Top 10 Best Movies of 2020!

“It’s been a wonderful year for film, and here’s to 2020. Hope it’s even better.”

I wrote that sentence on my “Top 10 Movies of 2019!” list last year. I know. How foolish of me to think that 2020 wouldn’t be the absolute dumpster fire of a year it was. With movie theater closures, nearly every movie release being pushed back, and a push to streaming services, 2020 has been the absolute worst year for film.

Now that the year is finally coming to a close, it is time to reflect on the good. While I did not give a 10/10 to any movie, there were some fantastic movies this year, and despite the delays, I managed to see 100 new releases this year.

As tradition dictates, I’m film critic Jonathan Sim, and these were my top 10 favorite movies of 2020.

10. Minari

Lee Isaac Chung’s slow-burn film is one of the best movies of 2020. Minari is a very grounded drama about a family of South Korean immigrants who move to Arkansas to pursue the American Dream. This is a well-performed, fascinating movie with characters that feel very grounded in reality.

Steven Yeun gives a wonderful performance, and the relationship between the young son and the grandmother is one of the most heartwarming relationships I’ve seen all year.

9. Sound of Metal

While Sound of Metal may not be a horror movie, it depicts every musician’s worst nightmare. This film follows a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing and how he copes with it. It’s an enthralling journey brought to life by one of the year’s best performances from Riz Ahmed.

This film isn’t afraid to have long moments of silence, as we are thrown into the shoes of our protagonist. Director Darius Marder opted not to include a musical score, making the silence our character hears even more deafening.

It also offers fantastic sound design, and while it can be a devastating film to watch, it’s also a raw, real look at disabilities and how people live with them.

8. Clouds

One of the most emotionally profound films of the year, Clouds is based on the real-life story of Zach Sobiech, a young musician dying of cancer, and his final months alive as he makes one last song. It’s another emotionally investing film that also manages to be very inspiring.

The movie's final few moments nearly brought me to tears as I was so invested in the characters and the amount of love on screen. It’s a consistently interesting movie that pulls no punches when depicting this real-life story.

7. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

In a year that has been terrible for all of us, we have all needed a good laugh. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm provided that for us in volumes, as this sequel to the 2006 film, Borat, is an absolutely hilarious comedy that also manages to open our eyes to the bigotry in our current society.

The largely unscripted film began production before the pandemic, but once it started, the film incorporated the pandemic into its story perfectly. The film offers many shocking scenes and a lot of heart while also boasting an insane scene with a certain politician. Don’t miss this movie if you’re looking for some belly laughs.

6. Nomadland

Chloé Zhao writes, directs, produces, and edits one of the most simple yet profound films of the year. Frances McDormand stars as a woman who lives in her van, and Nomadland is a love letter to that lifestyle. It’s a film that could have begun months earlier or ended months later, and it works.

The performances are great, and not everyone in the movie is an actor. Yet, they deliver lines so well, and it’s a beautiful film with a pleasant musical score. I love a movie that feels so authentic that you believe the characters existed before the film's events and will continue to live on after.

5. The Invisible Man

One of the last movies I saw in the theater before the world changed, The Invisible Man is the best horror movie of the year. Writer/director Leigh Whannell creates so much tension in every scene, capitalizing on the premise to make the audience scared during scenes where we don’t see anything scary, but we wonder if they exist there.

Elisabeth Moss offers a fantastic performance, and this is a movie that isn’t just about an invisible person, but it’s also a movie about abusive relationships and the gaslighting that exists in these terrifying situations. It’s a movie that may have you looking over your shoulder for a long time.

4. Tenet

Tenet may be the most impressive film of the year on a technical level. Christopher Nolan has a reputation for time-bending, mind-boggling films. While this may not reach the height of his other works, it remains a captivating movie that combines fantastic visuals with practical effects.

It’s an espionage spy movie wrapped up in a time-traveling concept, and while the film’s story may feel inaccessible and leave the audience struggling to keep up, this movie is an example of a master at work. It has setups, payoffs, and some genuine emotion near the end of the film.

3. The Way Back

Ben Affleck stars in this very personal, grounded drama about a divorced alcoholic who finds meaning and purpose coaching a high school basketball team. Affleck gives a wonderful performance in a story that feels very personal to him.

It offers exciting basketball scenes, and it’s a deeply emotional movie about a person who needs a second chance in life. Not every film can pull off a story like this without feeling manipulative, but The Way Back accomplishes it through believable performances and events.

2. The Call (콜)

Perhaps the movie that flew under the radar the most, The Call is a twisty, thrilling movie directed by Lee Chung-hyeon. It follows a phone call between two women living 20 years apart, and as the women begin to change the past and the future, unintended consequences begin to arise.

While we’ve seen premises like this in films such as Frequency and last year’s Don’t Let Go, Chung-hyeon executes the premise perfectly, constantly pulling characters in different, darker directions. It’s an exciting, terrifying movie that will pull you to the screen and never let go.

And now, the best movie of 2020 is…

1. Soul

One of Pixar’s finest works, Soul is the emotional story of a musician, Joe Gardner, who falls into a manhole and into The Great Before, a world where souls get their personalities and quirks before entering Earth. Joe teams up with a soul named 22 to find his way back to Earth.

It’s rare that we ever get a film so thoughtful and emotionally rich wrapped in a PG animated film. This is a mature movie dealing with the themes of life, death, and passion, and the message is beautiful. This is the movie we needed this year: a celebration of life that advises us to see the beauty in the little moments that make us who we are.

And now, time for our HONORABLE MENTIONS!

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Run, Hamilton, Promising Young Woman, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Host, Freaky, Miss Americana, Da 5 Bloods, Mank, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Birds of Prey, and Palm Springs.

One last thing!

I will publish my 2020 MacGuffin Awards article soon, but before I do, I want to thank everyone at the front lines — all of our medical workers risking their lives to help people. To everyone reading this, I hope that movies provided you with some escapism the way they did for me.

And if you watch any of the movies on this list, I hope you enjoy them. This hasn’t been a good year, but let’s hope 2021 gives us something better.

Thank you for reading and Happy New Year.

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JONATHAN SIM

JONATHAN SIM

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Film critic. Lover of Pixar, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Back to the Future, and Lord of the Rings. For business inquiries: jonathansim6703@gmail.com