Despite the government’s best efforts and the guilds’ shameful neglect, 2020 produced some truly stellar visual storytelling. Streaming services, which were already gaining steam, became an essential window to the outside world for those imprisoned inside.
Here are my picks for the ten best films and shows of the year:
1. Pray: The Story of Patrick Peyton – An expertly crafted and compelling documentary about an Irish-American priest who was world famous in the 1950s but is virtually unknown today. Yet his message of family prayer is far more important today than it was back then. Hopefully, his canonization cause will make him a household name again.
2. The Crown, Season 4 – Lavishly produced with some of the greatest living British actors, Peter Morgan’s fourth series on the world’s most famous royal family is probably the best directed story this year. While its themes are many, the primary focus is the rise and fall of Charles and Diana’s marriage, a sad symptom of a society that has forgotten its values.
3. Soul – Pete Doctor’s fourth film (Monster’s Inc, Up, Inside Out) is again a triumph of art and heart. It creates a compelling spiritual life that’s neither childish nor overdramatic and encourages everyone to live their best existence.
4. Wonder Woman 1984 – This was the most fun I had at the movies this year. While sillier than its predecessor, it contains better action and more thrills while still providing lessons for the soul.
5. Upload, Season 1 – Upload is the most innovative story of the year, terrifyingly bridging the digital age with consciousness while exploring complex themes of life and death with humor and suspense.
6. I am Patrick – When people think of the Irish saint, they usually imagine beer, shamrocks, and noisy college students. Yet the real man is so much greater—a missionary for the ages.
7. Cheer, Season 1 – Cheerleading is perhaps America’s most underrated sport. Cheer follows a college team as they navigate difficulties personal and professional with faith and love.
8. Hillbilly Elegy – JD Vance’s bittersweet memoir of his Appalachian past is brought to life with amazing performances by Amy Adams and Glen Close.
9. Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Story – Forrest Whittaker leads a robust steampunk musical about a disillusioned inventor and the ambitious granddaughter who reignites his creative spark.
10. The Call of the Wild – Chris Sanders gives Jack London’s classic novel an update with beautiful visual effects and impressive scenery.
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