Five of Screen’s critics have selected their top ten films of the year, plus the best documentaries and standout performances.

critics top films 2020

Source: BBC Film / Film4 / Searchlight Pictures / Zoo Entertainment

‘Lovers Rock’, ‘Limbo’, ‘Nomadland’, ‘The Disciple’

Fionnuala Halligan, chief film critic and reviews editor

Top film: Lovers Rock  (Steve McQueen)

An eruption of a house party: made for TV, as part of McQueen’s ‘Small Axe’ series, but with a big-screen soul. It captures McQueen at his most eloquent, without ever stating the obvious. 

Click here for Finn’s top 10 films, best documentaries, and performance of the year

Tim Grierson, Senior US critic

Top film: Nomadland (Chloé Zhao)

Deceptively straightforward and unassuming, yet able to encapsulate so much of the human experience.  A road movie and a survivor’s story, a commentary on both solitude and community, Nomadland strips away everything until it ultimately becomes about the fragile essence of being alive — and the road ahead, whose destination no-one can say.

Click here for Tim’s top 10 films, best documentaries, and performance of the year

Jonathan Romney

Top film: The Disciple  (Chaitanya Tamhane)

One of the most elegant, formally polished films of the year, and one of the most artistically mature. The Disciple feels determinedly out on a limb, with its pensive, novelistic musing on the passing of tradition, the cost of perfectionism, and the need to come to terms with the changing realities of a globalised world.

Click here for Jonathan’s top 10 films, best documentaries and performance of the year

Allan Hunter

Top film: Limbo  (Ben Sharrock)

The ghosts of Powell and Pressburger seem to be watching over Sharrock’s second feature. The desolate beauty of a Scottish island on the edge of the world, the tender empathy with the plight of an outsider and the wry deadpan humour all lend bewitching flavours to Limbo.

Click here for Allan’s top 10 films, best documentaries and performance of the year<

Wendy Ide

Top film: Nomadland  (Chloé Zhao)

Zhao’s remarkable cross-country odyssey doesn’t just see the rootless wanderers who find themselves relegated to America’s new periphery — it hears them too. Frances McDormand’s remarkable and generous central performance as Fern acts as the conduit through which we learn about everyone she encounters.

Click here for Wendy’s top 10 films, best documentaries and performance of the year