last minute of the film has a lovely twist. Both Sarah Paulson and newcomer Kiera Allen give stellar performances. It’s disappointing however, that some of the best shots from the trailer didn’t make the final cut. And they really should have made the film more bloody. This is the 800th film I’ve seen this year.
Sorry We Missed You
Ken Loach has done it again. Realest portrayal of life in England since his 2016 masterpiece, I, Daniel Blake. I am planning on watching every single film from Loach I can find.
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Julianne Moore was originally cast as Lee Israel, but left because of creative differences. Apparently Julie wanted to wear a fat suit and a prosthetic nose. I can’t stop wondering how she would have approached this character. My local cinema only showed two screenings of this film at their Silver Screen two years ago, sadly I had to miss it because of work and regretted not seeing it on the big screen since. I really enjoyed watching the two queer characters’ friendship. McCarthy’s portrayal of a lonely and miserable lesbian writer is her best yet. Richard E. Grant gives a wonderful performance as well.
The Long Way Home
Sarah Paulson got to act with Hollywood legend Jack Lemmon in this lovely TV drama. In one of the scenes Jack’s character references a scene from It Happened One Night and Sarah’s character doesn’t get it.
Every time I see Michael Caine, my mind automatically goes to this interview with Rachel Weisz where she explains to the talk show host how Caine pronounces his name, and the talk show host couldn’t contain himself because it sounds as if he’s saying ‘my cocaine’. It’s nothing new to us British folks, yet it’s still stuck in my memory. That’s it, that’s my review. Also, the minute David Bowie showed up, I realised I’ve seen this film before. And this film makes me want to thank whoever invented CPR.
All That Jazz
How on Earth has Erzsebet Foldi not been in anything since this film?! She’s fantastic in it! Also, it’s a crime how little screen time Jessica Lange has in this.
I watched this for Jessica Lange. I haven’t seen the original documentary, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. I was scared the script would be boring, seeing how most of it was them sitting in the house, but I was nicely surprised.
I mainly watched this because I recognised Miko Hughes from Pet Sematary, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Jack the Bear, Kindergarten Cop and of course, Full House. I know I’ve said this before, but it’s sad what happened to his career after the 90s. Here Miko plays an autistic kid and stars opposite Bruce Willis. I can’t say I enjoyed this film much, but hell, it’s expiring from Netflix this week, so I thought I may as well check it out.
An American Tail
I don’t know what surprised me more, a vegetarian cat or the fact that somehow I never came across this film when I was a kid.
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Over 600 people are locked in a prison with 300+ floors. There is a lift carrying food delivering food starting from the 1st floor, all the way to the last floor. There isn’t enough food for everyone and the greedy people from top floors get more food and people from 200+ and below get nothing. Every 30 days prisoners change floors. If they’re lucky they move up, if not, they may end up below the 200+ floor. In the age when everything is a copy and it’s impossible to find an original idea, David Desola and Pedro Rivero came up with The Platform and what a beautifully depressing ride it is.
There are 3 kinds of people; the ones above, the ones below, and the ones who fall.
Black Water: Abyss
First new release at my local cinema since the pandemic and the first film I’ve seen at the pictures since mid March. I thought it was realistic enough and it made me think of The Descent and Steve Irwin, so I cannot complain. This is the second time this week I’m watching something with a crocodile in it. My family and I just finished watching reruns of the original Return to Eden mini series, which features a croc attack in the pilot. The fact that Black Water 2 took place inside a cave made it more entertaining than the first one. I enjoyed the ending too. I really don’t understand why people think it’s a good idea to explore caves, I just don’t.
Not the best adaptation, but not the worst one either. I watched death scenes from all 6 adaptations on youtube, and I think I liked this one the most, especially with the neck breaking.
A villain or villains chasing someone in the middle of the woods has been my favourite genre since I watched Wes Craven’s The Last House On The Left as a kid. The lesson we can learn from Rust Creek is to never get out of your perfectly working car when you’re in the middle of nowhere. Don’t leave the car to look at the map, you can do that from your car. And don’t stop your car in the middle of nowhere when you’re by yourself. Keep driving till you’re surrounded by multiple households. Also, don’t waste your phone’s battery on the recorder app. And always charge your phone while driving.
It’s good, but whoever called it Colombian Persepolis has clearly never seen Persepolis.
It took me five days to finish this, which helped me realise maybe I don’t need to see all of Ghibli studio’s films. It’s about racoons getting their revenge on people for deforestation, urbanisation and gentrification.
I just really felt like watching the first 4 Alien films. I gave Alien and Aliens 10/10 and 6/10 to Alien 3. This one sees Ripley come back after 200 years as a robot, I know right? Winona Ryder co-stars. Why so many flashing lights though?! I had to watch parts of it with my head down and considered fast forwarding. I will not be watching any other Aliens. Well, I would if Sigourney Weaver was back.
Hey, Ripley. I heard you, like, ran into these things before?
Wow, man. So, like, what did you do?
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
Audra’s acting is fantastic and the way she changed her voice so much and kept it that low through an hour and a half monologue of talking and singing is a masterclass in itself!
Home Sweet Home
So Candace Cameron Bure’s youtuber daughter is an actress now?
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A female suddenly becomes allergic to the environment. Her husband and doctors are convinced it’s psychological. Possibly the best time to re-visit this Todd Haynes masterpiece starring his muse, Julianne Moore. I never realised how much weight Julie had to drop for this role. I read that she felt awful and pledged to never lose or gain weight for a role ever again. I hate how misleading this poster is, it’s not a post apocalyptic film.
We witness a day in the life of a film producer’s assistant as she gets on with her daily tasks and questions her boss’s integrity when it comes to hiring another assistant. In one of the first scripts since the Me Too movement, the assistant, decides to go to HR and raise a complaint against her boss, even though she has no proof and doesn’t even know if anything has happened. Her current and future jobs are threatened and she backs down. My favourite scene has got to be the one at the very end when she talks to her dad and her dad tells her how proud her parents are of her. That ached, because it’s true, our parents don’t know half of the shit we go through, because we want to protect them and we want to protect the image they have of us, no matter how fake it is. The film ends with the girl witnessing a suggestive scene through a window with his boss and a very poor wanna be actress and her walking back to her flat. I love Ozark, but this is amazing too. I can’t wait to see Julia Garner get an Oscar one day. This film also made me want to check out Casting JonBenet, a Kitty Green film I’ve been putting off for 3 years now. My dad didn’t like this film at all.
Our Little Sister
Three adult sisters attend their estranged father’s funeral. They meet their half sister and offer to take her to live with them in this old traditional Japanese house their mother left them. I would have never known about this wonderful gem if it wasn’t for Mubi. I’ve updated my 100 Favourite films of the decade, sacrificing a less perfect title.
When her new friends mistakenly take her for a boy, an 11 year old girl tries to figure out whether she’s a boy, or if she’s just a tomboy. The secret comes out and her little sister is very supportive, their mother is not accepting. It made me think of Boys Don’t Cry and I loved every minute of it! This is my 4th Celine Sciamma film, I still haven’t seen Girlhood (come on Mubi, please add it already!), and I’m mesmerized by every single one of them.
Aliens land in South Africa, people are not kind to them and keep them locked, experiment on them and kill them without a good reason. A male accidentally sprays a liquid on himself and his arm turns into a claw. While being chased by humans, he befriends an alien, and screws him over, but in the end they reconcile. The man turns into an alien ‘The Fly’ style while humans think he’s disappeared. He waits for his friend to come back in 3 years and help him, but we never see what happens. Peter Jackson didn’t plan a sequel, but the ending is very sequel’y. It’s a good movie, but why is it one of the 1000 movies we need to see before we die? I also didn’t know Nathalie Boltt, who plays Cheryl’s mom on Riverdale is South African until I IMDB’d her while watching this film. I laughed when they announced on the news that the main character is wanted for shagging an alien and then everyone he ran into asked him about his sexual preferences.
‘I would never have any kind of… pornographic activity with a fokkin’ creature.’
While waiting for the galleries to re-open take a virtual step into the London’s National Gallery and follow the staff as they go on with their daily tours and activities. The restoration process looks fascinating. I’ve been to Trafalgar Square so many times, yet I’ve never found time to visit the National Gallery. I mean, I took advanced Visual Arts in secondary school and an Art History elective in my first semester of uni for crying out loud. I need to find time. The film is 3h long, and I would advise you fast forward through the staff meeting parts.
Don’t Talk to Irene
Irene is a fifteen year old girl who wants to be a cheerleader. She only has one friend, an imaginary friend, Geena Davis. If you love Geena Davis, you’ll love this! Geena Davis herself admits that Earth Girls Are Easy was a stupid film. She also mentions many of her other films, most notably A League of their Own and Thelma and Louise. I did find it disappointing that the girl wasn’t in love with Geena. Why else would you convince yourself you’re actually talking to your favourite celebrity, while in fact you’re talking to a poster on the wall.
Brian De Palma still at it with the erotic thrillers. I didn’t like the film that much while I was watching it, but now when I look back, It wasn’t that bad. The title itself is just a click-bate though. There is a lesbian plot in this and you won’t be surprised until you finally see how they chose to play it out. I wonder if this film is why Rachel McAdams was cast in Disobedience. I remember seeing an interview on Youtube where Rachel Weisz said McAdams got the job because of her acting in Spotlight. This is my least favourite film of De Palma’s and yet I still want it on DVD.
What do you want?
I used to want to be admired.
I admire you.
Well, now I want to be loved.
Friday Night Lives