The Best Under-the-Radar Films of 2020

Retaliation Farewell Amor The Climb
Saban Films/IFC Films/Sony Pictures Classic

In most years, the film industry manages to stir up a fair amount of noise for its wares, buying billboards and Super Bowl spots, trotting out movie stars on talk shows and using glitzy red-carpet premieres to put the latest movies on audiences’ radar. But 2020 wasn’t like other years for reasons you’re probably tired of reading about, and while smaller movies generally have a harder time breaking through under normal circumstances, pretty much anything that wasn’t spelled T-E-N-E-T forward and backward failed to make much of a blip on the public consciousness.

That’s why the Variety team put their heads together to identify the movies that might have escaped your notice in 2020. It’s a wide-ranging list with recommendations that run the gamut from Netflix comfort food (“The Half of It”) to a documentary that dares you to spend less time in front of your devices (“Screened Out”). Given the state of distribution this year, most of these movies went straight to streaming — and all can be found there now. So if you’re seeking something a bit more eclectic than the usual “best of the year” lists, look no further than these under-the-radar gems.