Where does one start with this year. I am not going to attempt it, at all. I refuse. What I will discuss though, is that extra time spent in front of the television. I am fortunate to have an OLED LG TV along with a Dolby Atmos 9.1 speaker system powered by Bowers and Wilkins. I love it, it’s my escape. So, by way of that means of escapism, here – in no particular order – is my list of favourites for 2020. Note this list is what I watched this year, so the release dates can vary.
However, I will start with sorrow. The header trailer features some of the finest television I have seen in many a year. Although Perpetual Grace Ltd released in 2019 (and I devoured it then) it was in 2020 I learned that EPix has decided not to renew. How dare they!!!!! Written by Steve Conrad, Stephen Hoey and Sean Hurley, the series was directed by Steve Conrad (6 episodes) and James Whitaker (4 episodes). When you read the first two cast – Ben Kingsley, Jimmi Simpson surely that says enough about this masterpiece. Filmed on location in New Mexico, the colour, the tone and the balance of this magic state are a perfect match to the writers skills.
So, that is my lament for 2020. Now on with some of the shows I did watch this year.
Better Call Saul (Season 5)
The new season proves “Better Call Saul” remains one of the finest shows on television, with visually ambitious storytelling used to depict complex characters headed for a tragic end. It’s a shame then that both [Bob] Odenkirk and [Rhea] Seehorn are overlooked for the work that they do. Forget being nominated, they deserved to win the acting Emmys.
Tales from the Loop
Outstanding, understated, thought-provoking. This isn’t the science-fiction of gadgetry, starships and visual effects but of ideas and concepts that all have a strong moral basis. The mood throughout is contemplative, the stories are all character-driven. Cinematically, it looks stunning. Every scene could be a painting.
Ozark (Season 3)
What really gives Ozark its grip is its portrayal of the corrosive trickle-down effect of moral hazard, intimated in the show’s frequently subdued lighting and hostile green-hell landscapes.
Fargo (Season 1)
I am a late starter with this. Its wonderful and presents quirky characters and a storyline that is expertly executed with dark humour and odd twists.
Babylon Berlin (Season 3)
Babylon Berlin‘s humor and humanity pair nicely with its hypnotic visuals, resulting in a show that dazzles within its oversaturated genre.
Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci star in Martin Scorsese’s monumental, elegiac tale of violence, betrayal, memory and loss.
Blade Runner 2049
The world as we know it has nearly caught up to the one Ridley Scott imagined when he directed the 2019-set “Blade Runner,” and yet, for all the influence the dystopian cult favorite has had on other sci-fi movies, Scott’s vision of Los Angeles still looks as mind-blowingly futuristic now as it did in 1982. That may well explain why its sequel, the Denis Villeneuve-directed “Blade Runner 2049,” doesn’t feel the need to reinvent the world in which it takes place, but instead is free to delve deep into the existential concerns suggested by the earlier film, as screenwriters Hampton Fancher (who also co-wrote the original) and Michael Green raise evocative questions about human-android relations and the nuances that will one day be used to tell them apart.
Anne with an E
If you are the kind of person who reads “Breaking Bad + Anne of Green Gables” and thinks ‘YES,’ this series is for you. It’s vibrant and family-friendly, with an appealing performance from Amybeth McNulty as young Anne.
Raised by Wolves
If you’ve got the patience to see this through to the very end, there are lessons to be learnt about faith and humanity, It’s a grower, don’t expect that saviour to come to easily.
The Marvellous Mrs Maisel (Season 3)
Relish in three seasons of snappy dialogue, beautiful early-’60s period recreation and Midge’s odd-couple friendship with her wonderfully gruff manager, Susie.
The Queens Gambit
Anchored by a magnetic lead performance and bolstered by world-class acting, marvelous visual language, a teleplay that’s never less than gripping, and an admirable willingness to embrace contradiction and ambiguity, it’s one of the year’s best series.
At the heart of the picture are two very appealing performances from Neill and Caton, who feel even from early moments like real, lived-in characters, well cast to reflect their differences as actors.
Mystery Road (Season 2)
The mystery is engrossing, but I enjoyed Mystery Road just to see the rhythms of Davis and Pedersen acting onscreen together, and for those stunning desert landscapes.
Wolf Creek (Seasons 1 and 2)
Wolf Creek the series is a smart, sinewy extension of a blunt-force film franchise that deepens motivations while turning the tables on itself by having the hunter become the hunted.