The launch of Beyond the Balcony has not been the Skittle raining, unicorn dancing and karate llamas explosion of non-stop super awesome that I had dreamed when I rebranded the blog at the end of October. But much like Steve Rogers was once a skinny geek from the 1940s who then got injected with some superpower action and went on to be the ass-kicker of the 2010s, Beyond the Balcony is getting an upgrade of greatness by superkicking 2021 to save the world with a supercharge of awesome writing. To make sure that 2021 goes down as the year Beyond the Balcony blew your minds by actually posting stuff every day, I'm going to get in the super article posting groove for the remainder of 2020.
To really kick-off this posting party proper, it is time to confront the poisonous thorn in my side: the written review. You know, the very thing that helped establish me as a professional writer and would eventually lead me to starting The Movie Breakdown podcast. Going forward, I'm not going to allow the dark voices to psyche me out that I can't write an analysis worthy of a certain film or keep pushing off writing it because I don't have time to write an in-depth thorough piece. If a review must be 350 words in order to get in as many movies reviews as possible in the coming year than I'll bleed, sweat and squeal to make sure it is the most magical, chocolate covered 350 words that you have ever read. No more leaning on the podcast as my only source of reviews thus alienating the people who prefer the other medium.
As we near the end of 2020 and approach the annual best of the year festivities, my hope is to track down several more 2020 movie to get a good idea of what really rocked the socks off the year. Over the next few weeks, I will have several written reviews of some of the 2020 movies that I haven't caught yet and were not reviewed on The Movie Breakdown.
But I have reviewed a lot of 2020 movies already. To give you a refresher of what I loved and what I didn't, I am going to list all the 2020 movies I've seen along with their star rating. I will be ranking them by star rating, but this isn't necessarily the exact order, as I'll save that for my official best of the year list that comes at the end of the year. I also will provide a link to my original review for each movie.
I have also added a few extra comments for a few of the movies.
1.Da 5 Bloods ****: Spike Lee proved to me that he can be a great action director by crafting some of the best big action set-pieces of the year in a movie that was a riveting heist thriller that also ended up providing a fresh take on the well-worn path of dealing with the scars of the Vietnam War. It also has a career best performance from the fantastic Delroy Lindo.
2. I'm Thinking of Ending Things ****: This is definitely not one of Charlie Kaufman's most accessible pictures and the narrative absolutely refuses to hold your hand or make its references easy lay-ups. This is what makes it a more rewarding movie as you must actively engage with it and see it as a puzzle to solve. It has much to say about how media paints our views on life, wrestling with the regrets of our past and how relationships define us. It also has two compelling stand-out performances from Jesse Plemons and Jessie Buckley to pull us in.
3. The 40-Year-Old Version ****: A marvelous break-out directorial debut from Radha Blank who is also the writer, star and producer of this compelling dramedy about the creative process and the challenges of getting your voice heard, especially for a minority artist. Radha Blank is a star to watch.
4. Onward ***½: For awhile, I was scared this would be the last ever movie I'd see with my kids in the theatre, but that did not turn out to be truth. It would have been a fantastic final movie, as my kids and I were immersed in the fun take of a fantasy world invaded by modern technology. It also has a heartfelt and touching tale about what makes one a parent and how we connect with our past.
5. The Way Back ***½: We have seen many movies about the struggling alcoholic who finds redemption by coaching a ragtag team, but the basketball movie is special because the characters are fully realized, it takes thing in some unexpected directions and Ben Affleck has one of his career best and personal performances.
6. Blow the Man Down ***½: This dark dramedy wonderfully captures the charming small-town that has some dark secrets that slowly unravel narrative that I'm always a sucker for seeing.
7. The Vast of Night ***½: As coined by my co-host, 'Apple Pie Sci-fi'.
8. Tenet ***½: The link is to my written review. While the narrative may have been convoluted and exposition heavy to the point of making it hard to connect to the characters, it was the big sound, big action and ambitious shots that proved why the big screen is such a magical place. I confess my love may be due to the dearth of actual big event movies this year.
9. Enola Holmes ***½: Millie Bobby Brown is a superstar, and this is the exact fun and fresh take we need with established stories and series.
10. The Trial of Chicago 7 ***½: Movies are meant to be entertainment and are best when they draw us towards the characters and allow us to connect with their situation. Movies based on true events with real people aren't meant to be history lessons but rather leave us with a new perspective, and Aaron Sorkin does that along with his usual wit and energy.
11. Let Him Go ***½: A touching family drama blended with a blood-soaked western that feels like the ambitious yet intimate star-driven movies that used to dominate the cinemas 40 years ago. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane prove why they rank among the all-time best as you believe them as a long-time loving couple and that makes you stick with them on every twist and turn.
12. Freaky***½: Proof that slashers can be heartfelt and uplifting while also being unsettling and scary. Christopher Landon is quickly becoming one of my favourite horror genre directors.
13. Mank ***½
14. Time ***½:
15. Birds of Prey ***: Margot Robbie embodies Harley Quinn, and the movie has a fun yet crazy energy; much better than some of the false 'it is a bomb' narratives that went around during its release.
16. The Rhythm Section ***: This movie is way better than the Rotten Tomatoes score would have you believe, as I appear to be one of the few movie reviewers that really dug this revenge tale that has a stand-out performance from Blake Lively and some really breath-taking action sequences from director Reed Morano.
17. To All the Boys: PS I Still Love You ***: Okay, I wasn't going to write comments on each movie, yet I keep doing it. Now, I fear that the first one not to have a comment is going to suddenly be pegged as not worth tracking down. That is not the case here, as this is a delightful romantic comedy sequel that makes you care about the characters and is about more relationships that just the romantic one.
18. Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon ***: Further proof that Aardman Animation is one of the most underrated yet consistent studios that continue to create charming and endearing adventures for the whole family.
19. Sonic the Hedgehog ***: The movie that breaks the 'video game adaptations are always awful' streak with a very fun mismatched buddies road trip adventure that also will appease most fans of the game series.
20 The Invisible Man ***: I think my initial review came off more negative than I meant, as I still think this is a picture that provides ample earned scares, tackles some real modern issues and has one of the year best performances with Elisabeth Moss in the lead.
21. Horse Girl ***: I'm always a sucker for stories where you're not sure if something paranormal is happening or the character is going crazy, and Alison Brie is very believable as a girl who could be experiencing both.
22 The Platform ***: Genre filmmaking is one of the best ways to tackle political and social issues, and this interesting idea about a futuristic prison does that while also providing great chills and thrills.
23. Tigertail ***: A gorgeously shot picture that draws into the experience of an immigrant who is haunted by their past.
24. My Spy ***: This was the movie that proved to me that Dave Bautista has the charisma and chops to play a great lead role in action or comedy pictures, though he also likely could nail it in the right drama role too. From this point on, I am going to stop writing comments unless there is something that I really feel that I must add.
25. The Willoughbys ***
26. Troop Zero ***
27, The Half of It ***
28. The Lovebirds ***
29. 7500 ***
30. The Old Guard ***
31. Color Out of Space ***
32. Banana Split ***
33. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run ***: And this may turn out to be the last theatre movie that I see with my kids in 2020, but at least, I have hope there will be a theatre for us to return to at some point in 2021. This was also a funny and wacky time my kids adored, and I thought was fun too.
34. Get Duked! ***
36. Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey ***: A high-energy, feel-good, and colourful fantasy Christmas musical that actually feels like it would have been even better on the big screen, which you can't say about every Netflix original. I may try to write a full review for this one.
37, Uncle Frank ***
38. I Used to Go Here ***: An indy dramedy about a women whose life has taken some recent hits with her debut novel flopping and her wedding being called off, so she goes back to her university to do a reading and reconnect with her beloved professor. It is about how we can lose our way in life and things may not turn out as we dream, but it is also about finding your way and believing those dreams can still be achieved. It is hopeful while also feeling realistic. It has an assortment of interesting characters and a lot of fun wit, but Gillian Jacobs is the stand-out in an incredible lead performance that brings lot of nuance and heart.
39. Bad Boys for Life **½: The link is for my written review. This is coming from someone that has never really been into this series, but feels it is the strongest of the bunch, so fans should take that into consideration.
40. All the Bright Places **½
41. Lost Girls **½
42. Extraction **½
43. Selah and the Spades **½
45. The Broken Heart Gallery **½: A three star is my criteria for an official recommendation, but this was a charming and sincere but predictable romantic comedy that kept me engaged with the two great lead performances from Geraldine Viswanathan and Dacre Montgomery.
46. The Sleepover **½
47. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm **½
48. Bill and Ted Face the Music **½
49. Over the Moon **½
50. The Christmas Chronicles 2 **½
51. The Wretched **½: This ended up being the number one movie in the box office during the height of COVID-19 restrictions back in the spring. The idea of evil spirits possessing women so it can feed on children feels like a classic scary story and there are elements that really work, but it kind of falls apart at the end as it leans too heavy on tired horror tropes. I think most horror fans will find lots of stuff to like even if the whole thing doesn't come together.
53. The Gentlemen **: Many heralded this as Guy Ritchie's return to form, but this time around it felt a little dated and trying too hard to be edgy and stylized, but it definitely had some fun moments and few memorable character especially Colin Farrell's coach.
54. Live Twice, Love Once **
55. The Hunt **
56. All Day and a Night **
57. Desperados **
58. Project Power **
59. Unhinged **
60. The New Mutants **: The link is to my written review.
61. The Devil All the Time **
62. Love Guaranteed **
63. Hubie Halloween **
64. Come Play **
65. Rebecca **
66. Like a Boss **: A comedy about female empowerment, friendship and business that doesn't seem to know anything about any of them. But Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne have a great chemistry together and they bring so much energy that the tired story has some moments that spark.
65. Spenser Confidential *½
66. Coffee & Kareem *½
67. Love, Wedding, Repeat *½
68. Animal Crackers *½
69. The Kissing Booth 2 *
70. A Fall from Grace *
71. The Grudge *: The link is for my written review, and this movie has all the things that people who hate horror movies expect in the genre that I love.
72. The Last Thing He Wanted *
73. Fantasy Island *: For the first hour it was a generic horror flick that was all about the groan inducing jump scares and a dull mystery about evil black water goo, but then it really falls off the cliff after a non-sensical plot turn that makes everything before it pointless, thus making it all a giant waste of time,
74. Pets United *
75. Bloodshot *
76. Force of Nature *: A thriller that sells itself as a battling thieves flick with a hurricane and Mel Gibson, except both of those disappear for large portions of the movie. But at least, we get Chekhov's carnivore in a closet.
77. Evil Eye *
78. Hillbilly Elegy *
79. The Wrong Missy ½*
81. Brahms: The Boy 2 ½*: It is the original movie all over again but this time with even more horror movie tropes and a twist that demands you to hit yourself with a hammer twenty-three times for it to make sense. I may try to write a review for this.
82. Capone ½*
(EDIT: I added this week's four podcast movies)
(EDIT 2: I added Like a Boss and I Used to Go Here)