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The best films of 2020: From blockbusters to independent

While 2020 is not necessarily the year to remember fondly, these confused and unusual months also produced some good things. Despite the fact that the cinemas have been closed for months, we can look back on a considerable number of outstanding films.

However, 2020 has also been a year of changes and adjustments, which is also clearly evident in the cinema landscape. Because of postponements, the big blockbusters this year practically failed to materialize. On the other hand, strong indie films were able to prevail in the cinemas, which this year will undoubtedly top the list of the best films of the year. What the cinema suffered as a severe blow, on the other hand, benefited the streaming providers, who gained more popularity than ever before. Accordingly, we have adapted to the changed situation and also include streaming titles in ours List of the best films of 2020 which you definitely have to see. Have fun with it and to a hopefully more cinematic year 2021!


The best movies of 2020: Blockbusters


Best movies of 2020: Indies


Blockbusters

What the big cinema blockbusters missed this year, the streaming providers in 2020 appropriately absorbed. We were able to record some major highlights of the blockbuster film in this unusual film year, even if the majority of the long-awaited film highlights, such as “Dune” or “James Bond 007: No Time to Die”, have been postponed to the coming year . The action genre in particular has had some great newcomers here, but entertaining animation hits and serious dramas also populated our screens this year.


1917


The year 2020 started right in January with one of the best blockbuster films of the year. Sam Mendes' The exciting war epic tells the dramatic story of two young British soldiers who, as reporters, have to reach the western front as quickly as possible in order to save their comrades from a catastrophe. Because at the front, the German troops have already planned an ambush that could cost almost 1,600 soldiers their lives if the two soldiers fail to complete their mission. In doing so, however, the two get into so many dangerous situations that make their endeavor seem almost hopeless.
 
The war drama "1917" is not only one of the most outstanding films of recent years because of its incredibly exciting story, but above all because of its unbelievable one-cut technique. As a result, the film is shot and edited in such a way that the action takes place in real time for the viewer. So we fevered even more intensely with the two protagonists, here played masterfully by George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman, with and directly participate in the visually stunning and brutal fighting. In addition to being named Best Film at the 2020 Golden Globe Awards, the imposing war drama “1917” earned a total of ten Academy Award nominations, and rightly won the Oscar in the categories “Best Camera”, “Best Sound” and “Best Visual” Effects ”.


Tenet


Even if 2020 did not look particularly rosy, especially in terms of cinema, there is one work that stands out in particular and therefore deserves a very special place in our list of the best films of the year. We are of course talking about Christopher Nolans Sci-Fi bombast "Tenet". After all, the good piece drew over 1,600,000 viewers to the cinemas and was therefore actually the perfect prelude to the revival of the battered cinema operators.

For "Tenet" the actor throws himself John David Washington, known from "BlacKkKlansman", as the nameless protagonist head over heels in a secret agent mission. Armed only with the word "Tenet", he is supposed to gain access to the richest and most powerful people in the world and thus unceremoniously prevent World War III. He gets support from the Briton Neil, who seems to know a lot more about the mission than he claims.

Director Christopher Nolan simply has filmmaking skills. In his previous sci-fi works, he already devoted himself to complex topics, such as the different levels of consciousness in dreams or highly complicated quantum physics. And his latest work also deals with nothing less than confusing time paradoxes. Fans of the old master can expect a breathtaking spectacle that will certainly raise more questions than answer from one or the other viewer.


Since 5 Bloods

© Netflix

Director moves with his film "Da 5 Bloods" Spike Lee in a mixture of past and present. On the one hand, he outlines the fate of some black soldiers who risked their lives for their country in the Vietnam War, although at the same time African-Americans were oppressed in the USA and their role models, such as Martin Luther King, were murdered. On the other hand, he takes up very current social criticism, such as the Black Lives Matter movement.
 
This politically highly charged package is packaged in an action-adventure film in which four former African American soldiers return to Vietnam. They want to look for the remains of their comrade here in order to bring them back to the USA. But there is another plan behind their trip, because near the makeshift grave of their companion there is a huge amount of gold bars that they hid there at the time and that now also need to be recovered. Your excursion into the jungle of Vietnam will be more dangerous than initially expected, because the area is littered with mines and there are other dangers waiting for the ex-GIs.


The Trial of the Chicago 7

© Netflix

One of the most interesting film hits of the year is the Netflix thriller "The Trial of the Chicago 7". This tells the true story of eight men who, without knowing each other and with different political backgrounds and motives, travel to Chicago to demonstrate against the Vietnam War on the occasion of the Democratic Party conference.
 
Despite the great mobilization of demonstrators, this event from 1968 is a very peaceful event. At least until the misconduct of the police leads to serious riots and riots, in which not only protesters but also journalists are injured. Seven young men are later brought to justice as ringleaders, who are said to have been accused of these riots.
 
In the foreground of this year's US elections, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” is a highly topical film that not only has a terrifying number of references to the current situation in the US, but also inspires with great acting performances. So we see here among other things Eddie Redmayne, Sasha Baron Cohen and Jeremy Strong in the leading roles of the young protesters.


The Devil All the Time

© Netflix

Once again this year, the streaming service Netflix has set the bar very high for outstanding films. One of them is the director's thriller “The Devil All the Time” Antonio Campos, who is on the short story volume of the same name by author Donald Ray Pollock based.
 
Marked by the events of World War II and its horrors, Willard Russel returns to his homeland in the midwestern hinterland of the USA. Returning to the seemingly peaceful normalcy, Willard soon realizes that here too life is marked by ungodly inhumanity and cruelty. The film paints a very pessimistic picture of humanity, which is increasingly threatened to degenerate and brutalize. Willard's son Arvin nevertheless tries to keep the disaster away from his family, even if he has to resort to extreme means himself.
 
Campo's dark and brutal thriller “The Devil All the Time” is not only very complex and has a lot of emotional impact, but also inspires with a fantastic cast that brings together some Hollywood greats. However, the performances by Tom Holland in the role of Arvin Russel and Robert Pattinson as preacher Preston Teagardin.


Enola Holmes

© Netflix

Our list of the best films of 2020 doesn't just include action and socially critical films. With the Netflix film “Enola Holmes” we have selected a work that promises pleasant entertainment. A socially critical topic is touched on here too, namely the prevailing image of women in the 19th century, but thanks to crisp sayings and fine humor it is extremely refreshing.

In “Enola Holmes” we accompany Enola, the little sister of the Holmes brothers Sherlock and Mycroft. So far, she has been raised by her mother on her family's estate, but on her 16th birthday of all things, she disappears without a trace and leaves her with an inconspicuous gift. Since she doesn't need to expect much help from her brothers, especially Mycroft is only interested in getting out of the matter with little damage and therefore wants to take Enola to a girls' boarding school, she has to look for her mother herself. Fortunately, she is as blessed as her brother Sherlock for detailed perception and cleverness, because there is one far more tricky case to solve on her adventure.

Compare with the successful "Sherlock" series in which Benedict Cumberbatch The main role is of course not absent, but the focus of "Enola Holmes" is definitely on the eponymous protagonist, the excellent star of "Stranger Things" here Millie Bobby Brown is embodied.


Spies Undercover - A wild transformation


The maker of "Ice Age" and "Rio", Nick Bruno, has struck again and with "Spione Undercover - A Wilde Metamorphosis" has created another animated hit that is bursting with wit and absurdity.
 
The exciting animation adventure revolves around the secret agent Lance Sterling, who is in no way inferior to James Bond in terms of coolness, cleverness and charm. He has saved the world from evil countless times, at his side his loyal assistant Walter, a true genius who graduated from MIT at the age of 15. He is always helpful to Lance Sterling with his ingenious inventions. But one day an experiment goes horribly wrong and involuntarily turns Lance into a pigeon. However, he is about to embark on a very important mission that must not fail under any circumstances. But with teamwork and the right disguise, secret agent Lance Sterling and his assistant Walter still take on the bad guys.
 
“Spione Undercover” inspires with the same unmistakable humor that the “Ice Age” films, with their bizarre and amiable characters, have already dominated, making it fun for the whole family.


Bloodshot


Of course, there should not be a lack of decent actioners in our list of the best films of the year in 2020 either. And who would be more predestined than an action star Vin Dieselwho slips into the role of an antihero looking for revenge for "Bloodshot"?
 
The elite soldier Ray Garrison and his wife fall victim to a psychopathic killer, but Ray survives the attack despite being shot directly in the head. With no memories of his previous life, he wakes up in a hospital where he was treated by military doctors. These not only brought it back to life, but also turned it into a true fighting machine with the help of nanotechnology. Ray now has supernatural abilities that make him invincible.
 
Under the name of Bloodshot, Ray is said to be made into a super soldier, but it turns out differently than expected, because Ray's memories, including those of his wife, slowly return and awaken in him an insatiable thirst for revenge, which is supposed to uncover the whole conspiracy.
 
With "Bloodshot" the comic book publisher Valiant is now following suit and also wants to do what Marvel and DC have already done. With a draft horse like Hollywood star Vin Diesel and lots of adrenaline, they seem to have got off to a good start.


Tyler Rake: Extraction

© Netflix

The Netflix film "Tyler Rake: Extraction", in which none other than Hollywood twinks, promised even more exciting action this year Chris Hemsworth appears as a steeled mercenary. He's off to Bangladesh in this battle-laden actioner, where he is supposed to free the kidnapped son of an Indian drug lord from the hands of his competitor. In doing so, however, he not only has to deal with the unscrupulous kidnappers, but also with the right hand of the drug lord, who stabs Chris Hemsworth, aka Tyler Rake, in the back and wants to collect the reward himself for extraditing the golden boy.
 
"Tyler Rake: Extraction" is an action film as it stands in the book. Reduced dialogues and storylines, but concentrated action with sophisticated fight scenes that will absolutely sweep the fans away. "Thor" actor Chris Hemsworth also put his own stamp on the film, working with the two producers of "Avengers: Endgame". A real top team from the successful MCU gathers here and guarantees good entertainment.


Willoughby family

© Netflix

With “Familie Willoughby” Netflix has once again produced a colorful animation hit from its own production. The director was responsible for this Kris Pearnwho has already worked on successful animated films such as “Jagdfieber”, “The Kings of the Waves” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”. Some similarities can also be seen in the Willoughbys, with a small pinch Tim Burton could have flowed into production.
 
At the center of the bizarre adventure are the four Willoughby children, Tim, Jane and the twins Barnaby A and B, who feel neglected by their selfish parents and decide to get rid of them. They dream of being orphans so that they can finally live independently and discover the modern world. In an insidious plan, they send their parents on vacation from which they should never come back, but of course everything goes wrong and life without parents turns out to be more difficult than expected for the Willoughby children.
 
The slightly different animation fun "Willoughby Family" is based on the acclaimed classic children's book "The Horrible Story of the Disgusting Willoughby Family (and How Everyone Was Happy in the End)" by the author Lois Lowry and will not only inspire small viewers.


Just Mercy


It becomes much more serious in the extremely moving and depressing drama "Just Mercy" by the director Destin Daniel Cretton. The focus of the court drama is a young African American lawyer who, despite his excellent grades and lucrative job offers, decides to campaign for an initiative that represents wrongly convicted criminals. So he soon comes up against the case of Walter McMillian, who was wrongly sentenced to death by the electric chair. This is said to have killed an 18-year-old girl, although his alibi is waterproof. He was sentenced to death only on the basis of a testimony.
 
Along with “Fruitvale Station” and “Queen & Slim”, “Just Mercy” is part of a whole series of newer film productions that deal with everyday racism against PoC. Black people in particular are often victims of prejudice and false accusations, just as this drama is conveyed. The film thus addresses extremely critical and important topics such as police violence and arbitrariness of the judiciary, which are unfortunately still far too widespread, especially in the USA.


David Copperfield - Once wealth and back

© Universal Pictures

The extremely bizarre and motley film adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel "David Copperfield" by the director Armando Iannucci is characterized above all by her weird humor and the amiable and eccentric characters.
 
The sometimes very tragic life story of the young David Copperfield, who stumbles from one stroke of fate to the next, is told here. His precarious life situations, however, are shaped by a lot of fantasy and his unusual companions. Most notably, his former nanny, Nanny Peggoty, who lives in an upside-down ship, and his eccentric aunt Betsey Trotwood, who leads a personal feud against the donkeys on their property and who, with Mr. Dick, has a roommate whose head is drawn from the thoughts of Charles I. is haunted.
 
“David Copperfield - Once Wealth and Back” is not only a wonderful fairy tale that inspires with a lot of imagination, but also exudes a cheerful sense of humor even in the most unhappy moments of the young Copperfield.This cinematic pleasure is only rounded off by the outstanding cast of the film, to which Tilda Swinton as Aunt Betsey Trotwood, “Dr. House "star Hugh Laurie as Mr. Dick and the acclaimed Slumdog Millionaire actor Dev Patel as belonging to David Copperfield.


In this

In the crisis-ridden year 2020, it was primarily the independent indie productions that dominated the sparse cinema landscape. They not only led in terms of quantity, but also impressed with their unbelievable quality. So this year we were able to enjoy some very special masterpieces, which impressed us with their incredible visual power, but also some heartfelt and shocking stories. Although we had to do without some film pearls because of the unusual film festivals around the world, 2020 was a damn good year for all indie film lovers and so even more films would have deserved to be included on this list.


Berlin Alexanderplatz

© Universal Pictures

The German-Dutch production “Berlin Alexanderplatz” by the director was a real surprise this year Burhan Qurbani. The new staging of the Alfred Döblin novel convinces with such visual power and aesthetics as one would expect from foreign productions.
 
However, it is not only the meaningful images of the film that convince here, but above all the innovative new staging of the classic story about Franz Biberkopf. Relocated to the present day, the focus of the plot is the refugee Francis, who escaped certain death in the Mediterranean only with luck and now wants to build a new life in Berlin. But from now on he swears to be a good person. But he becomes another victim of the system and the circumstances and so, out of desperation, he gets more and more into the spiral of violence and crime. Little by little, Francis has to throw his hopes and good intentions overboard and his tragic past also remains his constant companion.
 
“Berlin Alexanderplatz” is not only able to maintain its closeness to the German classic, but also to embed the material in a highly topical scenario, which definitely makes the film the best German film of 2020.


Jojo Rabbit

© Walt Disney

One of the absolute indie grenades of the year comes from the exceptional New Zealander Taika Waititiwho previously caused a stir with his productions and was recently even involved in Disney's new “Star Wars” offshoot “The Mandalorian”.

“Jojo Rabbit” is another film about the Second World War, but at the same time an unprecedented one. The satirical drama about a 10-year-old boy who is an enthusiastic member of the Hitler Youth and also has Adolf Hitler himself as an imaginary friend, here magnificently portrayed by Taika Waititi, is convincing on several levels. The film's absurdities in particular make the horrors of the Nazi regime seem even more overwhelming, even if the portrayal is often surprising and alienating. For example, the positively portrayed but fanatical Hitler Youth, Jojo, who realizes that his beloved mother, played by the wonderful Scarlett Johansson, hid a Jewish woman in her house. Not only this circumstance, but also his suddenly burgeoning feelings for the young girl turn little Jojo's view of the world upside down.
 
“Jojo Rabbit” is a plea for humanity despite or perhaps because of its demonization of the Nazis and the subsequent disillusionment of the audience and is particularly convincing in the great supporting roles.


Little Women

© Sony Pictures

The film adaptations of novels were very popular again this year and so the classic from Louisa May Alcott "Little Women" a star studded refresher. Even before the film was released, expectations were high, as “Lady Bird” had become a director Greta Gerwig accepted this project and with Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, Florence Pugh and Emma Watson brings together the who's who of the young actors.
 
The historical drama follows the four March sisters, who all have their own ideas about their lives, but are nevertheless linked by a strong and inseparable bond. The stubborn young women rebel against the patriarchal system of their time in order to be able to determine for themselves who they love and what they want to work. Above all, the ambitious Jo, who fearlessly pursues her dream of writing, stands out here, although she too has to learn that she is not immune to love.
 
The trio of Ronan, Chalamet and Pugh in particular takes this film to a higher level and allows it to emerge from its previous adaptations. Also Laura Dern and Meryl Streep can be seen here once again in great performances, while Emma Watson's performance looks terrifyingly pale.


Milla meets Moses


The Australian drama "Milla Meets Moses" is a typical coming-of-age film, but at the same time not because it moves away from all clichés. The focus of the plot is the seriously ill teenage girl Milla, who meets the somewhat chaotic and drug addict Moses by chance. At the beginning, the rebellious Milla is more concerned with shocking her parents with Moses. However, these are much more mellow than most parents and let Milla get away with her little games. But something decisive changes for the teenage girl with Moses, because she really begins to fall in love with this chaotic guy and her parents also notice his positive influence.
 
In contrast to films of the same variety, such as “Fate is a lousy traitor” and “Three Steps to You”, the director's film surprises Shannon Murphy with an unconventional and not quite as predictable development of the story and thus breaks with common clichés. Especially the rebellious Milla and also the Moses who doesn't fit into any scheme, who actually only uses Milla at first, are not typical popular figures here. Nevertheless, the film convinces with its very own emotionality and beauty, even if Milla and Moses are really not a picture-book dream couple.


I'm thinking of ending things

© Netflix

Although she has not been with her boyfriend Jake for long and is already thinking about separating from him, a young woman decides to visit his parents' farm together. So much for the story. But this is exactly what the director's new head-racking cinematic masterpiece is all about Charlie Kaufman rather incidental.
 
“I'm Thinking of Ending Things” is really not easy fare for the gray cells that are being mixed up here. Because the longer the young protagonist stays in Jake's parents' house, the more opaque and confusing things get around her. Trapped in several time levels from scraps of memory, mind games and the pure human imagination, she begins to question not only the people and things in her environment, but also herself.
 
Charlie Kaufman's obscure drama does not only live from his fantastic journey into the human psyche and imagination, the mostly nameless protagonists, masterfully played by, are particularly outstanding here Jessie Buckley, Jesse Plemons, Toni Collette and David Thewlis. Even if “I'm Thinking of Ending Things” definitely needs another review, more and more new and fascinating approaches, facets and interpretations are opening up to us here.


The Hunt


Of course, in such a chaotic and destructive year as the previous one, the one should also be allowed by a margin most scandalous Film from 2020 is not missing in our list of the best - even if after viewing "The Hunt" we have to grasp the head in dismay again whether the idiocy of the people. Even before the release, the black-humored satirical actioner was directed Craig Sable Criticized (of course) especially in the USA as a mockery of the incontestable sanctity of the gun lobby. Trumpycat was even on the verge of banning the strip completely - that's already happened in our world.

In fact, Zobel and his star ensemble do pretty much everything right to really show off the redneck authorities of the United States. This brilliant farce is often reminiscent of monstrous brutality and ruthlessness Drew Goddards "Cabin in the Woods"!

Without a short-term memory, but with a gag in their mouth, a group of strangers wakes up in a remote forest. In a clearing in the center of the forest, a box of weapons is waiting for them, which they are welcome to use for self-defense - even if that doesn't help them too much. Only the tough Crystal (Betty Gilpin) finally manages to save himself from the forest. Instead of fleeing, however, she decides to look for answers to her situation - and uncovered a huge conspiracy that primarily affects the country's greedy elite ...


Emma

© Universal Pictures

Another new production of a classic novel made it into our list of the best indie films of 2020 with “Emma”. The Jane Austen-Film adaptation by the director Autumn de Wilde impresses not only with wonderful costumes, but above all with its talented leading actress Anya Taylor-Joythat at the latest after Robert Eggers "The Witch" as well as through her role in the Netflix series "The Queen's Gambit“Became one of the aspiring young actresses of our time.
 
“Emma” tells the story of an intelligent young woman who comes from a well-to-do family and who has made it a pastime to involve the people around her in their game of pairing up. However, it causes a lot of unrest and causes some broken hearts and egos. Although she denies herself romantic feelings, she soon realizes that love does not stop at her either.
 
The comedic historical drama convinces with lots of wit and a satirical view of the social conventions of this time, which have meanwhile become alien to us. Especially Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma and Bill Nighy when her father contributed to the success of the film with her incomparable charm and her bizarre peculiarities.


For Sama


With “For Sama” one of the most outstanding documentaries of the last few years has made it onto our list, which gives us an extremely moving and intimate insight into the Syrian civil war. The young mother Waad al-Kateabs shows a very private and above all female view of the terrible war events in Syria. The young woman accompanies her unusual everyday life in war-torn Aleppo herself with the camera and thus captures completely new and sometimes very frightening images.
 
While many people have long since left Syria, Waad al-Kateabs refuses to leave their homeland and continues to fight for the freedom of their country. Together with her husband and her little daughter, she continues to fight a bitter struggle for survival every day, the hope for peace anchored deep in her heart.
 
Your film “For Sama” not only shows the beginning and course of the Syrian civil war, but also lets us experience very intimate moments of the family. We will witness the birth of their little daughter Sama, to whom this film is dedicated. So it is not only images of destruction and war, but also of grief, loss and joy that the young woman captures with her camera.


His house

© Netflix

The best horror film of the year is available exclusively from Netflix without any question! In “His House” we accompany the refugee couple Bol and Rial Majur in an outstanding mix of shock-laden haunted house horror and existential relationship drama. To escape the war in their homeland, the two chose the dangerous escape across the Mediterranean and ended up in England via detours. When Bol in particular is already expecting to be sent back to Sudan by the authorities, everything suddenly turns out very differently: Bol and Rial are assigned a house through which they should slowly but surely integrate into society.

After just a few days in their new, neglected accommodation, the horrors of the war followed the two. A supernatural, sinister power seems to reside in the house - but Bol and Rial do not even dream of giving up their new luck again. When the superstitious rial finally thinks they see the roots of all evil, all seems to have been lost.

If you take off the dramatically emotional, highly topical and socially critical substructure that ultimately makes “His House” so special, the darkest, sinister moments of shock that get under your skin remain. When the being makes its way through the walls, experimenting with light and shadow and our two tragic main characters go mad, the mainstream competition can hide away.


Corpus Christi

 
The Polish drama "Corpus Christi" by director Jan Komasa This year not only impressed with its almost unbelievable and true story based story, but also features leading actors Bartosz Bielenia in a prominent role.
 
The 20-year-old Daniel has already become suspicious of a number of criminal offenses in the past and therefore spends some time in a juvenile detention center. Here, however, he was led on the paths of God and from now on he wants to lead a decent life. However, because of his criminal record, his desire to become a priest does not materialize. By a miraculous coincidence, however, the young man finds himself in a small community after his release, where he pretends to be a new priest. And Daniel, who appears so virtuous to the outside world, actually brings about some positive changes in the small village.
 
"Corpus Christi" constantly presents its protagonist with new challenges and shows this ambivalent personality in his inner struggle between virtuous outside and guilty inside. So the drama moves between themes like guilt, morals and forgiveness.


Never Seldom Sometimes Always

© Universal Pictures

Most of the time it is very serious and highly topical issues that concern our best indie productions of the year, including director Eliza Hittman in her drama "Never Rarely Sometimes Always". The film deals with the problems of young women in particular under the complicated abortion laws of the USA.
 
At the center of the plot is 17-year-old Autumn, who one day discovers that she is unintentionally pregnant. However, an abortion is only possible in their state with the permission of their parents, but they should not find out about Autumn's condition. She only gets support from her cousin Skylar. Together they scrape up all their money and head to New York to have the procedure performed, but in the process they run into a lot of other problems and are faced with a system that seems almost hostile to them .
 
The two young women Autumn and Skylar, played by Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder, are characterized above all by their fearless cohesion. But that alone cannot eliminate the grave grievances, because too often women are left alone with their problems and even condemned for their decisions.


Monos - Between Heaven and Hell

© Leonine

A real cinema highlight this year was the Colombian film "Monos - Between Heaven and Hell" about a young guerrilla unit that has holed up in the depths of the Amazon rainforest. The drama not only fascinates with breathtaking scenes and images, but is also supported by a more than depressing, but also atmospheric soundtrack. “Monos” is truly made for the big screen.
 
The focus of the plot is a group of young people who have formed a paramilitary unit that is controlled by an organization that is not named. Their everyday life is characterized by violence and tension within the group and often leads them to the edge of despair. When one day they were given the supervision of an American hostage, events came thick and fast and the troops' lack of cohesion became apparent.
 
The Colombian drama penned by Alexis Dos Santos and Alejandro Landes is roughly based on the English classic by William Golding "Lord of the Flies" and attempts a new form of society without the guidance of adults. Similar to the novel, this experiment fails because of the individual characters and the inevitable conflicts within the group.