Best-Reviewed Movies 2020

This is the first time we’ve awarded films in a general ‘Best Movies’ category – previously, our biggest movie awards were Best Limited and Best Wide Release. We still have those categories this year, but we felt an overall “Best Movies” award was called for, too, given the very blurry lines between what was a wide, limited, and streaming release in 2020, with the shifting release calendar and inventive release strategies that some distributors were implementing. So, in this list you’ll find the best of the best – limited and wide theatrical releases, plus streaming titles. Céline Sciamma’s searing romance, Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, which got a lot of love last award’s season but was technically released in February of 2020, tops the category, followed by One Night In Miami, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Soul, and The Invisible Man. That’s one limited release, three streaming releases, and a wide release – if you’re counting!

The order of the rank below reflects the Adjusted Score as of February 28, 2021. Scores might change over time.

#1
Adjusted Score: 120798%
Critics Consensus: A singularly rich period piece, Portrait of a Lady on Fire finds stirring, thought-provoking drama within a powerfully acted romance.
Synopsis: In 1770 the young daughter of a French countess develops a mutual attraction to the female artist commissioned to paint... [More]
Directed By: Céline Sciamma

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 116747%
Critics Consensus: A hauntingly powerful reflection on larger-than-life figures, One Night in Miami finds Regina King in command of her craft in her feature directorial debut.
Synopsis: On one incredible night in 1964, four icons of sports, music, and activism gathered to celebrate one of the biggest... [More]
Directed By: Regina King

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 119208%
Critics Consensus: Framed by a pair of powerhouse performances, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom pays affectionate tribute to a blues legend -- and Black culture at large.
Synopsis: Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians... [More]
Directed By: George C. Wolfe

#4

Soul (2020)
95%

#4
Adjusted Score: 120393%
Critics Consensus: A film as beautiful to contemplate as it is to behold, Soul proves Pixar's power to deliver outstanding all-ages entertainment remains undimmed.
Synopsis: Joe is a middle-school band teacher whose life hasn't quite gone the way he expected. His true passion is jazz... [More]
Directed By: Pete Docter

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 121470%
Critics Consensus: Smart, well-acted, and above all scary, The Invisible Man proves that sometimes, the classic source material for a fresh reboot can be hiding in plain sight.
Synopsis: After staging his own suicide, a crazed scientist uses his power to become invisible to stalk and terrorize his ex-girlfriend.... [More]
Directed By: Leigh Whannell

#6
Adjusted Score: 115049%
Critics Consensus: Powerfully acted and directed, Never Rarely Sometimes Always reaffirms writer-director Eliza Hittman as a filmmaker of uncommon sensitivity and grace.
Synopsis: Faced with an unintended pregnancy and a lack of local support, Autumn and her cousin, Skylar, travel across state lines... [More]
Directed By: Eliza Hittman

#7

Minari (2020)
98%

#7
Adjusted Score: 114300%
Critics Consensus: Led by arresting performances from Steven Yeun and Yeri Han, Minari offers an intimate and heart-wrenching portrait of family and assimilation in 1980s America.
Synopsis: A tender and sweeping story about what roots us, Minari follows a Korean-American family that moves to a tiny Arkansas... [More]
Directed By: Lee Isaac Chung

#8

Nomadland (2020)
93%

#8
Adjusted Score: 116581%
Critics Consensus: A poetic character study on the forgotten and downtrodden, Nomadland beautifully captures the restlessness left in the wake of the Great Recession.
Synopsis: A woman embarks on a journey through the American West after losing everything during the recession.... [More]
Directed By: Chloé Zhao

#9

Hamilton (2020)
98%

#9
Adjusted Score: 111318%
Critics Consensus: Look around, look around at how beautifully Hamilton shines beyond Broadway - and at how marvelously Thomas Kail captures the stage show's infectious energy.
Synopsis: The original Broadway production of the award-winning musical that tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, first secretary of the treasury,... [More]
Directed By: Thomas Kail

#10
Adjusted Score: 115100%
Critics Consensus: An electrifying dramatization of historical events, Judas and the Black Messiah is a forceful condemnation of racial injustice -- and a major triumph for its director and stars.
Synopsis: FBI informant William O'Neal infiltrates the Illinois Black Panther Party and is tasked with keeping tabs on their charismatic leader,... [More]
Directed By: Shaka King

#11

Sound of Metal (2019)
97%

#11
Adjusted Score: 117005%
Critics Consensus: An evocative look at the experiences of the deaf community, Sound of Metal is brought to life by Riz Ahmed's passionate performance.
Synopsis: During a series of adrenaline-fueled one-night gigs, itinerant punk-metal drummer Ruben (Riz Ahmed) begins to experience intermittent hearing loss. When... [More]
Directed By: Darius Marder

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 120172%
Critics Consensus: A boldly provocative, timely thriller, Promising Young Woman is an auspicious feature debut for writer-director Emerald Fennell -- and a career highlight for Carey Mulligan.
Synopsis: Nothing in Cassie's life is what it appears to be -- she's wickedly smart, tantalizingly cunning, and she's living a... [More]
Directed By: Emerald Fennell

#13

Wolfwalkers (2020)
99%

#13
Adjusted Score: 109666%
Critics Consensus: A mesmerizing Celtic-inspired adventure, Wolfwalkers offers an epic ethereal fantasy matched by profound philosophies and stellar voice work.
Synopsis: In a time of superstition and magic, a young apprentice hunter, Robyn Goodfellowe, journeys to Ireland with her father to... [More]
Directed By: Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart

#14

Da 5 Bloods (2020)
92%

#14
Adjusted Score: 113360%
Critics Consensus: Fierce energy and ambition course through Da 5 Bloods, coming together to fuel one of Spike Lee's most urgent and impactful films.
Synopsis: Four African American vets battle the forces of man and nature when they return to Vietnam seeking the remains of... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#15

Miss Juneteenth (2020)
99%

#15
Adjusted Score: 109149%
Critics Consensus: Like a pageant winner walking across the stage, Miss Juneteenth follows a familiar path -- but does so with charm and grace.
Synopsis: A former beauty queen and single mom prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the "Miss Juneteenth" pageant.... [More]

#16

His House (2020)
100%

#16
Adjusted Score: 108024%
Critics Consensus: Featuring genuine scares through every corridor, His House is a terrifying look at the specters of the refugee experience and a stunning feature debut for Remi Weekes.
Synopsis: A refugee couple makes a harrowing escape from war-torn South Sudan, but then they struggle to adjust to their new... [More]
Directed By: Remi Weekes

#17

76 Days (2020)
100%

#17
Adjusted Score: 104825%
Critics Consensus: A raw, fly-on-the-wall recounting of hospital life in Wuhan in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, 76 Days is an engrossing and potent documentary - and a surprisingly comforting portrait of humanity.
Synopsis: Health care workers and patients combat the COVID-19 outbreak during a lockdown in Wuhan, China.... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Hao Wu, Weixi Chen

#18

Crip Camp (2020)
100%

#18
Adjusted Score: 106584%
Critics Consensus: As entertaining as it is inspiring, Crip Camp uses one group's remarkable story to highlight hope for the future and the power of community.
Synopsis: A groundbreaking summer camp galvanizes teens who have disabilities.... [More]

#19

Palm Springs (2020)
95%

#19
Adjusted Score: 111729%
Critics Consensus: Strong performances, assured direction, and a refreshingly original concept make Palm Springs a romcom that's easy to fall in love with.
Synopsis: Stuck in a time loop, two wedding guests develop a budding romance while living the same day over and over... [More]
Directed By: Max Barbakow

#20
Adjusted Score: 106389%
Critics Consensus: Helmed in elegant and exhilarating style by Spike Lee, David Byrne's American Utopia is a concert film that doubles as a joyously cathartic celebration.
Synopsis: Singer David Byrne and a group of international musicians perform songs from the hit Broadway musical "American Utopia."... [More]
Starring: David Byrne
Directed By: Spike Lee

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