2020 went by in a flash. The entertainment industry was heavily affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Lots of content were cancelled or delayed, but not all of them.
We still had some great gems from what was a testing year for many of us. Let’s check out our favourite movies and TV shows from the year of 2020:
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 1
This show was one of the most pleasant surprises of 2020. In a year filled with uncertainty and despair, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist made us feel more optimistic.
Don’t get the wrong idea, this is a musical comedy but one with more heart and emotion that we’ve seen. It’s raw and real without being cheesy or corny, and many episodes will make you cry and laugh (often at the same time).
It deals with real-life problems and emotions that most other shows would probably just skimp over or not cover at all.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is a refreshing show that will make you feel better without being overly preachy. Plus, Season 2 just started in January 2021, so it’s a great time to pick up this underrated gem.
Oh, and it helps that the musical covers are generally great as well.
The Boys Season 2
There’s nothing else like The Boys right now and with the Marvel Cinematic Universe oversaturating the market, it’s the perfect time for a show like this. It’s also unafraid to mock the bigger corporate Marvel and DC superheroes, which feels fresh and welcome.
Season 2 was another great season for the series, especially with its character-driven approach and shining the spotlight on supporting characters like Karen Fukuhara’s Kimiko (you can check out my full review here).
If you’re looking forward to The Boys Season 3, here are our predictions for the upcoming series and what we should expect moving forward.
The Trial Of The Chicago 7
Most major movies in 2020 were delayed or postponed, but if there’s one single movie from the entire year that deserves to win awards, it’s Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial Of The Chicago 7 on Netflix.
While it’s based on true events, it’s still crazy how much of what happened back in the 60s parallels current events. The Trial Of The Chicago 7 is nothing but timely, and it’s no boring courtroom drama either.
The ensemble cast consisting of Sacha Baron Cohen, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eddie Redmayne and more delivered incredible Oscar-worthy performances. This is a masterpiece of a film.
Tenet is one of the few movies in 2020 to receive a theatrical release in cinemas, and it was definitely worth the hassle. Is it Christopher Nolan’s best movie? Probably not, but Tenet is certainly one of his most ambitious.
With Tenet, it really seems like Nolan is trying to both boggle the mind and bombard the senses at the same time. Tenet features some of his most impressive epic set-pieces ever witnessed in a Nolan movie, and his most complex twisty narrative yet.
This may feel like cheating but it’s totally not. Hamilton is a live stage recording of the 2015 Broadway musical, but it premiered on Disney Plus in 2020. Plus, this was the only way most of us outside of the U.S. could even catch the acclaimed musical.
Oh, and what a musical it is. The cast, performances and the music make for a stellar two hours and 40 minutes of sheer delight and an awe-inspiring show.
If there’s one thing that proves how good Hamilton was, we listened to the songs so much for the rest of the year that it was our most listened album on Spotify for 2020. It’s just that good. Hamilton is something that needs to be experienced, even if its just a recorded performance.
The Mandalorian Season 2
The Mandalorian Season 2 managed to outdo its already amazing first season and that’s an impressive feat. It’s bolstered by guest stars aplenty, including Temuera Morrison as Boba Fett (who will be getting his own TV series later this year) and not one but two of the most iconic Jedis in the franchise.
This second season has proven that The Mandalorian could delve deep into the franchise’s lore, including that of the Star Wars The Clone Wars and Rebels animated series, and still come out enjoyable for both hardcore and casual fans.
The success of The Mandalorian Season 2 gives us more reason to believe that the eleven (yes, eleven) other planned Star Wars TV series will be just as good, or even better. The future of the franchise has never looked better, and this season gives us new hope.
Pixar’s Onward earlier in 2020 was pretty decent, but Soul was definitely closer to the studio’s more classic offerings. The latest animated movie by Pete Docter, the director of Up and Inside Out, doesn’t disappoint.
Soul explores its subject matter (the meaning of life, etc.) in a thoughtful matter that will likely go over the heads of younger viewers, but one that older ones will definitely resonate with.
It’s probably the best and most unique original effort from the studio in years. In a year like 2020, we all needed a movie like this reminding us of what it means to just… live.
You can check out our full review of Pixar’s Soul here.
Harley Quinn Season 2
When the Harley Quinn animated series was first announced, I was sceptical about how it was going to turn out, due to how tame the live-action portrayals of the character has been in both 2016’s Suicide Squad and 2020’s Birds Of Prey.
Imagine my pleasant surprise when it turned out to be one of the best shows of the year. Season 2 of the show came out in April 2020, only two months after the end of the first season, and I was blown away by the batshit crazy antics featured in the show.
It makes full use of its R-rating, with gratuitous swearing and violence that complements all the amazing jokes and gags. There have also been plenty of scenes from the show that has gone viral on social media, such as Robin asking Batman about sex and an entire musical sequence that parodies the “Under The Sea” song from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
Despite all that, the relationship between Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy is a definite highlight, giving emotional weight to the series as well. This is perfect for DC Comics fans and fans of Harley Quinn alike. This version of the character is pure Harley Quinn in all her glory as Paul Dini and Bruce Timm intended; not just trying to imitate Deadpool like in the comics or movies.
The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man is the start of Universal’s new effort and plans to remake and reimagine their classic movie monsters like Frankenstein and The Wolfman with standalone stories.
This classic has been updated to modern tastes; with the movie showcasing the real terror of trying to escape your abuser. This exploration of abuse in a horror lens is disturbing and distressing, but it makes for a great horror movie that’s more than a collection of cheap jump scares.
Combine that with Elisabeth Moss’ incredible but harrowing performance of abuse victim Cecilia Kass, and we have one of the standout horror sci-fi movies of recent times. Director and writer Leigh Whannell is no stranger to the horror genre too, considering that he wrote the first three Saw movies and the entire Insidious franchise.
You can check out our full review here.
The Vast of Night
If you want a genre movie that pays homage to all of the greats from the 60s to 80s, this Amazon Prime treat is worth watching.
It’s set in the 1950s in a rural town where a radio disc jockey (Jake Horowitz) and young switchboard operator (Sierra McCormick) tries to crack a mysterious audio frequency. This film is a prime example of the journey being way more important than the destination. You have to see the shots, the takes, and the framing, as well as invest yourself with the banter between Horowitz and McCormick’s characters (along with the supporting cast) to totally appreciate this love letter to high concept sci-fi.
Avenue 5 Season 1
This is probably one of the year’s most underrated comedies. Sci-fi comedies are rare, and it’s easy to see why; they’re difficult to pull off. You’ve got classics like Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Red Dwarf but in recent times, there have been little offerings, with the exception of perhaps the Rick And Morty animated series and similarly criminally-underrated The Orville by Seth McFarlane.
HBO debuted Avenue 5 earlier this year, starring comedy giants like Hugh Laurie of medical comedy House fame, Star Trek Voyager alum Ethan Philips, Josh Gad, and more. Admittedly, the first few episodes are rocky and all over the place, but the second half of its first season is where it sticks the landing.
Expect witty and sometimes even dark humour from Avenue 5; it’s a bumpy but fun cruise in space. You can now stream Avenue 5 via HBO Go.
She-Ra And The Princesses Of Power Season 5
It is a testament to the brilliant work by showrunner Noelle Stevenson and the folks at Dreamworks Animation that they have managed to pack so much action, adventure, and complicated character dynamics into a total of 52 episodes in the span of only two years.
The best thing about She-Ra And The Princesses Of Power throughout its five seasons have always been the way that it manages to convey the emotional complexity of its characters. The best comparisons I can mention are to that of the redemption arcs of Darth Vader in Star Wars and Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
At least, you won’t feel horribly-cheated like many of us did with the conclusion of Netflix’s other popular original animated series, Voltron: Legendary Defender. You can check out our full review here.
If you want further proof as to why Hugh “Wolverine” Jackman is the best in the acting business, Bad Education is one damn fine example. A drama based on the biggest embezzlement scandal in American public school history involving one Frank Tassone (Jackman), this film showcases a man who tries to hide a lavished lifestyle in a series of lies while also playing a role model of sorts for his students. It also tells a great crime story involving one that happens in plain sight.
Noteworthy actors in this tour de force include Tassone’s assistant supervisor Pam Gluckin (Allison Janney), journalist-aspiring student Rachel Bhargava (Geraldine Viswanathan), and Big Bob Spicer (Ray Romano). Shoutouts also for the film’s slickest use of Moby’s “In This World” in a pivotal climax.
Feels Good Man
Who knew a documentary about the Pepe The Frog meme could be this enthralling and colourful? This film chronicles how Pepe came to be from a comic, to its eventual popularity in websites like 4chan, and also how it became a symbol of hate.
In addition to the animated transitions, we also get to witness its creator Matt Furie trying his best to reclaim Pepe from the internet, to little avail. It’s a great cautionary note on how the art can somehow evolve beyond the artist and its creator, especially to ill effect.
Pixar isn’t the only animation company who can impress audiences with graphics and storytelling. The folks from Cartoon Saloon and Melusine Production capped off their Irish Folklore Trilogy with Wolfwalkers, a story about the friendship between hunter wannabe/scullery maid Robyn and Wolfwalker child Mebh.
It’s just a treat to watch 2D animation at its very gorgeous, from the contrast between the Irish town of Kilkenny and the great forest that surrounds it, to the key scene where Robyn messes around with her accidental powers it in a lovely musical number. The story also meshes well with the visuals and charming traditional soundtrack, as it’s about how Robyn and his dad tries to survive in the society they’re thrust in, only to realize that breaking free from it is the only solution.
It’s way more uplifting than their previous film Breadwinner.
How does one remake a film like Groundhog Day? Simple; just change the script around, make the loop about someone’s wedding day, and focus it on two people who are in on the time loop trap. In Palm Springs’ case, it’s Andy Sandberg’s Nyles and Cristin “HIMYM” Millioti’s Sarah who play off each other very, very well.
The situations and predicament itself is funny, but it also comes with a lot of heart and questions on whether routine life is worth living through over and over. Highlight moments include the introduction of J.K. Simmons’ Roy Schlieffen and the “we’re in a timeloop; let’s just eff stuff up” montage.
Bill & Ted Face The Music
Bill & Ted Face The Music is a sequel made with love and still delivers the laughs. It’s earnest, optimistic, charming, and shows hope that you don’t need too much slapstick to get your audiences’ attention.
Good comedic timing, buddy duo chemistry, and elaborate yet easy-to-follow plotlines segmented with ease and great pacing is all you need to cap off your long-standing series. As long as you’re not expecting way more than that, you’re fine rocking on to this excellent follow-up.