The Devil All The Time
The best thing about this movie is that it is grandiose and ambitious, a sprawling vision traversing across passages of time and landscapes. Yet it never loses purpose or vision, making it a fantastic effort.
Writer-director Antonio Campos – best known for directing some incredible episodes of TV show The Sinner – makes one of the best films of the year.
It follows Arvin from birth through to early adulthood, and sometimes the only thing converging this shady, intricate cast of miscreants are the fleeting moments they have with him.
In a backwoods, post-war town, Arvin deals with past trauma and protecting those in his life while he pushes back against insidious forces all around him.
With the grit of old-school Coen classics like Blood Simple and the sprawling narrative and beautiful cinematography of Malick, this is one of the most transformative filmic experiences of 2020.
The cast, from lead Tom Holland to the incredible supporting turns from an enraging Robert Pattinson, Bill Skarsgard, Riley Keough, Haley Bennett, Sebastian Stan and Jason Clarke, this is truly one of the best-acted movies I’ve seen in a long time.
Endlessly interesting and constantly-evolving, this narrative will wrap you up tight and refuse to let go.
Mad Men’s Jon Hamm has quietly built up a stunning resume in the wake of the finale of his hit AMC show.
Mr. Don Draper himself has graced hits like Baby Driver, The Town, and Richard Jewell, and he’s consistently involving.
With Beirut, he headlines a political thriller that didn’t light up the box-office, but is more than deserving of a look.
In the middle of a civil war, the CIA sends a former U.S. diplomat to negotiate for a captive friend he left behind.
Hamm is, frankly, brilliant here. He’s better than he as any right to be in a nifty, but forgettable thriller like this, and Oscar nominee Rosamund Pike more than rises to match him.
Session 9 and The Machinist director Brad Anderson makes a hugely interesting film after years without an impressive flick, and he makes it count. The script by Oscar-nominated Rogue One scribe Tony Gilroy is also brilliant.
Beirut isn’t a movie you’ll rave about for years, but as entertainment with a brain, it more than serves its purpose.
Silence Of The Lambs
One of my absolute favourite films has hit Netflix, and I can’t be more excited to recommend the perfection that is The Silence of the Lambs.
By now, almost everyone knows the story of young, green FBI cadet Clarice Starling, and her intense power struggle with captured, murderous inmate Hannibal Lecter as she asks his help to catch an active serial killer.
The power dynamics between Anthony Hopkins – truly legendary as cannibal Hannibal Lecter – and the equally shining Jodie Foster make this film a classic.
The truly incredible performances from these two make for one of the most incredible thrillers of all time – one that nabbed a slew of Oscars.
It’s terrifying, riveting and contains some of the best scenes and performances every put to screen.
Simply, Silence Of The Lambs is a classic that demands to be seen.
Boys In The Band
This emotional, resonant remake of the stage play and film follows a group of gay friends in the 1968 New York whose party is crashed by a hostile friend of the host.
As they’re forced to face their own insecurities, desires, hang-ups and sadness, the drunken party guests’ confident exteriors begin to crack as the things they hold back from their regular lives begin to show.
Director Joe Mantello’s best technique is letting this heady film breathe. He’s got an ensemble of showstoppers, and as they walk back and forth, pushing each other’s boundaries, we get to see true skill in play.
As host Michael, Jim Parsons is contemptable, degrading and wicked, completely shedding his Big Bang Theory persona in favour of an absolutely twisted character who it’s impossible to redeem.
And that’s what’s so interesting. We hate our lead, and yet, we all know a self-loathing gay man just like him, who rags on others to make himself feel more secure. There’s an underlying sadness to the character that – even when Parsons isn’t letting it show – the audience can feel.
Star Trek actor Zachary Quinto brings a campy, slithering, weaselly sensibility to birthday boy Harold, an aging queen who hates himself – but spews venom like he’s got nothing to prove.
The entire cast, from Parsons and Quinto to Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, an adorable performance from Charlie Carver, a quintessential supporting turn from Robin de Jesus, and standouts from Michael Benjamin Washington and Tuc Watkins make for a showstopping adaptation.
It’s difficult, and it’s no picnic, but it will leave you stunned.
Spike Lee’s absolute best effort since the 2006 hostage thriller Inside Man came in the form of this searing drama.
2018’s BlacKkKlansman is a highlight-reel effort from a director who’s had his ups and downs. But this tale of Ron Stallworth, a black police officer in Colorado who infiltrated the local Ku Klux Klan using a Jewish officer as the face is one of the most incredible films of his career.
John David Washington – son of Denzel – made his transition to the A-list with this Oscar-worthy turn as Stallworth, and he’s joined by the incredible Adam Driver.
Add in Alec Baldwin, a completely out-of-character turn from That 70’s Show’s Topher Grace as a KKK leader and The Wire’s Isiah Whitlock Jr., and you have a supporting cast that’s more than up to the task.
But it’s Lee’s deserving, Oscar-winning screenplay – with its dark humour, brash wit and delicate tonal balance – that deserves the most credit.
This is a stunning achievement, and one of the best movies of the 2010s.
Jordan Parker's weekly film reviews can be found on his blog, Parker & The Picture Shows.