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1. Saint Maud
Released in October
Rose Glass’s electrifying debut feature establishes the writer-director as a thrilling new voice in British cinema. Morfydd Clark is mesmerising as the newly religious nurse determined to save the soul of her patient (Jennifer Ehle – superb). Adam Janota Bzowski’s eerily prowling score and Paul Davies’s affecting sound designs add to the cinematic spell.
2. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
The French film-maker Céline Sciamma won the 2019 Cannes screenplay prize for this 18th-century story which she has called “a manifesto about the female gaze”. Filmed in painterly hues by Claire Mathon, this masterpiece seamlessly intertwines themes of love and politics, representation and reality.
South Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho made history when this genre-straddling tour de force (“a comedy without clowns, a tragedy without villains”) won this year’s best picture Oscar, provoking oafish outrage from Donald Trump. The film’s UK opening in February was followed later in the year by the release of Bong’s black-and-white version, cementing Parasite’s cult status.
Another jaw-dropping feature debut, this heartbreaking psychological thriller from Japanese-Australian writer/director Natalie Erika James examines the realities of Alzheimer’s through the language of fantasy. Like its antipodean stablemate, Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook, it’s a horror movie with a heart – a profoundly emotional experience.
Alfre Woodard and Aldis Hodge are note-perfect in this low-key death-row drama from writer-director Chinonye Chukwu, the first black woman to win the grand jury prize for drama at the Sundance festival. Ludicrously overlooked in last January’s Oscar nominations, it packs a weighty punch, boosted by Kathryn Bostic’s eerie ambient score.
6. Never Rarely Sometimes Always
From Eliza Hittman comes another drama that blends the gritty authenticity of a documentary with the poetic sensibility of pure cinema. Her third feature tells an oft-hidden story of reproductive rights, yet is best described as an astute portrait of female friendship; a coming-of-age tale with road-movie inflections.
This vibrant, insightful and deeply empathetic drama about teenage girls forging their identities in a potentially hostile world showcases a host of talented screen newcomers, brilliantly directed by Sarah Gavron.
8. Saint Frances
Kelly O’Sullivan writes and stars in this terrifically engaging tale that dresses its subversive self-determination manifesto in the clothes of a ditzy, bittersweet comedy about mid-life disappointment. A joy!
Kilkenny’s Cartoon Saloon delivers another beautiful animation treat. Set in 17th-century Ireland, Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart’s gem runs in the tradition of Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke or Mamoru Hosoda’s Wolf Children. A treat for all ages.
10. The Personal History of David Copperfield
Armando Iannucci works comedic wonders with Dickens’s endlessly re-interpretable Victorian narrative. Dev Patel leads an astonishing array of players, cast with a colour-blind inclusivity that broadens the scope and reach of this film beyond that of previous Dickens adaptations.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Film: Mark Kermode’s 10 best of 2020 | Film