It’s December twenty… something. I honestly don’t know. It’s that period between finishing work and going back, where time doesn’t really exist and you’re fatter than usual. You stay at home with your family and try your best to ignore them, and there’s nothing on telly.
That’s what I’d say if it was any other year, but this is 2020, where we do things a little differently.
We’ve not seen our loved ones for ages, to the extent that we now enjoy their company. Weird. We’ve been fat all year – so nothing new there, and we’ve paid for every available streaming platform this year, so we literally have everything to watch. Too much. Let me decide for you.
I’m not Buzzfeed, so I’m not going to list 38 Christmas films you’ve seen before, just some films that I think are good, you might not have seen, and where to stream them. I’ll also tell you the length, so that you can time grandad’s departure – e.g. “film’s over Bill, go home”, or something more polite. Up to you.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), 1hr 57min, Netflix
It’s about 4pm Christmas day, there might be some children in your life, and even if there aren’t, you should still watch this one. I’m not a superhero fan at all, and Spider-Man to me is Tobey Maguire upside-down kissing people in the rain – but this really is incredible. Beautiful art style – so much detail in every corner of the frame, and it’s punctuated throughout with really nuanced comedy, which took me by surprise. It’s full of bright colours and flashing lights – God knows we all love them. This is one of the few comic book films I can wholeheartedly recommend.
The Big Sick (2017), 2hrs, Amazon Prime
This film really caught me off guard. I hadn’t read much about it, and was genuinely overwhelmed by how hilarious and beautiful it is. Based on writer’s Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon’s real-life meeting, it elegantly outlines a family culture clash, religious traditions, and a really unique perspective on forming a relationship that seems destined to fail. If you fancy a big cry at Christmas (best time for it in my opinion), watch this film.
Behind the Candelabra, (2013) 1hr 58min, Netflix
Old but gold. Well, not that old. This is something your mum will love, and your dad might pull a face at. Just tell him it’s from the same director as Ocean’s 11 and it’s got the bloke from the Bourne films in it… And to be fair, it isn’t that dissimilar – large portions of it do take place in Las Vegas. It outlines the relationship between Liberace and his young lover Scott Thorson. It’s camp, loud and vibrant, but stick around a while longer and it becomes very dark. I’ve spent 2020 watching all of Steven Soderbergh’s films, and this was really one of my favourites.
Whilst we’re at it, here are some more Soderbergh films I’ve loved, and they really are films for everyone.
High Flying Bird (Netflix), Out of Sight (Netflix), Logan Lucky (Prime) and obviously Contagion (Netflix), but we’ve already lived through that one, so feel free to skip it.
If Beale Street Could Talk (2018), 1hr 59mins, Amazon Prime
2020 has been a very important year for black communities globally, and I think our collective eyes need to be opened as much as possible – for me, that really is in the media we consume. More black filmmakers need opportunities to create masterpieces, like Barry Jenkins does all the time. With a debut feature like Moonlight, and this as a follow up – it’s insane how talented he is. If Beale Street Could Talk is an incredibly heartbreaking film that you have to watch.
Sorry To Bother You, (2018), 1hr 52mins, Netflix
This film is a wild ride. It is unpredictable, visually mesmerizing and belly-laugh funny. A debut from filmmaker Boots Riley – this is fresh, interesting, and challenges the norms of narrative structure. It’s uneasy and I don’t want to tell you a single thing about the plot. Just strap yourself in for the biggest turn of events this year… which is a very bold claim but I stand by it.
Good Time, (2017), 1hr 42 mins, Netflix
“I wish I was a Safdie brother, I wish I was a Safdie brother, I wish I was a Safdie brother” – Me, to my actual brother, after watching this film. This film, from the brothers that made Uncut Gems, is a going to hurt you. It’s going to make you anxious and shout at the TV. That’s a good thing I think. It outlines a failed bank robbery, and an attempted prison break.
It’s New Years eve, you’re in tier 3, and while you’ve usually been going to bed at 9PM, you need to honour the tradition of staying awake till midnight, so see that it is in fact midnight. Fear not, for this film will keep you awake for the next 24 hours. Your heart pounding, your mind racing, your teeth clenched. It’s going to be rough, but you’ll make it through. And if that’s not the spirit of 2020, I don’t know what is. It has been uncomfortable, but if you’re reading this, you made it through.
I wish I could have at least recommended one film released in 2020, but I honestly don’t think I can. Nothing has jumped out to me in the way that these films have this year. But there is so much content that I can recommend from this year, and you can find it all on our Instagram. In our annual 12 days of content series, we’ve been showcasing some incredible games, visually striking films and some beautiful design work to look back on. And hey – 2021 is just around the corner.