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Films Watched (and Rated) in 2023

Top 10 Films Watched in 2023

As usual, I’ve provided a synopsis of our Top 10 Films from 2023 — those ranked 8.0 and above — followed by a longer list of films we watched in general, along with the rating we gave them on a scale of 1-10 — 10 being the highest. While in previous years we ranked films 9.0 and above, this year, it wasn’t to be.

There were some films we saw this year we wanted to like more, but in the end, they wound up on the bottom of our list — namely Napoleon, Tár, and The Whale.

Some films were second- or third- viewings for me, such as A Room with a View, Pandora’s Box, and The Army of Shadows (and I re-watched The Gladiator and The Children’s Hour since David had never seen them) and they have remained stellar films despite the decades that have passed. As such, they deserve their place in the Top 10.

But, to be sure, what stands this year was my discovery of Guy Ritchie films in general (I know — it took me awhile!) and Jason Statham in particular. Starting off strong with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (8.0) and transitioning nicely to Snatch (7.0), we indulged in what we knew would be mediocre movies in The Transporter (and, embarrassingly, The Transporter II), but Statham is just one of those actors you can’t take your eyes off of. (And no, that doesn’t mean I’m going to watch Meg: 2 — The Trench 😂. I do have my limits.)

I LOATHED the adaptation of All the Light We Cannot See, which doesn’t even merit inclusion on my watch list! (Please just read the book), but war films are a staple for us every year and often rank very high. All Quiet on the Western Front was a beautiful adaptation of Remarque’s 1929 anti-war novel, and Generation War was the long-form film we started off 2023 with.

Mads Mikkelsen never fails to leave me mesmerized, and he delivered again in Arctic; our watching of Triangle of Sadness was inspired by the fact that we loved the director’s 2014 film Force Majeure, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was a film I had been meaning to watch for years. But if I had to choose one film this year out of all of our favorites, it would be The Fool (Durak).

1. The Fool (2014)

A 2014 Russian film directed by Yuri Bykov. The story revolves around a young plumber, Dima Nikitin, who discovers a major structural issue in a Soviet-era apartment building. Despite his efforts to report the problem to the authorities, he encounters corruption, indifference, and a network of powerful figures trying to cover up the issue. As the situation escalates, Dima finds himself in a moral dilemma, torn between the corrupt system and the safety of the people living in the building. The film serves as a powerful commentary on systemic corruption and the challenges faced by individuals trying to do the right thing in a flawed society. Unforgettable. 8.0

2. Generation War (2013)

A German miniseries from 2013 that follows five friends through World War II. Divided into three parts, it explores the complexities of loyalty and sacrifice against the backdrop of the war’s changing dynamics. 8.0

3. Arctic (2018)

A 2018 film which follows the story of a man stranded in the Arctic after a plane crash who must decide whether to stay in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or embark on a deadly trek through the unknown for potential rescue. 8.0

4. Triangle of Sadness (2022)

A satirical drama film directed by Ruben Ostlund. The story follows the lives of a billionaire couple and a model as they navigate the complexities of their relationships and the consequences of their extravagant lifestyles. The performances are nothing short of amazing. 8.0

5. All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)

A recent film adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s classic anti-war novel. Set during World War I, the movie follows the harrowing journey of a young German soldier named Paul Bäumer and his comrades as they confront the brutal realities of war.

6. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

In this British crime comedy, a group of friends finds themselves entangled in the London criminal underworld after a high-stakes card game goes wrong. The film follows their attempts to navigate and survive the chaotic consequences.

7. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

Based on a true story, this French biographical drama portrays the life of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the former editor of Elle magazine, who, after suffering a stroke, is left with locked-in syndrome. The film explores his experiences, particularly his ability to communicate using only his left eye.

8. Pandora’s Box (1929)

This German silent film is a classic of the Weimar era. It follows the tragic life of Lulu, a beautiful and seductive woman whose relationships lead to ruin and despair. The film is known for its atmospheric expressionism and social commentary.

9. A Room with a View (1985)

This Merchant Ivory production, based on E.M. Forster’s novel, is a romantic drama set in Edwardian England. It follows the journey of a young woman named Lucy Honeychurch, exploring themes of social conventions, love, and self-discovery.

10. Army of Shadows (1969)

A French film directed by one of my favorite directors, Jean-Pierre Melville, Army of Shadows is a wartime thriller about the French Resistance during World War II. The film depicts the challenges faced by a group of resistance fighters as they navigate danger, betrayal, and the moral complexities of their mission.

FULL LIST OF MOVIES WATCHED AND RANKED IN 2023

EO (2022) 7.0
The Pale Blue Eye (2022) 5.0
Lumumba (2000) 7.0
Argentina, 1985 (2022) 7.0
The Night of the Shooting Stars (1982) 7.0
Decision to Leave (2022) 7.0
The Gentlemen (2019) 7.0
Gladiator (2000) 7.0
Caged (1950) 7.0
Il Posto (1961) 7.0
They Were Expendable (1945) 7.0
Gomorrah (2008) 7.0
Hour of the Wolf (1968) 7.0
The Children’s Hour (1961) 7.0
The Whale (2022) 6.0
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019) 6.0
Tár (2022) 6.0
The Transporter (2002) 6.0
Calvary (2014) 6.0
The Innocents (2021) 6.0
Napoleon (2023) 5.0

Don’t forget to check out Favorite Films Watched in 2021, Favorite Films Watched in 2022, and Favorite Films Watched in 2020.

What are some of your favorite films?

Films Watched (and Rated) in 2022

As you’ll see below, we tend to get into themes when we watch movies — it might be a number of films by a certain director or about a particular topic or from a specific country — and that was no exception in 2022. (See Films Watched in 2021 and Films Watched in 2020.)

Top 10 Films Watched in 2022

I’ve provided a synopsis of our Top 10 Films from 2022, followed by some theme categories, followed by a longer list of the name of the films we watched along with the rating we gave them on a scale of 1-10 — 10 being the best. The list below starts with those we’ve rated 9.0, but they — and those rated 8.0 after that — are in no particular order.

1. The Battle of Chile (1973)

David and I always start the new year with a long film or film series, and for 2022 we chose The Battle of Chile, a three-part film about the fall of Salvador Allende and the rise of August Pinochet. Watching this 3-part film just days before the 1st anniversary of the January 6th insurrection of the U.S. Capitol was both fitting and harrowing.

To be sure, there are fundamental differences between the Chilean far right taking down a democratically elected government and the divisive state of our country today. First of all, Chile had a major foreign power backing them (the United States) and a military that acted on its own — independent of the constitutional government.

But there are chilling similarities that every American will recognize in this story and that every American needs to see. As for the filmmaking itself, it’s incredible. The amount of footage and the breadth and depth of the storytelling are enough to justify the high esteem with which it is still regarded 50 years after its debut, and while it is clear which side the filmmakers support, it is hard not to sympathize with the conviction, compassion, and tenacity of the pro-government workers. Highly recommended. 9.0

2. Hot Fuzz (2007)

Directed by Edgar Wright; Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, and Bill Nighy; written by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Being a huge fan of British comedy,  I don’t know why it took me so long to watch what the filmmakers themselves call the “Cornetto Trilogy”: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End. All three films are directed by Edgar Wright and written by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (who also star in all three).

I’d heard about Shaun of the Dead for years and years, but I think I was skeptical of the zombie apocalypse theme (and in the end rated it 7.0). Still, it was my loss for waiting this long. We didn’t watch the “trilogy” in the order in which the films were made; we started with Hot Fuzz, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that I started laughing within the first 3 minutes. The screenwriting, the comedic timing, the editing, the delightful silliness all combine to create a joyful viewing experience! 9.0 for Hot Fuzz! (P.S. We rated The World’s End 8.0.)

3. Baby Driver (2017)

Another film we rated 9.0 was a movie I had never even heard of before. And like with Hot Fuzz, I was hooked from the moment it started. It’s also directed by Edgar Wright (who made the aforementioned comedies), and it might be one of the most perfect little heist films I’ve ever seen.

Part dark comedy, part character study, part heist film, part hero story, part …. well….getaway film. (And yes, we’ve decided that is its own genre.) The editing is stellar, the cast is fantastic, and if you like dark comedies, this film is for you.

Heart and humor isn’t all it has; it’s also got one of the most endearing main characters on film, and the music is a significant part of the story. Because of an accident he had when he was young, Baby has a perpetual ringing in his ears. Music is one of the things that brings him relief, and so he essentially creates a soundtrack to every experience in his life. Don’t miss this film. 9.0 

4. The “Pusher” Trilogy

The trilogy starts with Pusher, made in 1996 and starring Mads Mikkelsen (one of my FAVORITE actors), followed by Pusher II (2004), then Pusher III (2005). We gave Pusher and Pusher II each an 8.0, but Pusher III didn’t live up to the first two and got a 6.0 from us.

Hear me and hear me now…these films are not for the faint of heart. Pusher is about a drug pusher who grows increasingly desperate after a botched deal leaves him with a large debt to a ruthless drug lord. The films are gritty and violent, and the characters are no angels, but the stories are skillfully told.

5. Memories of Murder (2003)

Moving from Denmark to South Korea, we have another 8.0 film, directed in 2003 by Joon Ho Bong, who also directed the Academy-award-winning Parasite. Both films are irreverent and darkly humorous, though I think Memories of Murder is the superior of the two. Based on a true story about an inept police detective trying to solve a string of rapes and serial murders in a small Korean village, it is adeptly made and well-deserving of its ranking of 8.0.

6. Sacco & Vanzetti (1971)

Moving back to Europe from Korea, we have an 1971 Italian film based on the true story of the 1921-1927 imprisonment, trial, conviction, and execution of two Italian-born immigrant anarchists, named Sacco and Vanzetti. Starring another favorite actor of mine — Gian Maria Volontè — it’s just a complicated story told well. Quite a feat considering the bulk of the story takes place in a courtroom. 8.0

7. The Mattei Affair (1972)

Also starring Gian Maria Volontè and directed by the masterful Francesco Rosi, this film is based on the true story of an Italian industrialist who died in a plane crash and revolves around the question (that has never been answered): was it an accident or an assassination? 8.0

8. The Little World of Don Camillo (1952)

Staying in Italy but traveling back 20 years, we have a classic Italian comedy about a determined priest and a Communist mayor who develop a grudging friendship in spite of their official rivalry. The dynamic between the two main characters / actors is so engrossing that several other films have been made starring the same actors and featuring the same characters. 8.0

9. The Alpinist (2021) and Torn (2021)

Other than The Battle of Chile, we didn’t have any documentaries on our list, so I thought I would choose two from our 8.0 ranking and honor two films about climbing. Both very moving and beautifully told — and both tied for 8.0

10. The Intouchables (2011)

I thought I would end the list with one that — for me — was the feel-good film of the year! As you can see from this year’s list and from those in previous years, we watch a lot of movies with serious or dark subject matter, but in this French film from 2011, we struck feel-good gold. After he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an aristocrat hires a young man from the projects to be his caregiver, and a relationship is forged. 8.0

Films about South Africa / Apartheid

Toward the end of 2022, we were getting ready to take folks on a Joyful Vegan Trip to Rwanda, followed by a Joyful Vegan Trip to Botswana. The latter trip began and ended in Cape Town, South Africa, and we used it as an opportunity to read some books and watch some films about this country in general and apartheid in particular. I had a rudimentary understanding of apartheid and Nelson Mandela, but I wanted to know more. So, I read Diamonds, Gold, and War by Martin Meredith and Mandela’s autobiography Long Road to Freedom, and we watched a number of films about South Africa and apartheid. 

Cry Freedom (1987) Like so many of the films we’ve seen about apartheid, it’s a good story but slightly flawed in the telling of it, despite being directed by Richard Attenborough. Still, I definitely recommend it, despite the awful accents. South African journalist Donald Woods is forced to flee the country after attempting to investigate the death in custody of his friend, the Black anti-Apartheid activist Steve Biko. 7.0

A Dry White Season (1989) Forgetful title, good story, mediocre dialogue. Still, our intention was to watch the most highly recommended films about apartheid, and this was one of them. It’s still a film worth watching, even if Sutherland’s Afrikaans accent is cringeworthy. A white middle class South African suburbanite with no interest in politics agrees to help his black gardener find his jailed son. His investigation opens his eyes to the horrors committed by the secret police and turns him into a target. 6.0 

The Bang Bang Club (2010) While David wanted to rate it a 6.0, I appreciated this drama based on the true-life experiences of four combat photographers capturing the final days of apartheid in South Africa. Some of the scenes were impressively shot and harrowing to watch, and I sympathized with the different personalities of people being in a very difficult situation. 7.0 

Goodbye Bafana (2007) This is the true story of a white South African racist whose life was profoundly altered by the black prisoner he guarded for twenty years. The prisoner’s name was Nelson Mandela. 7.0

FULL LIST OF MOVIES WATCHED AND RANKED IN 2022

  • Baby Driver (2017) 9.0 
  • Hot Fuzz (2007) 9.0 
  • Battle of Chile (1973) 9.0
  • Memories of Murder (2003) 8.0 
  • Sacco & Vanzetti (1971) 8.0 
  • The Mattei Affair (1972) 8.0 
  • Beasts of No Nation (2015 ) 8.0  
  • The Facts of Murder (1959) 8.0  
  • The Getaway (1972) (As good as the first time I watched it 25 years ago.) 8.0
  • Pusher II (2004) 8.0 
  • Pusher (1996) 8.0 
  • Champion (1949) 8.0 
  • Hell Is for Heroes (1962) 8.0 
  • The Alpinist (2021) 8.0
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) 8.0 
  • The Little World of Don Camillo (1952) 8.0 
  • John Adams (2008) 8.0 
  • The Bridge (1959) 8.0 
  • The World’s End (2013) 8.0
  • The Intouchables (2011) 8.0
  • Torn (2021) 8.0
  • In Bruges (2008) 8.0 (2nd viewing for me; David hadn’t seen it before)
  • Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) 7.0
  • The Unforgivable (2021) 7.0
  • Blue Valentine (2010) 7.0
  • Shaun of the Dead (2004) 7.0
  • The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) 7.0
  • Drive (2011) 7.0 
  • Window (1949) 7.0
  • Shock Troops (1967) 7.0 
  • Amen. (2002) 7.0 
  • The Killing of America (1981) 7.0 
  • The League of Gentlemen (1960) 7.0 
  • Missing (1982) 7.0 
  • Nevada Smith (1966) 7.0 
  • Inherit the Wind (1960) 7.0 
  • Crossfire (1947) 7.0 
  • Lulu the Tool (1971) 7.0  
  • The Night Caller (1975) 7.0 
  • Elena (2011)(Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev, same director as Loveless, The Banishment, Leviathan. See Films Watched in 2021.) 7.0
  • Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1962) 7.0 
  • Cry Freedom (1987) 7.0 
  • The Bang Bang Club (2010) 7.0 
  • Goodbye Bafana (2007) 7.0 
  • Pusher III (2005) 6.0 
  • Baby Doll (1956) 6.0
  • A Dry White Season (1989) 6.0 
  • The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) 6.0
  • The Driver (1978) 6.0  
  • Caught (1949) 6.0 
  • The Reckless Moment (1949) 6.0 
  • Body and Soul (1947) 6.0
  • Open Secret (1948) 5.0 
  • The Northman (2022) 5.0 
  • America: The Motion Picture (2021) 5.0  

Don’t forget to check out Favorite Films Watched in 2021, Favorite Films Watched in 2020, and Favorite Films Watched in 2023. What are some of your favorite films?

My Pledge to Democracy

At the end of every year, I produce a list of the films my husband and I watched in the previous 12 months. I provide a brief commentary for our Top 10 (or in the case of 2021’s list, our Top 15). 

Instead of overwhelming you with a list of dozens (hundreds?) of films at the end of the year, I thought for 2022, I would build a list throughout the year so you don’t have to wait. This would also give me the space to more thoughtfully review some of the films I think deserve attention — or at least those that captured mine.

The Battle of Chile and What it Taught Me About Democracy

As I mentioned in my Films Watched in 2021 post, it’s been a tradition for over a decade for David and I to watch a long-form film or film series over the course of the New Year’s Day holiday, and this year — 2022 — was no exception. We decided to watch The Battle of Chile, a documentary film made in 1973 in three 90-minute parts. 

I knew that the United States had backed a coup in Chile in the 1970s and that a dictatorial regime was installed in place of the democratically elected government and president. And that’s about where my knowledge ended.

Watching this film just days before the 1st anniversary of the insurrection of the U.S. Capitol was both fitting and harrowing. Before January 6, 2021, I was quite aware that our democracy was under attack, and over the years I have written several essays and podcast episodes on the importance of being engaged in political processes and in our precious democracy. (Elections Matter: How to Increase Voting, Inauguration, A Guide to Being Politically EngagedCan Garbage Unite our Divided Country?, Why I Love Voting and Why You Should, Too!, Laws for Animals: How to Engage in Politics without Being Cynical, to name a few.) I even made political engagement the theme of one of my vegan / animal protection conferences.

But on January 6, 2021, I saw — we all saw — how fragile democracy is and how it’s only as strong as its weakest individual, as Eleanor Roosevelt so eloquently articulated in her pledge to democracy.

I watched in horror as men and women — provoked by this country’s own president — attacked one of the most fundamental tenets of democracy — the peaceful transfer of power — and persist in lies about election fraud where none had been and none has since been found.

I waited in vain for leaders to abandon such falsehoods once they witnessed police officers, elected officials, and fellow Americans suffer attacks, violence, threats, and even death. 

No such change came, and indeed, the lies have become even more fixed and firm. And our democracy remains in peril.

To be sure, there are differences between the Chilean far right overthrowing their democratically elected government and the divisive state of our country today. First of all, they had a major foreign power backing them (the United States) and a military that acted on its own — independent of the constitutional government.

But there are chilling similarities that every American will recognize in this story and that every American needs to see. We must never forget January 6th, 2021, the five people who were killed, and the dozens who were injured and harmed, and we must resist the temptation to naïvely and complacently believe that such an egregious act could never happen again.

Moreover, as ordinary citizens, we must be vigilant against any duplicitous measures that seek to deny facts, distort truth, and chip away at democratic norms, systems, and laws. 

How Can We Get Involved?

  • By engaging in the very democracy that has been so hard-won and hard-kept. 
  • By exercising the very rights that so many have fought and died for. 
  • By remembering the demos in democracy: the people
  • And by rejecting cynicism and divisiveness. 

This isn’t someone else’s task. It’s ours. It’s mine. It’s yours.

  • Vote.
  • Know your representatives — not just federally but regionally and locally.
  • Visit your local town or city hall. Or your state or federal Capitol. (That’s David and I on a recent visit to our state Capitol in Sacramento!) 
  • Financially contribute to candidates you believe in.
  • Volunteer.
  • Use your voice.
  • Know your history.
  • Get up, show up, and speak up.
  • Meet duplicity with honesty, stupidity with wisdom, ignorance with truth, and cruelty with kindness.

And watch The Battle of Chile

The amount of footage and the breadth and depth of the storytelling are enough to justify the high esteem with which it is still regarded 50 years later. 

And once you watch it, let me know what you think in the comments below.

Films Watched in 2021

We saw SOOO many good films this year that I had to expand our Top 10 to Top 15 AND include subcategories based on directors and countries.

David and I always start the new year off with a long film or multi-film series. Last year, it was The Emigrants and The New Land, both of which I highly recommend. From our list of films, you’d think we never watched comedies, and it’s kind of true. We tend to reserve our comedy-watching for UK panel shows (Mock the Week, QI, Would I Lie to You) and endless repeats of Blackadder, but when it comes to film…it’s true they tend to be of a darker nature and more serious subject matter. 

Even when they’re comedies, they’re dark. 

The Finnish and the Danish have mastered that combination, and 2021 had no dearth of films from both countries in our repertoire. I mentioned Aki Kaurismäki in my 2020 list, and more of his are below, and the first Fassbinder film we watched had us spellbound. We watched a ton by Danish directors Susanne Bier, Anders Thomas Jensen, and Thomas Vinterberg — in all of which you’ll see a rotation of the same brilliant actors. 

In our Top 15, you’ll see FOUR films by Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev, so definitely check those out. Not. Comedies. But absolutely heart-rending and heart-filled. Lilya 4 Ever may be the most devastatingly sad film we’ve ever seen, but it’s so brilliantly made and acted that I have to recommend it. It will rip your heart out, and you will never forget it. 

Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading our list and our rating of each film, and of course I hope you enjoy any films you watch because of it. We rate each film we see on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest), and we have a number of films rated at 8.0 and above that aren’t in the “top” lists below. And don’t skip the 7.0 films; they’re decent films — entertaining, enjoyable — but just not fall of your seat good.

TOP 15 FILMS WATCHED IN 2021 

  1. The Emigrants and The New Land by Jan Troell — I’m counting these as one movie, because we loved them equally well, and they’re really part of each other. You wouldn’t watch one without the other. 
  2. Sorry We Missed You — Ken Loach has been telling the same story for 30 years, and damnit if he doesn’t tell it well. 
  3. Ali, Fear Eats the Soul — directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. If only everyone looked through the same lens as the female main character, the world would be a better place.  
  4. Flickering Lights — Directed and written by Anders Thomas Jensen (starring Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Ulrich Thomsen) We saw the original French version of this story many years ago (which is great), but this one…It’s like watching Seven Samurai, where each and every character deftly reveals his own strengths, flaws, passions, and contribution to the whole.
  5. The Secret of Santa Vittoria — I guess this one could be considered a comedy despite the Nazis. An absolutely delightful film with fantastic performances and perfect comedic timing. 
  6. Another Round — How Thomas Vinterberg is able to make film after film about difficult subjects without judging the characters’ decisions or manipulating the viewer to think one way is beyond me. Absolutely brilliant. I’ve watched the ending about 50 times already.
  7. Riders of Justice — A perfect example of a Danish film that squeezes into 5 genres, each equally well. Directed and conceived by Anders Thomas Jensen, it will make your laugh, cry, and drop your jaw.
  8. Infernal Affairs — The film that inspired The Departed. While I really liked The Departed, now having seen the inspiration behind it, I can say there is definitely more heart and soul in the Hong Kong original. (We did watch Infernal Affairs II and III, but the first one is superior and can stand on its own.)
  9. Lilya 4-Ever — Based on a true story, this movie tore our hearts out, and it’s not one we’ll soon forget. Watch it, but be prepared to be devastated. 
  10. Wild River — A perfect example of how Elia Kazan let his actors depict the most human, honest, well-rounded characters and turn in the most honest, human, raw performances. 
  11. La Vie de Boheme by Aki KaurismäkiThe story will be familiar to you if you’ve ever seen (or heard of) Puccini’s opera La Boheme, but this lovely movie is quintessential Kaurismäki. 
  12. Leviathan (2014) by Andrey Zvyagintsev  — David and I have spent hours talking about our perspective of what brings the main character to his demise. Every second of the film, I hope he will make a different decision than he does, but he is also the victim of relentless cruelty and revenge. How much is his responsibility? How much is he a victim of someone else’s bitter resentment? Would love to hear your thoughts.
  13. The Return (2003) by Andrey Zvyagintsev — Brothers Andrei and Ivan return home from school to find their father has returned after a 12-year absence. What happens next is suspenseful and perplexing — and makes you want to jump through the screen and envelope these boys.
  14. Loveless (2017) by Andrey Zvyagintsev — I think a reviewer in The Guardian put it best: “after spending two hours in the company of toxic Boris and Zhenya [the main characters], I emerged from the cinema in dire need of a shower.” Chilly, dark, unsettling, and sad, it’s also gorgeous, brilliant, and flawless.
  15. The Banishment (2007) by Andrey Zvyagintsev — This was the first movie of Zvyagintsev’s I watched, and it not only hooked me on his filmmaking but also on Maria Bonnevie’s acting. As dark and stunning as his others, what sets this one apart is the ambiguity of time and place. You’ll never guess either.  

RECOMMENDED KEN LOACH FILMS

  • Sorry We Missed You (2019) 8.0
  • I, Daniel Blake (2016) 7.0
  • Land and Freedom (1995) 8.0

RECOMMENDED DANISH FILMS (there are more, but these are taken from our 2021 watch list)

  • Submarino (2010) 8.0 directed by Thomas Vinterberg
  • Another Round (2020) 8.0 directed by Thomas Vinterberg  (Mads, Thomas Bo Larsen)
  • A Second Chance (2014) 7.0 directed by Susanne Bier written by Susanne Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Maria Bonnevie, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Thomas Bo Larsen)
  • Open Hearts (2002) 8.0 directed by Susanne Bier, written by Susanne Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen (Mads Mikklesen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas)
  • Riders of Justice (2020) 8.0 directed by (also idea by) Anders Thomas Jensen  (Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas)
  • In a Better World (2010) 8.0 directed by Susanne Bier and written by Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen 
  • Pelle the Conqueror (1987) 7.0 (Max von Sydow)
  • Babette’s Feast (1987) 7.0
  • Force Majeure (2014) 7.0 / 6.0
  • Flickering Lights (2000) 9.0 
  • Brothers (2004) 8.0 – another great Danish movie by Susanne Bier – starring Ulrich Thomsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, and Connie Nielsen
  • In China They Eat Dogs (1999) 8.0 
  • Adam’s Apples (2005) 8.0 directed by Anders Thomas Jensen and starring Ulrich Thomsen, Mads Mikkelsen, Nicolas Bro

RECOMMENDED ANDREY ZVYAGINTSEV FILMS

  • Leviathan (2014) 8.0 
  • The Return (2003) 8.0
  • Loveless (2017) 8.0 
  • The Banishment (2007) 8.0

ALL FILMS WATCHED IN 2021

  • The Emigrants (1971) 9.0
  • The New Land (1972) 9.0
  • Ali, Fear Eats the Soul (1974) 9.0
  • Zodiac (2007) 7.0
  • Rust and Bone (2012) 7.0
  • La Vie de Boheme (1992) 9.0
  • The Prophet (2009) 8.0 
  • Opening Night (1977) 7.0
  • La révolution française (1989 TV series) 8.0
  • Sorry We Missed You (2019) 8.0
  • I, Daniel Blake (2016) 7.0
  • Land and Freedom (1995) 8.0
  • Appaloosa (2008) 6.0
  • The Rose Tattoo by Daniel Mann 4.0 (Please don’t watch this disaster of a movie. It was the most embarrassing film we’ve ever seen, despite it starring two of my favorite actors: Anna Magnani and Burt Lancaster.)
  • The Horse Soldiers (1959) 7.0
  • The Red Badge of Courage (1951) 7.0
  • War and Peace (1972-1973) BBC series with Anthony Hopkins 8.0
  • War and Peace (2016) BBC series with Paul Dano, James Norton, and Lily James 8.0
  • Sideways (2nd time since it was in the theater in 2004) 7.0
  • Nomadland (2020) 6.0
  • The Seven-Ups (1973) 6.0
  • The Desperate Hours (1955) 8.0
  • Night Moves (1975) 7.0
  • The Long Goodbye (1973) 7.0
  • Nightcrawler (2014) 6.0
  • Black Hawk Down (2001) 7.0
  • Leviathan (2014) 8.0 directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev —
  • The Return (2003) 8.0 directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev —
  • Loveless (2017) 8.0 Andrey Zvyagintsev —
  • The Banishment 8.0 Andrey Zvyagintsev —
  • The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969) 8.0
  • The Lighthouse (2019) 7.0
  • Midsommar (2019) 6.0
  • Infernal Affairs 9.0 (2002)
  • Infernal Affairs II (2003) 7.0
  • Infernal Affairs III (2003) 6.0
  • Submarino (2010) 7.0 
  • Another Round (2020) 8.0 
  • A Second Chance (2014) 7.0 
  • Open Hearts (2002) 8.0 
  • Riders of Justice (2020) 8.0
  • In a Better World (2010) 8.0 
  • Pelle the Conqueror (1987)  7.0 
  • Babette’s Feast (1987) 7.0 
  • Force Majeure (2014)  7.0 / 6.0
  • Journal 64 (2018) 7.0 
  • Flickering Lights (2000) 9.0 
  • Brothers (2004) 8.0 
  • Three Monkeys (2008) 8.0 (David saw this Turkish film without me, but it’s on my list. He loved it.)
  • Zorba the Greek (1964) 8.0 (I saw this years ago, but David saw it for the first time.)
  • The Medusa Touch (1978) 6.0 
  • Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) 5.0
  • The Proud Ones (1956) 7.0
  • Department Q: A Conspiracy of Faith (2016) 6.0
  • Department Q: The Absent One (2014) 7.0
  • Department Q: The Keeper of Lost Causes (2013)
  • A Hijacking (2012) 6.0
  • A Quiet Place II (2020) – 8.0
  • In China They Eat Dogs (1999) – 8.0
  • Adam’s Apples (2005) 8.0 
  • Lilya 4-Ever (2002) 8.0
  • Crime and Punishment (1983) 7.0
  • Black Girl (1966) 7.0
  • Into the Okavango (2018) 7.0
  • Blood Diamond (2006) 6.0
  • District 9 (2009) 8.0
  • 99 River Street (1953) 7.0
  • To Walk Invisible 
  • Wild River (1960) 9.0
  • The Art of Crying (2006) 7.0
  • A Face in the Crowd (1957) 8.0

Don’t forget to check out Favorite Films Watched in 2020, Favorite Films Watched in 2022, and Favorite Films Watched in 2023.

Films We Watched in 2020

David and I tend to delve into themes — such as watching films from a particular director, genre, era, or country, and 2020 was no different. While the movies on this list were made in such countries as Germany, Mali, Italy, Spain, Finland, Japan, South Africa, Poland, UK, Iran, France, and the U.S., we dove deep into Iranian films, particularly those by Asghar Farhadi, and Finnish films, especially those by Aki Kaurismäki. As a reflection of their brilliance, each of those films we rated at least 7.0 and 8.0.

List of Top 10 Films

To save you the trouble of finding our favorites, here are our Top 10 films from 2020! The list includes documentary series as well as feature films but not those we re-watched.

  1. Le Haine
  2. Nothing But a Man
  3. Blue Collar
  4. World War II in HD
  5. The Memory of Justice
  6. The Secret in Their Eyes
  7. Fireworks Wednesday
  8. The Idiot
  9. Seven Beauties
  10. Swept Away

All Films Watched and Ranked

The list below is the complete list of films from 2020 in order of when we watched them — from most recent to the least recent. You’ll see our rating below (which are in whole numbers in keeping with IMDB’s ranking system, though I suspect we would increase or decrease some by .5 if we had our druthers). 

David and I rarely differ when it comes to which films we love and which are shite; I think the only exception on this list is The Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which I vehemently dislike and he really loves. Other than that, we’re pretty much in agreement.

  • Meet John Doe (1941) 5.0 Director: Frank Capra
  • The Holly and the Ivy (1952) 8.0 Director: George More O’Ferrall
  • Timbuktu (2014) 7.0 Director: Abderrahmane Sissako
  • The Address (2014) 7.0 Director: Ken Burns
  • My Octopus Teacher (2020) 8.0 Documentary Directors: Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed
  • Seven Beauties (1975) 8.0 Director: Lina Wertmüller
  • Conversation Piece (1974) 8.0 Director: Luchino Visconti
  • The Idiot (1951) 8.0 Director: Akira Kurosawa
  • Under the Flag of the Rising Sun (1972) 8.0 Director: Kinji Kukasaku
  • The White Reindeer (1952) 7.0 Director: Erik Blomberg
  • Rebecca (1940) 6.0 Director: Alfred Hitchcock
  • A Quiet Place (2018) 8.0 Director: John Krasinski
  • The Sleeping Car Murder (1965) 8.0 Director: Costa-Gavras
  • Mulholland Drive (2001) 8.0 Director: David Lynch
  • Carriage to Vienna (1966) 8.0 Director: Karel Kachyna
  • Hour of the Gun (1967) 5.0 Director: John Sturges
  • The Heiress (1949) 8.0 Director: William Wyler
  • Claudine (1974) 7.0 Director: John Berry
  • Tombstone (1993) 7.0 Directors: George P. Cosmatos, Kevin Jarre
  • The Suspect (1944) 7.0 Director: Robert Siodmak
  • They Call Me Trinity (1970) 6.0 Director: Enzo Barboni
  • Nothing But a Man (1964) 9.0 Director: Michael Roemer
  • Blue Collar (1978) 8.0 Director: Paul Schrader
  • The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) 7.0 Director: Peter Yates
  • The Liberation of L.B. Jones (1970) 7.0 Director: William Wyler
  • The French Connection (1971) 7.0 Director: William Friedkin
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) 8.0 for David; 6.0 for me Director: Steven Spielberg
  • The Match Factory Girl (1990) 8.0 Director: Aki Kaurismäki
  • Le Havre (2011) 7.0 Director: Aki Kaurismäki
  • The Other Side of Hope (2017) 7.0 Director: Aki Kaurismäki
  • Chinatown (1974) 8.0 Director: Roman Polanski
  • Deliverance (1972) 8.0 Director: John Boorman
  • Jaws (1975) 9.0 Director: Steven Spielberg
  • The Poseidon Adventure (1972) 7.0 Director: Ronald Neame
  • No Man’s Land (I) (2001) 7.0 Director: Danis Tanovic
  • WWII in HD 9.0 (2009)
  • Sissi (1955) 7.0 Director: Ernst Marischka
  • They Were Five (1936) 8.0 Director: Julien Duvivier
  • Korczak (1990) 8.0 Director: Andrzej Wajda
  • Bone Tomahawk 7.0 (2015) 7.0 Director: S. Craig Zahler
  • Bigger Than Life 8.0 (1956) Director: Nicholas Ray
  • The Professional (1981) 6.0 Director: Georges Lautner
  • The Last Adventure (1967) 6.0 Director: Robert Enrico
  • Gettysburg (1993) 7.0 Director: Ron Maxwell
  • The Visit (1963) 7.0 Director: Antonio Pietrangeli
  • Beauty and the Devil (1950) 7.0 Director: René Clair
  • Hungry for Love (1960) 7.0 Director: Antonio Pietrangeli
  • La fin du jour (1939) 8.0 Director: Julien Duvivier
  • Swept Away (1974) 8.0 Director: Lina Wertmüller
  • The Salesman (2016) 8.0 Director: Asghar Farhadi
  • The Past (2013) 8.0 Director: Asghar Farhadi
  • Fireworks Wednesday (2006) 8.0 Director: Asghar Farhadi
  • Boudu Saved from Drowning 8.0 (1932) Director: Jean Renoir
  • Nine Queens (2000) 8.0 Director: Fabián Bielinsky
  • La Haine (1995) 9.0 Director: Mathieu Kassovitz
  • L’Enfance Nue (1968) 7.0 Director: Maurice Pialat
  • The Central Park Five (2012) 7.0 Director: Ken Burns
  • The Memory of Justice (1976) 9.0 Director: Marcel Ophüls
  • The Hunters (1977) 7.0 Director: Theodoros Angelopoulos
  • A Hidden Life (2019) 7.0 Director: Terrence Malick
  • Mother of Mine (2005) 7.0 Director: Klaus Härö
  • The Secret in Their Eyes (2009) 8.0 Director: Juan José Campanella

Have you seen any of the films on our list? Do you agree with our ratings?

If you want more film lists, check out my posts on Films Watched in 2021 and Films Watched (and Rated) in 2022.