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Top 5 films of 2020

ByJohn Wintroub

Jan 3, 2021

2020 was a rough year for film. Despite this, there were still quite a few gems that managed to release last year. Whether it be in theaters or streaming, film managed to survive the horrors of 2020. The following are the five films I loved the most from 2020.

5. My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising

Literally the last movie I saw in theaters before the pandemic, My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising was easily the best superhero film to release in 2020. Heroes Rising gave me my favorite theater experience this year as My Hero Academia fans were treated to a visual spectacle of animated brilliance. Studio Bones brought their A-game with this film, rivaling that of Ufotable’s Demon Slayer (which also received a movie this year). Of the many anime franchise films to release this year, My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising was the only one to make me feel deep emotion to the point that I was left with tears in my eyes after the film ended. Even if you haven’t seen the anime, Heroes Rising is a must watch, especially if you are a fan of superheroes and animation.

4. Tenet

Definitely the strangest film on this list, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet left me speechless when I saw it back in September. I was lucky enough to see it in theaters, and it was a spectacle. While the character writing is a bit shallow, Tenet makes up for it with a truly mind-blowing premise and the best action sequences of the year. Four months later and I still have no idea how they filmed the action so that it would look fluid both in the real world and the inverted one. John David Washington and Robert Pattinson shine so brightly in this film. The layered plot is so heavy that it takes multiple viewings to piece together. Nolan did something similar with my favorite film of his, The Prestige, and over a decade later, he proves that blockbusters can be more than mindless action.

3. Da 5 Bloods

Spike Lee managed to make what may be the best Vietnam war film ever made. Da 5 Bloods tackles racism through the lense of the Vietnam war, as the film follows a group of Vietnam War veterans known as the “Bloods” as they return to Vietnam nearly 50 years later to claim riches that they buried on the battlefield. The changing aspect ratio only adds to the experience, showing a clear thematic shift between the flashbacks to the war and the present. The writing is extremely on point with Lee developing the characters extremely well. Despite his little screen time, Chadwick Boseman gives a show-stealing performance. However, the true stand out is Delroy Lindo. He brings so much emotional depth to the character through the way he presents Paul’s PTSD. The way he plays off of the rest of the cast, while bringing an incredibly layered performance is astounding. I need to watch more movies starring Lindo right now.

2. Soul

One of the best Pixar movies in recent years, Soul asks what it means to be alive. Pixar’s character design team has improved so much within the last year since Toy Story 4 and Incredibles 2. The dynamic and unique shapes allow the character silhouettes to be easily distinguishable. When combined with the ethereal staircase to the Great Beyond and the vibrancy of the Great Before, Soul easily matches the beauty of Pixar’s last masterpiece, Coco. The entire concept of Soul feels like a spiritual sequel to Inside Out (which shares the same director: Peter Docter) with one key difference: the protagonist actually experiences the internal conflict. Joe, played by Jamie Foxx, goes through all of the motions himself and is his own greatest demon. The amazing voicework, dynamic score and thought-provoking writing make Soul an absolute must watch.

1. Weathering With You

Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name is one of my favorite films, so it is only natural that his latest film, Weathering With You ended up being my favorite film of 2020. This rain-drenched love story follows high school students Hodaka Morishima and Hina Amano who run away from home. Upon discovering that Hina has the ability to change the weather, the two begin offering up her services in exchange for money, food and shelter. The animation from CoMix Wave is some of the best I have ever witnessed; it is even better than Your Name‘s at times. Shinkai continues to be one of my favorite Japanese directors, and I cannot wait for his next film. If you have not seen Weathering With You (or any of Shinkai’s films), you need to as soon as possible.

What 2020 films did you love? Comment below!