December 27, 2020
Our critic chooses his highlights, from electrifying psychological horror to Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar triumph and a joyous British coming-of-age teen drama
- Games: Simon Parkin’s five best of 2020
- The Observer critics’ review of 2020 in full
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.