Year in Review 2020

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We watched a lot of films in 2020. But it wasn’t just about how many, it was about what we saw. As our worlds contracted, our horizons expanded.

The unasked-for gift of time indoors saw us plug historical gaps, discover missing voices, revisit familiar favorites and examine our biases. We couldn’t see each other, but we could see movies, and in them we saw more of each other than we thought possible.

We roamed with nomads, walked with wolves, rocked with lovers, crashed the system, called for another round, and then we danced. Bring on the world of tomorrow.

Title illustration by Eleni Kalorkoti.


To be included, films must be: narrative (except in doc and music categories); feature-length (except in miniseries); watched by at least 1,000 members; and with a theatrical or streaming release in 2020 (plus some 2019 films that were ineligible under our previous rules).

Highest Rated

The highest-rated films overall, by genre, and in other categories, based on 127 million ratings cast by Letterboxd members in 2020. You ranked these the best of the best.

And our highest-rated film is… 🥁

All results are as at 1 January 2021.


1. Minari

“Soft, poetic, quiet and beautiful; Minari is a stunning portrayal of being happy with what you have, instead of being unhappy with what you don’t. A great reminder to find the satisfaction in the everyday and the mundanity of life. Because after all, don’t all the little things add up to be the biggest? There’s magic in the normalcy, we just have to search for it.” olivia olivia

Average weighted rating: 4.1


2. Nomadland

“Just like its characters, this thing skips along down the road—alternating between an enthusiasm to find meaning in all these new experiences, and this bittersweet tranquility of watching good friends continue down a separate path. Zhao balances the film’s momentum so well, and her editing is pristine. It embraces the wonder in every moment and finds beauty in how human beings are but terrestrial satellites floating through nature.” Emil Emil

Average weighted rating: 3.8


3. Soul

“There are lines of dialogue and visual representations of the abstract concepts that have been brewing in my mind but that I was never able to explain. Now that I am able to realize these thoughts for what they are, I better understand how they were able to consume me, and most importantly I now know that all of it can be overcome. There are only a handful of movies that I have watched in my life that affected me that deeply and Soul is one of the best to have done it.” Ezra Cubero Ezra Cubero

Average weighted rating: 4.0

Highest Rated Overall—Next Ten

  1. Wolfwalkers
  2. Bacurau
  3. Sound of Metal
  4. Mangrove
  5. The Father
  6. And Then We Danced
  7. Promising Young Woman
  8. Rocks
  9. Lovers Rock
  10. Summerland
  1. The Three Deaths of Marisela Escobedo
  2. My Brother Jordan
  3. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet
  4. Aswang
  5. Disclosure
  6. The Metamorphosis of Birds
  7. Little Girl
  8. Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
  9. Collective
  10. Boys State

The Three Deaths of Marisela Escobedo

“Director Carlos Pérez Osorio carefully crafts every single moment of this documentary, letting us know exactly what he wants us to know at the exact time to get the reaction he wants, masterful, thoughtful filmmaking.”  Cassandra Jara Cassandra Jara

Average weighted rating: 4.1

  1. Bacurau
  2. And Then We Danced
  3. Another Round
  4. System Crasher
  5. House of Hummingbird
  6. Corpus Christi
  7. Vitalina Varela
  8. Identifying Features
  9. Papicha
  10. Happy Old Year


“An atomic bomb of rightful anger distilled into a technically impeccable synergy of genres that materializes the most brazenly malignant forces of the world into a realm where the relentlessly oppressed have the high ground.”  Raul Marques Raul Marques

Average weighted rating: 3.9

  1. Sound of Metal
  2. The Father
  3. Promising Young Woman
  4. Summerland
  5. System Crasher
  6. House of Hummingbird
  7. Identifying Features
  8. Papicha
  9. Les Misérables
  10. Shithouse

Sound of Metal

On one hand, it’s pretty shocking to see that such a confidently presented and steady film is actually the feature debut for director Darius Marder. On the other hand, it’s almost expected that this could be the case when a film feels so unique and fresh.”  Special Agent Cooper Special Agent Cooper

Average weighted rating: 4.2

  1. Ayyappanum Koshiyum
  2. The Gentlemen
  3. Soorarai Pottru
  4. Why Don't You Just Die!
  5. Tenet
  6. Love and Monsters
  7. Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
  8. Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl
  9. Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway
  10. The Outpost

Ayyappanum Koshiyum

“Sachy’s screenplay is as nuanced and layered as they come… The tit for tat for tit for tat series of events beautifully shifts the moral high ground between the leads … and allows us to pick whatever side we want at any given point.”  Ashwin Dev Ashwin Dev

Average weighted rating: 3.6

  1. Soul
  2. Wolfwalkers
  3. The Wolf House
  4. Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul
  5. Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna
  6. Marona's Fantastic Tale
  7. My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising
  8. Weathering with You
  9. Onward
  10. We Bare Bears: The Movie


Through over thirty years of collaborating as a studio, it seems that Pixar has nearly perfected their art design. Even so, the film doesn’t necessarily rely on its glossy artwork and crisp details to engage their audience. Instead, Soul is carried by its story.”  san san

Average weighted rating: 4.0

  1. Another Round
  2. Shithouse
  3. The Forty-Year-Old Version
  4. Palm Springs
  5. Beats
  6. Saint Frances
  7. Babyteeth
  8. Kajillionaire
  9. The Twentieth Century
  10. Emma.

Another Round

“Alcohol is such a uniquely complicated topic. … This movie is able to capture the highest highs and the lowest lows. It threads the needle of comedy and distraught drama beautifully, and does so with the perfect amount of weight and levity.”  Bobby Mageau Bobby Mageau

Average weighted rating: 4.1

  1. Promising Young Woman
  2. A Sun
  3. Les Misérables
  4. Beats
  5. Calm with Horses
  6. Kajillionaire
  7. The Kid Detective
  8. Buoyancy
  9. The Gentlemen
  10. Beasts Clawing at Straws

Promising Young Woman

“This fucking sizzles from start to finish. It’s a rage-filled, candy-coated fantasy. Cathartic and exhausting and tragic. At what point, after devoting your life to a single purpose, do you move on? At what point is enough enough? Or is it ever?”  Laura Saladino Laura Saladino

Average weighted rating: 3.7

  1. Minari
  2. Nomadland
  3. Sound of Metal
  4. Mangrove
  5. The Father
  6. Rocks
  7. System Crasher
  8. Never Rarely Sometimes Always
  9. House of Hummingbird
  10. Corpus Christi


“What will grow when we listen to the instincts of others. … Our own instincts will only lead us so far. But something richer is born when more hands are nurturing the soil, all sharing a slice of the dream.”  Laura Laura

Average weighted rating: 4.1

  1. Saint Maud
  2. Possessor
  3. The Invisible Man
  4. Spontaneous
  5. Deerskin
  6. His House
  7. Anything for Jackson
  8. La Llorona
  9. The Wolf of Snow Hollow
  10. Impetigore

Saint Maud

“Oh lordy, Saint Maud is a bruising and ferocious psychological religious horror. It is tonally unnerving with a tormenting score, and has imagery provocative enough to shake you TF up. The film’s final frames absolutely terrified me. Excellent debut from Rose Glass.”  Nev D'Souza Nev D'Souza

Average weighted rating: 3.5

  1. And Then We Danced
  2. Lovers Rock
  3. Summerland
  4. Happy Old Year
  5. Shithouse
  6. Palm Springs
  7. Martin Eden
  8. Babyteeth
  9. Emma.
  10. Dating Amber

And Then We Danced

“Unfolds as a culturally insightful and emotionally raw love story about embracing the opportunity to love when life offers it to you, even if that means putting your heart and soul in the line of fire.”  MJsays MJsays

Average weighted rating: 4.1

  1. Last and First Men
  2. Possessor
  3. The Invisible Man
  4. The Call
  5. Tenet
  6. The Vast of Night
  7. Love and Monsters
  8. Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway
  9. Bill & Ted Face the Music
  10. The Platform

Last and First Men

“The directorial debut of the year, and the gravestone of one of our greatest modern artists in my lifespan. An incomparable piece of visual poetry. Highly recommended. Farewell Jóhann.”  Taylor Baker Taylor Baker

Average weighted rating: 3.7

  1. Waiting
  2. The Long Goodbye
  3. The Human Voice
  4. The Speed Cubers
  5. John Was Trying to Contact Aliens
  6. The Plumber
  7. Apiyemiyekî?
  8. Not Alone in Here
  9. Shadowed


“Sayna is like King Midas but instead of gold everything she touches turns to art. She has such a way of effortlessly immersing you into whichever magical universe she has created.”  Bethany Bethany

Average weighted rating: 3.6

  1. World of Tomorrow Episode Three: The Absent Destinations of David Prime
  2. OPAL
  3. Smiling Friends
  4. Twins in Paradise
  5. Puparia
  6. Out
  7. Burrow
  8. If Anything Happens I Love You
  9. Loop
  10. Canvas

World of Tomorrow 3: The Absent Destinations of David Prime

“Revisits his complex, borderline psychedelic universe while doubling down on the casual wisdom his characters share and, more importantly, the mind-bending ways in which they share them.”  𝕎𝕚𝕝𝕝𝕖𝕞 (𝕃𝕖𝕠) 𝕧𝕒𝕟 𝕕𝕖𝕣 ℤ𝕒𝕟𝕕𝕖𝕟 𝕎𝕚𝕝𝕝𝕖𝕞 𝕧𝕒𝕟 𝕕𝕖𝕣 ℤ𝕒𝕟𝕕𝕖𝕟

Average weighted rating: 4.3

  1. I May Destroy You
  2. Normal People
  3. Adventure Time: Distant Lands
  4. Veneno
  5. The Queen's Gambit
  6. Small Axe
  7. I Know This Much Is True
  8. Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!
  9. Mrs. America
  10. Riot Police

I May Destroy You

“TV show of the year. This felt so real and honest, in the joy we see the characters go through and the sorrow, and it is so committed to being complex and giving no easy answers to anyone.”  ellis ellis

Average weighted rating: 4.5

  1. The History of the Seattle Mariners
  2. The Last Dance
  3. Cheer
  4. Into the Unknown: Making Frozen II
  5. The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez
  6. Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer
  7. I'll Be Gone in the Dark
  8. Murder on Middle Beach
  9. The Pharmacist
  10. Challenger: The Final Flight

The History of the Seattle Mariners

“What makes this doc so brilliant, so compelling, so deeply moving is all in the numbers, how Bois and Rubenstein paper the walls of their digital space… This is the first time in my life I’ve been at all interested in baseball.”  esther esther

Average weighted rating: 4.4

  1. Middleditch & Schwartz
  2. 8:46
  3. Whitmer Thomas: The Golden One
  4. Hannah Gadsby: Douglas
  5. An Evening with Tim Heidecker
  6. Dave Chappelle: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize
  7. Taylor Tomlinson: Quarter-Life Crisis
  8. Sincerely Louis C.K.
  9. Fortune Feimster: Sweet & Salty
  10. Tom Segura: Ball Hog

Middleditch & Schwartz

“Sets a dangerous precedent that improv shows are always this funny, professional, well-attended and delightful. Truly a deeply irresponsible stage show, but a pretty damn fun one.”  Les_Vampires Les_Vampires

Average weighted rating: 4.3

  1. Emicida: AmarElo - It's All for Yesterday
  2. Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions
  3. Ben Platt: Live from Radio City Music Hall
  4. Taylor Swift City of Lover Concert
  5. David Byrne's American Utopia
  6. Hamilton
  7. Break the Silence: The Movie
  8. Black Is King
  9. Happiness Continues
  10. Amaia: Una vuelta al sol

Emicida: AmarElo — It’s All for Yesterday

“Que filme maravilhoso! É história, é sociologia, é música. … Arte-celebração, arte-política, arte-espacialidade e arte-resistência.”  Isabel Wittmann Isabel Wittmann

Average weighted rating: 4.2


Congratulations, you made it halfway. Stock up on some town tasties and get ready for the rest—and if you’re enjoying what you’re reading, take a moment to share this with your fellow film lovers. Thanks! (Don’t run, David.) ✨

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The Year in Numbers


Films Marked Watched




Diary Entries







More Numbers

During 2020 we logged 89,050,583 hours watching films

And we wrote 919,617,747 words about them

Of all films watched, 11.8% were 2020 releases

On average, we’re 90.76% up on last year!

Crew Favorites


The Breakfast Club

A compilation of the year’s best breakfast scenes.


A Disability Revolution

A change we love to see: more roles for disabled cast and crew.

  1. 37 Seconds
  2. Christmas Ever After
  3. Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
  4. Run
  5. Sound of Metal


Screen Wolf

“We have every reason to believe that this monster will show up again tonight.”

  1. 100% Wolf
  2. Hunter Hunter
  3. The Wolf House
  4. The Wolf of Snow Hollow
  5. Wolfwalkers
  6. The Wolves


And Then We Danced

One thing we didn’t run out of in 2020 was great moves.

  1. And Then We Danced
  2. Another Round
  3. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
  4. David Byrne's American Utopia
  5. Ema
  6. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
  7. I'm Thinking of Ending Things
  8. Kajillionaire
  9. Palm Springs
  10. Promising Young Woman


Dancing with the Stars

A compilation of the year’s best dance scenes.

Play video Play video

Edited by Aaron Yap. Bonus needle-drops playlist.

Poster Trends

Arms Outstretched

Reach out and touch … the poster next to you.

  1. Corpus Christi
  2. The King of Staten Island
  3. Rising Phoenix
  4. Saint Maud
  5. Soorarai Pottru

Women / BIPOC Directors

In 2020, a record sixteen women directors appear in our 50 highest-rated films overall (up six from last year).

This year, we’re also highlighting the work of BIPOC directors: a pleasing 22 films from our top 50 (including four from Steve McQueen!) are from directors of color.

  1. Nomadland
  2. Promising Young Woman
  3. Rocks
  4. Summerland
  5. System Crasher
  6. Never Rarely Sometimes Always
  7. House of Hummingbird
  8. First Cow
  9. Identifying Features
  10. Papicha


“This is as American as a film can get. And one of the ways it gets there is by being a Western. Open vistas, ad hoc communities, an aloof protagonist doing their best to do right by this metaphorical and literal frontier.”  nikrlp nikrlp

Average weighted rating: 3.8

  1. Aswang
  2. The Metamorphosis of Birds
  3. Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
  4. Boys State
  5. Dick Johnson Is Dead
  6. Time
  7. The Mole Agent
  8. The Way I See It
  9. Athlete A
  10. My Octopus Teacher


“Hope is scarce in this movie, as it is in the Philippines. We are surrounded by monsters, and they have sown enough fear and division that resistance seems impossible. And yet, there are those that resist anyway, that stare the monsters in the eye and fight on. This is what the movie does.”  Philbert Dy Philbert Dy

Average weighted rating: 3.7

  1. Minari
  2. Nomadland
  3. Soul
  4. Mangrove
  5. Lovers Rock
  6. House of Hummingbird
  7. Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul
  8. Vitalina Varela
  9. Identifying Features
  10. Happy Old Year


Minari is somehow the most Korean and the most American movie ever made, at the same time. When I watch this film, I see and feel myself and my childhood in this film on an unbelievably deep and sincere level.”  jun jun

Average weighted rating: 4.1

In Memoriam

Chadwick Boseman / Twitter

In Memoriam

Chadwick Boseman

1976 — 2020

Boseman’s death on August 28, 2020, to colon cancer, is another cruel blow for humanity as we navigate a deadly pandemic, escalating racial tensions within the United States, and a multitude of other global challenges that threaten our security and posterity. In a day and age when, literally and figuratively, the United States has its knee on the necks of Black Americans, to lose such a great man who was committed to fighting these culture wars through the medium of film is a huge blow for those who appreciated his talents and his activism. It’d be tempting to say that he only played a superhero in the movies. But his performances are buoyed by his off-screen words and deeds, which emphatically demonstrate his commitment to elevating his people through on-screen performances. —Adam Davie

BFA / Alamy

In Memoriam

Sean Connery

1930 — 2020

Sean Connery’s biggest achievement as 007 was turning a killer with more than a few quirks and flaws into the ultimate admirable hero. Bond was written for the movies as an all-knowing connoisseur, aware of the precise temperature above which Dom Perignon should never be consumed just the same as the precise number of years gold would remain radioactive if a dirty bomb were to explode beside it. The character of Bond as portrayed by Sean Connery was also, let’s face it, a bit of a bastard, if a lovable one at that. … It was easy to forgive these indiscretions not just because his Bond came from a far less politically correct time but mostly thanks to Connery’s charisma. In lesser hands, he would have seemed like a heartless assassin who prioritizes getting the most pleasure out of life. —Gerardo Valero

Abaca Press / Alamy

In Memoriam

Lynn Shelton

1965 — 2020

Later that day, I was able to watch her direct for a bit from the sidelines, to see that her love of the process, if anything, had only increased through the years. She took as much joy directing our leading movie stars as she did the performers of the bit-part roles, enveloping them all equally in her little cocoon of love, adoration and support. And that is how I remember her most. So many great qualities, endless, really. But as a filmmaker who just loved her actors. Delighted in them. Made them feel absolutely certain that they were perfect exactly as they are. —Mark Duplass

In Memoriam

Soumitra Chatterjee

1935 — 2020

Chatterjee is indelibly linked with Apu, the struggling, intensely romantic, Calcutta-based youth born in rural poverty (first encountered in Pather Panchali), whom Chatterjee portrayed in The World of Apu (Apur Sansar), the third part of [Satyajit] Ray’s Apu Trilogy, made in 1959. As Ray himself remarked, Chatterjee needed to empathise strongly with a role to give of his best: “Given bad material, he turns out a bad performance, because his distaste for the material shows.” From the 1950s, Chatterjee acted in more than 210 films, as well as being a playwright, theatre actor and poet. Throughout, Bengal remained his milieu; he was never drawn to working in Bollywood cinema, no doubt out of his distaste for its material. “Soumitra is the finest actor in the land today, but totally unheard of outside Bengal. It’s a loss for India, Bollywood and I guess, a bit for Soumitra,” remarked the Indian poet, journalist and filmmaker Pritish Nandy in 2012. —Andrew Robinson

Francis Specker / Alamy

In Memoriam

Joel Schumacher

1939 — 2020

In each picture he directed, he tried for something, and it’s to his credit that he never let too much caution—or good taste—rein him in. The best of his films were animated by a fluky humanity—an unruly sympathy for outsiders, and a desire to see where their odysseys would take him. Schumacher, at his best, was a rhythmic visual craftsman who knew how to stage a commercial film so that it imprinted itself on your mind’s eye. Thirty years after seeing Flatliners, I can’t shake its burnished look of macabre fluorescence, and 40 years after Schumacher’s first film as a director, The Incredible Shrinking Woman, I still relish the contact high I got from the outlandish, gender-flipped spirit of its psychedelic design. —Owen Gleiberman

The Mosts

And finally, the actors, directors and films that took your fancy the most in 2020, and some that might in 2021.

All results are as at 1 January 2021.

  1. Hamilton
  2. Little Women
  3. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
  4. Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
  5. La La Land


“I’m a simple man. When I wake up, I start my morning routine by streaming Hamilton. I just know that I’m running behind when I haven’t finished my brunch before Act I ends.”  allain allain

Average weighted rating: 4.2

  1. The Kissing Booth 2
  2. Hubie Halloween
  3. 365 Days
  4. After We Collided
  5. Fantasy Island

The Kissing Booth 2

“OMG I hope there is a Kissing Booth 3 so I can also watch it and hate myself in the new year.”  Tona Tona

Average weighted rating: 1.4

  1. A Fall from Grace
  2. Cuties
  3. After We Collided
  4. The Kissing Booth 2
  5. Stargirl

A Fall from Grace

“The entire movie was tired. Like sis weave. My mom said Tyler got the weaves they wore from I freaking died. On the bright side, least the reviews are better than Cats and Dolittle.”  ✨PinkMcflurry (Danya)✨ ✨PinkMcflurry✨

Average weighted rating: 2.5

  1. Dune
  2. The French Dispatch
  3. Black Widow
  4. No Time to Die
  5. Last Night in Soho
  6. The Green Knight
  7. A Quiet Place Part II
  8. The King's Man
  9. Eternals
  10. The Suicide Squad

Most Anticipated in 2021


Yes, a few repeats! See the full list

  1. Malcolm & Marie
  2. The Matrix Resurrections
  3. Land
  4. The World to Come
  5. Next Goal Wins
  6. In the Heights
  7. Judas and the Black Messiah
  8. Halloween Kills
  9. The Beta Test
  10. Blonde

Crew Picks for 2021

Malcolm & Marie

  1. The Legend of Hei
  2. Edward
  3. Quo Vadis, Aida?
  4. Labyrinth of Cinema
  5. The Siamese Bond
  6. Limbo
  7. Riders of Justice
  8. Beware of Children
  9. Tove
  10. Bye Bye Morons

Ones to Watch

The Legend of Hei

The highest-rated films below our minimum view count.

“To a real, true community and tribe.”

Bob Wells, in Nomadland, sums up our feelings: we couldn’t do this without all of you, our tribe. This community made all the difference to us in 2020.

Keep safe, connect to nature, see you at the movies. 🎥

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Our thanks to NEON for supporting this retrospective.