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  • Ken Ilgunas

Best Films I watched in 2020

I'm doing a better job cataloging the media I consume, so I have a better idea of all the films I watch from year to year. Here are my favorites watched in 2020, with an eye toward lesser-known gems.

The Cakemaker (2017, Germany & Israel) This is an almost flawless movie (save for one mistake toward the end). It's unbelievable to me that the actor in the lead, Tim Kalkhof, won no awards for his beautifully understated performance.

Monos (2019, Columbia, various) I like my movies raw, gritty, and unforgiving. Monos is just my type.

Sicario (2015, USA) I had low expectations for this one, as I'm burnt out on drug and cop movies. But Sicario was electrifying. I had no sense of where the story was taking me, which is always a good thing.

Meek's Cutoff (2010, USA) I've never watched a bad Kelly Reichardt film. This is hardly a Western, apart from the costumes.

Winter Sleep (2014, Turkey) Broody, atmospheric, and melancholic.

Revanche (2008, Austria) A grimy city thriller unexpectedly ends up in the Austrian countryside.

The Biggest Little Farm (2018, USA) I could have done without the cheesy premise of giving their dog a new home. But this multi-year documentary is visually stunning, epic, honest, and inspiring. It'll certainly make you want to have a farm, big or little.

Big Night (1997, USA)

1917 (2019, US/UK) I saw this in February, right before lockdown. I was somewhere in Maryland on a speaking tour. I stopped by a pizzeria beforehand. The pizzeria was closing so they offered me an additional slice of pizza, both of which were enormous. With a full belly after a long day of talking, my viewing of the masterfully-made 1917 was made all the more memorable.

Uncut Gems (2019, USA) When I watch a movie and instantly have to rewatch it, I know it'll be a movie I'll always love. Sandler ought to have earned an Oscar nomination for his tragic-comic performance. This is one movie where a distinctive and innovative style (music, editing, cinematography) serves the movie, rather than just serving as window dressing.


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