20 Best Movie Performances Of 2020

The greatest acting achievements over the last 12 months.

Aubrey Plaza Black Bear
Momentum Pictures

Despite 2020 being a very different year for movies, it certainly didn't leave film fans wanting for fantastic performances they wouldn't soon forget.

From beleaguered actors reclaiming their former glory, to underappreciated talents turning in the best work of their careers, and first-time actors coming swinging out of the gate, the past 12 months have been filled with fantastic, soulful performances worthy of major awards attention.

Picking just 20 standout performances from the literally hundreds of films released in any year is no easy feat, but these represent the most daring, unexpected, and dramatically truthful pieces of acting work of the last year.

It goes without saying that only some of them are awards-friendly enough to score Oscar buzz, but each is absolutely worthy of being showered with gold statues no matter what the Academy might think.

If you've missed any of these 20 films, they're absolutely worth watching solely for the sake of these phenomenal feats of performance.

From splashy genre films to more restrained "arthouse" dramas, these are the performances you absolutely cannot miss from 2020...

20. Ben Affleck - The Way Back

Aubrey Plaza Black Bear
Warner Bros.

Ben Affleck gave by far the most intimate and personal performance of his career this year as an alcoholic former star basketball player who is recruited to coach his old high school's basketball team.

If the setup might sound familiar, The Way Back soars on the strength of Affleck's anguished, nuanced performance, depicting a man perilously dangling on the edge of a cliff as he attempts to better himself while in the throes of crippling addiction.

The star's real-life troubles add an undeniable heft and meaning to both the film and the performance, while director Gavin O'Connor smartly trains the focus on his actor at almost all times.

It is by turns the best work of Affleck's career, and a firm reminder that he's come a long way since the days of Daredevil.


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.