The top 10 films of 2020 –

In a normal year, my favourite films would be aneclectic mix of blockbusters and indie darlings, perhaps a few Oscar contenders sprinkled in for good measure.

But in 2020, most blockbusters went bust, theatres closed andthe year turned into a marathon of streaming premieres, virtual press conferences and battling with your family's Wi-Fi to view the latest release.

Yetthrough thepandemonium of the pandemic, filmmakers found a way to speak to the moment. Watching from my couch, I found succour in shape-shifting wolf maidens, deaf drummers, wandering spirits and Indigenous samurai warriors.

Here are the best films of 2020,whichhelped me make it throughtheyear we'd like to forget.

I know, Januaryseems like a century ago. But let's not forget what a revelation Harley Quinn's wild ride of a film was.With director Cathy Yan behind the camera, Margot Robbie delivereda looney-toons romp worthy of Daffy Duck himself.Come for Rosie Perez's simmering scowl and stay for the delightfully depraved Ewan McGregoras the villainousRoman. (On Video on Demand)

The pandemic may have stopped Canadian Mi'kmaq filmmaker Jeff Barnaby from opening his zombie film in theatres, but COVID-19 just made this squeamish survival story stronger.Barnaby says he wants to do sci-fi next. I can't wait. (On Video on Demand)

The Painter and the Thief is a documentary that dares you to imagine what's next and then constantly surprises you. Itbegins with a painter who tracks down the thief in Oslo, Norway, who stole her work. What follows is a lesson inallowing your subject to reveal themselves. (On Video on Demand)

In a struggling vegetable farm in Arkansas,Minari plants the seeds of a Korean immigrantfamilybuying into the American dream. What follows is an epic tale of strife and sacrifice in the grand American tradition,and a film that asks: Why doesn't everyone useSteven Yeun?(Coming to Canada in early 2021)

If you feel like every day is bleeding into the next, why not spend it with Andy Samberg, stuck in a wedding party that never ends? It's great to see Samberggo deeper, but the real revelation is Cristin Milioti as the wide-eyed woman determined to leave the loop. (On Amazon Prime Video)

Nomadlandis a film aboutlistening and looking. It's about the observant eye of directorChlo Zhao, and using Frances McDormand as a sounding board. McDormand plays Fern, a widow who joins a modern-day tribe of nomads who've left the rat race behind. This is a film withcharacters as distinctive as the striking landscape that frames them. (Coming to Canada in early 2021)

Cartoon Saloon is an Irish animation studio with a distinctive brand of imaginativefantasy films, such asThe Secret of Kellsand Song of the Sea. Wolfwalkerscontinues the winning streak witha wild and woolly tale about having empathy for your enemies. The wonderfully chaotic art stylecomplements the furry friendship as itevolves. (On Apple TV+)

Sound of Metalisn't just the best thing Riz Ahmed has ever done, it's a master class in the benefits of inclusion. Working with a cast of mainly deaf actors, Ahmed gives us the story of someone who loses his hearing but gains so much more. (On Video on Demand)

Director Kirsten Johnson was worried she was losing her father. So she killed him.Well, she staged his death on camera. Repeatedly. This is adocumentaryabout dementia and memory, loss and love.It's about celebrating who we have while we have them.Absurd and surprisingly wonderful. (On Netflix)

You may have heard about the Chicago 7, but how about the Mangrove 9? Mangrove is the film about the real-life case of community members charged with inciting a riot after marching to defend a West Indian restaurant in London from persistent police attacks.It's also the first instalment in the five-part Small Axe series from Widows director Steve McQueen, which explores the Black experience in Britain.

Some of my criticalbrethren are spending time debating whetherSmall Axe is TV or film. But this year, I'm inclined to bend the rules. Some see this as television,but this two-hour instalment, culminatingin a courtroom showdown, is cinema in its mostpure and urgent form.

In Mangrove, we watch citizens finding their voiceand standing against the police and the justice system.The place and time, the community and the accents are incredibly specific.But the ideaof speaking truth to poweris universal and undeniable.(On Amazon Prime Video)

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The top 10 films of 2020 -

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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero
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