What a year 2020 has been. Thankfully ours is not to reason why, so for now let us look for a silver lining somewhere else entirely.

2o20 was an outstanding year for movies. While our industry suffered from the crippling impact of the pandemic, hope came in the form of sensational work from talents old and new, from Europe and further afield, in documentaries and adaptations. If somebody suggests otherwise, show them our Top 20 countdown and they’ll soon change their tune.

Over the coming days, we’ll be announcing our top 10 films, day by day, with essays from our writers vouching for each film’s excellence. As per usual, we begin the countdown with our rundown of our 20 to 11 positioned films below.

Thank you all for your support for yet another year. May 2021 be a great year for us all.

—David Brake, Founder/Editor of One Room with a View.

n.b. As our site is UK-based, we work off the selection of films released in cinemas and on VOD in the UK in 2020.


On Josephine Decker’s Wikipedia page, the word ‘experimental’ appears four times in the second sentence of her biography. Her previous films Thou Wast Mild and Lovely and Madeline’s Madeline certainly satisfy that adjective, but it feels overly dismissive of one of the most interesting directors working today. In Shirley, armed with Elisabeth Moss traversing the tightrope of sanity with incredible skill, Decker elevates her game to a whole new level. Shirley is crafted with boundless style and high invention playing all the while with its characters, audiences and the artform itself. This intellect, ambition, and downright fearlessness only whets our appetite for what Decker does next.

—David Brake

A Hidden Life

Famed for his wide-screen ruminations on nature and the moral angst of humanity, Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life saw the filmmaker back in top-tier form with his adaptation of the true story of Franz, an Austrian farmer who refused to fall in line with Nazi rule.

As the clouds wrap around the peaks of the stunning mountainscape setting, hate and paranoia spread through the village, forcing Franz (August Diehl) into turmoil as he continues to resist. Credit must also be given to James Newton Howard’s heart-wrenching score, which carries us further and further into the beauty and brutality of the village.

—Robert Salusbury


Frequently compared to Call Me By Your Name, And Then We Danced is a similarly delicate rendering of the intensity and uncertainty that marks queer self-discovery, seen through the burgeoning relationship between two male dancers in the strict world of the Georgian National Ensemble.

Yet unlike Guadagnino’s film, And Then We Danced tackles poverty and homophobia head on, crafting a tenderly nuanced portrayal of queerness that, far from undermining the beauty of this desire, contextualises it as an act of fierce emancipation. A physically striking study of the pull between tradition and freedom, it is an ode to queer love in all its un-choreographed glory.

Anahit Behrooz

Dick Johnson Is Dead

Delightfully blending the nefarious humour of Dumb Ways to Die and the by-the-books classic tearjerker, Dick Johnson is Dead is anything but formulaic. Charmingly witty and undeniably fresh, this ode to a dying man basks in the laurels of the unconventional.

Unashamedly zestful, Dick Johnson is Dead finds its greatest strength in a central character that is not only instantly lovable but also greatly eager to please his filmmaker daughter, whose creativity births a film that masterfully balances the joys of living and the woes of dying and – at times – the joys of dying and the woes of living.

In a year of overwhelming grief, this tender homage to a dying father feels like a pair of dry socks after stepping into a puddle. Pure bliss.

Rafaela Sales Ross

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

In her latest film, Eliza Hittman finds perhaps the best avenue yet for her compelling style. Told over a few days, this traps teenager Autumn (Sidney Flanagan) and her concerned, increasingly put-upon cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder) in a genuine nightmare scenario: trying to secure an abortion in America.

Hittman, writing and directing, blends social-realist and subjective-expressivist modes once again, but in pushing forward from her previous summery bildungsromane she creates a charged portrait of gendered struggle simultaneously familiar and farcical. Careful pacing gives space for both clear-eyed observation and moments of wrenching distress, drawing political urgency from little more than methodically presented fact. This is technically assured, and highly compassionate.

Calum Baker

Wolfwakers ORWAV

Robyn and Mabh are from two different worlds; Mabh is a magical Wolfwalker whose forest is being destroyed by Robyn’s Lord Protector, a villainous Cromwellian ruler. Deceptively complicated tales that manage to please both young and old alike are almost common fare for animation. What elevates Wolfwalkers beyond this is the eye for detail. Leaving in brush strokes and pencil marks, it’s like the film has been made just for you, animating itself before your eyes. Wolfwalkers inspires just as much wonder in the pencil and paper of its construction as it does in the myth and magic of its story.

Jack Cameron

Im Thinking Of Ending Things

This is Charlie Kaufman’s most uncompromising film: a piece that could only be described as a stream of consciousness, visualising the subconscious landscape of Lucy (a phenomenal Jesse Buckley) or maybe that of her boyfriend Jake (Jesse Plemons) as they navigate a series of nebulous dreamlike sequences to and from Jake’s parents’ house.

The combination of the glossy Netflix production sheen mixed with the morphing of physical characters and the open broadcast of their internal contemplations make for a gloriously surrealist picture. An ambiguously innovative filming style accompanied by fascinating existential discourse, it’s a film that begs to be dissected, fodder for generations of filmmakers to come.

Daniel Theophanous


Justin Kurzel’s adaptation of Peter Carey’s novel uses the latter’s revisionism as a jumping-off point for its sinewy, beardless, punk Ned Kelly in a black lace dress. George Mackay delivers a kinetic, career-best performance as the bushranger, backed up by a supporting cast equally comfortable in the extremes. The rhythmic script, dissonant score, and – in one unforgettable shoot-out – dizzying light design create a fully realised world that registers as both out of time and surprisingly contemporary.

Historical accuracy has its place, but True History proves that the reinvention and reimagination of legends – and the stories they might have told – is much more exciting.

—Carmen Paddock


If you knew Mr Rogers, you can appreciate how Marielle Heller painstakingly recreated the Neighborhood for this biopic. If you didn’t, without a bombardment of biographical details, she tells you all you need to know about his legacy of hope and self-love. With his reputation of friendliness, Tom Hanks is the perfect Fred Rogers, here playing off a semi-fictional cynical reporter played by Matthew Rhys.

Their dynamic is like an ongoing therapy session, personal yet universal, and the way Heller conducts these performances to finely tuned emotional resonance shows how Rogers truly saw every person he connected with. A cathartic choice for our top 20, one that sparks valuable introspection on what truly matters during this difficult year.

—Fatima Sheriff


In a year where we were shut out of cinemas for our own safety, Lovers Rock was the perfect antidote, a cinematic but intimate masterpiece from Steve McQueen. So much of his work is about suffering, but Lovers Rock is about the simple joys of life: drinking, dancing, and the first blush of young love.

McQueen proves that mood and direction can be far more powerful than plot, giving a vivid picture of the eight key characters in just over an hour thanks to impeccable photography, design, and music. Lovers Rock is what cinema does best: sensual, visceral and transformative.

—Tom Bond


On paper, Pablo Larraín’s latest is a messy polyamorous adoption drama centred on wildcard dancer Ema and her high-strung choreographer ex-husband. On screen, it’s a rhythmic barrage of hedonistic filmmaking that latches onto the pleasure centres of your brain and draws you into Ema’s inescapable gravity. Mariana Di Girólamo is magnificent and magnetic as the titular antiheroine, who can be as inscrutable as nature or as raw as a fresh burn. Her machinations unfold lavishly, and Larraín paints their fallout in bold swathes of colour, fire, dance, and sex. Ema is hypnotic, irresistible, and a masterpiece of contemporary horny cinema.

Rory Steabler

So to recap, here’s our Top 20 to 11…

#20= – Shirley
#20= – A Hidden Life
#19 – And Then We Danced
#18 – Dick Johnson is Dead
#17 – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
#16 – Wolfwalkers
#15 – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
#14 – True History of the Kelly Gang
#13 – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
#12 – Lovers Rock
#11 – Ema

Stay tuned each and every day for the remainder of 2020 to count down our Top 10 films of 2020!