So the year 2020 needs no summary really, everyone knows it has been hard, and everyone has been affected by it in some way. During the pandemic, which hit the United Kingdom mid-March, I have done my utmost to prevent the situation from getting worse. I may be only one person, but I’ll be damned if people I care about are afflicted due to my carelessness.
Unfortunately for CinemaCocoa, that means very few films were watched this year. In fact, the last time I was in a cinema was to watch Disney’s Onward, on March 10. Since then I have been indoors almost completely, apart from shopping for groceries not five minutes from where I live, and occasional walks to prevent my body completely rusting away.
While there was a lot of movies available on streaming services, I opted for spending a lot of time this year writing my science fiction novel series “Fatewalker”, as well as catching up on video games.
Hopefully 2021 sees a recovery for Cinema Cocoa. But I will take this moment to thank all the readers who still checked in on my little blog, despite there being no new content. I see you, and I really, really appreciate your viewership!
So let’s have a talk about some films this year. Some films that you’ve probably forgotten about by now, or indeed, released last year for the USA!
That’s correct, Bong Joon Ho’s thrilling masterpiece actually released here in the UK this year. Having won multiple awards, and rocking the Academy by winning Best Picture, Best Directing, and Best Original Screenplay, there is no doubt that this is in the top spot.
It was even more of a success watching it blind; knowing zero about what this film is, even what genre it belongs to, is only a benefit to new viewers. Check it out! It will surprise, thrill, entertain, and shock you!
And again, 1917 by director Sam Mendes released at the very beginning of 2020 here in the UK, on the 10th of January. Thinking back, how great it was for such a strong start to the year… Little did we know…
1917 was utterly captivating from start to finish with its stylish “one-shot” gimmick, where the film doesn’t appear to have any distinct edits; following our protagonists every step of their grim journey.
Definitely recommended, and definitely worthy of the biggest screen you can get.
The last film of the year, during March, was a Disney Pixar film which didn’t look especially clever from the outset. The trailers didn’t appeal, the premise looked uninspired… and yet the animated movie itself (with Marvel stars Tom Holland and Chris Pratt lending their voices) was a whole lot of fun!
The film’s strength really comes from the chemistry of the characters and the heartfelt story as it develops. It was a fun ride. Full of nerdy, geeky sub-culture references to relish.
4. The Invisible Man
A little bit like Onward, The Invisible Man did not have any expectations levelled towards it going in. With Universal Studios’ “Monsterverse” imploding spectacularly after The Mummy reboot, the next monster film was completely retooled as a tense psychological thriller starring an excellent Elizabeth Moss.
This is exactly the way that the Universal monsters should be portrayed. With some nice twists and turns, an all-too-real premise with good implementation, this monster movie was something else entirely.
5. Birds of Prey
We are likely heading into the “bad” side of the very short 2020 list now. However, Birds of Prey sometimes gets a bad rap.
Using the singular successful element from DC Comics/Warner Brothers Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, as a springboard, this film has a far more street-level comic book movie feel. No sky-beams, no multi-verses or throwing cars around. It was a refreshing change, and it had some memorable scenes.
It is just a shame that none of the action, or the finale, was especially memorable or well constructed.
6. Wonder Woman 1984
Yes, lower than Birds of Prey. Wonder Woman ’84 has been heavily slated across the Internet, and justifiably so. Its plot is full of conveniences, using a magic item that grants “wishes” without any real rules as to how it works. This makes any urgency and agency feel weightless, and any threat feel irrelevant.
It does have its moments. The villains are decent, and the story ends with a refreshingly heartfelt ending.
But the sequel is ultimately a big let down, and given time it could slide further down this list.
7. Sonic The Hedgehog
Remember in 2019 we got that dreadful trailer for the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, and the movie was reworked and delayed until 2020? Well, I think a lot of people forgot the Sonic movie happened this year.
While not terrible, and probably on the shortlist of video game adaptations that can carry that description, the Sonic movie uses the “fish-out-of-water” trope by setting everything in our world. Which by today’s standards is lazy storytelling, making for a rather bland overall execution.
8. Mulan (2020)
Easily the worst film I’ve seen this year, which seems fitting what with it being a “2020” remake. The original animated Mulan was an excellent film, but knowing that Hua Mulan was a legendary figure in Chinese culture, it was exciting to perhaps see a more accurate telling of the story. Leaked information stated this would not be a shot-for-shot remake, so optimism was high.
Oh dear… Not only does it have none of the joy of the original, but it has shoddy action sequences, zero character development, zero weight or threat. A pointless endeavour.
It is very fortunate that Parasite and 1917 released this year rather than last year! This list would have been barren without them.
The year 2020 has been devastating for the cinema industry… I feel very sorry for my friends and past colleagues who have surely gone through some tough time and tougher decisions due to the pandemic.
I miss my trips to the cinema immensely; the quiet before the film begins, the anticipation. The absolute dedication to someone’s art, the focus on entertainment brought by hundreds of people working towards one vision. To escape normal life and to enter another time, another place entirely. Whether you sit to enjoy, to revel, or if you watch to study and appreciate, it doesn’t matter.
Going to the cinema is irreplaceable in my eyes, and I have missed it dearly.
Hopefully 2021 brings everyone a lot more joy and enthusiasm. Hopefully those in charge will stop fooling around in 2021, and maybe our ways of life can not only return to normal, but be improved from lessons we learned during 2020.