Best of 2020: movies

Theatres closing, film festivals being cancelled, and release date push-backs all made 2020 an interesting year. But that’s not to say that great movies stopped coming—rather, as big studios took to releasing films on-demand and through streaming services, audiences got an even wider selection of diverse films, making it a revolutionary year for cinema fans. In quarantine, many had nothing to do but sit around and watch movies, yet nobody watched the same ones. From “Hamilton,” which provided music-loving fans the enjoyment needed to survive isolation, all the way to “Onward” which had animation and Tom Holland fans smiling for days. “Enola Holmes” gave female investigators a voice and “Call of the Wild” made us cry and beg our parents for a pet dog. All in all, this year will not be forgotten for its lack of cinematic art, and for audience members wondering how they made these movies without masks. With that said, and looking forward to a year in which we may be able to return to the blissful complete darkness of the big screen, here is our list for the top seven (unranked) films of 2020. 


Onward: Nora

Disney Pixar released the movie “Onward” on March 6, 2020, grossing a total of $141.4 million in revenue worldwide moments before the pandemic shut down theatrical releases worldwide. The movie follows the heartwarming and exciting journey of two elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, as they go on a quest to spend one more full day with their deceased father. Their adventure is filled with magic spells, mysterious maps, and thrilling obstacles. The animation and storyline are both very good. It’ll make you laugh, and maybe cry, and is definitely worth watching! It’s a family movie perfect for all ages. You can watch it on Disney+ or Amazon Prime Video.


Hamilton: Caroline

While movie theaters were closed due to the pandemic, so were Broadway theaters. “Hamilton,”  a 2015 broadway musical that took the nation by storm with its catchy songs and historical plot, was released on Disney+ for a more accessible viewing experience. The film version of the musical was filmed in 2016, four years before its release to the popular streaming platform Disney+ on July 3, 2020. The musical features the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton, and his rise to political success in revolutionary America. Written by Lin Manuel Miranda, the songs mix historical events commonly learned about in high school history class with rap-style lyrics and music. With countless sold out shows, it became near impossible to go see the musical in person. The filming technique used provided a more immersive experience than one would get going to see a live performance of the show. No matter if you are watching the filmed for television streaming version or a live performance, both versions offer equally good viewing experiences. When going to see a live version it is more fun to hear the live music, but you can get stuck with bad seats and don’t get to see the costumes, singing, and dancing in as much detail as you do on screen, and you get to watch the original Broadway cast as well.


Enola Holmes: Eleanor

“Enola Holmes” was originally meant to be on the big screen but was sold to be released on Netflix at the last minute due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, the adventure debut was a smash hit, admired by many for its stellar cast, amazing costume design, and intricate sets that all catch the eyes of the audience. Critics swooned over great performances by Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Helena Bonham Carter, and many others. One specific detail of the film that had many people talking was the fact that Enola Homes would immerse the audience by talking and looking directly at the camera.  Some people found this very uncomfortable and unneeded, while others thought it was a fun idea and kept them watching. The costumes and set design were where a lot of audience members were left with their jaws dropped, as the dresses Enola wore were elegant and classy, while the sets included fun colors and cluttered details.    


Call of the Wild: Thea

Ellanor Splinter

“Call of the Wild” premiered on Feb. 21, making it one of the first movies 2020 saw. It starred Harrison Ford as a lost alcoholic who sets out on an adventure in search of a better life. Along the way, he meets a dog that soon becomes his family. Together, they reach a small cabin in the middle of the woods where their adventure only grows more interesting. Overall, the film did well in theaters grossing just a little under 30 million dollars during its first week. Although some critics weren’t the biggest fans of the movie, most audiences agreed that it was a touching story with a deep message. The story may be something we’ve all seen a version of before, but “Call of the Wild” definitely put it’s own twist on the classic story of unlikely friends in a tale about coming to terms with loss, finding family, and second chances. 


i’m thinking of ending things: Hannah OP 

Ellanor Splinter

Uneasy instrumental music plays. These are the first words that flash across the screen in the opening sequence of “i’m thinking of ending things,” screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s latest haunting film, and there couldn’t be a more accurate description of its essence. Much like his other works “Being John Malkovich” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “i’m thinking of ending things” occupies a genre of ambiguity, one that is best described as existential horror. Aside from the open-ended and often bewildering plot, which, on the surface at least, centers around a young woman going on a trip with her boyfriend to his parents’ secluded farm, the Netflix feature is visually stunning, playing with surreal images and disturbingly tranquil shots of snow-covered backgrounds landscapes. “i’m thinking of ending things” is a puzzle of poetic ideas, questioning the absurdity of life, the pain of memory, and the nature of reality, all in a way that will leave you thinking for days.  


Tenet: Hannah OP: 

Ellanor Splinter

“Tenet” was promised to be the film that would salvage movie theatres for 2020, a blockbuster smash that put the rest of Christopher Nolan’s movies to shame. And while it didn’t quite live up to expectations, there is no doubt that the incredibly intricate plot and fascinating visuals in this untraditional espionage film deserve praise. Propelled by an enormous budget and very minimal use of visual effects, “Tenet” has its protagonist, a CIA agent attempting to prevent World War III, constantly fighting in incredible action sequences that go against the laws of time: Cars flip over in reverse motion accompanied by bombastic sound effects. Needless to say, hard-core action fans will not be dissapointed. Yet, at the same time, the film invokes much more depth and thought-provoking easter-eggs than your typical “Fast and Furious” sort of thriller. “Tenet” is not just entertaining, it is daringly complex in a way that demands the viewer’s full attention. 


The Invisible Man: Eleanor: 

It may be hard to remember back to the days before the pandemic when we were able to enjoy hours in movie theaters, but many reminiscence over the tense experience of leaving the theater paranoid at the end of “The Invisible Man.” The film, directed by Leigh Whanell, was a new rendition of the 1933 classic with the same title that shocked critics and thrill-seekers alike for its incredible acting, innovation of fighting scenes, and meticulous details. In Whanell’s version of the story, a young woman is being stalked by her abusive ex-boyfriend after he faked his own suicide and created an invisible suit to allow him to pursue his obsession with his ex-girlfriend. Small details added by the editing crew and director allowed for the audience to be on the edge of their seats as they noticed the eerie presence of the invisible man around his ex-girlfriend. The movie is full of great acting from main and side characters, the two main characters being played by Elizabeth Moss and Oliver Jackson-Cohen, allowing the audience to be immersed into the emotions of the characters throughout the story. The cast and crew used innovative techniques to include fight scenes, in which a stunt man was put in a green suit and told to fight with Elizabeth Moss; a final effect that looked as if an invisible person had actually existed. This movie had fans impressed with production, and looking behind them to see if they had their own invisible man to deal with.