I gave it a month before posting my rankings of 2020 in film. As expected, I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to see this year because of the pandemic. In a typical year, I would be at the theater multiple times a week seeing the newest releases, but this year was so much different. In 2020, I only got to see about half of the amount of movies I saw in 2019. So if something notable (like Nomadland or Minari) is completely missing from the list, it’s likely because I wasn’t able to see it.
Out of the 55 movies I saw, I’ll mention a few notable ones, and then countdown everything once I get to the top 10. Overall, I didn’t think the year was as great as previous years. In 2019, I had a good number of movies I was passionate about and which I’ve watched multiple times since. But there are only a couple such movies from 2020. Nevertheless, there were still some quality movies released!
49. Sonic the Hedgehog
48. The Call of the Wild
47. Wonder Woman 1984
42. Birds of Prey
40. On the Rocks
36. First Cow
33. The Invisible Man
30. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
28. One Night In Miami
21. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
19. Feels Good Man
17. Never Rarely Sometimes Always
14. Bad Education
13. The Way Back
11. Palm Springs
10. Black Bear – Aubrey Plaza has been doing some great stuff since the end of Parks and Recreation, but I think this is definitely her best. It’s a darkly comedic thriller that explores the artistic process while tackling social issues in the process. It’s best experienced knowing as little as possible, but it’s something quite unique and original.
9. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm – The original Borat is one of my favorite movies of all time and boy, was this the perfect time to bring back the character. This one isn’t going to be an all-timer rewatchable the way its predecessor is, but it speaks to a moment in time in such a unique (and hilarious) way that I feel like it just has to be recognized.
8. Boys State – As infuriating as it is informative and well-done, Boys State is the best documentary I saw all year. It shows how so much of what’s wrong with the country politically and socially is cultivated from a very young age. By the end, you’ll want to feel hopeful, but you’ll probably feel the opposite. But that’s what makes it so good.
7. Wolfwalkers – I love fantasy, especially when Sean Bean is involved. He does the voice of the father in this astonishing animated masterpiece. This is a movie I wasn’t expecting anything from when I started it, but which had me blown away by the end.
6. Pieces of a Woman – After only ever seeing Vanessa Kirby in action and comedy movies, this was the last thing I expected from her. She is on a completely different level with this performance than any other movie I saw this year. Her performance and the first 30 minutes of the movie alone are what firmly place it here.
5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 – This was higher up on my list for a while, but it just didn’t stick with me the way a few other movies from this year did. It has excellent performances and Aaron Sorkin is almost a parody of himself at this point, but for the emotional high I was on when the movie ended, it’s felt a little hollow since then. It’s still an excellent movie worthy of its spot on this list.
4. Sound of Metal – A movie about coping with whatever life throws at you, Riz Ahmed delivers a characteristically excellent performance. The film follows a heavy metal drummer who completely loses his hearing and has to learn to cope with his new situation. It’s about coming to love the silence as much as it is appreciating your life, and it’s a total knockout. Ahmed should win Best Actor.
3. Promising Young Woman -This movie had so much hype and discussion surrounding it when I watched it, yet somehow it became something special and original when I saw it nonetheless. Carey Mulligan gives a knockout, career-best performance and Bo Burnham flexes yet another creative muscle with his excellent performance in this shocking movie from director Emerald Fennell.
2. Shithouse -A mix of Linklater and traditional romcom, Shithouse explores what it’s like when you realize the necessity of starting a new chapter in your life. It specifically explores the life of a college and it’s one I could relate to personally in a way I wasn’t expecting just based off the title.
1. Soul – The best movie that Pixar has released since Toy Story 2, Soul is smart, funny, and emotional. It digs deep into what it actually means to be a human being and is interested in exploring purpose. This movie explores ideas I’ve been grappling with in my own life, so it hit me in exactly the right spot. It’s absolute perfection.