As the others have said, 2020 was a tough year for the movies. I guess I’m more like Colin than John, as I didn’t have the discipline to build a ritual around trying to keep up with new releases. That’s partly because I do already have a movie watching tradition – I try to watch something with my dad every Tuesday – and the types of movies we’d watch are the ones that got delayed to 2021 and beyond. Actually, the last time I went to a theater was a dad Tuesday; we saw The Gentlemen at one of those weird dine-in cinemas. That movie wasn’t particularly memorable, but I do remember stocking up on canned goods at the supermarket on the way home per his advice. Last year sucked.
That said, coming up with a theme for this year’s list wasn’t that hard at all. Please enjoy my favorite 2020 movies about overcoming grief!
I started out 2020 hopeful that I could make some big changes to better my life… I was so stupid back then. One of the things I tried and actually have stuck with was “cutting the cord,” meaning I cancelled my cable and went down to just Internet and broadcast TV. That was enough for the Super Bowl and the Oscars, then COVID happen and every production in the world shut down, including live sports, and it couldn’t have been easier to keep saving $50 a month. That said, it’s frustrating that you still can’t easily stream everything and we are definitely well passed the streaming service saturation point. Like, Quibi lived and died all within a few months in 2020. Remember poor Quibi? A bad idea launched at exactly the wrong time. No one can compete with YouTube!
Welcome to 2021, or as I prefer to call it, #TwentyRipAndRun! Let’s talk about 2020. When people reflect on last year, I bet the focus will be on the tragedy: hundreds of thousands of lives lost, millions more changed forever, plus the substantial cultural loss caused by countless venues and restaurants closing. What may be forgotten was how weird it was to live through the COVID-19 pandemic. How the uncertainty of a new normal made March seem 100 days long… And then the whole summer seem to be like two weeks. Being home all the time was (and still is) really messed up, even for homebodies like me. Music should be the media least impacted at all by the pandemic, but my listening habits still changed. When I’m home all the time – not in an office, not commuting, not going to shows – it turns out I listen to music less. When it’s just as easy to watch E.R. clips on YouTube, I get a lot less cool. So I’m looking forward to that vaccine and things getting better.
We close out the year and this season of The Pick with what may be a harbinger of what to expect in 2021: Wonder Woman 1984. The first of Warner Bros’ slate of new releases (plus or minus Legendary Entertainment) to be made available immediately on HBO Max, is this the beginning of the end for movie theaters? Or is it merely the start of another weird year? Plus, why do so many people already hate Wonder Woman 1984 so passionately? What if it’s actually kinda good? Is Chris Pine too hot for anyone else in the movie to be credited as “handsome man”? If you want to find out, you’re just going to have to listen. Your lasso of truth has no effect on me!
Are movie stars a thing anymore? One of the consequences of cinema’s shift to the global market and franchise filmmaking is a decline in movies built around their casts. I mean sure, we still have A-list actors, but I think it’s hard to say they compare to the classic Hollywood idea of a “star.” Just look at one of the highest-grossing box office stars of all time, Robert Downey Jr. He was the highest paid actor in the world between 2013 and 2015 and should be one of the most recognizable people on the planet, having starred in the highest-grossing film ever made as recently as last year. But were people showing up Avengers Endgame to see Robert Downey Jr. or Tony Stark? How many people are out there who have Iron Man tattoos but haven’t even heard of Zodiac, Chaplin, or Weird Science? And will those same people show up to watch him get farted on by CGI animals? The answer is: I don’t know. Because this narrative, like so much of 2020, has been thrown off completely thanks to the global pandemic. The state of the industry back in January has already become irrelevant. Case in point: while it would be nice to call Dolittle a commercial disappointment, it likely will remain the sixth highest-grossing film of 2020.
The Mindy Project – “Halloween”
Season 1, Episode 4
Original Air Date: October 30th, 2012
So The Mindy Project is another show I didn’t know much about going in, but thankfully, as the fourth episode of a half hour comedy, I didn’t have a lot of catching up to do. It’s also a show that actually made its Halloween episode actually about Halloween, so that’s another big plus for me. I guess this is exactly what I was looking for when I picked so many shows I had never watched for this year’s Shocktober. Just a fun slice of a much bigger pie. Basically, I’m happy to be going out on a nice note. Let me tell you about it.
Chuck – “Chuck Versus the Sandworm”
Season 1, Episode 6
Original Air Date: October 29, 2007
I have always considered Chuck with trepidation. On one hand, it’s a show passionate fans desperately fought to keep on the air and I’m definitely interested in a show built around the trio of Zachary Levi (because Thor 2, Shazam, and Mrs. Maisel), Yvonne Strahovski (because she’s in the Mass Effect games), and Adam Baldwin (because Firefly and definitely not his politics). On the other hand, it looked like it could be The Big Bang Theory with action. So is “Chuck Versus the Sandworm” a delightfully nerd-friendly Halloween adventure or cringey drivel? I lean toward the latter.