2020 was a unique year for movies, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced many theaters to close and delayed the release of many highly anticipated films.

Despite this, there were still many outstanding movies released in 2020, both in theaters and through streaming services.

Best 2020 Movies

From compelling dramas to thrilling action films, there was no shortage of great movies to enjoy. In this series, we will explore some of the best films from 2020 and what made them stand out.

1. Tenet (2020)

“Tenet” is a 2020 science-fiction action-thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film stars John David Washington as a CIA agent known only as “The Protagonist,” who is recruited to stop a Russian oligarch from using time inversion technology to start World War III.

The film received mixed reviews from critics, with many praising its innovative storytelling and mind-bending action sequences, while others criticized the convoluted plot and lack of character development.

Despite mixed critical reception, “Tenet” was still a commercial success, grossing over $363 million worldwide.

The film was particularly noted for its impressive practical effects and complex action scenes, which were often shot in reverse or with time manipulation effects.

It also explored complex themes related to time, entropy, and free will, which added an extra layer of depth to the narrative.

Overall, “Tenet” was a visually stunning and innovative film that pushed the boundaries of what is possible in action cinema.

While its complex narrative may not have appealed to everyone, its impressive action set-pieces and ambitious ideas make it a memorable addition to Christopher Nolan’s filmography.

Tenet
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki (Actors)
  • Christopher Nolan (Director) - Christopher Nolan (Writer) - Emma Thomas (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

2. Wolfwalkers (2020)

Wolfwalkers is a 2020 animated film directed by Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart, and produced by Cartoon Saloon.

The film is set in Ireland during the 17th century, and follows the story of a young English girl named Robyn Goodfellowe, who befriends a wild, free-spirited girl from the forest named Mebh, who is also a “wolfwalker” – someone who can turn into a wolf when they sleep.

The film has been widely praised for its stunning animation and its powerful storytelling, which tackles themes of environmentalism, cultural identity, and the power of friendship. The film’s characters are complex and well-developed, and its message is both timely and timeless.

Wolfwalkers has received numerous accolades, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature.

The film has been hailed as a masterpiece of animation and a triumph of storytelling, and has been compared to classic animated films such as The Lion King and Spirited Away.

Overall, Wolfwalkers is a beautiful and captivating film that is sure to appeal to audiences of all ages. Its stunning animation, engaging characters, and heartfelt message make it a must-see for anyone who loves great storytelling and beautiful art.

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WolfWalkers: The Graphic Novel
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 12/01/2020 (Publication Date) - Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Publisher)

3. Sound of Metal (2019)

“Sound of Metal” is a drama film directed by Darius Marder, released in 2019. The film stars Riz Ahmed as Ruben, a drummer in a heavy metal band who starts to lose his hearing.

As he struggles to come to terms with his new reality, Ruben enters a sober living community for the deaf and begins to learn sign language. The film explores themes of loss, identity, and acceptance.

The film has been widely praised for its immersive sound design, which puts the audience in Ruben’s shoes and allows them to experience his hearing loss firsthand.

Ahmed’s performance has also been praised, with many critics noting his ability to convey complex emotions without words.

The film also features strong supporting performances from Paul Raci as Joe, the leader of the sober living community, and Olivia Cooke as Ruben’s girlfriend and bandmate.

“Sound of Metal” has received critical acclaim and was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Ahmed, Best Supporting Actor for Raci, and Best Original Screenplay.

It won two Oscars for Best Sound and Best Film Editing. The film is a must-watch for fans of character-driven dramas and innovative storytelling.

Sound of Metal
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci (Actors)
  • Darius Marder (Director) - Darius Marder (Writer) - Bert Hamelinck (Producer)
  • Romanian, Spanish, Hebrew, Japanese, Malay (Playback Languages)
  • Romanian, Spanish, Hebrew, Japanese, Malay (Subtitles)

4. Soul (2020)

“Soul” is a 2020 American computer-animated fantasy comedy-drama film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and directed by Pete Docter.

The film follows the story of Joe Gardner, a middle school music teacher and aspiring jazz pianist, who gets the chance of a lifetime to perform at a jazz club. However, a mishap lands him in a surreal place where he must find his way back to his body before it’s too late.

The film explores themes such as the meaning of life, finding one’s purpose, and the afterlife. It features the voices of Jamie Foxx as Joe Gardner, Tina Fey as 22, a soul that refuses to go to Earth, and several other notable actors, including Phylicia Rashad, Angela Bassett, and Questlove.

“Soul” was critically acclaimed and won several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film, and the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film.

It is regarded as one of the best animated films of 2020 and has been praised for its themes, animation, and music.

Soul
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Angela Bassett (Actors)
  • Pete Docter (Director) - Pete Docter (Writer) - Dana Murray (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

5. Mank (2020)

Mank is a 2020 biographical drama film directed by David Fincher and starring Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, and Charles Dance.

The movie is a fictionalized account of the life of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and his involvement in the creation of the classic film Citizen Kane.

The film is set in Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s, and explores themes of power, corruption, and artistic integrity in the movie industry.

The movie is shot in black-and-white, and uses many of the stylistic and technical features of films from the era in which it is set, including the use of deep focus, long takes, and other techniques.

Mank has been praised for its stylish direction, strong performances, and richly detailed portrayal of the Hollywood of the 1930s and 1940s.

The film has been hailed as a love letter to classic cinema, as well as a biting critique of the corrupt and cynical nature of the movie industry.

The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning two for Best Cinematography and Best Production Design, and has been widely acclaimed as one of the best films of 2020.

Mank: An Original Screenplay
  • Fincher, Jack (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 160 Pages - 07/29/2021 (Publication Date) - Bloomsbury Academic (Publisher)

6. Nomadland (2020)

“Nomadland” is a 2020 drama film directed by Chloé Zhao and starring Frances McDormand in the lead role.

The film follows a woman named Fern, who, after losing her job and her husband, decides to travel across the American West as a modern-day nomad, living in a van and taking on various temporary jobs to make ends meet.

The film has been widely acclaimed for its powerful performances, beautiful cinematography, and poignant exploration of the human experience.

It has been noted for its portrayal of the struggles of the working-class and the disenfranchised, as well as its meditation on the meaning of home, community, and the pursuit of happiness.

“Nomadland” has won numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Director for Zhao, and Best Actress for McDormand.

The film has been praised for its honest and empathetic portrayal of its characters, its subtle and nuanced storytelling, and its ability to capture the essence of the American landscape and spirit.

Nomadland
  • Frances McDormand, David Strathairn (Actors)
  • Chloé Zhao (Director)
  • English, French, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

7. The Father (I) (2020)

“The Father” is a 2020 drama film directed by Florian Zeller and starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman.

The film follows an elderly man named Anthony who is struggling with dementia, and the impact it has on his relationships with his daughter and those around him.

The movie is an emotionally intense portrayal of the effects of dementia, and it immerses viewers into the disorienting experience of memory loss through its innovative use of non-linear storytelling and shifting perspectives.

performances by Hopkins and Colman have been widely praised, as has the film’s sensitive and nuanced treatment of its subject matter.

The Father
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Imogen Poots (Actors)
  • Florian Zeller (Director) - Jean-Louis Livi (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

8. Minari (2020)

“Minari” is a 2020 drama film directed by Lee Isaac Chung and starring Steven Yeun, Han Ye-ri, and Alan S. Kim. The film follows a Korean-American family who moves to rural Arkansas in the 1980s to start a farm and pursue the American Dream.

The film received critical acclaim for its heartwarming and authentic portrayal of immigrant experiences in America, as well as for its stellar performances, particularly from child actor Alan S. Kim.

“Minari” was also noted for its stunning cinematography and its subtle exploration of themes such as family, cultural identity, and the American Dream.

The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor (Steven Yeun), Best Supporting Actress (Yuh-Jung Youn), and Best Original Score, with Youn ultimately winning the award for Best Supporting Actress.

Overall, “Minari” is a beautifully crafted and emotionally resonant film that captures the immigrant experience in a way that is both specific and universal.

Its compelling characters and powerful themes make it a standout film of 2020 and a deserving recipient of critical acclaim and awards recognition.

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9. Greyhound (2020)

Greyhound is a 2020 war film directed by Aaron Schneider and starring Tom Hanks, who also wrote the screenplay.

The film is based on the 1955 novel “The Good Shepherd” by C.S. Forester and tells the story of a US Navy Commander named Ernest Krause (played by Tom Hanks) who leads an Allied convoy through the treacherous waters of the North Atlantic during World War II.

The film has been praised for its intense action sequences, its realistic portrayal of life on a naval ship during wartime, and for Hanks’ powerful performance as a commander struggling to lead his crew through a deadly mission.

The film is a gripping and tense thriller that keeps audiences on the edge of their seats from start to finish.

Greyhound is also notable for its impressive visual effects, which recreate the look and feel of a naval battle during World War II with stunning accuracy.

The film’s attention to detail and historical accuracy have been praised by critics and audiences alike.

Overall, Greyhound is a thrilling and well-crafted war film that pays tribute to the brave men and women who fought during World War II.

Its intense action, powerful performances, and impressive visuals make it a must-see for fans of war movies and anyone who loves a good thriller.

10. Another Round (2020)

“Another Round” is a Danish comedy-drama film directed by Thomas Vinterberg, released in 2020.

The film stars Mads Mikkelsen as Martin, a high school teacher who, along with his colleagues, decides to test a theory that maintaining a constant level of alcohol in the bloodstream can improve one’s life.

The experiment leads to both positive and negative consequences for the group.

The film explores themes of mid-life crisis, addiction, and the search for meaning and happiness in life. It has been widely praised for its nuanced portrayal of alcohol use and its impact on relationships and mental health.

Mikkelsen’s performance has also been praised, with many critics noting his ability to convey both the joy and pain of his character’s journey.

“Another Round” has received critical acclaim and was nominated for two Academy Awards, including Best Director for Vinterberg and Best International Feature Film.

It won the latter award, making it the first Danish film to win in this category. The film is a must-watch for fans of character-driven dramas and exploration of existential themes.

Another Round
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang (Actors)
  • Thomas Vinterberg (Director) - Thomas Vinterberg (Writer) - Kasper Dissing (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

11. Riders of Justice (2020)

“Riders of Justice” is a 2020 Danish action-comedy film directed by Anders Thomas Jensen. The film follows Markus, a soldier who returns home to care for his daughter Mathilde after his wife dies in a train accident.

However, Markus becomes convinced that the accident was not an accident and that someone is responsible for his wife’s death.

Markus and his daughter team up with a group of misfits, known as the Riders of Justice, to track down those responsible and seek revenge. The film explores themes of grief, vengeance, and the unpredictability of life.

The film stars Mads Mikkelsen as Markus, Nikolaj Lie Kaas as Otto, Lars Brygmann as Lennart, and Andrea Heick Gadeberg as Mathilde.

“Riders of Justice” received positive reviews from critics and was praised for its blend of action and comedy, as well as its performances and direction.

Riders of Justice
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Andrea Heick Gadeberg (Actors)
  • Anders Thomas Jensen (Director) - Anders Thomas Jensen (Writer) - Sisse Graum Jørgensen (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

12. The Vast of Night (2019)

The Vast of Night is a 2019 science fiction film directed by Andrew Patterson and starring Sierra McCormick and Jake Horowitz.

The movie is set in the 1950s in a small town in New Mexico and follows two teenagers, a switchboard operator named Fay (Sierra McCormick) and a radio DJ named Everett (Jake Horowitz),

who become embroiled in a mysterious radio transmission that may hold the key to a larger extraterrestrial conspiracy.

The film is notable for its unique style and structure, with long, uninterrupted takes and a slow-burning, suspenseful plot that gradually builds to a thrilling climax.

The movie is also notable for its use of vintage technology, including old radios and switchboards, which add to its nostalgic and immersive atmosphere.

The Vast of Night has been praised for its strong performances, inventive storytelling, and its ability to create a sense of wonder and mystery despite its low budget.

The film has been compared to classic science fiction movies like The Twilight Zone and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and has been hailed as a new classic in the genre.

While The Vast of Night did not receive a wide theatrical release, it has gained a dedicated following on streaming platforms and has been widely acclaimed by critics as one of the best science fiction films of recent years.

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13. Palm Springs (2020)

“Palm Springs” is a 2020 romantic comedy film directed by Max Barbakow and starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti in the lead roles.

The film follows Nyles and Sarah, two strangers who meet at a wedding in Palm Springs and get stuck in a time loop, reliving the same day over and over again.

The film has been praised for its clever script, inventive premise, and standout performances by Samberg and Milioti. It has been noted for its exploration of themes such as love, regret, and the search for meaning and purpose in life, as well as its ability to balance humor and heart.

Despite its romantic comedy genre, “Palm Springs” has been noted for its unique and fresh take on the time loop concept, as well as its willingness to tackle serious existential questions with wit and humor.

The film has been praised for its ability to surprise and delight its audience, and its status as one of the standout films of 2020.

Palm Springs
  • German (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)

14. The Invisible Man (I) (2020)

“The Invisible Man” is a 2020 psychological horror film directed by Leigh Whannell and starring Elisabeth Moss. The movie tells the story of Cecilia, a woman who leaves her abusive husband and becomes convinced that he has found a way to become invisible and is tormenting her.

The film received critical acclaim for its tense atmosphere, expertly crafted suspense, and powerful performance by Moss.

It is a modern take on the classic horror tale of “The Invisible Man,” using cutting-edge technology and contemporary themes to create a terrifying and thought-provoking experience.

The film’s exploration of themes such as domestic abuse, gaslighting, and trauma has also been praised for its timely relevance and social commentary.

The Invisible Man (2020)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid (Actors)
  • Leigh Whannell (Director) - Leigh Whannell (Writer) - Jason Blum (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

15. Possessor (2020)

“Possessor” is a 2020 science-fiction horror film written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg. The film stars Andrea Riseborough as Tasya Vos, an agent who uses brain-implant technology to take over other people’s bodies and carry out assassinations for her clients.

As she takes on a new mission, Tasya begins to experience a dangerous identity crisis.

The film received critical acclaim for its dark and visceral exploration of themes such as identity, power, and control. It was particularly noted for its stylish cinematography, stunning practical effects, and haunting score, which all contributed to the film’s immersive and unsettling atmosphere.

While “Possessor” was not a commercial success, it gained a strong following among horror fans and was praised for its originality and fearlessness in tackling complex themes.

The film’s shocking and thought-provoking finale left a lasting impression on many viewers and solidified Brandon Cronenberg as a talented filmmaker to watch.

Overall, “Possessor” is a thought-provoking and visually stunning film that pushes the boundaries of the horror genre. Its disturbing themes and graphic violence may not be for everyone, but for those who appreciate challenging and unconventional cinema, it is a must-see.

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16. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a 2020 psychological horror film directed by Charlie Kaufman and based on the novel of the same name by Iain Reid.

The film tells the story of a young woman named Lucy (played by Jessie Buckley) who is on a road trip with her boyfriend Jake (played by Jesse Plemons) to visit Jake’s parents at their secluded farmhouse.

As the trip progresses, Lucy becomes increasingly disturbed by strange occurrences and begins to question the nature of her relationship with Jake.

The film has been praised for its haunting atmosphere, its surreal and unsettling visuals, and its thought-provoking exploration of themes such as memory, identity, and the nature of reality.

Kaufman’s signature style of introspective, philosophical storytelling is on full display in the film, and it has been compared to his previous works such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Synecdoche, New York.

Despite its complex narrative structure and abstract imagery, I’m Thinking of Ending Things has been hailed as a masterpiece of modern horror and a triumph of independent filmmaking.

Its deep, unsettling themes and powerful performances by Buckley and Plemons make it a must-see for anyone who loves thought-provoking and unconventional cinema.

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I'm Thinking of Ending Things: A Novel
  • Reid, Iain (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 03/21/2017 (Publication Date) - Gallery/Scout Press (Publisher)

17. Promising Young Woman (2020)

“Promising Young Woman” is a thriller film directed by Emerald Fennell, released in 2020. The film stars Carey Mulligan as Cassandra “Cassie” Thomas, a woman seeking revenge for the rape of her best friend.

Cassie goes to bars and clubs pretending to be drunk, waiting for men to take advantage of her so she can confront them about their behavior. The film explores themes of sexual assault, trauma, and revenge.

The film has been widely praised for its bold and provocative approach to its subject matter, as well as Mulligan’s performance as Cassie. The film also features strong supporting performances from Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, and Laverne Cox.

Fennell’s direction has been praised for its use of music, color, and framing to create a distinctive visual style.

“Promising Young Woman” has received critical acclaim and was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for Fennell, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actress for Mulligan. The film won the award for Best Original Screenplay.

It is a must-watch for fans of provocative and thought-provoking thrillers that tackle important social issues.

Promising Young Woman
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie (Actors)
  • Emerald Fennell (Director) - Emerald Fennell (Writer) - Margot Robbie (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

18. The Gentlemen (2019)

“The Gentlemen” is a 2019 British-American action comedy film written and directed by Guy Ritchie. The film follows the story of an American expat, Mickey Pearson, who has built a highly profitable marijuana empire in London.

When he decides to retire and sell his business, he becomes the target of various criminal underworld figures and corrupt officials who seek to take over his empire.

The film features an ensemble cast including Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Pearson, Charlie Hunnam as his right-hand man, Henry Golding as a rival gangster, and Hugh Grant as a sleazy private investigator.

The film also features Colin Farrell, Michelle Dockery, and Jeremy Strong in supporting roles.

“The Gentlemen” received mixed to positive reviews from critics, with many praising the performances of the cast and the film’s stylish direction and witty dialogue.

However, some critics criticized the film for its depiction of racial stereotypes and its lack of originality in comparison to Ritchie’s earlier works.

The Gentlemen
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Colin Farrell, Hugh Grant, Matthew McConaughey (Actors)
  • Guy Ritchie (Director) - Guy Ritchie (Writer) - Guy Ritchie (Producer)
  • (Playback Languages)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

19. The Wolf of Snow Hollow (2020)

The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a 2020 horror-comedy film written, directed by, and starring Jim Cummings. The film is set in a small town in Utah that is being terrorized by a series of brutal murders that the local authorities believe are being committed by a werewolf.

The film follows John Marshall (Jim Cummings), a police officer with a troubled personal life, as he tries to solve the case while also dealing with his own demons.

The Wolf of Snow Hollow has been praised for its clever blend of horror and humor, with many critics hailing it as a fresh take on the werewolf genre.

The film features strong performances from its cast, including Jim Cummings in the lead role, as well as a smart script and impressive visual effects.

The film has also been noted for its exploration of themes of addiction, mental health, and toxic masculinity, which add depth and nuance to its story.

While it has been described as a horror-comedy, The Wolf of Snow Hollow is also a character-driven drama that uses its genre elements to explore deeper emotional themes.

Overall, The Wolf of Snow Hollow has been well-received by both audiences and critics, and has been praised for its originality, strong performances, and ability to blend different genres and tones.

The Wolf of Snow Hollow
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Jim Cummings, Riki Lindhome, Chloe East (Actors)
  • Jim Cummings (Director) - Jim Cummings (Writer) - Nick Spicer (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

20. Driveways (2019)

“Driveways” is a 2019 drama film directed by Andrew Ahn and starring Hong Chau and Brian Dennehy in the lead roles.

The film follows a single mother and her young son who move to a small town to clean out and sell the house of her deceased sister, and the unlikely friendship they form with an elderly neighbor who helps them with the task.

The film has been widely acclaimed for its poignant and heartwarming story, its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of its characters, and its exploration of themes such as loneliness, friendship, and the ties that bind us.

It has been noted for its understated and authentic performances, as well as its ability to capture the beauty and simplicity of everyday life.

“Driveways” has been praised for its empathy and compassion, its ability to resonate with audiences of all ages and backgrounds, and its status as a quiet gem of independent cinema.

The film has been noted for its ability to find hope and light in the darkest of circumstances, and its message of the transformative power of human connection.

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Best 2020 Movies – Wrap Up

Overall, 2020 was a challenging year for the film industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to delays and cancellations of many highly anticipated releases.

However, despite these challenges, there were still many outstanding movies that were released and made a significant impact on audiences and critics alike. From powerful dramas to thrilling action films and innovative horror movies, there was no shortage of great cinema to enjoy.

Some of the best movies of 2020 included “Nomadland,” a powerful drama about a woman’s journey through the American West; “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” a courtroom drama based on real events surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention protests; and “Da 5 Bloods,” a poignant and action-packed film about four African-American veterans returning to Vietnam to recover the remains of their fallen squad leader.

Other notable films included “Soul,” an animated film from Pixar that explores the meaning of life and the power of music; “Promising Young Woman,” a bold and provocative revenge thriller; and “Mank,” a biographical drama about the life of Hollywood screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz.

Overall, 2020 proved to be a year of resilience and innovation in the film industry, with filmmakers and studios adapting to the challenges posed by the pandemic to continue delivering compelling and thought-provoking stories to audiences around the world.