Cinefix is one of my very favorite YouTube channels. If you love movies and haven’t watched any of their videos, you should start today. From their series sharing Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know about various films, to their What’s The Difference videos, which explore the differences between books and their movie adaptations, the content is consistently a cut above the other film-centric channels I’ve found. [If you know of any other great YoutTube movie channels, let me know!]
For my money, of all their lists, nothing beats the Top [Insert Category Here] of All Time lists, where they insightfully heap praise on all their favorite films, scenes, lines, moments, and filmmakers throughout history. The team of writers, whoever they may be, are clearly really smart, adore film, and have a great affinity for coming up with creative ways to organize lists of great movies.
They eschew both pretension and pandering, so they have no problem featuring Tarkovsky and Die Hard on the same list. And while the writers have certainly earned a significant degree of authority in regard to film, they are totally cognizant of the subjectiveness of our experience with film, or any sort of art for that matter. They obviously stand by their lists, but never pretend they are definitive, objective conclusions, closing the conversation for all time. It’s a depressingly uncommon tack to take, especially on a medium like YouTube, where the shitty commenters are legendary, and channels like CinemaSins exist, *gulp* sorry, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.
It should come as no surprise that I always look forward to their Top Movies of the Year lists, where they not only praise their official favorite films, but mention a bunch of other worthwhile titles along the way. Like any other year, their 2020 list showed me movies I’d never heard of before, like The Collective, Last and First Men, and ThePlatform; shamed me by pointing out some films still unforgivingly on my to-watch list, like The Sound of Metal and the Small Axe anthology; and surprised me with praise for films I thought were terrible, like The Old Guard. And if I’m being honest, what I really love is when they pick a bunch of my favorite movies from the year for their list, especially when they are movies that are popular films that don’t get enough credit, like Extraction, or great films that haven’t gotten the attention they deserve, like The Vast of Night.
Long story short, aka tl;dr, Cinefix’s lists are great, and you should watch this one.
Due to the love for film and books that beats in my breast like an eternal flame, I’ll never get to all the shows everyone else watches. A superpower enabling me to freeze time, or perform the limited sort of time travel from About Time, still eludes me, and with it, the freedom to watch and read and listen to and play all of the things. And so, everything that isn’t a movie or a book is relegated to the fringes of my free time.
So this year, like every year, I was a far cry from keeping up with everyone else’s TV habits. Fortunately, the quality of what I watched more than compensated for the lack of breadth. From catching newly premiered shows to catching up on fare that I’ve taken far too long to get around to, my joys far outweighed the disappointments.
Below are all the seasons and limited series I sat down and watched start to finish last year, chronologically as to when I finished them. And of course, these were all in addition to the regular stream of rewatches and whatnot of 30Rock, Bob’sBurgers, Sunny, Archer, Arrested Development, Seinfeld, Community, and Parks and Rec.
The Good Place – Seasons Three & Four – We start with The Good Place, which, as if 2020 wasn’t heartbreaking enough already, joined Schitt’s Creek and Steven Universe in ending this year (granted, Steven Universe was ending for the second time). It was so hard to say goodbye, but bittersweet, in that all three ended so beautifully.
I’m not sure The Good Place gets enough credit for how ambitious it was. *Spoilers* They got an audience to keep caring about characters, while literally resetting them and their progress repeatedly. They took a deep dive into ethics and philosophy, all while remaining silly, playful, and light on their feet. And most ambitious of all, they found a way to stick a landing that should have been impossible to stick. As an atheist with a Master’s in Divinity, let’s just say that I would have had some internal reactions if they went off the rails in the later episodes, but they fucking nailed it. They easily could have snuck a shallow or disjointed conclusion onto the end of the show. Instead, they created a final season that was poignant, moving, and retroactively made a great show even better.
TheChefShow – Season One, Vol. Three – Season Two, Vol. One – Ialready went on and onabout my love for this one. With its unending curiosity, art, and joy – all rooted in the delightful rapport between Favs and Choi – it was exactly the sort of thing I needed this year.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – Season Fourteen – How on earth have Bob’s Burgers and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia not run out of steam after ten and fourteen seasons respectively?! By all rights, they should have jumped the shark ages ago, and yet both shows still produce great episodes, even as they’ve weathered inevitable shifts in the writers’ room and directorial staff over the years, as talented creators move on to other projects.
TigerKing – Remember nine million years ago, when Tiger King was all anyone talked about?
TheOutsider – At its best, it’s really, really good. Even in its uneven bits, I didn’t dislike the second half the way some people seemed to.
Schitt’sCreek – SeasonSix – As sad as it was to say goodbye to the Rose family for the last time, it was so very satisfying to see the well-deserved acclaim, awards, and unadulterated praise the show has finally received. Before watching it, I assumed it was a cheap ripoff of Arrested Development. In reality, the world was gifted with a brilliant, important, resonant, hilarious show that would make me cry happy tears repeatedly over its six year run. Dan Levy 4 Eva!
SexEducation – SeasonsOne&Two – Even with a relatively large cast of characters, I fell in love with every single one of them. That meant a great deal in a year where the real life people I love weren’t allowed in my living room. This show is an absolute delight, and can’t wait for season three! And that soundtrack, tho!!
SiliconValley – SeasonSix – Remember how good this show was in early seasons? Aside from that, I have no comment.
Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet – Season One – A solid, enjoyable show overall, but the real gift was the absolutely beautiful virtual Covid episode that offered viewers a remarkable degree of empathy, kindness, and care in a really dark moment for all of us.
Bob’sBurgers – Season Ten – Like I said about It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, this show has no business continuing to be so good. If anything, the show gets better as it ages. And this year we get a Bob’s Burgers movie!
CowboyBebop – Super curious to see how the live action Netflix show featuring the egregiously underutilized talent (and handsomeness) of John Cho turns out.
RickandMorty – Season Four – While it’s often shadowed by one of the most toxic fanbases out there, I love this fucking show.
What We Do in the Shadows – SeasonTwo – I was so hesitant to start this show back in 2019. I’m always wary of adaptations – especially the movie to TV variety – and I love the movie so, so, so, so, so, so much, the idea of it being spoiled was almost too much to take. But I needn’t have worried, What We Do in the Shadows is hilarious. And season two is even better than season one!
Devs – From what I can tell, too many of you are sleeping on this show. It’s a tense, dark, relatively slow burn tech-sci-fi-mystery-thriller-reality bending show created, written and directed by Alex Garland [the guy who wrote and directed Ex Machina and the adaptation of Annihilation, and who wrote 28 Days Later, Sunshine, and the adaption of Never Let Me Go]. You should watch it.
Steven Universe [Complete]& Steven Universe: Future – My most important pop culture development of 2020 was finally getting around to watching Steven Universe. Of all the things getting me through this nightmare, this show has played the biggest role. I’ve already written about my new obsession here.
Fleabag – This show absolutely blew me away, even for all of its adoring fanfare and exaltation, it still exceeded my expectations. Thank Glob for the rise of Phoebe Waller-Bridge!! I can’t wait to see all the things she does next.
PerryMason – Season One – A solid first season, anchored by consistently great performances by the entire cast. I hope there’s a second season, because the show was clearly an origin story.
HarleyQuinn – Seasons One & Two – While I’m pretty sure most of you are sleeping on Devs, I KNOW most of you are sleeping on Harley Quinn. Without my friend Josué, I’d still be sleeping on it, too. If you at all enjoy irreverent, R-rated cartoons, you need to watch this show.
Central Park – Season One – Created as it was by Loren Bouchard, I went in thinking it was going to be an occasional musical like Bob’s Burgers. So I was surprised to find that it was actually just a full-on musical. And a pretty damned good one at that!
Brooklyn99 – Seasons One – Three – This was certainly a weird year to re-watch the early seasons of a show about cops. I’m really curious to see what the show-makers do next, as the cast and writers have all been transparent about how seriously they are taking this moment, and the growing awareness by the general public of how remarkably problematic and toxic policing is in this country.
The Haunting of Bly Manor – The first season is still first in my heart, but this was a solid chapter for this burgeoning anthology series. I’m going to be honest and say I hated the epilogue of sorts, and the narrative framing, centered in “present-day” scenes that seem like they were produced for an entirely different, entirely inferior show. Even with that being the case, I still really enjoyed the time I spent in Bly Manor.
Last Week Tonight – Season Seven – God bless John Oliver, and the entire Last Week Tonight team. Who could’ve guessed that a comedy news show would quickly become the most deeply and meticulously researched show on television? From rat erotica to the transcendent conclusion of the running Adam Driver joke, the show brought all the humor and entertainment one would hope for. But there were also a number of surprisingly poignant, human moments, making the show another bright spot in a dark year. All whilst being thoughtful, sharp, and informative. And they topped the whole thing off with a truly cathartic explosion.
Archer – Season Eleven – Even in the more uneven state it finds itself in at this point, I still love Archer.
Lovecraft Country – Speaking of uneven Lovecraft Country. It certainly had its brilliant moments – even whole episodes – but overall I was disappointed. The big surprise is that the truly great, timely antiracist HBO show is actually Watchmen.
TheMandalorian – Season Two – I really liked first season of Mando. I loooooooved season two. To be honest, after The Last Jedi I was prettyfatigued on Star Wars, but The Mandalorian pulled me back in. As a guy who is all in on the western and samurai DNA of the show, this season was a genre-worshipping wet dream. I sure hope Favs doesn’t expect us to survive with more Grogu, though. This is a Grogu world now. We can never allow ourselves to return to a non-Grogu one.
Adventure Time: Distant Lands – “BMO” and “Obsidian” – Adventure Time has returned with what will eventually be four hour long specials, each focusing on different characters from the show. So far, we’ve gotten a BMO episode, along with a Princess Bubblegum and Marceline episode. They are both so, so good. If this is the quality we get when they drop a few new stories here and there for the rest of time, I am definitely here for it.
Lots and lots of Seth Meyers – Similarly to Last Week Tonight, watching someone pick apart the absurd, stupid, evil, gaslighting reality of this administration, and the state of the country, played a huge role in helping me preserve at least some small vestige of my sanity.
A new year is officially underway, which means it’s time for my annual tradition of sharing every movie I watched the previous year. You know, the list which absolutely no one asked for, but that keeps on coming back just the same. [I did miss 2018 somehow. I’m still not sure how that happened.]
This year was, quite predictably, unprecedented as far as my movie-watching habits went. I watched 221 movies this year! Mostly because once quarantine began, depression and anxiety became my only daily obligations, resulting in 2020 being my biggest movie-watching year since I started keeping track back in 2008. [If you’re curious, the tally for previous years is: 150 in 2008 – 200 in 2009 – 200 in 2010 – 203 in 2011 – 200 in 2012 – 167 in 2013 – 105 in 2014 – 125 in 2015 – 125 in 2016 – 144 in 2017 – 104 in 2018 – 126 in 2019]
I love publishing these lists, so I hope someone out there likes ‘em. And if any other nerds out there kept track of the movies they watched last (or any) year, I’d love to see the list! I genuinely like this sort of thing, whether it’s my list or anyone else’s.
Anyway, here you go, every movie I watched in 2020.
The key is mostly the same as always: (#) Movie I saw in the theater. [#] Movie I saw for the first time. E# – Movies I watched with Emily. Favorites — Underlined titles are then ones that have stood up, after repeated viewings, and still keep me coming back for more. They’re the ones I’ve seen before, and will certainly watch again. **Best new (to me) movies — Titles with an asterisk are the films I loved the most out of those I’d never seen before.
**1. Her Smell 
2. Brittany Runs a Marathon  E1
**3. Maiden  E2
4. Missing Link 
**5. I Lost My Body 
6. Long Day’s Journey Into Night 
7. Good Boys 
8. Ash is Purest White 
9. Alita: Battle Angel  E3
10. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – E4
11. Paddington 2
12. The Adventures of Tintin
13. The Gentlemen  (1) E5
15. Inside Llewyn Davis – E6
16. Win Win
17. The Other Guys
18. Birds of Prey  (2) E7
20. The One I Love
21. Bad Boys for Life  (3)
22. Safety Not Guaranteed
23. About Time
24. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
25. My Own Private Idaho 
26. Blinded by the Light  E8
**27. Ford v Ferrari  E9
**28. Midsommar 
29. Fast Times at Ridgemont High 
**30. The Invisible Man  (4)
31. Onward  (5) E10
32. Color Out of Space 
33. Mission: Impossible – E11
34. Frozen II  E12
35. Sleuth (1972) 
36. Yesterday 
37. The Avengers – E13
38. On the Town  E14
39. The Sandlot – E15
40. The Battered Bastards of Baseball – E16
**41. Pain and Glory 
42. No No: A Dockumentary – E17
43. 61* – E18
44. Knives Out – E19
45. The Battery 
46. The Natural – E20
47. Everybody Wants Some!! – E21
48. Damn Yankees 
49. The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings 
50. The Pride of the Yankees 
51. For the Love of the Game  E22
52. Late Life: The Chien-Ming Wang Story 
53. Bull Durham – E23
54. Pelotero 
55. Sugar – E24
56. Brothers in Exile 
57. Fear Strikes Out 
58. Moneyball – E25
59. Field of Dreams – E26
60. A League of Their Own – E27
61. Iron Man 3 – E28
62. Take Me Out to the Ballgame  E29
63. Off the Black 
64. Cobb 
65. Thor: The Dark World – E30
66. The Stratton Story 
67. The Phenom – E31
68. The Bad News Bears
69. Major League – E32
70. Eight Men Out – E33
**71. I Will Buy You 
72. Bang the Drum Slowly  E34
73. Love Wedding Repeat  E35
74. Captain America: Winter Soldier – E36
75. Holy Motors 
76. Guardians of the Galaxy – E37
77. Avengers: Age of Ultron – E38
78. Zombieland: Double Tap 
**79. Kagemusha 
**80. Police Story 
81. Rocketman  E39
82. Minority Report
83. Ant-Man – E40
84. His Girl Friday – E41
85. Diamantino 
86. Captain America: Civil War – E42
87. Doctor Strange – E43
88. Drugstore Cowboy 
**89. Sex, Lies, and Videotape 
90. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 – E44
91. Seven Samurai – E45
92. Spider-Man: Homecoming – E46
**93. Sword of Doom 
94. Peanut Butter Falcon  E47
**95. The Handmaiden 
96. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – E48
97. The Night Comes For Us 
98. Thor: Ragnarok – E49
**99. Transit 
100. McCabe and Mrs. Miller 
101. Black Panther – E50
102. Under the Skin 
**103. Extraction  E51
104. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood  E52
105. Y Tu Mama, Tambien 
106. 3:10 to Yuma (1957)
107. Avengers: Infinity War – E53
**108. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown 
**109. Queen & Slim 
**110. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans 
**111. Blindspotting 
**112. Emma. 
113. Local Hero 
**114. Vast of Night 
115. Malcolm X 
116. She’s Gotta Have It 
117. Foxy Brown 
118. The Favourite 
119. The Royal Tenenbaums [Commentary: Wes Anderson]
120. Doctor Sleep 
**121. Hamilton  E54
122. Plus One  E55
**123. Beauty and the Beast (1946) 
124. Abominable  E56
125. House of Flying Daggers 
**126. Palm Springs  E57
127. I Am Not Your Negro – E58
**128. Steven Universe: The Movie 
129. Avengers: Endgame – E59
130. Soylent Green 
131. Cold Case Hammarskjöld 
**132. Thunder Road 
**133. All About My Mother 
134. Aniara 
135. Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am  E60
136. One Cut of the Dead 
137. The Souvenir 
138. Extra Ordinary 
**139. Da 5 Bloods  E61
140. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof 
**141. Blindspotting – E62
**142. Volver 
143. Short Cuts 
**144. Kwaidan 
145. Guns Akimbo 
146. Class Action Park  E63
147. Get Duked 
148. First Love 
149. The Old Guard  E64
**150. Three Colors: Red 
151. Climax 
152. MFKZ 
153. Happy Death Day 
154. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
**155. Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé  E65
156. Point Break – E66
157. Prospect 
158. 13th  E67
159. The Lure 
160. Tigers Are Not Afraid 
161. WolfCop 
162. Get Out – E67
**163. The Skin I Live In 
164. They Live 
165. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer 
166. Grave Encounters 
167. Under the Shadow 
168. Nightbreed 
169. Night of the Living Dead – E68
170. Straw Dogs 
171. Shaun of the Dead
172. 1408 
173. The Howling 
175. ParaNorman – E69
176. Return of the Living Dead 
177. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit – E70
178. Vampires vs. The Bronx 
179. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon