2020: Notable movies you should see

When you all need me most, I’ll poorly deliver

The comically large eyes of Opal, the main character in “OPAL” (2020).

Image courtesy of Ink.to

The comically large eyes of Opal, the main character in “OPAL” (2020).

Max Vetter, Entertainment Reporter

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not writing a top ten, twenty, or whatever of 2020. I didn’t watch nearly enough movies from 2020 to make a halfway comprehensive list of what the best movies were. I probably won’t be able to do that for years, considering how long it takes for certain films to get wider releases. Instead, I’ll try to highlight a couple of unique releases which I haven’t covered yet that you should check out when you get the chance.

“OPAL” (directed by Jack Stauber)

Absolutely phenomenal. A wild mixture of various musical and animation styles which results in a dizzying, horror-adjacent short film that rivals what even the best feature films have to offer. There’s something magical about seeing so much raw creative energy crammed into something so brief, and it pays off handsomely. Each second is oozing with background details, double meanings, and charm. For something so elaborately constructed on a story level, it’s shocking that it could maintain as fast a pace it does while still remaining comprehensible. It does this with brilliant character design and composition which instantly draw you to what’s most important in any given shot, and also by imbedding most of the important information in the film’s incredibly catchy soundtrack. “OPAL” is a wild, brilliant spectacle that it would be a crime not to check out. See it on YouTube.

“Lovers Rock” (dir. Steve McQueen)

My personal favorite of the five films that Steve McQueen made last year under the label of “Small Axe”, a series which set out to highlight stories – both real and fictional – of the Black British community from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. While I was tempted to talk about the more grandiose and politically relevant “Mangrove”, I think the unbridled stylistic confidence of “Lovers Rock”, paired with its immersive party atmosphere, is too delightful not to recommend. “Lovers Rock” captures what might be the most glorious of all the filmed dance parties, and a small romance that starts because of it. While the performances all around are certainly strong, it’s the production that really carries this film. The camera work, colors, and music are all completely entrancing, and they’re certainly enough justification for you to check it out. See it on Amazon Prime.

“World of Tomorrow Episode Three: The Absent Destinations of David Prime” (dir. Don Herdzfelt)

“World of Tomorrow Episode Three” is the latest entry into what might be the greatest sci-fi franchise of the 21st century. The “World of Tomorrow” series has to this point delivered some of the most thought provoking and emotionally resonant short films ever made, and this one is no exception. It follows David, a lonely man wasting his life away downloading apps to his brain, after he receives a mysterious message from a woman he seems to know for reasons he can’t comprehend. While it doesn’t quite reach the meteoric heights of “World of Tomorrow Episode Two” (2017), what follows is still deeply charming, hilarious, and at times moving sci-fi which you’d never expect from a bunch of stick figures. The animation is the best it’s ever been in the series, the backgrounds are gorgeous, and the intricacy of the entire project is something to behold. Please check out the entirety of “World of Tomorrow”, which you can rent on Vimeo.