Photo from Greater Phoenix in Business Magazine

2020 is finally over! It’s been quite the year to say the least. A lot of movies were pushed back, so my top 10 list this year consists of some smaller fair. I also haven’t had the chance to fully review each movie on this list now that I have a full time job, so I will provide a mini-review for those.

First up, here’s some Honorable Mentions: The Glorias, Wolfwalkers, and Palm Springs

10. Miss Juneteenth

Miss Juneteenth is a heartwarming mother/daughter tale. Turquoise (Nicole Beharie) won the Miss Juneteenth pageant as a teenager, and now that her daughter is of age, she wants her to win so she can have more opportunities for her future. But her daughter is not excited for the pageant like her mother is and finds it to be hindering. Both Turquoise and her daughter want the best for each other, and though they may fight a lot, the love between them is at the center of the film.

9. Mank (Netflix)

Mank (Netflix – 2020)

My full review linked above. Mank centers on Herman J. Mankiewicz, a screenwriter, who bases his past experiences with the studio system and his friends into his writing of Citizen Kane. Director, David Fincher, makes a compelling political drama about Old Hollywood and film features a standout performance from Amanda Seyfried.

8. Sylvie’s Love (Amazon Prime)

Sylvie’s Love is a charming love story starring Tessa Thompson. The film highlights the obstacles faced by Sylvie and Robert (Nnamdi Asomugha) trying to make it work as a couple. And though they are pulled apart multiple times, they always seem to find themselves coming back to each other.

7. Sound of Metal (Amazon Prime)

Sound of Metal has a career-best performance from Riz Ahmed. He plays a drummer whose hearing is failing rapidly and becomes deaf. He is determined to keep drumming again and has a hard time coping with his hearing loss. He’s extremely angry about his situation, but that anger stems from his fear.

6. Nomadland

I wasn’t sure whether to count Nomadland as a 2020 or 2021 since the film has not been seen by a majority of the public yet, but the film has been making rounds at a festivals. Francis McDormand plays Fern, a homeless woman who struggles to find work and lives out of her van. The film follows her meeting people on the road and the beauty and solace Fern finds in nature, despite the struggles she faces. Nomadland has beautiful cinematography, strong direction, and another great performance from McDormand.

5. Yes God Yes (Netflix)

Yes God Yes is a comedic coming-of-age film about a teenage girl who begins to have sexual urges. She goes to a Catholic high school where these urges are damned and frowned upon, and though Alice (Natalia Dyer) is not making her urges explicitly known, her peers are extremely judgmental. But as Alice later finds out, those enforcing these views are a bunch of hypocrites.

4. Soul (Disney +)

Soul (2020)

Full review is linked above. Soul is an existential film that explores complicated concepts about life and death. The film is funny, highly original, and heartwarming. For adults, it helps ease their anxieties about their life on Earth and highlights the beauty of it. Peter Doctor makes another thought-provoking, highly conceptual, and beautifully animated hit for Pixar.

3. Mangrove (Small Axe, Episode 1 – Amazon Prime)

Mangrove is the first episode of Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series, which is not really a television series, but a series of films. Mangrove is a gripping court room drama surrounding a protest that African Americans in the community organize against the police and are arrested for. The owner of the Mangrove, Frank (Shaun Parkes) does not know peace, as police often raid his place of business for no reason. The stakes feel so high and personal, I couldn’t find myself looking away from the TV.

2. Promising Young Woman

My full review is linked above. Promising Young Woman is an unique revenge story where Cassie (Carey Mulligan) preys on ‘nice guys’ who really want to take advantage of her and other women. Along with being a revenge story, it’s also part rom-com and part dark comedy. The film takes big tonal swings and it totally worked for me. Mulligan shines in the leading role and the last act of the film will definitely stir up conversation.

1. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (HBO Max)

My full review is linked above. Never Rarely Sometimes Always follows a teenage girl and the many obstacles she faces while trying to get an abortion. This is a quiet film, but it pulls at your heartstrings. The film does not pass judgement on its main character, Autumn (Sidney Flanigan), it just wants you to understand her, and highlights what it is like to be a teenage girl in America today.

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