The 2020 List: November

Well, a peek down the list below will reveal the big news for the month -and my year of blogging so far- which is that I have passed the ‘magic’ number of 200! Yep, that’s 200 films and television seasons that were new to me in 2020. With a month to spare, no less. 

Well, we won’t be here again- next year my blog is heading into a new direction, examining the old as much as the new, as I look at the films and television shows that mean the most to me, as well as finding the usual new discoveries. Well, that’s the intention anyway, and while 2021 seems just around the corner, it’d be perhaps foolish to ignore the fact that 2020 has a month to go and more surprises of its own (and this year of all years, that’s ominous enough in itself). 

So in the meantime, here’s my November haul. Best of the month, for a change, is actually a television series, Westworld Season Three, which was absolutely terrific, at least for its first six episodes (it stumbled considerably with the last two episodes, but not enough for it not to be my highlight of the month). Worst of the month has to be the terrible The Jesus Rolls, and lets face it, to be worse than a Nic Cage Lovecraft yarn, it has to stink something special.  

Television

189) Truth Seekers – Season One

196) Westworld Season Three

Films

186) The Lighthouse (2019)

187) The Color Out of Space (2019)

188) The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)

189) Advantageous (2015)

190) The Last Seduction (1994)

191) Lucy in the Sky (2019)

192) The Jesus Rolls (2019)

193) Radioactive (2019)

194) Jojo Rabbit (2019)

195) A Hidden Life (2019)

197) Dark Waters (2019)

198) The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

199) Fanny Lye Deliver’d (2019)

200) Escape in the Fog (1945)

201) The Undercover Man (1949)

The 2020 List: October

Its dark, its Halloween, and as I type this, our Prime Minister has announced that England is going back into lockdown from Thursday. Yikes.

So forgive my reticence to be jolly about my October viewing, in which I succeeded in watching more television shows, something that I targeted, managing five seasons of shows, and also managed to get my 2020 total up to 185, leaving a whole two months remaining in which to reach that magical 200. I’d confidently suggest that total was in the bag, really, but lets not count our chickens just yet- this year, of all years, its quite clear we should expect the unexpected, plan for the worst, hope for the best as we go into November and Lockdown: The Sequel (lets just hope it doesn’t turn out to be a Trilogy).

With that sentiment, here’s the list of October’s viewing:

Television

173) Utopia Season One (2020)

175) The Boys Season Two

176) Das Boot Season One

179) The Marvellous Mrs Maisel Season One

184) The Queen’s Gambit

Films

171) Bad Education (2019)

172) Ready or Not (2019)

174) One, Two, Three (1961)

177) The Curse of la Llorona (2019)

178) A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

180) Whiplash (2014)

181) Bombshell (2019)

182) Fanboys (2008)

183) Parasite (2019)

185) October Sky (1999)

The Abort Button

The Personal History of David Copperfield

The Walking Dead: World Beyond

The 2020 List: September

Well there goes September, and a pretty extraordinary month for watching all sorts of different films from across several decades. I even managed to post reviews of the majority of them too, with just a very few slipping through the blogpost net, so I’m pleased with that- managed to place 22 posts this month, in fact.

Regards my annual count, I’ve reached the grand total of 170 now, leaving me in a good position to hit the big 200 by year’s end. What may scupper further progress with that to some degree is an overdue need to start returning to more television shows, a to-watch list of which is getting quite out of hand now. Television seasons inevitably take up more time than films, with it taking several days to complete a season of a show, but I’ll just have to see how that goes. New seasons of The Umbrella Academy and The Boys have joined titles like Mindhunter, Westworld, Outlander, The Man in the High Castle, Stranger Things and Border Town which have new or outstanding seasons that slipped past me over the past several months, as well some shows that I haven’t started at all. There’s certainly all sorts of content just piling up. I know, first-world problems and all that.

Still, the nights are drawing in and local lockdowns such as my area is now living in don’t seem to get relaxed any time soon, they just seem to become the ‘new normal’, so you never know. I could retitle this year’s blog posts as ‘the Covid 200′ yet. What a strange and horrible year, and it already seems that 2021 might be a sequel/’Part Two’. I just hope it doesn’t stretch into a trilogy, thankyou very much but I’ve had quite enough already.

So anyway, here’s the list for the month-

Television

161) The Duchess

162) Challenger: The Final Flight

Movies

151) Nothing But the Night (1973)

152) They Came From Beyond Space (1967)

153) i’m thinking of ending things (2020)

154) Under Suspicion (2000)

155) Bumblebee (2018)

156) City That Never Sleeps (1953)

157) The Man Who Finally Died (1963)

158) I Walk Alone (1947)

159) Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

160) The Devil All the Time (2020)

163) The Hand of Night (1968)

164) Doctor Sleep: Directors Cut (2019)

165) The Cranes Are Flying (1957)

166) Timeslip (1955)

167) Enola Holmes (2020)

168) Machine Gun McCain (1969)

169) The Dark Mirror (1946)

170) Betty Blue – Directors Cut (1986)

The Abort Button – Both The Hand of Night and Machine Gun McCain came awfully close, but yes, my capacity for pain, irritation and boredom survived the test and, as that guy from Indians Jones & the Last Crusade observed, I chose wisely, again for another month. 

The 2020 List: August

Last year’s annual total was 156, which was itself some kind of achievement at the time, and the highest total I’ve reached since keeping count of what ‘new’ films etc I watch (albeit it pales in comparison to some blogs, such as Richard’s now ironically-named 100 Films in a Year blog which really deserves a ‘200 Films…’ kind of reboot. In any case, August proved a very interesting month because by the end of it this years total has already reached the grand figure of 150. Yep, 150 already, with a third of this year yet remaining. I might make it to 200 yet.

Maybe that would be a good time to call it a day, because I can’t ever see us ever seeing a year like this again. Not that I’d ever want to, of course, but the dark shadow of Covid 19 and its part in me reaching this remarkable figure of 150 already, just 6 shy of last years total, is indisputable. Maybe if I do get to 200 by the end of 2020, I’ll change my blog to writing about rewatching old favourite films, revisiting others good, bad and indifferent. That might be refreshing.

So anyway, August was two seasons of television (Bordertown eleven episodes, Lost in Space ten) and eighteen movies. Eighteen, and a wide-ranging bunch, as it turned out: some brilliant, some bad, one or two quite utterly bizarre. I think that Knives Out is clearly the film of the month (indeed, likely a candidate for film of the year) and the worst… well, that’s likely a shake of the dice between Split Second and A Severed Head. Biggest surprise of the month was Hitchcock’s last film, Family Plot, which was a surprisingly enjoyable folly, I thought (albeit that’s possibly all that 1970s nostalgia talking, because it was DEFINITELY a folly).

August also has the odd distinction of featuring three films that had the most maddeningly ill-suited titles that had me scratching my head with bemusement: A Severed Head, It Should Happen to You and Sorcerer. Sometimes I just cannot imagine what film-makers are thinking. At least with Flash Gordon its clear what you’re getting.

Television

139) Bordertown: Season One (2016)

147) Lost in Space: Season Two (2019)

Movies

131) The Quiet Earth (1985)

132) The Vengeance of Fu Manchu (1967)

133) Knives Out (2019)

134) Flash Gordon (1980)

135) Spilt Second (1992)

136) Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)

137) Project Power (2020)

138) The Night Clerk (2020)

140) A Severed Head (1971)

141) Family Plot (1976)

142) Underwater (2020)

143) Deadly Record (1959)

144) Downton Abbey (2019)

145) The Terrornauts (1967)

146) It Should Happen to You (1954)

148) The Face of Fu Manchu (1965)

149) Sorcerer (1977)

150) Suspect (1960)

The Abort Button – none, so yet again I chose wisely, as that guy in that Indiana Jones movie said. Surely this good fortune cannot continue…

The 2020 List: June

Well, there goes June. Wish I could say the same about Covid 19 but that sucker’s sticking around like Nicholas Cage and Dominc Cummings, two blokes I’d be quite happy never seeing or hearing of again. At least they stopped that strange daily late-afternoon serial about politics and viruses and horrible statistics, although I’m mildly concerned we’ll be getting a reboot or surprise second series.

Moving away from television (although I did manage two series and a three-part drama) I went back to basics this month with a return to watching movies, and eleven of those were black and white, a result of consciously leaning towards films of the 1940s/1950s. Tellingly, on the whole those older films were better than the newer, more recent films (although honourable mention to Spring there, which was great (and still due a Blu-ray release in September, just hope they include the extras from the international release)) –  as usual, the new films may be more colourful and more spectacular, but they often lack stuff like powerful drama and demanding performances thanks to their lacklustre, often suspiciously ticking-the-boxes scripts that give actors little to do other than join us in gawping at the visual effects. Yeah, Gemini Man. I spent so much time gawping at the awesome CGI creation of a young Will Smith that I found myself missing the important plot-points (only to realise later that there were no important plot points, and little by way of plot, really). I’d post a review of that one if I could think of something to write about other than those effects.

So what sent me scurrying to Talking Pictures and catalogue films on disc? Undoubtedly Killers Anonymous, which is without doubt the worst film of the month and what I hope will prove to be the worst film I shall see all year. Actually, I’m pretty certain it is the worst film of the year, because the next time I realise I’ve sat down with such a foul-smelling celluloid turkey I’ve got the option of the Abort Button; life is just too short (and getting shorter) to be wasted on rubbish like that.

Overall, though, June was a pretty strong month- I even managed to watch 4K UHD’s of Jaws and The Empire Strikes Back, after all, to demonstrate that the format is still going strong, particularly with catalogue titles (indeed it seems Universal are bringing us 4K discs of Hitchcock’s Vertigo, Rear Window and Psycho in September, which will be great).

Next month: The Criterion Six, The Invisible Man, and hopefully some nice surprises, perhaps even the return of the Shelf of Shame (got my eye at long last on Betty Blue- its been seven years since I bought that darned thing). I’ve also got the prospect of the 4K UHD of Stanley Kubrick’s Kirk Douglas’ Spartacus if the release schedule holds.

TV Shows

103) Curb Your Enthusiasm Season Ten

106) Killing Eve Season Three

108) The Salisbury Poisonings

Movies

87) The Vast of Night

88) Spring

89) Tolkien

90) Crawl

91) Killers Anonymous

92) Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

93) Les Miserables- The Staged Concert (2019)

94) Turn the Key Softly

95) The Trollenberg Terror

96) The Strange World of Planet X

97) The Whole Truth

98) Bunny Lake is Missing

99) Night and the City

100) Night of the Eagle

101) Waterfront

102) Gemini Man

104) Laura

105) The Price of Silence

107) Anatomy of a Murder

The Abort Button

none! (so I must have chose wisely, per the Grail Knight in a certain film)

 

The 2020 List: May

Well, there goes May, a month of sitting in the comfort of a sitcom bubble and an impromptu Hammer film (mini)-marathon. It rather feels like, in viewing terms, everything suddenly put on hiatus (mirroring life in general, I suppose).

June seems to be promising, though, with highlights next week likely being watching Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back in 4K, and the 4K edition of Jaws is arriving tomorrow too. Hey, that’s hands-down a pretty special line-up right there, I’m frankly salivating at the prospect. I’m tempted to dust off my 4K disc of Close Encounters of the Third Kind to follow on from them, and maybe the 4K Superman: The Movie. And how about the 4K disc of Alien to wrap things up? Some sort of film festival: certainly beats any of the tv schedules.

Regards that Alien disc, I was looking at it on the shelf yesterday and that cover art they used still seems bloody ugly to me. I was pondering whether to swap the 4K disc with the Blu-ray disc in the Alien Anthology set, use that instead, and thinking how that makes me seem like some kind of nerd who needs to get out more (in these current times, that’s almost funny). That Blu-ray set of the Alien movies dates back to when the main studios still made some effort with packaging: I actually looked up when I bought that set and discovered it was October, 2010. That’s when I slipped into a moody funk, horrified at how time seems to rush by- its been ten years, nearly, since that set came out?  And THATS when I suddenly remembered that J.W. Rinzler’s great book The Making of Alien came out summer last year and, er,  I never finished it…. That’s a scandal right there, and something else to add to the, er, to-do list…

TV Shows

68) Still Game Season One

69) Into the Night

73) Still Game Season Two

76) Still Game Season Three

77) Still Game Season Four

78) Still Game Season Five

80) Still Game Season Six

81) Still Game Season Seven

82) Still Game Season Eight

83) Still Game Season Nine

84) Still Game Live 2014

85) Tales From the Loop Season One

Movies

67) The Scarlet Blade

70) Dracula AD 1972

71) X: The Unknown

72) The Abominable Snowman

74) The Satanic Rites of Dracula

75) The Quatermass Xperiment

79) Stand By Me

86) Life After Flash (Doc.)

The 2020 List: April

66April in lockdown leaves me reaching the grand total of 66 already – without trying, really. I watched a few old faves during this month (notably Ben Hur and Kingdom of Heaven) and one or two not-so-faves (Rise of Skywalker, take a bow) that don’t qualify for inclusion here. On the whole though I sailed through the month distracted by reading and too many hours working from home, so really, I don’t know what number I’d be up to if I’d seriously tried to hit the Shelf of Shame, say, or a few of those boxsets on Netflix and Amazon that keep tempting me.

Best TV show was of course Better Call Saul season five, which was absolutley brilliant and I really should write a review. Suffice to say episodes eight and nine were some of the tensest, edge-of-your-seat dramas I’ve seen in ages, and while my work colleague was left rather nonplussed by the episode ten finale I was impressed by how well it set things up for season six. Mind, I’ve read we may have to wait two years for it to arrive. Ah, Covid19- the gift that keeps on giving.

On the movies front, it gets a bit trickier- I think the best one was probably 21 Bridges, partly because it came as such a surprise and seemed a welcome throwback to saner, more down-to-earth thrillers of old (individual mileage will vary on that, I’m sure).

TV Shows:

50) Friday Night Dinner Series Four

57) Friday Night Dinner Series Five

58) Devs

61) Better Call Saul Season Five

63) After Life Season Two

Movies:

49) The Pirates of Blood River

51) Hustlers

52) Rocketman

53) Flight to Mars

54) Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans

55) Seat 25

56) Angel Has Fallen

59) James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge

60) Yesterday

62) 21 Bridges

64) Extraction

65) Safety Not Guaranteed

66) Timetrap

 

 

The 2020 List: March

Covid-19 already makes an impact on my viewing figures with a busy month in March. Twelve films and six television shows, raising my 2020 tally to 48 already (this point last year I reached 42).

Five of those television shows are sitcoms, and its pretty clear to me that this is a direct response to all the stress about the virus outbreak. Claire’s being getting very anxious and we’ve pretty much stopped watching the news coverage, retreating to the dumb and fairly mindless sanctuary of the sitcom. Its an escape I guess.

Meanwhile as of this week, I’m now working from home. Its not ideal, and I can imagine some rough weeks ahead trying to get work done whilst isolated from the rest of the team and the convenience of the proper dedicated workplace environment, but at least I’m fortunate that I can still work. Some folks aren’t as lucky. Times such as these we need to maintain a sense of perspective and, really, be thankful for what we’ve got.

There are tragedies unfolding everyday. They’ve just announced on the radio the UK’s latest daily total of 393 people dying of the virus, the biggest daily total yet. Its impossible for me to get my head around a total like that. You can’t imagine the loss and grief of so many people who must be affected by each death, each individuals story- to be frank, the sheer unwarranted untimeliness of each death. These were people who might otherwise have had years ahead of them, who should have had those years; all those months and weeks and days, those sunrises and pretty sunsets that we see and take for granted. These poor souls were robbed of them because of this horrible virus that until a few months ago we’d never heard of.

Anyway, returning to the sanctuary of much more mundane things, here’s the list for March 2020:

TV Shows

31) The Thick of It Season Four

32) The Windsors Season Three

42) Friday Night Dinner Season One

43) Friday Night Dinner Season Two

46) Star Trek: Picard Season One

48)  Friday Night Dinner Season Three

Films

33) The Aeronauts

34) The Report

35) Doctor Sleep

36) Midsommar

37) Brightburn

38) The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll

39) Snatch

40) Remember the Titans

41) Le Mans ’66

44) Judy

45)Torn Curtain

47) Visa to Canton

The 2020 List: February

Hey, another month already. As usual, some good stuff (file Joker under that) and bad stuff (well, Nude Nuns with Big Guns, obviously). Weird month really- really quite bizarre. Even now I’m looking at the list and wondering what the hell was all that?

March looks interesting, though- Dr Sleep for one is a film I’ve been looking forward to, and Le Mans ’66 even more so. On the tv front we’ve got the return of Westworld and Altered Carbon and the grand finale of Star Trek: Picard (I’m REALLY curious about how they are going to wrap that thing up). And of course more Better Call Saul, possibly the best show on tv at the moment (if only those guys could work such magic on a genre show).

TV Shows:

13) Still Open All Hours: Season Six

21) Sex Education Season Two

25) The Thick Of It Season One

28) The Thick Of It Season Two

29) The Thick Of It Season Three

Films

14) The Mercy

15) Pet Sematary (2019)

16) Phantom Thread

17) Fighting with My Family

18) Joker

19) Toy Story 4

20) Mr Jones

23) Nude Nuns with Big Guns

24) The Domestics

26) The Favourite

27) Fedora

30) UFO