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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

my 2020 film ranking at the year’s midway point

Multiplexes and arthouses may be closed during the coronavirus pandemic, but there are still plenty of movies being released directly to streaming… and unlike in previous years, the industry is taking this into account when it comes to deciding which films are eligible for year-end awards. Usually, a movie needs to play on a big screen — typically at least in Los Angeles, and at least for a week — in order to be considered for the Oscars and other honors. This year, rules are being amended to allow streaming debuts to vie for awards.

And so my annual ranking is also taking those releases into account.

Below is the complete list as it stands right now, with every 2020 film I’ve seen so far this year. (Reviews for at least some films I haven’t yet written about to come.) Keep up with the list as it grows over the next six months by becoming a Patreon supporter for as little as $5 per month.

The restricted, constantly updated 2020 ranking is here.

Patreon supporters, please go here for all the info you need in order to access restricted content. And thank you for your generosity! I have seen a hit in my income, which has never been very healthy to begin with, because of the pandemic: many of the alt-weekly newspapers that syndicate my reviews have had to reduced or cease publishing because of a fall in the local arts and events advertising that keeps them going. So if you are in a position to pledge some bucks to keep me going while I help you find stuff to watch at home, I’d be enormously grateful. And, as always, huge thanks to my current patrons, many of whom have been with me for years and years. I wouldn’t and couldn’t have kept doing this for coming up on 23 years now without you.

Patreon works in almost any currency, and you can even use PayPal with it. If you prefer to make a one-time donation, you can PayPal me directly. But you’ll miss out on the Patreon bonuses, because unfortunately there’s simply no way to integrate the two systems on my end.

On, and in case you’d noticed that my ranking of 2019’s films isn’t quite finalized yet: yeah, I have a few more films released last year that I hope to add to it shortly. The 2019 ranking is now available for all readers — you don’t need to be a Patreon supporter to check it out.


This ranking includes only new theatrical or VOD releases viewed for the awards year of 2020 (for eligibility for the Academy Awards and the OFCS and AWFJ awards); some films released in the UK without US releases (and so ineligible for those awards this year) may also be included, for my own bookkeeping purposes. Links go to my review. Numbers after each entry are Date First Viewed/US Release Date/UK Release Date; year is 2020 unless otherwise noted.

Films without theatrical releases are typically not eligible for year-end awards like the Oscars, but rules are being amended this year because of the shuttering of cinemas during the coronavirus crisis. In the listing below, a film’s release was theatrical unless otherwise noted:

indicates a film originally scheduled for theatrical release but released direct to VOD

indicates a film originally scheduled for theatrical release but postponed

° indicates a film released direct to streaming


green light
worth paying multiplex prices for

[5 stars]
Shirley (06.04/06.05/TBA)
Never Rarely Sometimes Always (04.04/03.13/05.13)
Sorry We Missed You (11.02.19/03.04/11.01.19)
The Assistant (01.24/01.31/05.01)
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (02.04/02.07/02.07)
Beyond the Visible: Hilma af Klint (04.11/04.17/TBA)
7500 (06.15/06.18°/06.22°)
A Secret Love° (05.02/04.29/04.29)
Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts 2020 (92nd Academy Awards) (01.29/01.29/direct to VOD)

[4.5 stars]
Blow the Man Down° (03.14/03.20/03.20)
The Platform (El hoyo)° (03.24/03.21/03.21)
Fanny Lye Deliver’d (10.12.19/TBA/06.26)
Extra Ordinary (03.26/03.06/09.13.19)
Radioactive (02.24/07.24/06.15)
Family Romance, LLC.° (09.27.19/07.03/07.03)
Miss Juneteenth (06.12/06.19/TBA)
Saint Frances (03.04/02.28/TBA)
Bad Education (09.24.19/04.25°/TBA)
Corpus Christi (Boze Cialo) (03.10/02.19/10.18.19)
Misbehaviour (03.04/TBA/03.13)
The Vast of Night (05.31/05.29/05.29)
Spaceship Earth (05.05/05.08/TBA)
Oscar Nominated Documentary Shorts 2020 (92nd Academy Awards) (01.30/01.29/direct to VOD)

[4 stars]
The Personal History of David Copperfield (10.02.19/08.14/01.24)
Emma. (02.04/02.21/02.14)
Disclosure° (06.19/06.19/06.19)
Ordinary Love (12.03/02.14.20/12.06)
The Gentlemen (01.01/01.24/01.01)
Deerskin (09.20.19/05.01/TBA)
Lucky Grandma (09.18.19/05.22/TBA)
The Old Guard° (07.04/07.10/07.10)
My Darling Vivian (03.13/06.19/TBA)
The Photograph (03.02/02.14/03.06)
The Invisible Man (02.28/02.28/02.28)
Buffaloed (02.15/02.14/TBA)
The Audition (06.27/06.26°/TBA)
How to Build a Girl (05.04/05.08/07.24)
The Last Tree (06.01.19/06.26/09.27.19)
The Woman Who Loves Giraffes (12.31.19/01.10/TBA)
True History of the Kelly Gang (03.10/04.24/02.28)
Capital in the Twenty-First Century (04.31/05.01/TBA)
2040 (06.04/06.05/11.15.19)
Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts 2020 (92nd Academy Awards) (02.04/01.29/direct to VOD)

[3.5 stars]
Guest of Honour° (06.05/07.10/06.05)
Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth (11.03.19/06.16°/08.30.19)
To Kid or Not to Kid (06.16/11.15.19/06.12°)
The Lovebirds° (05.26/05.22/05.22)
The High Note (06.09/05.29/05.29)
South Mountain (05.09/05.05°/TBA)
Hope Gap (05.06/03.06/TBA)
Rewind (05.07/05.08°/TBA)
Becoming° (05.11/05.06/05.06)
Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl° (05.22/05.22/06.23.19)
Onward (02.29/03.06/03.06)
Olympic Dreams (02.12/02.14/direct to VOD)
Summer of Mesa° (05.21/05.22/05.22)
Greed (10.10.19/02.21/02.21)
Dream Horse (03.19/TBA/TBA)
Push (02.28/TBA/02.28)
Tape (03.21/03.26/06.08°)
Bull (04.25/05.01°/TBA)
Trolls: World Tour (04.06/04.10/04.06)
The Flood (04.30/05.01°/06.21.19)
The Trip to Greece (05.19/05.22°/TV)
A Simple Wedding (02.01/02.14/direct to VOD)
The Perfect Candidate (04.02/TBA/03.27)
The Call of the Wild (02.16/02.21/02.19)

yellow for maybe
worth seeing, but wait for DVD, unless your favorite actor is in it

[3 stars]
Premature (02.20/02.21/direct to VOD)
Vivarium (03.27/03.27/03.28)
Planet of the Humans° (04.22/04.21/04.21)
Radium Girls (03.28/TBA/TBA)
Lost Girls (03.07/03.13/direct to Netflix)
Les Misérables (01.23/01.10/TBA)
Like a Boss (02.13/01.10/02.21)
The Rescue (01.20/01.25/01.25)

[2.5 stars]
Judy & Punch (09.19.19/06.05/11.15.19)
Beanpole (01.18/01.29/TBA)
Sometimes Always Never (06.03.19/06.12/06.14.19)
Swallow (02.29/03.06/direct to VOD)
Military Wives (01.20/05.22/03.06)

red for no
give it a miss

[2 stars]
The Informer (08.19.19/01.10/08.30.19)
Exit Plan (06.14/06.12/07.06°)
Who You Think I Am (Celle que vous croyez) (04.09/TBA/04.10)
Mr. Jones (06.20/06.19/02.07)
Speed of Life (12.28.19/01.01°/TBA)
Quezon’s Game (01.23/01.24/01.31)
Clementine (05.07/05.08°/TBA)

[1.5 stars]
The Lodge (02.06/02.07/TBA)

[1 star]
The Other Lamb (04.03/04.03/07.03)
Color Out of Space (09.30.19/01.24/02.28)
The Rhythm Section (01.28/01.31/01.31)
Endings, Beginnings (04.16/04.16/TBA)
To the Stars (04.18/04.24/06.01°)
The Kindness of Strangers (02.14/02.14/direct to DVD)

[.5 stars]
Bloodshot (03.12/03.13/03.11)

[0 stars]
The Turning (01.24/01.24/01.24)
Extraction° (04.25/04.24/04.24)
The Hunt (03.11/03.13/03.11)
Inheritance (05.18/05.22/TBA)
My Spy (06.23/06.26/03.13)
Scoob! (05.16/05.15/TBA)
Dolittle (01.25/01.17/02.07)
Artemis Fowl (06.14/06.12/06.12)


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