Podcast: Best of 2020

Together again are Frank, Tim, Kyle, and Nate to discuss not just our top ten films of 2020, but also the current state of cinema, and what 2021 may hold.

Frank’s Top Ten:

  1. ANOTHER ROUND dir. Thomas Vinterberg
  2. TOMASSO dir. Abel Ferrera
  3. MANK dir. David Fincher
  4. TENET dir. Christopher Nolan
  5. VFW dir. Joe Begos
  6. SIBERIA dir. Abel Ferrara
  7. DA 5 BLOODS dir. Spike Lee
  8. POSSESSOR dir. Brandon Cronenberg
  9. 40 YEARS OF ROCK: A BIRTH OF A CLASSIC dir. Derek Wayne Johnson
  10. BIRDS OF PREY AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN dir. Cathy Chow

Nate’s Top Ten:

  1. THE EMPTY MAN dir. David Prior
  2. ANOTHER ROUND dir. Thomas Vinterberg
  3. WANDER DARKLY dir. Tara Miele
  4. UNDERWATER dir. William Eubanks
  5. CAPONE dir. Josh Trank
  6. THE INVISIBLE MAN dir. Leigh Whannell
  7. SOUL dir. Peter Docter and Kemp Powers
  8. ALONE dir. John Hyams
  9. VFW dir. Joe Begos
  10. HIS HOUSE dir. Remi Weekes

Kyle’s Top Ten:

  1. THE WANTING MARE dir. Nicholas Ashe Bateman
  2. BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS dir. Turner Ross, Bill Ross IV
  3. BACURAU dir. Kleber Mendonca Filho, Juliano Dornelles
  4. POSSESSOR dir. Brandon Cronenberg
  5. DA 5 BLOODS dir. Spike Lee
  6. THE DEVIL TO PAY dir. Ruckus Skye, Lane Skye
  7. THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME dir. Antonio Campos
  8. THE OUTPOST dir Rod Lurie
  9. I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS dir. Charlie Kaufman
  10. COLOR OUT OF SPACE dir. Richard Stanley

Tim’ Top Ten

  1. POSSESSOR dir. Brandon Cronenberg
  2. DA 5 BLOODS dir. Spike Lee
  3. THE INVISIBLE MAN dir. Leigh Whannell
  4. HORSE GIRL dir. Jeff Baena
  5. DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD dir. Kristen Johnson
  6. TENET dir. Christopher Nolan
  7. THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME dir. Antonio Campos
  8. I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS dir. Charlie Kaufman
  9. BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM dir. Jason Woliner
  10. BIRDS OF PREY dir. Cathy Chow – WONDER WOMAN 1984 dir. Patty Jenkins

David Prior’s The Empty Man

It’s rare for a horror film to exceed an hour and a half runtime these days, and if it does it better be something unexpected, captivating and unique. David Prior’s The Empty Man is two and a half hours and not only stands as the best film I’ve seen so far this year but also the scariest horror to come my way since Hereditary and It Follows before that. It’s also one of the most ambitious, ‘out there’ films in terms of high concept in the same way that, for example, Gore Verbinski’s A Cure For Wellness was, another bonkers, reach for the sky horror gem that went well over the two hour mark. First off, ignore the title, trailer and any of the surprisingly scant marketing that might make this out to be another ‘Slender Man’, ‘Bye Bye Man’ or any other cheapie gimmick piece that caters to teens. This is not your garden variety, jump scare laden, watered down young adult fright flick, it’s dark, complex, philosophical, disquieting and altogether soul disturbing. Before the opening title even appears we are treated to an atmospheric, twenty minute opening act set somewhere in the Tibetan mountains sometime in the 90’s, where four ill fated hikers have an encounter with something… well, something so old there’s no name for it in any language we speak. Flash forward to Illinois 2018 where we follow ex cop turned private investigator James Lasombra (James Badge Dale) as he tries to find the missing daughter of a family friend who got mixed up in a spooky urban legend. That’s all I’m going to get into in terms of plot specifics because every viewer deserves to be led down this terrifying breadcrumb trail of a narrative with unspoiled eyes. Badge Dale is a great actor, one who somehow manages to simultaneously subvert and uphold the Hollywood tough guy image with his own charisma, his reactions and methods of finding information are really fascinating to watch from an acting standpoint. What he does find is some of the weirdest shit you’ll ever see in a movie, and some of it so unsettling I almost got up and stood in the hallway of the theatre for a few minutes to decompress. I also saw The Empty Man in an Empty Theatre, I was literally the only person to buy a ticket and that decidedly added to the spook factor. Aside from being fucking scary as all hell, this is a truly intriguing story with imagination, innovation and so many unpredictable surprises it can sometimes feel like a patchwork quilt of ideas, motifs and thematic material stitched together, albeit in a very fluid and naturally flowing way. There’s shades of Lovecraft, references to Nietzsche and other philosophical ideals and even sly references to everything from The Wicker Man to Blair Witch to the Donner Pass Incident to many forms of demonic lore. It’s too bad they barely marketed it and just sort of lobbed it into theatres with nary a whisper of trailers, posters or internet ads beforehand because no one has heard of it d I wouldn’t even have either unless it was recommended to me in a frenzy of enthusiasm, but it deserves to be sought out and, if it’s playing near you and you feel safe, demands to be seen on the big screen. If you like your horror wild, wooly, whacked out, fucked up and worthy of eccentric cult status, this is your bet. I couldn’t recommend it enough.

-Nate Hill