Let’s see the good of the year.
Despite being a rough year, we ended up with some excellent cinema by the end of the year. Unfortunately, a lot of films have been pushed back, which means we’ll be waiting a little longer for some exciting new prospects.
I should note here that a lot of good stuff seems to be coming out on the Christmas week. Due to timing and such, some films won’t be considered for this list (as they aren’t out at the time of this writing). However, we’ll keep our eye out and try to play a little catch-up in January.
1. Portrait of a Woman on Fire
3. The Vast of Night
4. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
5. Color out of Space
6. Get Duked
7. The Relic
9. Host (Shudder Exclusive)
10. The Dark and the Wicked
10. The Dark and The Wicked
The film takes a new twist on a family invasion. Instead of masked robbers, we watch as a ranch (and the people living there) are preyed upon by an unseen terror that is timeless and ancient. Strong acting and interesting ideas propel this one to be one of the most thoughtful horror films of the year.
9. Host (Shudder exclusive)
Host represents a true return to form for found-footage (or streamed horror, I guess). We follow a group of friends as they perform a séance that goes predictably wrong in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. The film utilizes the genre trappings well, and doesn’t let a little thing like global social distancing prevent them from making a fun and well-paced film. Shudder knocks it out of the park with this exclusive.
8. Get Duked
Horror comedies usually fail for not being scary nor funny. While the creep in this film is more so due to social disparity, the laughs are full force. Four painfully stupid teenagers take part in the Duke of Edinburgh challenge only to be hunted by snobby aristocrats (led by Eddie Izzard). Excellent, ridiculous, and completely insane. My favorite comedy of the year.
7. The Painted Bird
This bleak and massive project follows a nearly mute child as he must traverse the morally bankrupt landscape as World War II rages on. The decrepit buildings and surroundings reflect the horrific individuals occupying them. Often brutal, but ultimately unforgettable, The Painted Bird is certainly the most ambitious film of the year.
6. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Strange and beautiful, I’m Thinking of Ending Things takes a surrealistic and sometime chaotic journey through the failing relationship of two people and explores the inner workings of the mind. Acted wonderfully from two underappreciated leads, this film shows that once again Charlie Kaufman is a man without equal in bringing new cinematic experiences to the big screen.
While Relic may lack the raw terror of other horror films, the implications of the frights will stay with you long after the credits roll. An unblinking look at aging, memory, and family makes for a tight and claustrophobic film that wastes no time ramping up the tension. For those who want thoughtfulness in their horror, Relic is must-see.
4. The Vast of Night
What would happen if you mixed the best of the Twilight Zone, ramped up the Cold War paranoia, and added in two charming leads? Well, you’d get this movie. We follow a young DJ and his dispatcher friend as they try to determine what is causing strange frequencies and occurrences in their small town. This movie not only nails the horror/sci-fi elements, but also brings back the feeling of old horror and radio stories. A superb effort and one of the most exciting stories of the year.
Who wants some body horror? Mix in some mind-bending science fiction ideas and you’ve got yourself one of the best films of the year. I can’t say much more—see this movie.
Follow a journalist as he and his team uncover vast corruption and malfeasance in the Romanian medical system following the fire at the Collective Nightclub. Raw, real, and infuriating—this movie will stay with you for a long time.
1 Portrait of a Lady on Fire
One the best love stories I’ve ever seen. Portrait of a Lady on Fire is similar to a visual representation of the tenderest love poetry. A nearly perfect film and one of the best films of the decade.