Afternoon or should I say late afternoon. I’ve been plenty busy with the Best of 2020, getting last-minute gift shopping, grocery shopping, all the while leaving town to spend a few days at a very small family gathering. Today we got films. Unfortunately, I haven’t been watching a lot, but I did manage to find IndieWire’s annual picks of best films for this year. Written by Zack Sharf, I will just only do five. You can read the rest of the article right here: https://www.indiewire.com/gallery/50-best-movies-2020-critics-poll/nomadland-5/.
The 50 Best Movies of 2020, According to Over 230 Film Critics — Year in Review
“Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” “Nomadland,” and “First Cow” have been named the best films of 2020 in IndieWire’s annual critics poll.
Director: Chloé Zhao
Cast: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Charlene Swankie, Bob Wells
Accolades: Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Read IndieWire’s review: “Nomadland” is the kind of movie that could go very wrong. With Frances McDormand as its star alongside a cast real-life nomads, in lesser hands it might look like cheap wish fulfillment or showboating at its most gratuitous. Instead, director Chloé Zhao works magic with McDormand’s face and the real world around it, delivering a profound rumination on the impulse to leave society in the dust.
2. “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”
Director: Eliza Hittman
Cast: Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder, Théodore Pellerin, Ryan Eggold, Sharon Van Etten
Accolades: Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival
Read IndieWire’s review: Hittman’s ability to write and direct such tender films has long been bolstered by her interest in casting them with fresh new talents, all the better to sell the veracity of her stories and introduce moviegoers to emerging actors worthy of big attention. With “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” Hittman continues her traditions with her most vivid work yet, one all the more impressive for its studio pedigree. (This is not the kind of film many mainstream outfits would support and make, and more power to Focus Features and Hittman for endeavoring to bring it to a large audience.)
3. “First Cow”
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Cast: John Magaro, Orion Lee, Toby Jones, Ewen Bremner, Scott Shephard, Gary Farmer
Read IndieWire’s review: Few filmmakers wrestle with what it means to be American the way Kelly Reichardt has injected that question into all of her movies. In a meticulous fashion typical of her spellbinding approach, “First Cow” consolidates the potent themes of everything leading up to it: It returns her to the nascent America of the 19th Century frontier at the center of “Meek’s Cutoff,” touches on the environmental frustrations of “Night Moves,” revels in the glorious isolation of the countryside in “Certain Women,” and the somber travails of vagrancy at the center of “Wendy and Lucy.”
4. “Lovers Rock”
Director: Steve McQueen
Cast: Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn and Michael Ward
Read IndieWire’s review: Set across a single night in 1980 and loaded with a soundtrack from the eponymous reggae music, “Lovers Rock” is a paean to an energized youth culture taking control of its surroundings, despite the social unrest around them. Experienced on its own terms, this delightful snapshot of boozy dance-floor seduction plays like an artist unleashing years of repressed good vibes by applying his lyrical style to pure, unbridled bliss for almost the entirety of its 68 minutes.
5. “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”
Director: Charlie Kaufman
Cast: Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette, David Thewlis
Read IndieWire’s review: If “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” feels like both an act of self-parody for its director and also a radical departure from his previous work, that’s because it takes Kaufman’s usual fixations and turns them inside out. While this leaky snow globe of a breakup movie is yet another bizarre and ruefully hilarious trip into the rift between people, it’s not — for the first time — about someone who’s trying to cross it. On the contrary, Kaufman is now telling a story about the rift itself.
Director: Kantemir Balagov
Cast: Viktoria Miroshnichenko, Vasilisa Perelygina, Konstantin Balakirev, Andrey Bykov
Read IndieWire’s review: Inspired by Svetlana Alexievich’s book “The Unwomanly Face of War,” Balagov’s frigid “Beanpole” tells a glacially paced but gorgeously plotted story about two women — two best friends — who grow so desperate for any kind of personal agency that they start using each other to answer the unsolvable arithmetic of life and death.
Director: Garrett Bradley
Read IndieWire’s review: A woman’s 20-year fight to free her husband is captured on home video and cut together into a profoundly moving story of hope. On its surface, Garrett Bradley’s “Time” asks a simple question: How can you convey the full length of 21 years in the span of a single film, let alone a documentary that runs just 81 minutes? And from its degraded opening images — borrowed from the first of a thousand video messages that a black Louisiana woman named Sibil Fox Richardson (aka “Fox Rich”) recorded for her husband as she waited for him to be released from the State Penitentiary — offers a similarly simple answer: You don’t measure it in length, but rather in loss.
8. “Da 5 Bloods”
Director: Spike Lee
Cast: Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Paul Walter Hauser, Jean Reno, Chadwick Boseman
Read IndieWire’s review: “Da 5 Bloods” doesn’t always gel as it careens through overstuffed plot twists and disparate tones, with some big moments better executed than others. Still, that freewheeling energy is in short supply, and this pure distillation of a Spike Lee joint illustrates the rarity of an American filmmaker so confident in his sensibilities and style that nothing can slow them down.
9. “Martin Eden”
Director: Pietro Marcello
Cast: Luca Marinelli, Carlo Cecchi, Jessica Cressy, Vincenzo Nemolato, Marco Leonardi
Read IndieWire’s review: Pietro Marcello’s “Martin Eden” is a dreamy and surprisingly faithful Jack London adaptation made with more than 100 years of hindsight, one that doesn’t bend over backwards to prevent modern audiences from missing London’s points. London’s novel is all the more powerful because it’s not prescriptive — because it gives readers just enough rope to hang themselves, and sets them all the same traps that Martin himself falls into.
Director: Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles
Cast: Sônia Braga, Udo Kier, Bárbara Colen, Thomas Aquino, Silvero Pereira, Karine Teles
Accolades: Jury Prize at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival
Read IndieWire’s review: “Aquarius” director Kleber Mendonça Filho returns with a wonderful and demented Western about the perils of rampant modernization. In some respects, the film can be seen as a logical continuation of the Brazilian critic-turned-auteur’s two previous features. Much like 2012’s revelatory “Neighboring Sounds,” for example, “Bacurau” is a patient and sprawling portrait of a Brazilian community as it struggles to defend itself against the dark specter of modernity. And much like 2016’s unshakeable “Aquarius,” “Bacurau” hinges on an immovably stubborn woman who refuses to relinquish her place in the world — who won’t allow our blind lust for the future to bury her meaningful ties to the past.
Click on the link above to read the rest of IndieWire’s list of best films. Thanks again to Zack Sharf and IndieWire for the list.
Featured and other images: IndieWire