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“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” And “The Way Back”: The Best Of The First Quarter Of 2020


In some ways, it feels very silly to do this annual look at the best of the first quarter of the cinematic year. After all, the world has changed and the film world especially has come to a screeching halt. At the same time , a sense of normalcy however possible is always good. So, I’m pressing on and listing my favorite titles and work from the first three months of 2020. Obviously, a lot of high profile flicks were delayed, so whether I saw them or not, I’m not including them here. Still, including things I saw late in 2019 but hit this year, I had over 90 options to pull from. So, hopefully this is a Farley exhaustive list, even if it’s very much skewed by my personal taste.

Let’s get right down to it. Below you’ll find my top ten of the year so far, along with my awards for the first quarter of 2020. Here you go folks, and enjoy:

10. Come As You Are
9. All the Bright Places
8. Miss Americana
7. Onward
6. Hooking Up
5. Banana Split
4. The Invisible Man
3. Buffaloed
2. The Way Back
1. Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Honorable Mentions: The Assistant, Bacurau, Big Time Adolescence, Birds of Prey, The Hunt, Impractical Jokers: The Movie, Premature, Vivarium, The Whistlers, and Zombi Child

Here also are my top ten performances of the year so far:

10. Anthony Mackie in The Banker
9. Sam Richardson in Hooking Up
8. Hannah Marks in Banana Split
7. Brittany Snow in Hooking Up
6. Julia Garner in The Assistant
5. Jesse Eisenberg in Resistance
4. Zoey Deutch in Buffaloed
3. Elisabeth Moss in The Invisible Man
2. Sidney Flanigan in Never Rarely Sometimes Always
1. Ben Affleck in The Way Back

Honorable Mention: Billy Crystal (Standing Up, Falling Down), Elle Fanning (All The Bright Places), Judy Greer (Buffaloed), Aldis Hodge (The Invisible Man), Zora Howard (Premature), Samuel L. Jackson (The Banker), Liana Liberato (Banana Split), Zoe Kazan (The Kindness of Strangers), Al Madrigal (The Way Back), Imogen Poots (Vivarium), Talia Ryder (Never Rarely Sometimes Always), and Justice Smith (All The Bright Places)

Most Underrated: Buffaloed and Hooking Up
Most Overrated: Sorry We Missed You and Swallow

As you might have guessed, my number one pick above would be my choice for Best Picture so far (with number two the runner up, and so on, but here are the other awards I would give out…

Best Director: Eliza Hittman for Never Rarely Sometimes Always (runner up: Gavin O’Connor for The Way Back and Tanya Wexler for Buffaloed)

Best Actor: Ben Affleck for The Way Back (runner up: Jesse Eisenberg for Resistance and Sam Richardson for Hooking Up)

Best Actress: Sidney Flanigan for Never Rarely Sometimes Always (runner up: Zoey Deutch for Buffaloed and Elisabeth Moss for The Invisible Man)

Best Supporting Actor: Samuel L. Jackson for The Banker (runner up: Aldis Hodge for The Invisible Man and Al Madrigal for The Way Back)

Best Supporting Actress: Liana Liberato for Banana Split (runner up: Judy Greer for Buffaloed and Talia Ryder for Never Rarely Sometimes Always)

Best Adapted Screenplay: All the Bright Places (runner up: Birds of Prey and First Cow)

Best Original Screenplay: Banana Split (runner up: Buffaloed and Never Rarely Sometimes Always)

Best Ensemble: Banana Split (runner up: Buffaloed and Come As You Are)

Best Animated Feature: Onward (no runner ups)

Best Documentary Feature: Miss Americana (runner up: Crip Camp and Hillary)

Best Foreign Language Feature: Bacurau (runner up: The Whistlers and Zombi Child)

Best Production Design: Birds of Prey (runner up: The Invisible Man and Vivarium)

Best Cinematography: The Way Back (runner up: The Invisible Man and Never Rarely Sometimes Always)

Best Costume Design: Birds of Prey (runner up: The Banker and First Cow)

Best Film Editing: Never Rarely Sometimes Always (runner up: The Invisible Man and The Way Back)

Best Makeup: Birds of Prey (runner up: Bacurau and Impractical Jokers: The Movie)

Best Sound: The Invisible Man (runner up: Birds of Prey and Onward)

Best Original Score: Onward (runner up: The Invisible Man and The Way Back)

Best Original Song: Only the Young from Miss Americana (no runner ups)

Best Visual Effects: The Invisible Man (runner up: Birds of Prey and Underwater)

*We’re forgoing any extra Worst of the Year content for now. Positive vibes, instead)*

There you go ladies and gentlemen…now to eagerly await the next quarter of cinematic releases!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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