Top 10s of 2020

(Rising from the grave to publish a few posts that have been sitting here for a year or so.  And maybe more. . . ) I decided to toss all my yearly Top 10 lists into one post, instead of spacing them out. So it you want to know what I liked best in 2020, here are my Top 10 TV shows, Top 10 Movies and Top 4 video games of the year.

TV

  1. The Queen’s Gambit – I’m still thinking about it. It is really great. I wish I had more to say.
  2. The Good Place S4 – It feels like ages ago that this aired, but it was early in 2020. This is the best show of the last half decade, and while I don’t think that this was the best season of the show, it maintained a steady and high level of quality throughout. I don’t have a lot new to say about The Good Place; it is a great show.
  3. What We Do In The Shadows S2 – I remain incredibly impressed with this show; it uses the movie as a jumping off point and has managed a couple of very impressive seasons of comedy. I just love it.
  4. Bob’s Burgers S10 – Old reliable keeps on chugging along, putting out 20 enjoyable episodes every year while showing few signs of stopping. This show is hitting the point where most long running shows start to run out of steam, but I’m not seeing that here. I don’t have more to say; it’s Bob’s Burgers and it is still great.
  5. Schitt’s Creek S6 – This show has really grown on me over the last few seasons. The name put me off, and I wasn’t crazy about the first season. But as things went on, I really warmed to this show. This last season was pretty great, though it did get kind of stuck in setting things up for the ending. It was a season long farewell to the show, a well deserved victory lap that maybe could have been better outside of the meta angle.
  6. The Mandalorian S2 – I am not sure this second season was better than the first, and I wasn’t as blown away by the first as many people were. But I have to admit, there is something to how this show is structured that just really works well. It is at its best when it is kind of a monster of the week space western. The end of this season dove headfirst into the lore of Star Wars, and that was fine, but the rest of it was what really grabbed me.
  7. Giri/Haji – On the one hand, this is just a crime drama. A Japanese cop goes to London to track down his yakuza brother, either to kill him or to save him or to bring him to justice. There are many other threads that tangled in his mission. This is a show that is never afraid to take chances, and not all of them pay off, but I found it to be highly entertaining.
  8. The Great Pretender – This anime is gorgeous and fun, makes great use of color and language, and manages to vary its tone from wacky to somber with few whiplash moments. It is just really good. It is about a group of con artists who steal from other thieves or villains. Since the protagonist is only about a half member of the crew, it is never clear how much of the con he is in on.
  9. Hilda S2 – Endlessly charming and simply delightful all the way through. I can’t recommend this show enough. It’s about a little girl living in a sort of Scandinavian seeming land called Tolberg who has magical adventures.
  10. Legends of Tomorrow & Stargirl – This is the point on the list where I hit a run of superhero shows. Shows I like, but for whatever reason had some quibbles with. This last spot could have easily gone to The Boys S2 (in fact, that is what I had slotted in here originally) or Doom Patrol, if it had an ending, but upon reflection, I went for a tie between the two shows that gave me the most simple pleasure to watch. I have long enjoyed Legends of Tomorrow, and Stargirl was better than expected. It was only a few short years ago that any sort of superhero tv show would have been of interest just for its subject matter; now they are pretty close to oversaturated. But I still get plenty of enjoyment out of the good ones.

Movies

  1. Emma. – One of if not the first movie I saw this year stayed on top the list all along. Just a great adaptation.
  2. Da 5 Bloods – Spike Lee’s latest was exciting and thoughtful. Just a really good film.
  3. Palm Springs – This Groundhog Day-esque rom com worked for me. It is bleak, yet funny and does a great job of contrasting how its two protagonists react to their predicament.
  4. Bill & Ted Face the Music – Maybe my love for this movie will fade when watching it in other times, but it felt like the perfect movie for the moment when it came out. It is funny and heartfelt.
  5. Birds of Prey – Just a complete delight. I feel like I might be championing this movie for years to come. It is one of the few superhero movies with actually well choreographed fight scenes instead of just cgi nonsense. It is so much fun.
  6. Lost Girls – Amy Ryan tries to solve the mystery of her daughter’s disappearance/murder despite the apathy of the police. It is just great.
  7. The Vast of Night – A low budget sci-fi about alien sightings in a small western town. The protagonists try to figure out what is up with these UFOs while the rest of the town is at the high school basketball game. It is all period detail and atmosphere. It is great.
  8. Soul – This is the first time I’ve agreed with the complaint about a Pixar movie not being for kids, but it was great nonetheless.
  9. Wonder Woman 1984 – I am choosing not to even look into the furor over this movie. I liked it a whole lot.
  10. Mank – There is a lot interesting going on here. Its subject matter is of limited interest, I would think, outside of film circles, but a lot of what it is trying to say transcends that. Oldman is great.

Video Games

I didn’t play ten new games in 2020. I played a lot of games, but most of them were older. However, the few I did play, I greatly enjoyed. So, here they are:

  1. Yakuza: Like A Dragon – I have only cleared the opening few chapters of this game; it feels like I am about one third of the way through it. However, that is enough for me to put it on top. Yakuza is already one of my favorite series, and turning it into a full on jrpg was just about the only way it could be more perfectly designed for my enjoyment.
  2. Final Fantasy VII Remake – Final Fantasy VII has never been one of my favorites in the series. I came to it too late, by the time I played it I found it old and ugly and nowhere near as good as the SNES games I had been playing instead. When I came back to it years later, I saw more clearly how good it actually was, though it was too late for me to have any real nostalgia for it. Which is why I was surprised at how strongly the Remake triggered my nostalgia. This game kind of plays nothing like the jrpgs of old, but in other ways it is exactly how imagined games playing in the future when FFVII came out originally. I can’t wait to get more of this.
  3. Super Mario 3D All-Stars – I wish I had more time to play these games. I played about a third of Super Mario Sunshine, then loaned the game to my brother. I love Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario 64, but had never played Super Mario Sunshine all the way through. This is a solid collection. I can’t wait to go through Super Mario Galaxy again.
  4. Shantae and the Seven Sirens – Hey, WayForward put out a Shantae metroidvania early this year. It was a delight.

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