• Nate Adams

Mid year report card: Ranking the best movies of 2020 so far


With everything going on in the country, be it a global pandemic or protests surrounding the death of George Floyd, 2020 has been a dozy. Remember when we assumed the sudden loss of Kobe Bryant would be the worst thing to happen this year? So bear with me as I try to sum up what moviegoing has looked like this year when it seems like such a frivolous task.


With theaters shuttered since March in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and every studio shifting their releases left and right, it’s hard to believe one could sit down and make a list of the best movies of 2020 so far. But with the rise of streaming and Universal studios decision to throw “Trolls: World Tour” on-demand, we’ve seen a plethora of new content come into our homes in innovative ways. And no “Trolls: World Tour” won’t be on this list.


I’ve done my best to compile a ranking of what 2020 has offered thus far with my top ten favorites in order.

THE INVISIBLE MAN

Thankfully, before all the chaos unfolded, Leigh Whannel’s “The Invisible Man” snuck into theaters and tried to redefine the horror genre. It took the modern monster movie and turned it on its heels and gave it a slick new look. Instead of going the typical supernatural route, Whannel decided to reinvent one of our cultures scariest elements: the toxic male. Elizabeth Moss delivers a slam-dunk performance in this terrifying remake that is the best 2020 has offered this far.

MISS AMERICANA

I’ve never been the biggest Taylor Swift fan, but one watch of her engrossing documentary “Miss Americana” on Netflix and I was swayed otherwise. The documentary tackles everything from the conception of her albums, political tussles, and the insurmountable pressure she faces being a role model for millions of fans everywhere. United we stan.


NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS

“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is a brave movie that dares to showcase the struggles and trials it takes for a young teen to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy. That’s a tough topic to swallow and one that continues to be the biggest political weapon in modern day history. But in director Eliza Hittman’s gentle and warm hands, the film doesn’t exploit the system, so much it shows an honest and accurate portrayal of the abortion process. Guaranteed to offend anyone that falls into the Pro-Life bucket, the film isn’t trying to make a political grandstand on the topic, merely it asks you to watch and listen in the hopes you’d learn something. This is a beautiful film and great resource for any teenager who might have questions.

SWALLOW

Haley Bennett shines in “Swallow” playing a housewife who’s got a secret obsession with swallowing harmful objects. The film tackles a wide array of themes: including the need for fulfillment and locking down your own self identity. It’s not an easy watch, but one that lingers with you long after it’s over.


THE ASSISTANT

Julie Garner (“Ozark”) plays an overworked apprentice for a film distributor (presumably Harvey Weinstein) and has to deal with constant harassment and embarrassment. Her main job is to take care of her boss’s dirty laundry: aka women he assaulted. In the #MeToo era, “The Assistant” says a lot about the current state of the workplace industry and shows how far we still need to go.

OLYMPIC DREAMS

Nick Kroll and Alexia Pappas showcase terrific chemistry in the quirky romantic comedy “Olympic Dreams.” The film had the advantage of being able to shoot on-site during the winter olympics in 2018, giving the film - which follows an olympian (Pappas) and a volunteer dentist (Kroll) who strike up a courtship - an authentic vibe. It’s a sweet and harmless indie, that left me brimming with a smile from ear to ear, something we could all use right now.


ONWARD

PIXAR continues to sustain their animation dominance in terms of writing and style, with their latest offering “Onward” being no different. Chris Pratt and Tom Holland lend their voices as two elf brothers who must navigate an ancient spell to help resurrect their father for one day. Their journey is a fun and emotional one, tackling themes of brotherhood and family along the way, and comes equipped with that signature Pixar touch guaranteed to make you shed a tear or two.


THE WAY BACK

Gavin O'Connor's terrific “The Way Back” is a film about redemption. Which is ironic considering it puts Ben Affleck in the lead role, who is also career completing a comeback himself. Affleck hasn’t been this good in a long time, harboring a tortured soul dealing with alcoholism and coming to terms with life as a basketball coach trying to lead his alma-mater to a much needed championship.


TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG

Sometimes it's nice to interpret history through our own lens and that’s what happens in Justin Kurzel’s “True History of The Kelly Gang,” a true-ish story of Ned Kelly (George McKay) and his political uprising in the 1870s as a bushranger. This is a pretty wild film, one that’s fueled with a manic energy, pacing, and style.


COLOR OUT OF SPACE

Nicolas Cage playing an alpaca farmer in an adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s crazy novel? What more could you want. In fact, this movie practically sums up 2020 in a nutshell.



THE RECAP: BEST MOVIES OF 2020 SO FAR

THE INVISIBLE MAN

MISS AMERICANA

NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS

SWALLOW

THE ASSISTANT

OLYMPIC DREAMS

ONWARD

THE WAY BACK

TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG

COLOR OUT OF SPACE