For films, it was a crucial year. Credit goes to COVID-19. Alot of films like Black Widow, No Time to Die and Last Night at Soho, got postponed until 2021. Some films who were made to release in theatres, ended up releasing on different OTT platforms. Audience got to enjoy fresh and new content on their TV screens only.
As theaters were closed, most of the big film festivals were cancelled. Cinephiles throughtout the world were confused when the lockdown started. But, thanks to these OTT platforms, we got to see alot of good movies and shows. We have curated a list of top 6 Hollywood movies, that we should watch before the year ends.
1. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
In one level, Céline Cinema’s intense, crackling portrait of illegal romance between the portrait artist Marianne and the aristocratic theme Eloise (Adèle Haynes) in W France in the 18th century is a masterclass in capturing passion and emotion. No other director or camera (the moviemaker Claire Matron) instructed and captured the tiny movements on the human face like this in 2020 — every muscle feels on the screen, and the actors’ eyes tell more in their whole runtime than other movies — just like Portrait of a Lady on Fire. There are shots in this film that are worthy of being a painting themselves, fittingly.
But on a deeper level, Potrait of a Lady on Fire is about the cinema itself. It is a film played inside the film. Cinema teaches us through the method of depicting, what the art of directing and acting means on the other side of the frame. And it’s so fun that you can’t look away. We are encouraged to look at them while both look one at another with longing. The final scene is a beauty.
2. Little Women
Why will an emerging director pick up a sixfold book with a memorable name in Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Winona Ryder and Kirsten Dunst? It showed us why Greta Gerwig, the writer and producer took a look at the story of the March sisters from a viewpoint that gave Jo March in his story based on the author), but apparently honors Louisa May Alcott, the author of the 19th century, as an individual. He has also taken up the process of making new contributions. The filmmaker is a filmmaker. There was no doubt that the poster had a (rare) title: “Own your story.”
It also helps that Gerwig has taken her dreams together (minus one). Saoirse Ronan acted as the ambitious aspiring writer Jo March in her lifetime; Florence Pugh was fantastic as Amy March, and Meryl Streep was exactly how you would imagine them as Aunt March. It was like icing on the cake that they were circled by the ever-excellent Emma Watson, Laura Dern, Eliza Scanlen and Timothée Chalamet. What made Little Women great is how she was not able to portray either of the March sisters as an outsider — Amy’s far worse off — due to Gerwig’s writing and non-linear reorganization. Little women at the beginning of 2020 was a majestic nugget of warmth, which we didn’t know we’d need so badly for the following awful year.
3. Never Rarely Sometimes Always
With Never Rarely Sometimes Always, the writer and author Eliza Hittman finds the midfield between story fiction and cinema fact, exploring the battle to have an abortion of a 17-year-old American girl Autumn. In Pennsylvania, she cannot get it because legislation calls for parental consent for young women. And she has no funds to fly to New York, which have no such laws. But after learning of Autumn’s pregnancy, she has Skylar (Talia Ryder), a cousin who steals cash at their groceries. And it is their link that is crucial to the film, as they face harsher choices on the way.
Never rarely Sometimes Always plays like a thriller when fall and Skylar grab with New York, a city that is totally alien and odd to them. Are they getting enough food and metro money? When the operation turns out to take two days, where will they sleep? Hittman offers an intimate, thoroughly moving look at how society fails not only young women, but also intentionally and decisively. Her pivotal scene is unbearable and difficult to look for a multiple-choice history test which asks autumn to choose from “never,” “sometimes or “ever”. The film demands many of its young leads, in particular its several wordless scenes, which all involve interacting with the face and body language. And they deliver. And they deliver.
4. The Trial of the Chicago 7
If you’d ever like to know how strong a producer — Steve McQueen made Mangrove, and Aaron Sorkin is behind The Trials of Chicago 7. They’re the same thing in their hearts. A morally bankrupt police force ready to instigate violence to terrorize the people. A corrupt system which traps the spoken person in a fake trial to try to offer him an example. And a sterling biased judge in court exacerbated the case. But from the title itself the variations in the approach to the content are obvious. Sorkin’s movie would have been called ‘The Mangrove Nine trial’ if he made McQueen’s movie.
There is of course, much more variety available. The two movies are not only different in structure—Mangrove continues linearly while the Trial of Chicago 7 uses flashback—but they have a distinctive sound, moments in which they concentrate and how these moments are presented. Take the beatings given to Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and Frank Crichlow (Shaun Parkes), or the judgment scene direction for example. Although McQueen’s movie is more inner and scary, it is self-righteous and wonderful.
But at the end of the day both movies are timely, including for us in India, about what’s happening in the world today.
Pete Doctor, who is also behind Inside Out and now the chief creative official of Pixar, has transformed his emotions into a film and explores another abstract aspect of life. Although the movie is called Soul, the meaning of life is addressed (a huge idea for what is essentially a family movie at heart). And on this topic, it has some very interesting things to say.
Soul is following a middle-aged music teacher and jazz pianist who had failed to break his career (voiced by Jamie Foxx). And when he realizes that he is on a large cusp, he ends up in the literal cleansing. His return to Earth requires understanding the fine line between your ambition and your passion. We’re not alone, and we call life on this trip.
It counts for a lot that it is ready to ask the characters such big questions (and the public in turn) and update the established narrative structure. But Soul is a beautiful and light-hearted comedy film with existential zingers (Tina Fey’s proposals), and a very good romp from start to finish in the hand of Doctor (a cowriter), Kemp Powers (co-director and co-writer), and Mike Jones (cowriter).
6. Small Axe
For Steve McQueen’s coming anthology project ‘small axe’, Amazon Prime has shared the first trailer that includes films from various movies directed by the Oscar winner, ‘Shame’ and ’12 Years A Slave’. The first screenshot of the first appearance below comes from the installment ‘Mangrove’. The official collection of the Cannes Film Festivals and the New York Film Festival is the favorite ‘Black Panther’, ‘Letitia Wright’, and ‘Mangrove’. ‘Small Axe’ is the first television project from McQueen and ‘Mangrove’ is to mark the first new McQueen movie to debut since the director’s ‘Widows’ release in 2018.
According to an official overview by Amazon, ‘Mangrove’ tells the true story of Mangrove 9, a band of black demonstrators who defied the London police during a 1970 protest march and the ensuing highly-published trial. The trial was the first judicial admission of race-led hatred in the Metropolitan Police. McQueen and Alastair Siddons co-wrote ‘Mangrove’.