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The 20 Best Shots of 2020

Our favorite shots of 2020 stem from every genre and speak to the incredible rich creativity expressed in a year that was definitely not canceled.
Best Shots
By  · Published on December 22nd, 2020

10. Shirley

Shirley Best Shots

Manifesting obsession is iffy. A performer can run wild with the motivation, but how do you convey it in a singular image? In Shirley, for a brief moment, Josephine Decker takes us inside the mind of her novelist. The protagonist is lost in her work, straining to envision her subject’s face, the missing college student Paula Jean Welden. Shirley can almost pull Paula out of her mind and onto the page, but as the mystery woman turns, her face softens out of focus. Whatever character she creates will belong to Shirley, not reality.

9. Sound of Metal

Sound Of Metal Best Shots

Watch a universe slip into oblivion. Riz Ahmed’s Ruben struggles to hold onto his life as his hearing disappears. Through his drumset, he attempts to rock the concept of sound back into his body. Daniël Bouquet’s camera pushes in on him, and the only thing that gets louder is the panic on Ahmed’s face. The shot lasts minutes, but the agony remains for much of the film’s brutal runtime.

8. I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Im Thinking Of Ending Things Best Shots

The beginning of the end. We move toward Jessie Buckley’s Young Woman as she contemplates her imprisonment, shackled alongside her boyfriend. How long have they been together? A month? Six weeks? Maybe seven? As snow topples upon her and she snags a few flakes with her tongue, her head crumbles with worry. It’s about as perfect a start to a Charlie Kaufman adventure as you can get.

7. Birds of Prey

Birds Of Prey

As Ewan McGreggor’s crime boss slinks his way through his club, Jurnee Smollet’s Black Canary aims her song in his direction. She sends each lyric with the thrust of a blade, culminating in this grand gesture, a high note that boils martinis and shatters glass. Fury personified.

6. World of Tomorrow Episode Three: The Absent Destinations of David Prime

World Or Tomorrow Episode Three Best Shots Of

Three episodes into his sci-fi short film series, Don Hertzfeldt reaches animation nirvana. What we see here is our poor, heroic stick figure David traversing the hellish wastelands of a planet he can barely comprehend because he’s been forced to remove chunks of his memory to maintain a message implanted in his brain when he was a baby. The corpse at his feet is a clone of himself, and in the distance, we can spot dozens upon dozens of similarly ill-fated copies. Such simplistic dread splashed atop a lovely, lavish hilly backdrop evokes both giggles and sorrow.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)