“Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” “Nomadland,” and “First Cow” have been named the best films of 2020 in IndieWire’s annual critics poll.
By Zack Sharf
The 2020 IndieWire Critics Poll included input from over 230 film reviewers from around the world. Critics from IndieWire, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and other major outlets voted for the year’s top films and performances alongside critics from local newspapers and websites, freelancers, and contributors on film from across Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The end results were published earlier this month, with “Nomadland” claiming best film and Riz Ahmed in “Sound of Metal” taking the title for best performer of the year. Participants in the 2020 critics poll were only allowed to vote for films and performances in films that received theatrical or VOD releases in North America over the past calendar year.
“Nomadland,” “Lovers Rock” and more of the year’s best films
While the general critics poll article revealed the voting results for the 10 best films of the year, IndieWire can now present a complete ranking of the 50 films from 2020 that ranked highest according to the over 230 film critics who participated in the poll. For the first time in the IndieWire Critics Poll’s history, the No. 1 film is directed by a woman (Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland”). Female directors had a strong showing in this year’s results, with the top three films of the year all hailing from female filmmakers (joining Zhao are Eliza Hittman with “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” and Kelly Reichardt with “First Cow”). The poll’s Best First Film category was also topped by “Promising Young Woman,” directed by Emerald Fennell.
Check out the complete list of the IndieWire Critics Poll top 50 films of 2020 below.
Director: Chloé Zhao
Cast: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Charlene Swankie, Bob Wells
Accolades: Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Read IndieWire’s review: “Nomadland” is the kind of movie that could go very wrong. With Frances McDormand as its star alongside a cast real-life nomads, in lesser hands it might look like cheap wish fulfillment or showboating at its most gratuitous. Instead, director Chloé Zhao works magic with McDormand’s face and the real world around it, delivering a profound rumination on the impulse to leave society in the dust.
2. “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”
Director: Eliza Hittman
Cast: Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder, Théodore Pellerin, Ryan Eggold, Sharon Van Etten
Accolades: Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival
Read IndieWire’s review: Hittman’s ability to write and direct such tender films has long been bolstered by her interest in casting them with fresh new talents, all the better to sell the veracity of her stories and introduce moviegoers to emerging actors worthy of big attention. With “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” Hittman continues her traditions with her most vivid work yet, one all the more impressive for its studio pedigree. (This is not the kind of film many mainstream outfits would support and make, and more power to Focus Features and Hittman for endeavoring to bring it to a large audience.)
3. “First Cow”
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Cast: John Magaro, Orion Lee, Toby Jones, Ewen Bremner, Scott Shephard, Gary Farmer
Read IndieWire’s review: Few filmmakers wrestle with what it means to be American the way Kelly Reichardt has injected that question into all of her movies. In a meticulous fashion typical of her spellbinding approach, “First Cow” consolidates the potent themes of everything leading up to it: It returns her to the nascent America of the 19th Century frontier at the center of “Meek’s Cutoff,” touches on the environmental frustrations of “Night Moves,” revels in the glorious isolation of the countryside in “Certain Women,” and the somber travails of vagrancy at the center of “Wendy and Lucy.”
4. “Lovers Rock”
Director: Steve McQueen
Cast: Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn and Michael Ward
Read IndieWire’s review: Set across a single night in 1980 and loaded with a soundtrack from the eponymous reggae music, “Lovers Rock” is a paean to an energized youth culture taking control of its surroundings, despite the social unrest around them. Experienced on its own terms, this delightful snapshot of boozy dance-floor seduction plays like an artist unleashing years of repressed good vibes by applying his lyrical style to pure, unbridled bliss for almost the entirety of its 68 minutes.
5. “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”
Director: Charlie Kaufman
Cast: Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette, David Thewlis
Read IndieWire’s review: If “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” feels like both an act of self-parody for its director and also a radical departure from his previous work, that’s because it takes Kaufman’s usual fixations and turns them inside out. While this leaky snow globe of a breakup movie is yet another bizarre and ruefully hilarious trip into the rift between people, it’s not — for the first time — about someone who’s trying to cross it. On the contrary, Kaufman is now telling a story about the rift itself.
Director: Kantemir Balagov
Cast: Viktoria Miroshnichenko, Vasilisa Perelygina, Konstantin Balakirev, Andrey Bykov
Read IndieWire’s review: Inspired by Svetlana Alexievich’s book “The Unwomanly Face of War,” Balagov’s frigid “Beanpole” tells a glacially paced but gorgeously plotted story about two women — two best friends — who grow so desperate for any kind of personal agency that they start using each other to answer the unsolvable arithmetic of life and death.
Director: Garrett Bradley
Read IndieWire’s review: A woman’s 20-year fight to free her husband is captured on home video and cut together into a profoundly moving story of hope. On its surface, Garrett Bradley’s “Time” asks a simple question: How can you convey the full length of 21 years in the span of a single film, let alone a documentary that runs just 81 minutes? And from its degraded opening images — borrowed from the first of a thousand video messages that a black Louisiana woman named Sibil Fox Richardson (aka “Fox Rich”) recorded for her husband as she waited for him to be released from the State Penitentiary — offers a similarly simple answer: You don’t measure it in length, but rather in loss.
8. “Da 5 Bloods”
Director: Spike Lee
Cast: Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Paul Walter Hauser, Jean Reno, Chadwick Boseman
Read IndieWire’s review: “Da 5 Bloods” doesn’t always gel as it careens through overstuffed plot twists and disparate tones, with some big moments better executed than others. Still, that freewheeling energy is in short supply, and this pure distillation of a Spike Lee joint illustrates the rarity of an American filmmaker so confident in his sensibilities and style that nothing can slow them down.
9. “Martin Eden”
Director: Pietro Marcello
Cast: Luca Marinelli, Carlo Cecchi, Jessica Cressy, Vincenzo Nemolato, Marco Leonardi
Read IndieWire’s review: Pietro Marcello’s “Martin Eden” is a dreamy and surprisingly faithful Jack London adaptation made with more than 100 years of hindsight, one that doesn’t bend over backwards to prevent modern audiences from missing London’s points. London’s novel is all the more powerful because it’s not prescriptive — because it gives readers just enough rope to hang themselves, and sets them all the same traps that Martin himself falls into.
Director: Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles
Cast: Sônia Braga, Udo Kier, Bárbara Colen, Thomas Aquino, Silvero Pereira, Karine Teles
Accolades: Jury Prize at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival
Read IndieWire’s review: “Aquarius” director Kleber Mendonça Filho returns with a wonderful and demented Western about the perils of rampant modernization. In some respects, the film can be seen as a logical continuation of the Brazilian critic-turned-auteur’s two previous features. Much like 2012’s revelatory “Neighboring Sounds,” for example, “Bacurau” is a patient and sprawling portrait of a Brazilian community as it struggles to defend itself against the dark specter of modernity. And much like 2016’s unshakeable “Aquarius,” “Bacurau” hinges on an immovably stubborn woman who refuses to relinquish her place in the world — who won’t allow our blind lust for the future to bury her meaningful ties to the past.
Director: David Fincher
Cast: Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Arliss Howard, Charles Dance
Read IndieWire’s review:
Though forged in a meticulous 1930s backdrop that merges historical detail with the style and tone of that era, “Mank” is hardly a playful throwback. Fincher has made a cerebral psychodrama that rewards the engaged cinephile audience in its crosshairs, but even when cold to the touch, the movie delivers a complex and insightful look at American power structures and the potential for a creative spark to rankle their foundations.Photo : Amazon
11. “Dick Johnson Is Dead”
Director: Kristen Johnson
Read IndieWire’s review: The title of “Dick Johnson Is Dead” doesn’t lie, but it’s not exactly truthful, either. Dick Johnson dies many times in his daughter Kirsten’s poignant and personal documentary, starting with the opening credits. And yet he’s very much alive the whole time, playacting in an elaborate form of cinematic therapy with his filmmaker offspring as she wrestles with the anxiety of losing him.Photo : A24
Director: Lee Isaac Chung
Cast: Steven Yeun, Han Ye-ri, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, Youn Yuh-jung, Will Patton
Accolades: U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival
Read IndieWire’s review: Told with the rugged tenderness of a Flannery O’Connor novel but aptly named for a resilient Korean herb that can grow wherever it’s planted, Lee Isaac Chung’s semi-autobiographical “Minari” is a raw and vividly remembered story of two simultaneous assimilations; it’s the story of a family assimilating into a country, but also the story of a man assimilating into his family.Photo : Focus
14. “Promising Young Woman”
Director: Emerald Fennell
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Connie Britton, Laverne Cox
Read IndieWire’s review: Emerald Fennell’s raucous debut, “Promising Young Woman,” twists its buzzword-laden, spoiler-free synopsis — it’s a #MeToo rape revenge thriller with bite! — into something fresh and totally wild. Thank both Fennell’s wicked mind and star Carey Mulligan’s somehow even more wicked performance for that. Cooked up by Fennell and dizzyingly embodied by an incendiary Mulligan, Cassie is an anti-heroine for our times, and a wholly unique one at that.Photo : Focus Features
Director: Miranda July
Cast: Evan Rachel Woods, Debra Winger, Richard Jenkins, Gina Rodriguez
Read IndieWire’s review:
Elevated by an extraordinary Evan Rachel Wood performance that finds her character literally discovering her free will, “Kajillionaire” splits the difference between “Shoplifters” and “Parasite”: It’s an understated dramedy with bite, oscillating from the implication that family bonds are bullshit to the conclusion that everybody deserves a little tough love.
Director: Alexander Nanau
Read IndieWire’s review: “Collective” starts as one of the greatest journalism movies of all times, and then it goes one step further, exposing democracy at war with itself. Romanian director Alexander Nanau’s bracing, relentless documentary tracks the aftermath of the 2015 fire that killed 64 people, hovering at the center of a system on the verge of collapse. And then it does, much like the flames that engulfed Bucharest’s Colectiv nightclub and sent the nation into a tailspin, as “Collective” sits at the center of the chaos with an unflinching gaze.Photo : Amazon
17. “One Night in Miami”
Director: Regina King
Cast: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom Jr.
Read IndieWire’s review: Directed by Regina King (already an Oscar and Emmy winner for her acting) and adapted by Kemp Powers (who first launched the project as a stage play), “One Night in Miami” is both a formidable debut for King (who has previously directed a slew of episodes of high-profile television series) and a strong argument for Powers’ medium-crossing skills. It’s also one of the year’s best acting showcases, including turns from Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcolm X, Leslie Odom Jr. as Sam Cooke, Aldis Hodge as Jim Brown, and Eli Goree as Cassius Clay.
18. “Vitalina Verela”
Director: Pedro Costa
Cast: Vitalina Varela and Manuel Tavares Almeida
Accolades: Golden Leopard and Best Actress winner at 2019 Locarno International Film Festival
Read IndieWire’s review: The mystery and wonder of Pedro Costa’s filmmaking defies any specific category other than his own unique blend. The Portuguese director conjures dark, dreamlike visions of post-colonial neglect and yearning that hover somewhere between fantasy and neorealism, horror and melodrama, spirituality and desperation. “Vitalina Varela,” Costa’s fifth journey into the shantytown Fontainhas outside of Lisbon, once again showcases Costa’s masterful ability to mine cinematic poetry from a unique environment and the mournful figures who wander through its murky depths.Photo : IFC Films
19. “The Nest”
Director: Sean Durkin
Cast: Jude Law, Carrie Coon, Charlie Shotwell, Tobias BA Macey, Oona Roche, Adeel Akhtar
Read IndieWire’s review: In Durkin’s icy, slow-burn drama, every frame benefits from masterful composition. Carrie Coon and Jude Law deliver sizzling performances defined by mutual indignation, but it ultimately amounts to little more than talent spinning its wheels on both sides of the camera.Photo : Amazon
20. “The Sound of Metal”
Director: Darius Marder
Cast: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Lauren Ridloff, Mathieu Amalric
Read IndieWire’s review: As Ruben, the heavy-metal drummer going deaf at the center of the mesmerizing debut from writer-director Darius Marder, Riz Ahmed conveys the complex frustrations of losing touch with the world around him no matter how much he fights to hold onto it. This devastating conundrum relies on the best use of sound design in recent memory, as Marder immerses viewers within the confines of Ruben’s deteriorating relationship to the world around him, and he sorts through the wreckage to construct a new one. Ahmed’s brilliant performance coasts on a complex soundscape that resonates even in total silence.Photo : Netflix
21. “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
Director: Aaron Sorkin
Cast: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Daniel Flaherty, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, Frank Langella, John Carroll Lynch, Eddie Redmayne, Noah Robbins, Mark Rylance. Alex Sharp, Jeremy Strong
Read IndieWire’s review: “The Trial of the Chicago 7” is exactly as advertised — a giant, giddy burst of earnest theatricality, loaded with a formidable ensemble that chews on every inch of the scenery, that overall makes a passionate case for the resilience of its formula more than using it as an excuse.Photo : Bleecker Street
22. “The Assistant”
Director: Kitty Green
Cast: Julia Garner, Matthew Macfadyen, Makenzie Leigh, Kristine Froseth
Read IndieWire’s review:
Harvey Weinstein doesn’t appear in “The Assistant,” and nobody mentions him by name, but make no mistake: Director Kitty Green’s urgent real-time thriller marks the first narrative depiction of life under his menacing grip. “Ozark” breakout Julia Garner is a revelation as the fragile young woman tasked with juggling the minutiae of the executive’s life, arranging a never-ending stream of airplane trips, staving off angry callers, and picking up the trash left in his wake.Photo : HBO
23. “David Byrne’s “American Utopia”
Director: Spike Lee
Read IndieWire’s review: “American Utopia” isn’t just a concert doc, but also a life-affirming, euphoria-producing, soul-energizing sing-along protest film that’s asking us to rise up against our own complacency. Photo : Disney
Director: Pete Docter
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Questlove, Phylicia Rashad, Daveed Diggs, Angela Bassett
Read IndieWire’s review: The first entry in the Pixar canon to center on a Black character is a magical crowdpleaser that embodies the Pixar Touch. While Disney’s decision to bypass a theatrical release for the film to post “Soul” straight onto Disney+ on Christmas Day doesn’t do any favors to the sorry state of exhibition, “Soul” is well worth signing up for the service, as it’s one of the very best Pixar efforts in years.
Photo : Universal
25. “The Invisible Man”
Director: Leigh Whannell
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Harriet Dyer, Michael Dorman, Oliver Jackson-Cohen
Read IndieWire’s review: Whannel makes his “Invisible Man” an unbearably tense ride through his blocking choices, which often use negative spaces to induce fear in the viewer. Whether it gets Oscar buzz or not, “The Invisible Man” is bound to go down as one of the strongest reviewed studio films of 2020.Photo : Film at Lincoln Center
26. “The Whistlers”
Director: Corneliu Porumboiu
Cast: Vlad Ivanov, Catrinel Marlon, Rodica Lazar |
Read IndieWire’s review: Corneliu Porumboiu’s enjoyable riff on the heist movie tradition has a unique hook, and is begging for an English language remake. This entertaining noir is a polished mashup of genre motifs that suggests what might happen if the “Ocean’s 11” gang assembled on the Canary Islands.
Photo : Neon
Director: Francis Lee
Cast: Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Jones, James McArdle, Alec Secăreanu, Fiona Shaw
Read IndieWire’s review: Lee’s restraint is successful. The film never delivers obvious platitudes about how difficult it was to be a 19th-century woman who loved other women, and how any dreams of a happy life together are all but impossible. Although Mary’s mother occasionally shoots the pair biting glances, the film doesn’t wield the threat of discovery. It’s clear that this romance is not one for public eyes and Lee trusts his audience to understand that with a minimum of information.Photo : Universal
28. “News of the World”
Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel
Read IndieWire’s review: These are the moments where “News of the World” is at its most urgent — when this bittersweet but richly sentimental Western pauses to reflect on the double-edged power of the stories we tell ourselves, and the power that telling them to each other gives us to change what happens in the next chapter.Photo : Neon
Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Christopher Abbott, Rossif Sutherland, Tuppence Middleton, Sean Bean, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Read IndieWire’s review: A queasy and intriguing horror-inflected techno-thriller that gets lost somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle between “Mandy,” “Inception,” and “Ghost in the Shell,” Brandon Cronenberg’s “Possessor” is so drunk on its own sick potential that it doesn’t have the time (or the balance) required to realize most of it. On the other hand, 90 minutes of Andrea Riseborough and Christopher Abbott engaging in ultra-gory psychic warfare over control of the latter’s body is more satisfying than what most of the current Best Picture nominees have to offer, so maybe it’s wise not to look a gift horse in the mouth.Photo : Cinetic
30. “Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets”
Director: Bill and Turner Ross
Read IndieWire’s review: The film is both a grand cinematic deception and a bold filmmaking experimentation from two of the most intriguing directors working in non-fiction today. This has been the Ross brothers’ motif since their earliest work, the expressionistic midwestern snapshot “45365” and “Tchoupitoulas,” which followed three prepubescent kids across a single meandering New Orleans night. “Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets” sits on the same continuum. The movie pretends to be a fly-on-the-wall observational tale, but in the process of assembling its remarkable homegrown universe, becomes a legitimate one anyway.Photo : Neon
31. “Palm Springs”
Director: Max Barbakow
Cast: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, Peter Gallagher, J. K. Simmons
Read IndieWire’s review: “Palm Springs” offers a novel way to explore why the decision to share your life with someone can be more than just a band-aid placed atop a gaping wound of loneliness. Sure, “Groundhog Day” arrives at essentially the same place, but — start to finish — this winsome bauble of a movie is uniquely eager to embrace the idea that life isn’t quite as limitless as it seems.Photo : Apple
Director: Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart
Cast: Honor Kneafsey, Eva Whittaker, Sean Bean, Simon McBurney, Maria Doyle Kennedy
Read IndieWire’s review: With “Wolfwalkers” — the final installment of the studio’s informal trilogy of films about Irish folklore — Cartoon Saloon has realized its true potential at last. Far and away the best animated film of the year so far (one worthy of such hosannas no matter how limited the competition has been), this heartfelt tale of love and loss is the most visually enchanting feature its studio has made thus far, as well as the most poignant.Photo : Neon
Director: Josephine Decker
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg, Odessa Young, Logan Lerman
Read IndieWire’s review: “Shirley” is no more of a biopic than “Bright Star,” “An Angel at My Table,” or “Shakespeare in Love.” Adapted from the Susan Scarf Merrell novel of the same name, Decker’s characteristically sawtoothed and delirious new film is set in the same latent space between fact and fantasy — a story and its telling — where she located all of her previous work.Photo : Cannes
34. “Another Round”
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang, Lars Ranthe
Accolades: Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay at the European Film Awards
Read IndieWire’s review: Thomas Vinterberg’s absorbing dark comedy turns into a lively and fascinating referendum on booze, with Mads Mikkelsen’s fierce and unsettling performance vibrating at its center. Teaming up for the first time since their similarly unnerving character study “The Hunt” in 2012, the Danish actor and director join forces for a wily character study that enhances the one-note premise through the sheer gusto of its execution.Photo : Amazon
Director: Steve McQueen
Cast: Letitia Wright, Shaun Parkes, Malachi Kirby, Rochenda Sandall, Alex Jennings, Jack Lowden
Read IndieWire’s review: The dramatic story of the Mangrove Nine, when a group of Black British activists fought back against racist police raids in a tense series of courtroom showdowns, practically pitched itself as a movie when it unfolded in 1970. (They were acquitted of most charges, but the raids didn’t stop.) It only took 50 years, but writer-director Steve McQueen’s “Mangrove” works overtime to fill the gap, resulting in a delectable crowdpleaser both specific to its moment and relevant today.
36. “City Hall”
Director: Frederick Wiseman
Read IndieWire’s review: As attention spans dwindle and the complex mess of American governance grows murkier than ever, Wiseman’s immersive dive into Boston’s city services ignores the pressure to dumb things down and marvels at the complexity of a system designed to make the world run right.Photo : Amazon
“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”
Director: Jason Woliner
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen and Maria Bakalova
Read IndieWire’s review: Cobbled together in the midst of the pandemic and rushed out ahead of the presidential election, the new “Borat” plays like a prankish wakeup call to the lunacy he’s been pointing towards for ages. At a time when satire often feels too soft, this brilliant, vulgar plea for a better world cuts deep.Photo : Grasshopper Films
Director: Dan Sallitt
Cast: Tallie Medel and Norma Kuhling
Read IndieWire’s review:
The fifth feature by revered critic, compulsive cinephile, and occasional filmmaker Dan Sallitt, “Fourteen” is a modest but gradually — and, in the end, greatly — affecting sketch of how even the closest of friendships can shift and wither over the years. People change in different ways. Some don’t change at all. It helps when there’s a clear reason beneath the shifting tectonic plates that cause the rifts between us, but it still hurts all the same.Photo : Amazon
39. “The Vast of Night”
Director: Andrew Patterson
Cast: Sierra McCormick and Jake Horowitz
Read IndieWire’s review: This is a thriller nostalgic for the days of letterman jackets, rotary phones, Cold War-era conspiracy theories, and when everybody, even kids, smoked. With his retro, lo-fi, low-budget first feature, director Patterson should easily expect Hollywood to soon start throwing plenty of higher-concept genre fare at him, and on the basis of the supreme confidence of “The Vast of Night” alone, he’s ready for it.
40. “Sorry We Missed You”
Director: Ken Loach
Cast: Kris Hitchen, Debbie Honeywood, Rhys Stone, Katie Proctor
Read IndieWire’s review: “Sorry We Missed You” is the latest installment in this sprawling pantheon of cinematic activism, and delivers another tough, poignant look at desperate characters trapped by the only system that allows them to survive.Photo : Neon
41. “She Dies Tomorrow”
Director: Amy Seimetz
Cast: Kate Lyn Sheil, Jane Adams, Kentucker Audley, Katie Aselton, Chris Messina, Tunde Adebimpe
Read IndieWire’s review: “She Dies Tomorrow” is a gripping seriocomic apocalyptic thriller that combines classic David Cronenberg body horror and with the scathing surrealism of Luis Buñuel. Envisioning a disease where the afflicted believe they’ll die by morning, the movie taps into a timeless anxiety with hilarious and disquieting results, often delivered in the same dose.Photo : Berlinale
Director: Christian Petzold
Cast: Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski
Accolades: Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival and the European Film Awards
Read IndieWire’s review: Much like the “Vertigo”-inspired “Phoenix,” Petzold imbues the material with a Hitchcockian build, as subtle moments drop hints of dark, invisible forces conspiring to complicate the situation. Undine may be losing her grip on reality, but reality has a few surprises in store for her as well.Photo : Apple
43. “On the Rocks”
Director: Sofia Coppola
Cast: Rashida Jones, Bill Murray, Marlon Wayans, Jenny Slate
Read IndieWire’s review: It’s the first Sofia Coppola movie that feels — if only during its flattest stretches — as if it could have been made by somebody else, and yet at the same time it also plays like the loose and tipsy self-portrait of a maturing filmmaker being visited by the ghost of her greatest success.Photo : Netflix
44. “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Director: George C. Wolfe
Cast: Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo, Michael Potts
Read IndieWire’s review: An actor’s showcase for Viola Davis as the show-stopping singer and the late Chadwick Boseman as the scheming trumpeter angling to steal her spotlight, director George C. Wolfe’s reverential adaptation livens up the material with sizzling color and vivid closeups. Save for a few digressions, however, Wolfe and screenwriter Ruben Santiago-Hudson have put the play into the movie, rather than vice versa.
45. “The Young Ahmed”
Director: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Cast: Idir Ben Addi, Olivier Bonnaud, Myriem Akheddiou, Victoria Bluck as Louise
Read IndieWire’s review: While propelled by a handful of gripping encounters and the Dardennes’ usual economical storytelling, “Young Ahmed” never quite gets beyond the fundamental challenge Ahmed faces to provide deeper insights into his behavior, even as it delivers on its timely, provocative concept in rather straightforward terms.Photo : HBO Max
46. “Let Them All Talk”
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen, Gemma Chan, Lucas Hedges, Dianne Wiest
Read IndieWire’s review: With “Let Them All Talk,” Soderbergh has gone from making movies informed by his “let’s just do it and be legends” ethos to making a movie about the futility of perfection, and the consequences of imposing it on an unruly world. If this gentle and luxuriant floating gabfest isn’t the least bit hostile towards Fincher or anyone else, it’s still a clear shot across the bow at the idea that artists have the final say over how people live with their work.Photo : Focus Features
Director: Autumn de Wilde
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Josh O’Connor, Callum Turner, Mia Goth, Miranda Hart, Bill Nighy
Read IndieWire’s review: Director Autumn de Wilde’s lavish but loyal “Emma” (stylized “Emma.”), an indulgent movie about indulgent people that dares to imagine how — on a long enough timeline — the whole of human existence might be no more important than a straw hat shaped like a fortune cookie, or a navy blue shirt popping against a mustard peacoat, or the romantic misfortunes of an unsophisticated teenage girl as they reverberate through a vain pocket of the English gentry.Photo : Warner Bros.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Kenneth Branagh, Elizabeth Debicki
Read IndieWire’s review: What kind of picture is it? Big, certainly: IMAX-scaled, and a hefty 150 minutes even after a visibly ruthless edit. It’s clever, too — yes, the palindromic title has some narrative correlation — albeit in an exhausting, rather joyless way. As second comings go, “Tenet” is like witnessing a Sermon on the Mount preached by a savior who speaks exclusively in dour, drawn-out riddles. Any awe is flattened by follow-up questions.
49. “His House”
Director: Remi Weekes
Cast: Wunmi Mosaku, Sope Dirisu, Matt Smith
Read IndieWire’s review: One of the best debuts of the year, Remi Weekes’ shrewd, tender, and sometimes terrifying “His House” begins with a clever premise — the immigrant experience as a horror movie — and expands on that idea in knowing and unexpected ways.
50. “The Painter and the Thief”
Director: Benjamin Ree
Read IndieWire’s review: Benjamin Ree’s nuanced and beguiling new documentary is about the various things we all take from each other…It’s a frequently riveting movie that’s full of raw and loaded encounters. Ree shoots “The Painter and the Thief” with the probing composure of a scripted European drama (few documentaries make it so easy to imagine their narrative remakes).
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First published at IndieWire Wednesday 16 December 2020. See; https://www.indiewire.com/gallery/50-best-movies-2020-critics-poll/e-m-m-a/