The Best Movies of 2020 (So Far)

 

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We are now halfway through the year and as has become an annual tradition here at The End, it’s time to look back at the best movies of the year so far. As I discussed in the 2013 halfway post, the consensus movie-dating system is nonsensical and posits New York as the center of the universe. Far more logical (and much easier to use) is a system reliant on imdb’s dating system, which locates a film in whatever year it first played for an audience. That’s what we use here for all Rankings & Awards as it’s the most fair to all eras and areas. (A dating system reliant on playing in a certain locality I think can be valuable for a publication that is geographically specific, like a local newspaper or website. But here at The End, we have a global reach.)

A by-product of the system is that a number of films that first go into wide-release in any given year actually had their premiere in the year before. A number of the films on many critics’ halfway-point lists will include these films, films that find their proper home here on my 2019 list. And so here we have two lists: the Best Movies of 2020, following the strict imdb dating system, and the Best 2019 Movies of 2020, which includes those films from last year (and a couple from years before that) that you might find on a more chronologically-illogical list. On this list I’m including anything that didn’t get a theatrical release but was made available on VOD and is therefore eligible for this year’s Seattle Film Critics Awards. For obvious reasons, the New York theatrical release standard is even more nonsensical this year. I also have a third list, Best Unreleased Movies of 2019, of last year’s films that have yet to see a New York release and therefore don’t (yet) exist by the standards of most critics. And there’s a fourth list, a halfway version of my annual Best Older Movies list, counting the top movies I saw for the first time this year that are more than a few years old.

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The Best Movies of 2020 (So Far)

1. The Woman Who Ran (Hong Sangsoo)
2. The History of the Seattle Mariners (Jon Bois)
3. Da 5 Bloods (Spike Lee)
4. We Have Boots (Evans Chan)
5. Birds of Prey (Cathy Yan)
6. New York New York (Spike Lee)
7. Be Water (Bao Nguyen)
8. The Cube Phantom (Alan Lau)
9. Enter the Fat Dragon (Wong Jing & Tanigaki Kenji)
10. Long Gone Summer (AJ Schnack)

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The Best 2019 Movies of 2020 (So Far)

1. Yourself and Yours (Hong Sangsoo)
2. Fourteen (Dan Sallitt)
3. Made in Hong Kong (Fruit Chan)
4. Bacurau (Kleber Mendonça Filho & Juliano Dornelles)
5. Ride Your Wave (Masaaki Yuasa)
6. The Grand Bizarre (Jodie Mack)
7. Jallikattu (Lijo Jose Pellissery)
8. Hill of Freedom (Hong Sangsoo)
9. I Wish I Knew (Jia Zhangke)
10. Woman on the Beach (Hong Sangsoo)
11. MS Slavic 7 (Sofia Bohdanowicz & Deragh Campbell)
12. The Wild Goose Lake (Diao Yinan)
13. Weathering With You (Makoto Shinkai)
14. The Whistlers (Corneliu Porumboiu)
15. Young Ahmed (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)
16. Disappearance at Clifton Hill (Albert Shin)
17. House of Hummingbird (Kim Bora)

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The Best Unreleased Films of 2019 (So Far)

1. Labyrinth of Cinema (Obayashi Nobuhiko)
2. Chasing Dream (Johnnie To)
3. Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello)
4. Jeux de plage (Aimi Natsuto)
5. A Voluntary Year (Henner Winckler & Ulrich Köhler)
6. Heart (Jeong Gayoung)
7. Demolition Girl (Matsugami Genta)
8. The Bob Emergency (Jon Bois)
9. To Live To Sing (Johnny Ma)
10. Wet Season (Anthony Chen)

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2020 Discoveries (So Far)

1. Mughal-e-Azam (K. Asif, 1960)
2. The Rocking Horsemen (Obayashi Nobuhiko, 1992)
3. Om Shanti Om (Farah Khan, 2007)
4. Duvidha (Mani Kaul, 1973)
5. Mother India (Mehboob Khan, 1957)
6. Lagaan (Ashutosh Gowariker, 2001)
7. The Harder They Come (Perry Henzell, 1972)
8. Original Cast Album: Company (DA Pennebaker, 1970)
9. Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (V. Shantaram, 1955)
10. Dil Se.. (Mani Ratnam, 1998)
11. Welcome to LA (Alan Rudolph, 1976)
12. Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (Kundan Shah, 1994)
13. Eega (SS Rajamouli, 2012)
14. Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 (Itō Shunya, 1972)
15. Deewar (Yash Chopra, 1975)
16. Tamasha (Imtiaz Ali, 2015)
17. Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (Itō Shunya, 1972)
18. The Crazies (George Romero, 1973)
19. Stray Cat Rock: Machine Animal (Hasebe Yasuharu, 1970)
20. Cageman (Jacob Cheung, 1992)
21. Aag (Raj Kapoor, 1948)
22. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (Aditya Chopra, 1995)
23. Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter (Hasebe Yasuharu, 1970)
24. Devdas (PC Barua, 1936)
25. Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss (Hasebe Yasuharu, 1970)
26. Main Hoon Na (Farah Khan, 2004)
27. Ordinary Heroes (Ann Hui, 1999)
28. Ram Jaane (Rajiv Mehra, 1995)
29. Amrapali (Lekh Tandon, 1966)
30. Fan ((Maneesh Sharma, 2016)
31. Gangs (Lawrence Ah Mon, 1988)
32. emale Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable (Itō Shunya, 1973)
33. Batman Forever (Joel Schumacher, 1995)
34. Enthiran (S. Shankar, 2010)
35. The Delinquent (Chang Cheh & Kuei Chih-hung, 1973)

This Week in Rankings

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Since the last update I’ve been a bit more productive, reviewing Johnnie To’s Chasing Dream at Mubi, Tsai Ming-liang’s Journey to the West at InReview Online, and Obayashi Nobuhiko’s Labyrinth of Cinema and Nabwana IGG’s Crazy World at Frame.land. But we’re still locked up in quarantine and I’ve spent most of my movie-watching time catching up on things I’ve not had time for over the last few years, like a bunch of Indian movies, Pirates and Batman movies, and a whole lot of Kaji Maiko and Alan Rudolph.

If you like what I do here or at Seattle Screen SceneThe Chinese Cinema, or anywhere else, please consider donating at my kofi page. Every little bit helps.

These are the movies I’ve watched or rewatched over the last few weeks, and where they place on my year-by-year rankings.

College Hounds (Zion Myers & Jules White) – 18, 1929
Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa) – 1, 1954
East of Eden (Elia Kazan) – 30, 1955
Anatomy of a Murder (Otto Preminger) – 2, 1959
Amrapali (Lekh Tandon) – 15, 1966

Original Cast Album: Company (DA Pennebaker) – 7, 1970
Stray Cat Rock: Machine Animal (Hasebe Yasuharu) – 10, 1970
Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter (Hasebe Yasuharu) – 12, 1970
Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss (Hasebe Yasuharu) – 13, 1970
Stray Cat Rock: Wild Jumbo (Fujita Toshiya) – 16, 1970

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (Mel Stuart) – 18, 1971
Stray Cat Rock: Beat ’71 (Fujita Toshiya) – 20, 1971
Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 (Itō Shunya) – 11, 1972
Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (Itō Shunya) – 13, 1972
The Greenhouse Jungle (Boris Sagal) – 24, 1972

Female Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable (Itō Shunya) – 17, 1973
Female Prisoner Scorpion: #701’s Grudge Song (Hasebe Yasuharu) – 22, 1973
Welcome to LA (Alan Rudolph) – 6, 1976
Body Heat (Lawrence Kasdan) – 28, 1981
Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis) – 13, 1985

The Moderns (Alan Rudolph) – 8, 1988
Batman (Tim Burton) – 19, 1989
Dick Tracy (Warren Beatty) – 20, 1990
Love at Large (Alan Rudolph) – 44, 1990
Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael (Jim Abrahams) – 50, 1990

The Rocking Horsemen (Obayashi Nobuhiko) – 6, 1992
Batman Returns (Tim Burton) – 15, 1992
Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (Kundan Shah) – 20, 1994
Mrs. Parker & the Vicious Circle (Alan Rudolph) – 24, 1994
Ram Jaane (Rajiv Mehra) – 34, 1995

Batman Forever (Joel Schumacher) – 37, 1995
Neil Young & Crazy Horse: The Complex Sessions (Jonathan Demme) – 48, 1995
Batman & Robin (Joel Schumacher) – 67, 1997
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (Karan Johar) – 20, 1998
Love on a Diet (Johnnie To & Wai Ka-fai) – 21, 2001

Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham (Karan Johar) – 33, 2001
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Chris Columbus) – 37, 2001
Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (Gore Verbinski) – 13, 2003
Love for All Seasons (Johnnie To & Wai Ka-fai) – 36, 2003
Throw Down (Johnnie To) – 2, 2004

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (Gore Verbinski) – 6, 2006
Zodiac (David Fincher) – 7, 2007
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (Gore Verbinski) – 13, 2007
The Rebel (Charlie Nguyen) – 32, 2007
Clash (Le Thanh Son) – 36, 2009

Enthiran (S. Shankar) – 37, 2010
Who Killed Captain Alex? (Nabwana IGG) – 42, 2010
Tees Maar Khan (Farah Khan) – 69, 2010
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Rob Marshall) – 70, 2011
Chennai Express (Rohit Shetty) – 48, 2013

Journey to the West (Tsai Ming-liang) – 5, 2014
Crazy World (Nabwana IGG) – 79, 2014
Tamasha (Imtiaz Ali) – 17, 2015
Piku (Shoojit Sircar) – 55, 2015
Fan (Maneesh Sharma) – 28, 2016

Bad Black (Nabwana IGG) – 30, 2016
Dangal (Nitesh Tiwari) – 53, 2016
20th Century Women (Mike Mills) – 80, 2016
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg) – 160, 2017

Labyrinth of Cinema (Obayashi Nobuhiko) – 3, 2019
Chasing Dream (Johnnie To) – 8, 2019
Jallikattu (Lijo Jose Pellissery) – 11, 2019
Heart (Jeong Gayoung) – 26, 2019
The Bob Emergency (Jon Bois) – 40, 2019
Where’d You Go, Bernadette (Richard Linklater) – 51, 2019

The Woman Who Ran (Hong Sangsoo) – 1, 2020
The History of the Seattle Mariners (Jon Bois) – 2, 2020
Da 5 Bloods (Spike Lee) – 3, 2020
New York New York (Spike Lee) – 6, 2020
Be Water (Bao Nguyen) – 7, 2020
Long Gone Summer (AJ Schnack) – 10, 2020