2020 was a terrible year for movies in the sense that cinemas everywhere shut down for months — and, in some places, for nearly the entire year — and studios withdrew many of their highest-profile titles from the release calendar. And, yet, most of us had more time to watch movies than ever before, thanks to the shelter-in-place recommendations and forced lockdowns of most other entertainment and recreation venues. For those of us who would prefer to stay home and watch movies most of the time, 2020s hardships were a blessing in grim disguise.
According to my stats at Letterboxd, where I keep a film diary, I watched 543 movies during 2020, over 40 more than I managed in 2019. Below you will find a showcase of My Favorite Movies of 2020, followed by a list of all 130+ movies which competed for that honor. As usual, my 2020 list includes some movies with release dates from one or two years earlier, as some movies spend a few years in foreign markets and playing festivals prior to receiving wide release or digital availability. Unusually, because 2020 was afflicted by so many tentative release dates, some movies which qualified for awards during 2020 actually have 2021 release dates, so there may be a handful of those in there, too.
But my movie watching during 2020 was not only about new releases. One of my goals during 2020 was to rewatch several movies which had begun to slip the grasp of my memory, and almost exactly half (50.3%) of my total watches were reruns. Some of my favorite and most surprising re-discoveries included:
- Stephen Chow's wacky kung-fu comedy God of Cookery (1996), which jumped more 30% up my Flickchart to 81.75%
- Infidelity thriller Fatal Attraction (1987), which also shot-up my chart by nearly a third to 72.69%.
- The superb sci-fi thriller The Hidden (1987), directed by Jack Sholder, which improved by 25% to 82.88%
- And moody drugs drama Less Than Zero (1987), which charted at 82.33%. (It was a big year for 1987, apparently!)
- The neat little Meg Tilly thriller Impulse (1984), which ranked at 74.58%
- The cynical James Woods mystery Cop (1988), now at 71.94%.
Also, now that my kids are all in or nearing their teen years, I was able to introduce them to some well-remembered favorites like:
- The Graduate (1967), #5 on my Flickchart
- Tootsie (1982), #6 on my Flickchart
- Citizen Kane (1941), #24 on my Flickchart
- After Hours (1985), #53 on my Flickchart
- Fargo (1996), #57 on my Flickchart
- 8½ (1963), #76 on my Flickchart
2020 also saw the inception of my Silver Screen Streak Movie Challenge, which introduced me to new favorites like RUSSIAN ARK (2002), The Heiress (1949), THE FALLEN IDOL (1948), THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU (2005) and QUEEN MARGOT (1993). My Octoblur Horror Marathon brought me to newfound frights like A Dark Song (2016) and The Last House On Dead End Street (1977). Meanwhile, purely recreationally, I discovered the pleasures of French gangster classic Touchez pas au grisbi (1954) starring Jean Gabin (86.27% on my Flickchart) and epic sleaze-fest Savage Streets (1984) directed by Danny Steinmann (ranked at 77.83%).
So, sure, the world may have started burning in 2020, but things looked pretty good from my couch!