The shift of major studio-driven movie releases like No Time to Die, Dune, Black Widow and Fast and Furious into 2021 has left something of a void in many of our filmgoing lives. Cinema trips have been out of bounds, our subscription services starved of the latest releases to parade amongst their selection of classics, and beyond the ardent cinephiles pursuing the artistic enlightenment of the awards season favourites and notable independent Premium VoD releases, there hasn’t been much by the way of enthusiasm for film this calendar year.
The long-term effects of this cultural shift away from the theatrical experience are currently unknown, and many fear the worst for cineplexes and independent cinemas alike – but amongst this dreary outlook of the form’s future, there remain beacons of light that illuminate the ingenuity of screen artists from across the world. In 2020, cinema has undergone its most monumental shift in history, but the seven films outlined in this article have wowed and inspired nonetheless.
We at The Film Magazine have reviewed over 100 films that have been released in 2020, and have judged 15 films to be 5 star (Hall of Fame) releases, but the following 7 films have received the outstanding grades of 23 out of 24 and 24 out of 24 – our highest honour. These 7 films, each of which were given their wide releases in the UK via cinemas or streaming in 2020, were the products of 4 different countries and 5 different genres, and will be remembered as the very best of film in 2020. Films due for release in 2021 but reviewed by us in 2020, such as David Byrne’s American Utopia, will be eligible for next year’s list.
Surprising omissions include the 2020 Oscars Best Picture winner Parasite (22/24) and 2021 Oscars front-runners Mank (21/24) and Da 5 Bloods (21/24), though each have received our equivalent of a five star review (that being 21 out of 24 or above).
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7. Wolfwalkers – 23/24
“Whilst creating its own distinct style, the classic storytelling of Wolfwalkers reflects the work of animated films that came before it. From titles such as the classic Disney animation Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) to Don Bluth animations such as The Secret of the NIMH (1982) and An American Tail (1986), Wolfwalkers is indebted to the trail such classics have blazed, though it promptly works to establish itself as a worthy peer for each of them, not only in story but in terms of visuals too.” – Charlie Gardiner
6. Uncut Gems – 23/24
“The value in Howie is that continuous will to fight no matter how bad things appear. His joy in victory, followed by the depths of anger in defeat, are feelings anyone can understand. There’s joy in the struggle towards one’s goals, and even more in success, no matter how fleeting. One gets to imagine Howard Ratner happy.” – Jacob Davis