The Movie Waffler TMW’s 50 Best Movies of 2020 | The Movie Waffler

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TMW’s 50 Best Movies of 2020

best movies of 2020
Fire up your to watch lists, we've got some gems for you!

It's safe to say 2020 has been a rough year for the film industry, yet it still delivered dozens of quality movies. Thanks to COVID, our cinema-going was drastically cut this year, but streaming services and VOD came to the rescue, not to mention film festivals switching to online formats.

Here are the 50 movies we saw in 2020 that are most worth your time (and you've probably got more on your hands than you expected)...


Mogul Mowgli

50. Mogul Mowgli
We said: "An examination of what it means to difficultly balance one’s relatively uncommon ambitions with primal priorities, such as health and a good relationship with parents. It’s a universally relatable idea captured through a rare and detailed cultural specificity."


Papicha

49. Papicha
We said: "Mounia Meddour weaves a story of resilience and female ingenuity."


clemency

48. Clemency
We said: "American cinema rarely gives us films like Clemency, which dare to focus on the internal life of a complicated character against the backdrop of what should be a very uncomplicated moral issue."


The Roads Not Taken

47. 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."


shirley

46. Shirley
We said: "As in all her recent roles, Elisabeth Moss turns in an impressive performance. She plays Jackson as a complex woman, sometimes incapacitated with anxiety, at other times cynical, formidable, ferocious and mischievous."


Lynn + Lucy

45. Lynn + Lucy
We said: "If Joker traded in the clichés of what makes certain alienated men explode in rage and violence, Lynn + Lucy explores the less examined social factors that can turn women into reactionary bigots."


True History of the Kelly Gang

44. True History of the Kelly Gang
We said: "The story of Ned Kelly has been told on screen countless times already, so what is left to do with this figure? Quite a bit it turns out."


A Regular Woman

43. A Regular Woman
We said: "Gives an authentic and detailed platform to the life and existence of this young woman. That this film exists is its own happy ending."


The Wolf of Snow Hollow

42. The Wolf of Snow Hollow
We said: "The location and the villain are very familiar, but it's the anti-hero that sets it apart from the crowd, while Jim Cummings understands that familiarity with a genre can be as cosy as a raging fire in a log cabin."


Beasts Clawing at Straws

41. Beasts Clawing at Straws
We said: "In Beasts Clawing at Straws no deed, good or bad, goes unpunished, but it is so cheerful in its utterly cynical view of the world that you cannot help but thrill along with it all."


The Woman Who Ran

40. The Woman Who Ran
We said: "As we've come to expect from Hong Sang-soo, The Woman Who Ran is a film where very little happens during its running time, but its characters seem to continue existing beyond the closing credits."


15 years

39. 15 Years
We said: "A raw portrayal of a highly specific, niche experience which is nevertheless human and open-hearted enough for anyone to relate to."


relic

38. Relic
We said: "Reminds us that horror can be the most humane and healing of genres."


patrick

37. Patrick
We said: "It's testament to the effectiveness of both Tim Mielants' storytelling and Kevin Janssens' sympathetic central performance that the novelty setting quickly becomes rudimentary"


the swerve

36. The Swerve
We said: "A subtle, credible affair, balancing its cynicism with an insistent humanity."


piranhas

35. Piranhas
We said: "Murder, crime and violence never seemed so heartbreakingly innocent."


Coming Home Again

34. Coming Home Again
We said: "An honest examination of how families cope with impending loss, one that astutely avoids proselytising or a lecturing tone."


Rose Plays Julie

33. Rose Plays Julie
We said: "Like many of the films of Hitchcock, Rose Plays Julie is a film largely comprised around the acts of looking and following."


South Mountain

32. 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."


Never Rarely Sometimes Always

31. 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."


The Hunt

30. The Hunt
We said: "Offers plenty to offend wokesters and right-wingers; the rest of us will have a blast at their expense."


rialto

29. Rialto
We said: "The filmmaking is so intimate in parts that it makes us feel uncomfortable, as though we're intruding on someone's private affairs."


murmur

28. Murmur
We said: "The character of Donna is utterly riveting."


About Endlessness

27. About Endlessness
We said: "Might some day be uploaded by SETI as a document of the human race for any prospective alien visitors who stumble across our signal, as for better or worse, all of human life is captured in Roy Andersson's work."


Rose: A Love Story

26. Rose: A Love Story
We said: "Rose: A Love Story is immaculately assembled, with not a beat out of step in its visual storytelling."


disclosure

25. Disclosure
We said: "Vividly cinematic throughout. It is staggering to think that this is a debut feature."


wolfwalkers

24. Wolfwalkers
We said: "This film is absolutely beautiful, in terms of both narrative and aesthetic."


System Crasher

23. System Crasher
We said: "As played by the incredible Helena Zengel, Benni is one of those characters who commands your attention."


Les Misérables

22. 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."


ema

21. Ema
We said: "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."


away

20. Away
We said: "Away’s budget may well be low, but its perspective is unflinching and its heart is true. What a film."


uncut gems

19. Uncut Gems
We said: "Who wants to watch perfect people who never put a foot wrong? Give me a trainwreck like Howard any day of the week."


tesla

18. Tesla
We said: "Michael Almereyda finds a way to turn Tesla's story into a cinematic delight by focussing not on the man himself but by finding a way to celebrate and integrate his achievements through a postmodern storytelling."


Fire Will Come

17. 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 is feasible."


The Assistant

16. The Assistant
We said: "As played by Julia Garner, Jane is a refreshingly relatable female protagonist, virtually unique in her lack of charisma."


A Hidden Life

15. A Hidden Life
We said: "The mesmerising rumination on life and the Lord that we’ve been waiting for since The Tree of Life."


bull

14. Bull
We said: "The neo-realistic pace captures the heart-breaking boredom of small town existence."


perfect 10

13. Perfect 10
We said: "You'll find much joy in the sparkling delights of this thoroughly likeable movie."


carmilla

12. Carmilla
We said: "Emily Harris has co-directed two features previously with collaborator Jonathan Bentovim, but this is essentially her feature debut, and it's quite the entrance."


A Girl Missing

11. A Girl Missing
We said: "Mariko Tsutsui possesses an almost unmatched ability to elicit our sympathy while simultaneously terrifying us."


The Truth

10. 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."


rocks

9. 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."


Another Round

8. Another Round
We said: "Just as getting hammered is a lot of fun, so too is watching others get destroyed, and for the most part, Another Round is a joyous experience."


If You Are Happy

7. If You Are Happy
We said: "A hilarious piece of satirical filmmaking, but the truth it's based on is no laughing matter."


proxima

6. Proxima
We said: "Shot on location in Russia's giant astronaut training facility, Star City, Alice Winocour's film takes an in-depth, almost documentary-like approach to the training regimes its protagonist is forced to grapple with."


Lovers Rock

5. Lovers Rock
We said: "Lovers Rock is centred on joy, on food, on dance, on music, on sex, on shared euphoria, on all the things currently forbidden in the lockdown age."


Babyteeth

4. Babyteeth
We said: "You might imagine a movie like Babyteeth to be a tearjerker, but aside from the emotional flashback coda that closes out the film, I found myself grinning throughout."


Family Romance, LLC

3. Family Romance, LLC
We said: "With his latest film, Werner Herzog seems to be exploring the idea of how we increasingly derive pleasure from artifice."


The Nest

2. The Nest
We said: "An unsettling critique of capitalism that burrows its way into your consciousness like an unpaid bill."


Koko-di Koko-da

1. Koko-di Koko-da
We said: "An unsettling, profoundly sad, but ultimately uplifting exploration of grief and fate through a folk-horror lens."