The Top 40 Stoner Movies of 2020


Rolling Stone: The Life & Death of Brian Jones

Rolling Stones co-founder Brian Jones was the first member of the rock & roll’s notorious 27 Club. The number stands for how old he and others were when they died. Jones’ death in 1969 is the subject of Danny Garcia’s documentary. Following Jones' drug busts in 1967 and 1968, the Stones decided to replace him with Mick Taylor on lead guitar; a month later, Jones was found dead in the swimming pool at his estate in southern England. The events that led up to his death are chronicled meticulously. Garcia builds a case against a contractor who was making repairs to the estate. But there's no evidence that  Jones was assaulted. All these years later, people are still fussing over Brian Jones’ death.

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Ronnie Wood: Somebody Up There Likes Me

It was a big year for docs about Rolling Stones. There’s Chuck Leavell: The Tree Man, Rolling Stone: The Life and Death of Brian Jones (see above) and this one directed by Academy Award-winner Mike Figgis about the group’s longtime guitarist, Ronnie Wood. A secondary figure in the British rock scene, Wood backed up Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger and played alongside Keith Richards and Jimmy Page. After Mick Taylor left the Stones in 1975, Wood was asked to join and has been with the legendary band ever since. Figgis contrasts Wood’s playing and his painting, showing him equally pickinga guitar or brushing a canvas. Now 73, Wood’s prodigious drug and alcohol use is in the past after many visits to rehab for cocaine, heroin and liquor. But like fellow survivor Richards, Wood appears to have weathered the rock & roll storm.

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People expecting a full-fledged David Bowie biopic will be disappointed with Gabriel Range’s flick. Unlike Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman, Stardust is slight. However, it does open shine a light on Bowie’s struggles early in his career before he created the Ziggy Stardust character and his psychological and familial issues. On the other hand, it’s a buddy movie with Bowie (Johnny Flynn) and record company flack Ron Oberman (Marc Maron) touring America in 1971 even though Bowie can’t legally perform. It’s one mishap after another, with a lot of lines of coke dulling Bowie’s despair. Minus any Bowie music (Bowie’s estate did not cooperate with the movie) and with just a few acoustic performances of cover and original material, the movie flags. Flynn looks great in a dress, but it’s an unenviable role to play.

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Steve (Anthony Mackey) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan) are New Orleans paramedics who keep finding mutilated bodies at crimes scenes. Each time there's a package for a drug called Synchronic. When Dennis' daughter Brianna (Ally Ioenides) disappears after also using the drug, Steve tries to find her by taking it himself. He discovers it's a seven-minute "DMT-like drug" (also described as "fake ayahuasca from the store"). Steve buys some and starts time traveling. Eventually he and Dennis figure out how to locate her. Directors Justin Benson and Aron Moorhead provide a lot of mind-binding effects, but weak dialog and clichéd character development hamper this buddy flick. 

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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.