The Best Films of 2020, According to IndieWire’s Staff
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In one bizarre year, how and where we watched movies may have changed, but the reason we never did: seeing new worlds, feeling new emotions, meeting new people.

In one bizarre year, how and where we watched movies may have changed, but the reason we never did: seeing new worlds, feeling new emotions, meeting new people. In a difficult year, the entertainment industry alone experienced dozens of seismic tremors, but the opportunity – the likelihood – of spotting wonderful movies even in difficult times remained unchanged. Every year is a good year for the movie, even if you need to take a closer look or divert your attention a little further.

Even 2020, for all its craziness and pain, has produced an exciting selection of films worth championing, the kind of films that would top the list of best any year. Such is the case with this year's “Best Movies” harvest, as recognized by IndieWire's own staff, who literally spend our lives consuming content (or, more elegantly, watching movies and TV shows).

Below are the IndieWire staff unpacking some of our favorite films of the year. From award-winning favorites like “Nomadland” and “Minari” to festival favorites like “Never Seldom Sometimes Always” and “Time” as well as underrated gems like “Beanpole” and “Bacurau”, we've seen (and loved) a lot of films this year. We hope you did too.



And if you need even more lists of superlatives with the best offers of the year, be sure to read Executive Editor and Chief Critic Eric Kohn's best-of list, our annual critics survey with over 200 participants, a multitude of films or a review of some of the best series of small screen.

Anne Thompson, editor-in-chief

1. "Nomadland"
This collaboration between producer and actress Frances McDormand and writer and director Chloé Zhao, who adapted the book by Jessica Bruder, is an eerily forward-looking cinematic vérité drama about the world we now live in.

2. "Da 5 Bloods"
Spike Lee and writer Kevin Wilmot conducted a highly dangerous yet controlled hunt for buried treasure in Vietnam with an incomparable ensemble led by NYFCC winner Delroy Lindo.

3. "The Trial of Chicago 7"
Aaron Sorkin improves his directing skills but could win his second screenwriting Oscar for this brilliant and dedicated review of the post-riot trial at the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention.

4. "One night in Miami"
Playwright and screenwriter Kemp Powers and director Regina King throw four African American icons into a hotel room with surprising and provocative results.

5. "Ma Rainey's black bottom"
George C. Wolfe and an excellent cast, led by Viola Davis and the late great Chadwick Boseman, provide the second part of a series of ten August Wilson pieces produced by Denzel Washington.

6. "never seldom sometimes always"
Writer and director Eliza Hittman takes two vulnerable teenage girls to New York City to get an abortion they can't get at home. Worked perfectly.

7. "American Utopia"
Spike Lee directs David Byrne's Broadway musical with ecstatic results. A thought-provoking dance film for the ages.

Small ax

"Lovers Rock"

Amazon Studios

8. "Lovers Rock"
One of Steve McQueen's "Small Ax" series, this film follows a young woman in a lively dance party unlike any we've seen or heard before.

9. "Farewell, Cupid"
With this moving story of immigration, Ekwa Msangi makes a sure feature film debut about an Angolan teenager who gets to know her long-distance father and New York City at the same time.

10. "I'm thinking of ending things"
Charlie Kaufman's best directorial work to date with the hot actors Jesse Plemons and Jessie Buckley is a pretzel twist on an identity secret that is wonderful to discuss and solve.

Best animated feature
Pixar's "Soul" breaks animated family conventions as it reaches a discerning audience with a portrait of a sad sack jazz musician (Jamie Foxx) who tries to find himself before it's too late.

Best documentary feature
"Fire at Sea" Oscar nominee Gianfranco Rosi's "Notturno" is this year's Italian Oscar submission, a heartbreaking immersion in the border regions of the Middle East as soldiers and families, refugees and victims mourn both the past and the future.

Best international feature
Thomas Vinterberg's "Another Round" marks a turning point for the Danish chameleon Mads Mikkelsen as a depressed man in a midlife crisis who remembers how to dance while dancing with the dangers of alcohol.

Ann Donahue, Editor-in-Chief, Television


Focus functions

The 10 films * I saw in quarantine ** living with a six year old ***

* Really, really, I've only seen 10 movies this year so this is more of a standard list than a list of favorites. There was a lot of competition here for screen time, okay? Glad this isn't a list of the "10 Best Episodes of & # 39; Octonauts" that I saw to prevent my kid's brain from rotting and possibly teach him some social skills about the value of teamwork over cute animated animals because he hasn't seen another kid in seven months "because I did also could have done.

That being said, I've seen "The Crown" and "Bridgerton" at least twice, and I liked both series more than I like either of them. Please contact me if you want to talk about it.

*** No, the six year old has not seen "Borat".

1. "Emma"
2. "I am Greta"
3. "Enola Holmes"
4. “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga”
5. "Wonder Woman 1984"
6. "Borat: Subsequent Film"
7. "Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon"
8. "Half of it"
9. "Teaching"
10. The first hour of "Mank" before I turned it off

Christian Blauvelt, Managing Editor



Lorber cinema

1. "Beanstalk" (Kantemir Balagov)
2. "Never rarely, sometimes always" (Eliza Hittman)
3. "Let them all talk" (Steven Soderbergh)
4. "The Whistlers" (Corneliu Porumboiu)
5. "Time" (Garrett Bradley)
6. "Ma Rainey's Black Ass" (George C. Wolfe)
7. "The Glorias" (Julie Taymor)
8. "The Assistant" (Kitty Green)
9. "Vitalina Varela" (Pedro Costa)
10. "Da 5 Bloods" (Spike Lee)

Honorable mentions: "Another round" (Thomas Vinterberg), "Martin Eden" (Pietro Marcello), "Bloody nose, empty pockets" (Ross Brothers), "Collective" (Alexander Nanau).

Kate Erbland, assistant editor, film

"The assistant"


I usually approach my annual top ten with academic accuracy: ten films (films only!) Listed in order of my preference, no fuss, no must. But this year it was all about fuss and musts, and when I thought about organizing my usual list the usual way, it didn't make much sense. Everything else around 2020 was unusual. So why not be more unusual (just a touch) with my year-end recap?

Right now I've landed on this list, a list of 15 films (15, wow! But still all of the films!) That turned out to be good enough to grab my attention in this hell year and for new considerations many months later encourage sightseeing. Of those 15 films, only three ("Emma," "Never Seldom Sometimes Always," and "Promising Young Woman") were first seen in a theater, a terrible statistic I will hopefully never revisit. But even the features that were limited to home viewing, and all the distractions that came with them, showed up as hearty competitors, bright spots in a time without many of them. (Home viewing isn't a bad thing, of course, and I'll admit I've seen The Invisible Man at least five times since it hit HBO earlier this year. My love for it grows with every new watch.)

Present: The 15 best movies of 2020 that kept my attention, interest and affection throughout this very, very bad year, sorted alphabetically

"The assistant"
"I'm thinking of ending things"
"The Invisible Man"
"Lovers Rock"
"Never seldom sometimes always"
"One night in Miami"
"Palm Springs"
"Promising young woman"
"Saint Frances"
"The Trial of Chicago 7"

Ben Travers, assistant editor, TV

Carrie Coon and Jude Law in

Carrie Coon and Jude Law in "The Nest"

Courtesy IFC Films

1. "The Nest"
"The Nest" is both a great study of marriage in crisis and an invigorating undermining of the institution's sexist standards in society. It's meticulously done, brilliantly played, and rich in subtext. Jude Law's wild ego is hysterical. Carrie Coon inhales cigarettes and coffee, often in the same breath, and then exhales a perfect "fuck you" for patriarchy. What a gem. I would see 10 hours of it.

2. "I'm thinking of ending things"
This is the young woman's film and I will not hear any other interpretation. (Just kidding, I'll read every wild setting I can find as Charlie Kaufman's stunning beauty demands just that: imagination.)

3. "Let them all talk"
"Let Them All Talk" is both painfully plaintive and an utter scream. It takes a concise look at our struggles for communication and connection (and for once, without reducing the internet). Meryl Streep's wonderfully isolated snob of an author and Candice Bergen's blunt but determined, broken Texans delicately illustrate the erosion of friendship, while a well-rounded cast of fascinating characters reinforces more immediate personal separations. (Dianne Wiest, MVP.) Best of all, Soderbergh (with a script by Deborah Eisenberg) leads us through this beautiful "intersection" to a workable, appreciative ending. Breakups happen, but there are ways back to them all – you just have to take the time to find them.

4. "Bad education"
Bad Education is a beautifully crafted scam story and a searing indictment against the American education system. It's also a good time and a showcase for Hugh Jackman. Allison Janney is fantastic as always, and Ray Romano is a well-timed dose of humanity.

5. "soul"
If it fits with its pathos, "Soul" is simply a wonderful film. From the tangible loss of an active life ended too early to the missed opportunities Joe discovers too late, the animated, existential story by Pete Docter and Kemp Powers makes for a far more resonant vacation story than similarly reflective classics like “It's sa Wonderful Life "Or one of the most recent" Christmas carols. "While it can be a bit childish, this one still packs quite a punch.

6. "World of Tomorrow Episode Three: The Absent Dimensions of David Prime"
In all fairness, the comedy worked even better for me than any of the surprising, enriching revelations of the second half. I think that's ok. What an adventurous, always adaptable franchise.

7. "Another round"
Aren't we all afraid of getting old and boring? Aren't too many of us obsessed with reliving past successes? Shouldn't a few nights be reserved to get absolutely pissed off? Thomas Vinterberg's deviously sweet and painfully relatable look at the not-so-objective intoxication experiment of four men never leads to an easy way out of his sensitive issues, and Mads Mikkelsen delivers a nuanced twist like I've never seen before. If this inevitably gets remade as broad comedy by a Hollywood studio, maybe they have the wisdom to reinstate Mads so we can see him dance again.

8. "First cow"
I love star turns. * Love her * and Evie's star spin – floating down the river, glowing in the morning sun and running a barge dedicated to her royal glory – is so breathtaking it made me black.

9. "I am your wife"
Tight, curvy and enticing, "I am your wife" reverses a familiar imagination and then drives it in a radically new direction. Julia Hart's eye-catching painterly images keep turning into an exciting event, a revelation, or both, but my favorite part of this beautiful film is that while Rachel Brosnahan's Jean serves as an audience rep to unravel her husband's gnarled backstory, she isn't reactive or deferential. She sits behind the wheel and steps slowly and safely on the gas.

10. "Ma Rainey's black bum"
A subtle, specific production creates the prerequisites for powerful services that break through like freight trains. Every craftsman recognizes the quarrelsome generation story he tells, translated with efficiency and elegance, while shaking audiences with his passion. Chadwick Boseman's best career. Glynn Turman, so tender. Viola Davis like you've never seen her before. I really admire this adaptation.

Chris O’Falt, Assistant Editor, Film & TV Craft

A still from the time of Ursula Garrett Bradley, an official selection of the United States Documentary Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of the Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may only be used by the press for news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be of credit to the photographer and / or


1. "Time"
2. "Wolfwalker"
3. "Lovers Rock"
4. "Collective"
5. "The Invisible Man"
6. "Sound of Metal"
7. "Swallow"
8. "Deficiency"
9. "never seldom sometimes always"
10. "I'm thinking of ending things"

Honorable Mentions: "Shirley", "Dick Johnson Is Dead", "Minari", "Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets", "First Cow".

Leonardo Adrian Garcia, creative producer


Stacey Abrams in "All In: The Fight For Democracy"

Courtesy of Amazon Studios

My 11 favorite 2020 films that Denis Villeneuve probably doesn't consider cinema (as they don't match the scope and scope of "Dune") and are listed alphabetically

"All In: The Fight for Democracy"
"The assistant"
"Bloody nose, empty pockets"
"David Byrne's American Utopia"
"I'm thinking of ending things"
"Never seldom sometimes always"
"Palm Springs"
"Sound of Metal"
"What the constitution means to me"

Zack Sharf, news editor

Sound of metal

"Sound of Metal"


The best film of 2020: "Sound of Metal"
A very close second: "Lovers Rock"

Further film and TV highlights:
"The assistant"
"The nest"
"I can destroy you"
"The great"
"Dick Johnson is dead"
"News from all over the world"
"The Invisible Man"

Ryan Lattanzio, weekend editor

Meryl Streep in "Let Them All Talk"

Peter Andrews

"The nest"
"Let them all talk"
"And then we danced"
"Lovers Rock"
"Welcome to Chechnya"

David Ehrlich, senior film critic

Steven Yeun appears in Minari by Lee Isaac Chung, an official selection of the US Dramatic Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of the Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may only be used by the press for news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be of credit to the photographer and / or


1. "Time"
2. "Minari"
3. "Tomorrow's World, Episode III"
4. "never seldom sometimes always"
5. "I'm thinking of ending things"
6. "Bacurau"
7. "Nomadland"
8. "David Byrne's American Utopia"
9. "Bad education"
10. "Swallow"

Kristen Lopez, TV editor

Promising young woman

"Promising young woman"

Focus functions

1. "Promising young woman"
2. "Sylvie's love"
3. "The Assistant"
4. "Sound of Metal"
5. "Birds of prey"
6. "Da 5 Bloods"
7. "Miss Juneteenth"
8. "Crip Camp"
9. "Borat subsequent film"
10. "The old guard"

Bill Desowitz, craft and animation editor



Disney / Pixar

1. "Soul"
2. "Wolfwalker"
3. "Nomadland"
4. "Mangrove"
5. "Pieces of a Woman"
6. "News of the World"
7. "Deficiency"
8. "The Trial of Chicago 7"
9. "The midnight sky"
10. "One night in Miami"

Tom Brueggemann, cash editor

"First Cow"

"The Assistant" (Kitty Green)
"Dear comrades!" (Andrey Konchalovskiy)
"First Cow" (Kelly Reichardt)
"The Forty Years Version" (Radha Blank)
"One Sun" (Chung Mong Hong)
"Time" (Garrett Bradley)
"To the end of the world" (Kurosawa Kiyoshi)
"Vitalina Varela" (Pedro Costa)
"The Wild Goose Lake" (Diao Yinan)
"Wolfwalker" (Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart)

Jude Dry, associate editor

"Dick Johnson is dead"

1. "Dick Johnson is dead"
The doyen of hybrid non-fiction filmmaking elevates the genre again with a deeply honest and bizarre questioning of mortality, memory, and family. Kirsten Johnson is fearless filmmaking personified and proves that taking risks in the cinema doesn't have to be flashy. With ironic humor and soul-seeking meditations, she confronts the deterioration of her father in the film. It feels as intimate as filmmaking can be.

2. "The forty-year version"
Radha Blank's semi-autobiographical comedy is one of the most original new voices in a movie to appear this year. It's unlike anything Hollywood has produced before, and that's the point of the entire film. Whether it is an unexpectedly smoldering romance or an exciting rap fight for women in the Bronx, Blank shows images of black life on screen that for them contain an everyday beauty, but are in the context of the popular indie film feel too rare. The film is so full of life that you wish Blank could have made three films – we hope she gets the chance.

3. "Circus of Books"
The logline for "Circus of Books" sells itself: this is the true story of a straight Jewish couple who have run a successful LA gay porn store for nearly 30 years. The fact that filmmaker Rachel Mason is her daughter adds an extra layer of brilliance to this layered comedy and fascinating piece of queer history.

4. "Sound of Metal"
Riz Ahmed's gripping performance as a drummer in the early stages of hearing loss proves that the young actor is one of the greats. The sound editing and design are unlike anything you've heard before, but the delicate and gripping storytelling is the real triumph.

5. "Happy Grandma"
This lavish noir comedy takes a few funny twists and turns as it spins New York's Chinatown through the misfortunes of a chain-smoking, gambling, breakneck Chinese grandma. Sasie Sealy and Angela Cheng's whip-smart script is peppered with characters reminiscent of the Hong Kong action films of the 1970s and 1980s, including eccentric gangsters and a giant bodyguard. The juxtaposition of an older grandma in a charismatic twist from Tsai Chin who is in charge turns it into gold.

6. "Minari"
The agricultural landscapes of Lee Isaac Chung's heartfelt family drama unfold beautifully in "Minari", but the pain and striving emanate from its heart-beating characters. All performances are excellent, but the complicated friendship story between little David (Alan Kim) and his disappointment with a grandma (Youn Yuh-jung) is a truly unique delight.

7. "Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado"
The Latinx world, who knew and loved flamboyant astrologer Walter Mercado, received several longstanding questions answered in this fun portrait of the Puerto Rican icon. The rest of us were just happy to finally learn about the Genderqueer Cape-Donning-Medium and its message of love.

8. "Promising young woman"
Emerald Finnell has come a long way since her "Call the Midwife" days, though she will always be patsy to followers of the BBC drama. In her sparkling feature film debut, she dispenses with the genre thriller about rape revenge for something more narrative. It's a bit of a bait and switch, especially given this scary trailer, but it pays off in the end and makes Carey Mulligan's Cassie all the more tragic.

9. "Emma"
Jane Austen is hard to improve on, but Autumn de Wilde's visually gorgeous take on one of Austen's most popular novels stays true to its source material while treating her wit equally satisfactorily contemporary.

10. "Alice Junior"
This insane Brazilian YA romp puts a wildly obsessed trans girl at the center of her own coming-of-age comedy. Gil Baroni's feature film debut with a star turn by Anna Celestino Mota is colorful, crazy and full of hearts.

Chris Lindahl, film reporter

"Never seldom sometimes always"

Angal Field

"Never seldom sometimes always"
"Bad Education"
"Dick Johnson is dead"
"To swallow"
"Knock the man down"
"Promising young woman"
"The Social Dilemma"

Tambay Obenson, staff writer

Since 5 Bloods

"Da 5 Bloods"

David Lee / Netflix

"Da 5 Bloods"
"The Trial of Chicago 7"
"Bacurau" ("Nighthawk")
"The forty year version"
"Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey"
"Ma Rainey's black bottom"
"Farewell Cupid"
"One night in Miami"
"Zombi Child"
"In the file"

Leah Lu, social media coordinator

Maria Bakalova and Sacha Baron Cohen play the daughter and father in

Maria Bakalova and Sacha Baron Cohen play daughter and father in "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm"

Amazon Studios

"Never seldom sometimes always"
"Sound of Metal"
"Borat Subsequent Movie"
"Lovers Rock"
"The assistant"
"Palm Springs"
"I'm thinking of ending things"
"Dick Johnson is dead"

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