My top ten new film releases of 2020

Many people like to publish their end of year lists near the start of December but I always think that’s unfair on December releases! I have been working on this list for a while and I’ve finally settled on a top ten (for now, this feels subject to change!) and have waited until the last day of the year to drop my round-up.

2020 hasn’t been a great year for blockbusters and cinema, given all the closures and film postponements due to Covid, but there have still been a bunch of releases I really enjoyed this year. Admittedly, I didn’t give out too many five stars, but that could be down to watching them on a laptop at home rather than in a cinema/screening room.

As ever, this list is for UK release dates, so some movies I saw in 2019 (like Parasite) are included, while some I’ve seen this year but aren’t out here yet (like Another Round and Supernova) have been discounted and may make an appearance on next year’s list.

Without further ado, here is my top ten list of 2020. If you want to read the full review, click on the title.

  1. Parasite

I didn’t want to put this top because I first saw it in 2019 but nothing has beaten it this year. Parasite winning Best Picture at the Oscars is one of the few good things to come out of 2020. I don’t re-watch films very often but I have seen Parasite three times, which says A LOT about how much I love it. Bong Joon-Ho‘s movie starts off like a simple domestic drama but then, bam, all of a sudden, it’s not! I urge you all to check this out if you haven’t already.

2. The Trial of the Chicago 7

I see a lot of people dunking on Aaron Sorkin‘s legal drama on social media but I absolutely loved it. It told an incredibly fascinating story, the screenplay had me hooked, the structure made it more interesting, and the star-studded cast was fantastic, with my particular favourites being Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (always got so much love for JGL!)

3. Host

The success story of Host is so, so deserved. It debuted on niche streaming service Shudder in the summer but thanks to word-of-mouth it ended up with a cinema release (where possible) in December. It tells the story of a group of friends who take part in a seance via Zoom with devastating consequences. It is truly terrifying and I think about certain imagery when I’m trying (and failing) to sleep, and considering this was made during the lockdown in accordance with the social distancing rules, it’s super inventive and clever.

4. Saint Maud

Keeping with the horror theme, I give you Saint Maud, which stars the terrific and creepy Morfydd Clark as Maud, a newly devout hospice nurse who moves into a dying dancer’s home. It takes its time setting up the characters and the situation but then it goes full throttle towards a heart-pounding ending. I literally gasped out loud at one point. A sensational debut from Rose Glass.

5. The Broken Hearts Gallery

I doubt this will appear on many end of year lists but I’m a sucker for a romcom and I think Geraldine Viswanathan is simply brilliant. This was the first film I saw in a cinema after the original lockdown and I came away with a huge smile on my face. Sure, it’s predictable as hell (what romcoms aren’t?!) but it made me feel good and put a spring in my step. If that’s not the mark of a great movie, I don’t know what is.

6. Wolfwalkers

I know Pixar has brought out two movies this year and Soul has been particularly popular but I would love for this hand-drawn animation to win the Best Animated Feature prize. It looks gorgeous, has a terrific voice cast (featuring Sean Bean), and tells a fascinating story about a girl who can become a wolf when she sleeps.

7. Birds of Prey

I love Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and it was so so good seeing her lead her own movie along with the likes of Jurnee Smollett and Rosie Perez. Cathy Yan‘s movie is a lot of fun; the funhouse fight sequence is amazing and the egg sandwich scene is so relatable and hilarious. I want more!

8. The Invisible Man

I didn’t have high hopes for Leigh Whannell‘s horror at first but it was so smart, scary, and had a strong lead performance from Elisabeth Moss. This film contains the single most out-of-nowhere shocking moment in 2020 cinema – if you know, you know – and I was so tense basically the whole time.

9. Jojo Rabbit

A lot of people seem to be dunking on Taika Waititi‘s ‘anti-hate satire’ and I totally see why it’s a divisive piece of cinema, but I enjoyed it a lot. I saw it in 2019 and it has managed to stay on my list. I’ve seen it twice and I appreciated it even more the second time around. Waititi is hilarious as Hitler but my personal favourite was Archie Yates as Yorkie – he was just brilliant – and it still manages to pack an emotional punch.

10. Bad Education

It’s a shame this movie ended up premiering on Sky Atlantic over here as it probably slipped under the radar. It’s definitely worth checking out. The film depicts the largest public school embezzlement in American history and Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney have never been better as the masterminds behind the scandal, swindling the books to scam their school district out of millions. It’s shocking stuff!

Other honourable mentions – Rocks, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, The Old Guard, The Assistant, The Boys in the Band, and 1917.

Wolfwalkers: Film Review

Wolfwalkers

Given the current climate, there haven’t been many animations released this year so far, or any particularly good ones (I was fond of Onward, just FYI), so Wolfwalkers couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Not only does it give us a much-needed animation fix, it also tells a terrific story.

Wolfwalkers follows Robyn Goodfellowe (Honor Kneafsey), a young English girl who relocates to Ireland with her father Bill (Sean Bean) as he’s been hired to be the Lord Protector’s hunter and to trap all the wolves in the nearby forest. Robyn, who fancies herself as a hunter too, does her own exploring in the woods and befriends Mebh (Eva Whittaker), who is part of a mysterious and feared tribe called Wolfwalkers, who can transform into wolves when they sleep.

It’s rare to see a classic 2D hand-drawn animation in today’s CGI-reliant world, so I was a big fan of the film’s look. It is refreshing, beautiful to look at, and the team at Cartoon Saloon must have an amazing imagination to conjure up certain imagery. I was so impressed by how they brought particular moments to life.

I liked the story enough at first, it seemed like a cool enough idea, but there is a moment in this when things level up and get really interesting and then I was gripped, wondering how it was all going to pan out. It goes from being very good to excellent. There’s drama, there’s laughs, and there’s plenty of action.

The two newcomers are perfectly cast as the lead characters, while I couldn’t imagine anyone else voicing Bean’s role, it was like it was made for him. I also thought Simon McBurney had the most spot-on voice for the Lord Protector.

If you feel comfortable going to a cinema, I can promise that you and your children (if you have them) will both get a lot of pleasure out of Wolfwalkers. It is very entertaining and has a strong story and visuals to boot.

In selected cinemas now and on Apple TV+ from 11th December

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Wolfwalkers: LFF Film Review

Given the current climate, there haven’t been many animations released this year so far, or any particularly good ones (I was fond of Onward, just FYI), so Wolfwalkers couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Not only does it give us a much-needed animation fix, it also tells a terrific story.

Wolfwalkers follows Robyn Goodfellowe (Honor Kneafsey), a young English girl who relocates to Ireland with her father Bill (Sean Bean) as he’s been hired to be the Lord Protector’s hunter and to trap all the wolves in the nearby forest. Robyn, who fancies herself as a hunter too, does her own exploring in the woods and befriends Mebh (Eva Whittaker), who is part of a mysterious and feared tribe called Wolfwalkers, who can transform into wolves when they sleep.

It’s rare to see a classic 2D hand-drawn animation in today’s CGI-reliant world, so I was a big fan of the film’s look. It is refreshing, beautiful to look at, and the team at Cartoon Saloon must have an amazing imagination to conjure up certain imagery. I was so impressed by how they brought particular moments to life.

I liked the story enough at first, it seemed like a cool enough idea, but there is a moment in this when things level up and get really interesting and then I was gripped, wondering how it was all going to pan out. It goes from being very good to excellent. There’s drama, there’s laughs, and there’s plenty of action.

The two newcomers are perfectly cast as the lead characters, while I couldn’t imagine anyone else voicing Bean’s role, it was like it was made for him. I also thought Simon McBurney had the most spot-on voice for the Lord Protector.

If you feel comfortable going to a cinema, I can promise that you and your children (if you have them) will both get a lot of pleasure out of Wolfwalkers. It is very entertaining and has a strong story and visuals to boot.

In selected cinemas from Monday 28th October and Apple TV+ from 11th December

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.