Given the lack of theatrical moviegoing, 2020 was a great year to rewatch old faves or forgotten nostalgia plays. With our kids now 10 and 12, we also broke the PG-13 seal on a bunch of comedies, which opened the floodgates to a ton of flicks. I also devoted the entire summer to revisiting some of the summer blockbusters of yore – most from the formative years of 1993-1997.
Here are my 16 favorite rewatchables from last year. These aren’t the best movies I rewatched, but rather, the ones that were the most enjoyable to revisit. Either because they grew in my estimation, surprised me by how good they were, or because they haven’t gotten the acclaim they probably should. If you’ve never seen some of these, or haven’t seen them in a while, I strongly recommend you check them out!
In no particular order:
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: Edgar Wright’s kinetic, innovative love letter to comic books and video games. The casting is prophetic, the script is hilarious, and the filmmaking is next-level. Went from a 4-star movie to a 5-star one this past summer. Can’t stop watching Brie Larson singing “Black Sheep.”
Last Action Hero: a huge flop back in 1993, it was easily overshadowed by Jurassic Park that summer. But, I’ve always had a fondness for it, and this is the year I finally realized this is an excellent movie. Does not get critical kudos it deserves. Clever script, co-written by Shane Black. Wish we regularly got blockbusters this imaginative.
Hot Rod: pound-for-pound one of the funniest movies ever made. I was among the many who slept on it when it came out in 2007. Just a dumb comedy starring a bunch of SNL cast members. Wrong. It’s awesome.
Edge of Tomorrow: I’m a Tom Cruise super fan so I’ve always liked this Groundhog Day-flavored sci-fi action flick, but objectively speaking – this is one of his best movies, and certainly one of the finest action films of the last decade.
Babe: Pig in the City: part of my George Miller-Blank Check rewatch. A crazy sequel to a Best Picture nominee that throws out all the rules. Really the Mad Max Fury Road of talking animal movies.
Doc Hollywood: what a charming movie! Back when Michael J. Fox star vehicles were a dime-a-dozen. This is one of his better ones. Good story (completely stolen by Cars), great cast. Fox and Julie Warner have amazing chemistry. Gives romcoms a good name.
Deep Impact: came out the same summer as Armageddon, and while I’ve always preferred that Michael Bay blockbuster, the quality gap between these two is not as wide as I initially thought. This is the more sobering film, that gets dark and takes chances in ways that few mainstream films do. Really captures an end-of-the-world feeling in ways that other big-budget disaster films fail to do (including Armageddon).
Drag Me to Hell: Sam Raimi has been largely absent from the director’s scene in recent years, and that’s a shame, because he’s one of our more interesting directors, and when he’s having fun – as he clearly is here – he’s awfully hard to top. Drag Me to Hell is a non-stop thrill ride that puts other horror movies to shame, even within the confines of a PG-13 rating.
The Mask of Zorro: they really don’t make blockbusters like this any more. Old-fashioned? Sure. But, also timeless. Antonio Banderas really should have been a bigger star. His star wattage is off-the-charts here. Can’t believe Hollywood didn’t scoop him up for more leading roles.
Die Hard with a Vengeance: fantastic sequel. Hard to top the original, but this comes closer than you might remember. Pairing Willis with Sam Jackson is a stroke of brilliance. Really captures a New York in sweltering summer vibe better than most movies. Reminded me of the original Taking of Pelham 123 in that way. On that note, Inside Man does it really well too.
Rachel Getting Married: I don’t know why I didn’t fall for this movie the first time. Too talky? Wasn’t in the mood? Didn’t latch onto to Jonathan Demme’s naturalistic directing choices. My bad. This is one of Demme’s best films. The unloading the dishwasher scene is an all-timer.
Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey: in preparation for Bill and Ted Face the Music, I revisited the first two films. I wasn’t as taken with Face the Music as others were, but I really dug the approach Bogus Journey takes to the sequel format. Does not replicate the first film, and really strikes out on his own, going in some rather crazy directions. It’s a lot like Gremlins 2 (below) in that way.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues: sure, it’s not as good as the first Anchorman – replicates a lot of the same jokes, lacks the freshness. But, c’mon. This has more gut-busting laughs than nearly every comedy released in the last decade. It’s funnier than you might remember, and seems to improve with every viewing. The “Doby” song alone is worth the watch.
Contagion: maybe THE movie of 2020? Amazing how prescient Soderbergh and Scott Z. Burns’ virus thriller proved to be. If anything, the resolution here is too convenient. Real life seems to be messier.
Gremlins 2: The New Batch: a wild, wooly, truly bugnuts sequel. Joe Dante and team outdid themselves here. Riffs on the first film and goes in unexpected directions, with some of the best breaking the fourth wall gags around. Some fun digs against Trump too, though John Glover’s Clamp would have made a much better President.
Interstellar: may just be Nolan’s stealth masterpiece? Really rose up the ranks of his filmography for me on the latest rewatch. I think we take Nolan’s genius for granted. Hans Zimmer has had an amazing career, but this is probably his best score. Matthew McConaughey should have won the Oscar for this instead of Dallas Buyers Club. Not without its flaws, but movies don’t get more ambitious.
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