Monday, December 21, 2020


Being stuck inside due to a pandemic (along with being on unemployment for a nice chunk of it) allowed me to stream & explore more new releases than any other year in recent memory. I enjoy going to the movie theater for the most part (I truly want them to survive once this Covid shit is over), but streaming things from the comfort of your home cuts out the commuting, long lines, ticket sellouts, and sitting next to someone you don’t want to. 
While a lot of folks were getting up in arms about the delayed releases of stuff like Wonder Woman, Tenet, Dune and other films I’m pretty indifferent towards, I did my small minuscule part in trying to support smaller theaters that were forced to get creative during these troubling times. I took advantage of my newfound free time and streamed from platforms like The Film Forum (Beanpole), The Museum Of The Moving Image (Fourteen), Lincoln Center (Deerskin), and the usual platforms like Amazon (The Sound Of Metal), Hulu (Swallow) & Netflix (The Lost Okoroshi).

The Sound Of Metal

True, some of the rentals seemed a bit pricey ($20 or more in some cases) but had it not been for immediate streaming smaller films like Dan Sallitt’s Fourteen or Abba Makamma’s The Lost Okoroshi wouldn’t have received the (deserved) attention they got this year.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

The biggest cinematic storyline of 2020 was lesser acknowledged/recognized filmmakers getting a bigger spotlight. I truly believe had things gone according to plan we wouldn’t have seen directors like Kelly Reichardt (First Cow) or Eliza Hittman (Never Rarely Sometimes Always) get their due.

Still - theaters were sorely missed in 2020. The absence of movie theaters certainly had a negative effect on my movie-watching habits. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have to start a movie over once or twice due to getting distracted by my phone (I decided to not include my usual “favorite images of the year” category as the large majority of movies I watched this year were on my television or laptop).

Sorry We Missed You

This was an interesting year for me in terms of movies. Directors I usually have no opinion on put out their best work (Ken Loach’ Sorry We Missed You) and filmmakers I usually love unconditionally put out highly anticipated films that I found to be just “...ok” (Olivier Assayas’ The Wasp Network).
And while it was a bummer that the regular festivals I attend in person went virtual this year for obvious reasons, I still saw some of the best & most unique works I’ve seen in a while (Another Round & Fauna) thanks to TIFF & NYFF.

Mangrove (Small Axe)

I couldn’t come up with a standard “top 10” because there were so many great movies to pick from this year. Below are 16 standouts followed by over 30 additional honorable mentions that shaped my 2020.

So, in no particular order, although broken up in to various categories & subcategories, here are my favorite movies of 2020...


Films from 2020 that I thought were great and require little to no criticism...

7 (THE 2nd TIER) 
The 2nd tier of all-around great films from 2020. Not as great as the films listed above but still worthy of being mentioned...

Movies made by or featuring people I am biased towards but are still excellent nonetheless...

Surprisingly excellent movies from 2020...

films I loved from 2020 that may not have had the same exposure or platform as the larger releases, but are still great

I wouldn't recommend this to anyone but it's still great...


It wouldn't be right to define an entire year with just a small handful of movies. 
Below are some more solid releases from 2020 worth your time...






Willem Dafoe* - Tommaso
Frances Mcdormand* - Nomadland 
David Straithairn - Nomadland 
Vanessa Kirby - Pieces Of A Woman
The cast of Sorry We Missed You
Mads Mikkelsen - Another Round
Vince Vaughn - Freaky 
Delroy Lindo* - Da 5 Bloods
Lise Leplat Prudhomme* - Joan Of Arc
Randeep Hooda - Extraction
Steve Coogan - Greed 
Riz Ahmed* - The Sound Of Metal
Paul Raci* - The Sound Of Metal


The final moments of Another Round 
Another Round

Did this ever come out?: Devil Between The Legs

You guys seriously liked this?: I’m Thinking Of Ending Things

Swallow paying homage to Jeanne Dielman & Safe...
Jeanne Dielman/

The music in Small Axe

Chris Hemsworth beats up a gang of little kids in Extraction

The delivery drivers cuts through mid-knife fight (Extraction)

Sorry this movie was kinda dumb (Tenet)

These were Ok, I guess: Bill & Ted, About Endlesness, The Vast Of Night, The Lovebirds, Bad Education, Shirley

The construction worker not snitching in Bad Trip 
Bad Trip

Eric Andre brining out the best in humanity (Bad Trip)

Sexual freedom & sexual repression all at once (Liberté)

Leigh Whannell remaking Sleeping With The Enemy (The Invisible Man)
Sleeping With The Enemy/
The Invisible Man

Sleeping With The Enemy/
The Invisible Man

Sleeping With The Enemy/
The Invisible Man

Sleeping With The Enemy / The Invisible Man

It seriously wasn’t that bad (Underwater)

I’m failing to see the point here (true story or not): Red, White & Blue (Small Axe)

'The fuck was this?: Capone

The guy with the rat (and raccoon) problem in City Hall

The rifle story in City Hall

The boss in Sorry We Missed You
Sorry We Missed You

The final moments of Sorry We Missed You

The talking jacket in Deerskin

A crack in the case (Mangrove)

Tommaso sharing with the group 

The score for Joan Of Arc

The flying saucer/drone in Bacurau

“Some people can’t imagine being stolen from. Too strong” (First Cow)

"This ice is totally awesome" (Swallow)

“Don’t you see my killer style?” (Deerskin)

“The car. Isn’t. Happening.” (Color Out Of Space)

“I like you, Fern.” David Straithairn (Nomadland)

Harley Quinn passing a hair-tie to Canary mid-fight in Birds Of Prey
Birds Of Prey

Imagining what Olivier Assayas could’ve done with the cast of The Wasp Network instead of making The Wasp Network...

Ruben is asked to leave (The Sound Of Metal)

Paul making peace with Stormin’ Norman doubling as a real life sendoff to Chadwick Boseman (Da 5 Bloods)
Da 5 Bloods

Wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did (On The Rocks)

Proof that black men don’t cheat (On The Rocks)

Proof that dads can be both complicated, messy and good (On The Rocks)

Rene’s presence in Boys State
Boys State

Fern contemplating taking the dog with her for literally two seconds then deciding not to (Nomadland)

The final act of Saint Maud

Giving the homeless immigrants food only to take it away minutes later (Greed)

Debt Collectors paying homage to They Live
They Live/Debt Collectors

Sadat X & Styles P’s cameos in 40 year old version 

Just the right amount of Jim Carrey (Sonic The Hedgehog)

Jack chases after the chicken in What Did Jack Do?
What Did Jack Do?

Tuesday, December 1, 2020


Stalker / Long Day's Journey Into Night


While Bi Gan has listed everyone from Alfred Hitchcock to Hou Hsiao-hsien as some of his directorial influences - no other filmmaker’s residue has rubbed off on his work more than Andrei Tarkovsky.
Over the last year and half he’s mentioned Tarkovsky in almost every interview during his press run for Long Day’s Journey Into Night. But, as you’ll see in the examples below, Gan’s history with the films of Tarkovsky started long before 2019...

The first time I wanted to watch “Stalker” was because the director looks like my Grandpa. As I watched it, I felt it is very awful and I thought that this world famous director cheated me. I wanted to critique this film so I thought I should finish watching it first. However, it was too hard for me at that time, I could only watch five to ten minutes each day. Finally, I finished it one day and I went to the school cafeteria for lunch, thinking I could proudly write an essay to criticize Tarkovsky when I got back to my room. Suddenly, something bumped into my mind: why can’t film be like this? Can you achieve aesthetics through how you film? - Bi Gan

From his lesser known shorts (Secret Goldfish), to his earlier feature films (Kaili Blues), Tarkovsky has been a visual reference point for Bi Gan since dearly on. He’s borrowed from just about every Tarkovsky period from Ivan’s Childhood through Nostalghia.


When I watched Tarkovsky’s film “Stalker” in college, I was shocked again and it totally subverted my concept about film - Bi Gan

Stalker /
Long Day's Journey Into Night
Stalker /
Long Day's Journey Into Night

Stalker /
Long Day's Journey Into Night
Stalker /
Long Day's Journey Into Night

Stalker /
Long Day's Journey Into Night

Ivan's Childhood/ 
Long Day's Journey Into Night

I started discovering Tarkovsky and other filmmakers who inspired me to go in another direction - Bi Gan

Stalker / 
Long Day's Journey Into Night

Stalker / 
Long Day's Journey Into Night

Stalker / 
Long Day's Journey Into Night

Stalker / 
Kaili Blues

Stalker / 
Kaili Blues

Stalker / 
Kaili Blues

Stalker / 
Kaili Blues

Stalker / 
Long Day's Journey Into Night

Andrei Rublev / 
Long Day's Journey Into Night

Ivan's Childhood / 
Long Day's Journey Into Night

Andrei Rublev / 
Long Day's Journey Into Night

Andrei Rublev / 
Long Day's Journey Into Night

Nostalghia / 
Long Day's Journey Into Night

Stalker / 
Secret Goldfish


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