Review: Best Films of 2020

We all know 2020 has been a difficult year and cinema has been particularly affected, with theatres closing, productions shutting down and studios panic-moving their precious blockbusters to the following year. Even so there were some good films that made it to our screens, one way or another, this year. Here’s is my Top 5 films released in the UK in 2020:

Uncut Gems
(dirs.) Benny and Josh Safdie

Following up their frenetic Good Time, the Safdie Brothers amped up the angst to eleven with this tale of a jewellery dealer (Adam Sandler) with a severe gambling addiction. It’s two-hours of arm-rest grabbing, heart-racing tension, with Sandler offering his best work since Punch-Drunk Love. Quite how the Academy overlooked it entirely at the Oscars – apart from the swearing, maybe – is a mystery.

See it on: Netflix

The Lighthouse
(dir.) Robert Eggers

A black-and-white tale of two lighthouse keepers isolated and slowly going mad – be it from cabin fever or the hooch they’re drinking – writer-director Robert Eggers trumps the work he did on debut The Witch. Like nothing you’ve ever seen before, Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson get their tongues around some salty maritime banter for this psychological sea shanty.

See it on: DVD, Blu-Ray and digital download

Soul
(dirs.) Pete Doctor, Kemp Powers

It was set to be premiered in Cannes, until the festival got cancelled. Now it’s streaming on Disney +, which feels like something of a comedown, but that doesn’t distract from the sheer brilliance of this metaphysical masterpiece, as jazz fan Joe (Jamie Foxx) must fight his way back to Earth after dying in an accident. Most live-action films don’t contain this amount of thought and introspection.

See it on: Disney +

Tenet
(dir.) Christopher Nolan

The only major blockbuster to be released during the pandemic, Nolan’s time-bending spy thriller frustrated some with its obtuse sound design muffling the dialogue, but there’s no denying the sheer jaw-dropping dexterity of its narrative. John David Washington and Robert Pattinson – yes, him again – were classy as the espionage agents trying to stop something “worse” than World War III.

See it on: DVD, Blu-Ray and digital download

I’m Thinking of Ending Things
(dir.) Charlie Kaufman

It’s only Kaufman’s third film as director but this adaptation of Iain Reid’s 2016 novel is every bit as idiosyncratic as Synecdoche, New York and Anomalisa. Here, Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons play the mismatched couple on a visit to his oddball parents that just gets weirder and weirder. Filled with disconcerting images and meditations on ageing, it’s a true wonder-piece.

See it on: Netflix

James Mottram