A little less than a month ago Esquire‘s Nick Schager posted his choices for the 40 best films of 2020, most many of which struck me as highly unwarranted if not flat-out absurd. Josh Trank‘s Capone, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne‘s respectable Young Ahmed, Corneliu Porumboiu‘s underwhelming The Whistlers, Leigh Whannell‘s respectable but wildly overpraised The Invisible Man, Andrew Patterson‘s Slamdance-level The Vast of Night, Kleber Mendonça Filho‘s ultra-violent Bacurau…c’mon!
A lot has changed over the last month. Here’s my rundown of 2020’s top 15, and in this order (I won’t be seeing Sofia Coppola‘s On The Rocks until next Monday):
1. Chloe Zhao‘s Nomadland.
2. Roman Polanski‘s J’Accuse (An Officer and a Spy): “Crafted with absolute surgical genius…a lucid, exacting and spot-on retelling of an infamous episode of racial prejudice…a sublime atmospheric and textural recapturing of 1890s ‘belle epoque’ Paris, and such a meticulous, hugely engrossing reconstruction of the Dreyfus affair…a tale told lucidly…clue by clue, layer by layer. Pretty much a perfect film. The fact that it can’t be seen in this country has no bearing whatsoever on the fact that it’s an absolutely brilliant film.” (Reviewed on 3.25.20.)
3. Aaron Sorkin‘s The Trial of the Chicago 7.
4. Florian Zeller‘s The Father (Sony Pictures Classics, 12.18.20 — saw it a week or two ago, completely floored ahd hugely impressed but haven’t written my review yet — Anthony Hopkins is an obvious Best Actor lock).
5. Chris Nolan‘s Tenet — a major conceptual knockout that definitely needs subtitles.
6. Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson‘s The King of Staten Island — the views of people who didn’t care for it as much I did are not “wrong” — they just don’t have big enough souls.
7. Michael Winterbottom‘s The Trip to Greece (reviewed on 5.24.20)
8. Rod Lurie‘s The Outpost.
9. Diao Yinan‘s The Wild Goose Lake.
10. Cory Finley and Mike Makowski‘s Bad Education.
11. Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always.
12. Gavin O’Connor and Ben Affleck‘s The Way Back.
13. Vaclav Malhoul‘s The Painted Bird.
14. Ken Loach‘s Sorry We Missed You.
15. Kelly Reichardt‘s First Cow.