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Best Netflix Original Movies Of 2020

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In a world robbed of the theatrical experience, Netflix (and the other so-called streaming giants) have been a haven for film-makers and film fans, and there have been some incredible releases throughout 2020. While binge-worthy TV shows are still Netflix's most easily marketable commodity, the original movies catalog is being asked to do more heavy lifting with other platforms taking their stock back. It might be expensive, but Netflix has a model to combat that, bringing in big names, emerging talents, and bankable brands.

While some movies that found their way to streaming platforms out of necessity or desperation that has now defined an entire model of release for 2021, Netflix's originals were already targeted to release direct to homes. Their achievements in film-making this year - which should warrant at least a handful of awards nominations (should the awards even happen in a traditional sense) - stand as validation to the countless millions pumped into buying up the works of the likes of David Fincher, Aaron Sorkin, and Adam Sandler (some more than others). The company has offered hugely popular comedies (no mean feat in 2020) alongside action movies outside of huge franchises (again, a huge achievement)

The question, as with most things at the end of any year - but particularly one that so readily invites a deep breath and a stocktaking - is which of Netflix's movies were the best of 2020. And considering how much money the company pumped into original content for the past twelve months, the deal-makers can certainly be proud of the filmic fruits of their labor, ranging from a breezy Europhile comedy through to genuine Oscar contenders and franchise starters.

10. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga

While lots of the year's biggest and best Netflix movies took a far more serious line, Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams' Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga was a triumph of completely opposing markers. Ferrell often gets accused of losing his grip on comedy, but Eurovision strikes the right chords, seeking to victimize nobody and absolutely understanding the affection behind the cult of Europe's often baffling obsession. It's silly, admittedly, but there's a lot of heart beneath the surface, both in how it celebrates the great competition - which it was supposed to release alongside in May - and also in the central friendship and romance between Ferrell and McAdams' characters. Perhaps a little over-long, Eurovision might well be one of the most misunderstood movies of the year, whose gentler approach combined with some great musical set-pieces to make for a disarmingly charming experience.

9. The Trial Of The Chicago 7

It should go without saying, by now, that Aaron Sorkin knows how to craft a compelling tale, and when he's dealing with real-world material with considerable weight behind it, the master writer turned director dials up his characteristic deftness of touch. There are, somewhat inevitably, creative liberties taken in the name of story-telling - Sorkin, after all, is no documentarian - but almost everything is in service to crafting a message that resonates with modern audiences. That does come with the unfortunate trade-off in how Bobby Seale's defiant stand against corruption and racism is depicted (as he's too easily silenced compared to the true story), but generally speaking, most of the changes to the real Chicago 7 story are defendable. The cast - amassing an eye-watering pile of talent including Sacha Baron Cohen, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eddie Redmayne, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Frank Langhella and Mark Rylance among others - is stunning and the performances great, and the true testament to its success is that is remarkably restrained in the face of what must have been the irresistible potential for Sorkin to really let fly.

8. The Old Guard

Netflix has a particularly strong recent track record in action movies, perhaps buoyed by how well even the less impressively crafted ones (like the passable Ava) tend to do with their audience and The Old Guard was a real stand-out. Based on Greg Rucka's comic and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, the Netflix original took what amounted to a particularly high-concept conceit - the idea of immortal mercenaries hunted as test subjects - and made it feel impressively grounded. That was largely thanks to the relatable performances of the cast (and Charlize Theron in particular) and the accessibility of hating the villain (played by Harry Melling). The Old Guard impressed most in its action sequences, which were hard-hitting and imaginative, but there's also a lot to be said for the movie's commitment to the kind of diversity in gender and sexuality of its heroes that the MCU and DCEU should be envious of. That it managed to so openly set up a sequel without it feeling cynical is testament to how welcome a return for these characters will be.

7. I'm Thinking Of Ending Things

Charlie Kaufman has rather a knack for constructing narratives that invite the audience to get completely lost in his characters' psyches. In I'm Thinking Of Ending Things he once more deftly navigates the problems of the human condition in a deeply, troublingly relatable fashion while also meandering through fantasy and magical realism. As usual, he plays with the idea of not only the unreliable narrator but also the unreliable narrative, making a movie that is, somewhat inevitably, conventionally "strange" and which challenges the audience to even understanding at times, let alone interpret it, but as with all Kaufman projects, there's an element in I'm Thinking Of Ending Things that actually celebrates the lack of meaning. Memory is not to be trusted, as ever, and as such, it's a challenging experience, but it's not without merit or reward and it's another Kaufman film that absolutely necessitates multiple watches. Just perhaps not all in close proximity.
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