It’s fair to say that 2020 has not been a normal year. For us cinephiles, it has meant far fewer cinema trips than in previous years. However, because many of us have been stuck indoors, home streaming of movies and TV shows has been more popular than ever. With that in mind, I wondered exactly what some of the FinalBoss family have thought of the movies and TV that they have watched this year. Here are their thoughts;
What was your favourite movie of 2020?
Callum: New movies have been a bit thin on the ground this year but of the crop released in 2020, I think my favourite was probably Onward, although I also liked The Invisible Man and Tenet.
Shaun: Parasite. How good is it when a film lives up to the hype? A great story that moves between several genres and has a superb twist.
Jon: The Invisible Man. Amazing to think that was just this year, it feels so long ago. I absolutely adored this movie and what they did with it. A real chiller, with an updated and current sinister edge. I’d watch Elisabeth Moss in anything though.
Peter: Always the hardest decision of the year but I would have to say 1917. I have rarely felt so tense within a movie theatre. It was a true cinematic experience and a masterclass in film making, particularly from Roger Deakins, whose cinematography left me on the edge of my seat for the whole entire journey.
Roy: Unfortunately my cinema viewing has been almost non-existent this year, but I think it’s worth giving a shout to the last film I got to see on the big screen. The Invisible Man was a surprising reimagining of the classic monster story. Not the most original of stories but it had enough edge of your seat moments and odd twists to keep you guessing.
What was your favourite TV show of 2020?
Callum: I think that The Mandalorian has to be the best of 2020. It started slow but really picked up speed towards the end. Ahsoka, Boba, Grogu, Din Djarin and Cara Dune were all absolutely fantastic this year.
Liz: This is easy. The Queen’s Gambit was by far my favourite show of 2020. I loved the narrative and the visuals of the show were fantastic- especially the costume design.
Shaun: As a one-off, it was A West Wing Special. Having the cast of my all-time favourite show back together was wonderful. For a whole series I’ll go with the second season of The Mandalorian. After a slow start, it gradually built to something brilliant.
Jon: Amazing how all this stuff has kept us going, huh? There’s been so much good stuff, we’ve been so lucky. Top spot is Mandalorian S2. Special mention for Raised By Wolves, Ted Lasso and Harley Quinn S2.
Peter: This is the way. Mandalorian S2.
Roy: The Boys season 2 did not disappoint. Following the crazy first season the show went mad with exploding heads, cults and talking gills. It is a brilliant palette cleanse to the usual clean-cut superhero show.
What was your most disappointing movie of 2020?
Callum: It has to be Soul for me. I know many people loved it but between the scenes in the city, I was pretty bored, to be honest. It really didn’t convey the message well enough or the story that I wanted, but parts of it looked very pretty, so there is that.
Shaun: If you go by the scores I gave, it was Emma. Even a brilliant showing from Bill Nighy couldn’t make up for the rest of the movie.
Jon: I need to rewatch it multiple times but I caught Tenet in the cinema (!) just last week and thought it was pretentious and overly elaborate. A real let down for me. But hey, ask me how I feel about it when I see it four more times, maybe.
Peter: With a limited amount of releases, films were far and few between. Although, I would have to say JoJo Rabbit. I did enjoy the film but I just don’t think it was anywhere near Taika Waititi’s best.
Roy: Even with such short pickings for comic book movies Harley Quinn And The Pointlessly Long Title failed in so many ways. We were given what could’ve been a 30-minute short’s worth of good Harley scenes and the rest was pointless set up for a team that doesn’t come together until the end. The less said about the absolute waste of Victor Zsasz the better, I can’t believe the sadistic serial killer was made into a lackey for the main villain.
What was your most disappointing TV series episode of 2020?
Callum: Despite it ending as my favourite show of 2020, it has to be Episode 2 of The Mandalorian season 2. I was expecting the series to start with jumping straight into the overarching plot, but the first episode didn’t. So I thought “fair enough we’ll get into it in episode 2”, but we still didn’t. We went on another side quest to bathe next to some spiders, only to get in trouble. Then the New Republic’s convenience squadron flew in to save the day. All the while, I was really, really bored.
Shaun: The season premiere of The Mandalorian season 2. Without cinema and big new movie releases, this felt like the biggest event of the second half of the year and it fell totally flat. It didn’t progress the story or build on the season 1 finale at all. Luckily the season got much better.
Jon: I watched Black Narcissus last night which was, uh, certainly not good… otherwise I remember The Salisbury Poisonings sort of losing it’s way as it went on.
Peter: I am going to follow the crowd here and say The Mandalorian Season 2 episode 2. It just didn’t feel like a Star Wars episode and felt like a filler episode.
What were your favourite TV shows that you started for the first time this year?
Callum: Well, aside from Mando, I started The Boys and The Clone Wars this year, which are both fantastic. I love things that don’t take themselves too seriously and with both of these, I just felt like they were just having fun with a story they loved.
Liz: I watched Schitt’s Creek recently and the show made me laugh and cry which always makes it a winner in my books. I also watched lots of documentaries this year, the best being Tell Me Who I Am and Fyre.
Shaun: I just started Cobra Kai in the last few days and it’s brilliant. If you grew up loving The Karate Kid like I did then I can’t see you wouldn’t love it. Daniel and Johnny resume their rivalry and the series unashamedly pulls so much material from the movies, it is great.
Jon: Ted Lasso was perhaps 700 times better than it had any right to be. Kind, honest, genuine, whilst not sacrificing either side of its comedy or its football premise. Also, everyone watch Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun.
Peter: Friday Night Dinner got me through the first lockdown and you have got to love Jim… “Shalom.”
Roy: Well sometimes being home for 6 months straight with a Netflix subscription can mean having to get through the worst of what television has to offer. Other times you may finally give something a go that you previously dismissed. If anyone knows me they know I love sci-fi shows and Timeless turned out to be so much better than expected. All 3 seasons and the feature-length finale are available to stream. The characters and central plot are great to follow but when you get to the end of season 1 you know you’re in for a fun ride following those twists.
Who is your favourite actor from something you first saw in 2020?
Callum: For me, it would either be Scarlett Johansson or Taika Waititi from Jojo Rabbit or Hugh Grant in The Gentlemen. Like I said earlier, I like it when people don’t take themselves too seriously, all of these tick that box in those two films. If you twisted my arm, I’d say Taika Waititi.
Liz: At the beginning of the year I watched Saint Maud and Morfydd Clark who plays Maud is absolutely amazing in it. I hadn’t seen her in anything before that so it was fresh to see a new face playing the protagonist.
Shaun: Elisabeth Moss in The Invisible Man. I’ve never missed a chance to say how much I love The West Wing, which is where I first saw Moss. I also watched the first two seasons of Mad Men this year where she is also excellent. So it was really great to see her headlining a major movie and being so good in it.
Jon: Again, I think I’m just buzzing from the fact that I actually got to be in a cinema recently but Gal Gadot in WW84 is perfect casting. She is Wonder Woman as far as I’m concerned. She has an energy and a presence to her that makes my eyes refuse to look at anything else when she’s on-screen.
Peter: Michaela Coel in I May Destroy You. She was fantastic throughout, channelling her own personal experiences of sexual assault to bring us the strongest performance of the year.
Roy: David Tennant in Good Omens. What a bloody great time I had with this quirky little show. Tennant just going all out with the demon who loves to be evil but doesn’t want to see the world end. He bounces so well off of Michael Sheen’s angel Aziraphale and their friendship makes for truly great television. On a side note, it’s totally worth watching both Tennant and Sheen playing themselves in lockdown comedy Staged.
Who was your favourite character from something you first saw in 2020?
Callum: It has to be Billy Butcher from The Boys. He was incredibly funny and foul-mouthed in the first series, something that I lap up. I think they made him less interesting when they tried to add emotion and background to him, which is weird, but I still loved his character.
Shaun: Old news but Don Draper from Mad Men. Acts all casual and cool, oozes sophistication but lots of mystery around him as he is haunted by dark secrets that are gradually revealed.
Jon: I’m going for the villain on this. Antony Starr’s Homelander from The Boys (S1-2) is one of the most narcissistic pieces of shit I’ve ever seen wrapped up inside an indestructible God. He is just horrifying to be around.
Peter: “I’m a simple man making his way through the galaxy, like my father before me.” Easily Boba Fett, the most badass bounty hunter in the whole galaxy.
Roy: So this year I finally got round to watching Into The Spiderverse in full. There are so many great characters in that film some of whom have never made it into the mainstream Spiderman movies before. Lily Tomlin’s Aunt May comes a very close 2nd due to how badass they made her but the best character had to be Spiderman Noir. Voiced brilliantly by Nic Cage acting more like a noir detective than your traditional Spiderman the jokes about his lack of colour perception and the mysterious wind that blows his coat whilst indoors are just exceptionally done.
Best looking TV show or movie you saw in 2020?
Callum: I was lucky enough to see The Lord of the Rings extended editions in the cinema this year, so I will say Return of the King. Or maybe Tenet, that was a lot of style as well.
Shaun: I can’t think of anything that really stood out visually so I’ll say 1917. I have no clue about film production and therefore how impressive it really is but I love the one-shot gimmick.
Jon: Raised by Wolves is one of the most incredible things that I have ever seen, full stop.
Peter: Either Tenet or 1917. They both felt and sounded massive within cinema, drawing me into action and made me feel a part of the story. I do have the Extended 4k additions of Lord of the Rings on my shelf though, so this could soon change.
Roy: Altered Carbon. The neon sci-fi setting mixed with the beautiful nature scenes from outside the main city are all so stunning. Add in the various artificial settings that Po visits with their strange hue that gives it all a very unsettling feels. It really is a treat for the senses.
Most thought-provoking TV show or movie you saw in 2020?
Callum: I don’t know if this counts but probably Taylor Swift- Folklore: The Long Pond Session. I really like Taylor Swift but the overall feel of the lyrics, the almost lonely setting and the emotional sounds really made me think about myself, loneliness and feeling inadequate in day-to-day life. Kind of just got to me.
Jon: Ditto Raised By Wolves again. It’s otherworldly in every sense. Ridley Scott final scene fumbling aside, I believe in that universe and the fabric of what’s there.
Peter: I May Destroy you or 13th, were both eye-opening experiences and are what we need for social change. However, David Attenborough is my idol and Extinction: The Facts really hit me hard. The programme makes me want to go even further in trying to help the planet. Bring on Veganuary.
Roy: I’m a huge sucker for movie trivia so The Christmas Movies That Made Us series on Netflix is brilliant. Behind the scenes stories of both Elf & Nightmare Before Christmas. The series follows the same format as The Movies/Toys That Made us and all of those are worth the time as well. It’s mad to see how close these amazing films were to never being made in the first place.
Your favourite easy-going, switch your brain off film you saw in 2020?
Callum: Legally Blonde. Bloody love that film and I’m man enough to admit it. Everyone needs to be a little more like Elle Woods.
Shaun: From new movies I saw this year it’s got to Bad Boys For Life. Enjoy the action and the jokes and don’t try and make sense of any of it!
Jon: I’ve really loved Dunkey on YouTube. I’m not really into gamers, but he’s just found his swing and I like it.
Peter: Didn’t really watch many films to switch my brain off but can always rely on Bake Off and Gilmore Girls.
Roy: An easy switch off that’s great especially if you don’t have 90 mins is chill is Kung Fury. This excellent 30-minute short film has so much 80’s cheese and action that it feels like you’ve watched it a million times before. Bring on Kung Fury 2.
What movie are you most looking forward to in 2021?
Callum: Either Dune or Black Widow. Probably Dune of those two. I wasn’t blown away by the book but from the looks of it, it’s going to look really cool.
Shaun: It’s a big if in the current climate but we’re due four new Marvel movies. Take your pick from those. Spider-man 3 with Holland, Maguire and Garfield is perhaps the most intriguing. But I’ll choose Eternals. I know nothing about them so it’ll be exciting to see some new characters introduced to the MCU and the Game Of Thrones fan inside me loves the idea of seeing Richard Madden and Kit Harrington together on screen again.
Jon: Anything in a fucking cinema. Apart from Boss Baby 2.
Peter: Dune, The French Dispatch, A Quiet Place 2, Spider-Man 3. The list goes on.
Roy: Has to be Black Widow, I’ve been on a steady stream of MCU over the last 12 years and I’m getting withdrawals. Haven’t got my hopes too high as it seems the oddest point to release her movie but fingers crossed it will be worth the long wait we have had.
What TV show are you most looking forward to in 2021?
Callum: That has to be Amazon’s Lord of the Rings. I think the world is waiting with bated breath to see if it is going to sink or swim.
Peter: Lord of the Rings TV show hands down. Give me more Middle Earth.
Jon: WandaVision could be really fun if it doesn’t stick to the basics and we actually get the off the wall weirdness we’ve been promised by its trailers. Stephen Merchant also shot a show here in Bristol with Christopher Walken no less, so I’m very keen to see him rubbing elbows with local crackheads soon.
Shaun: If we get it in 2021, then I’m with Callum and Peter, it’ll easily be Lord Of The Rings. If I continue to enjoy Cobra Kai as much as I have so far it’ll be the third season of that. Otherwise I’ll say Loki. He’s long been one of the best characters in the MCU so it’ll be interesting to see if he can hold a show on his own and what they do with him.
Roy: Loki. The God Of Mischief is coming back and he’s gonna be back to his mischievous ways. Looking forward to seeing where this series is gonna take him next.
Happy New Year from all at FinalBoss!