The Best (in Film) for 2020… and the Worst

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While I wish that I could say the past year will be best-remembered for all of the wonderful movies I had the pleasure of seeing, the truth is simply this: most were either average or barely above average, in my opinion, and one was even below average. However, the critics, as a whole, did not completely agree with me on that. Going by the numbers, I watched and/or reviewed 20 new films in 2020. Out of all the movies that I gave a 5/10 or less, the other critics agreed with me on just three of them. That comes out to less than half of the films that I have a score for. On the flip side, however, out of all of the movies that I gave at least a 6/10 for, the rest of the critics agreed with me on 11/13. So, there is, in fact, hope for the future. I might be semi-sarcastic in saying so, but that means I am, also, semi-serious. Furthermore, finding what we can agree on with one another is much more important than the former.

Keep in mind that due to all of the weirdness of 2020, the markers for what makes a film eligible during award season are slightly different compared to recent memory. Normally, we would already have a pretty good idea of what to expect for, say, The Academy Awards, but since they will not take place until late April of this year, there is yet another month of eligibility still to come. Having said all that, I have decided to go ahead and share my personal picks for the Top 5 (and Bottom 5) movies for the memorable, yet forgettable, year of 2020. 

In order to be fair to all of the films included, I have mathematically compiled my official score along with the average score for each title on a 10-point scale, according to Rotten Tomatoes(.com) and rounded everything to the nearest quarter of a full point (0.25). First, the Top 5, in descending order…

  1. Soul, directed by Peter Docter (Inside Out); composite score: 16.25/20 (81%)
  2. The Invisible Man, directed by Leigh Whannell (Upgrade); composite score: 15.75/20 (79%)
  3. 7500, directed by Patrick Vollrath (Everything Will Be Okay); composite score: 15.5/20 (78%)
  4. First Cow, directed by Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women); composite score: 15.5/20 (77%)
  5. Get Duked!, directed by Ninian Doff; composite score: 15/20 (75%)

Now, the Bottom 5, in ascending order…

  1. The Rhythm Section, directed by Reed Morano (I Think We’re Alone Now); composite score: 10.75/20 (54%)
  2. Sonic the Hedgehog, directed by Jeff Fowler; composite score: 10.75 (53%)
  3. An American Pickle, directed by Brandon Trost (The FP); composite score: 10.25 (51%)
  4. Spenser Confidential, directed by Peter Berg (Mile 22); composite score: 9.75/20 (49%)
  5. Hillbilly Elegy, directed by Ron Howard (Solo: A Star Wars Story); composite score: 9.5/20 (48%)

So, there you have it! Although 7500 was my highest-rated movie in 2020, my pick for the best film is none other than the animated, Pixar movie, Soul. As for An American Pickle, it was spared from the absolute bottom-of-the-barrel score, due to what I would describe as an overrated reception, but the notorious Hillbilly Elegy could not be rescued and has made the cut for my worst film of the year.

As much as I liked First Cow and Get Duked!, I do not think they will hear any buzz over the next couple of months. So, consider this article as one plea for foreign and independent movies to keep gaining more exposure during award season. Soul will not be up for the ultimate prize when the Oscars are ready to unfold, but it will likely earn its keep in the next best category available to it: Best Animated Feature Film. As for The Invisible Man and 7500, my only hope is that they will be considered in the acting achievements, respectively: Elisabeth Moss (The Invisible Man), Best Actress and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (7500), Best Actor. 

I will not go too deep into the details of any predictions concerning the Razzie Awards, but if I had it my way, Sonic the Hedgehog would be a runner (no pun intended) for Worst Editing and An American Pickle would get serious consideration for Most Annoying Foreign Accent. Hillbilly Elegy is the most intriguing of the bunch, within this entire article, because some of the acting performances could go down as being among the best or the worst in the same breadth. Instead of spoiling that for any of you, I will tempt you to watch the movie on Netflix (if it is still available there) and find out for yourself. Good luck in 2021, everybody!

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