As 2020 comes to an end, one thing is clear: streaming services have overtaken movie theaters as the dominant form of entertainment this year. Thanks to the historically bad pandemic we are currently going through, theaters are still closed, which means that smaller films released on streaming services got most of the attention in 2020. Disney+, HBO Max and Hulu saw user growth as films like Hamilton, Wonder Woman 1984 and Happiest Season made streaming even more popular. Plus Prime Video had Borat, Apple TV+ had Wolfwalkers and Netflix had films like Da 5 Bloods, Mank and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom while traditional blockbusters like Black Widow, No Time to Die and Raya and the Last Dragon were pushed back to 2021.

The shakeup of the distribution model may have a lasting impact on the film industry, but I’m sure I will have plenty to say about that this time next year because right now the future is still cloudy.

In the meantime, here is a list of all the movies from 2020 that received the most positive reviews, followed by my personal favorite film of the year. Just for transparency I haven’t watched all of these. This list is just based on critical consensus. Documentaries and foreign-language films are excluded (although I am thinking of changing that foreign-language rule. Films all around the world deserve a spotlight). I hope this list shines a light on some forgotten gems from the past year.


Bad Boys for Life

The Night House


Birds of Prey

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

Sonic the Hedgehog

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon


Standing Up, Falling Down

The Invisible Man



The Way Back

First Cow

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Big Time Adolescence

Blow the Man Down



Selah and the Spades

The Willoughbys

Bad Education


The Half of It


How to Build a Girl

The Vast of Night



Da 5 Bloods

The King of Staten Island



The Outpost

Family Romance, LLC

The Old Guard

Palm Springs

Psych 2: Lassie Come Home

Yes, God, Yes

I Used to Go Here


An American Pickle

She Dies Tomorrow


Max Reload and the Nether Blasters

Watch List

The 24th

Words on Bathroom Walls

Lingua Franca

The Courier

Bill & Ted Face the Music

The Personal History of David Copperfield

All Together Now

Get Duked!

The Garden Left Behind

Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe


Critical Thinking

I’m Thinking of Ending Things



The Nest

The Dark Divide


The Swerve

Enola Holmes



The Boys in the Band



On the Rocks


A Call to Spy

Vampires vs. the Bronx

Save Yourselves!

Faith Based

The Forty-Year-Old Version

Yellow Rose

The Wolf of Snow Hollow

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Love and Monsters

The Opening Act




Coming Home Again

Ham on Rye

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Over the Moon

The True Adventures of Wolf Boy

His House


Acute Misfortune

Let Him Go

The Dark and the Wicked


Dating Amber



Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey


Make Up


Sound of Metal

The Twentieth Century


Hearts and Bones

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

The Croods: A New Age

Happiest Season

Princess of the Row



Minor Premise

Black Bear


The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone

Let Them All Talk

I’m Your Woman


Farewell Amor

Hunter Hunter

Happy Face

Sylvie’s Love

News of the World

Promising Young Woman

One Night in Miami



I Blame Society

Eli’s Favorite Movie of 2020

Sonic the Hedgehog

This is the only movie I watched in a theater all year because it was released right before the month when lockdowns started, but it truly did not disappoint. I have seen decent television adaptations of video games like Castlevania and I can think of good film adaptations from Japan, but since video game-based shows and movies first showed up in the eighties, Sonic the Hedgehog marked the first time I ever saw Hollywood make a live-action adaptation of a video game and not suffocate the life out of it like with Super Mario Bros. and Street Fighter.

Detective Pikachu was the closest they ever got, but not even Ryan Reynolds could help that movie be funny. Sonic the Hedgehog was actually a funny and heartwarming family film made by filmmakers who respect the source material and know how to entertain mainstream audiences and Sonic fans at the same time, much like the Marvel Cinematic Universe appealed to both mainstream audiences and comic book fans at the same time, marking what might be an important turning point for video game movies.

Credit to director Jeff Fowler and writers Pat Casey and Josh Miller for bringing so much more witty humor and passion into the storytelling than usual for these kinds of movies, and the Peter Pan, Wendy and Captain Hook-like chemistry of its main cast Ben Schwartz, James Marsden and Jim Carrey (in wacky Ace Ventura mode) was like lightning in a bottle with all actors getting a chance to shine. As someone who has been a Sonic fan since the nineties, this film made me feel like a kid again.