top of page
  • Jonny Diaz

The Second Annual Rough Cut Awards


2020 was an unusual year in many respects, but one thing remained constant: it was a great year for movies. Although many of us were confined to our homes for the vast majority of the year, we were still able to travel via our televisions and laptop screens with some of the world's greatest filmmakers as our guides. And our team here at Rough Cut has once again joined forces to assemble our own list of the best of last year's film offerings.

A quick note on eligibility before we start: although many of the major industry awards extended their eligibility windows to include some of the first few months of 2021, we decided to stick with movies that were widely accessible in 2020 by theatrical, virtual, or festival release. So you won't see recent hits like Judas and the Black Messiah or Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar in our awards list below—but fear not! They'll be eligible next year for the 3rd Rough Cut Awards celebrating the movies of 2021.

But that cutoff definitely didn't limit our choices on this go-round. Among our five staff ballots, 94 different films received at least one vote, which was an increase over last year. So let that be a lesson to anyone out there who thinks that 2020 was anything but a robust film year.

Another quick note before we start: when your voting pool is this small, you're bound to end up with lots of ties. Any time you see more than 5 nominees in a category, assume a fifth-place tie, and not just that we were greedy and/or indecisive (we were, but we don't want you to assume that).

Here are the 2nd Annual Rough Cut Awards:

Key: Winner, Runner-Up

Best Picture

Lovers Rock (Small Axe)

Mangrove (Small Axe)


Promising Young Woman and Minari, the winner and runner-up in this category, respectively, were the only two movies to appear on every ballot. Along with Tenet, those three led our nominations with 11 apiece.

Best Director

Lee Isaac Chung, Minari

Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman

Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods

Steve McQueen, Lovers Rock

Chloé Zhao, Nomadland

Although Nomadland finished a close third in our Best Picture balloting, Chloé Zhao was still our consensus favorite director of 2020. Our directing nominees are also all women and/or people of color this year—your move, Academy.

Best Actress

Carrie Coon, The Nest

Sidney Flanigan, Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Yeri Han, Minari

Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman

Frances McDormand, Nomadland

Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Our winner Carey Mulligan steamrolled this category with four out of five 1st place votes, but runner-up Vanessa Kirby also appeared on every single ballot.

Best Actor

Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal

Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods

Mads Mikkelsen, Another Round

Steven Yeun, Minari

In a truly stacked year for lead actor performances, four of these five lead actors received a first-place vote, and the fifth appeared on every one of our ballots. It's an embarrassment of riches, but the veteran Delroy Lindo took the narrow win in the end.

Best Supporting Actress

Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Hong Chau, Driveways

Vasilisa Perelygina, Beanpole

Amanda Seyfried, Mank

Letitia Wright, Mangrove

Youn Yuh-jung, Minari

For the second year in a row, our supporting actress prize goes to an actress in a Korean-language performance.

Best Supporting Actor

Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods

Brian Dennehy, Driveways (TIE)

Aldis Hodge, One Night in Miami

Thomas Bo Larsen, Another Round (TIE)

Shaun Parkes, Mangrove

Paul Raci, Sound of Metal

A rare first place tie! Thomas Bo Larsen's alcoholic antics and the late Brian Dennehy's reserved next door neighbor equally charmed our team.

Best Adapted Screenplay

I'm Thinking of Ending Things - Charlie Kaufman

The Invisible Man - Leigh Whannell

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom - Ruben Santiago-Hudson

Nomadland - Chloé Zhao

One Night in Miami - Kemp Powers

Best Original Screenplay

Da 5 Bloods - Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Kevin Willmott, and Spike Lee

Mank - Jack Fincher

Minari - Lee Isaac Chung

Promising Young Woman - Emerald Fennell

Sound of Metal - Darius Marder, Abraham Marder, and Derek Cianfrance

Promising Young Woman and Nomadland add Screenplay prizes to their their Picture and Director wins, respectively. It's almost like it was a really great year for female filmmakers.

In the six visual categories coming up next, we awarded six different movies—further proof of this year's wide range of striking cinema.

Best Cinematography

Da 5 Bloods

Lovers Rock





Nomadland reinforces the wisdom of John Ford: when it comes to cinematography, it always helps to have the American West as your backdrop.

Best Production Design

I'm Thinking of Ending Things



Promising Young Woman


If you've got Netflix money to recreate old Hollywood soundstages, gothic mansions, and Palm Springs retreats all in the style of Citizen Kane, you'd best not miss. Fortunately for all of us, Mank hit the mark.

Best Costume Design

Birds of Prey


Ma Rainey's Black Bottom


News of the World

Promising Young Woman

A wide range of styles on display here, from colorful contemporary to black-and-white period fashion to neon Gotham garments, but it's hard to beat the parade of gowns in Emma's Regency-era England.

Best Film Editing


Promising Young Woman

Sound of Metal


The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Birds of Prey

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm


Ma Rainey's Black Bottom


Promising Young Woman

If Suicide Squad can win an Oscar for makeup and hairstyling, then we feel great about awarding Birds of Prey's much more fun take on Harley Quinn and her fellow denizens of Gotham.

Best Visual Effects

The Invisible Man





A lack of major studio blockbusters this year made room for horror and animated films to sneak into this race, but they were still no match for Tenet's best visual effect: letting Elizabeth Debicki be tall.

Best Original Score

Mank - Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Minari - Emile Mosseri

Midnight Sky - Alexandre Desplat

Soul - Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste

Tenet - Ludwig Göransson

Frequent David Fincher collaborators Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross get the double nomination, but wunderkind composer Ludwig Göransson walks away with the win for filling Hans Zimmer's shoes in Tenet.

Best Original Song

"Husavik" - Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (TIE)

"Never Grow Up" - Wendy

"The Plan" - Tenet

"Poverty Porn" - The 40-Year-Old Version

"Rain Song" - Minari

"Speak Now" - One Night in Miami (TIE)

One of the fun side effects of having a voting pool of five is that sometimes a single person's passion picks are enough to garner recognition. So congratulations to Ben, the internet's loudest defender of Benh Zeitlin's Wendy. And yet, despite Carson's vocal protests that "Husavik" is Eurovision's fourth-best song, it still brings home the gold here, alongside Leslie Odom Jr.'s "Speak Now."

Best Sound

Da 5 Bloods

The Invisible Man


Sound of Metal


Our top two films in this category didn't just have meticulously constructed soundscapes; sound was essential to the narrative execution of both Sound of Metal and The Invisible Man.

Best International Feature

Another Round (Denmark)

Apples (Greece)

Bacurau (Brazil)

Martin Eden (Italy)

Proxima (France)

A category headlined by Mads Mikkelsen, Aris Servetallis, Sônia Braga, Luca Marinelli, and Eva Green is tough to beat in any year.

Best Documentary

Boys State


Crip Camp

Dick Johnson is Dead


Best Animated Feature




Best Ensemble/Casting

Da 5 Bloods

I'm Thinking of Ending Things


One Night in Miami

Palm Springs

Promising Young Woman

Best Stunt Coordination/Choreography

Birds of Prey

Da 5 Bloods

Lovers Rock

The Old Guard


Best First Feature

The Assistant

The 40-Year-Old Version


Palm Springs

Promising Young Woman

Unsurprising, given that it took the top overall prize, but Emerald Fennell's debut won this category as our only unanimous #1 pick this year.

Top Ten Scenes

We tried to keep these descriptions spoiler free, but read at your own risk!

  1. "What a Life" Finale (Another Round)

  2. Home Birth (Pieces of a Woman)

  3. Paul's Monologue (Da 5 Bloods)

  4. Title Scene (Never Rarely Sometimes Always)

  5. "Stars are Blind" (Promising Young Woman)

  6. "Silly Games" (Lovers Rock)

  7. Freeport Heist (Tenet)

  8. The Fire (Minari)

  9. Epilogue (Wendy)

  10. H.R. Meeting (The Assistant) (TIE) Rap Montage (Get Duked!) (TIE)


bottom of page