Keeping up with our watchlists this past year was not easy with release dates constantly changing and our attention often placed on more present matters. That being said, even with nation wide theater closures there are amazing movies that released last year and deserve to make it to make it to your screens.
When it came to wrapping up last year's blockbusters, me and fellow ASU Odyssey contributors Sam Incorvaia and Brandon King generated our top 5 lists of 2019 that you cannot go another year without. This year, my top 5 roundup are all movies you can stream today, and I it's a list I think every reader can extract a suggestion or two from.
Birds of Prey, directed by Cathy Yan
Kicking off this list is villainess Harley Quinn, and the fantabulous emancipation of one lengthy title that turned into a hell of a good time on screen. The madhouse of action sequences ultimately are what won me over for this film.
In an exclusively Harley story, narrated by the killer Queen herself, Harley Quinn brought audiences along for a wild rescue adventure that brought together the Birds of Prey, whose members in the film included Renee Montoya, Black Canary, and The Huntress. What truly elated me about this movie was the sheer fun it all was, and the energy can be felt offscreen that lasts beyond the credits. It's a great time to watch "Birds of Prey" too, since Harley Quinn will be returning in "The Suicide Squad," the new one, directed by James Gunn.
"Birds of Prey" is available to stream on HBO Max. You can read my full review for the movie here.
Soul, directed by Pete Docter and Kemp Powers
Pixar's 2020 film "Soul" introduced existential topics and open discussions of life's purpose in the first Pixar film with a Black lead character ever. In a year that locked nearly everyone's lives down in their homes, too often pondering the state of the world, it's people, and our collective future, this movie hit a chord I didn't know I had until I watched it, and it belonged in a year like 2020.
The emotional deliverance in Pixar films are invitation enough to watch, but the breakdown of thoughts and questions surrounding life's experience here is so special to have in a media for all ages. Jamie Foxx's Joe had me heartbroken during the character's lows, but not surprised. Riding out the highs and lows of life could never be easy, but witnessing this story and it's partial realism left me with nothing but hope. Imaginary landscapes and entities encountered are so bizarre within a dream like world that the smile slowly forming on your face is all but unwelcome.
Without a doubt, visibility for Black folks in media is more necessary now than ever when black oppression is undeniable in America. It was about time Pixar delivered a beautiful story that centered around a black musician's life.
"Soul" is available to stream on Disney+. You can read Sam Incorvaia's full review for the movie here.
Over the Moon, directed by Glen Keane and John Kahrs
With an open afternoon and the wondrous Google, taking the time and learning about gods and legends beyond Greek myth rewards you with some of the most distinguished lore out there. From co-directors Glen Keane and John Kahrs, "Over the Moon" is about a child's journey off earth to prove to her father the existence of the Chinese goddess Chang'e. Hearing the story of eternal love between Chang'e and Hou Yi from her late Mother, Fei Fei (Cathy Ang) expects the same devotion from her father after being introduced to his new partner. Ultimately, the movie teaches loss in what I call a wonderfully pleasant medium, others call an animated musical. Nevertheless, it's outstanding.
The Chinese mythical goddess Chang'e takes center stage after the first act of this space adventure. Characterizing her is done so eloquently in the film, I couldn't do it justice if I tried. Instead, what's noteworthy is Phillipa Soo's portrayal of Chang'e in her energy and musical ability. (But this is Hamilton's "Eliza" we're talking about. You don't need me to tell you that.)
"Over the Moon" is available to stream on Netflix. You can read Sam Incorvaia's full review for the movie here.
The Half of It, directed by Alice Wu
Gay happiness. It's real and it should be portrayed as often as possible, instead of the many versions of gay love that exist only to end in tragedy onscreen. When Alice Wu's "The Half of It" released on Netflix, I was so drawn by it's honest approach at realizing love where we might least expect it, and not some impossible meet cute.
To sum up this lovely tale, it is a correspondence between two lovers who don't quite realize the one in front of them isn't who they're falling for. Frankly, I love me some good romance, and this movie was well balanced between scenes causing some clinical second hand embarrassment and giddy heartfelt ones that felt like a warm embrace when watched, along with scenes capturing the all but uninteresting life of Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) in between. If you have a morning that is a little chilly and a lot free, grab your morning brew and sit with a story just as warm, one that won't leave a sour taste in your mouth.
"The Half of It" is available to stream on Netflix.
The Invisible Man, directed by Leigh Whannell
For my final entry, it is a movie I shamefully doubted when the trailer and advertisements first came around. Nonetheless, I was entirely shocked and inspired after the credits started rolling for Leigh Whannell's "The Invisible Man" and it's one I could not keep quiet about because of the surprise it packed.
Elizabeth Moss is truly invisible when she portrays Cecilia Kass in this film. All you see is Cecilia and soon her inexplicable journey will capture you in a state of either paranoia or excitement. The feelings won't surprise you either, considering what she goes through in her position. She is the primary and sometimes only party searching for evidence that proves her abusive ex has turned himself invisible, and seeks to harm her and those surrounding her. The story that follows is one you cannot pass up on.
"The Invisible Man" is available to stream on HBO Max. You can read my full review for the movie here.
And that's 2020's Top 5! Now looking ahead at 2021, all I can really hope for is a final release date on some Marvel releases that I honestly cannot go another year without. That includes Marvel's "Black Widow," "The Eternals," "WandaVision," (coming January 15th) and plenty of others with at best, tentative release dates. Cheers to the new year!
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