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March 2020 Movies, Ranked

March easily proved to be a return to form for the film industry, with descriptive character studies, comedic political slapstick, and serious dramas pertaining to real issues in our society. Due to these critical factors, a lot of great films came to theaters and VOD this month, and with those came many interesting surprises and disappointments. Here are March’s feature films released on VOD and in theaters, ranked.

30. Go Karts, Netflix

This is like January’s Airplane Mode, but somehow worse. Go Karts constantly tries to tell a unique and inspirational story, but somehow doesn’t know that it is a blatant and offensive rip off of The Karate Kid.  And so it struggles to reuse the same exact tropes that made 1984’s The Karate Kid a classic.

29. The Burnt Orange Heresy, Netflix

The Burnt Orange Heresy fails to captivate, as it shifts continually into a downward spiral, never able to regain its momentum. While the performances are worthwhile, the story is muddled and ruins whatever efforts are put forth to spice up a mediocre thriller at best.

28. Downhill, Searchlight Pictures

Generally speaking, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell have the ABSOLUTE BEST chemistry. And I came in expecting that to happen here, which it did, but that was the ONLY good part of the film. Julia is known for VEEP, a political satire, and Ferrell is known for a flurry of comedic films, and so having these two comedic talents on screen should merit some funny moments right? Nope. This film is absolutely devoid of any comedy, despite being labeled as a comedy drama. This has all the drama, but no comedy, and it’s like if you told Stephen Curry to switch from basketball to baseball. It just doesn’t work out. Will Ferrell doesn’t blend in with the drama that this film emulates in a wildly vivid way. This film, in choosing to have a extremely unsuccessful screenplay, really disappointed me.

27. Bloodshot, Sony Pictures

Well, I knew this movie was going to be horrible, but I still came in with absolutely no expectations. Bloodshot, however, turned out to be a mundane, predictable action flick that was devoid of any good action sequences. The editing was horrendous, and Vin Diesel played action movie Vin Diesel, delivering corny, cringeworthy lines that make the audience really uncomfortable. The only good part of this movie was Eliza González, and she did okay at most. Throughout the entire final fight sequence of this film, I literally almost walked out. No worthy exposition to make you care about ANY of these characters was delivered, and the whole story was just conventional and crude.

26. The Roads Not Taken, Focus Features

While the film has better-than-average acting performances, it constantly falls into the melodramatic portion of generic psychological drama. And to think, Javier Bardem has fallen THIS far. In 2007, he shined as big bad Chigurh in the Coen Brothers’ Oscar winning No Country For Old Men. Now, he is reduced to ash with this lackluster feature, struggling to carry a film that didn’t take the right road. While he gives a great performance, the film fails to get its message regarding dementia across, and leaves its viewers frustrated and wanting more.

25. The Postcard Killings, RLJE Films

While Jeffrey Dean Morgan basically knocks it out of the park here, that is also a con to this film, as he has to carry the entire load of mediocre generic whodunnit cliches that don’t help a struggling plot. Seriously, if not for him in the role, this film would be atrocious. Not that it isn’t, however. It’s pretty lacking in what it’s trying to convey, but a slightly entertaining film could emerge from the rubble otherwise if the pieces were in the right places.

24. Guilty, Netflix

So this film revolves around a crime committed by a singer’s boyfriend, and the WHOLE film is trying to put together a mystery that is already solved within the first 20 minutes of the movie. This film managed to prove to viewers that it was wildly conventional, predictable, and lacking in story material. The story itself was okay, but it needed vital pieces and bits to succeed as a teenage crime drama worth watching. I do like the message however, so that’s the one plus that this film brings to the table.

23. Stargirl, Disney+

When Disney has made enough movies, you start to sort of see the repetitiveness put into each one. I wanted to love this movie so badly, but I just was disappointed by the end result. There were too many plot holes, and frankly, I wanted to know a lot more about this Stargirl character. For a screenplay written by THE Jordan Horowitz (“La La Land”), this was a major let down. While pretty enjoyable, provoking thoughtful and charming performances from the two leads (including Grace VanderWaal herself), the movie in its entirety could’ve done a lot better with its subtle handling of social issues regarding high school.

22. Resistance, IFC Films

Adding another film to the mix that revolves around a resistance during WWII doesn’t help this film’s case. Using repetitive tropes that have defined movies that pertain to this genre throughout the years, Resistance might’ve emphasized a rude awakening to war films this year, beginning with The Last Full Measure.

21. Lost Girls, Netflix

You know, this film reminds me A LOT of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Wind River blended together. The stories are eerily similar when compared, but the performances from the main cast, especially up-and coming Thomasin McKenzie, really make this flick shine apart from the rest.

20. Lost Transmissions, Gravitas Ventures

Lost Transmissions is a very well-crafted film of emotion, but one that is flawed by delving into moments of intense melancholia too frequently. The subject matter dealt with is usually accompanied by tons of emotional cushion, but if this film was supposed to bring awareness, why was the end result so sad? The acting was really well executed, but the script falls short. However, this one has proven to be one of the best March indies.

19.  Sorry We Missed You, BBC Films

Sorry We Missed You has a realistic façade, as it tries to come of as a simulation of real life. However, the acting at times and the numerous questionable script choices hinder this film from being a top film this year. And if you know me well, you know that I have loved Ken Loach’s direction since 1969’s Kes, which is one of my all-time favorites. But this film is a regression for Loach, and I hope he can get back to making amazing films soon.

18. My Spy, Amazon Studios

This is a perfect example of a bad film pampered by the likeable Dave Bautista and the direction of Peter Segal. Again, there’s not much to say. The comedy is similar to Get Smart, and that’s mostly because of Peter Segal. It was just enjoyable  When you get a chance to, check it out. I guarantee you’ll enjoy the crazy antics of Dave Bautista as he goes on another unconventional, laugh-filled journey.

17. Spenser Confidential, Netflix

Marky Mark and Mr. Duke team up for the newest Netflix Original Spenser Confidential. So you know how I said a while back that The Jesus Rolls was a contender for best guilty pleasure of the year? Add this to that list. This film is rarely devoid of comedic pleasure, even though Alan Arkin’s one-liners make most of that comedy possible, and Mark and Duke have extremely good chemistry with each other. Look for this one on your Netflix recommended if you just want to have a great family movie night.

16. The Informer, Aviron Pictures

Imagine if Shot Caller met every generic prison movie or series, like Prison Break, only without the actual BREAK being emphasized. If you actually understood that last sentence, you’ll know the name of the film I’m so subtly describing. Sure, The Informer has its fair share of great moments, it being an action thriller and all, but it does suffer from having a screenplay that is all over the place. Ana De Armas continues her ascent into legendary status among Hollywood actresses today, and Joel Kinnaman continues to prove himself and solidify himself as a valuable asset to the success of action flicks like this entertaining piece of work right here. If you look far past the awfully-clichéd moments and the predictability of it all, you’ll probably enjoy this subpar action thriller.

15. Emma, Focus Features

A comical period piece adaptation, Emma is a suitable adaptation to its original, and the work of Jane Austen, led by a fantastic performance by Anya Taylor Joy, who cements herself as one of my favorite actresses working today. The supporting cast and story also play a role in making this period piece one to watch.

14. Tuscaloosa, Cinedigm

While Tuscaloosa boasts fantastic, lingering performances from its two leads, namely Natalia Dyer, the film struggles to find its footing and never regains control, spiraling into the generic love story area for much too long, without giving its audience much to cheer for. It is one to watch to appreciate its vast scenery and overtly realistic acting performances, however, but its story could’ve been way better given the impressive young talent on screen.

13. The Hunt, Universal Studios

Being as how I’m strongly adhered to one side of the political spectrum, I found myself both laughing and taking offense, while also realizing that the jokes told in the film were painfully honest. I enjoyed the grindhouse-style violence and the story was really well put together. Comedic bits, however, were the main driving force for this spectacular political satire to shine through. Watch this one on streaming when you get the chance.

12. Hope Gap, Curzon Artificial Eye

Hope Gap is a worthwhile, meticulously crafted film that has a rather shallow plot, but deals with separation in a very personal way. Annette Benning is fantastic in everything she does, and I applaud her for that, as she really knocks it out of the park here. This film is really well-made, and I reckon you all should check it out.

11. Big Time Adolescence, Hulu

The main lesson that this movie tries to convey: Don’t be a Zeke. Throughout the entirety of the film, we find ourselves comparing Mo, a 16 year old who is still going through the stages of puberty, to Zeke, a thirty-year-old who never really found his footing and works as a drug dealer, putting a bad influence on Mo. I honestly feel like this film makes known a good, hearty message to not follow bad or toxic influences in your life, no matter how attached you are. Sydney Sweeney again steals the show, further locking up her place as one of my top up-and-coming actresses. Overall, the story, characters, and high school setting were portrayed both intelligently and honestly, and it just brings back the themes of high school with it.

10. Uncorked, Netflix

Uncorked is perseverance at its finest. It tells the story of Elijah, who wants to be a master sommelier, or an expert in wine, but this goes against his family’s best interests. This is a classic tale of somebody persevering at the thing that he loves the most, while forming relationships with the people he loves more. Go watch, and do so with your family.

9. The Occupant, Netflix

This is the definitive ripoff of Parasite. However, that doesn’t mean it is a bad film by any means. The Occupant utilizes its differing nature to a T to create its own original story, while also hitting on some points of class. The main character is a man who has to move away from his home, and descends to an apartment of poverty. Once he sees the opportunity to regain what he has lost, he stalks a man in his former housing unit and slowly ingrains himself in his life, ruthlessly taking back what he formerly had. Check this gem out when you get the chance.

8. Swallow, IFC Films

Swallow is an intense, chilling look at a pregnant woman who is addicted to eating random objects. With each object she eats, the stakes are set even higher, and her life is put in danger. I found this movie to be a pleasant surprise, as it boasts a fantastic performance from Jennifer Lawrence look-alike Haley Bennett. This was a brilliantly executed concept and view into the psyche and ill-advised habits of this mentally-ill woman, and frankly, a film that I wouldn’t mind viewing again.

7. Escape From Pretoria, Signature Entertainment

Talk about ANXIETY-INDUCING. Tense, thrilling, and amazingly executed, Escape from Pretoria historically recaps the biggest South African prison break, with fantastic performances from Daniel Radcliffe, who delivers his best performance in years, and from Daniel Webber and Mark Leonard Winter as well as Ian Hart. This is truly a fantastic film that most people probably haven’t heard of but needs to be promoted more. This is easily one of the best prison movies of the last 5 years, and is categorized by its use of subtle horror and suspense.

6. Vivarium, Vertigo Releasing

So far, at the time of writing, this is the weirdest film of 2020. It is also conveniently a perfect film to watch during quarantine. I had a fantastic time watching this one as I screamed and flinched more than once due to the excellent style of horror Lorcan Finnegan emulates during the entirety of the film. Both Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg are both fantastic, but it’s Poots who carries the heavy load here. She plays both a vividly confused madwoman and a lover that is trying to do what is best for her husband. This is a fantastic thriller that evokes your senses and makes you think really hard about your housing situations.

5. Onward, Pixar

Pixar continues to make classics that us adults and most children will just never forget. This time, our journey involves two brothers on a quest to bring the second part of their dad to life after a spell goes horribly wrong. Along the way, they discover crazy creatures, unlikely circumstances, and the everlasting power of brotherhood. I loved this movie, as I have siblings and I felt that sort of connection with the characters and carried their emotional baggage. The characters and world building are all unique and interesting, each character giving a worthwhile and fun performance that serves as a driving force to move the film forward. I loved the messages this film spread to its audiences and the fact that it advocates for family. Definitely one to watch.

4. The Platform, Netflix

The Occupant isn’t the only film to deal specifically with class on this list. The Platform literally uses the term of class and carefully crafts a prison where people on lower levels don’t get the food wasted away on the higher levels, and carefully spreads a vital message of class to the average viewer. One month, you could wake up on a higher level and eat well. And another month, you could wake up on the lowest level and be left to die. The symbolism is quite extreme, but it helps set the film into motion. This film is excellent at handling its complicated themes, and as a result, crafts a worthwhile film that balances gore, psychological terror, class, and even comedy.

3. Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always, Focus Features

Rounding off our top 3 is an indie film that not many people have heard of. Indie is an ever growing achievement that cinema has been happy to promote and produce, and Never Rarely Sometimes Always is easily the deepest, most personal story told. The film covers a 17 year old young woman who finds herself pregnant and choosing between abortion and keeping her child. Emotional, gritty, and really important to our society as it touches on sensitive issues, this film is one of the best indie features I’ve seen in a long time.

2. The Way Back, Warner Bros. Pictures

I have never been more affected physically and spiritually by a basketball film, and yet The Way Back just broke that trend. Alcoholism is serious. It is an issue in our society that is still ongoing. Affleck’s character suffers continually from this disease, and we see this bar routine that he follows ruin his life. Then, a priest at a Catholic prep school offers him a chance to become the head coach for a slumping team. Affleck, while coaching, has to face his life-ruining addiction, but struggles often along that path. Talk about a fantastic performance. Ben Affleck has slumped around Hollywood these past few years, and finally redeemed himself with this gem. The Way Back focuses not on themes of teamwork and perseverance, but on themes of family, estrangement, and grief. It is an amazing masterclass work of art that needs to be seen, and is the best basketball film I have EVER seen.

1. I Still Believe, Lionsgate

I have seen my share of Christian faith-based films, and mostly because I am a devout Catholic, but this film is so energetically touching and vibrant that it earns my first 100 percent given this year to any film. By far the best movie I’ve seen that portrays faith, we follow two star crossed lovers, Jeremy and Melissa, who meet at college. Jeremy is a guitarist who sings, and Melissa is a devout Christian who is in love with the stars. Meeting each other at a concert, they realize that God has brought them together. However, when she falls ill, Jeremy must keep his strong faith in order to save her. The odyssey of love that we see our two leads go through, with Jeremy’s dad being that supportive role model and Melissa’s sister Heather being her important figure, is unmistakably excellent and extremely intimate. The story itself has been molded around and told many times, but somehow this one retains every piece of originality it has. This film is so magical in the way it deals with keeping your faith in God in severe situations, and it shows just how much He loves us. Melissa and Jeremy are star-crossed lovers brought together by God, and they mean the world to each other. I cried so many times throughout the duration of this two hour film because there have been times where I’ve been through what Jeremy had been through. Even with those experiences intact, however, I still can’t imagine the horrors Jeremy must’ve been through. Each experience is different and unique in the sense that the stakes are raised in each separate situation. This film teaches you to trust in God’s plan and what he wants from us. Seriously, guys. Watch this amazing, fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime-film. This film gets my first 100 percent of the year, and it’s well deserved.

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