2020 was a strange year to say the least, and especially when it came to the entertainment industry. Numerous movies and TV shows that I was looking forward to this year got delayed, making this a pretty dry year to be a movie critic. Nonetheless, the releases that I did get did have some novel and memorable surprises that still made me want to create some sort of list to commemorate the end of the year.
Due to the lack of releases, I decided to combine movies and TV shows together and bring a list that features some of my personal favorites from the year. Granted this is just my opinion, and I decided to do away with a ranking since it’s hard to compare movies to TV shows and vice versa. Since it was an unusual year and I had a busy personal and professional life, I didn’t have a chance to formally review some of these but I still highly recommend you check them out if you get the chance. For the ones, I did review I have attached the link with
A thriller that consistently keeps the tension elevated with brilliant performances. The film follows a homeschooled teenager who feels that her mother is keeping a dark secret from her. It is well paced from beginning to end and is brought to life due to the authenticity in the lead performers. What makes this film stand out is the claustrophobic feeling and the extent with which the events feel like they could actually happen. The performances are great, the plot has great twists and turns, and it’s kept at a short 1 hour and 40 minute runtime.
One of Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious films to date. The concept of time has frequently been toyed with but Nolan introduces a novel idea with inversion and the resulting spectacle is nothing short of awe-inspiring. What the film lacks in character development makes up for in a cerebral puzzle with brilliant action sequences. While the film definitely is inaccessible to most audiences, I had a blast watching this film the 3 times I did in theaters and highly recommend you check it out as soon as you can.
Pixar is no stranger to mature and thoughtful themes for its audience and in Soul they have made their most adult film to date. That’s not to say the film doesn’t have the heart and humor for kids to enjoy, but is a testament with the level of detail and creativity this studio has. The concept is fantastic and while the film falters a little in the second half and leaves a little more to be desired by its conclusion, it is still wonderful to see Pixar embrace high level subject material from an ingenious perspective. A movie tackling the concept of life itself was always going to be held under tight scrutiny, but with what Soul accomplishes as a whole I was well pleased with.
It may be a cheap shot to include a Broadway musical in a list with movies and TV shows, but the fact I was able to experience Hamilton in the comfort of my living room was a well-deserved treat in 2020. The performances were fantastic, the music was iconic, and the stage production was nothing short of a technological masterpiece. The fact that Broadway is closed for the unforeseeable future makes this experience something to be treasured and valued in the interim. It’s available now on Disney+ and whether you have seen it in person or not, don’t throw away your shot to view it.
Promising Young Woman (A+)
A revenge thriller that shines a bright and powerful light on rape culture. This film was an absolute masterpiece and really makes the audience think about the society we live in today. Carey Mulligan’s performance is phenomenal, able to imbue a woman hurting with an obsession for revenge in a vulnerable and empathetic manner. The many themes and messages the film portrays leave a lot of room for honest conversations to be had that will hopefully bring about a positive change. But it is the film’s ending that is the true showstopper, forcing the audience to confront a reality and feel the right amount of uncomfortable to enact change and conversation for a better future.
The Invisible Man (B+)
The modern reimagining of one of the most iconic monsters in history trades in traditional monster movie spectacle for a personal story of domestic abuse. Elizabeth Moss delivers a great performance for a woman still haunted by the controlling and domineering nature of her ex-boyfriend. Her fear feels palpable making the moments where she is truly on edge and fearful engaging and mesmerizing. Furthermore, the fact that we don’t see the “monster” is actually what makes it scary as it leans more on the reactions and suspense than any over the top CGI effects could produce. As one of the few movies released in theaters this year, it was definitely a great ride for those who got to see it.
Never Have I Ever
Comedians entering the film and television industry have consistently brought out exceptional and thought-provoking content, and Mindy Kaling is no exception. As she bases her show loosely on the experiences of her Indian-American life, this coming of age story shows the power of grief while also struggling to make your way through high school. The show has excellent well-rounded characters that could easily all hold a show on their own, and has the added benefit of portraying a behind the scenes look of a different household upbringing. The show is still on Netflix, and I am hopeful we get a season 2 greenlit within the next few months.
The Mandalorian Season 2
The Star Wars universe took a massive hit after the most recent film was panned by both critics and fans alike. The Mandalorian, however, came in and reinvigorated that love and escapism with a masterpiece of a second season that blew all expectations out of the water. It had an engaging story, great action sequences, and had fun delivering some fan-service to make this an experience to be beloved by all. With the slew of new shows coming out, the show has the risk of becoming too much like a franchise instead of a fun escape week to week, but for now I remain an ecstatic and joyful Star Wars fan yet again.
The Boys Season 2 (A-)
The second season of this superhero drama upped the emotional stakes while delivering a superb sophomore season that continued the themes of consumerism and insecurity. Anthony Starr’s Homelander still remains one of the most fascinating and complex characters to date, and his unpredictability keeps the show elevated in a manner that is different from other shows. The story took a while to get going, but still delivered on the laughs, thrills, and emotion that was evident in the first season. I am ecstatic to see where the show goes in season 3 with its dynamically rich and complicated superheroes.
The Queen’s Gambit
The world of Chess combined with a coming of age story seems like a recipe for a boring and mundane television show, but The Queen’s Gambit defies all expectations and delivers a tense and well-developed story following an orphaned teen. Beth’s character development from beginning to end is excellent, and the emotional and mental struggles she deals with shine a light on the real struggles of addiction many face today. And who knew a chess match could be so intense and engaging, with an expert direction that makes you feel on the edge of your seat waiting to see the outcome. Even though it’s only one season, it’s an investing binge that you definitely should check out!