Best of the Fests 2020

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From 17th-century werewolves to WWII gremlins to present-day nomads, the stripped-back, mostly virtual 2020 fall festivals still managed to bring the goods. Our team rounds up the very best titles we saw at TIFF, NYFF, the BFI London Film Festival and beyond.

LISTEN: Gemma Gracewood and Ella Kemp chew over their festival favorites in the latest episode of The Letterboxd Show.

Kudos to the teams at the Toronto, New York and BFI London Film Festivals for pulling excellent hybrid festivals together in extremely weird, not-at-all-ideal circumstances. From the always-excellent conversations (and Cameron Bailey’s always-excellent suits) to the hybrid options for viewing, we left feeling hope for our favorite art form.

We have been keeping track, over on our Twitter account, of the many film festivals going online, and it’s safe to say that virtual film festivals—and the wider accessibility they offer—have been a silver lining to this mostly awful year. Indeed, the 58th NYFF was one of Film at Lincoln Center’s most-attended festivals, with 70,000+ attendees in all 50 states and beyond. (We participated in a NYFF Industry Talk, along with MUBI and Rotten Tomatoes, about the future of online film conversation, moderated by Indiewire’s David Ehrlich.)

Attempting to replicate the extreme fatigue of the real thing, our festival team (Ella Kemp, Aaron Yap, Kambole Campbell, Jack Moulton and Gemma Gracewood and—helping us bridge the geo-locked divide—Canadian TIFF regular Jonathan White) disregarded international date lines and dove right in. We saw many films to love, but by consensus (and a poke around your Letterboxd reactions) these are the ones we’re still thinking about:

Lovers Rock, Nomadland, Minari, Wolfwalkers, David Byrne’s American Utopia, Shiva Baby, Tove, Shadow in the Cloud, Pieces of a Woman, Underplayed, Another Round, One Night in Miami…, Supernova, French Exit and Still Processing.

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