Film

Our film critic has spoken: these are the 10 best movies of 2020

20 December 2020 - 00:02 By
A scene from 'This is Not a Burial, it's a Resurrection'.
A scene from 'This is Not a Burial, it's a Resurrection'.
Image: Supplied

In spite of its difficulties, 2020 still produced some excellent entertainment that made life under lockdown a lot more bearable.

Here, in no particular order, are my picks for the best films in a year:

1. DA 5 BLOODS

Spike Lee's Vietnam adventure put the role played by black officers in the US's most divisive war firmly front and centre. With a standout performance from Delroy Lindo as a long-suffering vet, and a direct but necessary reminder of the historical role of black fighters throughout American history, Lee's film breathed some vital social relevance into an oversaturated genre.

Delroy Lindo as Paul, back left, Chadwick Boseman as Stormin' Norman, front, and Clarke Peters as Otis, back right in 'Da 5 Bloods'.
Delroy Lindo as Paul, back left, Chadwick Boseman as Stormin' Norman, front, and Clarke Peters as Otis, back right in 'Da 5 Bloods'.
Image: Supplied

2. MOFFIE

Oliver Hermanus took an empathetic and complex look at the fragility of white South African male identity. A humanely realised and often uncomfortable historical drama about the pressures faced by a gay English military conscript in the dark days of apartheid that still has plenty to say about the present-day South African male psyche.

3. QUEEN & SLIM

Melina Matsoukas's debut feature turned the outcasts-on-the-run genre on its head with a simple but effective refocusing of the tribulations of its odd-couple pair through the lens of US police racial prejudice to engaging and intelligent effect.

4. SOUND OF METAL

Riz Ahmed gave a career-best performance in director Darius Marder's technically astute and emotionally compassionate examination of the world of the deaf in this moving story about a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing.

5. MANK

David Fincher's realisation of his late father's screenplay about the man who wrote Citizen Kane was beautifully crafted, and expertly carried by Gary Oldman's sparkling performance. It offered not only an elegantly shown evocation of a forgotten slice of Hollywood legend, but also a wise rumination on the dangers of propaganda and the nefarious influence of fake news.

6. I'M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS

Charlie Kaufman, American cinema's most intellectually taxing and neurotic filmmaker, brilliantly presented this difficult and provocative examination of the dark fears lying within romantic relationships to head-scratching and singular full effect.

WATCH | The trailer for 'I'm Thinking of Ending Things'

7. THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

Aaron Sorkin's whip-smart, frenetically paced dialogue and ping pong of ideas proved well suited to this timely recreation of a shameful incident from 20th-century American jurisprudence that still has substantial relevance for the righteous indignation of the current moment.

8. A SUN

Taiwanese director Chung Mong-hong's epic family saga landed at the beginning of the year. Demanding but worth the effort, it's a unique mix of in-your-face violence and in-your-heart humanity that displays a subtle respect for the complexities and emotional pressures that afflict all families.

9. THIS IS NOT A BURIAL, IT'S A RESURRECTION

Basotho director Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese's simple and evocative story of one determined woman's fight against the forces of progress featured a brilliant performance from the late Mary Twala, and offered a slow-burning relatable examination of the battles between tradition and modernity.

WATCH | The trailer for 'This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection'.

10. DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD

Kirsten Johnson enlisted the help of her ailing father in this funny, deeply moving documentary experiment that's a hugely enjoyable and intelligently provocative meditation on mortality.