The cinematic experience remains an incredible escape from reality and it’s always awe-inspiring how movies evolved in a relatively short time. The film industry is certainly guilty of following certain trends and at the end of the day it’s a business where massive blockbusters that dominate the box office are the goal.
Movies can sometimes seem a little short-sighted and like it’s only franchises, established intellectual property, and connected cinematic universes that are making the biggest waves. However, there are still plenty of innovative filmmakers and studios looking for originality and 2020 alone had some particularly effective films that all have completely original premises.
ten Tenet is further proof that Christopher Nolan is becoming his own genre
Christopher Nolan made big waves with his gritty Black Knight trilogy, but the director’s most exciting offerings are his original stories that riff on reality and perception in stimulating ways, like Remembrance, creation, and more recently, Principle. Principle is a pure, undiluted Nolan – for better or for worse – as he engages in a complicated narrative about time travel as he tries to prevent the outbreak of World War III. It’s easy for Nolan’s curvy story and visual techniques to overwhelm audiences, but it’s still an extremely unique action blockbuster that plays by its own rules.
9 Guns Akimbo further subverts video game logic
There have been a growing number of films that play with the narrowing of the gap between video games and real entertainment as reality just becomes another form of escape. Daniel Radcliffe did an exceptional job with the unconventional roles he chose after his tenure as Harry Potter. In Akimbo rifles, Radcliffe plays a beleaguered video game developer who becomes the latest subject of a streaming deathmatch that threatens his real life. Miles of Radcliffe wakes up with two pistols strapped to his hands and fleeing exaggerated assassins, including a performance particularly inspired by Samara Weaving.
8 Palm Springs takes a look at a familiar idea to push expectations to new places
groundhog day isn’t the first movie to play with time loops, but it did help push the concept of avant-garde science fiction in the mainstream. There is no shortage of films that attempt to reclaim Groundhog day premise but in a radically different genre or environment.
Palm springs is a clever comedy that delves into both the absurdity and mystery surrounding the supernatural circumstances that consume two unsuspecting wedding guests. Palm springs sets its own path and tells an exciting and unpredictable story that blossoms into loving, honest romance.
7 The possessor is a dark and destabilizing descent into madness
David Cronenberg has become one of the biggest names in experimental body horror and in-depth examinations of humanity and society. David Cronenberg’s son Brandon Cronenberg began to follow in his father’s footsteps and Possessor is his most successful film to date. The film takes a look at elite corporate assassins who accomplish their missions through a form of body hijacking that is possible through implanted brain technology. Possessor is full of uncomfortable executions, but also a growing rift as the film’s chief assassin loses sight of herself as she occupies other bodies for her job.
6 The Night House is a creepy, unconventional take on mourning
Grieving can be a rewarding inspiration in horror and The night house is one of the most successful exams for lingering pain, responsibility, and self-doubt. The always phenomenal Rebecca Hall directs the film as Beth, a widow who is still believed due to the brutal death of her husband, and must deal with those feelings in the spooky lake house he built. David Bruckner has become a growing name to watch in the horror genre after films like The ritual, corn The night house is one of his most evocative works to date. It’s packed with rewarding revelations and haunting visuals.
5 Onward pushes fantastic archetypes to evolve
Pixar has an excellent reputation for emotional animated films that resonate as much with adults as they do with children. Forward takes place in an urban fantasy world, which immediately gives the film a unique environment that subverts the familiar fantasy tropes.
However, the strength of the film lies in the sibling bond that exists between the elven brothers Ian and Barley, who strive to bring their father back into their lives. The heart of the film has such a heart and Forward features provocative ideas about family, heritage and the technology that all connects.
4 Swallow is a haunting and gorgeous character study and cries out for help
Swallow is one of the most uncomfortable films to come out of 2020, with much of its painful history hitting as hard as it does because of Haley Bennett’s raw and fearless performance as a neglected housewife who finds himself without any agency in his life. Haley Bennett’s Hunter nervously develops the pica compulsion, where individuals consume random objects. Hunter’s state of fragility worsens, but she feels a strange sense of empowerment when she engages in this unhealthy behavior. It is a difficult watch to pass, but which unboxes such moving and heartbreaking themes.
3 Vivarium overthrows marriage and the suburbs and continues
There are many films that present the suburbs and domestic life as their own forms of prisons, either psychologically or physically. Vivarium is a sci-fi film starring Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots as an optimistic newlywed couple who are excited to enter the next phase of their lives. However, the neighborhood in which they are brainwashed exhibits increasingly disturbing behavior. Soon a child enters the equation and an escape from this new life becomes literally impossible for the couple. Vivarium sometimes gets too lost in his own ideas, but it’s a deeply original story that you have to live all the same.
2 Bad Hair makes its horror in poignant places
Horror is such a versatile genre of film and ideas that would fail elsewhere can sometimes excel in the heightened genre. Horror can work better when he leans to extremes and embraces absurdity, which is the approach taken by the 2020s Bad hair. Set in the late 1980s, the film begins with a fairly straightforward plot where an image-centric ingenu invests in some extravagant hair weave, which turns out to have a murderous spirit of its own. Bad hair does not degenerate into disorder and knows how to make the most of this radical premise.
1 Rental sneaks up on its audience until it’s too late
Dave Franco tries his hand at directing in the intimate thriller, Location. With Alison Brie, Jeremy Allen White and Sheila Vand, Location begins in a harmless place where two couples retreat to a rental home for a weekend of fun and relaxation, only for fear to creep in when the home owner’s seemingly sinister intentions arise. Couples don’t know what to believe and their trust in each other begins to evaporate. It’s a small-scale, intimate look at the tension, but Franco sticks the landing and makes Location worth the trip.
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