Capitol Notes

2020 Movie Diary

2020 wasn’t just about watching television. There were movies last year too, even though I didn’t see any in theaters.

Here’s a (pretty) comprehensive list of my at-home cinematic experiences from the last 12 months.

Us (2019) – If you ignore the convoluted plot mechanics, this is an enjoyable horror film from Jordan Peele.

The Laundromat (2019) – A breezy Steven Soderbergh film for Netflix that reminded me of The Big Short, with its repeated breaking of the fourth wall to educate viewers about this real-life scandal.

The Old Guard (2020) – A predictable action film for Netflix that has some enjoyable set pieces before devolving intoa  traditional shoot ‘em up finale.

Back to the Future (1985) – How good is this movie? Me saying most of the lines during the movie didn’t ruin the experience for my wife.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)  – A filthy satire of musical biopics, which features some very catchy tunes and hilarious cameos.

Dolemite is my Name (2019) – This Netflix original was the comfort viewing experience I needed in 2020 and Eddie Murphy delivers as the scrappy lead.

American Factory (2019)The Oscar winning documentary about a new stage in American manufacturing is an interesting reflection of Chinese and American culture.

Win it all (2017) – This Netflix original is an extremely watchable entry into the catalogue of Joe Swanberg’s mumblecore productions, with Jake Johnson in a loveable loser role where he probably gets off too easy in the end.

Mascots (2016) – Christopher Guest is not at his best in this Netflix original comedy, but – with a running time of 89 minutes – it isn’t the worst way to spend a night.

Hannah Gadsby: Nanette (2018) – This devastating standup special should be required viewing for people who want to live in the world today.

Ex Machina (2014) – Fascinating and original science fiction exists and Oscar Isaac is great as a reclusive tech genius.

Black Panther (2018) – Like most Marvel movies, this action film depreciates in value on rewatch, but holds a special place in my heart because of the strong cast of supporting actresses.

Invisible Man (2020) – A great thriller that is better than it should be because of Elisabeth Moss.

JoJo Rabbit (2019) – The tragedy of this film is a little predictable, but the excellent writing is made more poignant against the backdrop of the Trump presidency and what it inspired.

Boys State (2020) – This Apple documentary is an accurate reflection of today’s politics, with high school students filling some classic hero/villain roles.

Birds of Prey (2020) – I liked this DC movie better than anything Zack Snyder did in this comic universe, but that’s about it.

An American Pickle (2020) – It’s all downhill for this HBO Max “comedy” after Sarah Snook leaves the movie in the first few minutes.

Joker (2019) –  Not exactly chicken soup for the soul, but this bleak look at society is worth watching when you’re feeling emotionally strong enough.

Angel has Fallen (2019) – Slightly different formula for the third (and final?) installment of this Gerard Butler as secret service agent series, where I don’t remember anything about the plot and never really cared.

The Assistant (2019) – Julia Garner, who should be in everything, is mesmerizing in this leading role at a production company with strong Harvey Weinstein/#MeToo vibes.

Creed 2 (2018) – If you liked Creed or Rocky IV then this movie is for you, even though it’s not as good as either of the two.

The Vast of Night (2019) – This science fiction indie set in the 1950s leads you on an amazing chase with strong Close Encounters of the Third Kind vibes.

Killing Them Softly (2012) – Sam Shepard. Richard Jenkins. Brad Pitt. Scoot McNairy. Ben Mendelsohn. James Gandolfini. Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes!

Rocketman (2019) – A colorful and fun depiction of the life of Elton John with a lot of creative musical number. Plus, I have a soft spot in my heart for Taron Egerton. P.S. I refuse to see Bohemian Rhapsody.

Pineapple Express (2008) – This movie really drags on and on, with a lot of superfluous violence, but James Franco is great and Bill Hader has a fantastic cameo at the start.

The Farewell (2019) – This movie is perfect. I cried a ton in this dramedy.

Fort Tilden (2014) – Who knew that watching two millennials try to get to the beach would make for such a witty comedy that will strike close too home for many 30 somethings.

Palm Springs (2020) – We didn’t deserve this Hulu comedy with a unique spin on the repeating day story, but I’m so glad we got it. Almost restored my faith in Hollywood’s ability to make comedies.

Magic Mike (2012) – Enjoyed it the first time I saw it, and I enjoyed it the second time I saw it, when I finally convinced my wife to try this experience.

Birdman (2014) – The cinematography revolves around a one-shot gimmick that didn’t really elevate what basically consisted of watching Michael Keaton have a personal and career meltdown.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) – One of the ten best comedies of all time? The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sl*ts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, di*ckheads – they all adore it.

Taylor Tomlinson: Quarter-Life Crisis (2020) – A standup special for millennials.

Florida Project (2017) – This gritty look at life in the shadow of Disney World is packed with heart and worth your time.

Jurassic Park (1993) – I don’t have any idea how the visual effects have held up so well after nearly three decades, but they do.

Trial of the Chicago Seven (2020) – Do you like The West Wing? Then you’ll like this latest work from Aaron Sorkin.

Prisoners (2013) – This lengthy thriller has a lot of twists and keeps you on the edge of your seat (sometimes with your hands over your eyes during the torture scenes).

Do the right thing (1989) – Tragically the themes of this movie continue to resonate, ensuring it is an extremely relevant and important drama. It also took me a second to realize Gus Fring was in this.

Spotlight (2015) – This rewatch was inspired by The Rewatchables podcast. I am in awe of these reporters and love this movie.

Yes God Yes (2019) – An interesting premise for a comedy, but I’m glad it was only 78 minutes.

Iron Man (2008) – Rewatching the start of the MCU was a reminder of how captivating Robert Downey Jr. can be.

Hidden Figures (2016) – A formulaic historical drama that is easy to digest and moves quickly.

Iron Man 2 (2010) – Aside from Scarlett Johansson’s arrival into the MCU and Sam Rockwell hamming it up, this movie is immensely forgettable and skippable.

Thor (2011)If this movie had leaned into the comedic elements that are the hallmark of the third installment it would be much better. Instead it’s an overly serious comic book movie that I didn’t need to revisit.

Landline (2017) – Edie Falco and John Turturro elevate this family drama from the team behind the much better Obvious Child (2014).

Marie Antoinette (2006) – My wife liked this more than I did.

The Avengers (2012) – I didn’t need to rewatch this movie.

I am not your Negro (2016) – This documentary (?) should be required viewing to live in today’s society.

Iron Man 3 (2013) – If you squint, this isn’t just another comic book movie from the MCU.

Schindler’s List (1993) – It’s 3 hours and 15 minutes and it feels like it, even if you’re like me and you fastforward through some of the gut-wrenching scenes. Everyone should watch it once.

To Die For (1995) – This satire is a must watch because of Nicole Kidman’s oversized performance.

Unforgiven (1992) – I am shocked by how many Oscars this won! It’s a fine western with an enjoyable Gene Hackman performance.

Searching for Bobby Fisher (1993) – Finished The Queen’s Gambit and still want some chess content? Check out this star-studded drama from Steve Zaillian.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – An elevated comic book movie if you’re into that kind of thing.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) A sexy remake that starts and ends with two fantastic set pieces.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – A funny comedy tucked into a comic book movie with a fun soundtrack.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – Not a good movie.

The Game (1997) – I don’t really get the hype behind this David Fincher thriller. Maybe it’s better the first time you see it without knowing the twists and turns.

Night Shift (1982) – Enjoyable to watch Henry Winkler deviate from his Happy Day persona for the first time and Michael Keaton is a ball of energy. The finished product is extremely dated and falls apart toward the end.

Zombieland: Double Tap (2019) – If you liked the first one, you’ll like the second one.

Fight Club + Commentary (1999) – It wasn’t until this latest viewing that I appreciated this David Fincher film as a dark comedy and not just a gimmick. Brad Pitt is amazing on the commentary.

Can you ever forgive me? (2018) – This enjoyable pressure cooker is a tense ride with a charming showing from Richard Grant and a well done anti-hero turn from Melissa McCarthy.

Panic Room (2002) – This David Fincher thriller has the problem solving of Apollo 13 and an underrated performance from pre-teen Kristen Stewart.

Ant Man (2015) – This Paul Rudd vehicle is a stark reminder that Marvel action movies are basically the most reliable comedies and provides unique action sequences.

French Connection (1971) – New York City and Fernando Rey (the French villain) steal this police procedural, which – despite the outdated technology – holds up to repeat viewing.

Zodiac (2007) – The fastest 2 hours and 37 minutes of my life were spent with this David Fincher thriller.

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) – Errol Flynn is so darn charming and Basil Rathbone feels like the villain that inspired every other movie villain in this sprawling action/comedy/romance extravaganza.

Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – All these songs are from this movie!??!? I love Gene Kelly (even if he is so much older than Debbie Reynolds).

Deadpool 2 (2018) – I am a sucker for all the elements of this movie (Ryan Reynolds being Ryan Reynolds, meta pop culture humor, comic book story lines and fat Rob Delaney) and it’s still good on the third viewing.

Casablanca (1941) – I could watch Claude Rains and Humphrey Bogart all day long. It’s a shame we never got a buddy comedy sequel where they’re fighting Nazis together.

Happiest Season (2020) – My favorite part of this movie was the sixth female lead (Aubrey Plaza), who steals this very conventional holiday comedy that has a couple good lines and made my wife cry a lot at the end.

Parasite (2019) – This dark DARK comedy serves as a tragic reminder of wealth inequality all over the world, while still spinning a compelling family drama.

Citizen Kane (1941) – It might not be my all-time favorite movie, but this classic drama holds up and I finally get a million other references in pop culture.

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) – Based on the first film in the series, the supporting cast and the time period, I expected more from this sequel. What I got was a comic book movie warranting a shoulder shrug.

Bourne Identity (2002) – This rewatch was a reminder that it kicked off a generation of copycat action films, most of which failed to capture the creative fight scenes and compelling pacing.

Bringing Up Baby (1938)This screwball comedy still feels timely 80+ years later, with fun performances from Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

Clueless (1995) – On rewatch I finally get the drug references from Brittany Murphy in this fantastic 90s comedy.

Breaking Away (1979) – A coming of age story featuring a great temperamental dad character played by Paul Dooley. Bike riding has never been so cool.

Almost Famous (2000) – This feel good dramedy is a classic thanks to Billy Crudup and Frances McDormand.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020) – The sequel that we didn’t know we needed found new relevance for the Borat character in 2020 and Maria Bakalova steals the show.

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