Whether you’re a die-hard Taylor Swift fan, a casual listener, or a skeptic, you’re bound to learn something new about the singer-songwriter – and about the psychological pitfalls of female fame – from watching this revealing and smartly crafted Netflix documentary. “My entire moral code is a need to be thought of as ‘good,’” Swift says, in one of many self-reflective moments, as filmmaker Lana Wilson carefully chronicles her long road both to self-acceptance and self-awareness, and her political awakening in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. Interspersing concert footage with candid interviews and illuminating glimpses of Swift’s isolated life in the spotlight, Miss Americana makes surprising, compelling viewing.
At the year’s halftime point, the fighting spirit of movies is alive and well — as these winners defiantly attest. From a war epic from one of our greatest living filmmakers to a documentary on hip-hop legends, a horror-movie classic tailored for our current moment to a cutting contemporary political satire, here are the 12 best movies of 2020 so far. The 2020 release calendar hasn’t exactly panned out the way most people expected, but that doesn’t mean there has been a shortage of quality movies.
Autobiographical tales of trauma don’t come much more wrenching than Rewind, director Sasha Neulinger’s non-fiction investigation into his painful childhood. A bright and playful kid, Neulinger soon morphed into a person his parents didn’t recognize – a change, they soon learned, that was brought about by the constant sexual abuse he was suffering at the hands of his cousin and two uncles, one of whom was a famed New York City temple cantor. Its formal structure intrinsically wedded to its shocking story, Neulinger’s film reveals its monstrous particulars in a gradual bits-and-pieces manner that echoes his own childhood process of articulating his experiences to others. Not just a portrait of Neulinger’s internalized misery, it’s also a case study of how sexual misconduct is a crime passed on from generation to generation, a fact borne out by further revelations about his father’s upbringing alongside his assaultive brothers.
Wells classic by making the smart and timely decision to shift focus from the title character — a wealthy optics innovator (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) — to his architect girlfriend , whom he keeps controlling and abusing even after his alleged death. The spotlight is now on the empowered woman who decides she’s not going to take a minute more of his toxic masculinity.
Let’s face it, with theaters closed and streaming video having a moment, it’s been a bonkers movie year. From skin-crawling horror movies to hard-hitting documentaries, there should be something on this list to satisfy your highly specialized cinematic cravings as the year goes on. We recognize that you’re busy and there’s a lot of forces fighting for your attention at the moment, so we pledge not to waste your time. This is technically a cheat, since Portrait of a Lady on Fire had a limited US release in 2019 following its award-winning Cannes debut.
Most of all, though, it’s a saga about perseverance and bravery, two qualities that Neulinger – then, and now – exhibits in spades. No matter that her characters are plagued by malevolent supernatural forces, Natalie Erika James’ directorial debut is a thriller with grimly realistic business on its mind. Called back to their rural Australian childhood home after matriarch Edna goes temporarily missing, Kay and daughter Sam discover that the past refuses to remain dormant. The specter of death is everywhere in this rustic residence, whose cluttered boxes and myriad artifacts are reflections of its owner’s mind, and whose creepy wall rot is echoed on Edna’s aged body. Edna’s vacant stares and strange behavior are the catalyst for a story that derives considerable suspense from unnerving set pieces and, more pointed still, the question of whether everything taking place is the result of unholy entities or the elderly woman’s physical and mental deterioration.
The 10 Best Movies Of 2020 (So Far), Definitively Ranked
- Andrew Patterson’s The Vast of Night is a marriage of the old and the new, blending effects-aided cinematic showmanship to old-school radio drama.
- He takes these fiftysomething hip-hop legends through the fits, fights, and egos of three decades of musical innovation and turns what could have been a nostalgia trip into a visual explosion that indelibly defines an era.
- A slow-burn immigrant drama with visual polish to spare, the movie molds the leisurely plot into a lush, moving portrait of American dreams undercut by harsh reality checks.
- Anyone watching “Tigertail” because of writer-directorAlan Yang’s role in creating “Master of None” may be surprised to find that there’s nothing funny about it.
Gentle, moving, and insightful, this is the kind of movie we could all use more of right now. Few directors are as attentive to the rhythms of nature – human and otherwise – as Kelly Reichardt, and the filmmaker’s formidable skill at evoking a sense of place, thought, emotion and motivation is on breathtaking display in First Cow. Framing characters amidst forest greenery or through constricting cabin windows, and setting its action to the serene sounds of its rural environment – snapping twigs, chirping birds, running water, human breath – it’s an empathetic vision of profound male friendship and perilous capitalist enterprise.
Even before theaters shut down and film festivals were canceled, a number of cinematic highlights made their way to U.S. screens. Our running list of the best movies of 2020 so far only includes movies that have received a U.S. theatrical release or have become available on VOD platforms accessible http://best-action-movies-online.com/ in North America. A redemptive tale told over several decades, the excellent family drama centers on a stoic Taiwanese man struggling to connect with his workaholic daughter while revisiting his fateful decision years earlier to leave love behind and travel to America in search of a better life.
But the film only started gathering serious buzz here in the US when it was released wide in February, and shortly after became available on Hulu. A ravishing, emotionally textured love story, the 18th century-set film follows a young painter (Noémie Merlant) who is hired to do the wedding portrait of a reluctant bride-to-be, and ends up falling deeply in love with her.
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Eliza Hittman’s indie drama was one of the hottest debuts at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and is now available on VOD. After becoming unexpectedly pregnant, 17-year-old Autumn discovers that she can’t obtain an abortion in her state without parental consent, so travels with her cousin to a Planned Parenthood clinic in upstate New York to have the procedure. An unflinching but empathetic movie that explores reproductive rights through a slice-of-life character story.
Even if you’re not a superhero movie person, even if you’ve never seen Suicide Squad or any of the related DC movies, and even if you’ve never heard of Harley Quinn, think twice before overlooking this subversive, outlandish treat of a movie. Margot Robbie gives a full-throttle performance as Harley, who’s generally best known as the Joker’s love interest/right hand woman, but in this incarnation, she’s liberated by her breakup with the iconic villain. Alongside a gang of fellow female vigilantes including Black Canary (Jurnee Smollet-Bell) and Helena Bertinelli , Harley takes on a crime lord who’s targeting a young girl, and the results are outlandish, singular blockbuster fun. The latest film from acclaimed director Kelly Reichardt has been widely hailed as one of the best indies of the year, and with good reason. Set in the 19th century Pacific Northwest, First Cow follows the blooming friendship between two outsiders – one a cook working for abusive fur trappers, the other a Chinese immigrant – who see an opportunity to better their lives when the first cow arrives in their region.