Nearly 10,000 movies were released in 2020 despite COVID-19 drastically affecting the movie industry. Some were released in theaters, others in streaming. But only a few deserve recognition, and here are my favorite films of 2020 as seen on my home away from home, The Filipino Channel’s Balitang America.
THE WORST MOVIES OF 2020
What about the bad you asked? I am not fond of calling a movie “bad” for the simple fact that no one wants to make a bad film. But somewhere along the way, missteps happen and opportunities are missed. Here are my Top 5 of those movies with missed opportunities from my other home, NBC Palm Springs.
HONORABLE MENTIONS (MOVIES THAT DESERVE A SECOND CHANCE)
“Mank” – A little dry, but if you like the history behind the making of “Citizen Kane,” one of the best movies ever made, then this is your film.
“The Assistant” – Quiet but harrowing, a cautionary tale that is not unlike the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
“Sound of Metal” –Riz Ahmed giving one of the best performances of 2020 as a heavy metal drummer battling hearing loss.
“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” – Not Charlie Kauffman’s best but there’s a sense of discovery that must be felt and seen.
“Lingua Franca” – Sexuality, immigration, and culture collide in this life-affirming tale.
“The Way I See It” – Pete Souza, the photographer of Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan takes us into an intimate journey behind two of the most iconic presidencies in our history.
“On the Rocks” – Bill Murray is always fun to watch in a Sofia Coppola-directed film.
“The Social Dilemma” – The scary look at social media and disinformation.
“Get Duked!” – Rituals, teenage boys, and the Scottish Highlands. What could go wrong? This is absurdly funny and criminally underseen.
“The Nest” – Carrie Coon and Jude Law are fantastic as a couple on the verge of breaking up.
“Kajillionaire” – A dramedy about con artists and how one sucker is born every minute.
“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” – the best Netflix Christmas movie ever!
“Uncorked” – Family and dreams mingle in this movie about the wine industry and following your heart.
“Ordinary Love” – Liam Neeson made me cry!
“The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” – 2020 saw a bunch of music documentaries from The Go-Go’s to the dreamers of Laurel Canyon. But this is easily the best of the bunch and perhaps, the best documentary about the Bee Gees ever made.
“Boys State” – One of the best docs of 2020 about how Texas teens learn to build a representative government from the ground up.
“76 Days” – Another one of my fave docs, this one’s about the first 76 days of the COVID-19 virus in Wuhan, China. Simply harrowing but oddly uplifting!
“Bad Education” – Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney are fantastic in this true-life film about the largest public school embezzlement in American history.
“Shithouse” – First-time director Cooper Raiff created and starred in this fantastic South by Southwest winner about surviving college and homesickness.
“What the Constitution Means to Me” – Historical perspectives and personal experiences with the U.S. Constitution is explored in this live Broadway cast production of Heidi Schreck’s play.
“The Half of It” – A sweet film about love and sacrifice from the point of view of a teenage girl.
“One Night in Miami” – What would have happened if Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke meet in a Miami hotel room to celebrate Ali’s title win? This is a fictionalized account of what would have been from Oscar winner Regina King.
“Circus of Books” – First of all, how come I didn’t go to this gay porn shop? And second, I should have gone! Too bad it’s closed now but you can feel the magic and hilarity in this documentary directed by the owners’ daughter.
“Small Axe” – Leave it to Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave,” “Widows”) to give us an affecting anthology about West Indian immigrants in London during the 1960s and 1970s.
“Blow the Man Down” – Unpredictable with a Stephen King vibe!
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” – Based on the play by August Wilson, the film boasts great performances from Viola Davis as Ma Rainey and the late Chadwick Boseman as Ma Rainey’s trumpeter Levee Green.
“Totally Under Control” – The real truth about the Trump administration’s mishandling of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Miss Juneteenth” – Race, beauty pageants, and dreams. A heartwarming film from director Channing Godfrey Peoples.
“His House” – Great horror films are often political statements masquerading as a scary movie. This is one of them.
“News of the World” – Tom Hanks is always good but he’s nearly eclipsed by his co-star Helena Zengel in this Paul Greengrass-directed film about finding your real home.
“Wonder Woman 1984” – If anybody wants to argue with me on this, bring it on!
“Tenet” – Not one of Christopher Nolan’s best (it’s confusing as heck), but thank God for subtitles and impressive set pieces!
“Crip Camp” – How teenage people with disabilities started a revolution. Simply inspiring!
“Time” – An arresting documentary about our corrupt justice system (see also “40 Years a Prisoner”) . Director Garrett Bradley documents the story of Fox Rich and her campaign for the release of her husband Rob from prison (see my interviews with both Fox and Rich and Bradley here).