2020 was, as they say, a weird year. Strange, haunting, and overall, not one that will be remembered as a great year—and we’re not talking about the pandemic.

With movie theaters basically shutting down in March, there was very little in the way of films or box office returns. After years and years of debate over the Oscar-worthiness of streaming films, 2020 showed that not only is streaming the way of the future of movies, but that it could work today as well.

Big studios, such as Warner Brothers, took on a hybrid approach, releasing films in both theaters and on their streaming service simultaneously. Disney, while delaying many of their big films, also used Disney + to get new movies to people at home—usually for a price.

2020: An unusual box office

Of the movies that were released in 2020, here’s your top box office moneymakers:

  1. Bad Boys for Life (released in January)
  2. Sonic the Hedgehog (released in February)
  3. Birds of Prey (released in February)
  4. Dolittle (released in January)
  5. The Invisible Man (released in February)
  6. Onward (released in March)
  7. Tenet (released in September)
  8. The Gentleman (released in January)
  9. Fantasy Island (released in February)
  10. The New Mutants (released in August)

In the movie industry, January/February and September are known as Dump Months because that’s when the studios release movies they no longer really believe in. In 2020, those months dominated the box office—mostly due to theaters being closed or heavily restricted the rest of the year. Also interesting, previously this list has been dominated by Disney. In 2020, however—and only because Disney acquired Fox Movies—they only had two of the top-10 films. A strange year indeed.

Given the pandemic, the Oscars were delayed until this upcoming Sunday. And while the box office didn’t have much to show for it, the Oscar nominations were still solid, with many films feeling both topical and fresh. Kris Schulz, TDS instructional designer/developer, talked with Patrick Brazier, TDS’ sr. motion graphic designer (and a fellow award-winning filmmaker), to discuss the year in film and their Oscar picks.

2020: A film year in review

What is your overall opinion on the films this year?

Patrick: For smaller and low budget films, it’s actually been a great year. The big films typically float to the top, but this year, I really enjoyed a lot of films I didn’t think I would. There’ve been multiple top-drawer films, that couldn’t hold their own in other, more typical years.

Kris: I liked the accessibility of film this year. It was a great year of finding films, that’s for sure.

Will streaming now dominate the industry, or do you see a return to the theaters?

Kris: I think we’ll continue to use the hybrid approach, with films being released in theaters, and then streaming at the same time, or soon after. Streaming isn’t going anywhere, and this year proved that it’s a successful model. I’m looking for Spielberg, who has long been a critic of streaming, to have a film released on one of these streaming services soon.

Patrick: There’s still a special place for cinema, so it’s not going away. Maybe it will be more of a niche thing. Maybe there will be more drive-ins coming back, or open-air cinemas. But streaming really has let the genie out of the bottle. Big directors are making deals, they’ve seen the success.

Any non-Oscar standout films for you this year?

Patrick: I saw quite a few, but two that floated to the surface. Palm Springs is one. It’s been nominated consistently on the film festival circuits. It’s exactly what I needed, one of the best comedies of the year. The other one, His House, is a thriller/horror/
supernatural type of thing, done extremely well—one of the best I’ve seen in a really long time. It kind of dipped under the radar but deserves more attention.

Kris: I’m going to say Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. It is getting some Oscar nominations, mostly for acting, but it felt a lot braver than the first Borat, given the overall environment. It was great to see Sacha Baron Cohen in a wide range of roles this year too, and even getting a nomination himself.

Oscars Picks

The 93rd Academy Awards will broadcast on Sunday, April 25 on ABC. While we weren’t able to watch every film that was nominated, we do have some Oscar predictions—including who we think will win, and then who we’d like to see win.

Want to play along too? ABC is offering a downloadable ballot so you can make your own selections!

Best Actor


    • Think will win: Chadwick Boseman
    • Like to see win: Anthony Hopkins


    • Think will win: Chadwick Boseman
    • Like to see win: Steven Yeun

Best Actress


    • Will win and would like to see win: Andra Day


    • Think will win: Frances McDormand
    • Like to see win: Viola Davis

Best Supporting Actor


    • Think will win: Daniel Kaluuya
    • Like to see win: Paul Raci


    • Think will win: Daniel Kaluuya
    • Like to see win: Sacha Baron Cohen

Best Supporting Actress


    • Think will win: Yuh-Jung Youn
    • Like to see win: Glenn Close


    • Think will win: Yuh-Jung Youn
    • Like to see win: Maria Bakalova

Best Animated


    • Think will win: Soul
    • Like to see win: Wolfwalkers


    • Think will win: Soul
    • Like to see win: Over the Moon

Best Director


    • Think will win: Chloe Zhao.
    • Like to see win: Chloe Zhao or Lee Isaac Chung


    • Will win and would like to see win: Chloe Zhao

Best Film


    • Think will win: Nomadland
    • Like to see win: Sound of Metal or Minari


    • Think will win and would like to see win: Trial of Chicago 

Tune in to ABC on TDS TV+ on Sunday, April 25 and find out who the winners are.



Guest bloggers: Kris Schulz and Patrick Brazier

Leave a Comment