The Best (and Worst) Media I Consumed in 2020

A little bit later than I’d like this year, but the wonderful thing about logging everything I read and watch is that it’s a pretty simple thing to look back and sum things up whenever I choose to do it.

2020 was (obviously) a strange year. I had to really force myself to get to my 52 books for the year, probably because unless a book was really gripping, I had a hard time focusing on reading. Distractions like a global pandemic seem to do that to me. Go figure. But I got there, and I actually broke my page number record (since I’ve been keeping track.) I took some time to see how everything has shaken out for me from a media perspective over the past several years (since I started logging.) Here’s an overview:

YearBooksPagesMoviesTV Seasons

I was really surprised to see how many movies and TV seasons I used to watch. If I’m wondering where I’ve been carving out all the time I’ve needed to do the other things on my plate, it’s clear at least one area that’s been winnowed down.

I’m not honestly sure what I think about that, really. On the one hand, it’s easy to say movies and television are extraneous, and so what if I stop watching as many. On the other, I’ve always thought of myself as both a well-watched AND a well-read person, and I’m particularly troubled to see the number of movies dipping so precipitously. Then again, I do believe some of what used to be movies is being turned into full blown television shows, so I suppose there’s some mushiness to those boundaries. It’s interesting to me that, in times of stress, I turned to more movies as escape. Movies are wonderful, because you consume them all at one sitting. No long term commitment. I might begin to think about adding a movie goal, but I’m not sure about it, so I’m not going to just yet.

Clearly my reading goal is stretching me, since I keep getting to 52 and no higher. Though it’s interesting to see how I’ve begun to take on bigger books, with that total of pages read creeping up each year.

Anyway. That’s it from a bird’s eye point of view. What did I think about the actual things I read and watched? As usual, I’ll give you my 10s and 9s for each, and then for film and television I’ll give you my worst. (Out of professional courtesy, I don’t tell people about the books I really disliked, though I might make some broad comments about them.)

NOTE: These are organized first by number score, and then within that by when I watched them, from earliest in the year to latest. I’m not putting the individual scores in order.

Best Books of 2020:

  • The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood (10/10)
  • Gardens of the Moon, by Steven Erikson (10/10)
  • Memories of Ice, by Steven Erikson (10/10)
  • Underlord, by Will Wight (9/10)
  • The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis (9/10)
  • Wintersteel, by Will Wight (9/10)

Honorable Mentions (8.5/10)

  • Lost and Found, by Orson Scott Card
  • The Last Emperox, by John Scalzi
  • Uncrowned, by Will Wight

Best Movies and TV Seasons of 2020:

  • 1917 (10/10)
  • The Two Popes (10/10)
  • Up (10/10)
  • His Girl Friday (10/10)
  • 12 Angry Men (10/10)
  • Pirates of Penzance (10/10)
  • Inglorious Basterds (10/10)
  • The Queen’s Gambit (season 1) (10/10)
  • No Country for Old Men (10/10)
  • It’s a Wonderful Life (10/10)
  • A Marriage Story (9.5/10)
  • Joker (9.5/10)
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (season 3) (9.5/10)
  • The Producers (original) (9.5/10)
  • Rear Window (9.5/10)
  • Hamilton (9.5/10)
  • Ghostbusters (original) (9.5/10)
  • Bugsy Malone (9/10)
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (9/10)
  • The Good Place (season 5) (9/10)
  • Strange Brew (9/10)
  • Titanic (9/10)
  • The Walk (9/10)
  • The Martian (9/10)
  • Stranger Things (season 1) 9/10
  • The Muppet Movie (9/10)
  • Stranger Things (season 3) 9/10
  • Big (9/10)
  • WALL-E (9/10)
  • Field of Dreams (9/10)
  • Interstellar (9/10)
  • West Side Story (9/10)
  • Chariots of Fire (9/10)
  • Moonstruck (9/10)
  • The Great Escape (9/10)
  • The Philadelphia Story (9/10)
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? (9/10)
  • Bringing Up Baby (9/10)
  • Miller’s Crossing (9/10)
  • Soul (9/10)

Honorable Mentions (8.5/10)

  • Contagion
  • UHF
  • Argo
  • Knives Out
  • My Man Godfrey
  • Roman Holiday
  • Sabrina (original)
  • The Last Crusade
  • Dark (season 1)
  • Raising Arizona
  • Umbrella Academy (season 2)
  • A Knight’s Tale
  • The Twelfth Man

You’ll note that my viewing was pretty stacked, mainly because I was rewatching classic movies with Daniela, and it’s hard to go wrong with those. But I didn’t just watch good movies:

Worst Movies and TV Seasons of 2020:

  • Scoob (1/10)
  • The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (2/10)
  • Parasite (3/10)
  • Succession (season 1) (3/10)
  • The Hate U Give (4/10)

Dishonorable Mention (5/10)

  • The Hobbit (Rankin/Bass)
  • The Sorceror’s Stone
  • The Chamber of Secrets

Yes, a 5/10 is technically a wash in my rating scheme. It means I neither liked nor disliked the movie. However, since I generally only finish movies I like, and I don’t rate movies (or TV seasons) I don’t finish, my rating generally skews toward the higher end of the scale. So getting a 5/10 is a sign that I have no real desire to watch the movie again . . .

As for books, did I read anything a 5 or below? Just two, and nothing that was too-too terrible.

  • An adapted screenplay-turned-novel by a famous author in the 40s (4/10)
  • A classic novel by another famous counterculture author (5/10)

And there you have it. Quite the sampling over the course of the year. I really enjoyed revisiting the classic movies, and I hope to get back to that sometime in the next bit.

Watch or read anything great (or terrible) yourself?


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