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Gianni’s Top 10 Films Of 2020

By Gianni Damaia

Gianni Damaia - I love movies because they’re magic. You can look at them and instinctually connect or relate to something within it that you never knew about yourself before. They combine every art form imaginable to best tell a story.
Gianni Damaia

Hello! As is customary, this is my annual Top Ten that ranks my favorite films of the year.

For anyone unfamiliar, every year I rank the new releases I’ve seen. Originally, I only ranked ten. Then twenty. Now I rank every new release I watch throughout an entire year. For the sake of this entry, I’m only going to detail my Top Ten of the year (with a few honorable mentions, of course)

HEY READ THIS DISCLAIMER

A couple of things to note: 1) COVID allowed for a hell of a year, and one of the things it has impacted is this list! There are usually a few items missed when it comes time to rank my favorites, but this year the Academy pushed back its dates so several films that have premiered at festivals and have plenty of buzz in Oscar season are not available to the general public. Therefore, you may see several movies on other lists for the year that I have not had the opportunity to screen yet: Minari, One Night in Miami, Pieces of a Woman, Nomadland, The Father, and many more just to name a few. If something you loved didn’t get mentioned in this list, it’s possible I haven’t seen it. So please, let me know what I might have missed! I’m easy to reach via email, twitter, whatever your preference. 2) This is a ‘my favorites’ list. I talk all the time on my podcast about my personal belief that your favorite is not necessarily what you think is the best. If you don’t subscribe to that belief, that’s totally fine, but please refrain from any bashing just because I liked some big Hollywood blockbuster more than your favorite critical indie hit. Or vice versa. This list is generally spoiler free, but if you’re entirely unfamiliar with the film mentioned, then I’d recommend skipping my commentary and watching for yourself before reading my blurbs. 

I’ll justify all my picks, and try to summarize a quick review for each of them (rating included) so you can see how I thought about them objectively too. You’ll notice some ratings may be higher for films that are ranked lower, and that is by design. I don’t want this to just be what I thought was the most technically or artistically masterful of the year. I want it to be my list. Overall, I’m making this to celebrate my experiences with this year in film, so I want you to celebrate it with me! 

Honorable Mentions 

These are the movies that are just barely outside of my Top Ten this year. They’re fantastic in their own right, and on any given day they could easily be included in this Top Ten. 

Mank

Bad Education

On The Rocks

Several others could likely be mentioned here. But these three picks are virtually interchangeable with any number you’re likely to see next. I hope you check them out if you haven’t seen them already. Without further ado, here’s the list…

The List

10. The Invisible Man

After leaving her abusive husband, Cecilia is told about his self afflicted end but refuses to believe he’s gone as a benevolent force begins to pervade her life…

Gaslighting: The Movie, also know as The Invisible Man, is the rare type of mainstream horror that actually manages to seep into the larger dialogue of world examination while still retaining its identity as an individualized panic attack. With an anxiety inducing performance from Elizabeth Moss at its center, The Invisible Man slides masterfully into focus as a gold standard achievement in the power of a lingering camera. The static shots that sit gently on a hallway suddenly introduce such paranoia to the audience to perfectly match the central character’s own emotional life. But what writer/director Leigh Whannell wisely adds to the course is a deeper understanding of abuse as an insurmountable obstacle, making The Invisible Man one of the best films to enter the ‘Me Too’ movement. Granted, the subject matter can bridge into the overt at times, and a question of sanity quickly becomes an obvious cry for help in a way that leaves the villain’s plan a bit up in the air bridging into the third act. And while it certainly wracks tension in feeling that Cecilia (Moss) may never escape this nightmare, it loses certain energy in feeling that the villain won’t escape their seemingly obvious fate either. Still, the most chilling moment of The Invisible Man is not something that happens with a jump scare. It’s not a moment of flashy gore or a push in on a shadow. It’s a moment where a character the audience was disarmed to trust simply states to Cecilia the status of her predicament, the terms in which she must now agree. It’s this moment that sets The Invisible Man above other films of its genre. 8.5/10 

9. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm 

In the follow up to his 2006 satirical masterpiece, Sacha Baron Cohen takes his most iconic character back to America in the hopes of reclaiming glory for his home nation of Kazakhstan…

It’s easy to miss the commentary in Baron Cohen’s work. So often it gets paired with Jackass as a stunt fest with ill defined, inconsequential narrative choices. But to dilute the masterwork of Cohen’s achievement here with words of passing hilarity would be to deny altogether the heart of his latest picture. Borat 2 is a brilliant coalescence of witty satire and poignant political context verging to put the magnifying glass on this precise cultural moment in American history. Through a series of buffoonery, Borat allows America to open its heart and bare its ideals under a hyper critical lens. It lampoons much of our culture, and in a sense it feels almost daring to imagine reactions to the film from people on the opposite side of Cohen’s political isle. Yet Borat 2 never shies away from the ugly, pervasive nature of our modern politics. It uses context to its extreme benefit and allows for hands-down-the-pants hotel room scenes to build to much more substantial narrative climaxes. And all throughout, Cohen never allows his (mostly documentary) film to lose the through line. Borat’s relationship with his daughter, Tutar (played by the incomparable Maria Bakalova in a revelatory turn into the spotlight), becomes the heart and soul of the plot structure. In a brilliant, optimistic reflection of Cohen’s hope for personal growth, his central character comes to terms with his misgivings in his lack of leniency for his daughter as if Cohen himself is verbalizing his hopes for progressive changes in the strictest of hearts. It’s an editing masterwork in creating a detailed premise inside a spoof, and Cohen and Bakalova relish every second of their banter both with each other and with the unwitting patrons who journey into their path. Much like it’s predecessor, the scripted material to give Borat 2 its setup is easily its weakest aspect, leaning heavily on sight and shock gags and leaving little room for substance. But overall, Borat 2 stands as a triumph in Cohen’s already outstanding career. 9/10 

8. The Trial of The Chicago 7

The true story of the case surrounding protests at the 1968 US Democratic National Convention demonstrating the flaws in the American justice system with shocking realism…

Aaron Sorkin has made a career out of pacing. A rhythmic dialogue that excels in giving characters vital energy and a heightened sense of intelligence. Consequently, it has made Sorkin a household name and left The Trial of the Chicago 7 on many ‘Best Un-produced Screenplay’ lists for so long. For nearly 12 years, studios have aimed to bring this court drama to the American public with names attached that rival the star studded cast that ultimately was assembled for the film. Now, with his directorial debut under his belt, Sorkin was given the green light to finally direct his masterwork in a time where it feels scarily more relevant than when it was originally conceived. If you’re unfamiliar with the story of Trial, I’ll let you digest it entirely at your leisure, for I feel that the best court room dramas are the ones that unfold naturally leaving the audience as the jury and the keen mind of writer/director Mr. Sorkin as the defense. Chicago 7 excels where its writer has always excelled: pacing. A masterful execution of snappy dialogue that effortlessly carries its audience (and makes us all feel smarter for having ‘gotten it’) through a delicately woven balance of ideals. Naturally, some of the industry’s best performers litter the playing field making meals of their ever evolving dramatic ideologies in an effort to win a rigged game. Though the definition of ‘win’ is ever elusive—the meaning of it entirely dependent on the perspective of the key players—and this is easily the most interesting dilemma that Trial possesses. What does it mean to be ‘peaceful’, and what is the cost? What is the future of democratic politics, and what is the legacy? And of course, what is the potential of the judiciary? Sorkin forces the audience to watch power abused and demands attention from a haunting series of images that will forever be severed into the mind of the viewer. To put it simply, Trial is the type of court room drama that they simply don’t make anymore. The kind that balances character entirely on the circumstances surrounding a case presented in court, a location that provides the highest stakes we can conceivably relate to. As with everything, Trial is not a perfect film. It hinges solely on characters of such heightened intelligence that they can occasionally seem un-relatable, and it milks melodrama in its focal bias with swelling music and a clear judgement on our heroes and villains (a critique that matters only to those that crave nuance in such an overtly un-subtle year). Yet overall, Trial remains a triumph in rhythmic pacing and poignant timing with an effortless demonstration of history repeating itself. 8.7/10 

7. Mangrove 

The true story of a late 60’s march for justice against racial discrimination by police in West London and the subsequent trial that threatened the livelihood of the 9 men and women at its center…

It is true that Mangrove is technically the first installment in an episodic series of films created by the technical master Steve McQueen, but to limit it solely to its status as a piece of an anthology works only to silence its thematic impact (not to say anthologies and miniseries cannot have thematic impact—see True Detective and When They See Us—but they can’t always justify making one’s list for ‘Top Movies of 2020’). Nevertheless, Mangrove stands head and shoulders above most other films to emerge out of 2020 as a jarring and guttural voice against discrimination. Mangrove doesn’t attempt to solve the fight for racial justice, nor does it need to. Instead it focuses intensely on the characters at the center of the story, the world they try to cultivate in creating a space in the community for people like them, and the forceful pushback they receive from the world around them in the wake of their aims. It’s a film that demonstrates McQueen’s prowess behind the camera, a steady eye that lingers on images with visceral impact and shows the same vitriolic violence in a glance as it does in the brutal beating from a billy club. It coils its protagonists with explosive energy and watches them lament in god-crying anguish as they fight back against the lack of justice for their plight. And through it all, it never denies its characters of joy. It leans heavily into demonstrating what their slice of community can provide for them, making it all the more devastating when they must now fight to keep it. Mangrove’s only issue lies in its first act, keeping it loosely tethered to a plot and stumbling on its own pacing as it moves its narrative into a larger working. But through it all Frank and Altheia (both masterfully played by Shaun Parkes and Letitia Wright) remain the central focus, balancing on their shoulders the weight of an entire community, knowing full well the consequences of their actions will imbue lasting effects on their peers both immediate and beyond. It’s a film that demonstrates the burden of community, the beauty in creating something for those who may lack it, and the pain in fighting to keep it. 9.4/10  

6. I’m Thinking of Ending Things 

A young woman travels with her new boyfriend to his childhood home and slowly begins to uncover odd displacements in the reality that surrounds them…

A film that refuses to be put in a box of identity and instead subscribes to interpretation varying exclusively on the accessibility of the viewer, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is easily the most enigmatic picture of the year. Granted, if you go exploring on the inter webs you can find creator Charlie Kaufman’s true vision for the piece. You can find the book from where the source material is derived and answers to your likely burning questions. But I’m Thinking of Ending Things was, for me, a dish best served on its own. It’s a thoughtful film, deeply contemplative about life and misery all from the perspective of a character who may seem ideal while simultaneously elusive. It was in my own interpretation, my idealistic view of the film itself and what it wanted to say, that I found myself in love with its vision. It’s messaging, while overt and frequently jarring, left me yearning for more—as life so often does. Kaufman’s expert script weaves through emotional life in a series of specific conversations that poignantly fixate on oddities to continually cue the viewer about the complexities of the journey. And through it all is a grounded performance from Jessie Buckley, a clear star in this year’s Oscar race who pounces at the chance to flippantly exercise her emotional life in peaks and valleys of understanding her circumstance. Kaufman places us in a dream and ingeniously puts the lens not on the dreamer but on the image itself. Buckley navigates the visions of idealism with relatability that in a lesser performer would feel disingenuous, or worse, telegraphing. Because, again, the magician’s trick of the film is its own enigma. Deciphering it’s definition for yourself is the beauty, and once found it can make for a devastating tunnel into existentialism or an enlightening path towards your own personal redemption. At its worst, I’m Thinking of Ending Things leans too heavily on its persona. It makes the film at times feel inaccessible due to the bizarre roads it turns down, and it makes you question whether or not the rabbit chase for meaning is truly worth it. It’s a film that will likely divide viewers, and one that I caution you to go into with an open mind. Because if you’re able to, you may find something truly poignant in its messaging. Or maybe not. And maybe that is even better. 9/10

5. Never Rarely Sometimes Always 

A seventeen year old from small town Pennsylvania discovers she is pregnant and embarks on a journey to New York in the hopes of alleviating her burden…

While The Invisible Man may take the crown for tension building this year, it does not win the medal for best horror film. That honor is bestowed to Never Rarely Sometimes Always, a drama that certainly wouldn’t categorize itself as horror, yet proceeds to invoke palpable, stomach churning revelations with every breath of its screen time. It’s a film so married to capturing organic behavior that it at times runs along an edge bridging into documentary. The story is simple. It presents an obstacle in front of our protagonist, played with such relatable heartbreak by newcomer Sidney Flanigan, and challenges her to find the solution with only the help of her equally compassionate but naïve friend and cousin. It’s a minimalist film about survival in a world that—even unintentionally—can feel so cold and isolating. It’s a film that leaves its audience begging the filmmakers to protect the women at its center, and lamenting at the decision to continually place them in harm’s way. And ultimately it’s a movie about connection, the constant enduring struggle of women to silently soldier through a world entrenched against them only ever having each other to gently guide them through—even with something as simple as a finger grabbing against your hand to show that you’re not alone. But of course the thing you’ll hear the most about this film is the scene where it derives its name, a moment that will forever be entrenched in my mind as the pinnacle of observational filmmaking, the power of letting a camera linger in one unbroken take as it leads the protagonist into a series of delicate questions that threaten to break her entirely. The only discernible flaws present in the film may arguably be attributed to its run time. It becomes complicated to debate about minimalist filmmaking when discerning how much of it is ultimately necessary to achieve the final product. But nevertheless, even through moments that may have felt bloated for the simplicity of the plot, I couldn’t let Never Rarely Sometimes Always and its characters escape from my mind once they burrowed their way in through the painstaking process of watching them live. 9.3/10 

4. The Wolf of Snow Hollow

A small town detective teeters on the verge of losing himself while a gruesome serial killer begins to ravage his fragile world…

An adversary is only ever as strong as the oppositional force working to defeat him—a cardinal rule of cinema antagonists that has stood the test of time to create notorious villains in all wakes of pictures. But consequently, we rarely examine how the opposite is true. And this is what makes The Wolf of Snow Hollow—a picture that is uniquely fluid in its tonality to masquerade as a ‘light film’ while having much deeper and more sinister thoughts brewing on its mind—a truly special film. Following a small town officer in Utah looking to juggle his personal life with a recent string of murders, Jim Cummings weaves a masterclass of tension and comedy, never failing to bring to light the unnerving undertones that lurk in each and every frame. I’m not here to merely applaud Cummings for his work as actor, director, writer, and producer extraordinaire (while the status of his work is highly commendable), but rather I’m here to detail just how exactly all of his work seemingly builds Snow Hollow into appearing as effortless as it does. John Marshall (Cummings) is a surprisingly tragic antihero, an often belligerent alcoholic that seemingly never fails to crack under pressure. His heightened anguish is often the film’s comedic highlight watching as he boils to overflow in a series of long takes with sublime editing cuts to make transitional montages feel all the more anxiety inducing and time splicing. But it’s John’s relationship with his daughter, a woman on the verge of adulthood about to branch into the world of collegiate wonderland away from her often erratic and protective father, that brings to light Snow Hollow’s deeper meaning. Through the string of murders, it becomes increasingly clear that the ever elusive antagonist may be the catalyst for the town’s twisted turn, but it is John who stands as the obvious mirror. As a man so dead set on fortifying his life around the things that make it flow and function (even to the extent that the hidden beer in the back of the cabinet comes out almost always around 11:00pm) that he mistakenly falls short of his aims. To protect the one thing in his life, he becomes the very wolf he seeks. The emotionally abusive relationship he establishes between his daughter becomes the prevailing oppositional force, and by the time Snow Hollow’s credits roll, Cummings ensures that his audience feels the gravity of his character’s actions regardless of whether or not they rooted for him. The Wolf of Snow Hollow uses its tonal fluidity to marvelous effect, ever eliciting a relaxation, an ease, caused by John’s antics which disarm us and leave us vulnerable for the kill. And all this is not even mentioning the brilliant domestic thriller with a plot twist featuring a sneakily effective performance from an actor that I can’t dare spoil. Or the shadow cast over John by his father, the late, great Robert Forester reminding us of his expertise in a brilliant swan song. I could gush about The Wolf of Snow Hollow all day, relaying the myriad of meaning I derived from its surprisingly basic premise, but it would be redundant at this point seeing as how you’ve already seen it ranking on this list. The only thing Snow Hollow is missing for me is an added 15 minutes that could pull the ugly Cassavettian arguments in the peak of the second act through the stitching and allow the emotional impact to be felt with the weight it seemingly implies off screen. The pacing of the film works wonders, but the awkward drunken fights tend to leave the impression of stupor rather than the impact of it. Regardless, the film is under appreciated and sitting on Amazon begging you to give it a chance. A genre film that juggles so many genres so seamlessly that it becomes all of them all at once, saving its merciless impact for the final blow. 9/10 

3. Lovers Rock 

A night in the life of West Londoners as they intertwine themselves at a reggae house party in the 1980’s, eager to dance and make a connection with one another…

Yes, two films from the Small Axe miniseries have made the list of my favorite films from 2020, and I stand by that decision wholeheartedly with the inclusion of Lovers Rock. Whereas movies often reflect life through a stylized lens of plot structure, Lovers Rock dismisses all rules of filmmaking instead opting to establish an environment that reflects its thematic aims. Of course, you can still watch as an upper class female attends a nighttime reggae house party with plenty of glimpses at potential plot developments throughout her story, but Lovers Rock is a film of substantial value beyond its set dressing. It’s a concept that poetically removes narrative and replaces it with passion. The title takes on a double meaning for those with the eye to appreciate it. On one level, the lovers rock speaks to the delicate dance floor embrace, the smooth and gentle pressing of hips into one another. McQueen masterfully calculates connection through brushes against skin and makes you feel the urge to move in harmony with the characters at its focus. Yet the duality of the lovers rock lies in the central location. The house party becomes a safe haven of connection, a place free of inhibitions, a likeminded grouping of those yearning to escape from the constant pressures of the outside world. It’s a theme that strikes a cord with every minute spent outside where glances from disapproving white people, sexual assaults, and pressures of managing as a west indie Brit weigh on every moment. In that sense, the Lovers Rock doubles as the landing pad, the place where all lovers land to feel—if only for one fleeting moment—like they’re free. The ‘Mercury Sound’ scene emerges as the clear standout, McQueen’s lens whipping in fluid long takes to the cathartic and rhythmic release that pulses in each fine moment threatening to blow the very doors off their hinges in this safe asylum free of calamity. McQueen created with Lovers Rock the most poetically poignant film of the year. The shame is that with such a loosely structured plot, it runs the risk of losing its inherent value. The audience may question why they’re meant to care for these people experiencing such a blissful night, and they may even get frustrated at the threads presented never once being pulled through to fruition. Yet it should not go unrecognized that Lovers Rock is a place we all aspire to find at one point or another, and the film captures the spirit with such organic euphoria that it cements itself as one of the year’s best films. 9/10

2. The Sound of Metal 

A metal drummer loses his hearing and begins a desperate journey trying to reclaim his faculties and save the tatters of his fragile life…

I was told (through painstaking research—ahem—a quick imdb search) that this is Darius Marder’s first feature film (putting aside his documentary feature in 2008), and I would like to say before I begin that this should be illegal. To create a movie so captivating, so understated and compelling with a seemingly endless derivation of meaning on your first journey into the world of directing feature films should absolutely be a crime. Talent of this caliber needs to sit the hell down. I’m kidding of course, but not really. Darius Marder’s work here is an absolute marvel. The Sound of Metal is a brutal, emotional journey into the psyche (and inner ears) of a man so fragile and desperate you can feel it in your very soul. Two parts drama, one part horror, and a dash of romance sprinkled on every scene, The Sound of Metal weasels its way into the heart of its audience inch by agonizing inch. It’s a film that understands so deeply the well of vulnerability in heavy metal. On opening, our protagonist Reuben (Riz Ahmed) sits eager and anxious ready to blast the pulse of music in each percussive bang against his drums. His chest is littered with tattoos, most notable among them ‘Please Kill Me’ saddled next to crossed revolvers on his right pec. And this is where The Sound of Metal grabbed me. Sure, I understand the tattoo is a reference to punk artist Richard Hell, but I believe there’s a deeper profundity in marking your central protagonist with such a poignant message. Punk Metal has long been derived from the vulnerability of its players and audience, deeply entrenched in the existentialism plaguing all human life, the pervading despondent dread that encircles us at each turn dancing against the conformity that will turn you into a mindless zombie. It is in the spirt of rebellion that the music finds its purchase. Not the rebellion of anti capitalist (although that exists plenty in the genre), but the rebellion of the heart. The vitriolic urge that bucks the system and releases the inner fury of oneself to scream, and cry, and purge the well to keep the despondency at bay. It is a music so intertwined with fragility of the human spirit, and this is what The Sound of Metal understands so well. It brings to us an addict, 4 years removed from his vices and saved by his love of music and the guiding light of his partner, and forces him into the most vulnerable position imaginable. It forces us to watch him lose his hearing. It forces us to watch him fight to gain it back. And it begs us, in the same way it begs Reuben, to relax. To breathe. To accept the things we cannot change. It’s a movie that may make you sick to your stomach without ever *really* showing anything graphic. It’s a movie that may make you question your will. It’s a movie about sound. The sounds we take for granted, masterfully briefed to us in Reuben’s daily routine where we hear the sound of the freeway, the sound of smoothie making, the sound of waking the one you love. And when it’s stripped away, you notice. It’s a movie that requires us—demands us—to take stock of the things we take for granted (undeniably the sound of my fingers against the keyboard is one I’m noticing all too well). And it’s a movie about love. About community. About finding what we need to keep steady. I’ve hardly mentioned him yet, but you already know, dear reader, how truly remarkable Riz Ahmed is in this film. A miraculous portrayal of a man ever circling the drain, fighting against the current to keep afloat against the convictions of the world that want to bring him down to his worst self. It’s a man fighting for life without a paddle, and you follow his performance through every painstaking second. Were it not for Delroy Lindo, my hope would be that Mr. Ahmed would be thanking the Academy come April. But awards or not, this is a performance deserving of recognition, one that effortlessly exudes the energy of a man with a tattoo that says ‘Please Kill Me’. A man that fights for survival neglecting the love of the new world he has found. And it’s accompanied by emotionally resonant performances from Olivia Cooke and Paul Raci to guide home the impact. Were I to have a critique for The Sound of Metal, it would be that the film often glosses its time frame in the second act, lessening the impact of such pivotal choices and dampening our sense of understanding in Reuben’s ever changing world. But there’s little sense in gushing this long about a film only to nitpick. It’s a film masterfully directed to saddle us with Reuben, beautifully written to energize his anguish, and layered with the single best sound design in recent memory that makes you notice each and every beat both heard and unheard. It’s a movie about music with surprisingly little music, and all the while it is a deafening picture blasting with the sounds rarely heard in our wake of life: The sound of lonliness; the sound of playfulness; the sound of heartbreak; the sound of expectation; the sound of disappointment; the sound of metal…as it scratches your brain and keeps you moving silently against the stillness. 9.5/10

  1. Da 5 Bloods 

Four war veterans embark on a journey to their past in the hopes of reclaiming the remains of one of their lost brothers and potentially finding a hidden treasure left in the valleys of Vietnam…

Without any shadow of a doubt, Da 5 Bloods remains my favorite film of 2020. A movie so mired in existentialism yet lashes back with delightful urgency that can seem violent with one stroke and hilarious with the next. It’s a film that marries itself to no genre while simultaneously engaging with all of them. It’s a film where Spike Lee balances the theme on the tip of a knife, poised perfectly to strike at any time with punctuated impact. With every rewatch I find myself more engrossed in each character, living for the moral righteousness of Otis, desperate for David’s reconciliation, and yearning for Paul’s path to redemption. The performances are so specific, so nuanced and engrossing, that they feel like people you’ve known your whole life. The stories they share become your stories. The traumas they endure feel like your own. And the pain they push through, both physical and mental, is shared in the deepest anguish of the audience. And yet, as I already mentioned, it’s as much a comedy as it is a drama. It’s as much a horror film as it is a war film. Da 5 Bloods is an anomaly, one in which Lee throws caution to the wind with directorial choices that threaten to dampen the film into an eye roll inducing blood fest, yet each time Lee calculates precisely how to accomplish his goal and hits each emotional beat with fervent precision. You may question the motivation behind double cuts to demonstrate the impact of an embrace, or Lee’s infamous dolly shot rolling toward camera in a cathartic release set to a vocal isolation track from Marvin Gaye, but for every momentary worry that you may have been taken off course with a distracting directorial flourish, Lee brings you right back with an emotional gut punch that remains in the recesses of your mind. For each breath you take as the film eases and relaxes you, Lee threatens to bring you right back to the edge cementing the forest scene as one of the best, not just of the year, but in Lee’s sterling career. And of course, there’s Delroy Lindo. While Da 5 Bloods has no bad performances, Mr. Lindo emphatically presents a career best, the sanity slipping away with each passing moment as Paul desperately pleads for absolution. It’s a performance that never mistakes anguish for disinterest in life and leaves the brunt of sympathy elicited from Bloods on Paul’s shoulders. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that the film works as a brilliant reminder of the cosmic force that was Chadwick Boseman and makes us miss him dearly. Da 5 Bloods is the quintessential film of brotherhood. It reminds us the value of legacy and the wish to create a better world no matter how violent and pervasive your footprint may have been left in the past. You may criticize Bloods in its leniency, judging how it may stumble in moments on a stringing runtime that may occasionally falter. But nevertheless, Da 5 Bloods is a champion for political film work, one that feels all too relevant in the current state of the world, and one I will be happy to revisit time and time again. 9.4/10 


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