We decided to split our year-end roundup into individual posts this year, with each of the team providing their personal take on the entertainment that helped us through this crazy year. In this post, Lee discusses his top 5 movies and TV shows. Let us know if you agree or disagree with any of his choices and be sure to keep an eye out for posts from the rest of the team.
Lee’s Top 5 Movies 2020
Three of my top five movies were actually seen very early on in the year before lockdown took hold and cinemas began shutting their doors. The only good thing about lockdown is that it has forced me to embrace alternative methods of movie watching and seek out titles that I wouldn’t normally have seen had I been heading off to the cinema multiple times a week.
1917, came right at the beginning of January and had me declaring it an early contender for movie of the year with its bold, ambitious storytelling. It manages to end the year at a very admirable third place on my list.
In February I caught a preview screening of the incredible Parasite, a movie which went on to win big at the Oscars. Parasite took me entirely by surprise, despite having seen nothing but praise for it online in the 12 months or so prior to it finally arriving in the UK. Consequently, it held onto my number one spot for the majority of 2020.
One of the years most intense movies, and one that I am so glad to have experienced in a darkened cinema, was The Invisible Man, which I saw in March. By giving us little backstory to its title character, the focus instead was primarily on the character of Cecilia (Elizabeth Moss) and the psychological horror she endures. An incredible, fresh take on a familiar story which snuck into my list at the number five spot.
As lockdown took hold, movie studios and filmmakers had to drastically rethink their strategies and movie-making processes. When director Rob Savage released a clip online of a Zoom prank he had played on his friends, the footage went viral and he decided to extend the idea into a feature-length film. Host was filmed during quarantine restrictions and takes the form of a Zoom call that goes very, very wrong. Savage had to direct his cast remotely, with them having to setup up their own cameras, lighting and stunts, and the final result is a piece of work which has rightly earned a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And a number four place in my top five.
My number one movie was just a wonderful, unexpected surprise. Having never seen a Cartoon Saloon movie before, I settled down to watch Wolfwalkers when it screened as part of the London Film Festival one Saturday back in October. If it had screened during the week, I may well have missed it, so I am so glad that it didn’t. As I curled up on the sofa in my pyjamas, I was swept away by the beautiful animation and enchanting story. And it became my only five-star movie of 2020.
Lee’s Top 5 TV Shows 2020
Compiling my top 5 TV list was a lot harder than my movie list. Every show I’ve included here is easily a five-star show for me and there are even a few other five-star contenders that I agonised over whether or not to include. What a great year of TV it’s been, helping us to get through lockdown(s).
Surprisingly, the majority of my final five were only released very recently, which is the opposite of my movie list. Better Call Saul is the exception, its fifth season released back in February, with Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) now fully embracing the Saul Goodman persona we know and love from his time on Breaking Bad. Better Call Saul has always been the most consistently strong drama on TV since… well, Breaking Bad, and season 5 was no exception, earning it a very strong second place in my list.
In fourth place, The Haunting of Bly Manor was a more complicated choice. The Haunting of Hill House is still one of my favourite shows from recent years and I had very high expectations for this sequel, expectations that weren’t really met at first. Bly Manor was much more a slow burn, which thankfully did pay off in the end. Beautiful, heartbreaking and I absolutely loved the final two episodes, which more than rewarded your patience during the previous episodes.
The Umbrella Academy season 2 is the one that I struggled with the most, and at one point I even had it as my number one. The opening minutes of the first episode, which were released a week or so before the season aired, got me more hyped than any trailer or teaser for a movie or TV show this year. High concept and just so much fun, it comes in at number 3. And believe me, I’m still not sure I’ve done the right thing!
Season 4 of The Crown covered an era more familiar to me than previous seasons as it moved into the Charles and Diana years. I still remember attending a huge outdoor party to celebrate their wedding in 1981 (yes, I’m old!), so I loved seeing events leading up to that day and beyond being portrayed on screen. Yes, liberties may have been taken with the facts. But so what, this is still one of the most well-produced and enjoyable shows on TV right now.
There are those who love a TV show to be released in its entirety, ready for them to binge the moment it’s released. But for me, I’m loving the once a week release that a few shows have now adopted, with the weight of having to try and catch up with everyone else when I just don’t have the time having been removed. The Mandalorian is a good example of this, and a perfect example of how to do a self-contained, perfectly crafted and executed story every week, while remaining part of a bigger story. It’s also the best that Star Wars has been for a long time. And, following the incredible finale which aired recently, it managed to move up a couple of spots on my list into first place!