FOR A YEAR defined by isolation, 2020 has been fascinatingly full of stories about relationship. It feels oddly appropriate that during a time when we’re constantly confronting our divisions—ideological and physical—we’ve been surrounded by cinematic reminders of the importance of community and the various ways we find it. Films of 2020 have come out largely through streaming platforms, and we’ve watched them in our homes, by ourselves. They’ve still managed, however, to inspire connection.
Kirsten Johnson’s documentary Dick Johnson Is Dead chronicled her father’s dementia by celebrating her dad’s life, while Natalie Erika James’ horror film Relic addressed the real-life existential terror of watching a loved one’s mind fade to the same disease. Other films such as Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods and Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks examined how adult children relate to their parents’ flaws. Of course, family doesn’t have to mean the people we share our genes with. Movies this year addressed found families too, from Crip Camp’s community of disability activists to The Old Guard’s fiercely devoted group of immortal warriors. Even popcorn fare such as Bill & Ted Face the Music celebrated the way long-standing bonds support us throughout our lives and help us in turn to love others.