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Top 10 Best Films of 2020

10. Soul

“Soul” follows, Joe (Jamie Foxx), a music teacher who has lost his passion for music and sense of purpose. But when he is transported into another realm to help someone find their spark, he discovers a new appreciation for life.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for this movie. Whether you have a dream you haven’t accomplished yet, or you feel as though your life hasn’t amounted to anything; take a second to reflect on all the good you already have. Your health, your family, your friends; our life is not as bad as we sometimes make it out to be. And remember to appreciate all the little things, even if it’s as small as a good slice of pizza.

9. Words on Bathroom Walls

“Words on Bathroom Walls” follows Adam(Charlie Plummer), a passionate cook who appears to be a typical teenage boy until an incident in his High School reveals he has schizophrenia. He is expelled, and forced to finish out his senior year at a Catholic High school. It’s there he meets, Maya (Taylor Russell). Their relationship in the film is tender and sweet, but the beauty of “Words on Bathroom Walls” is getting to see perspective on a mental illness that isn’t shown often, especially through a romance. This is something else that deserves representation and understanding. And though the film centers around Adam and Maya, the relationship between Adam and his mom is just as powerful. Her tenacity shows us a mother’s love is unconditional.

8. Let Him Go

After the death of their son, Margaret and George Blackledge (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner) have held on to the light in their life, their grandson, Jimmy. But when their daughter-in-law (Kayli Carter) remarries to an abusive man, Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain), he takes both her and Jimmy away to his family’s secluded home in North Dakota.  Margaret and George leave their ranch in Montana, and go on a mission to save what’s left of their family. Some may not find this movie special, but it transported me back to the theaters with how well it was shot and the incredible performances. You can’t help but feel for this couple, and want them to do whatever is necessary to get their grandson back.

7. On the Rocks

Bill Murray plays, Felix, a playboy art dealer who, long ago, walked out on his wife and children for the first of many women. He’s selfish and self-centered, yet you can’t help but love the guy. When he hears his daughter, Laura (Rashida Jones), is concerned about her husband’s many work trips, he assumes the worse and encourages her to look into the matter with him.  This film is such an easy and humorous watch. This is in big part due to the natural chemistry between Murray and Jones. Felix is trying to make up for lost time by taking this unfortunate circumstance as an opportunity to spend quality time with his daughter, who he genuinely cares for. “On the Rocks” highlights a sweet, yet unconventional father/daughter relationship, while also shedding a light on marriages that could use a little refresher.

6. Irresistible

I know politics is a touchy subject, but the beauty of “Irresistible” is that it really doesn’t try to sway you on either side. They focus more about how ridiculous a campaign can get and how much it costs. It’s not about conservatives versus liberals. Instead, the film makes you question the two party system. The all-star cast which includes Steve Carrell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper, and MacKenzie Davis all give top-notch, hilarious performances. The banter between Carrell and Byrne alone makes this film such a delight. “Irresistible” is the insightful, laugh-out-loud comedy we needed during this election year. Putting into perspective what is truly important in any leadership role. 

5. The Kid Detective

To all my fellow “Harriet the Spy” lovers, this movie is what I imagine happened to the male version of Harriet. Abe Applebaum (Adam Brody) was a once celebrated kid detective. Even adults used his services. But after he fails to solve the mystery of a kidnapping of a young girl/friend, he is no longer the same quality detective. Fast forward to his 30’s, he’s a washed up drunk, taking any minor case he can get to make end’s meat. That is until he is presented with his first murder case. I know a lot of you probably haven’t heard of this film, but it’s a really fun watch. Brody carries the movie with his wit and charm, but the story is just as engaging. “The Kid Detective” is truly the hidden gem of 2020.

4. Onward

I’m surprised by how high I have this film on my list, but since January I can’t get this movie or the ending out of my head. It’s one I get emotional just thinking about. On the day of Ian Lightfoot’s (Tom Holland) 16th birthday, he and his older brother (Chris Pratt) are given a gift from their late father. Turns out it’s a spell that will bring their dad back to life for 24 hours,  giving Ian a chance to finally meet his father. But the spell doesn’t go exactly as planned. At first glance, this seems like a possibly boring, one disaster after another road trip that will end predictably. It’s safe to say that’s not the case. Although this is a film about a son seeking a relationship with his father, it also recognizes those in our lives who unexpectedly became a father figure and shaped us into the person we are today.

3. Palm Springs

Not since “Groundhog Day” has any film with the similar formula been worth raving about (Except for maybe “Happy Death Day”). That is until “Palm Springs”. It manages to put a refreshing spin on the romantic comedy genre and time loop narrative. Nyles (Andy Samberg) and Sarah (Cristin Milioti) are two wedding guests reliving the same day. Samberg and Milioti are a dynamic duo with amazing chemistry. The film is heavier than you might expect. Nyles and Sarah are stuck together without even death as an escape. A romance grows, and soon they are partners in crime making the most of their care-free new existence; even if it comes with a rapid loss of meaning. “Palm Springs” is funny, sweet, and has a surprising little twist. 

2. Uncle Frank

If I could give anyone the Oscar right now, it would be Paul Bettany for his powerful and gut-wrenching performance in this film. I really hope this movie doesn’t go under the radar during award season, because it deserves recognition for its performances alone. Set in 1973, the film follows a teenager named Beth (Sophia Lillis) who leaves her rural Southern home to study at a New York University where her beloved Uncle Frank (Bettany) teaches. While there she discovers Frank is gay, and has been living with his long time partner, Wally (Peter Macdissi) – a secret he’s been keeping from his family for years. After the passing of his father, the three of them take a road trip home to North Carolina, and Frank is forced to face the worries and trauma he’s been running from. This film is my biggest tear-jerker of the year. I’m talking ugly crying. Watching Bettany play a character who has to hide his true self from his family in fear of how they might react is heartbreaking, and sadly, still relevant. “Uncle Frank” is a film everyone should watch.

1. Promising Young Woman

If you’ve heard me talk about this film, it should come as no surprise that it would make the top of my list. The movie has romance, comedy, mystery, revenge, and an all-star cast. “Promising Young Woman” features Carey Mulligan as Cassie, a med-school dropout who seeks revenge on a traumatizing past event. Not since “Hard Candy” have I enjoyed such an enticing revenge story. Mulligan is at her best, showing such complex emotions. She varies from cold-hearted to heartbreaking. This is a cautionary tale that would serve well in high school and college classrooms. Especially geared towards men who don’t seem to understand what consensual sexual activity means. The film goes beyond the actions of the men responsible for the sexual assaults. It also highlights those who turn a blind eye, and even the parties responsible for defending the guilty. “Promising Young Woman” is funny, dark, unforgettable, and for me, it’s the best film of the year.

The Best of the Rest:

11. Black Box

12. Shithouse

13. A Secret Love

14. Yes God Yes

15. The Trial of the Chicago 7

16. The Mauritanian

17. Da 5 Bloods

18. Freaky

19. Another Round

20. The Broken Hearts Gallery

Top 5 Worst Films of 2020

5. The Rhythm Section – I except more from Jude Law and Blake Lively at this point in their careers.

4. Underwater- A Knockoff underwater version of “Alien”. But bad, so bad.

3. The Sunlit Night- Terrible movie with the most forced and awkward sex scene.

2. The Prom – Had no idea James Corden was a bad actor until this film. Honestly, I couldn’t pay attention anything else.

1. The Witches (2020) – I almost forgot this movie happened. I’d like to keep it that way.

Trevor’s Top 10

10. Yes God Yes
9. Sonic the Hedgehog
8. Freaky
7. The Mauritanian
6. Palm Springs
5. The Old Guard
4. The Kid Detective
3. Promising Young Woman
2. Irresistible
1. Uncle Frank

Movie Review: “By the Sea” is a Dull and Pretentious Vanity Project

Dear Angelina Jolie, please give up trying to direct anymore films. To sum it up, at best, you are not very good at directing. Too harsh? Well then you clearly haven’t endured Jolie’s latest project, By the Sea, in which the Academy Award winning actress directed, wrote, produced, and starred.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Angelina Jolie, and I believe she is an incredibly talented actress, when she’s not directing herself that is.

By the Sea follows Vanessa (Jolie) and her husband Roland (Brad Pitt) as they vacation in France so that they may mend their marriage, and he can gain inspiration to write his next book. After what feels like an hour of nothing, they discover a peep hole in their hotel room that allows them to watch a newlywed couple (Melanie Laurent and Melvil Poupaud) on their honeymoon.

Let me first say, for a good thirty or more minutes we have no clue what this film is about. It is clear Vanessa is depressed and awkward, as she is quiet and almost always crying. Not knowing what’s wrong with Vanessa, you would assume her husband is some kind of monster and we’re just waiting for him to go off. Spoiler alert, he’s not. Don’t hold your breath on that one. Basically something did happen between these two. When it’s finally revealed, the story does come together and makes sense to a point. However, it is not worth the pay off, nor the two hours of your life you have wasted.

Pitt is the only saving grace to this wretched film. He seems to be the only character that has any sense and real personality. Unfortunately, for Jolie’s character, she clearly cannot get the best performance out of herself. It was as if she was an amateur actress trying way too hard throughout the entire story.

Though the setting of France in the mid-1970s was beautiful, the shots and the style produced came off too artsy and irrelevant towards moving the story forward. Jolie’s attempt at “deep” and “meaningful” scenes has a much more comical affect.

I’d like to say By the Sea had potential, but sadly, Vanessa’s opening line, “Smells like fish,” foreshadows all too well just how much of a stinker this movie is.

Rating: 1/5

By the Sea opens in theaters November 20.

“By the Sea” Official Trailer HD

Movie Review: “Divorce Corp” Reveals Shocking Villains in the Justice System

Although this documentary begins with the deceit and manipulation of lawyers, it ends with a much more powerful scoundrel.

Narrated by Dr. Drew Pinksy, Divorce Corp is a surprising exposé of the inner workings of the $50 billion a year U.S. family law industry.  Yes, that’s right $50 billion!  The film sheds light on how divorce lawyers are ripping off their clients by charging ridiculous amounts of money, ranging from $400-$900 per hour.  Which proves to be quite a profit, when the lawyers are spending years on one case.  Often times the divorce lasts longer than the marriage.  But the deception doesn’t stop there.   Throughout the film we are shown how everyone involved in the family court justice system partakes in extortion, bias judgment, and appalling scandals.

Director, Joe Sorge provides interviews by the nation’s top divorce lawyers, mediators, judges, politicians, litigants, and journalists.  And might I say these lawyers have no problem admitting the shady way they do business.  Clients seem to believe the more money a lawyer charges, the more “skilled” they are.  When in fact, the name of the game for these divorce lawyers is, “How much money can we make off these people?  That’s the standard.”

About halfway through the film, the lawyers start looking like puppets getting their strings pulled by the true villain of the film.  The ever so controlling judge!  Taking actions as if they were God, the portrayal of every judge publicized is unspeakable and quite frankly, terrifying.  You are completely helpless once a judge has your life in their hands, and it is best not to rub them the wrong way.

In comparison to the recent documentary I reviewed over the same topic, Romeo Misses A Payment, this one fell a little short for me.  Divorce Corp is better in a technical aspect- professionally shot, well prepared interviews, dramatizations with decent actors, and a celebrity voice over (i.e. Dr. Drew).  Yet, somehow this documentary lacked the immediate emotional connection I felt with Romeo Misses A Payment.  The film starts out a bit slow and repetitive.  As it picks up with personal stories of affected parents, you just become angry at how messed up the family court is; and how when it really comes down to it, there doesn’t seem to be anything anyone can do to fix it.

A glimmer of hope is shined when we see the comparison of how much simpler and cheaper it is to get a divorce in other countries like Scandinavia.  A country that views men and women as equals, therefore their divorce system is easy and free.

Divorce Corp is an astonishing documentary that leaves the question “Is anyone actually getting a fair trial in family court?”  Feelings of hope and happiness may not occur after watching this film, but this is a must see for anyone who is considering marriage or a divorce.

Divorce Corp hits theaters January 10th.

Divorce Corp Movie Trailer

Originally posted on RedCarpetCrash.com

Movie Review: “Baggage Claim” is a Flight you can Afford to Miss

During awards season, the majority of films I’m watching are intense dramas or dark comedies. So I appreciate getting to take a break with a fun romantic comedy that requires little or no thought. Unfortunately Paula Patton’s new film, Baggage Claim, makes too many uneventful stops and one predictable destination.

Paula Patton plays Montana Moore, a bubbly flight attendant who still hasn’t met Mr.Right. After Montana’s younger sister (Lauren London) gets engaged, she starts to feel the need to find a husband of her own. With her mother (Jenifer Lewis), who has already been married five times, constantly pressuring to find a man and become a real “lady,” Montana sets out for mission “put a ring on it.”  With the help of her co-workers, she embarks on a thirty day challenge to find her future fiancée within the batch of past exes who happen to all be taking flights on her airline.

The acting in this film is mediocre. At times it was hard to remember that Patton was the same actress who played Ms. Rain in Precious. Though Montana is a likeable character, she is also a bit of an irritating one. You like her because she is beautiful and sweet, but her desperation to find a husband comes off ungenuine by her over expressive facial expressions and lack of emotion during her “saddest” times in the film. Jenifer Lewis does a good job as the over dramatic mother who worries her daughter will never get married. I’ve just seen this character so many times before, and they always end with the same resolution that can be a bore to watch. Surprisingly enough, the characters who did make me laugh were Montana’s best friends and fellow flight attendants, Sam (Adam Brody) and Gail (Jill Scott). Scott and Brody make an entertaining duo with some hilarious one-liners. Sadly, these two have more chemistry together than Patton does with any of her suitors, and that’s with Adam Brody playing a homosexual in the film. 

To say Baggage Claim is a cliche romantic comedy is an understatement. This film is so predictable that you can figure out how it is going to end within the first five minutes. That being said, it is still a cute film with a relevantly good message. “The magic isn’t in the getting married, it’s in the staying married.”  With the rush to get married these days and the soon after divorces, it is nice to see a film express how important it is to know and love yourself first before sharing your life with someone else. But other than that message and some cheap laughs, you are left feeling a little underwhelmed with the film.

Rated PG-13 for sexual content and some language.

Baggage Claim makes it’s landing in theaters today…

If you are in the mood for a more realistic romantic comedy, I recommend Enough Said. Starring the late, James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The film is currently playing in select theaters, but its worth whatever drive you have to take to see. It’s an original story with lots of laughs and an incredibly, charming James Gandolfini.