The bells are ringing. 2020 is over.
It was, to be polite, not a great year. But in nearly nine months at home, we sure did consume some great (and not-so-great content). To celebrate the new year, I’m doing some fast and dirty recaps of my favorite books and films from the past year.
In this piece, we’re focused on movies.
No. 3: Emma
As I write this, I’m now realizing how few new movies I’ve seen this year. By my count, I’ve seen four in a theater–none later than February. I love movie theaters, so from that perspective, my 2020 in film has been, on the whole, joyless. One film that did give me joy, however, was Autumn de Wilde’s Emma, the 2020 adaptation of the 1815 novel. It’s wry and smart, light on its feet for a 200-year-old story. I suspect I would have missed this entirely in a normal year. But in 2020 it was exactly what I needed.
No. 2: 1917
I wanted to put together a somewhat current list, but while I limited myself to films I watched this calendar year I also knew I couldn’t fill even three slots with 2020 releases (that’s a criticism both of what I’ve seen and my feelings toward those films). And so we rewind to January 2020 and the Regal in Watertown, NY where I saw 1917 alone on a work trip. The story is simple, linear; but the scale of the action and the craft of the filmmaking is what stands out about this film. It’s a perfect movie theater movie–loud and fun and overwhelming–and as we mourn the loss of the AMCs, Regals, and other chains as the result of the coronavirus pandemic I’ll hug my memory of watching 1917 alone in upstate New York while snow was falling outside even closer.
No. 1: Soul
Sure, throw your shade in the comments. The fact remains: Soul is the bomb. Many a creative has wrestled with the question of life after death, but Soul flips the construction on its head, instead asking “What happens before life?” It’s that question that serves as the inspiration to this clever, funny, and weepy tale of two characters learning to appreciate life for what it is–not for what it isn’t. For all the Hell that 2020 hath wrought, it was nice to be reminded of the good things on the other side of our too-familiar apartment and house walls.