These Are The Must-Watch Movies Of 2020 – The List

The director Francis Ford Coppola once said, “I think cinema, movies, and magic have always been closely associated,” and there’s nothing quite like the otherworldly magic of going on a new adventure with the characters in a film you’ve never seen (via Brainy Quote). As 2020 comes to a close and we’re all cozying up on the couch with a blanket and a mug of something warm to drink, binge-watching movies sounds like just the ticket for a relaxing night in while the winter weather rages outside.

To that end, we’ve read up on what the critics’ believe are the best movies of 2020, and while everyone has different tastes and every publication has their own list, there are a few dramas, comedies, and action films that appear on almost every list we’ve found. So sit back, relax, and enjoy getting to know some of the top movies of 2020 from this end-of-year, must-see checklist.

Top Dramas

Based loosely on Harvey Weinstein, The Assistant is a serious drama that observes the culture that forms around a person of power who serially abuses those around him, and how such a dynamic is built and is allowed to continue. While the cruel boss in the film is never seen on screen and his identity is never revealed, the effects of his tyranny ripple throughout the events and the people featured in the movie. The story, directed by Kitty Green and starring Julia Garner, follows a single day in the life of the assistant to this unseen boss. The audience is slowly let into the dark, unsettling reality of what it is like to work for a powerful man who regularly engages in behavior that needs to be hidden, denied, and swept under the rug (via Thrillist).

Another timely drama that tops many lists, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, directed by Eliza Hittman, follows a teenager as she struggles to obtain an abortion. Turn after turn, viewers feel the injustice and the rage as she encounters one roadblock after another. The New York Times calls the film an example of “excellent film making,” and Thrillist says, Hittman approaches the story “with the type of careful rigor that allows for poetic moments to emerge in unexpected places. It’s a style that’s especially suited to the challenging emotional terrain of the material.” The movie stars Sidney Flanigan as the pregnant teenager and Talia Ryder as her friend.

Top Comedies

While moviegoers learned years ago to see Sacha Baron Cohen’s character Borat as intentionally ridiculous, the character’s revival in this year’s sequel Borat Subsequent Moviefilm took viewers and critics by surprise by being incredibly timely, revealing so much of 2020’s so-awful-it’s-almost-funny truth that it was impossible to look away. In fact, New York Times critic A.O. Scott said of the film, “Would I call this the best movie of 2020, from the standpoint of cinematic art? Look, I don’t know. It’s been a weird year. But I would insist that this sequel … is undeniably the most 2020 movie of all time.” By exposing Americans for all the selfishness, stupidity, blind nationalism, and sexism that we fear the world believes we possess, Cohen made us all understand the old adage “we have to laugh, or we’d cry.”

Comedy Palm Springs, directed by Max Barbakow and starring Andy Samberg, was another timely comedy that hit streaming services at just the right time. With jokes about doing the same thing over and over and over again that harken back to the classic movie Groundhog Day, the film unintentionally echoed the frustrations and tedium of life in quarantine, though the film was made before any of us could have imagined the way 2020 was going to be. The movie is a mix of existentialism and family drama humor that follows Samburg’s character and his sister, played by Cristin Milioti, as they have to relive the same wedding over and over.

Top Action

We have to admit we’ve loved the Bad Boys franchise since day one, but when decades pass between sequels, fans understandably may worry that the magic could be lost. Luckily, Bad Boys For Life, the third installment of the Bad Boys trilogy, boasted all the action, humor, and bromance we’ve come to expect from Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s partnership, while displaying a slightly more subdued tone than the over-the-top explosions and action of the second film. Don’t get us wrong; it’s still a Michael Bay movie, so things still go boom, but the maturity of the actors is allowed to show through in the maturity of the characters, and so the progression of the story over decades feels genuine and makes sense (via Thrillist). 

Another actor who ruled the screen in the ’90s and made waves in a film this year is Nicholas Cage. Love him or hate him, critics agree you couldn’t look away from him in Color Out of Space, a zany combination of science fiction, action, horror, and a dash of comedy based on the 1972 H.P. Lovecraft story by the same title. Directed by Richard Stanley, the B-movie follows Cage’s character, a farmer, and his family as they contend with a meteor that lands in their front yard and the horrors and adventure that result (via Thrillist). If it sounds too ridiculous, you may be relieved to learn the movie is “certified fresh” by Rotten Tomatoes and makes multiple must-see lists.

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