Award season begins each year with critic groups such as the New York Film Critics Association (NYFCC) and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) making their picks for the best films and performances of the year. In 2020, NYFCC gave its Best Film prize to Kelly Reichardt’s “First Cow,” while LAFCA surprised the industry by naming Steve McQueen’s anthology project “Small Axe” the Best Film of 2020. Two “Small Axe” films, “Lovers Rock” and “Mangrove,” appear on the annual IndieWire Critics Poll naming the top 50 movies of 2020, as does “First Cow” in the number two position. Per tradition, IndieWire asked over 200 film critics around the world to rank their favorite films of the year. We tallied up the numbers and present the 50 highest rated titles below.
The 2020 IndieWire Critics Poll featured reviewers from major trade publications such as Variety and The Hollywood Reporter as well as critics from local newspapers and websites, freelancers, and contributors on film from across Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The full critics poll includes selections in various categories such as Best Performer (Riz Ahmed took the honor in 2020 for “Sound of Metal,” followed closely by Frances McDormand in “Nomadland” and Chadwick Boseman in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), Best Director (“Nomadland” director Chloe Zhao topped the list, just as she did at NYFCC and LAFCA), and Best First Feature (Emerald Fennell’s “Promising Young Woman,” which cracked the top 15 of the IndieWire Critics Poll).
For the first time in the IndieWire Critics Poll’s history, the No. 1 film is directed by a woman (Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland”). Female directors had a strong showing in this year’s results, with the top three films of the year all hailing from female filmmakers (joining Zhao are Eliza Hittman with “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” and Kelly Reichardt with “First Cow”). The poll’s Best First Film category was also topped by Fennell, while the Best Documentary category was led by Kirsten Johnson’s “Dick Johnson Is Dead.”
Check out the complete list of the IndieWire Critics Poll top 50 films of 2020 below.