Because of the pandemic, I barely watched any (new) movies this year, and I do not remember the last time I was less invested in the ceremony. Hopefully we can go back to the cinemas in 2022. Please go get vaccinated.
Palm Springs: The only movie that I truly loved in 2020. The idea of a shared time loop feels like the start of a new era for the entire genre. I would give it all of the awards if I could. I wrote more about it here.
The Trial of the Chicago 7
- A movie about the government responding to righteous protests by going to war its own citizens (and the specter of the "radical left"); this could have just as easily been about 2020. I'm not sure when this movie started production, but I love that it came out when it did.
- I thought prosecutor Richard Schultz (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) had the most interesting character arc of the movie - principled and sincere in his belief in law and order, he slowly comes to realize that he has more in common with his supposed opposition than he was led to believe. I love that his psychology is set up so efficiently in his initial appraisal of the case: he doesn't like the protestors because they are "anti-establishment", but believes even more strongly that none of that matters because the law appears to be on their side. That said, I think choosing to write the character this way undercuts the impact of the movie. I just don't think Aaron Sorkin is capable of writing the kind of cynicism that this movie really needed.
- Cassie wears a different outfit every night, and yet she always gets taken advantage of by some creep. It's almost like clothing isn't the reason why women get sexually assaulted.
- I thought it was an inspired choice to never have Nina appear on screen. She never gets to say her peace to or about her attacker. And while it may be cathartic for us to watch Cassie act as Nina's angel of vengeance, we're left to speculate on whether this is actually what Nina would have wanted. It shows just how little control survivors have over their own story.
- In this movie (and in real life), enablers of sexual assault (like Ryan and Joe) are just as much a part of the problem as the predators who actually commit the acts of violence.
- Cassie eventually serves justice for (one of) Al's crimes - but she literally kills herself doing so! But that's exact kind of nihilism that makes his movie as heart-wrenching as it needs to be for the subject it's tackling.
- This movie came out at the exact time in my career when I was also faced with the agonizing choice between living somewhere desirable and attaining upward mobility. Suffice to say, watching it in 2021 hit me way harder than it would have in any other year.
- The major theme of this movie - success - is crystalized in the scene in the doctor's office. Jacob wants - in fact, needs - to show his kids that he can be successful. Monica, like so many immigrants, believes that having a family and supporting your kids into adulthood is success. But Jacob has fully bought into the American ethos; the ultimate form of success is entrepreneurship, and taking ownership of a slice of this vast land.