2020 was a particularly rough year for the film industry. With theatres being shut down and streaming deals being made for the future, everything might feel a little uncertain for movie lovers and those within the industry. Of course, with the coming year promising a more hopeful future, we’d still like to look back on what was offered to us. With many large studio projects being continuously delayed, we plucked some of the films that moved us, made us laugh, and made us cry. Like our Best of TV list, we got the staff to pitch in and list it all out alphabetically! So here it is, our top 15 movies of 2020!

Assassins dir. Ryan White

Assassins was a surprise hit out of the collection of movies I’d seen this year during Sundance 2020. Directed by Ryan White, who was also behind The Keepers documentary on Netflix, this doc follows the story of two women who were unknowingly turned into the assassins of Kim Jong-nam. A riveting piece of documentary filmmaking and a nuanced look at the manipulation of two young women, Assassins will intrigue and infuriate you. Watch it now in theaters and virtual cinemas! — Therese Lacson

top 15 movies of 2020

Emma dir. Autumn de Wilde

In a sea of Austen adaptations (both period-accurate and loosely inspired), Autumn de Wilde‘s Emma injects a punch of color and life into one of Austen’s least-loved protagonists. Portrayed to pretentious, well-meaning, haughty perfection by Anya Taylor-Joy, the youthful spirit of its eponymous protagonist is perfectly captured. A little weird and a bit hot-blooded, Emma is a worthy addition to the hallowed halls of Jane Austen films. — Therese Lacson

Da Five Bloods dir Spike Lee

Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods hit hard while watching amidst the Black Lives Matter Protests. In this stunning drama, as five Vietnam War veterans revisited their past, their narrative spoke to our collective present in a powerful way. Additionally, the performances of Delroy Lindo and the late Chadwick Boseman are raw and heartbreaking — two golden jewels in this treasure of a movie. — Aaron Halls

enola holmes

Enola Holmes dir. Harry Bradbeer

A good adaptation of a YA novel this year? Perish the thought. Okay, enough poking fun at Artemis Fowl — which yes, also came out this year — Enola Holmes was genuinely one of the most delightful films of the year, just in terms of sheer entertainment value. If you’re a fan of anything Sherlock Holmes, you’ll probably enjoy the adventures of his younger sister, Enola (played with aplomb by Millie Bobby Brown). I loved the books as a kid, and this film, with its popping visuals and fun casting, did the trick for escapist entertainment in a year that needed way more of it. — Ruth Johnson

Hamilton dir. Thomas Kail

Is this a movie? Rotten Tomatoes says it is, so I’m declaring it one, too. Anyway, if you didn’t get a chance to see the original Hamilton cast on the stage, and let’s face it, very few of us did, this recording is well worth a Disney+ subscription for a month or so (and you could always start The Mandalorian after it). Is there much more to be said about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s masterpiece that hasn’t already been said? Probably not. — Ruth Johnson

top 15 movies of 2020

Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey dir. Cathy Yan

Continuity? I never met her – and thankfully, neither has Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey. A movie about Joker’s ex-girlfriend that wisely consigns the oversaturated Clown Prince of Crime to a split-second animated cameo, Birds of Prey should have been an unmitigated mess – and it is, sort of, but in the most gloriously over-the-top way possible (see: the fate of the villain, which is so good you’ll have to rewind and watch it again). Come for the bomb-ass breakfast sandwich and stay for the bomb-ass soundtrack! — Avery Kaplan

top 15 movies of 2020

Minari dir. Lee Isaac Chung

Hitting me deep in my heart comes Lee Isaac Chung‘s most recent film. A semi-autobiographical take on his own childhood, it was impossible for me to separate my experience of watching Minari with my own personal experiences growing up. It’s a story about an immigrant family striving to achieve that most impossible thing, the American Dream (hence the confusion as to why it’s labeled as a foreign film for the Golden Globes? Thanks for that HFPA.). It’s tender, emotional, and gut-wrenching. It is further empowered by Steven Yeun and Youn Yuh-jung‘s superb performances. I caught this at Sundance, but you can catch it in limited release now in the US, or wide release on February 12, 2021!  — Therese Lacson

Nomadland dir. Chloé Zhao

The latest cinematic experiment from Chloé Zhao is also the lone film that I fell in love with from 2020 with zero reservations. Zhao takes the same metafictional approach that she applied to her wonderful earlier film The Rider and evolves it into a full-fledged Oscar contender, by planting Frances McDormand in the midst of a post-recession nomadic odyssey, one that surrounds her with real-life American nomads and first-time actors. It’s an immersive and subversive look at American life between the margins and something you must experience as soon as you’re able. I’m honestly sad that her next movie is a Marvel film, but whatever keeps her flush enough that she can keep making these kinds of efforts is alright with me. — Kyle Pinion

On The Record dir Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering

Content Warning: This documentary deals with the subject of sexual assault and it may be difficult to watch for some viewers. I had the opportunity of attending a Sundance 2020 event that allowed the brave and courageous women of this documentary to share their experiences and truths. So, after the event when I saw this documentary, I was blown away. Oftentimes Black and Brown women are not allowed the space to be open and transparent about their abuse especially in the music business and hip-hop community specifically. The women of On The Record share their harrowing experiences at the hands of Russell Simmons. These women are vulnerable, transparent, and bold. Their stories are just so heartbreaking, and I do applaud them for bringing this to light and sharing such a difficult part of their lives with the world. I do hope they all get the peace and justice that they deserve. So, if you can, please check out On The Record on HBO Max. — Kay-B

top 15 movies of 2020

Possessor dir. Brandon Cronenberg

The latest from Brandon Cronenberg is the first real breakout effort for the son of the legendary director. Combining his father’s penchant for body horror, Dickian sci-fi, and a slice of cyberpunk, this high concept thriller centers on Andrea Riseborough’s assassin who possesses the bodies of her marks in an effort to kill whichever target her company has been hired to eliminate. But what if one of her unwilling collaborators figures out what’s happened to him? Speculative fiction of the highest order is on offer with this one, and it recently hit home release. The father may be headed to retirement but his son is well-positioned to inherit the family legacy. — Kyle Pinion

Promising Young Woman dir. Emerald Fennell

When the credits rolled on Promising Young Woman, I almost didn’t know how to feel. The film surprised me right from the get-go and continued to surprise me right until the end — every time I thought I had it figured out, it became something else. For that reason, as well as Carey Mulligan‘s superb performance, it’s stuck with me to become one of my favorite and most memorable films of the year. — Hannah Lodge

Small Axe (Film Anthology) dir. Steve McQueen

This anthology film series by Steve McQueen chronicles the history of Black West Indian immigrants in England during the 1970s. Amidst the rhythms of reggae music, the lyrical dialects of their accents, and pride in their cultures, McQueen shows how Black people were tormented, tortured, and killed for the sake of being Black in the films Mangrove, Lovers Rock, Red, White & Blue, Alex Wheatle, and Education. — Carolyn Hinds

top 15 movies of 2020

Soul dir. Peter Docter

I wrote about it more elaborately here, but Soul impressed me by subverting the usual unrealistic standards we set on children at a young age and instead encouraging them to be whoever they are for personal fulfillment instead of professional success. That it looks gorgeous and features a stellar cast is the icing on the proverbial cake. — Hannah Lodge

top 15 movies of 2020

The 40-Year-Old Version dir. Radha Blank

For her debut as a feature-length director and actress, Radha Blank delivered one of the funniest and most honest films of the year. The 40-Year-Old Version is a brief glimpse into what it’s like for Black women discovering our lives and creativity doesn’t end after we turn 40. Never let it be said that freestyle rapping about achy knees and precocious teenagers can’t be funny or thought-provoking. — Carolyn Hinds

top 15 movies of 2020

Wolfwalkers dir. Tomm Moore and Rosa Stewart

A 2020 Toronto International Film Festival and 2020 American Film Institute selection, I had the pleasure of watching this heartfelt, adventurous, and dynamic animated film. The sisterhood that builds between the two film leads Robyn (Honor Kneafsey), a hunter apprentice, and Mebh Óg (Eva Whittaker), a carefree spirit, is so pure but also realistic in that trust has to build and even when tensions run high and promises are broken albeit for good reasons, they still find their way back to each other. Robyn’s arc is also really good. Starting as a wolf hunter, then through this unexpected friendship, she starts to see other people’s differences as strengths and she is constantly fighting against the injustices against the wolves and the wolfwalkers. It was a delight and if you enjoy Irish Folklore adventures with a good lesson and lots of adventure, check out Wolfwalkers on Apple TV+. — Kay-B

While I think we all wish there were more movies that we could have watched this year, 2020 still did not fail to impress us with the selection. What are your thoughts on our list?