Spike Lee’s Netflix drama “Da 5 Bloods’ features Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock Jr. and Norm Lewis as veterans returning to Vietnam.
As if the coronavirus pandemic and the closing of theaters hasn’t already made this the weirdest movie year ever, there’s the fact that the best films so far include a Spike Lee joint (OK, that’s not too strange), singing Founding Fathers, an Australian outlaw and a double dose of Elisabeth Moss. And we’re only halfway through 2020!
Here’s the good news amid a flurry of bad: With everyone stuck at home in lockdown since March, a lot of smaller films and hidden gems that most people wouldn’t have seen in a theater setting are suddenly at their fingertips. Theatrical movies like “Trolls World Tour” and “The King of Staten Island” switched to digital platforms to entertain us, and with coronavirus cases spiking just as anticipated films like “Mulan” and “Tenet” were supposed to help reopen theaters, streaming options may play even more of a role as we get closer to whatever odd awards season awaits.
As we navigate an uncertain cinematic future, here are the best movies so far of 2020, definitively ranked:
The drama is about as psychologically twisted as a Shirley Jackson story: Set in the early 1950s, Moss plays the famed horror writer and oddball recluse who’s working on a new novel while also messing with the head of the naive woman (Odessa Young) she befriends in an oddly intimate and sinister relationship.
9. ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’
Writer/director Eliza Hittman’s affecting abortion drama centers on a Pennsylvania teenager (Sidney Flanigan) who takes a bus to New York City with her cousin/co-worker (Talia Ryder) to terminate her pregnancy. The film unflinchingly tackles serious subject matter, though it never loses focus on the girl at the heart of the matter.
A redemptive tale told over several decades, the excellent family drama centers on a stoic Taiwanese man (Tzi Ma) struggling to connect with his workaholic daughter (Christine Ko) while revisiting his fateful decision years earlier to leave love behind and travel to America in search of a better life.
Where to watch: Netflix
A bloody and interesting thriller with sci-fi, Western and B-movie overtones, the flick follows the residents of a small Brazilian village who wonder about odd circumstances – like the fact that their home has inexplicably fallen off online maps – and then are invaded by mysterious marauders who aren’t prepared for their victims to fight back so hard.
6. ‘The Assistant’
A day in the soul-crushing life of a working woman in the #MeToo era is chronicled in Kitty Green’s drama. Julia Garner is fantastic as a young junior assistant running the copy machine, grabbing food orders and making appointments for her womanizing entertainment mogul boss, but she learns how toxic the culture is when she stands up and says something.
5. ‘True History of the Kelly Gang’
George MacKay follows up a breakout role in “1917” as notorious 19th-century Aussie bushranger Ned Kelly in this visually arresting punk-rock biopic. The polarizing figure is seen from his days as an innocent Irish lad learning lawless ways to the anarchic, armor-clad young man leading a band of dress-wearing rebels.
This is a bit of a ringer, a filmed production of a mega-popular, game-changing musical that’s arguably the biggest thing on Broadway ever. Still, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s rap-filled vehicle about Alexander Hamilton and the early days of America is an awesome history lesson and fascinating character study filled with infectious songs. It’s probably the only 2020 movie that’ll be taught in high school history classes for decades to come.
Where to watch: Disney+
3. ‘The Vast of Night’
It’s been a while since a sci-fi film gave off the kind of Spielbergian vibes that Andrew Patterson’s lo-fi debut does. In small-town 1950s New Mexico, a spunky young switchboard operator (Sierra McCormick) and local radio DJ (Jake Horowitz) investigate a weird audio frequency that leads to a very enlightening, “Twilight Zone”-esque mystery.
Where to watch: Amazon
2. ‘The Invisible Man’
This is how you make a classic Universal movie monster relevant again. Leigh Whannell’s outstanding thriller, as much an exploration of abuse and gaslighting as it is a horror show, is an eerie Hitchcockian tale starring Moss as a woman victimized by an unseen force, although no one believes her when she insists it’s her supposedly dead ex.
1. ‘Da 5 Bloods’
One of Lee’s best films, “Bloods” is both action-packed entertainment and timely treatise on Black patriotism and racial injustice. Is it too early to make Delroy Lindo a shoo-in for a best actor Oscar nomination? Nah, because he rules this engrossing war drama about African American vets who return to Vietnam for treasure and the remains of their squad leader (Chadwick Boseman) but also find old demons still plague them.
Where to watch: Netflix
Mandatory masks and empty seats: Here’s what to expect when movie theaters reopen
Summer preview: The 10 must-see new movies to stream while stuck at home
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/movies/2020/07/01/ranked-10-best-movies-2020-so-far/3260461001/