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

2021:
2021 Endy Awards

1. Drive My Car
2. Shadow Kingdom
3. In Front of Your Face
4. Benedetta
5. West Side Story
6. Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
7. Licorice Pizza
8. Get Back
9. Karnan
10. The French Dispatch
11. Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched
12. Belle
13. The Velvet Underground
14. The History of the Atlanta Falcons
15. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair
16. A Writer’s Odyssey
17. Can’t Get You Out of My Head
18. Limbo
19. Matrix Resurrections
20. Evangelion 3.0+1.01 Thrice Upon a Time
21. Drifting Petals
22. Introduction
23. Bergman Island
24. The Falls
25. Dune
26. The Green Knight
27. Old
28. The Power of the Dog
29. The Good Woman of Sichuan
30. One Shot
31. Cliff Walkers
32. Hell Hath No Fury
33. Justice League
34. Coffin Homes
35. The Worst Person in the World
36. Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time
37. Judas and the Black Messiah
38. Venom: Let There Be Carnage
39. The Battle at Lake Changjin
40. The Voyeurs
41. Kate
42. The Witches of the Orient
43. The Last Duel
44. Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas
45. Cry Macho
46. Malignant
47. Pompo: The Cinephile
48. The Card Counter
49. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
50. The Fable: The Killer Who Doesn’t Kill
51. Muppets Haunted Mansion
52. Spider-Man: No Way Home
53. JFK Revisited: Through The Looking Glass
54. The Suicide Squad
55. Schemes in Antiques
56. Eternals
57. Raging Fire
58. The Many Saints of Newark
59. No Time to Die
60. Nightmare Alley
61. The Mole Song: Final
62. Queenpins
63. King Richard
64. Kid 90
65. Black Widow
66. Cloudy Mountain
67. Who Are You, Charlie Brown?
68. New York Ninja
69. As We Like It
70. CODA
71. Don’t Look Up
72. House of Gucci
73. Eyes of Tammy Faye
74. Framing Britney Spears
75. Gunpowder Milkshake
76. Woodstock ’99: Peace Love and Rage

2022:

1. Captain Ahab: The Story of Dave Stieb
2. RRR
3. The Battle at Lake Changjin II
4. Blue Island
5. Everything Everywhere All at Once
6. Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness
7. I Want You Back
8. Scream