With the Oscar nominations announced this morning, I am giving you my choices for the best movies of 2020. I also included the worst movie I saw last year.
5. "Da 5 Bloods" (Netflix)
Spike Lee's war drama is fantastic and it features the best acting performance of the year: Delroy Lindo as a scarred Vietnam War veteran. The Academy completely ignored this movie, and that's a real shame.
4. "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" (Netflix)
I am, admittedly, a theater guy and I enjoyed how much this adaptation of a play leaned into that. The staging and blocking feel very theatrical and the performances are excellent all the way around. Chadwick Boseman earned a posthumous Best Actor nomination and is the odds-on favorite to win.
3. "Palm Springs" (Hulu)
The perfect comedy for 2020 about isolation and repeating the same day over forever. What makes it is special is how it finds new ideas in an old gimmick and makes room for contemplation between the many laughs. And isn't it nice that good romantic comedies aren't dead?
2. "Sound of Metal" (Amazon Prime)
Riz Ahmed is electrifying as a metal drummer and recovering drug addict who starts losing his hearing. He would be my pick to win the Best Actor Oscar. I also love the Supporting Actor nomination for Paul Raci as a counselor. It's a heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting movie about learning to cope with life's biggest battles.
1. "Small Axe: Mangrove" (Amazon Prime)
"Mangrove" is part one of an anthology series of movies writer/director Steve McQueen made for BBC One. That technically makes this a made-for-TV movie, but weren't most movies made for TV this year?
"Mangrove" is a searing courtroom drama about the trial of the Mangrove 9 (not to be confused with the "Trial of the Chicago 7"). Set in the early 70s, the focus is on the UK's Black experience with racial justice issues that echo today. Unlike other movies of this type, the Black characters are allowed to be the heroes of their own story. It's powerfully written and acted.
Christopher Nolan's nonsense time travel thriller has such utter contempt for its audience. Can't follow the plot? Your problem. Can't hear the dialogue too well? Well, that's on purpose - deal with it. It's also the movie the bullied theaters to reopen soon than they wanted in the pandemic, which lead to some permanently closing afterward. Nolan deserves to be dragged for this forever.