We may have already put out our list of the best television shows of the year, but if you’re more of a big screen lover, you’re in luck today.
While many movie theatres have closed and production on several films has been halted due to COVID-19, we still received some stunning, powerful films throughout 2020. From Lover’s Rock to Trial of Chicago 7, we’ve got you covered.
Check out the best movies of 2020 below.
Steve McQueen’s second, and arguably best, Small Axe entry Lover’s Rock is a loving exploration of Black British culture. While it may not be the most plot-driven film, it serves as a perfectly intimate portrait, packed with everything from close-ups of women preparing delicate goat curry stews to evocative dance sequences that are sure to make you ache for a pre-pandemic life. In this short, yet nuanced 68-minute film, McQueen still is able to find time to portray the harsh world that exists beyond this moment of picturesque bliss.
Kelly Reichardt’s evocative film First Cow follows two travellers in the 1820s Northwest, as they dream of getting rich, but their plan to make their fortune relies on the secret use of someone else’s prized dairy cow. The film opens with a woman walking with her dog, who discovers two skeletons side-by-side before we flash back in time when Oregon was not quite develop, and follow the tale of an unassuming cook named Cookie (John Magaro) and a Chinese immigrant named King-Lu (Orion Lee).
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Never Rarely Sometimes Always, which is directed by Eliza Hittman, is a powerful, nuanced tale of a teenager traveling from Pennsylvania to New York to get an abortion, as she cannot get the procedure in her home state. The quiet Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) is joined by her cousin Skyler (Talia Ryder), as the film shows their vulnerable, yet deep bond that tends to transcend language through poetic moments and images.
Minari, directed by Lee Isaac Chung, is a classic immigrant story that comes with some meticulously sprinkled moments of intricacy and unique new details. The film follows a Korean American family, whose father Jacob (Steven Yeun) and mother Monica (Yeri Han) immigrated from Korea in the 1980s, and initially lived in California as chicken sexers, where they separated baby chicks by gender. In the film, they have moved with their two American-born children, hoping to open up a large farm in small-town Arkansas.
Garrett Bradley’s documentary Time follows activist Sibil “Fox” Rich’s life as she petitions for her husband Robert Richardson’s release from Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary. The film comes packed with the perfect balance of modern clips of Rich caring for her children, delivering speeches, and taking care of her business, interspersed with intimate home videos shot by Rich over their life.
The third feature film from director Chloé Zhao, Nomadland is based on Jessica Bruder’s 2017 non-fiction book. The movie stars Frances McDormand as Fern, a woman who leaves her small town in Nevada to travel around western America, as she grieves a life that haas been ripped away from her. The film’s greatest strength is in the way that it’s able to find the poetry in the tale of a seemingly average American woman.
Da 5 Bloods
Spike Lee’s war epic Da 5 Bloods embraces the messiness of its subject, all while featuring a slew of historical references, directorial flourishes, and clips of combat. Da 5 Bloods follows four Black veterans as they come together to travel back to Vietnam and recover the remains of their squad leader who is played by Chadwick Boseman. As the humerous, yet emotional film progresses the group also search for a shipment of gold that they had buried in the jungle decades back.
Quasi-dystopian film Bacurau takes place in a fictional Northwestern Brazilian city, and tells the tale of a community coming together to fight off outside invaders through bloodshed and vengeance. A scheming American villain and his team, who view killing as a thrill, arrive to the community as scenes play out in tense confrontations before truly exploding in conflict.
Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets
Genre-bending documentary Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets follows a series of bartenders and barflies in a verité style as they do everything from watching Jeopardy! to singing songs to arguing. Bill and Turner Ross’ film chronicles the closing night of Las Vegas dive bar Roaring ’20s in November 2016, all in the shadow of Donald Trump’s presidential victory.
Christopher Nolan really leans into his quintessential time-bending narratives with his most recent flick, Tenet. The movie centers on a spy who proves his fidelity in protecting others, and his mission is to prevent World War III. It’s not a nuclear holocaust he is trying to stop, it is someone who has the power to control and manipulate time.
With Mank, Netflix gave David Fincher the freedom to make the exact film he wanted to make. The black-and-white film is a meticulous masterpiece and it is the closest we’ll ever get to a Fincher autobiography, with personal parallels weaving throughout the story. Ultimately, Mank is a melancholic tale of a self-destructive artist who gives up everything at the expense of making his best work.
The Nest, Sean Durkin’s drama that primarily revolves around marriage and money, dropped back in September. The film follows Rory (Jude Law) and and Allison O’Hara (Carrie Coon), who move from London to America so that Rory can survive his financial struggles. Their plan eventually fails, as Rory begins spending money they don’t have to keep up a certain lifestyle that Allison doesn’t even actually want.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things was also released in September, and it follows a young woman (Jessie Buckley) and her new boyfriend (Jesse Plemons) as they travel to his peculiar parents’ (Toni Collette and David Thewlis) remote farm. The film has a distinct Kaufman twist, as he attempts to answer some of life’s biggest questions while toying with the surreal.
The Lonely Island-produced comedy Palm Springs arrived on streaming services just on time, getting its release mid-pandemic. Packed with jokes about doing the same things over and over, all while following a romance between a wedding guest (Andy Samberg) and the bride’s self-destructive sister (Cristin Miloti). The film sees the two reliving a wedding over and over, as they clamour to escape from an extremely Instagrammable, modern hell.
Kajillionaire, which is written and directed by Miranda July, stars Evan Rachel Wood, Debra Winger, and Richard Jenkins, who play members of a close-knit petty crime family. Winger and Jenkins play two con artists who have spent an entire 26 years training their only daughter to swindle and steal at every moment possible, until a stranger (Gina Rodriguez) shows up and puts pressure on the family’s relationship.
Josephine Decker’s Shirley is an adaptation of a novel by Susan Scarf Merrell. The film looks at a highly pressurized and nerve-rattling moment in the other’s life. Shirley Jackson (Elisabeth Moss) is quite the dynamic character, toying with almost every quality imaginable, with temperamental moments interspersed with brilliant, yet cruel antics. Jackson is especially cruel to a newlywed couple (Odessa Young and Logan Lerman) who have moved into the house she shares with her controlling husband, played by Michael Stuhlbarg.
Trial of Chicago 7
The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a historical legal drama following a group of anti-Vietnam War protesters, the Chicago Seven. Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, it follows the group, played by a star-studded cast, that have been charged with conspiracy and crossing state lines with the intention of starting riots at Chicago’s Democratic National Convention in 1968.