It's no exaggeration to say that 2020 has been the absolute worst. But, as they say, it's always darkest before the dawn. As we step into 2021 with Kevlar safety gloves and the most cautious of baby steps, a new year brings a fresh start, and most importantly, hope, whether it comes in the promise of a new vaccine, a new US president, or Jedward being the voice of reason.
And as we drag 2020 on to the "things to never mention again" pile – except perhaps to doe-eyed grandchildren – we should reflect on the last 12 months and then look ahead to fresh, better pastures.
With this in mind, here's my pick of 7 films to perfectly see-off the garbage fire that was 2020.
1. Behind the Curve
Misinformation has been an exploding topic across the last few years. Whether they're alternative facts, opinions sold as facts, or straight-up lies, the many voices across our social platforms have made the world a confusing and noisy place. It's these voices that have provided a haven for groups to dissent against scientific fact and reality.
Flat Earth theorists are one such community who defy the idea that our planet is round. Delving into what makes such people tick, BTC holds a fascinating candle to how we got from ridding the world of smallpox and landing on the moon – allegedly, to pulling down 5G towers and claiming that vaccines cause autism.
This is why we can't have nice things.
2. Good Boys
Remember when you were 12? With Good Boys, we can regress to simpler times, when all we had to worry about was speaking to members of the opposite sex and being grounded. Best friends Max, Lucas, and Thor must navigate how to kiss, score drugs, and play on that sweet indoor swing their parents have. Knowledge may be power, but ignorance is most definitely bliss.
It might be treading familiar territory with its "Superbad with kids" schtick, but when the consistent script is packed full of jokes, along with some genuinely endearing performances, do you even care?
3. Stranger than Fiction
Harold Crick is a tax agent who discovers his whole life is being live-narrated by Emma Thompson's neurotic author. The only rub is that his personal novelist is famous for killing all her main characters.
What do you do if your fate is laid bare and seemingly unavoidable? You take stock and find joy in the little things that make you happy. In a time where COVID-19 massively disrupted our lives, it's important to rediscover these small pockets of happiness, whether it's finally learning the guitar, or surprising a loved one with a bunch of flours.
I was debating whether to put this one in, as 1917 is a rollercoaster of stress. But what could accurately frame 2020 more than this? Two ordinary soldiers are selected to deliver an important message, with their failure meaning the loss of many lives.
The palpable tension cranks up superbly in 1917, with our heroes enduring all manner of hardships and a hail of enemy bullets. We never leave their perspective throughout, with clever camera tricks designed to deliver a seemingly long cut, crafting an intimate and personal journey through WW1.
Despite a seemingly relentless onslaught, our protagonists fight on, taking the odd time to recover and regroup. That's the important thing in these times: wherever you are in your struggle this year.
And wherever you are in your struggle through this awful year, as they say, when you're going through hell, keep going.
The infamous true story of the greatest party that never happened. Entrepreneur Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule decide to hold an exclusive high-end festival on an island, and it all goes downhill from there. By the end, you'll be watching it through your fingers.
2020 forced us to enjoy the summer days from our couches and dining table/offices, with a yearning to venture outside. But when you watch Fyre, much like the investor funds that bankrolled this disastrous project, you can watch your 2020 FOMO vanish into thin air.
6. Jojo Rabbit
Taika Waititi playing a goofball Hitler was always going to be close to the bone, but the sheer absurdity of it all makes this work.
Jojo's a sensitive kid with dreams of making it into the Hitler Youth, if it wasn't for his hapless nature.
With a star-making turn by Roman Griffin Davis, this film is a darkly funny tongue-in-cheek tale about the rise and fall of the cult of personality, drawing obvious parallels to a certain outgoing lame-duck leader. It'd be ridiculous and shocking at this time, but we've already seen too much.
7. The Martian
How much is a life worth? The Martian is the ultimate panacea to these times of anti-science, tribalism, and inhumanity.
Botanist Mark Watney becomes stranded on the Red planet, as experts across the world come together to work out how to bring him home.
Our world faces many challenges, among them climate change, inequality, and deadly disease. And here's the thing: not one nation can solve them without the help of our neighbours.
The Martian is the culmination of what happens when a world joins hands, dropping the political point-scoring, the dick-measuring, and the animosity, to see what it can accomplish together.
Sure, it may seem like a distant pipedream now, but perhaps now is the perfect time for dreamers to dare to try.