Ranking 2020’s top five flicks


Audrey Plaza in Black Bear. Courtesy to Momentum Pictures.

Simon Wagner

Well, the time has come. Now that we are firmly set in a new year, I have decided to take a look back at some of the best films I saw in 2020. I’ve done my best to condense the overwhelming amount of great pictures I watched into my top five films of the year. These are, in my eyes, the best of the best.  

#5 – “Shirley”

Anchored by two of the best performances from 2020, Josephine Decker’s spellbinding drama is one of the best all-around films of the year. Based loosely on the famous author Shirley Jackson, this story follows a young couple who board the famous author’s home, eventually leading to a relationship between the writer and young wife. 

Elisabeth Moss and Odessa Young put on a masterclass of back and forth acting, as each of them give career-defining works of art. Everyone involved in this film deserves a shoutout, especially cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen, composer Tamar-kali and writer Sarah Gubbins. This film is damn near perfect in my eyes.

#4 – “Sound of Metal”

With the best soundscape of the year, this film tells the story of a heavy-metal drummer who rapidly loses his sense of hearing and must cope with the fallout. What really makes this movie so special — besides the incredible performance from Riz Ahmed — is the touching sincerity it offers towards the deaf community. It’s a straightforward story about human life, and what it means to find beauty when the odds are stacked against you.

#3 – “Shithouse”

What makes this tiny film so high on my list is the relatability of the story. Set in California, a homesick college freshman goes to a party one night and ends up spending the entire night with his RA. Another simple, straightforward story, but the details in between the lines are what makes this picture so special. 

It’s easily the most realistic movie of the year, and the writing is a direct transcript of how the youth talk today. Writer/director/star Cooper Raiff has crafted the essential college film and it demands to be seen. 

#2 – “Black Bear”

Easily the most entertaining movie of the year, “Black Bear” wastes no time jumping into sheer chaos. A third of the way in and we already have a pregnant woman drinking, an argument about feminism and gender roles, and an affair. Then we get to the halfway point and the film flips itself entirely on its head. 

You don’t have to understand the movie, you just have to feel it. Feel the menacing grin across your face as you enjoy the chaos, and never let it leave. Aubrey Plaza delivers the best performance I’ve ever seen from her, and Chrisopher Abbott plays a great terrible husband. I can imagine just how much fun Lawrence Michael Levine had when he was writing this film.

#1 – “Lovers Rock”

Steve McQueen’s love letter to West London Reggae house parties is simply the best film of the year. Crafted with such style and beauty, this short movie drips passion. 

The story follows an all-black house party in the 1980s, as it focuses on the characters, music and dancing that made these parties so special. The film includes the undisputed greatest scene of the year when we are immersed in a 10-minute sequence of dancing and singing to the song, “Silly Games” by Janet Kay. This single scene perfectly encompasses the message behind “Lovers Rock,” and how love, music and dance can cure all.