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The Top 5 Movies of 2020

For better or worse, 2020 has been a year most of us aren’t likely to forget. With all the extra time we’ve spent at home, most of us have watched more movies than usual. We’ve checked in with our principal writers to get their perspectives on the best movies of the year. Do you agree with their opinions?

Kirsten’s Top 5

Kirsten is the Editor of Parent Previews and she is the main reviewer for historical dramas, romantic comedies, and documentaries. These are her favorite films of the year, in no particular order.

Onward When Ian turns sixteen, he discovers that he’s a wizard – and has the power to bring his father back from the dead for 24 hours. When the spell goes awry, Ian and his brother Barley go on a magical quest to complete the enchantment. With a fully realized magical world and a warm family story, this movie will appeal to viewers of all ages. Disney+ PG, Grade: A

Enola Holmes This adventure tale and detective story stars Millie Bobby Brown as Enola Holmes, the newly created younger sister to the more famous Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. This is a rollicking good time with strong characters and a well crafted plot and is a great choice for family movie night for tweens and teens. Netflix PG-13, Grade: B+

Emma. Young, beautiful, and rich, Emma Woodhouse has a very high opinion of herself and her powers as a matchmaker. Since Emma is also oblivious to anything she doesn’t want to see, the result is comic mayhem and, of course, romance. This adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved novel is bright, brilliant, and non-stop fun. HBO Max PG, Grade: A-

Misbehaviour When a group of feminist activists decide to disrupt the 1970 Miss World Competition in London, their convictions collide with the dreams of the contestants. This thoughtful film does an admirable job of advocating a position while not denigrating other opinions. And it’s also sharply funny. Hoopla, Digital on Demand Unrated, Grade: B+

The Personal History of David Copperfield Cast off by his stepfather and forced to make his way in the harsh world of Victorian London, young David Copperfield navigates a cast of bizarre characters and perilous changes of fortune. Based on Charles Dickens’ loosely autobiographical novel, this film is a great introduction to his work and is entertaining in its own right. Digital on Demand PG, Grade: B+

Savannah’s Top 5

Savannah is our lead writer for children’s movies, since she has the benefit of her preschooler’s opinions. She also reviews dramas and rom-coms as needed. Her favorites this year are these:

Hamilton Disney scored big when it debuted this star-spangled, star-studded historical musical on its streaming platform. With its irresistible musical score and accessible story, this Broadway hit brings the life of Alexander Hamilton to 21st century audiences. Disney+ PG-13, Grade: B+

Over the Moon Fei Fei is mourning her mother’s death and finding solace in legends. When her father brings home a new girlfriend, Fei Fei builds a rocket to the moon so she can find the Moon Goddess and prove to her father that love is eternal. Beautifully animated, this tender tale moves Netflix into the top tier of children’s filmmakers. Netflix PG, Grade: A

Onward What can we say? Savannah loves it too. Disney+ PG, Grade: A

Wolfwalkers In 17th century Ireland, the townspeople are struggling on two fronts: against their new English rulers and the wolves in the forest. When young Robyn heads into the woods to prove herself as a hunter, she discovers that she’s a wolfwalker – a person who transforms into a wolf in their sleep. With distinctive animation, this story is both original and intriguing. Apple TV PG, Grade: A

Soul Joe is a middle school band teacher who finally has his big break – the chance to be the pianist for a renowned jazz singer. When he falls through a manhole and winds up in the afterlife, he rebels against his fate. He makes it to the Great Before, where souls are prepared for life on earth and hatches a plan to return to the life he loves Disney+. G, Grade: A

Keith’s Top 5

Keith is the lead writer for horror movies, action films, character dramas, and anything too scary for our other writers. (What can we say? Some of us are sensitive.) Keith’s favorite movies are rarely suitable for children (or many adults!), but these are the ones he enjoyed the most in 2020.

1917 Although it technically released in 2019, this Oscar winner didn’t hit most theaters until January so we’ll let Keith count it here. Winning awards for its stunning cinematography, this film tells the tale of two British privates who must deliver a message to a cut-off battalion to prevent them from being massacred. Fubo, Showtime Restricted, Grade: C+

The Vast of Night We love original movies and this one is anything but predictable. Formatted like an episode of The Twilight Zone, it tells the story of two teenagers who try to track down the source of an electrical signal that’s cutting into the radio station’s signal. Is it the Soviets? Or could it be aliens? Amazon PG-13, Grade: A

I’m Thinking of Ending Things She was wondering about her relationship with her boyfriend, but now that the young woman is trapped with her boyfriend’s family on their farm, she’s desperate to get out. This is a dark, quirky movie that requires a lot of thought – and a high tolerance for profanity. Netflix Restricted, Grade: C

Spontaneous Despite its low grades, particularly for violence, Keith was intrigued by Spontaneous. This horror movie goes to a high school where students start randomly exploding. The story is gory and macabre, but according to Keith, interesting…. Digital on Demand Restricted, Grade: D

Uncle Frank Keith enjoyed Uncle Frank for its finely drawn characters and sensitive handling of a potentially controversial subject. The title character is a professor at NYU in the 1970s who hides his sexual orientation from his devout Southern relatives. Then tragedy strikes and he’s heading back home, boyfriend in tow. Amazon Restricted, Grade: B-

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