Top Films of 2020
2020 – what a year. What is there to say that hasn’t already been said? The Film industry acts as a stark example of the all-round general train wreck that 2020 has been. Where films normally hold up a mirror to society, the industry has acted as a literal mirror of society through the year. Through the closures of cinemas and shut down of productions, to the rescheduling of releases and the failed attempts at regaining normality.
There is no getting around the fact that this list would look a lot different if things had gone the way they were supposed to. Films like No Time To Die, The French Dispatch, and Dune had us excited no-end and surely would have made the cut of this (very important) list.
Now, with all of that out of the way, we can talk about the films that were released – and how good they were.
The criteria for this list was any film that was widely released in the UK from January 1st 2020 until today. January feels like a lifetime ago, and so it feels strange in a way to discuss films that by this point have been so celebrated. We had to make the rules and stick to them, as painful as it has been in some cases! On with the list…
Directed by David Fincher
Written by Jack Fincher
Starring Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Charles Dance
It asks a lot of a modern audience, but theres a real payoff for those who commit. Its razor sharp, funny, it looks great and Gary Oldman is fantastic. Like every Fincher film, it is fabulously and meticulously constructed and will no doubt keep giving more on future watches.
13. The Way Back
Directed by Gavin O’Connor
Written by Brad Inglesby
Starring Ben Affleck, Al Madrigal, Michaela Watkins
Constantly going against formula, it is far from your average sport movie (we read an interesting comparison to the other Affleck’s Manchester By The Sea). It’s a great ride, heavy with emotion.
12. The Trial Of The Chicago Seven
Directed by Aaron Sorkin
Written by Aaron Sorkin
Starring Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Joseph Gordon Levitt
We found the running time flying by, it is a thoroughly engaging telling of a landmark story. Solidly made, and with a typically fantastic script, it draws from great performances from its stellar ensemble cast.
11. The Personal History of David Copperfield
Directed by Armando Iannucci
Written by Simon Blackwell and Armando Iannucci
Starring Dev Patel, Aneurin Barnard, Peter Capaldi, Hugh Laurie, Tilda Swinton
Completely charming, it feels like a completely departure from the razor-wit and satire that Iannucci has become so synonymous with. Gorgeous looking and with a superb cast, it is a breath of fresh air to a story told so many times.
10. Small Axe - Mangrove
Directed by Steve McQueen
Written by Steve McQueen and Alastair Siddons
Starring Shaun Parks, Letitiah Wright, Malachi Kirby
The first and in our opinion the most powerful of the 5 films in the series, Mangrove tells a story of conquering hatred. The story offers a sweet satisfaction after a prolonged and raw struggle, but also forces you to reflect on the countless other stories with different endings still going on everywhere to this day.
9. Uncut Gems
Directed by Josh and Bennie Safdie
Written by Josh and Bennie Safdie and Ronald Bronstein
Starring Adam Sandler, Lakeith Stanfield, Julia Fox
An exhilarating ride that unrelentingly continues to turn up & up. Sandler is a stroke of genius in the role, as a character that has to be one of the most frustrating in recent times. It’s a wild, breathless ride that leaves you feeling like you lived through it.
8. Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Directed by Eliza Hittman
Written by Eliza Hittman
Starring Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder
Telling a punishing, eye-opening and at times outright depressing narrative. It is quiet and sensitive, elevated by the powerhouse scene that gives the film its title, which is one of the most impactful in a long time.
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Written by Christopher Nolan
Starring John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh
It has its (well documented) problems, but it is certainly the biggest, most ambitious original film of the year. We’ve been guilty of falling down many a Reddit rabbit hole trying to figure out what it all means, and think it will be a film that keeps on giving on future watches.
Directed by Pete Docter
Written by Pete Docter, Mike Jones, Kemp Powers
Starring Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey
Beautiful to look at and typically touching, it is a lovely film to close the year off. As usual, the guys at Pixar manage to completely enamour the young audience whilst making grown-ups laugh, cry, and everything in between.
5. The Lighthouse
Directed by Robert Eggers
Written by Robert and Max Eggers
Starring Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe
It’s tense, it’s harrowing, then it’s strangely funny. There is so much packed beneath the surface. Both incredibly crafted and acted, it makes you feel the long slog of an experience whilst simultaneously passing in a flash.
Directed by Bong Joon-Ho
Written by Bong Joon-Ho and Han Jin-Won
Starring Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik
There isn’t much to say about Parasite that hasn’t already been said. A stunning blend of genres packed into a social commentary that can make you scream, make you laugh and make you cry. Brilliantly original.
3. Palm Springs
Directed by Max Barbacow
Written by Andy Siara
Starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti
Fun and original, and really unexpected. Taking a tried and tested formula, it makes something completely original and hilarious. It’s a great concept boosted by some really solid performances (J.K. Simmons is particularly great).
2. Queen & Slim
Directed by Melina Matsoukas
Written by Lena Waithe
Starring Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith
The best soundtrack to a film that we can remember, and perfectly fitting throughout. It tells a beautiful personal story in an ugly landscape. It’s completely cool, thrilling, and poignant.
1. Jojo Rabbit
Directed by Taika Waititi
Written by Taika Waititi
Starring Roman Griffin Davis, Tomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson
It feels like a lifetime since we first watched it. Completely hilarious, heart breaking and unique, it’s one of our favourite films of recent times. A really beautiful story told in a wonderful way.