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  • Deborah Elias

The Best of 2020

In 2020 with so many of us having to stay home and most of the movie theaters closed, binge watching was the name of the game. We also saw many movies that were supposed to be in movie theaters go straight to on-demand access at home. Here is my list of favorites.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the world was bowled over by a very strange man living a very strange life with a bunch of tigers. Netflix’s, The Tiger King and Joe Exotic helped us escape and was a fun documentary to watch. It left us wondering about Joe’s fate in jail (will President Trump exonerate him?) and if Carol Baskin really did kill her husband. Halloween costumes and mocking Tik Tok videos aside, this show was entertaining and binge worthy.

Even though 90-Day Fiancé did not start in 2020 it definitely got its stride and millions of new followers due to the likes of David from Las Vegas and his longtime girlfriend Lana from the Ukraine (the surprise that she actually existed almost blew up Twitter) and from “Big Ed” from San Diego and his girlfriend Rose from the Philippines. We saw many iterations of this show in the form of Pillow Talk (which is my favorite, and something that I would give anything to be on), 90-Day Fiancé: The Other Way and the Strike Backs. The show on TLC is definitely a fan favorite and I'm not too ashamed to admit it's definitely one of mine.

Although Yellowstone has been on the Paramount network for several seasons, it wasn't till the third season that it really got popular. This show is a soap opera combining the likes of Dallas, Dynasty, Bonanza and a little bit of Good Fellas and a whole lot of hot men in Levi jeans on horses with guns. Kevin Costner, as the patriarch of a huge cattle ranch in Montana is perfectly paired with Rip, play by an unrecognizable and extremely sexy Cole Hauser, Kasey played by Luke Grimes, long -suffering Jamie played by Wes Bentley and the intimidating, over-the- top Beth, play by Kelly Reilly. This show is visually appealing and very salacious, and I can't wait for the fourth season in 2021. It gave us hashtags like “Love Me Like Rip Loves Beth” which were imprinted on t-shirts and hats and made great Xmas gifts.

Schitt’s Creek sixth and final season (please say it isn’t so) was another show that benefited from being on Netflix, and it found a whole new set a binge watchers. It set Emmy history winning nine awards and a place in our hearts. Dan and Eugene Levy brilliantly starred, cast and wrote this cute show based upon a wealthy family losing all their money. The last season was absolute perfection from the fashion, the wigs, and the very sweet love story between David and Patrick culminating with a lovely wedding.

Unorthodox starring Shira Haas was one of the most beautiful limited series of the year, also starring on Netflix. It was a gut-wrenching view of the customs and cultures of the Hasidic Jews and one woman's very brave fight to leave it. Haas’ performance was breathtaking and although she didn't get Emmy (in my opinion she definitely deserved it), she will certainly garner more roles in Hollywood. Here is a link to a longer review on the show.

In a completely different performance than Unorthodox and also on Netflix, Emily in Paris starring Lilly Colins was a series about a young woman who moves to Paris for work. Although it was a little panned for being too cliché (and American acting way too American in France), I found it just the right amount of lighthearted fun. The clothes, the food, the scenery and frankly the hot men were enough to keep me interested and I'm not going to mind that there will be a second season.

I Know This Much Is True on HBO was probably one of the best male-acted performances of the year and garnered its star Mark Ruffalo an Emmy. He brilliantly played twin brothers whose demeanor and frankly overall physical presence could not have been more different from each other. This was a great adaptation of the book by Wally Lamb, whose life was the inspiration for the story.

The Flight Attendant on HBO Max starring Kaley Cuoco of Big Bang theory fame, was a fast paced, vibrant show about what else, a flight attendant. After a night with a new man, she wakes up next to his dead body and sets in motion a series of events in which she tries to find out who killed him. What I liked about this show especially was the interesting way she has visions and communicates with the dead guy. The ending was unexpected and definitely set it up for a second season.

The Great which was on Hulu starring Elle Fanning and Nicolas Hoult is about how Catherine the great became just that. The costumes are amazing, and the plot was very good, but the very violent and very gory scenes are a bit much. This has already been renewed for a second season and I definitely want to see how Catherine gets her status in history.

The Queen's Gambit, which took 30 years to make, was one of the best shows of the year and one of the most watched on Netflix. This show about a chess savant was extremely well-done and should go on to win quite a few Emmys and awards. Both the young Beth Harmon played by Isla Johnston and the older played Anna-Taylor Joy were brilliantly cast. Set in the 1950s and early 60s the costumes were amazing as were this sets. But the unexpected fast paced Chess championship scenes were the reason this show was so popular. This was for sure my favorite binge of the year.

My favorite reboot (well a version of it) is Cobra Kai on well you guess it Netflix (Kudos to Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer, who green lights all these shows). I LOVED everything about this show. It has so much nostalgia and throw backs that I had to go back and watch the original Karate Kid for the 100th time. Here is my in-depth review on the show. The 3rd season was thankfully moved up and can be binged starting on New Year’s Day.

One of the only movies that I saw in a movie theater (that I liked), was Tenet. This movie was the little engine that could and garnered $250 million in worldwide sales. Kudos to the producers and the studio for releasing it as it was probably the only big budget movie that got released (well besides Wonder Woman and I don't have many good things to say about that). This movie was a definite mind f&ck and it needs to be watched several times in order to understand. The action sequences were incredible. The ability to go backwards while going forward was it akin to the first time we saw stop-action with The Matrix.

The other movie that I really liked was Love and Monsters. This show set in an apocalyptic future is about one boys’ quest for love and defying all the odds to get it. It is so cute and sweet but with the right about of gore. The plot is great, and the cool CGI monsters are so inventive. Dylan O’Brian as the hap-hazard Joel Larson gave a great performance.

Honorable mention goes to the 17th season of Grey's Anatomy and the very secret and surprising comeback of Patrick Dempsey’s McDreamy in Meredith’s Covid dream sequences. It was highly secretive and not gonna lie a little shocking but so great.

Well, that’s it for my 2020 favorites. Can’t wait to see what 2021 brings – hoping finally see the release of James Bond and the Maverick sequel to Top Gun.

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