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BEST OF 2020 (International Films )

Sagnik Kumar Gupta

Here’s our list of what we consider to be the absolute best of international films and the most sterling performances there in, which riveted and had us spellbound in equal measure. (Please note we are only considering films that have been officially released in India this year.)


1. SOUND OF METAL ( Dir : Darius Marder) (ALT’s Favourite )

“…Darius Marder’s ‘Sound of Metal’ is an unusual and authentic film about the usual life with a profoundly intricate sound design. The usual films about specially able persons depict their stories in a typical way by showing the triumph of spirit over body. But Marder has broken this conventional style of storytelling with an exceptionally immersive screenplay.”

Read our full review of the film :

2. The Trial of Chicago 7 ( Dir : Aaron Sorkin )

“…This film will stand out from its contemporary courtroom dramas because of its sheer timeless relevance and the masterful treatment of the craft. The film is a quintessential courtroom drama with a wonderfully tear-jerking climax which in it itself is very powerful and its effect is amplified by the chants of “The whole world is watching.” This film is a journey through the angst and the psyche of a revolutionary wonderfully captured by Sorkin in a balanced manner. The film reminds us once again how time and history cyclically repeats itself until and unless we start to recognize and learn from our past.”

Read our full review of the film :

3. Da 5 Bloods ( Dir : Spike Lee )

Spearheaded by Delroy Lindo’s towering, unforgettable performance, Spike Lee’s masterfully orchestrated drama about African American vets who return to Vietnam for treasure and remains of their leader but also find themselves haunted by old demons, is a blistering study of race relations, crime and salvation, Black patriotism. The film effortlessly mixes action spectacle with doses of wry humor.

Now Streaming on Netflix.

4. Mank ( Dir : David Fincher )

“…Mank is a lot of things, but at its core it is a character study of a man who felt out-of-place, and voiceless, even as he worked on not only the best work of his life, but one of the most celebrated films of Hollywood. And yet, the film is little about Citizen Kane, and even lesser about Orson Welles, the man who controversially shared the screenplay credits of the film with Herman J. Mankiewicz (for which they won an Academy Award).”

Read our full review of the film:

Now Streaming on Netflix.

5. Boys State ( Dir : Amanda McBaine , Jesse Moss )

“…Boys State provides a chance to learn from each other and hear from the opposite side, without screaming and yelling on a Facebook post.” And, unfortunately, this has become the reality of today’s politics, where social media has become the battleground of ideologies with loud mouths and without ears and Boys State (or Girls State), gives the American teeangers a chance to delve themselves into politics at an early age and groom themselves into future politicians later, but informed citizens of the world’s ‘greatest’ democracies.”

Read your full review of the film:

Now streaming on Apple TV+.


1. Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) (ALT’s Favourite )

“Chadwick performance in the role of an aspiring and emotionally damaged trumpet player is subdued and measured, even though it is theatrical in its approach. Chadwick shows his skill as an able co-star as he doesn’t hog for the limelight and feeds of his costars. There is an innate ease and likeability that Chadwick brings to this role and his final performance stands out to be his best.”

2. Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal)

“…The star of ‘The Night Of’, Riz plays the character of a punk-metal drummer who is forced to look at his life differently as he goes deaf. And that’s the only thing Riz does too. He observes both the suffocating and surreal silences. His expressive eyes, confused body language paint the arch of his character and offer glimpses into his complex inner world. It conveys his pain and despair as the world around him moves on. He doesn’t only react but respond to each and every beat of his sequences. Ahmed plays it subtle, conveying the quietness that often comes with fear and denial.”

3. Delyroy Lindo ( Da 5 Bloods)

As Paul, a PTSD suffering former solider who’s full of fury with the way his life shaped out, Delroy Lindo is magnificently incendiary, The destructive breadth of his conflicts is captured with sheer career defining mastery, and he is the film’s unshakeably ferocious centre. The charged intense soliloquy which he delivers as he says he will decide his own fate, not the war nor the government, slips from comedy to anger to gutwrenching pain.

4. Gary Oldman (Mank)

“…Oldman is brilliant here, giving Mankviewicz the physicality of a Shakespearean tragic hero, bound to be lost in the glitz of Hollywood, for a blend of his flaws, and a corrupt, money-minting industry. Citizen Kane, then, is simply the final attempt by him to leave a mark on the industry. His way of telling the world that he is more than his worst, self-destructive self. That he is an artist before anything else.”

5. Jim Parsons (The Boys in the Band )

“…Parsons stands out from the rest of the cast with his electric performance displaying his full range of acting prowess by jumping from one emotion to another effortlessly but earnestly. A trained theatre actor that he is, he instantly grabs your attention whenever he is on screen with his unique body language and dialogue delivery. Though he might be overlooked in the award circuit, this stands out as one of the strongest performances of the year.”

Read our full review of the film:

The Boys in the Band is now streaming on Netflix.


  1. Haley Bennett (Swallow ) (ALT’s Favourite )

In Carlo Mirabella Davis’s superbly smart, subversive parable of male control and patriarchal aggressions, Haley Bennett puts in a star-making physically alert performance, both fierce and breathtaking. As a homemaker trapped in a stifling marriage where the husband dictates everything and who wrestles with her habit of ingesting sharp objects and slowly tries to reassert herself, Bennett’s performance has an astonishing audacity that one marvels at. Haley won the best actress award at Tribeca Film festival for this performance.

Swallow is now streaming on MUBI.

2. Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)

Viola Davis plays the role of Ma Rainey or the Mother of Blues. She maintains a dominating screen presence while playing a beautifully layered character who is at the same time kind and decisive, full of herself and submerged in pathos. She prevents the character from being over the top and carefully channelizes her experience in hitting the perfect note.

3. Sophia Loren ( The Life Ahead )

The film follows the relationship between a young Muslim orphan Momo and an old Jewish woman Madame Rosa who takes care of him following the death of his mother. Sophia Lorens’s legendary status is evident from the moment we see her on the screen, with her unparalleled grace combined with her unrivaled technique and restraint as an actor. She masters conviction with her dazzling quiet performance.

The Life Ahead is now streaming on Netflix.

4. Jayme Lawson (Farewell Amor )

Immigration and visa campaigns frequently carry a significant and long-lasting adverse effect on people’s lives, and this appreciation is beautifully communicated in Farewell Amor. Though the film doesn’t live up to its full potential, Jayme Lawson delivers an impressive performance. Her amazing skill of minimalistic approach to acting is really commandable at this early stage of her career.It is her graceful performance that elevates the film. She is an absolute revelation and one to look out for in the future.

Farewell Amor is now streaming on MUBI.

5. Amanda Seyfried (Mank)

In this film, Amanda shares most of her scenes with Gary Oldman and it really takes a lot of skill and expertise to completely overshadow Oldman in not one but all the scenes that they are in together. Amanda has that infectious energy and instant likeability which she brings to this character. The character of Marion Davies is ably written by Jack Fincher and Amanda gives her everything to it. Not to mention she looks breathtaking in every frame.

Best Director

  1. Carlo Mirabella Davis (Swallow) (ALT’s Favourite )

Carlo Mirabella Daviswrites and directs his debut feature Swallow with a precocious insight into male repressions, female autonomy and twists the pica disorder into an expert skewering of gender dynamics. He uses atmospheric, intelligent lighting and framing to set up the site of festering entrapment. He shows the different forms and faces of patriarchal institutions, the long-simmering scars, and relies on the creepiness of our abundant imagination, conveying the long shadow of traumas and revolt with great skill. His specialty lies in his ability to insert darker, tragic, unsettling undercurrents to the most seemingly benign scenes.

2. David Fincher (Mank)

In Mank, David Fincher gives a fitting tribute to the man, and his need to own his one true masterpiece. In a selfless act that might even disappoint devout Fincher fans, Fincher almost cloaks himself here, letting his father’s script, and Oldman’s interpretation of the mercurial Mank take over his regular style of filmmaking, and turning this into a film that almost belongs to the era it is set in (in a good, positive way). And yet, it is Fincher’s ability to revel in the grey that makes this greater than a companion piece to the brilliance of Citizen Kane, and a nostalgic, sanitized gaze at what Hollywood was just after the Great Depression.

3. Spike Lee ( Da 5 Bloods )

Spike Lee was back to his absolute best in the Vietnam war epic Da 5 Bloods . As rightfully said by Peter Travers — “ … Lee is just the trailblazer to bring passion and clarity to his presentation of the bloods as patriots who suffered disproportionate combat losses in an immoral war that wasn’t theirs, then came home to a country that denied them civil rights and left them alienated and adrift. It’s the unbroken line of black sacrifice that gives the movie its cumulative, confrontational power. He doesn’t wrap his latest with the outrage sparked by the Floyd killing in Minneapolis. He doesn’t need to.”

4. Darius Marder ( Sound of Metal )

“…Writer-Director Darius Marder has meticulously constructed Ruben’s journey by making it uncomfortable not unbearable. He has compassionately captured the fragility of daily existence by reflecting the ideas of loss and acceptance through the whole film. The film doesn’t jump vigorously into the ideological separation between the consideration of deafness as an identity and the assumption of deeming it as a correctable disability. Rather it leaves a white canvas for questions about the acceptance of reality.”

5. Aaron Sorkin ( The Trial of Chicago 7)

“…Sorkin handles the court drama ( here political trials ) with ease and expertise because it bears too many similarities with the “playwright” kind of writing that Sorkin specializes at. His characters speak eloquently using well worded and sometimes witty dialogues with brooding confidence because that is generally the environment of a courtroom. The screenplay also written by Sorkin himself perfectly brings out the different unprecedented hardships.”

Copyright ©2020 AlternateTake. This article should not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL instead, would be appreciated.




Alternate Take presents a new pitstop for fresh , unbiased and hopefully perceptive thoughts on cinema. We are trying to create and build a community of critics , and sustain a exchange and dialogue between established, prominent critics and aspiring young critics.

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A space for reviews, retrospectives, analyses, interviews around all things cinema, standing left of the field.

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