2020 Year in Review

As we heartily say goodbye to one of the most tumultuous years, I look back at the twelve months and stand back in a kind of awe: having hit 312 movies watched is truly a milestone, although a tad bittersweet as its partly due to being fueled by the pandemic lockdown that has so dictated everyone’s year. The stats are actually interesting though: in both January and February I watched 31 and 29 films, respectively, which would put me on track for a “film a day” and this was before our initial lockdown in March. That pace burnt me out though, and I focused my attention on catching up on some television shows, and without the regular social interactions I found my pace in the high twenties for movie watching each month.

Again, Letterboxd is my logbook and source of all kinds of interesting stats. Check out my 2020 stats page here: https://letterboxd.com/ryebone/year/2020/

So you’re perhaps looking for a top ten list, right? I had some loosely interesting conversation with my movie-loving friends, bringing to the forefront the question: was there even enough movies released in 2020 to form such a “top ten” list? The answer for me, was of course yes: I managed to get just over 40 movies in during the year, but certainly the absence of theatrical releases was felt, although I could argue that this gave a lot of smaller films a chance to shine in the spotlight. Heading into the top ten list last year, I had watched 50 films from the respective year, which I think speaks to just how much content was pushed out on streaming services.

Such as it is, here is my top ten, although always with the caveat that I don’t particularly enjoy assembling such lists, as it becomes impossible to truly say one film is better than the other – I would hazard to say that the middle of the pack there are somewhat interchangeable.

I’ll have to put together some comparisons of the different top ten lists: at first glance I’m not sure an animated movie (let alone two) have made the cut, and horror takes up a hearty 40% of the entries. I’m not complaining though, as all these films were incredible. Just off the list is an early favourite in Underwater, as well as a spot for The Wolf of Snow Hollow, which didn’t quite make my 4-star rating threshold but has been unforgettable.

2020 marks the first year I participated in the Hooptober challenge, which is a yearly event but together by Cinemonster over at Letterboxd, which challenges us to watch 31 horror films in October that fit within interesting criteria. Part of the challenge is to write a review for each entry, which I completely failed at – but I did get through each film (and then some) – check out my Hooptober list for 2020 here: https://letterboxd.com/ryebone/list/hooptober-70/

Particular standouts from my list would be:

  • Train to Busan
  • Host
  • Possessor
  • Pulse
  • Maggie
  • The Fly II
  • The Skin I Live In.

Here are some more interesting factoids from my year in movies:

  • Although theatres were closed for quite a few months, I got out to the cinema 9 times – a sullen drop from my record in 2019 of 31 visits.
  • No half star ratings in 2020, and only 6 one-star ratings, including the likes of Street Fighter, Exorcist II and Knock Knock, although I bet if you watch those with friends they’d be much more enjoyable.
  • Seventeen films rated 5 stars, nineteen at 4.5 and 54 at 4 stars.
  • My “most popular of the 80s” project is practically dead, advancing just 3%. Maybe we’ll get a bit better this year?

In 2020 I found myself getting into a routine of both revisiting favourite series of films as well as exploring new ones. I watched the five Dirty Harry films (after only seeing the first for so many years) and completed both Resident Evil and Underworld series. I rewatched everything in the DCEU, and revisited all the Harry Potter films as well as the Lord of the Rings trilogy (The Hobbit films are on deck now). One of my favourite weekly projects was taking my Thursday nights to watch foreign films, starting with the five Bruce Lee films that are featured in Criterion’s recent box set. I find this method of watching one film from a series per week a nice treat, and I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for more undiscovered series.