Best-Reviewed Movies 2020: Wide Release

A wide release is defined as a movie that plays in over 600 theaters…meaning it was a bit of a lighter crowd this year, considering 2020’s state of exhibition affairs. The silver lining: Movies released in the pre-pandemic January-March window muscled their way in for a display of critically-beloved might, like the surprise thriller The Invisible Man, Pixar’s sentimental road trip comedy Onward, DC’s Birds of Prey, and real-life drama Just Mercy. We saw some mid-year signs of revitalization with Bill & Ted Face the Music, before awards seasons trucked on valiantly with Nomadland, Judas and the Black Messiah, and Promising Young Woman.

The order of the rank below reflects the Adjusted Score as of February 28, 2021. Scores might change over time.

Adjusted Score: 121470%
Critics Consensus: Smart, well-acted, and above all scary, The Invisible Man proves that sometimes, the classic source material for a fresh reboot can be hiding in plain sight.
Synopsis: After staging his own suicide, a crazed scientist uses his power to become invisible to stalk and terrorize his ex-girlfriend.... [More]
Directed By: Leigh Whannell


Nomadland (2020)

Adjusted Score: 116613%
Critics Consensus: A poetic character study on the forgotten and downtrodden, Nomadland beautifully captures the restlessness left in the wake of the Great Recession.
Synopsis: A woman embarks on a journey through the American West after losing everything during the recession.... [More]
Directed By: Chloé Zhao

Adjusted Score: 115143%
Critics Consensus: An electrifying dramatization of historical events, Judas and the Black Messiah is a forceful condemnation of racial injustice -- and a major triumph for its director and stars.
Synopsis: FBI informant William O'Neal infiltrates the Illinois Black Panther Party and is tasked with keeping tabs on their charismatic leader,... [More]
Directed By: Shaka King

Adjusted Score: 120172%
Critics Consensus: A boldly provocative, timely thriller, Promising Young Woman is an auspicious feature debut for writer-director Emerald Fennell -- and a career highlight for Carey Mulligan.
Synopsis: Nothing in Cassie's life is what it appears to be -- she's wickedly smart, tantalizingly cunning, and she's living a... [More]
Directed By: Emerald Fennell


Onward (2020)

Adjusted Score: 113010%
Critics Consensus: It may suffer in comparison to Pixar's classics, but Onward makes effective use of the studio's formula -- and stands on its own merits as a funny, heartwarming, dazzlingly animated adventure.
Synopsis: Teenage elf brothers Ian and Barley embark on a magical quest to spend one more day with their late father.... [More]
Directed By: Dan Scanlon

Adjusted Score: 108735%
Critics Consensus: The Personal History of David Copperfield puts a fresh, funny, and utterly charming spin on Dickens' classic, proving some stories truly are timeless.
Synopsis: The life of David Copperfield is chronicled from his youth into adulthood.... [More]
Directed By: Armando Iannucci

Adjusted Score: 106171%
Critics Consensus: News of the World takes a slow but absorbing ride down a comfortingly familiar Western trail, guided by Tom Hanks in peak paternal mode.
Synopsis: Five years after the end of the Civil War, Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd crosses paths with a 10-year-old girl taken... [More]
Directed By: Paul Greengrass


Just Mercy (2019)

Adjusted Score: 103443%
Critics Consensus: Just Mercy dramatizes a real-life injustice with solid performances, a steady directorial hand, and enough urgency to overcome a certain degree of earnest advocacy.
Synopsis: After graduating from Harvard, Bryan Stevenson heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or those not afforded proper representation.... [More]
Directed By: Destin Daniel Cretton

Adjusted Score: 109766%
Critics Consensus: With a fresh perspective, some new friends, and loads of fast-paced action, Birds of Prey captures the colorfully anarchic spirit of Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn.
Synopsis: It's open season on Harley Quinn when her explosive breakup with the Joker puts a big fat target on her... [More]
Directed By: Cathy Yan

Adjusted Score: 100871%
Critics Consensus: As wholesomely goofy as its heroes, Bill and Ted Face the Music is a rare long-belated sequel that largely recaptures the franchise's original charm.
Synopsis: The ruler of the future tells best friends Bill and Ted they must compose a new song to save life... [More]
Directed By: Dean Parisot

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