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Best of New Ways of Seeing 2020

From Amy Dotson, NWFC Director and PAM Curator, Film & New Media

2020 was a year like no other, but I take heart that artists still found a way to share innovative stories, create indelible images, and continue to inspire us. I’ve written about a few of these projects already in our ongoing New Ways of Seeing column, but looking back, these are the films, series, podcasts, and interactive media projects that have inspired, challenged, and lodged their way into my cerebellum. 

We’ve showcased many of these at the Cinema Unbound drive-in and virtual cinema, hosted a few of these folks as our guests at PIFF and monthly happy hours, as well as admired from afar the work of seasoned artists and new voices alike trying new things. 

Here’s hoping this list of projects helps guide you to discover the future of storytelling and continue to support artists that might not otherwise be heard this holiday season.

  1. Film of the Year: Carlo Mirabella-Davis’ Swallow 
  2. The Best Five Feature Film Anthology Masquerading as TV of the Year: Steve McQueen’s Small Axe
  3. The Pride of the Northwest: Kelly Reichart’s First Cow, Lara Gallager’s Clementine, Sky Hopinka’s maɬni—towards the ocean, towards the shore, the Lynn Shelton “Of A Certain Age” Grantand Portland’s own Mobile Projection Unit. 
  4. Non-Fiction Film of the Year: Benjamin Ree’s The Painter & The Thief
  5. International Film of the Year: Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s This is Not a Burial…It’s A Resurrection
  6. Animation of the Year: Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart’s Wolfwalkers
  7. Writer of the Year: Kemp Powell (Soul, One Night in Miami)
  8. Film (That’s Actually A Book) of the Year: Charles Yu’s Interior Chinatown
  9. Podcast You’ll Get Addicted To: John Cameron Mitchell’s Anthem & Sharon Mashihi’s Appearances  
  10. Your Kids (and your) New 2020 Obsession: Radford Sechrist’s Kipo and The Age of Wonderbeasts
  11. Peak 2020 Film: Tom Quinn’s Colewell 
  12. The One You’ll Never Forget: Garrett Bradley’s Time
  13. The Heterodoxical Showstopper: Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland 
  14. The Face (and mind) Melter: Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor 
  15. Performances of the Year: Julia Garner (The Assistant), Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You), Asia Kate Dillion (Billions), Riz Ahmed (The Sound of Metal)
  16. Grandma of the Year: Youn Yuh-hung (Minari)
  17. Best Bill Murray Performance by Bill Murray: Bill Murray (On the Rocks) Non-Fiction Gems:  Dawn Lewis’ John Lewis: Good Trouble, Maite Alberdi’s The Mole Agent, Amanda McBaine & Jesse Moss’ Boys State, Kirsten Johnson’s Dick Johnson is Dead
  18. Unforgettable Debut First Features: Edison Oda’s Nine Days, Channing Godfrey Peoples’ Miss Juneteenth, and Ekwa Msangi’s Farewell Amor
  19. The Best Use of Zoom & Virtual Rooms In Performative Storytelling: Lance Weiler’s Where There’s Smoke… & the Dua Lipa 2054 Concert

For a quadruple Jaja Ding Dong, Dem Fluffy Dog, Coming of Age, Football Guilty Pleasure Binge Brain Break: Eurovision, Palm Springs, The Half of It, and Ted Lasso