Top 10 Films of 2020 – Thomas’s Picks

I’m going to spare you all the obligatory “2020 has been some year…” introduction and just get straight to the point. These aren’t necessarily the best films of the year. They’re my favourite films released this year in the UK. There will be better films, chances are I didn’t see them. Also, it’s possible I did and didn’t find them worth mentioning. There is no science here. To reiterate, the following is a list of films released in 2020 that I would recommend.

I would, however, like to give a special shout-out to Hamilton. I toyed with adding it but didn’t know if it counted.


10. Savage

Inspired by the true stories of New Zealand’s gang culture, Sam Kelly’s Savage is an unflinching and violent film. It depicts the life of Danny aka Damage (Jake Ryan), focusing on the defining moments of his life that made him into a vicious gang enforcer. A gritty tale of the need for family and belonging, it’s an uncomfortable watch as the slow-burning tension threatens to boil over at any time. The grounded performances and gritty cinematography add a realism that only adds to the unease.

9. The Social Dilemma

Netflix’s docudrama will have you questioning your online habits as former employees of tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, reveal the techniques they devised to sap your attention. Told with talking heads and a dramatised story, the movie also focuses on how easily these platforms can create division and how the rise of misinformation has created a politically polarising world. A frightening and cautionary tale, the threat is hidden in plain sight and things will only get worse if we allow it.

8. The Hunt

The most controversial film of 2019 despite only being released this year.  The Hunt is a thrill-packed theme park attraction that invites outrage to prove its point. It holds up a mirror to the audience and asks them if they like what they see? It’s more likely to solidify opinion than change it, still, if you’re not interested in what the social commentary, it still offers some popcorn-munching entertainment. Watch it or don’t but give it a chance before deciding to be angry with it.

7. Host

Okay, I tried to avoid any “2020 bad” chat in the introduction, but I need to mention it here since it is the premise of Rob Savage’s horror movie. Filmed and set during the pandemic, a group of friends host an online séance over Zoom. What starts as a harmless bit of fun quickly escalates into a fight for their lives as they summon a malicious entity. An impressive production in its own right, Host not only works due to the real-life circumstances (2014’s Unfriended has a similar format and is effective despite being allowed out back then) but due to how the terror is crafted, even if the final ten minutes get a little silly. At less than sixty minutes long, it doesn’t overstay its welcome and will have you looking over your shoulder on your next video call.

6. Relic

It’s not been much of a year for the studio horror movies which has shone a bigger spotlight on independent gems. Natalie Erika James’s film is shocking and terrifying as it taps into our real-world fears of ageing and loss, manifesting them in a horrific fashion. With strong performances from its main cast, Relic’s anxiety slowly burns throughout its runtime as we watch a family witness its matriarch slowly deteriorate. What it lacks in jump scares or contrived twists, James more than makes up for with anxiety and good old-fashioned dread

5. L’Immortale

2008’s Gomorrah and the subsequent TV show are not linked however are both based on the book of the same name by Roberto Saviano. L’Immortale is a feature-length spin-off of the latter, and features as both a prequel and sequel. Picking up right after season three’s shocking finale, it’s difficult to mention much of the plot without giving away spoilers but it does explore the rise of a particular gangster. This isn’t a standalone movie, it’s a treat for fans as all the intensity and drama of the series is on display. With a great plot and brilliant acting, L’Immortale is far from a cheap tie-in, instead, it’s an important chapter in the saga with an ending that will have you impatiently awaiting the new season.

Parasite4. Parasite

With five Academy Awards to its name, Bong Joon-ho’s dark comedy was arguably the most critically acclaimed movie of 2020. Parasite offers multiple layers to its themes which are expertly woven throughout the plot. Despite the social commentary that permeates the film, it’s easily accessible with a witty script that offers some well-intentioned laughs alone the way. A film that will be spoken about in years to come, it’s unfortunate that the social topics explored in Parasite will never be not relevant.

3. Soul

Yes, 2020 was rubbish (oops, sorry) but you can thank Disney for Pixar and their latest release. Originally intended for cinema release, Soul was released on Disney+, and unlike Mulan, it premiered as part of the streaming service’s subscription. It ticks all the Pixar boxes: Cute characters, laughs, jokes for adults only and an endearing chemistry between its two leads. A shot of pure joy, Soul might not be a Pixar classic but it is classic Pixar.

2. Tenet

If a major studio wants to test the lay of the land with a summer blockbuster it makes sense to do so with a film that isn’t a franchise movie. Christopher Nolan’s latest film struggled to get an audience in a world where the majority had no access to a cinema or felt weary about visiting one. It might not be Nolan at his best, but it’s Nolan at his most, well, Nolan. An insane plot that’s best put to one side, Tenet offers incredible action sequences and fantastic performances, most notable by John David Washington and Robert Pattison. A mind-melting spectacle, it also satiates the purest desires of those missing out on the new Bond film.

1. The Invisible ManThe Invisible Man

If it wasn’t for a certain Tom Cruise led flop, then this could have been a different film entirely. Originally intended to serve as part of Universal’s Dark Universe (a clunky title, for sure), the reaction to 2017’s The Mummy all but killed that plan. Instead, the studio decided to focus on standalone movies, and we are better off for it. Loosely based on H.G. Well’s novel of the same name, Leigh Whannell’s film presents a chilling and (aside from the invisibility) realistic movie monster. Elizabeth Moss turns in a strong performance as Cecilia, who is tormented by her abusive former lover who has been reported dead. No one believes her which presents an alarming theme that is only too prevalent in society.

Thomas Simpson
Follow me
Latest posts by Thomas Simpson (see all)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.