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

Rankings: 2020-2029

2020:
2020 Endy Awards

1. The History of the Seattle Mariners
2. Lovers Rock
3. Septet: the Story of Hong Kong
4. Wife of a Spy
5. Undine
6. Days
7. Mangrove
8. The Woman Who Ran
9. Her Socialist Smile
10. Still Processing
11. Hold Me Back
12. Da 5 Bloods
13. Inside the Red Brick Wall
14. Tesla
15. We Have Boots
16. Monster Hunter
17. City Hall
18. Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets
19. Keep Rolling
20. Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
21. Greyhound
22. The Cure
23. Shock Wave 2
24. The Calming
25. Hubie Halloween
26. Tenet
27. Point and Line to Plane
28. My Missing Valentine
29. Kung Fu Stuntmen
30. Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue
31. Demon Slayer: Mugen Train
32. The Invisible Man
33. One Second
34. The Disciple
35. Hand Rolled Cigarette
36. World of Tomorrow 3
37. Hopper/Welles
38. 12 Day Tale of the Monster that Died in 8
39. Birds of Prey
40. Emma.
41. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
42. Another Round
43. Minari
44. Love Aaj Kal
45. The Eight Hundred
46. Crazy Samurai Musashi
47. Love After Love
48. American Utopia
49. Nomadland
50. Hamilton
51. Leap
52. The Paper Tigers
53. Palm Springs
54. The Rescue
55. Inventing the Future
56. MLK/FBI
57. Mank
58. France Against the Robots
59. Promising Young Woman
60. October Rumbles
61. Class Action Park
62. The New Mutants
63. The Cube Phantom
64. Be Water
65. New York New York
66. Visit
67. Long Gone Summer
68. Trial of the Chicago 7
69. Wonder Woman 1984
70. Enter the Fat Dragon

2021:
2021 Endy Awards

1. Drive My Car
2. Shadow Kingdom
3. In Front of Your Face
4. Benedetta
5. The Night
6. West Side Story
7. Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
8. Licorice Pizza
9. Get Back
10. Karnan
11. Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched
12. Baby Assassins
13. A New Old Play
14. The French Dispatch
15. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair
16. Belle
17. A Writer’s Odyssey
18. Limbo
19. Nothing Serious
20. The Velvet Underground
21. Inu-Oh
22. Matrix Resurrections
23. The History of the Atlanta Falcons
24. Evangelion 3.0+1.01 Thrice Upon a Time
25. Can’t Get You Out of My Head
26. Drifting Petals
27. Introduction
28. Bergman Island
29. The Falls
30. Dune
31. The Green Knight
32. Old
33. The Power of the Dog
34. Sycorax
35. Just Remembering
36. The Good Woman of Sichuan
37. One Shot
38. Cliff Walkers
39. Hell Hath No Fury
40. Justice League
41. Coffin Homes
42. The Worst Person in the World
43. Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time
44. Judas and the Black Messiah
45. Venom: Let There Be Carnage
46. The Battle at Lake Changjin
47. The Voyeurs
48. Kate
49. The Witches of the Orient
50. The Last Duel
51. Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas
52. Cry Macho
53. Malignant
54. Pompo: The Cinephile
55. The Card Counter
56. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
57. The Fable: The Killer Who Doesn’t Kill
58. Muppets Haunted Mansion
59. Spider-Man: No Way Home
60. JFK Revisited: Through The Looking Glass
61. The Suicide Squad
62. Schemes in Antiques
63. Eternals
64. Raging Fire
65. The Many Saints of Newark
66. No Time to Die
67. Nightmare Alley
68. The Mole Song: Final
69. Queenpins
70. King Richard
71. Kid 90
72. Black Widow
73. Cloudy Mountain
74. Who Are You, Charlie Brown?
75. New York Ninja
76. As We Like It
77. CODA
78. Don’t Look Up
79. House of Gucci
80. Eyes of Tammy Faye
81. Framing Britney Spears
82. Gunpowder Milkshake
83. Woodstock ’99: Peace Love and Rage

2022:

1. The Novelist’s Film
2. Shin Ultraman
3. Detective vs. Sleuths
4. Captain Ahab: The Story of Dave Stieb
5. The King of Wuxia
6. Decision to Leave
7. RRR
8. The Battle at Lake Changjin II
9. Section 1
10. Blue Island
11. Hustle
12. Ambulance
13. Prey
14. Elvis
15. Confess, Fletch
16. The Northman
17. Next Sohee
18. Broker
19. The Roundup
20. Everything Everywhere All at Once
21. Top Gun: Maverick
22. The Princess
23. The Killer
24. Confession
25. Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness
26. The Batman
27. The Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks
28. We Are Still Here
29. George Carlin’s American Dream
30. Hansan: Rising Dragon
31. Thor: Love and Thunder
32. I Want You Back
33. Scream
34. Legendary in Action!
35. Morbius