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artwork by Amy Lauren McGrath

It has, somehow, been a year. And while this year hasn’t allowed us to seek refuge in front of the big screen as often as we might like, and though many of the most anticipated releases of the last twelve months have been deferred to 202-dot-dot-dot-question-mark, we still have been able to enjoy some truly exceptional films at a time when we really needed them. Using Irish release dates, the Film In Dublin team have come together to pick out ten of the best of 2020. Films that helped us to escape. Films that served as a funnel to feel through *all this*. Films with pet hyenas in them. So a broad spectrum as always.

What films made your own personal Best of 2020 list? As ever, we’d love to hear from you. Leave us a comment below or hit us up on Twitter and Instagram and let us know what movies moved you over the last year, and let us know what you make of the list below.

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Incredibly, there are only sixteen days remaining in the 2010s, and though every year of the last few years has felt like a decade unto itself in one way or another, one positive thing the 10s have undoubtedly given us is a plentiful supply of great films. And the Light House Cinema will give film fans an opportunity to see some of the best and most beloved of the decade this month and through January, screening a series of the Best of the 10s. The season will run from December 27th until January 5th, with 18 favourites to relive before another ten years of film kicks off for us.

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When a film becomes an award season juggernaut in the way that The Shape of Water did, racking up 87 wins from 243 nominations at a variety of ceremonies, the front-runner sweeping home on the way to Oscar wins that included Best Picture and Best Director, it’s becomes enveloped forever into that context, forever on a pedestal, conversations around it forever centered on which wins it did or didn’t deserve, if it being the most successful film from those who created it makes it the best one, and whether or not its that most useless word in film criticism, “overrated”. Discussing the merits of The Shape of Water is even more difficult than most examples of those discourse victims, as it’s not only the Homecoming King of 2017/2018 Awards Season, it’s also forever the Fish Fucking Movie.

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Mission: Impossible  – Fallout makes this list because the each act of the film on their own are better self-contained action stories than most blockbuster fare put out this year. A stunning triptych on the altar of Tom Cruise’s  self-destructive self-regard, Fallout is built on a thorough reeling through the list of pretty much every set-piece director Christopher McQuarrie can dream up and Cruise can delude himself into being dying (not yet literally) to do. Ethan Hunt dives through the Parisian sky as lightning cackles around him, decimates a bathroom with a totality and violence not usually seen outside of Stephen’s Day jacks-visits, rams trucks into rivers, races motorcycles around every square inch of one of Europe’s largest cities, chases after man mountain Henry Cavill (if he doesn’t crush you, no giant thing will) with a broken foot and with over 90 minutes of his latest mission already clocked, the man and his film haven’t even really gotten started yet. By the time Hunt starts playing Helicopter Conkers in the Himalayas, you’ll be literally floored as you realise you’ve gone way beyond the edge of your seat.

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is wholesome teenage fantasy. It tells the story of Lara Jean (played by Lana Condor), a sweet and shy girl who develops crushes very easily but struggles to actually make connections with boys. This will be a bittersweet memory for many, and a fresh of breath air for current teenagers frustrated watching media feed them ideas of breezy confident teens engaging in casual sex (which is fine and real but not the reality for all). Watching this film is akin to curling up with a hot drink at a sleepover and finding out that you’re not as different as you thought.

The film doesn’t ridicule or sneer at its characters, unfortunately this is a rarity for media aimed at teenage girls! We recognise young girls as a lucrative demographic but boy do we hate em for it. Director Susan Johnson deftly explores LJ’s urge to make a connection and by the end we understand that losing her mother young has given Lara Jean a fear of loss so strong that she can’t let any of her crushes get close. There are visual separations and frames throughout the first half of the film to reflect the distance LJ fiercely maintains, this gradually breaks down and the colour palette moves from gentle pastels to sharp vibrant blues and reds when Lara Jean and Peter (Noah Centineo) finally kiss. It’s a well-constructed film which accounts for its mass popularity.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a great example of American-Vietnamese representation. Because Lara Jean and her sisters just exist as American-Vietnamese people, it’s there but it’s not signposted constantly because it’s just part of who they are, an aspect of their experience – which is how whiteness and white characters relationship with race is always portrayed.