Undefended: The Five Best Films You’ve Seen All Year

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Undefended: The Five Best Films You’ve Seen All Year

At the end of December, it is customary for FilmFisher’s writers to assemble “best of the year” Undefended lists. However, given the relative deficit of new releases in 2020, FilmFisher’s writers picked the 5 best films they saw all year, regardless of release date.

tenet 1

Joshua Gibbs

All from 2020:

  1. Wild Mountain Thyme (John Patrick Shanley)
  2. The Crown: Season 4
  3. An American Pickle (Brandon Trost)
  4. On the Rocks (Sofia Coppola
  5. Tenet (Christopher Nolan)

John Patrick Shanley’s latest movie is one of the weirdest I’ve seen in years, but weird in a delightful Catholic sort of way. It also contains the single most surprising line of dialog I can think of. It’s like a Hallmark movie crossed with a Pulitzer Prize winning play from 1953.

22 (705)

Robert Brown

  1. Unbreakable (2000, dir. M. Night Shyamalan)
  2. Minority Report (2002, dir. Steven Spielberg)
  3. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001, dir. Steven Spielberg)
  4. The Farewell (2019, dir. Lulu Wang)
  5. Tied: Of Machinery and Men Double Feature: First Man (2018, dir. Damien Chazelle) and Ford v. Ferrari (2019, dir. James Mangold)

P.S.: Allow me to use this opportunity to once again beat the drum for the four-part finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2020); if it was a film, and if I hadn’t already included it on a recent list, it would have taken 4th place.

twin peaks the return

James Valmassoi

  1. Twin Peaks: The Return (2017, Lynch)
  2. Cries and Whispers (1972, Bergman)
  3. Network (1976, Lumet)
  4. Dogville (2003, von Trier)
  5. I Are You, You Am Me (1982, Obayashi)

56 (1037)

Timothy Lawrence

All new to me this year:

  1. A Dangerous Method (2011, dir. David Cronenberg)
  2. Blow Out (1981, dir. Brian De Palma)
  3. Starship Troopers (1997, dir. Paul Verhoeven)
  4. The Limey (1999, dir. Steven Soderbergh)
  5. The Abyss (1989, dir. James Cameron)

And since everyone’s tossing in seasons of television, let me make an honorable mention of Fargo season 4.


Tom Upjohn

  1. A Serious Man
  2. Barry Lyndon
  3. The Big Lebowski
  4. Casino Royale
  5. The Witch


Travis Kyker

  1. Paris, Texas (Wenders, 1984)
  2. A Canterbury Tale (Powell & Pressburger, 1944)
  3. Unforgiven (Eastwood, 1992)
  4. Once Upon a Time in the West (Leone, 1968)
  5. Song of the Sea (Moore, 2014)

56 (15)

Joel Bourgeois

First-time watches this year:

  1. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
  2. Grave of the Fireflies
  3. A Dangerous Method
  4. Uncut Gems
  5. Munich

Grave of the Fireflies is a stand-in for a lot of new-to-me Studio Ghibli films I saw this year (Porco Rosso, Whisper of the Heart, Only Yesterday) and I didn’t want the entire rest of the list to be dominated by Ghibli.

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