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12 Best Movies of 2020 So Far

From a war epic from one of the greatest living filmmakers to a doc on hip-hop legends — the halftime highlights of a highly unusual moviegoing year

Elizabeth Moss in 'The Invisible Man', Pete Davidson in 'The King of Staten Island' and Stephen Odubola in 'Blue Story.'

Universal Pictures; Mary Cybulski/Universal Pictures; Nick Wall/Paramount Pictures

Yes, the coronavirus stacked the deck against new movies finding their way to us during the first half of 2020 — but quality still won out. Maybe not in theaters, which are still inching their way toward opening depending on what phase of re-launch your state is in. But even after multiplexes were shut down when the pandemic struck hard in mid-March, audiences found other ways to get their movie fix, thanks to video on demand and such streaming services as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO, Disney Plus. And there were a handful of films who made it into theaters just under the quarantine wire that, months later, we still can’t get out of head.

At the year’s halftime point, the fighting spirit of movies is alive and well — as these winners defiantly attest. From a war epic from one of our greatest living filmmakers to a documentary on hip-hop legends, a horror-movie classic tailored for our current moment to a cutting contemporary political satire, here are the 12 best movies of 2020 so far.

Amazon Studios

‘The Vast of Night’

First-time director Andrew Patterson’s low-budget, wildly inventive take on vintage “look to the sky” science fiction is just the mind bender we need for the virus-fed paranoia of our troubled times. A small town in 1950s New Mexico may or may not be the first stop of an alien invasion. Who says a teen radio DJ (Jake Horowitz) and a switchboard operator (Sierra McCormick) can’t save the world? Getting lost in the vastness of Patterson’s vision would be a highlight in any year.