Calling 2020 a challenging year for movie fans would be a) a little insensitive to all the people suffering the real-world consequences to COVID and b) an understatement. We all had to stay home. Theaters were closed. New releases went straight to streaming.
And for the first time ever Chinese films were the top of the box office in the world because they opened their theaters before everyone else did. The Eight Hundred, a Chinese historical drama, and My People, My Homeland, a Chinese anthology film, both beat Bad Boys For Life in the world box-office gross. This was the first time ever that China surpassed the US as the world’s top box office market.
The shock gripped me when, in the middle of the year, I realized the last film I had seen in theaters was Sonic the Hedgehog. It was also a bit of a fun experience. We skewed older out of the audience there. A bunch of teens sat by us with a large bag. In it, they’d stuffed a bunch of family sized snacks that they’d smuggled in. We nodded knowingly at them.
These odd quirks are what I missed about watching films in theaters. Sometimes I want that communal experience… the kind of experience most forbidden in 2020. We did eventually venture back into the theater to see Tenet, but mainly to say that we did go see a movie in the middle of quarantine. It was more crowded than I had expected, by the way, despite the movie being out in theaters for three months at the time.
That said, we also had plenty of time to check out films on various streaming networks: Netflix, Prime, Hulu, Shudder, Quibi…. Ok, maybe not that last one. But it’s not like we didn’t have forms of entertainment at our disposal. The films of years past were at our fingertips.
Typically I ask about your favorite movie released in 2020, but… you know. Besides, we have The Pits for that. Instead, here’s today’s prompt: what’s the best film from any year that you discovered in 2020?
To start things off: I watched Treasure Planet on Disney Plus, thanks to the recommendations from commentors on this site. I was amazed by how wonderful it was! As a plus, my at the time 1-year-old niece doesn’t care much for most full length animated films, but she was completely entranced by Treasure Planet. I think the visuals were just that magical.
Another time, my wife was in the mood for a Grisham thriller. I wasn’t much for those, but there was one on Amazon Prime starring Matt Damon called The Rainmaker. I had no idea this was directed by Francis Ford Coppola. I loved the movie so much I gave me a newfound respect for his late-period films. I couldn’t care less about legal thrillers most of the time, but Coppola worked his magic to make me care! It made me wonder… is it possible that there’s a chance I might find a place in my heart for Jack?
Next week: anticipated films of 2021.