2020 is officially in the books, which means a truly unprecedented and memorable year in entertainment is officially behind us. It's no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic shifted a lot of what fans were expecting for the year, especially in regards to blockbuster movies. Thanks to countless delays and schedule changes, a lot of the major titles that were set to come out in the past year still have yet to see the light of day. That posed an interesting challenge for this year's Golden Issue Awards, in which the ComicBook.com team celebrates our favorite things in movies, TV shows, comics, video games, anime, and wrestling over the past year.
Looking back at 2020, the movies that did manage to hit the mainstream that year - either prior to the pandemic or during it - feel all the more significant. This year's nominees provided wildly different forms of escape for audiences, whether in the brightly-colored world of DC Comics heroines, the rambunctious journey of a talking hedgehog, a bone-chilling horror, or the latest genre-bender from Christopher Nolan. While each of the nominees is worth celebrating in their own right, only one could take home the Golden Issue Award.
And the winner of the 2020 ComicBook.com Golden Issue Award for Best Movie is...
From the second its "See You Soon" teaser video debuted in January of 2019, it became clear that Birds of Prey wouldn't be a typical superhero movie. Beginning as a Suicide Squad spinoff starring Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn, the film grew into a showcase of some of the most beloved, but underrated street-level characters from across the DC Comics mythos. The narrative saw Harley coming into her own after breaking up with The Joker, but only after a madcap journey that involved egg sandwiches, cocaine-powered fight scenes, and teaming up with Dinah Lance/Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett), Helena Bertinelli/Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) to rescue a young girl named Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) from Roman Sionis/Black Mask (Ewan McGregor).
There are so many elements of Birds of Prey that deserve thousands of words of praise, from Christina Hodson's brilliant script to Erin Benach's Instagram-worthy costume design to Daniel Pemberton's fizzy score. But combined with its stellar ensemble cast and the pitch-perfect direction of Cathy Yan, Birds of Prey became a profoundly memorable viewing experience -- one that honored the decades of comic histories to its characters, while also blazing a trail unabashedly its own. It proved what the world of comic book movies can still be capable of when approached from a new, inventive angle, especially when it comes to stories about women.
Sure, we'd been treated to several female-led superhero movies at that point, but they were arguably held back by bizarre conventions, either by arbitrarily being set in the past or by falling into the typical storytelling tropes set up by male-dominated superhero movies. But Birds of Prey is the first (and, for at least the next year or so, it will remain the only) female-led superhero movie that is unafraid to capture the experience of being a woman in today's world -- in all of its messy, earnest, glitter-soaked glory. The film's approach to feminist issues radiated in moments both small and grandiose and culminated in an incredibly satisfying third act. Birds of Prey didn't need massive special effects to deliver an epic final battle, just an incredibly inventive, well-choreographed fight scene in a funhouse, and now-iconic moments like Harley Quinn offering Black Canary a hair tie mid-battle, Black Canary fully unleashing her sonic Canary Cry, and Huntress flashing a smile before fighting a horde of henchmen with her crossbow. It also didn't need gigantic CGI villains or big blue lights in the sky to create a compelling conflict -- just two men, both of whom benefited from a culture of toxic masculinity in terrifying ways.
Even in a 2020 without countless movie delays, Birds of Prey would have undoubtedly made an impact. In the 2020 that we got, it made an impact and then some -- creating the kind of trailblazing, genuinely fun superhero blockbuster that women have been waiting for. Its tightly-wound plot and balance between comic canon and paving new ground showed the untapped potential of superhero movies, and its sense of style and energy will help it live on in slumber parties and double features for years to come. If 2020 should be thanked for anything, it should be for bringing us Birds of Prey.1comments
Congrats to the cast and crew of Birds of Prey for their Golden Issue Awards win!
- Birds of Prey — WINNER
- The Invisible Man
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Wonder Woman 1984