It’s no surprise that 2020 was a weird year for everything in the digital space, including movies. With theaters closed in most parts of the world due to the pandemic, a plethora of movie releases were postponed and dozens of movies went straight to on-demand as rentals. The way in which we consume our media undoubtedly shifted, giving us the opportunity to see more than we might usually. This year, I watched everything from slashers and new wave horrors to period romances and dark comedies. I’m breaking down my five favorite movies of 2020 and how you can watch them right here on SLING.
One of the most timely movies of 2020, Host, released exclusively on Shudder on July 30, 2020, is a horror film set during the COVID-19 pandemic. A group of young women invite a medium onto their weekly video calls to perform a seance. What starts as good fun turns to serious terror quickly as an evil force takes hold. We see the entire film through their video screens as their panic starts to set in upon realizing what they’re in for. Bonus points that this movie was filmed entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic so the crew all worked remotely. Extra bonus points for the fact that it’s under an hour long, so it’s quick and digestible but still totally terrifying.
Watch on Shudder ($6/month)
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Portrait of a Lady on Fire was easily my favorite of 2020, a period romance set in Brittany, France. A young painter, Marianne, is hired to paint an aristocratic woman, Heloise, who is about to marry. Heloise is not happy about her betrothal and refuses to pose for her portrait. This forces her mom to deceitfully hire Marianne as an accompaniment for Heloise’s daily walks. A relationship forms between the two before it’s eventually revealed that Marianne is actually a painter. The film examines artistry, power and forbidden love. It’s quite the slow burn, and many critics of the film didn’t fancy it because of that. Obviously, I felt otherwise, and I’d recommend it to just about anyone that enjoys historical drama and LGBTQ+ cinema. Portrait of a Lady on Fire had an initial release in late 2020, and a wide release in February 2020.
Rent for $3.99
I’m by no means a fan of horror slasher films, so I think that’s why this movie was one of my favorites of the year. A seemingly anachronic release, this movie was made available to viewers just earlier this month, skipping October and its typical schedule of scares and spooks. It stars Vince Vaughn as the town slasher who ends up getting switched into the body of a high school girl (Kathryn Newton). This movie is absolutely hilarious, filled to the brim with quick wit and puns. Don’t be fooled by its seemingly whimsical feel, it can get gory. If you’re not convinced yet, feel free to take a look at my more in-depth review. Freaky brings a successful and much-needed revival of slasher films.
Rent for $19.99
Another dark comedy, Kajillionaire is equal parts cringe as it is comedy. Old Dolio is a socially awkward 26-year-old who’s still close with her con artist parents. While Old Dolio is apprehensive, her parents will stop at nothing if it gets them a few dollars. On their latest scam, they travel cross country to complete a luggage trick that will rake in much more than they’re used to. They meet Melanie, who’s eager to join their riveting lifestyle. As she gets close to the family, she starts to see the parents for who they really are: loathsome people who don’t really care about anyone but themselves. She faces a tough decision in weighing whether or not - and exactly how - she can help Old Dolio escape from her mom and pops. This Miranda July dark comedy was released in September 2020.
Rent for $3.99
The Assistant is another slow burn, but its impact is not to be understated. Jane (Julia Garner) lands a job as an assistant for a film company, the most obvious first step to climb the ladder to her dream job. But the longer she works there, the more she starts to realize it’s not as awesome of a gig she’d hoped for. She’s subject to a subtle yet toxic workplace. She notices her male counterparts are treated differently and is especially weary when her boss brings in another female assistant seemingly for more than just employment. To go to HR or to let it slide so she can continue advancing her career? That’s the terrible choice facing Jane. The Assistant’s isn’t a jam-packed action movie, and I think it’s exactly why, nearly nine months after watching it, I’m still thinking about it.
Rent for $3.99