Fern is a woman whose life has fallen apart. Her job and town have gone extinct. She is forced to live out of her van and travel from state to state and town to town. Like, a modern-day nomad. Francis McDormand gives a more subdued performance than she ever has before in Nomadland. It’s just as effective as her Academy Award-winning performances in the past. Chloe Zhao has crafted a masterpiece of a film. Dealing with poverty and financial difficulties is something a lot of people can relate to. Also moving forward and taking life day today is what is expected by anyone struggling. Life isn’t easy sometimes. You have to roll up your sleeves and fight.
2: The Trial of the Chicago 7
In 1969 there was a lot of unrest in the United States. It all came to a head at the Democratic National Convention that year. People such as Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne), Abbey Hoffman (Sasha Baron Cohen), Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong), Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), and David Dellinger (John Carroll Lynch) all came to Chicago for various social justice issues. Little did they know they would end up in a trial for their very survival. Defense lawyer William Kunstler (Mark Rylance) went head to head vs strict judge Julius Hoffman (Frank Langella). This film represents a lot of what has been going on in America in 2020. Aaron Sorkin writer/director has really captured the pulse of the country as a whole with this film.
3: The Painted Bird
A young Jewish boy in Eastern Europe seeks refuge during World War II. Petr runs into a bunch of strange and interesting characters while trying to survive each day. Supporting actors include Udo Keir, Stellan Skarsgard, Harvey Keitel, Barry Pepper, and Julian Sands. This story is really tough to watch because of the subject matter. It’s rewarding because of the acting and the black and white cinematography. It shows the toll that war takes on a person. At times it’s a very sad film because of the circumstances the kid is going through.
4: Another Round
Four high school teachers decide to do an experiment together. They start drinking every day to see how it affects their lives. These men go so far it has ramifications in their jobs and their relationships at home. Mads Mikkelsen takes the challenge to the next level, but he has never done better. This film shows the costs of alcoholism on all of the men and their families. It’s not pretty! Thomas Vinterberg focuses on a disease that affects millions of people around the world every day.
5: Never Rarely Sometimes Always
A teenage girl finds out that she has unintentionally gotten herself pregnant. She is facing having to raise a child she can’t afford on her own. Autumn and her friend Sylar embark on a trip to New York to get an abortion. The trip isn’t an easy one though. This is a story that affects a lot of young girls in America. It’s a tough decision, but facing having to raise a child without the proper income to take care of it. Despite people’s opinions to the contrary, this film is deliberate on its pace but has a rewarding story behind it.
6: The Way Back
Jack Cunningham was a basketball star in high school. He walked away from the game at a young age. He has since fallen on hard times. He is a construction worker by day and drinks himself to sleep by night. He does it all over again the next day. When his old priest offers him a job as the head basketball coach at his alma mater, it might be his shot at turning his life around. Gavin O’Connor specializes in inspirational sports films and The Way Back is no different. It has a story a lot of people can relate to. A lot of men struggle with alcohol and that affects their lives and their families’ lives. It’s not easy to deal with a person like that. This film really hit home for me because it reminded me of my own life.
7: One Night in Miami
One Night in Miami is the story of four iconic men: Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adhir), Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), and Muhammad Ali/Cassius Clay (Eli Goree). They meet up in a hotel room one night after Muhammad Ali fights against Sonny Liston. They have a lively conversation about their standing in society as successful men of color in America. Regina King, an award-winning actress, takes a turn as director for this important film about civil rights in America. All the men give very good performances in this film with a great message.
8: Athlete A
This film depicts the events and the people within the story of Dr. Larry Nasser and his abuse of gymnasts in America. The Indianapolis Star reporters start to uncover abuse by a Michigan doctor. It has first-hand accounts of many people involved with and surrounding the corruption within the United States gymnastics foundation. This film is very effective in showing all the angles involved with this complicated yet tragic story. This is one of the worst stories in sports in recent years. It’s a hard fact that something like this can happen these days in America.
Joe is an average everyday music teacher in New York. He feels like he deserves better though because he’s a jazz musician. He accidentally falls into a hole and his life is changed forever. Pete Doctor has directed another Pixar masterpiece. These films have multiple meanings that kids and adults can get behind. They always have stories people can relate to. A lot of people have problems dealing with their mundane lives. People aren’t always happy with just going through life as usual. Disney/Pixar are masters at telling these types of stories. This film is an inspiring story for everybody.
10: Promising Young Woman
Cassie is a woman who has settled on working at a coffee shop by day and being a seductress by night. She is seeking revenge for the death of a friend a few years ago. When a man comes into the coffee shop, she might actually change her ways. Emerald Fennell, the writer/director of the film, fills it with plenty of twists and turns. The acting by Mulligan and the entire cast is first-rate, but Mulligan really shines. Anchored by great acting and a great script, this film is solid all the way around.
Sound of Metal, Minari, The Donut King, Beanpole, Sorry We Missed You, Palm Springs, First Cow, Wolfwalkers, The Father, Mank, Boys State, Babyteeth, The Life Ahead, The Invisible Man
Dan Skip Allen
Sean Boelman Founder/EIC