My Five Favorite Movies I Saw In 2020

Mulholland Drive (2001): An aspiring actress experiences the hope and despair of Hollywood in a haunting fever dream that could only come from David Lynch.

This nightmare puzzle box dazzles and lingers in elliptical scenes that are perfectly sensory and non-sensical. The movie imprints a feeling of unease that only an unshakeable night terror can. A motion picture in the purest sense, the images of the movie are the paintings in a museum you may never return to but will never forget. Diners will never be the same.

First Reformed (2017): A reverend haunted by the loss of his son and the dissolution of his marriage talks with a climate activist, who sets him on a journey of inner reckoning. Will God forgive us for what we have done to this world?

This stunning thriller is about the rage and faith within us all. Filmed with simple sets and austere scenery, the inner stakes are raised to ceiling-shattering levels as questions of purpose, spirituality, and sacrifice envelop each frame. What if everything we thought was true was wrong? What if we were the only ones to know? Am I the crazed or the crazy?

45 Years (2015): A husband discovers that his former lover’s body has finally been found. And 45 years of marriage may crumble because of it.

This movie explores the horrifying questions that linger in any relationship: What if the person I love is a person I never knew? What if my love was built on a story that I told myself? Each scene builds as the quiet terror of a world crashing builds to a surprising fever pitch. The last scene is my favorite ending to any movie I have ever seen.

A Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980): Loretta Lynn leaves home at age 15 with nothing but her voice and a domineering husband, Doolittle. She’ll always be a coal miner’s daughter, but will she ever grow to be more?

The movie rises above the central limitation with biopics: that the movie cannot live up to the larger-than-life people they attempt to honor. This movie is the rare example of the facsimile being not only as good as the original but a distinct and unique piece of art itself. A biopic worthy of a biopic.

A River Runs Through It (1992): A man reflects on his upbringing in Montana and his relationships with family.

The “what” of the movie is straightforward and beside the point. What shines instead is the hypnotic scenery of Montana, the assured acting of the leads, and the stunning shots of fly fishing in action. While hard to describe, the movie is viscerally memorable, describing the distance and proximity between us and those we love the most. As the father reflects upon in his last sermon, we may not understand the people we love, but we love them still.  

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