Top 20 movies of 2020

 Top 20 movies of 2020

I’ll be honest with you, lads – I came to write this, thought of all the formatting that lay ahead of me, and just… let out a prolonged, audible sigh! See, with all the Golden Bops and Singles of the Year festivities, I left my own personal year-end lists until the last moment, and I am BLOGGED OUT.

So I did my year-end films list as a Twitter thread, and – thanks to WordPress’s fancy Unroll feature – it appears in regular text form below. I don’t really understand it, but here we are! The plus side is that at least I don’t waffle on for 405832 words with these.

My previous year-end No1s:
2017: The Florida Project [blog]
2018: The Favourite (I kinda wish I picked A Simple Favour) [blog]
2019: Knives Out [blog]

You can see my year-end albums here, singles here and TV shows here.

20. The Boys In The Band

I’ve never seen this on stage, so was keen to see the movie adap – and I found it really interesting. I’ve also never properly seen Jim Parsons act before – he’s great; does a great line in self-loathing.

19. On The Rocks

Rashida Jones and Bill Murray make an excellent daughter-father double-act in this relatively quiet comedy-drama by Sofia Coppola. Not quite the laugh-out-loud riot you might expect, but great fun.

18. Happiest Season

It pushes the very limits of how much we as viewers are willing to root for a central couple, but Happiest Season still hits more than it misses. An excellent Kristen Stewart is probably my favourite ingredient.

17. The Trial Of The Chicago 7

It’s Aaron Sorkin doing some excellent Aaron Sorkining, and if you remember it’s a dramatisation rather than a documentary, it’s a really compelling ride. Cast all fab – I barely recognised Jeremy Strong.

16. Jojo Rabbit

I expected something very bizarre and I got… something very bizarre! Packs a massive emotional punch, too… *that* shot of the dangling shoes?! Ohhhh boy. (Also fun fact – this is the only film on this list that I saw in a cinema.)

15. Misbehaviour

Classic British recent-history-ensemble-comedy-drama; you can file it right alongside Pride. Feelgood, fun, and fantastically performed by all, it’s an absolute riot. I’d watch Gugu Mbatha-Raw in anything.

14. The High Note

This gave me absolutely everything I needed. Ultimate pandemic comfort-watch. Tracee Ellis Ross and Dakota Johnson are a dynamite pairing as an iconic popstar and her new assistant; and there’s a perfect balance of heart and humour.

13. Lovers Rock

A gorgeous romance that makes a whole, all-consuming movie experience about one special night. Steve McQueen? A genius!

12. Saint Frances

I didn’t think I was that into this film. Then suddenly I was half-way through and I was so. deeply. invested. in Bridget and Franny’s bond; and when Franny gets taken to school at the end?? I SOBBED!

11. I’m Your Woman

This is awesome bc it’s ostensibly about what happens when a guy kills some gangster – but we barely see him at all; instead we’re on his wife as she learns about his ~job and starts to fight for herself. Rachel Brosnahan is A+.

10. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

It’s been criticised for being play-like, but… we’re in a pandemic, we can’t see actual plays! Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davies are *incredible* in this, and a posthumous Oscar nod for the former would be 100% deserved

9. Portrait of a Lady on Fire

It’s not like there’s a gripping plot to keep you transfixed, but there’s something about the way it’s shot and the way the two leads interact with each-other that just makes it impossible to look away. Stunning!

8. Bad Education

Corrupt bastards getting slowly but surely rumbled?? It’s like my petrol! Hugh Jackman has rarely been better, and obviously Alison Janney can steal from me any time she goddamn likes

7. Wolfwalkers

This is tucked away on AppleTV+ and I’d reaaaaally recommend it. A charming animation about a wolf hunter’s daughter who makes friends with a girl who is… er… half wolf. Just watch it!!

6. Onward

Maybe it benefitted from my middling expectations, but I wasn’t expecting this to ~land quite as hard as it did. It’s ostensibly about grief and identity but by the end, it’s about brotherhood and trying not to fucking audibly sob.

5. Parasite

Nah but this really is fucking great, isn’t it? Darkly funny, deliciously plotty… more an extremely grim modern fairytale than a realistic/relatable story, it gets WILD towards the end. Best Picture? DESERVED.

4. Rocks

A stunning and powerful coming-of-age story – Theresa Ikoko and Claire Wilson wrote an absolute blinder, cleverly built-upon with cast improvisations. Bukky Bakray is SO good in the lead role. It’s on Netflix, watch it!!!

3. I Used To Go Here

GOD I don’t know if it’s the “ok I’m in my 30s now” life angst, the “I got a job I loved but am I actually any good at it?” angst, or simply the fact that I too went back to my old uni this year (like the lead character does) – but this indie comedy hit UNCOMFORTABLY HARD!! It’s a £2 rental on Prime.

2. The 40-Year-Old Version

She won a 30 Under 30 playwriting award 10 years ago, and she’s… not gone far since. And everyone whiter and richer than her is telling her how to be ~aUtHeNtIc. This film is SO smart and wry, and Radha Blank is a STAR.

1. Mangrove

The first incredible Small Axe film, and so infuriatingly potent in big old 2020… Mangrove hits hard not just in the ~bigger moments, but in the quieter ones too. Who’d have thought a lingering shot of a colander could be so devastating?

Shaun Kitchener

Scriptwriter for the theatre and TV (currently Hollyoaks) and freelance entertainment ~reportage.