TL;DR – 2020 was a great year in film and here are our favourites
So far in our awards, we have looked at Action, Animation, Best of Australia, Cinematography, Costumes, Emotion, Fun, Music, Tension, and Worldbuilding.
However, in this last entry into our Best of 2020 awards, we crown our winner of the best film of 2020.
Now all films are subjective, so our list might look completely different than yours. Also, we didn’t get to see every movie this year which means we will be only drawing our Top 15 from the 101 films we did get to see, which you can see a list of HERE. You can also click on the banners to go to the full review.
It was also a very odd year for cinema with many films getting postponed, or released in non-traditional means.
Okay with that out of the way let dive into the first entry in our list of Best Films of 2020.
15: The Croods: A New Age
For me, The Croods: A New Age might be the biggest surprise of the year. There is a level of sheer creativity here that took me off guard. For example, you have a running gag involving subtitles that had me and the rest of the audience in stitches whenever it was brought up. It is also a beautiful film, creating a world that is both stunning and dangerous. An excellent movie for kids also resonates with adults, making it a film to check out.
Nominated: Creative Animation, Most Fun & Fascinating Worldbuilding
Directed by – Joel Crawford
Story by – Kirk DeMicco & Chris Sanders
Screenplay by – Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Paul Fisher & Bob Logan
Based on – Characters by Kirk DeMicco, Chris Sanders & John Cleese
14: The Legend of Baron To’a
Coming back to your childhood home with all the power of nostalgia, legacy, and pain, it is both just how you left it and also completely changed. This is the emotional subject that The Legend of Baron To’a is exploring. Add to this a real villain and a quest to right wrongs, and you have an engaging watch even before you get one long brawling action scene that was a delight from start to finish.
Nominated – Explosive Action
Directed by – Kiel McNaughton
Story by – John Argall & Owen Black
Screenplay by – John Argall
Another surprise from the year was Emma, a charming little film with all the Regency era’s grandeur. Nearly every frame of this film is as wonderfully produced as the precise diction everyone is talking with and the height of everyone’s collars. There were moments of pure delight like Miranda Hart pitch-perfect performance that made every moment on this film engaging.
Nominated: Beautiful Cinematography, Stunning Costumes, Most Fun, Exquisite Musical Score & Fascinating Worldbuilding
Directed by – Autumn de Wilde
Screenplay by – Eleanor Catton
Based on – Emma by Jane Austen
12: Let Him Go
Let Him Go was a difficult film to watch at times; it hits you with emotional heartbreak at barely a moment’s notice. You feel that Diane Lane and Kevin Costner are an old married couple, and that is important for everything that happens throughout the film because it brings a feeling to the reality to the continuing dread. Add to this moments of pure tension where you don’t know what will happen next creates a compelling film from start to finish.
11: The Windermere Children
How do you go on when you have suffered the gross dehumanisation of an event like The Holocaust? This is what The Windermere Children is exploring with a story that is a profoundly human narrative of pain, loss, and recovery. All set in a world that does not know or understand the realities of the horror the children suffered. But what really makes this film work is the moments of joy that help create the emotional roller-coaster you will be on throughout.
Nominated: The Emotion.
Directed by – Michael Samuels
Written by – Simon Block
With Onward, I was expecting a fun story about fantasy creatures living in a modern world and on that level, it succeeded. But what I was not expecting was an honest look at the role that grief plays in your life, the legacy of those who have left us that still lingers on in our lives. Then while we go on a quest with two oddball characters, all of these factors come together in a frankly emotional convergence of pain and catharsis.
Nominated – Creative Animation & Most Fun
Directed by – Dan Scanlon
Story by – Dan Scanlon, Jason Headley & Keith Bunin
Screenplay by – Dan Scanlon, Jason Headley & Keith Bunin
9:Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna
There is the intellectual knowledge that you will be going in to see a goodbye, and then there are the hard emotional realities of that goodbye. I did not expect Digimon Adventure to come for me as hard as it did, but boy did it ever. It is a goodbye not just for the characters in the film but also for those who grow up with the series and is getting one last chance. This is a film that is as funny as it is moving and that is a testament to the writing as it both acknowledges and then transcends the nostalgia of its world.
Nominated: Creative Animation
Winner: Creative Animation
Directed by – Tomohisa Taguchi
Screenplay by – Akatsuki Yamatoya
Based on – Digimon Digital Monsters by Akiyoshi Hongo
8: Baby Done
If there is one film I laughed the most this year, it would have to be Baby Done. This is one of those films where everyone in the cast is on their A-Game, Rachel House as the no-nonsense principal, Madeleine Sami as the pull-no-punches nurse, and Matenga Ashby as the kid they kind of already adopted without knowing. While the film is hilarious, it also feels grounded in its central dilemma. It explores a genuine issue that people come across in their lives thanks in no small part to Rose Matafeo and Matthew Lewis’ performances.
Nominated: Most Fun.
Winner: Most Fun.
Directed by – Curtis Vowell
Written by – Sophie Henderson
7: Sound of Metal
Few films have ever had such specific and powerful editing design as Sound of Metal. In every moment of this film, there is a particular choice as to what sound the audience hears. Do they listen to what Riz Ahmed’s character can hear or do they go outside into the world? This one choice helps set this film apart as it hits much harder. Add to this a cast that knows this world better than anyone you get a compelling and powerful film.
Nominated: Fascinating Worldbuilding.
Winner: Fascinating Worldbuilding.
Directed by – Darius Marder
Story by – Darius Marder & Derek Cianfrance
Screenplay by – Darius Marder & Abraham Marder
6: Black is King
Of the films on this list, this is not one with a traditional narrative or structure. Black is King is a more experimental work using The Lion King’s narrative as a framework to explore a whole different world. As it is a more experimental work, it is hard quite to describe what is going one. But at all times you are engaged visually with the costumes and cinematography. While to more abstract story moves around you like waves bringing you deeper into this world.
Nominated: Beautiful Cinematography & Stunning Costumes
Winner: Stunning Costumes
Directed by – Beyoncé Knowles-Carter & Kwasi Fordjour with Emmanuel Adjei, Blitz Bazawule, Pierre Debusschere, Jenn Nkiru, Ibra Ake, Dikayl Rimmasch, Jake Nava, Dafe Oboro & Julian Klincewicz.
Written by – Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Clover Hope & Andrew Morrow with Warsan Shire
5: Da 5 Bloods
Well, it might have been just the legacy of 2020, but there are quite a few films on this list that delve into the world of trauma. In Da 5 Bloods, that trauma is the legacy of war on those who had partaken in it, epically the focus of this film the Vietnam War. The trauma of the grief that you experienced is manifested in Delroy Lindo’s character, especially in his fractured relationship with his son. This is a film about legacy and the reality that some legacies leave a harsh mark on our lives.
4: The Invisible Man
Few films have captured a feeling terror quite as much as those first few moments of The invisible Man. In those moments when Elisabeth Moss’ character escapes her abuser, every step, every moment, every potential disaster becomes a wave of tension as it washes over you. As the film progresses, it builds upon this by framing everything in the mid or far distance leaving a lot of empty space and getting your mind to fill in the blanks as to what horrors could lurk there.
Nominated: Explosive Action, Best Australian Film & All The Tension
Winner: All The Tension
Directed by – Leigh Whannell
Story by – Leigh Whannell
Screenplay by – Leigh Whannell
Based on –The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
If there were a film on this list for sheer technical achievement alone, it would be 1917. The presentation of all the action happening in one (well two) takes took all the many different film departments working together to make it work seamlessly. But while 1917 is a technical marvel, it is also more than that. It is a compelling look into the world of war where communications are cut, and you have to stop someone going to their deaths for no reason. That action drives every part of the film from the highs of the action to the lows of emotional despair and everything in between.
Nominated: Explosive Action, Beautiful Cinematography, All The Tension & Exquisite Musical Score
Winner: Beautiful Cinematography & Exquisite Musical Score
Directed by – Sam Mendes
Written by – Sam Mendes & Krysty Wilson-Cairns
2: Little Women
When I was writing this list, one of the most significant issues I had was trying to work out which of the next two films would be second and which would be first and while I did finally come to a decision, let’s just was the line between these two films is razor-thin. One of the first films I watched in 2020 was Greta Gerwig’s interpretation of the classic Little Women, and it started the year off on a great note. It took a story that everyone knew well but then reframed the narrative around the core character of the film played by Eliza Scanlen. This reframing gives the film the emotional core that takes every element of the film and then elevates it. Add to that fantastic performances, costumes, cinematography, and more and you get a movie to watch over and over again.
Directed by – Greta Gerwig
Screenplay by – Greta Gerwig
Based on – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Now we come to the number one film of the year that was 2020, and wow was this a hard pick to make. I went back and forth between this and Little Women so many times when writing this list that I was unsure if I could decide, but then I remembered one thing that separated the two. Babyteeth is a film about broken people trying to do their best in an emotionally crippling scenario. This is a film where Ben Mendelsohn emotionally broke me with a single look, and I have never experienced a moment like that in cinema before. It is a complicated and challenging film to watch at times, but that rawness propels it forward because all of the cast are giving their all. It is beautiful yet sad, uplifting yet devastating, and charming yet crippling. If you have not seen it, I HIGHLY recommend it to you but be prepared for the tears.
Nominated: Best Australian Film & The Emotion.
Winner: Best Australian Film & The Emotion
Directed by – Shannon Murphy
Screenplay by – Rita Kalnejais
Based on – Babyteeth by Rita Kalnejais
With that our awards for 2020 come to a close, it was an excellent year for cinema, and we look forward to continuing our coverage into 2021.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
What are your favourite cinematic moments from 2020?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Credits – All images used were created by the respective studios and artists of each film