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With everything shut down for more months than we can remember, our entertainment became our only savior against the backdrop of the constant letdowns of the world outside, luckily, there was a lot to choose from on TV this year.

The big-screen experience was all but dead for a lot of people globally, and if it wasn’t, the studios decided to pull a lot of their anticipated blockbusters leaving film fans waiting until after the pandemic to see promised thrill rides and some titles even lost their release dates entirely.

However, the multimillion-dollar empires refused to go down without a whimper and if they didn’t force some of their expected hits into theaters they sent them to the small screen, leaving the dogfight for your attention to be judged purely on the content and not gimmicks like 3D or skyscraper-sized screens.

Among the year’s big and small features there were some that missed the mark and others that managed to make the dumpster fire that is 2020 not seem all that bad for the brief window of escape they provided.

With no further ado, here are the 20 feature films that left an incredibly lasting impression in this unforgettable year of weirdness and some of which shook me to my core.

Top 20 of 2020

The Platform

Available on Netflix

A creative yet very relevant look at a society built on greed and powered by the desperation of people struggling to survive in a sociopathic world, this was a lot to handle in one sitting, but beyond worth it from start to finish.

The movie gives off some serious Black Mirror vibes and has a message that is crystal clear but not at all preachy.

Trust me, you won’t be bored and it is one you’ll want to talk about immediately after to anyone else that had the pleasure of seeing it.

For more on The Platform check out this featured article from June 2020.

The Invisible Man

Available on VOD

 

The fast-paced nature and well-timed jump scares make this an easy watch for any level of horror fan, but Elizabeth Moss’ performance is what elevates this to a nightmarish remake that shines a spotlight on domestic abuse.

Moss is at the top of her game in this thriller and paired with the hyper-realistic special effects, it makes what should be a dime of dozen scary movie a hair-raising jump out of your seat experience.

For more about The Invisible Man and other monsters, here is a featured article from April 2020.

The Hunt

Available on Amazon Prime

At one point we almost didn’t see this movie because it was deemed too controversial, but thankfully everyone came to their senses and they released in a year where we already had too much to argue over to worry about a film.

Openly, I know this movie won’t be for everyone as it does contain a lot of hot buttons on a political scale, yet the biggest mistake you could possibly make is not seeing Betty Giplin absolutely dominate the screen as easily one of the best action stars of the year.

The best way to describe Giplin’s performance would be to mix Ripley, Buffy, and Sarah Connor into one person and then amplify said fictional scream queen to 1000.

Possesor

Available on Amazon Prime and VOD

Without a doubt, this is the best science fiction movie to come out in 2020 and arguably one of the greatest to be released in the past 5 years.

Expect to be weirded out from start to finish and confused at numerous parts throughout, but don’t give up, this Brandon Cronenberg directed masterpiece sticks the landing hard and doesn’t let up at any point before that.

Need to know more about Possessor before watching? Here is a featured article from November 2020.

Underwater

Available on Amazon Prime and VOD

If you love claustrophobic contained science fiction and larger than life monsters, this is an immediate must-see and you’ll be kicking yourself if you haven’t already.

Kristen Stewart is a bona fide action star and she plays this role to perfection, my only complaint about the whole thing is I wish there was more of everything. More Stewart, more monsters, and they could make the whole thing 10 hours because there was never a dull moment in this epic story.

Simply put, give me a TV series, a prequel, and a whole franchise of these monsters lurking in their shadowy depths, that’s all I ask.

Justice League Dark Apokolips War

Available on Amazon Prime and VOD

In a year without many options for super-heroics, this bleak and bloody animated movie was without a doubt the best one to come out.

By now, we’re all used to the usual caped high jinks and low stakes put in front of invincible heroes, which makes this movie so special because it simply did not aim to spare anybody from seeing their childhood heroes face real danger.

Not recommended for children and don’t expect too many laughs, you’re in for a gruesome non-stop fight that really pushes the iconic heroes past what their live-action counterparts will ever come close to facing.

Animated carnage your thing? Read up more on this superhero feature right here.

#Alive

Available on Netflix

Korean zombie movies are almost always as close to perfect as humanly possible without actually adding literal flesh-eating monsters, so it goes without saying, this film continued that legacy.

It isn’t a difficult movie to follow in any way and it doesn’t need to be, because everyone in 2020 should be able to relate to both of the major themes of being quarantined and also avoiding the outside due to risk of infection.

There is no other zombie movie released this year that will feel as relevant.

Porno

Available on Amazon Prime

Based on the title, the movie seems like a gratuitous excuse to overload the screen with pointless nudity and lack in overall story, yet when you watch it, you’ll soon realize that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Wickedly smart, darkly funny, and packed with gore that will catch you off-guard in both terrifying and hilarious ways, this is one movie that is hard to explain yet an absolute blast to watch.

It will make you laugh, be amazed by the level of seriousness put into a silly concept, and most certainly has one scene that will make you turn away. Trust me, you’ll know the scene when it comes about.

Find out about Porno and other Satanic stunners in this featured article from July 2020.

Spontaneous

Available on Amazon Prime

This forever should be the new standard on which teen rom-coms are based… and from this point further, there should be a lot more exploding in all of them.

Katherine Langford absolutely killed in this role and did it so naturally in a movie that had parts that felt both painstakingly real and others that were clearly absurd.

It’s a plot that is impossible to not have fun while watching and Langford’s blend of comedic and dramatic talent is on full display among the exploding bits of her co-stars.

Vivarium

Available on Amazon Prime

Trapped in a house with your significant other and every single day feels like it is the same… another one on the list that is relatable, right?

This was one trippy fall down the rabbit hole and once you get to the end, you’re kind of left a bit hollow inside from everything you’ve seen.

If you’re a fan of the unexpected and unsettling, it’s a movie that will stop you dead in your tracks and make you question reality.

The Old Guard

Available on Netflix

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood made a blockbuster that checks every box for both action classic action fans and others who are demanding a change to the somewhat archaic archetypes.

As always Charlize Theron was a force of nature that captivated every scene she was in, while additionally, she lead an ensemble cast with more chemistry than a 10 season TV series.

The new standard of what a blockbuster can look like has been lifted by this Netflix scorcher and if you’re a fan of big action, this might be the best one of its genre for the year.

If you love Charlize and want to know more about The Old Guard, here is an article from July 2020 about both.

The Witch Subversion Part 1

Available on Netflix and VOD

It took 2 years before this once in a generation action/sci-fi/horror/mystery off-the-rails epic got an international release, and honestly, it was worth the wait.

There isn’t even really a need to type too much about this movie besides HOLY SHIT… Seriously, there is absolutely nothing like it, and just further solidifies that South Korean filmmaking is at least 10 years ahead of Hollywood.

One final thought: the last 15 minutes of the movie are some of the best fight scenes ever to be shot. This is a hill I would die on.

VFW

Available on Amazon Prime and VOD

A gritty, raw, unforgiving, and off-the-wall grindhouse homage that makes you feel like your in a time warp getting to experience all the 1970s style ultra-violence as if you were in a seedy movie theater.

Nothing is spared in terms of gore and it as fun to watch as I imagine it was to make. If you grew up watching grindhouse movies, it will be directly up your alley.

The Dark and the Wicked

Available on VOD

Demonic possession stories are becoming mainstream and the horror aspect is now being turned into PG-13 off-screen kills and CGI jumping monsters… in the case of this movie, we’re back to the darkness where the genre began.

Be warned that this is as bleak as a horror movie can get and taken deadly serious by a wonderful cast including Marin Ireland, who gave one the best performance of the year within the entire genre.

Consider the title to be a warning, it may move a bit slowly at times but the final payoff is worth it.

Spree

Available on Amazon Prime

For a movie that seems like it should be a teen horror with very little substance, this Joe Keery lead slasher was a lot more than meets the eye and even bloodier than anticipated.

It does a great mix of taking itself seriously when it needs to and letting the story get silly at the perfect times as well, the balance seems effortless and you’ll wonder why somebody hadn’t come up with this idea sooner.

Keery is beyond believable in this role and the picture the story paints about our social media-obsessed society is too real and darkly familiar.

Digital age horrors were all the rage this year, check out this article on 3 of them that blew me away including Spree.

Host

Available on Amazon Prime

Based on the subject matter, effectiveness, and relevance to the year we’re in, this is the best horror of 2020. It just has to be.

This movie builds an instant connection with its audience and the unknown actors panicking during a Zoom meeting gone awry will live rent-free in your head the next friends want to video chat you during a lockdown.

His House

Available on Netflix

Director Remi Weekes somehow managed to flawlessly blend African folklore, terrifying ghosts, and a truthful immigrant story into a daring feature film debut that informs while it scares the shit out of you.

Actors Sope Dirisu and Wunmi Mosaku are both stunning in this movie, which makes the painful nature of the whole thing striking to watch and impossible to look away from.

Come to Daddy

Available on Amazon Prime

Elijah Wood is always at his best when he’s starring in something that starts weird and progressively increases to a place that gets borderline uncomfortable to watch. This is definitely one of those movies that keeps with the trend.

It’s hard to wrap your head around what’s going on in this movie and by the time you do catch on, something odd happens to get you lost all over again.

Filled with wacky characters, insane twists, and gore that will leave you shaken, there is no real way to mentally prepare yourself for how weird it all gets, so just strap in and enjoy the ride.

The Wolf of Snow Hollow

Available on VOD

Actor/writer/director Jim Cummings made a perfect blend of small-town murder mystery meets creature feature and it has laugh out loud moments that work no matter how many times you see the film.

Outside of the laughs and bloody kills, the dramatic nature of the movie is also as good as it gets which rounds out the whole thing to easily be a future cult classic and a mystery that keeps you guessing.

This movie is the definition of “no small parts” as every character in it is born to play their roles and each is scene stealers in their own right.

Here is more about my absolute love for The Wolf of Snow Hollow in this November feature article.

The Call

Available on Netflix

The absolute cream of the crop and a mind-bender that is the top tier of the top tier. There was no better face-off between a protagonist and antagonist in 2020, additionally, no film had an ending as jarring.

There was not a single thing this movie did wrong and it also may have changed the game when it comes to time travel in film in its entirety. The last part may sound like an over-exaggeration, but once you see it, you’ll understand it wasn’t.

The cryptic suspense of this entire thing was heavily boosted by the movie’s visuals that were more stunning than a $100 million dollar blockbuster and packs one of the best final moments of the year.

Park Shin Hye The Call GIF - ParkShinHye TheCall TheHeirs GIFs

Happy New Year everyone and I’ll see you all in 2021!

 

 

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westcoaststrange
joel@westcoaststrange.com
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