The Best Films To See In 2020
The start of the year is slap bang in the middle of Big Film Season, with a churn of new releases hoping to contend for awards. Fortunate timing, given that it's also the time of year where we all want to hibernate.
The best new films releases of 2020 include a coming of age story that delivers an emotional sucker-punch, a zany black and white psychological thriller set on a remote island, and a dark comedy about class warfare in South Korea. There's also the return of a certain British spy, which will also be the final time he's played by a certain British actor. No biggie. These are releases are worth venturing out into the dark streets for, or in some cases, streaming from the comfort of your sofa.
So whether you're after thrillers, horror or romance, these are the best films you can watch in 2020.
Waves (17 January)
The story of a black middle-class family living in South Florida shows how a fraught relationship between father and son can have devastating consequences. Breakthrough actor Kelvin Harrison Jr is electric as Tyler, a wrestler unable to accept what it means for his life when he sustains a serious injury. With a stirring soundtrack, vivid cinematography and compelling performances, Waves will knock you off your feet.
Read Esquire's interview with Kelvin Harrison Jr here
The Lighthouse (31 January)
Robert Eggers follows his brilliant film, The Witch, with this startling black and white fever dream about 19th-century lighthouse keepers Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) and Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson). The pair descend into madness as they go about their tasks on the rain-soaked rock, which forces them to confront their personal guilt and shame.
Read Esquire's interview with Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson here
Queen & Slim (31 January)
A young couple goes on the run after an altercation with a police officer in this modern remix of Bonnie and Clyde. When a video of the incident goes viral, Queen and Slim become symbols of the grief and pain people have suffered at the hands of the police. Both Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya, and his on-screen partner Jodie Turner-Smith, give arresting performances in this story about police brutality and a divided America.
Parasite (7 February)
Korean director Bong Joon-Ho has made history with his Palme d'Or win and multiple Oscar nominations for his latest film, a darkly comic story which weaves in ever-weirder directions as it progresses. In Parasite, teenage boy Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi) cons Yeon-kyo (Yeo-jeong Jo) the wife of rich businessman Mr Park (Sun-kyun Lee) into becoming their daughter's English tutor. Ki-woo then lines up jobs for his whole family to infiltrate their beautiful house: his sister Ki-jung (So-dam Park) becomes an art teacher, his dad Ki-taek (Kang-ho Song) a driver, and his mom Chung-sook (Hye-jin Jang) takes over as housekeeper until their greed takes a dark turn. A biting social commentary about wealth inequality, Parasite is a world of horrors that is already in front of us. Rumors are an English-language remake is in the works, so make sure you watch the original before HBO ruins it.
Saint Maud (27 March)
A24, the film studio behind recent celebrated horror films including Heredity and Midsommar, have teamed up with British writer-director Rose Glass for this story of a young nurse caring for a celebrated former dancer. Maud becomes obsessed with the idea of saving her soul, with her own past intervening to stop her righteous calling. Expect a unique look at grief and madness in this chilling tale.
No Time To Die (2 April)
Years of uncertainty (lead actor, director, plot, title—take your pick!) have clouded Bond 25, but now the release of the film is almost here. In No Time To Die we find 007 at a moment of personal crisis (he has been betrayed by the woman he gave everything up for), and global peril (sophisticated cyber terrorism is escalating at a rate that cannot be fought). There's also a mysterious villain, played by Rami Malek, who claims to be more like Bond than he might like to admit. With Hans Zimmer and Billie Eilish taking care of the score and song, Cary Fukunaga directing and Phoebe Waller-Bridge assisting with script duties, it's shaping up to be a very exciting outing for the assassin.
Promising Young Woman (17 April)
Directed by the writer of Killing Eve season two, Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman tells the story of Cassie, who lures men in by pretending she is drunk in clubs, later turning the tables on them when they are alone together. Carey Mulligan plays Cassie, relishing every moment of vengeance she enacts, and the wider cast includes Alison Brie, Adam Brody, and Alfred Molina. It's a story bound to have people arguing on their way out of the cinema, and one told with wit and intrigue.
Tenet (17 July)
Christopher Nolan has no troubling wrangling an all-star cast, with Tenet boasting the likes of John David Washington, Elizabeth Debicki, Robert Pattinson, Clémence Poésy, Michael Caine, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Kenneth Branagh. The big-budget film is "an action epic revolving around international espionage, time travel and evolution", with the palindrome name, and teaser showing the title turning on itself, perhaps offering a hint of a world turned upside down. Tenet will be filmed in 70mm, 35mm, and IMAX, with cinematography from Hoyte Van Hoytema, who did the spectacular visuals for Nolan's Dunkirk and Interstellar, and for Brad Pitt space drama Ad Astra.
Read everything there is to know about 'Tenet' here
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.