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TMW’s 25 Best Movies of 2020 so Far

koko-di koko-da
Our favourite movies of the year to date.


Real life has arguably been more dramatic than anything cinema might offer in 2020, and many of the movies we should have seen by now have seen their releases pulled. Even so, cinephiles have had plenty of gems to choose from in the first half of this disrupted cinematic year. Here are our favourite 25 movies of 2020 so far.



15 Years

15 Years
We said: "For its uncomfortable honesty and lack of self-pity, 15 Years is one of my favourite recent films: a raw portrayal of a highly specific, niche experience which is nevertheless human and open hearted enough for anyone to relate to. Of course, and this is hardly surprising, it made me cry silly tears."


A Hidden Life

A Hidden Life
We said: "Terrence Malick returns from the present day back to the Second World War to recalibrate his focus on nature and grace, this time with a much more intimate, focused perspective than the scattered ensemble storytelling of his most recent works. A Hidden Life is the mesmerising rumination on life and the Lord that we’ve been waiting for since The Tree of Life."


The Assistant

The Assistant
We said: "Julia Garner has found herself largely relegated to supporting roles, but with The Assistant she's finally landed the sort of meaty lead role her talents deserve."


bull

Bull
We said: "Following a series of shorts, this is Annie Silverstein’s debut feature length film. How exciting to witness the breaking of a brand-new film maker, to be there at the start of her career. No shit, Bull is the real deal."


ema

Ema
We said: "Those who require female protagonists to be aspirational and morally impeachable will be ill-served by Pablo Larraín's film. But for those of us who can appreciate the thrill of watching a bad girl using her body and brains to pull off a deliciously destructive plan, Ema is a delight."
Read our review




Extraction

Extraction
We said: "Although predictable in places and featuring set-pieces that stretch the realms of believability, Extraction is a dirty, exciting and extremely well made movie."
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Fire Will Come

Fire Will Come
We said: "Fire Will Come is not for the nervous. It is, however, as close to the sacred essence of cinema (as in an associative collocation of image and sounds which mimics the heavy skeins of dreams that tie us once again to our essential selves, like), as is feasible."
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The Hunt

The Hunt
We said: "Betty Gilpin has been a jobbing supporting player for a while now, and in her first major headlining role she proves herself a genuine movie star. Like Kurt Russell, she possesses that rare combination of crackerjack comic timing, star presence and the ability to convince us she's really as tough as her character."
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If You Are Happy

If You Are Happy
We said: "If You Are Happy is a hilarious piece of satirical filmmaking, but the truth it's based on is no laughing matter. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll develop an ulcer, and you might grow to appreciate the sacrifices your parents made to keep you safe, if not happy."
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Koko-Di Koko-Da

Koko-Di Koko-Da
We said: "Koko-di Koko-da is an unsettling, profoundly sad, but ultimately uplifting exploration of grief and fate through a folk-horror lens. Where most backwoods horror movies act as deterrents for rural camping trips, Johannes Nyholm's film encourages us to get out into the woods and face our demons."
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Les Misérables

Les Misérables
We said: "What makes Les Misérables such a gripping and stressful watch is how we're given little time to weigh up the ethical complexity of its powder keg scenario. In this way we're swept up in the madness along with our protagonist Stéphane, who attempts to act as a broker between the various factions on opposing sides of the law."
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Murmur

Murmur
We said: "At times, this intimate character study is acutely sad; the sort of sadness that thickens your blood and makes it difficult to breathe because it is so honest and real. A masterpiece of poignancy which troubled me a great deal."
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Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Never Rarely Sometimes Always
We said: "Thank the stars for the independent sector, which is giving us women protagonists that we can relate with regardless of our gender or shared cultures. Real women, with flaws and worries and insecurities, who don't possess superhuman strength or the ability to deliver an emasculating wisecrack at just the right moment. Women like Autumn."
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Proxima

Proxima
We said: "A crop of recent movies have used space exploration as a means of examining what it means to be human, yet while Proxima is a lot more grounded that the likes of Gravity, Arrival and Ad Astra, it's arguably more awe-inspiring because it reminds us that astronauts really do exist."
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The Roads Not Taken

The Roads Not Taken
We said: "Despite the devastating implications of its focus, typical of Sally Potter there is an artistic playfulness at work in The Roads Not Taken. What begins as an incisive personal drama challenges our own cinematic perceptions."
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rocks

Rocks
We said: "It seems strange to say this about a film concerned with child neglect, but Rocks is one of the feelgood movies of the year."
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Rose Plays Julie

Rose Plays Julie
We said: "Ann Skelly's pent-up performance and closed off expressions add to the delirious ambiguity. In some scenes we can see the panic growing behind her eyes even when her face draws tight as though being closed in an invisible vice."
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South Mountain

South Mountain
We said: "Within this elegantly human drama, Hilary Brougher draws matter of fact distinctions between our diverse social expectations of men and women."
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System Crasher

System Crasher
We said: "Not since Kong landed in New York and Godzilla stomped Tokyo has the screen seen so much damage wrought by a force of nature as that caused by Benni (Helena Zengel)."
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To the Stars

To the Stars
We said: "To the Stars is a film which is impossible to dislike. The main actors are fantastic and likeable, and their story is by turns both familiar and surprising."
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True History of the Kelly Gang

True History of the Kelly Gang
We said: "Printing the facts while deconstructing the legend, Justin Kurzel turns Ned Kelly's story into one as grimly confrontational as his highly disturbing 2011 debut Snowtown."
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The Truth

The Truth
We said: "The Truth doesn't quite have the emotional heft of Hirokazu Kore-eda's best work but it's nonetheless a seamless shift to European filmmaking for a director whose work had seemed distinctly Japanese, if global in its themes."
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The Uncertain Kingdom

The Uncertain Kingdom
We said: "The Uncertain Kingdom is a wonderfully diverse mélange of short cinema, very well curated to provide different artistic and entertainment experiences."
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Uncut Gems

Uncut Gems
We said: "There's an oddly growing sentiment in certain circles that movie protagonists should be role models, that they should possess "strong" character traits. No thanks. Give me a trainwreck like Adam Sandler's Howard any day of the week."
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Wastelands

Wastelands
We said: "If you are in the market for a deeply felt, strikingly visual portrayal of simmering obsession then the experience of Wastelands will quench that thirst."
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