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.

Chuck Walton

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 Poster

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Drama / 2020 / PG-13

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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 Poster

Palm Springs

Romantic Comedy / 2020 / R

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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 Poster

I'm Thinking of Ending Things

Horror / 2020 / R

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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 Poster

The Assistant

Drama / 2019 / R

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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 Poster

First Cow

Drama / 2019 / PG-13

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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 Poster

Dick Johnson Is Dead

Documentary / 2020 / PG-13

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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 Poster

The Mauritanian

Drama / 2021 / R

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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 Poster

Kajillionaire

Comedy / 2020 / R

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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 Poster

The Forty-Year-Old Version

Comedy Drama / 2020 / R

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About the Author

Chuck Walton

Chuck Walton

Chuck is an editor/writer who's worked for NCM, Fandango, Movies.com, MediaTrip, Hollywood.com and Newsweek. His favorite movie is "Jaws." He's definitely a dog guy.

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