Prestigious cinema magazine Kinema Junpo has released its always anticipated “Best 10” list for films released in 2020, the 94th edition. Top prize goes to Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Silver Lion-winning Wife of a Spy while the late Nobuhiko Obayashi takes the Best Director award for his final film Labyrinth of Cinema which comes in second on the Best 10 list.

Best 10

1. Wife of a Spy (スパイの妻<劇場版>)

Originally commissioned for 8K TV, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s wartime drama stars Yu Aoi as the titular wife who finds herself working against her husband, Issey Takahashi, when she discovers that he intends to blow the whistle after observing something he shouldn’t have while working in Manchuria. An awards season favourite, the film also picked up the Silver Lion at the 77th Venice International Film Festival.

2. Labyrinth of Cinema (海辺の映画館-キネマの玉手箱)

A poetic advocation for the transformative power of art, Nobuhiko Obayashi’s final film takes a surrealist odyssey through the history of warfare as three youngsters chase the image of Japan in the labyrinths of cinema. Review.

3. True Mothers (朝が来る)

Festival darling Naomi Kawase adapts Mizuki Tsujimura’s novel in which a childless couple adopt the baby of a teenage mother only for her to return some years later and attempt to reclaim her child.

4. Underdog (アンダードッグ)

Two-part boxing drama from Masaharu Take (100 Yen Love) starring Best Actor winner Mirai Moriyama as a dejected featherweight fighter who’s never made it to champion finding himself faced with a TV comedian (Ryo Katsuji) giving it a go in the ring and a cocky up-and-comer (Takumi Kitamura) who can’t shake his violent past.

5. The Real Thing (本気のしるし<劇場版>)

First aired as a 10-part TV drama then edited down to 233 minutes for theatrical exhibition, the latest from Koji Fukada (Hospitalité, Harmonium, A Girl Missing) adapts the manga of the same name and stars Win Morisaki as a bored salaryman whose life changes after he saves a mysterious woman, Kaho Tsuchimura, from an oncoming train.

6. 37 Seconds (37セカンズ)

Written and directed by the single-named Hikari, vibrant drama 37 Seconds stars Mei Kayama as an aspiring mangaka with cerebral palsy striving to escape the overbearing caring of her well-meaning mother while trying to gain experience to make it in the world of erotic comics. Review. Streaming via Netflix in many territories!

7. The Voice of Sin (罪の声)

Mystery drama adapted from the novel by Takeshi Shiota starring Shun Oguri and Gen Hoshino as a reporter and tailor respectively who each find themselves investigating an unsolved murder from 30 years previously.

8. A Beloved Wife (喜劇 愛妻物語)

Semi-autobiographical comedy drama from screenwriter/director Shin Adachi exploring the toxic marriage between an unsuccessful screenwriter and his resentful, dipsomaniac wife (Best Actress winner Asami Mizukawa). Review.

9. Living in Your Sky (空に住む)

Shinji Aoyama returns to cinema screens for the first time in seven years following 2013’s Backwater adapting the novel by Masato Odake. Mikako Tabe stars as an editor at a publishing house who loses her parents suddenly and moves into a luxury apartment block managed by her uncle where she strikes up a romance with a movie star (Takanori Iwata) living a few floors above.

10. On the Edge of Their Seats (アルプススタンドのはしの方)

Indie drama adapting a popular play first performed by a high school theatre group and set on the bleachers of a high school baseball game.

Best 10 International

  1. Parasite
  2. House of Hummingbird
  3. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
  4. Little Women
  5. The Painted Bird 
  6. Dead Souls
  7. Ford v Ferrari (Le Mans ’66)
  8. Pain and Glory
  9. 1917
  10. Tenet

Best 10 Documentaries

  1. Why You Can’t Be Prime Minister (なぜ君は総理大臣になれないのか)
  2. Prison Circle (プリズン・サークル)
  3. Hana no Atosaki: Mutsu Baasan no Aruita Michi (花のあとさき ムツばあさんの歩いた道)
  4. Mishima: The Last Debate (三島由紀夫vs東大全共闘 50年目の真実)
  5. Ongaku House Melody-Go-Round (音響ハウス Melody-Go-Round)
  6. Jose Mujica: Sekai de Ichiban Mazushii Daitoryo kara Nihonjin e (ムヒカ 世界でいちばん貧しい大統領から日本人へ)
  7. Tane wa Dare no Mono (タネは誰のもの)
  8. An Ant Strikes Back (アリ地獄天国)
  9. Reiwa Uprising (れいわ一揆)
  10. Montage of Hong Kong (香港画)

Individual Awards

Best Director: Nobuhiko Obayashi (Labyrinth of Cinema)

Best Screenplay: Ryusuke Hamaguchi / Tadashi Nohara / Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Wife of a Spy)

Best Director (international): Bong Joon-ho (Parasite)

Best Actress: Asami Mizukawa (A Beloved Wife / Runway)

Best Actor: Mirai Moriyama (Underdog)

Best Supporting Actress: Aju Makita (True Mothers)

Best Supporting Actor: Shohei Uno (The Voice of Sin / The Real Thing / A Beast in Love / 37 Seconds / Child of the Stars)

Best Newcomer (actress): Serena Motola (Voices in the Wind / Life: Untitled)

Best Newcomer (actor): Daiken Okudaira (Mother)

Readers’ Choice Best Director: Mitsutoshi Tanaka (Tengaramon)

Readers’ Choice Best Director (international): Bong Joon-ho (Parasite)

Readers’ Choice Award: Saburo Kawamoto – Eiga wo Mireba Wakaru Koto (映画を見ればわかること)

Special Award: Teruyo Nogami (producer)

Source: Kinema Junpo official website.

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