There was a pandemic that year. Maybe you noticed. Maybe you didn’t.
Needless to say, 2020 was a potentially revolutionary year for films, with the sudden and forced shift to home releases, a trend only accelerated by the worldwide closings of cinemas (I say) possibly because despite all the fate and the darkness over the fate of the theaters, I see many reasons for optimism).
Regardless of the future, 2020 undoubtedly changed the landscape in the short term. Many major studio releases have been postponed to 2021 or beyond, some have been digitized, and films that may otherwise have been overlooked as “right on video” received significantly more exposure than they otherwise deserved, in some cases and not in others so much.
“Pandemic quality” became one thing – as the months went by, and as the big studios pulled their products close to the waistcoat, there was praise from left and right for films that would be considered mediocre at best in other years. And although the big blockbuster spectacle is missing in 2020, a year was by no means lost.
With that in mind, let’s get on the list … my ten best films of 2020 and what many * would call the definitive list of the best films of this year.
What starts out as a drama in a remote and impoverished Brazilian city turns into something completely different, and that’s what drives the surprisingly bad guy unpredictably Bacurau. Saying more would lessen its impact, however Bacurau is a worthy endeavor when you’re in the mood for something a little less conventional. And some blood.
9. News of the world
My first reaction to News of the World was: That’s pretty good. Not good. But pretty good. However, after chewing on it for a few weeks, that Tom Hanks Western lingered on, and after another watch I warmed up even more. While it isn’t the most complex film, it is an acutely staged drama thriller that is likely to be a mainstay of my household for the years to come.
If you had asked me a month ago if a Gerard Butler disaster movie was going to make my top ten, I would have laughed you from the room. But 2020 is full of surprises. When I think of movies I’ll be watching 10 years from now, this fun, exhilarating, and surprisingly grounded thriller is for me.
7. Promising young woman
Promising young woman is not perfect. But it’s one of the boldest, most colorful, and satisfactorily disgruntled films out all year round. And to argue that the film has no score to settle and that it is not memorable would be to ignore all the things that debut filmmaker Emerald Fennell is getting right.
6. Sound of Metal
Riz Ahmed does a fantastic job as a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing and forces him on a new and unexpected path. A beautiful story, which is crowned by an emotionally strong final scene. Sound from MetaI deserve every award that gets in my way.
5. Palm Springs
I rarely include comedies in my favorites list, but when this comedy is weird Groundhog Day-esque film in which Andy Samberg re-experiences over and over again on the same day, occasionally by J.K. Simmons, while stuck in extremely boring Palm Springs, one has to make exceptions from time to time. Funny, but also clever and genre-flexible and kind of cute, while sometimes dark and twisted, Palm Springs deserves more attention and awards than it has received.
4. First cow
The most beautiful serious film of the year, Kelly Reichardts First cow It’s about two strangers who meet and chat about Chinese honey cakes and start a company to sell them during border times, relying on the stolen milk from the only cow in the region. First cow is a beautifully curious film that defies expectations thanks to a great script and the performances of its two leading actors John Magaro and Orion Lee.
3. Nomad land
When my wife and I first watched Nomad land I turned to her at the end of November and said, “This is one of the first fully realized Movies I’ve seen since 2019. “With another award-winning performance by Frances McDormand, Nomad land immerses you in his world in the first few minutes and never lets you go. Regarding Oscars, Nomad land has my voice.
2. The invisible man
But when it comes to the movie, I will most likely see it year after year for the foreseeable future The invisible man, the captivating horror thriller from Leigh Whannell. Elisabeth Moss offers a great performance that transcends material and genre, and the superbly made film offers a viscous, creative and feminist swinging punch.
(It should be noted that some other big and lesser-known horror films ended up right before my top 10.)
In normal years, I wouldn’t have considered a recorded stage play for this list, let alone put it at the top, but 2020 is not a normal year. With the lines between theatrical and television releases completely blurred, no “theatrical experience” could match that of the first musical, even if it was on my television weeks after its debut. Full of energy and life, driven by a funny script and sensational music numbers, Hamilton was the most rewarding viewing experience of 2020.
For a full list of my favorites (and the least favorite), see this list of the best and worst films of 2020.
* many = my parents and my immediate family, although my mother would question the term “final”.
By Erik Samdahl