I have a BA in Film Studies, so it will not be a surprise to say I am a long-time film fan. Every year, when the year comes to a close, I think about my favorite films of the past 12 months. In 2019, we had a really good year of film. Parasite was a worthy Best Picture winner, but it also only reached fourth on my personal list of the best films of the year (shout out to Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, my top movie). Of course, now 2020 is coming to a close and, well, this was the weirdest film year of my life.
Saying that will break no new ground. This year sucked for movies, and it sucked for movies because it sucked for the world. The pandemic broke the film industry. There were so many films I was interested I this year that simply did not get released. In a normal year, I’d be talking about the new Wes Anderson film right now, possibly some impressive Marvel movie, who knows. Instead, in terms of new films, this year is by far the year where I saw the fewest new releases.
I went back and checked, and I saw eight new releases in 2020. Now, that’s maybe partially my fault. I haven’t seen Tenet yet, though I plan to even though I don’t love Christopher Nolan. I skipped Wonder Woman 1984 because of all the bad reviews. Some of these movies I will get to eventually, I promise. First Cow is on my list and I’ll probably watch Sound of Metal and a couple other potential pieces of awards fodder. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom will get a watch in time, and I may bite the bullet on Bill & Ted Face the Music instead of waiting for it to show up on a streaming service. However, even if you count the movies that have come out that I want to see, we’re talking, like, 16 movies tops? For comparison’s sake, I watched 35 new releases in 2019.
Also, the quality of the films I have seen so far has been limited as well. Mank is really good and I liked Trial of the Chicago Seven more than a lot of people, but I haven’t seen anything close to a great movie. Even the movies I would call really good have caveats. Mank is right up my alley, and I dug it and Amanda Seyfried should have an Oscar coming her way, but that movie didn’t floor me. I may watch it one more time, but that’s it. Meanwhile, I’ve seen Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood and Knives Out a few times already.
In a way, I almost feel like it is futile to assess the film landscape of 2020. On the other hand, it’s probably important to note the movies we did enjoy. Good films were still released. Also, Birds of Prey, which sucked. That’s the real bummer of 2020, as there wasn’t a single good blockbuster/popcorn movie released that I have seen yet. I do not come here to praise 2020 in film, but to bury it. Even Mank is more preoccupied with a classic movie of a bygone era than anything else. Maybe we should follow its footsteps and focus on cinema’s past as we bring this year to a close.