Thursday, December 31, 2020

My Yearend Roundup: The 20 BEST FILIPINO FILMS of 2020 That I Have Seen


December 30, 2020

This year 2020 was a year not like any other in recent memory for cinephiles. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the movie theaters in Metro Manila had been closed since March 15, 2020. Therefore, for the past 9 months, all the movies I had seen had exclusively been on online streaming services only. 

There were limited new Filipino films offered this year via streaming apps, like iWant and Netflix. KTX also hosted premieres of new films. The PPP was held on the FDCP-sponsored platform QCinema and MMFF had their screenings via Upstream and GMovies. Cinemalaya was streamed on Vimeo, but they only had short films in competition this year, no new feature films.

These are Top 20 Filipino movies I had seen and written about in 2020.


20. THE HIGHEST PEAK by Arbi Barbarona (My Full Review)

19. NIGHT SHIFT by Yam Laranas (My Full Review)

18. MALAYA by Connie Macatuno (My Full Review)

17. MY LOCKDOWN ROMANCE by Bobby Bonifacio, Jr. (My Full Review)

16. BLOCK Z by Mikhail Red (My Full Review)

15. MAGIKLAND by Christian Acuna (My Full Review)

14. HAYOP KA by Avid Liongoren (My Full Review)

13. KINTSUGI by Lawrence Fajardo (My Full Review)

12. LINGUA FRANCA by Isabel Sandoval (My Full Review)

11. LOVE LOCKDOWN by Andoy Ranay, Darnel Villaflor, Noel Escondo, and Emmanuel Palo (My Full Review)

10. MIA by Veronica Velasco (My Full Review)

Starring: Coleen Garcia, Edgar Allan Guzman

Dr. Mia Salazar was an MD, a "doctor to the barrio" working at the local hospital. Dr. Jay Policarpio had PhD in forestry, and enjoyed spewing random facts and statistics about the environment. Despite the huge differences in personality, especially their drinking habits, the two hit it off quite well. However, Mia's troubled past would always get in their way.

9. ON VODKA, BEERS AND REGRETS by Jason Paul Laxamana (My Full Review)

Starring: Bela Padilla, JC Santos

Jane was a successful actress as a child and through her teens. When her career waned, she took refuge under the influence of alcohol, which caused her to make destructive decisions in love and career. One day, while having another drinking binge in a bar, she was noticed and befriended by Brisom band frontman Francis who then helped her get through that night, and several other nights to follow.

8. THE BOY FORETOLD BY THE STARS by Dolly Dulu (My Full Review)

Starring: Adrian Lindayag, Keann Johnson

Dominic Cruz was a gay student from St. Francis School for boys who has yet to experience being in love. A fortune teller in Quiapo predicted that Dominic will meet his soulmate in a week. She pointed out three signs which will confirm that this guy would the right one. Luke Armada was a basketball jock who just broke up with his girlfriend. When depressed Luke decided to join the Journey of the Lord retreat, Dominic was assigned to be his sponsor.

7. GENUS, PAN by Lav Diaz (My Full Review)

Starring: Nanding Josef, Bart Guingona, DM Boongaling

Three men from Hugaw Island had just finished their three-month contract working in the gold mines of Inawayan. Two were seniors already, the blunt cantankerous Baldomero Catabay and the calm relgious Paulo Honero; and one much younger, Andres Hanibal. On their return to Hugaw, they would made a difficult trek through the woods for a few days to get to their homes, rather than to have them and their salaries ambushed at the barrio. 

6. FAN GIRL by Antoinette Jadaone (My Full Review)

Starring: Charlie Dizon, Paulo Avelino

After one mall show where her screen Paulo Avelino promoted his latest film, his self-proclaimed biggest fan Jane had the impulsive idea to stow away at the back of Paulo's pickup truck, not expecting that he would be driving out of town to an old house in a remote barrio in the province. Her exciting close encounter with her movie idol was about to take a turn she never would have expected.


5. WATCH LIST by Ben Rekhi (My Full Review)

Starring: Alessandra da Rossi, Jake Macapagal

Tricycle driver Arturo Ramon was shot dead by "riding in tandem" killers who cornered him in one section of the slums in Barangay 120 in Caloocan City. Desperate to fend for herself and her three children, Maria volunteered herself to become the asset of police officer Ventura who headed the drug investigations. On her very first assignment with her partner Alvin, Maria realized she did not get what she bargained for.

4. ANG LAKARAN NI KABUNYAN by Kidlat Tahimik (My Full Review)

Kabunyan de Guia has decided to move his family from Baguio to Davao City. He decided to take the scenic route, driving his trusty vintage Volkwagen van Jambalaya the whole way, taking the RORO ferries from the Batangas port, through Panay, Negros and Cebu, before reaching Mindanao. Along the way, he met up with various local artists who taught him valuable informative lessons about various native arts and culture, and the efforts they do to preserve them for future generations.

3. ASWANG by Alyx Ayn Arumpac (My Full Review)

This documentary is about the aggressively heated war on drugs launched in 2016 in fulfillment of presidential campaign promises. Arumpac brought her camera directly to the scenes of actual crimes to tell the grim aftermath among the families left behind. We see the real people and their emotions, not mere actors. We hear their own words, not lines penned by a scriptwriter. We may have seen these families in short clips on the evening news, but here, they are given a little more time to tell their grievances.

2. MIDNIGHT IN A PERFECT WORLD by Dodo Dayao (My Full Review)

Starring: Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Glaiza de Castro, Dino Pastrana, Anthony Falcon

In a not so distant future, technically-advanced Manila had an authoritarian government that implemented extreme punishment against lawbreakers, called "blackouts."  In response to this, there were "safe houses" for people to seek refuge from police capture. Four friends got together one night because their common friend Deana had a "blackout" and disappeared. 

1. FINDING AGNES by Marla Ancheta (My Full Review)

Starring: Jelson Bay, Sue Ramirez

In her will, Agnes wanted her ashes to brought back to Morocco to be buried, so her son, wealthy businessman Brix flew her urn there to fulfill her wishes. There he met the manager Cathy Duvera, whom Agnes loved like her own daughter. Agnes further willed that Brix and Cathy return a specific figurine to a certain Regina Castor, which led him on a road trip to know his mother more. 

Aileen Kessop's screenplay was marked with remarkable lightness, simplicity and no melodrama. Director Marla Ancheta took a huge risk it was to cast Jelson Bay so much against his usual type, but it actually turned out to be a most fortuitous decision. Instead of becoming just a typical foreign-set rom-coms, Ancheta imbued this project with so much refreshing sincerity and heart that it emerges as one of the year's best films. 


** Best SHORT FILMS of 2020 that I have seen: 

5. BASURERO by Eileen Cabiling (My Full Review)

Bong was a very poor fisherman who was forced to rely on a disgusting and shady sideline to feed his family. 

4. THE SLUMS by Jan Andrei Cobey (My Full Review)

A poor family of five living in a Tondo slum were chosen by a TV show to be interviewed about their lives. 

3. PABASA KAN PASYON by Hubert Tibi (My Full Review)

This Bicolano film followed an elderly mother who sang the traditional "pasyon" during Holy Week, and her middle-aged son was her manager. 

2. UTWAS by Richard Saldavico (My Full Review)

This Hiligaynon film followed a fisherman as he trained his apprentice son the ins and outs, and tricks of their trade. 

1. HENERAL RIZAL by Chuck Gutierrez (My Full Review)

Jose Rizal's eldest brother Paciano had been a very active participant in the revolution being a close friend of Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Jacinto. However because of his reticence and introversion, his side of the story was never told --- well, until now. Here, a dying 79-year old Paciano Rizal delivered a monologue addressed to his illustrious departed brother Jose, elucidating on his frustrations about how Filipinos seems to keep losing their battles and why he thought so. 

1 comment:

  1. Want to see filipino but due to language issue very difficult to understand, most of them have sub title but some of not.