Letterboxing: Minari and Nomadland Among Letterboxd’s Highest-Rated Films of 2020

It was a great year for female and BIPOC directors

Letterboxd has released their highly-anticipated 2020 edition of their spectacular Year In Review, looking back at the year that was for cinephiles around the world.

Though 2020 may not have been the year anyone expected, the site’s user-generated reviews and ratings prove there was still plenty of good cinema experiences to be had from the comfort of home. And most of us passed the time with our eyes glued to screens — Letterboxd data is up 90.76% over 2019 viewing habits and logging entries.

Looking at narrative, feature-length 2020 releases that were watched by a minimum of 1000 users, Letterboxd has delivered their definitive list of the highest-rated and most-popular picks for the year, many of which will come as no surprise to readers of That Shelf and our own Best Of 2020 list.

Highest-Rated Films

The highest-rated film of the year is one many viewers haven’t yet seen: Minari. With festival screenings and FYC awards screeners,  the buzz ahead of Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari‘s wider February release is overwhelmingly positive. The Steven Yuen-led drama about a Korean family’s move to a farm in Arkansas in the 1980s has earned praise from critics’ circles, earning a 4.3 rating to claim the top spot on Letterboxd’s annual list.


Also landing on the top 10 of the highest-rated films is Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland, Disney/Pixar’s Soul, the animated WolfwalkersBacurau, and Riz Ahmed’s stellar turn in TIFF19’s Sound Of MetalTwo of Steve McQueen’s Small Axe short films, Mangrove and Lover’s Rock are included in the top 12, as is The FatherAnd Then We DancedPromising Young Woman, Rocks, and Summerland.

Women And BIPOC Directors Rule

TIFF 2020 Nomadland Review
A record 16 female directors were behind the top 50 Letterboxd films of the year. In addition to the top-rated Nomadland and Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman, Kelly Reichardt’s First CowHouse of Hummingbird by Kim Bora and Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always are among the highest-rated picks, as are docs like Crip Camp and Dick Johnson Is Dead.

In addition, 22 films by BIPOC directors are in the top 50, including four Small Axe films by Steve McQueen.

Top-Rated By Genre

Another Round
Letterboxd also revealed the top-rated films by genre which include Another Round as the number one comedy, Saint Maud as the top horror, Minari as the top drama, Bacurau as the top-rated international feature, Promising Young Woman as the highest-rated in crime, Soul the number one animated, and The Three Deaths of Marisela Escobedo as the top documentary.

Highest-Rated Miniseries

Queen's Gambit

This year, Letterboxd is including limited series on their best of the year list.

Earning the number one spot in the fictional category with a 4.5 rating is writer/director/creator/star Michaela Coel’s powerful I May Destroy You which looks at sexual consent and relationships. Also included in the top 10 are Irish sensation Normal PeopleThe Queen’s GambitMrs. America and the Small Axe collection.

In non-fiction miniseries, The History of the Seattle Mariners is the highest-rated, followed by The Last Dance, and Cheer. True crime series I’ll Be Gone In The Dark and Ted Bundy Falling for a Killer also feature on the list.


Popularity Contest

Hamilton Disney+ Featured

When it comes to the films of 2020, it’s also a popularity contest. While to be included in the highest-rated lists, a film needs just 1000 viewers, these films had thousands of viewers logging – and re-logging in the case of Hamilton, the year’s most re-watched title – over the course of 2020.

It’s no surprise the most-popular film of the year is Christopher Nolan’s twisty Tenet. Heralded as a “saviour of cinema” for a brief shining moment when more theatres were able to open in many parts of the world, the John David Washington and Robert Pattinson thriller was all film fans could talk about as the film’s release date shifted time and again. When Tenet was finally released, Letterboxd fans were ready.

Netflix’s I’m Thinking Of Ending Things, Birds Of Prey, The Invisible Man and Palm Springs round out the top five most popular flicks. Streaming was a refuge in 2020 with Soul, Onward, The Devil All The Time, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and The Platform all making the list.

Check out Letterboxd’s full Year In Review highlights here.