Movies I’ve seen released in 2020.
1. Enemies of the State, directed by Sonia Kennebeck (9/10)
This is a masterful documentary about an American potential whistle-blower accused of child pornography and related charges, who took refuge in Canada. I paid no attention to the story at the time, so the entire thing was new to me.
Before I get to the review: if you like documentaries about the nature of truth, you should see this movie and you should see it without learning anything else about it. Also, if you know anything at all about the Matt DeHart story, you should see this movie.
2. 76 Days, directed by Weixi Chen, Hao Wu, Anonymous (8/10)
This is a harrowing but ultimately kind of triumphant fly-on-the-wall style documentary about COVID-19 patients and the frontline workers looking after them in China. If you are lucky enough to have not gotten sick but feel like this has been really hard, I strongly suggest you watch this movie. (And if you think this whole thing is an overreaction, I really strongly suggest you watch this movie. But you won’t will you?)
3. Palm Springs, directed by Max Barbadow (8/10)
A very entertaining romantic comedy with a twist I do not want to reveal. Read the review of Palm Springs.
4. Made You Look, directed by Barry Avrich (8/10)
This is a very well done, but very straight-forward, art fraud documentary that is apparently so new I can’t even rate it on IMDB yet. [Editor’s Note: since rated.] It turns out I was already familiar with the story – we think through watching an episode of American Greed – but the access the filmmakers get and the skill with which they balance the interviews makes the film very worth your time.
5. The Courier, directed by Dominic Cooke (7/10)
A well-made Cold War spy thriller. Read the review of The Courier.
6. The Trial of the Chicago 7, directed by Aaron Sorkin (6/10)
It strays too far from the truth and there’s some real grandstanding. But I guess the intentions are reasonably pure. Read the review of The Trial of the Chicago 7.
7. Nuevo orden, directed by Michel Franco (6/10)
This is a very promising film about class conflict in Mexico that gets really confused and, for me, goes off the rails to the point where I am kind of astounded it won a Grand Jury Prize at a film festival.
8. The Old Guard, directed by Gina Prince-Blythewood (6/10)
This is a decent action movie with an interesting soft science fiction/fantasy premise which falls apart whenever you think too hard about it.
9. The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel, directed by Jennifer Abbott, Joel Bakan (6/10)
I saw the original Corporation sometime back in the aughts. I have no idea whether or not I would like it now.
This film is infuriating, both because of the problems in the world it reminds us of, and because of how unfocused it is. In many ways, it feels like two movies, the sequel to The Corporation and a pro-progressive “Let’s fight back!” cheer-leading rally. (The latter is significantly weaker than the former, as you might imagine.)
10. Blithe Spirit, directed by Edward Hall (5/10)
Mildly amusing but full of plot holes. Read the review of Blithe Spirit.
11. Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles, directed by Laura Gabbert (5/10)
The title is a bit of a misnomer. Read the review of Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles.
12. Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (4/10)
I thought I would enjoy this. I didn’t. Read the review of Birds of Prey.
13. Shadow in the Cloud, directed by Roseanne Liang (4/10)
This is a bizarre film with a premise that kind of appealed to me in reading about it but, which, in execution, is a giant mess.