Now, a lot of movies did wind up going to streaming, but I currently only have Disney+ at the moment, so the only movies included on this list from streaming services come from that. Otherwise, everything else was seen in a theater, either before they shut down, or after they finally opened back up. And since this list will be including all of the movies I've seen, that also means that it includes some movies that I wasn't too favorable on (basically, my Top 5 Movies of 2020, and my Bottom 5 Movies of 2020!). But I'll try not to be too mean to them all the same, and say some kind words along with my criticisms. So with that said, let's get on with it!
The New Mutants
I had been looking forward to this movie for years. Sadly though, it really wasn't worth the wait. Not at all the horror movie it was marketed as (and it doesn't even pretend to be, as that's clearly not this movie's objective at all), this is sadly a pretty bland, vanilla film that doesn't really offer much of anything. I wouldn't say it was an awful movie, as it was perfectly watchable. But this is an instance where those rumored reshoots probably should've went ahead and happened, and turned this into the X-Men horror film that it was promoted as. Because as it is, it's an instantly forgettable experience that leaves me curious as to why they even bothered with it.
This was one of my most anticipated films out of the whole year, so I was saddened to come away disappointed by it. Pete Docter's follow up to his brilliant Inside Out, his past track record proves that he's a man who can take high concepts and make them work beautifully, but that same magic didn't quite come together for me with his latest efforts here. I honestly found myself scratching my head at a number of odd directorial decisions, and it was around the time that the movie essentially became a body-swap film that it had completely lost me. Where I was swept away by the magic and genius in something like Inside Out, Soul instead left me feeling mostly annoyed by its typical tropes throughout. But unlike The New Mutants, this film did at least try to be about something, hence its higher placement.
Wonder Woman 1984
Along with Soul, this was also among my most anticipated of the year. And sadly, also along with Soul, this film wound up disappointing quite a bit. I loved the first movie, even if the last third of that film becomes a bit of a train wreck. But where in that film it's just the last third that's that way, this movie is honestly a total mess from start to finish. It's overly long, and yet even so, it still somehow feels like there are entire scenes that are missing that should've developed both plot and character. And it's a movie where the more you think about it, the less things make any sense at all, and only leave you questioning a number of the directorial and narrative decisions that went into this thing. I will say though that it does have its moments here and there, and the stuff with Diana and Steve is mostly great. So it's not a complete miss. But on the whole, this film is sadly a steep decline in quality from the iconic first outing.
I more appreciate this movie for what it was trying to do, even though I feel that it failed in its execution along the way. It's a frustrating sit, as it's filmed in such a manner where it's just about impossible to even tell what's happening most of the time. But I do like the ideas here, it takes some interesting turns, and it does do some things well. And plus, we get to see Kristen Stewart running around in her underwear for a time, so I'll give it a bump in score for that as well (this isn't that serious a list, leave me alone!).
Similar to Underwater, I more appreciate this movie than I actually like it. I will say this though, in an era where so many movies just treat their audiences like idiots and hold their hand along the way, I sorta love how this movie just goes all out with its super high concept from the get-go and just runs with it, and trusts the audience to be able to keep up. And I'll admit, for a majority of the run time, I was confused as hell watching this movie. But by the time the credits roll, it does all come together, so anybody who actually leaves the theater still confused by the film really shouldn't have much of an excuse. Just pay attention and try to keep up.
That said, this is still a lesser Nolan flick sadly, and not one I'm likely to revisit all too often. And it's not helped by the fact that another film from a few years back, Predestination, more or less already covered this concept, and it did so in a way that was immensely more satisfying, where as this movie achieves its similar successes in ways that left me just going, "Oh, okay then..." But these "aha" moments throughout that gradually reveal what's going on constantly kept reminding me of that other film, so really, my biggest takeaway from Tenet was that everyone should just go out and watch Predestination instead, as that movie flew criminally under the radar and deserves to be seen.
Weathering With You
Okay, now that we're in the Top 5, we're finally getting to the movies from this year that I actually liked! And yet, I find myself not really having a whole lot to say about this particular film. It's beautifully animated, and tells a charming enough story. It's not quite on the level of Shinkai's previous work, Your Name, but you can still tell it's made by the same creative team all the same, and their creativity and imagination absolutely come through here as well. It's worth checking out, and if you haven't seen it yet, I'd definitely highly recommend checking out the aforementioned Your Name as well.
At the beginning of the year, I would've never guessed that by the end of it, of this year's two Pixar releases, I would come away holding Onward in higher regard than Soul. And yet here we are. But this was quite the surprise of a movie. I didn't have too high of hopes from its trailers, but it just has a ton of heart, and is really endearing throughout. This feels like a film that'll go down as a classic entry in the Pixar canon.
(Paul W. S. Anderson)
And speaking of surprises, I literally went into this movie expecting it to suck, or to at best be one of those "so bad, it's good" kind of movies. But man, I tell you, this movie was freaking awesome! Paul W. S. Anderson's last Resident Evil left me weary, as it was a rare stinker in an otherwise awesomely fun franchise of films. But thankfully, his latest movie here is more in line with the better entries, and honestly even reminded me at times of one of his earlier films, the first Mortal Kombat, which was also a really bad ass movie back in the day. I'm not familiar with the video game it's based off of, so I can't say how accurate it is to the source (which, if it's anything like Resident Evil, it's barely related), but on its own, this movie was a blast, and acted as a total palate cleanser after being previously disappointed by both Soul and Wonder Woman 1984 in back to back fashion.
Sonic the Hedgehog
What a year for video game movies, huh? But yeah, while it may take liberties with the franchise (and I personally feel that Robotnik was horribly miscast), I all in all quite enjoyed this film, and it's one that's actually stayed with me the whole year. Even despite being as huge a Sonic nerd as I am, I still went in pretty skeptical. But it's clear that there's a genuine passion and respect for the series and the characters here, and the filmmakers definitely wanted to put something out that fans of the series would similarly love (as if that wasn't made obvious enough by them pushing it back to fix Sonic's design after fan backlash). And thankfully, this paid off for them in a big way, and it paid off for us fans in the form of a surprisingly good, heartfelt film.
This film felt liberating. The last movie I saw in the theater before they all shut down, this was a hell of a way to go out, as it perfectly encapsulates the insane state of modern politics. A brilliant film that I'm honestly surprised even got made, let alone released, but I'm glad that it did. I especially wanna give a hats off to Betty Gilpin here, who gives one of my favorite performances I've seen in a film, one that would definitely be Oscar worthy in my eyes even in a year that hadn't seen half of its releases pushed back. And it ends on a note that definitely rang true, and mirrored my own thoughts in that moment...