COVID-19 really put a damper on the cinematic experience in 2020. In March the theaters closed down, then they reopened later in the summer with a very limited number of movies being shown, and then, depending where you lived, the theaters closed down again. Though 2020 was still a really great year for movies, thanks to virtual film festival, virtual theaters, and studios making their films available on-demand, there were still some movies that I saw in 2020 that I wish I saw on the big screen. Frankly, I wish I could have seen every movie in the theater, but these five are the ones I really wish I experienced in their full theatrical glory.
5 – GREENLAND
- Greenland was one of the bigger surprises I had in 2020. What I thought was going to be a dumb Gerard Butler movie actually ended up being a good, emotional disaster movie that continued to prove Gerard Butler’s movie-stardom. Though Greenland isn’t focused so much on the disaster that is taking place, the final act of the film is an action spectacle that deserved to be seen on a big, loud screen like every great disaster movie.
4 – SOUL (Pete Docter)
- Picking Soul might seem like an easy choice, as seeing a Pixar movie on the big screen has been something everyone has been doing for the last twenty-five years. But Soul is one of Pixar’s finest visual achievements, ranking up there with Finding Nemo, Wall-E, and Coco. The vibrancy and realism of New York is incredible, but it’s when we are in the Great Before and the stairway to the Great Beyond that is truly astonishing and peak Pixar. Soul is one of Pixar’s most mature films and a huge step forward in the animation world.
3 – NEWS OF THE WORLD (Paul Greengrass)
- News of the World is one of the unsung great movies of 2020. It’s a western featuring large landscapes, exciting gun fights, stunning sets, and a great leading performance by Tom Hanks. Why would I not want to see that on the big screen? Director Paul Greengrass, the man behind the Bourne franchise, made a gorgeous, classic western that takes you along the large, treacherous journey that our main character Captain Kidd (Hanks) and a young girl (Helena Zengel) have to go on. I was in awe of the look, sound, and feel of News of the World and wish I was able to immerse myself in this film on the big screen.
2 – DA 5 BLOODS (Spike Lee)
- Da 5 Bloods could be argued as the biggest movie director Spike Lee has ever made in terms of scale. Lee pits us in the forest of Vietnam as a group of former soldiers try find a hidden treasure while dealing with ghosts from their past. This is Lee’s Apocalypse Now. It’s a big, bold, messy, powerful film and one of his strongest directorial efforts to date. Da 5 Bloods is a war movie, but it is a war movie that looks at the effects of war and the effect Vietnam has on Black people. Like westerns, all war movies should be seen on the big screen, especially war movies that are this good and this special. This also would have been a great movie to see Chadwick Boseman give one of his last cinematic performances.
1 – DAVID BYRNE’S AMERICAN UTOPIA (Spike Lee)
- Yup, another Spike Lee joint. Though Da 5 Bloods is a bold war film, it was when I was watching Lee’s concert movie that really made me miss the cinema this year. David Byrne’s American Utopia is a masterful concert film. Lee not only shoots the concert and give us the audience experience, making us feel like we are dead-center in the crowd, but Lee shows us the genius of David Byrne, much like Jonathon Demme did with Stop Making Sense, American Utopia‘s older sister. This is a completely immersive concert experience that I wish I saw on an IMAX screen with incredible sound. Even while watching the film in the comfort of my own home, I was standing up and singing to the music, so I can only imagine how excited and hyped up I would be if I saw this loud theater with fellow patrons. David Byrne’s American Utopia is one of the best movies of 2020 and would have made on hell of a cinematic experience.
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