One of the biggest cliches is discussing just *how much* skate content there is. Everything is available at once, and keeping track of it for one viewing — let alone multiple — is hard.
Last year’s decade poll aimed at a snapshot of skateboarding in a ten-year span, as it grew exponentially into the content waterfall it is today. It was very fun to do, but perhaps easier in that with ten years to reflect on, it was apparent what loomed large over tricks, styles and trends. We brought it back for a single year to try and form a canon at a time when so much of the conversation is geared around things moving too fast for a consensus.
Yes, you’ll notice an inherent recency bias here, and year-end content is obviously an imperfect art — the poll closed on December 4, which is before John’s Vid and Third Shift came out online, two projects that definitely would’ve ranked if eligible. (Honestly, John’s Vid might’ve ended up being #1 or #2 given the readership of this website.)
So here it is. No commentary for the full-lengths this round. Full-length skate videos capture a zeitgeist, and sometimes, it takes a while for those effects to truly make themselves known.
Shout out to all the writer friends from the internet who helped with write-ups, and extra major shout out to the team at 4Ply Magazine for the help on tallying the ballots.
And if you’re joining us, this ranking was voted on by QS readers during the first week of December, with voting ending on the 4th.
The Best Full-Length Skate Videos of 2020
*Special consideration was given to videos that premiered in late 2019, but didn’t make their way online to a large audience until 2020.
The Best Video Parts of 2020
10. Pedro Delfino — Deathwish: Uncrossed
Uncrossed was the year-end flick I didn’t know I needed. Upon clicking play, seeing Pedro Delfino bandana-clad and going full steam ahead, ignoring any semblance of self-care in a year blemished with many consumeristic approaches to personal wellness was somehow …refreshing. Maybe this is how he practices his self-care.
There’s a Trujillo In Bloom feel to the first half, which finds him pointing downwards a lot – not the typical direction you feel comfortable skating in. We’re also treated to flip trick Pedro – he executes a few improvised post-make flicks, utilizing the same ones on a set of stairs into a hill bomb. We’re spared the concussions of his previous parts (as alluded to in an accompanying interview), but are made sure to see him eating just enough dirt. When the Phelps quote – a bit much for my taste – adds some dramatic flair into the finale, the slo-mo actually does some of the long rails a favor, slowly revealing their size. These are not the well-manicured triple kinks Jamie Foy was front crooking minutes before.
And after hucking two tricks off the roof into that bank, Pedro goes back to drop in from the top of the spot. I’ve stood beneath that thing, it’s absolutely stomach-churning. Pedro’s part helped cap off a solid, traditional skate video at the end of a brutal year. — Adam Abada
9. Anthony Van Engelen — Fucking Awesome: Dancing on Thin Ice
When a skateboarder follows up their golden era with a conclusive video part, anything thereafter feels like an unexpected epilogue.
It’s why there’s so much warmth to Josh Kalis’ post-trick grin as he takes plaza-honed hits to a D.I.Y. spot. It’s why there’s a sense of relief seeing Andrew Reynolds retire blockbuster jumping in favor of ledge lines in a shop video. Whereas for Anthony Van Engelen, it’s inspiring, shocking and – really – only makes sense that he’s flooring it into his forties with a recognizably visceral arsenal of tricks.
The notion of AVE’s trick selection as “traceable” yet “steadily refined” is enforced from from the start. An opening barrage of wallrides conjure cover-mounted moments from Propeller; backside 5050s, sidewalks and curb-cuts bring back underrated lines from Mind Field; the ruggedly precise corner grinds from Photosynthesis and The DC Video make an appearance, bringing the part to a close, and leave us wondering, “Where’s that curved bench been stashed for the past twenty years?”
In American Utopia, David Byrne takes to the stage in a something of a successor to The Talking Heads’ revered concert film, Stop Making Sense. The dichotomy between Byrne’s age and youthful vigour makes even the most familiar songs feel newly exciting. The same can be said of AVE: the earliest example of, say, a switch crook that comes to memory is made better by the knowledge he half-cab flipped out of the latest one. The consistency mythologizes the past and makes the present-day output hit harder. — Farran Golding
8. Bobby De Keyzer — Quasi: “BOB”
“BOB” represents a number of transformations.
Obviously, there’s the evolution of the subject. Bobby De Keyzer entered the new decade free: from the constraints of a board sponsor, from the pressure of a deadline, and to film in his hometown Toronto as he saw fit.
Lurking just below the surface is the departure from the life we once knew. “BOB” was the last major video part to drop before COVID-19 shook our world, restricted travel options, and ultimately changed the way we process things. When the part first premiered, we were primarily focused on the skating and editing. Now, we’ve been conditioned to think about how empty the Toronto streets are and how close people are standing to one another, even though we know this is pre-pandemic footage. While filming “BOB,” Bobby was a big name pro operating out of a satellite city and spending hours at the TD ledges with no agenda in mind — not quite a novelty anymore (especially given Quasi’s proclivity towards working in the fringes), but still out of the ordinary. A few weeks later, everyone’s stuck at home, skating a few choice spots (so what if it’s a basketball court without hoops instead of a dozen granite ledges?), and all of the sudden, more and more video parts mimic “BOB.” This year, more than ever, the skateboarder and their chosen cityscape are inextricably linked.
Finally, there’s the matter of distribution. Quasi was the first of a handful of brands to buck the norm and bypass skateboarding’s centralized media structure to release their video via their own channels.
“BOB” is as much a fantastic video part, documenting however many months of Bobby De Keyzer’s work in Toronto, as it is a period piece capturing a world on the brink of change. — Andrew Murrell
7. Franky Villani — “One Big Mess”
Franky Villani is a skater of contradictions. He’s on big shaped boards and colored wheels, yet skates for Primitive (previously, Zero). He runs the entire spectrum of tricks — from 50-50 handflips followed by textbook backside bigspins, to no-comply tailslides on ledges and bone-crushing frontside flips over rails — striking a balance of the extremes. He’s cool in a way that’s anti the prevailing cool guy aesthetic.
For some reason, he also gets slimed in his latest part, “One Big Mess.” I’m glad that QS readers agreed with me that it was one of the best video parts to come out in 2020. It’s a personal section — not necessarily identifiable as a vehicle for his board or shoe sponsor.
Villani’s powers are actually somewhat tempered here compared to his other parts — all used for good — but his dark arts are still on display. There’s the 50-50 to barrel flip that killed his avatar, Clay Francesco; a fakie frontside smith grind frontside halfcab out on a handrail; a Bennett grind to Barley grind that actually worked.
“Contradictions” might be another way to say he’s unique. Weird tricks and tech mastery, creativity and really big stuff — he’s the finer points of the skateboard game all rolled into a single dude. — Mike Munzenrider
6. Elijah Berle — Vans: Alright, Ok
If you cherry-pick Propeller, No Other Way and Alright, Ok as the Vans/Greg Hunt HD trilogy, and compare them to Star Wars, then Elijah Berle is Kylo Ren whilst Ryan Lovell and Cody Green share an intermediary director’s chair akin to Rian Johnson. Elijah starts strong in the first film, harnesses his potential in the sequel and averages five-and-a-half minutes of footage securing his place here.
Dark, broody and a reminder of professionals who prefer fitted trousers, Elijah manipulates the usually decadent L.A. into crusty hallowed ground, whether going backwards at a seemingly impossible bump-to-bar or getting tech-gnar enders. Precise landings are succeeded by an excited push to whatever is beyond the lens.
Much like the last film in the “Skywalker Saga,” Berle’s part utilizes all the tidbits, homages and easter eggs that we pretend that we don’t want. Super-8, flipping off the camera and flipping over tables, truck journeys and a get-up that all bring to mind previous videos and friends of Hunt. The companionship and guidance underpinning his formula as a director is real proof of the “Rule Of Two.” – Fraser Doughty
5. Mason Silva — Nike SB: “Mason”
Songs from skate videos play in my mind like a cerebral jukebox on random. The latter half of 2020 has been soundtracked by Roxy Music’s “If There Is Something,” an early seventies banger backdropping a now DLX-backed Mason Silva. From Baker 3-adoring grom to post-Peace free agent, it’s the howling vocals of Bryan Ferry that Silva knew for years would soundtrack “one of the most versatile” parts he’s ever produced.
The results are stunning: frontside 360s the likes of Jeremy Wray, a “hard way” frontside heelflip over Blubba, and a cover shot double-set rail ollie to death bank. Mason’s skating commands our attention as the song evolves from honky tonk intro, through saxophone solo, towards a finale where no bump-to-bar is spared, and a half-cab back 50 executed on an infamous Bushwick set with zero complications, just collective shock.
The part forces our collective scroll-thin skate attention spans to be held captive, snake-charmed by the subconsciously familiar editing of Aaron Meza’s uncredited-by-request treatment. Regardless of intergenerational homages, with this midsummer Nike SB release, Mason garnered first-ballot S.O.T.Y. status and inspired respite from this trash year. — José Vadi
4. Alexis Sablone — Cons: Seize the Seconds
With a skateboarding CV that includes a groundbreaking part in the greatest shop video of all-time, seven X-Games medals (including three golds), a signature shoe, art directing a board brand, and a personally-designed skatable public sculpture in Sweden, 2020 had all the indicators of being a “victory lap” year for Alexis Sablone. It would be a year to soak up some well-deserved accolades and prepare for the upcoming Olympic games. It was a year with profile pieces in The New York Times, GQ, and Rolling Stone. It was a year with a Krooked guest board, a signature Thunder truck, and a few clips sprinkled here and there for new sponsors. It would be a good year for Alexis to stay inside, stay safe, and perhaps work on that giant 300-page graphic novel. Why risk it? She had nothing to prove.
And then, about a minute into Seize The Seconds, when Alexis’ body hits the road for the second time after stomping a kickflip down a ten-stair-plus-sidewalk set, we realize — this is no victory lap. These aren’t holding-pattern clips with eyes on bigger prizes down the road.
So while the soft-news journalists may keep coming back for the feel-good story of the Olympian with a master’s degree in architecture, we know, without a doubt, that Alexis Sablone is more. In a year with nothing to prove — perhaps even because she has nothing to prove — she went and proved that she’s a heavyweight champion. That is how legends are made. — Pete Glover
3. Mason Silva — “Spitfire Part”
If anything can embody the saying “the gift that keeps on giving,” it’s Mason Silva in 2020. With him dropping parts like a one-man 411, it’s no surprise that his fourth (arguably fifth) part sealed the S.O.T.Y. deal.
It’s ironic that my first thought upon watching a part made up of 92-percent single tricks was how much I loved Silva’s flow. His skating combines utter gnarliness with finesse, as he navigates bank-to-walls and bump-to-bars at full speed like an Oski of the streets. You can really see Silva’s favorite skater shine through, as his arms stylishly balance out boardslides and he effortlessly flies over road gaps. (Yup, it’s Kirchart.)
There are parts I watch regularly just for the music, and this won’t be one of them – but the perfectly edited Sleep and Swirlies songs do the job of getting your heart racing as Silva attacks rail after rail, and bring a welcome different vibe than that of his Roxy Music-paced Nike SB part released just a few months prior. This is a part where every trick exerts an expletive for its difficulty, power or unexpectedness – often all three. I’ve never understood people’s affinity for horror films, but having watched his Spitfire part on repeat, I think I finally get it. It’s terrifying, yet beautifully executed, relentless yet exhilarating. It doesn’t make me want to grab my board so much as it makes me want to reach for a calming cup of green tea to process it all. — Claire Alleaume
2. Louie Lopez — Cons: Seize the Seconds
Gazing across the generational gulf between Sorry-era S.O.T.Ys and the tweenage AM crop heavily featured in 2009’s Xtremely Sorry, Louie Lopez didn’t immediately scan as the likeliest prospect to make waves beyond caffeinated beverage advertisements, much less build a body of work to credibly match that of any Flip forebears.
It’s plain, in Louie Lopez’s third video outing for the year, he’s charmed. What else explains the late-materializing frontside 180 after he kickflips the high bar, the musta-been-Burnquist-magnets backside 360 over the dumpster, the nigh-incomprehensible bank-to-bank frontside 360 kickflip where just months ago, a bigspin furrowed brows? The main hurdle for still braced-up adult Louie Lopez is how his easy casualness obscures the difficultly of his tricks — switch backside smith grind on a jersey barrier — for real? You wonder whether the hand-drag ride out from the early-on bump-to-bar kickflip aimed at humanizing him somehow — craftspersons of Ben Chadourne’s caliber leave little to chance — but nah, that’s a mirage. — Boil the Ocean
1. Tom Knox — “Atlantic Drift — Episode 11”
Tom Knox’s “Atlantic Drift” part continued to raise questions regarding the British spelling of “skate spot.” In the U.K., Tom’s presence had been instilled by Jacob Harris’ Eleventh Hour a couple of years prior. And although it wasn’t their first part together, the maturity and success of that video – and cohesion with what would follow – positions it at the start of their shared story.
There’s a reverse chronological aspect to Tom’s standalone “Drift”: it opens with him gazing into the neon circles he’s set against for the introductions of each episode and ends at the same spot where his last trick in Eleventh Hour took place. Throughout the part, references to Tom’s back catalog also underwrite a retrospective of his friendship with Jake and his filmography preceding, alongside and separate to Isle. There’s a climatic sense to it and, as Tom and Jake’s successes are so intrinsic, the fleeting reveries of their combined efforts are at home here.
Escaping the ironically singular nature of most online video parts, under the “Atlantic Drift” masthead, Tom’s episode belongs to a larger body of work and, perhaps, that’s why it manages to carry the weight of an “ender.” Rolling away from a bigspin flip, the music lets up for a split-second and Tom a breathes a sigh of relief, leaving us grinning into the next clip. Fight Bite’s “Charlotte Pluie” lends a ghostly atmosphere as its sister track did for the first episode of “Atlantic Drift.” However, the more frantic energy suits Tom’s pathfinding across London’s landmarks and estates; locations constantly juxtaposed between their “natural” setting and Tom’s use of them.
While “quick feet” is one of Tom’s defining traits, it’d be remiss to pigeonhole him. His swiftness has always been balanced. We see this in the second half as Tom’s wheels buckle at tight corners, en route to duck under a bar for a nine-stair frontside shove – or there’s that post-stair set heelflip over a bike lane, the run up for which is grim, even by our standards.