The 10 best movies (so far) of a completely bonkers 2020, definitively ranked

As if the coronavirus pandemic and the closing of theaters hasn’t already made this the weirdest movie year ever, there’s the fact that the best films so far include a Spike Lee joint (OK, that’s not too strange), singing Founding Fathers, an Australian outlaw and a double dose of Elisabeth Moss. And we’re only halfway through 2020!

Here’s the good news amid a flurry of bad: With everyone stuck at home in lockdown since March, a lot of smaller films and hidden gems that most people wouldn’t have seen in a theater setting are suddenly at their fingertips. Theatrical movies like “Trolls World Tour” and “The King of Staten Island” switched to digital platforms to entertain us, and with coronavirus cases spiking just as anticipated films like “Mulan” and “Tenet” were supposed to help reopen theaters, streaming options may play even more of a role as we get closer to whatever odd awards season awaits.

As we navigate an uncertain cinematic future, here are the best movies so far of 2020, definitively ranked.

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Shirley Jackson (Elisabeth Moss, with Michael Stuhlbarg) plots her next literary work in the drama “Shirley.”

10. ‘Shirley’

The drama is about as psychologically twisted as a Shirley Jackson story: Set in the early 1950s, Moss plays the famed horror writer and oddball recluse who’s working on a new novel while also messing with the head of the naive woman (Odessa Young) she befriends in an oddly intimate and sinister relationship.

Where to watch:  Apple TV, Vudu, FandangoNOW

Sidney Flanigan stars as a teen girl who travels to New York City for an abortion in the drama “Never Rarely Sometimes Always.”

9. ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’

Writer/director Eliza Hittman’s affecting abortion drama centers on a Pennsylvania teenager (Sidney Flanigan) who takes a bus to New York City with her cousin/co-worker (Talia Ryder) to terminate her pregnancy. The film unflinchingly tackles serious subject matter, though it never loses focus on the girl at the heart of the matter.

Where to watch:  Apple TV, Vudu, FandangoNOW

Years after leaving love behind in his homeland to go to America, an aging Taiwanese man (Tzi Ma, left) needs to come to grips with past decisions to connect with his daughter (Christine Ko) in Netflix’s “Tigertail.”

8. ‘Tigertail’

A redemptive tale told over several decades, the excellent family drama centers on a stoic Taiwanese man (Tzi Ma) struggling to connect with his workaholic daughter (Christine Ko) while revisiting his fateful decision years earlier to leave love behind and travel to America in search of a better life. 

Where to watch:  Netflix

Udo Kier (with Sonia Braga) stars as the leader of a group of armed mercenaries that come to a small Brazilian village in “Bacurau.”

7. ‘Bacurau’

A bloody and interesting thriller with sci-fi, Western and B-movie overtones, the flick follows the residents of a small Brazilian village who wonder about odd circumstances – like the fact that their home has inexplicably fallen off online maps – and then are invaded by mysterious marauders who aren’t prepared for their victims to fight back so hard.

Where to watch:  Apple TV, Vudu, FandangoNOW

Julia Garner stars as a recent college graduate who’s snagged a dream job at a Hollywood production company but finds iffy behavior and abuse pervades her work environment in the drama “The Assistant.”

6. ‘The Assistant’

A day in the soul-crushing life of a working woman in the #MeToo era is chronicled in Kitty Green’s drama. Julia Garner is fantastic as a young junior assistant running the copy machine, grabbing food orders and making appointments for her womanizing entertainment mogul boss, but she learns how toxic the culture is when she stands up and says something. 

Where to watch:  Apple TV, Vudu, FandangoNOW

George MacKay stars as notorious Australian outlaw Ned Kelly in the biopic “True History of the Kelly Gang.”

5. ‘True History of the Kelly Gang’

George MacKay follows up a breakout role in “1917” as notorious 19th-century Aussie bushranger Ned Kelly in this visually arresting punk-rock biopic. The polarizing figure is seen from his days as an innocent Irish lad learning lawless ways to the anarchic, armor-clad young man leading a band of dress-wearing rebels.

Where to watch:  Apple TV, Vudu, Amazon

Alexander Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda) and Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom Jr.) are longtime frenemies in the musical “Hamilton.”

4. ‘Hamilton’

This is a bit of a ringer, a filmed production of a mega-popular, game-changing musical that’s arguably the biggest thing on Broadway ever. Still, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s rap-filled vehicle about Alexander Hamilton and the early days of America is an awesome history lesson and fascinating character study filled with infectious songs. It’s probably the only 2020 movie that’ll be taught in high school history classes for decades to come.

Where to watch:  Disney+

Everett (Jake Horowitz) and Fay (Sierra McCormick) are teenagers who investigate a strange audio frequency in their small New Mexico town in the 1950s-set sci-fi film “The Vast of Night.”

3. ‘The Vast of Night’

It’s been a while since a sci-fi film gave off the kind of Spielbergian vibes that Andrew Patterson’s lo-fi debut does. In small-town 1950s New Mexico, a spunky young switchboard operator (Sierra McCormick) and local radio DJ (Jake Horowitz) investigate a weird audio frequency that leads to a very enlightening, “Twilight Zone”-esque mystery.

Where to watch:  Amazon

Elisabeth Moss stars as a woman scared that her dead abusive ex is haunting her in “The Invisible Man.”

2. ‘The Invisible Man’

This is how you make a classic Universal movie monster relevant again. Leigh Whannell’s outstanding thriller, as much an exploration of abuse and gaslighting as it is a horror show, is an eerie Hitchcockian tale starring Moss as a woman victimized by an unseen force, although no one believes her when she insists it’s her supposedly dead ex.

Where to watch:  Apple TV, Vudu, FandangoNOW

Isiah Whitlock Jr. (from left), Norm Lewis, Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters and Jonathan Majors star in Spike Lee’s war film “Da 5 Bloods.”

1. ‘Da 5 Bloods’

One of Lee’s best films, “Bloods” is both action-packed entertainment and timely treatise on Black patriotism and racial injustice. Is it too early to make Delroy Lindo a shoo-in for a best actor Oscar nomination? Nah, because he rules this engrossing war drama about African-American vets who return to Vietnam for treasure and the remains of their squad leader (Chadwick Boseman) but also find old demons still plague them.

Where to watch:  Netflix

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ranked: 10 best movies of 2020 so far (‘Da 5 Bloods,’ ‘Invisible Man’)

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