The Best Movies of 2020
Jacob Richardson | 27/12/2020
2020 was a wild year, but without a doubt there have been some classic films released. Here, we assemble our picks for the 10 best movies of the year - from comedies to blockbusters, dramas to indie darlings.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know!
Robert Pattinson made a big splash this year, not just because of his strange COVID-quarantine pasta bake recipe, but with two incredible performances. The first was in this slow-burn Southern tale of the echoes of murder and horror through time. With a stacked cast (Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgaard and more), and a ripper story, this Netflix release in the height of lockdown was a true gift.
10 | THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME
9 | MANK
Coming in at the end of a year that underscored more than any before it the perils of politics and power at the expense of truth, Mank captures 1930s Hollywood in a way that speaks to our present. More than just that, however, it stands as a riveting piece of filmmaking that chronicles the writing of ‘Citizen Kane’, taking a number of cinematic cues from its filmic source material, and featuring Gary Oldman who pulls out a powerful and charismatic performance as the titular Herman ‘Mank’ Mankiewicz.
A strange beast, Let Him Go mixed a creepy Southern thriller, an old timey travelogue, and Kevin Costner’s most Yellowstone vibes, in a potent blend that worked really well. This film lulls you in, intrigues you and ultimately shocks you, in equal measure. Costner and Diane Lane do wonders with this script. You won’t be able to look away.
8 | LET HIM GO
7 | BABYTEETH
This Australian drama was a poignant and powerful tale of young romance in the face of a terminal diagnosis. Cancer and other illnesses have formed the backdrop for a number of teen romance films over the last few years, but Babyteeth was different. Soaked in a hazy Australiana, anchored with some true thespian talent, and much grittier and more provoking than its ilk, this was a showcase of just how good Australian cinema can be.
Starring Andy Samberg, JK Simmons and Cristin Miliotti, Palm Springs was a joyous take on the classic Groundhog Day premise. Samberg and Miliotti have an undeniable and palpable chemistry, so the romance elements work spectacularly, but they also feed off one another comically. That, along with some truly smart writing, make this one of the funniest comedies of the year.
6 | PALM SPRINGS
5 | SOUND OF METAL
Another Amazon Prime gem, Sound of Metal is a visceral and crushing piece. Chronicling the journey of a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing, the film is great for a number of reasons, but truly remarkable for one alone; the star turn from Riz Ahmed. Ahmed is magnetic, hypnotic and utterly engaging. This is a truly Oscar-worthy performance, and at the very least signifies yet again that this is an actor we should be sitting up and taking notice of.
A Christmas release on Disney+ for this much delayed addition to the Pixar pantheon seems a muted outing for such a great movie, but for those who seek it out you won’t be disappointed. Genuinely funny, and utterly heartwarming, Soul is the spiritual sibling to Inside Out, and is just as inspiring and ‘feel good’. This is a hopeful cap on a disastrous year, and one that reminds us to seek out the small joys in everyday life.
4 | SOUL
3 | THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO
With strange release dates around the world, this achingly beautiful San Franciscan modern fairytale hit Aussie cinemas in 2020. Jimmie (Jimmie Fails) and Montgomery (Jonathan Majors) try and find a way to get Jimmie’s family home back, but the changing landscape of the city, and the personal journeys of the two characters as they come to terms with their histories and place in the world, lead to unexpected discoveries. This film is so impossibly beautifully shot, and gloriously engaging. It’s an indie darling, sure, but it's also a testament to the quality of up and coming filmmaking, and a worthy watch for even the most avid blockbuster fanatic.
The biggest, boldest release of 2020 made waves for many reasons. It was the first true tentpole welcoming people back to the cinema (too early in some parts of the world). It was also a cerebral mindfuck; an out of this world concept from the mind of Christopher Nolan, that leant in to everything that makes him great, and everything that people hate. It isn’t a film you can sit back and let wash over you, but it is a masterpiece - a take reinforced by repeated viewings. Robert Pattinson is astoundingly good, and John David Washington cements his place in Hollywood. This is a must see - a technological and story-telling achievement that once again places Nolan at the forefront of big-budget filmmaking.
2 | TENET
1 | QUEEN AND SLIM
In a year that was not only dominated by the pandemic, but also by police violence, Queen and Slim was a unique and absorbing take on the systemic racism gripping the US and indeed, to varying degrees, the world. Featuring star turns from Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith, and directed with not only extreme competence but undeniable flair by Melina Matsoukas, Queen and Slim will keep you firmly in your seat throughout, utterly gripped. It will also percolate in your head long after you leave the cinema - an action packed social commentary that is strongest because of the chemistry-laden romance at its heart.