5. The Hot Rock (dir. Peter Yates)
The Hot Rock is one of the films I had the most fun watching in 2020. It’s a smart and witty caper that follows the exploits of Robert Redford and his band of criminals while they attempt to steal a diamond, more than once. Cleverly written, brilliantly acted and totally rewatchable; The Hot Rock gets a high recommendation from me.
4. The Silent Partner (dir. Daryl Duke)
My man Elliott Gould never ceases to amaze me with his 70s output. The Silent Partner is a tense, unnerving film concerning a bank heist and the spiraling results. Performances were outstanding, particularly Gould’s and Plummer’s. Engaging white knuckle suspense throughout and a great film to watch during the holidays. Also, super young John Candy is always a bonus.
3. The Deer Hunter (dir. Michael Cimino)
The Deer Hunter is one of the best films about war I have ever seen. It’s a simple story chronicling three friends, living in a small Pennsylvania steel town, who go off to Vietnam and the impact that war has on their lives. The film opens on an impressive 51-minute wedding scene. It’s a striking flex of filmmaking power; spending that much time in one sitting. The director, Michael Cimino, expertly sets up the main characters, their friendships, the small town motivations, and a glimpse of what could be a bright future. The film ultimately follows the men off to Vietnam and back to the states to reintroduce them back to civilian life. The acting all around is phenomenal, particularly all three leads. DeNiro, Walken, and Savage all bring a nuanced and upsetting aspect to their performances that I couldn’t look away from. The scenes involving Russian roulette are nerve-wracking and provide a direct symbol for the horrors of violence in war. This film is a scathing portrait of not only the Vietnam War but war in general. If a man goes off for war, does he ever come back the same?