Noovie 9: Great 2020 Movies the Academy Overlooked

The Oscar nominees aren't all that you ought to see. Take a look, too, at these great 2020 movies the Academy overlooked.

By Chuck Walton

Movies the Academy Overlooked

© Focus Features / courtesy Everett Collection

There are snubs, and then there are snubs. These are the 9 must-see and amazing 2020 movies that the Academy overlooked for any nominations at all, but that you should check out right away. Like, right now, right away.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Available now to stream on HBO Max, this minor gem about a pregnant teenage girl and her cousin travelling to New York City where she can get an abortion was a massive hit with critics and independent film fans. Star Sidney Flanigan won Best Actress last Fall at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. And while the movie it came up empty for Oscar nominations, it's been nominated for seven Indie Spirit Awards, including Best Female Lead, Best Supporting Female (Talia Ryder), Best Feature and Best Director for Eliza Hittman.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Drama / 2020 / PG-13

Faced with an unintended pregnancy and a lack of local support, Autumn and her cousin, Skylar, travel across state lines to New York City on a fraught journey of friendship, bravery and compassion.

Palm Springs

This ingenious rom com rift on the "Groundhog Day" premise finds not one, but both potential romantic partners stuck reliving the same day over and over. Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti are wonderfully appealing as the will-they-or-won't-they time travelers, and director Max Barbakow sprinkles in some unexpected quirks and added depth to the proceedings. The Hulu project earned raves, but still came up short with the Academy, where the most likely nomination would have been for Best Screenplay. The film did, however, earn two Golden Globe noms – Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, and Best Actor Musical or Comedy.

Palm Springs

Romantic Comedy / 2020 / R

Stuck in a time loop, two wedding guests develop a budding romance while living the same day over and over again.

I'm Thinking of Ending Things

Oscar winner ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") Charlie Kaufman's latest surreal and complex confection "I'm Thinking of Ending Things" was somewhat polarizing for audiences, but still managed to sway the critics with its nightmarish tale of a relatively new couple's visit with the boyfriend's eccentric parents at their family farm. For fans of Kaufman, David Lynch and Federico Fellini, it's a cinematic head trip worth taking.

I'm Thinking of Ending Things

Horror / 2020 / R

Full of misgivings, a young woman travels with her new boyfriend to his parents' secluded farm.

The Oscar nominees aren't all that you ought to see. Take a look, too, at these great 2020 movies the Academy overlooked.

There are snubs, and then there are snubs. These are the 9 must-see and amazing 2020 movies that the Academy overlooked for any nominations at all, but that you should check out right away. Like, right now, right away.

The Assistant

Lowkey and incendiary, this measured depiction of all the ways women are harassed in the work environment rings honest and true. Title star Julia Garner suffers the slings and arrows that still exist in the #MeToo era, and reacts in subtle gestures that by the end of the film, add up to a devastating picture. She wasn't nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards, but she was entirely deserving. Thankfully, she was recognized and nominated by both the Indie Spirits and Gotham Awards.

The Assistant

Drama / 2019 / R

Jane, a recent college graduate and aspiring film producer, just landed her dream job as a junior assistant to a powerful entertainment mogul. Her day is much like any other assistant -- making coffee, ordering lunch, arranging travel accommodations and taking phone messages. But as Jane follows her daily routine, she grows increasingly aware of the abuse that insidiously colors every aspect of her workday, an accumulation of degradations against which she decides to take a stand.

First Cow

Despite being an early Awards favorite, the Best Film at the 2020 New York Film Critics Circle Awards, and one of the National Board of Review's ten best films of 2020, "First Cow" came up empty for Oscar noms. No matter. It's still a great film worth seeking and discovering – a simple story told honestly, about a chef and a Chinese immigrant who partner up together in the 1820s to better their lives with the help of the first and only milk cow in their region.

First Cow

Drama / 2019 / PG-13

Two travelers, on the run from a band of vengeful hunters in the 1820s Northwest, dream of striking it rich -- but their tenuous plan to make their fortune on the frontier comes to rely on the secret use of a landowner's prized dairy cow.

Dick Johnson Is Dead

Documentarian Kirsten Johnson's critically acclaimed "Dick Johnson Is Dead" is a highly personal and affecting film that finds her staging different kinds of "death" scenes for her real-life father, who's suffering from dementia. Often hilarious, and even more often poignant and emotional, the doc won an early award at the Sundance Film Festival, and it seemed like a lock for a Best Documentary nomination until it wasn't. Don't let that stop you from checking it out, now available for viewing on Netflix.

Dick Johnson Is Dead

Documentary / 2020 / PG-13

A filmmaker and her elderly father stage his death in various ways to help them face his inevitable demise.

The Mauritanian

It wasn't the across-the-boards critical favorite of some of our other recommendations, but "The Mauritanian" – about the search for justice for a man imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay for six years without charge or trial – did win Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor (Tahar Rahim) and Best Supporting Actress (Jodie Foster). See it for the performances and the real-life story

The Mauritanian

Drama / 2021 / R

A defense attorney, her associate and a military prosecutor uncover a far-reaching conspiracy while investigating the case of a suspected 9/11 terrorist imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay for six years.

Kajillionaire

Filmmaker Miranda July's endearingly eccentric movie about small-time con artist parents who've raised their twentysomething daughter to do likewise is admittedly more of an indie film with indie ambitions. Still, with wonderful performances from big-time names like Evan Rachel Wood, Debra Winger, Richard Jenkins, and Gina Rodriguez, it's surprising this one didn't get some Oscar love…or at least some Golden Globes notice. It's a colorful and bizarre, daffy movie that works just right when you're looking for something original.

Kajillionaire

Comedy / 2020 / R

Two con artists have spent 26 years training their only daughter to swindle, scam and steal at every turn. During a desperate and hastily conceived heist, they charm a stranger into joining them, only to have their entire world turned upside down.

The Forty-Year-Old Version

With a 98% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, comedy-drama "The Forty-Year-Old Version" is must-see cinema now playing on Netflix. The story of a down-and-out female playwright who reinvents herself at age 40 as a rapper is at turns hilarious, heartfelt, and supremely moving. Producer-director-writer-star Radha Blank is a revelation in the film, which is loosely based on her life. She won the Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival, and "Version" was rightfully declared one of the top 10 films of the year by the National Board of Review.

The Forty-Year-Old Version

Comedy Drama / 2020 / R

A struggling New York City playwright finds inspiration by reinventing herself as a rapper.

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