Movie Watching Just Wasn’t the Same This Year

29 Dec

Usually, around this time, I remark with amazement about how many of the year’s movies I’ve seen over the previous 12 months. Last year, for example, I saw 83 of them. In 2018, I saw 84. In 2017, I saw 85. You get the idea. I typically see a lot of movies every year. In the theater.

In 2020, as of this writing, I’ve only seen 33. And, because of the stupid pandemic, a good number of them had to be seen on my TV or my iPad, alone, at home, at lower volume so as not to disturb my neighbors, and with plenty of distractions from my upstairs neighbors, my phone, and the world outside my windows.

The last movie I saw in a theater was the Ben Affleck flick The Way Back, way way back on March 4. Feels like forever ago. Thankfully, it was a good film.

I like watching movies, but I’m not much of a fan of at-home viewing. For one thing, the experience generally isn’t as immersive as in a darkened theater, so I tend not to enjoy the movies themselves as much.

As a result, for much of this year, I just wasn’t feeling it and I didn’t watch as many of the new releases as I usually do. I didn’t get invited to watch many screeners, so if something wasn’t on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or Disney+, I wasn’t going to pay $20 (or more!) to “rent” it. And even if a movie was on one of those services, I didn’t always feel compelled.

Instead, I rewatched some older movies, I watched a lot more YouTube clips than I ever have, and I binged a bunch of TV shows (good ones like Ted LassoFleabag, and Schitt’s Creek, but also some dumb dating shows like Love Is BlindToo Hot to Handle, and 12 Dates of Christmas, among others). I also enjoyed some of the many cast reunions and table reads for charity. (The Fast Times at Ridgemont High one was particularly good.)

The point is, to cut right to the chase, I’m not publishing a top-10 movies list for 2020. Why should I? How could I? Sure, there were some movies I really enjoyed (Palm SpringsOne Night in Miami, and Soul), but since I haven’t seen enough of the 2020 releases, and too many were seen under less than optimal conditions, it’s just not fair for me to do a ranking this year.

Earlier this month, I got a new, bigger TV that allows me to watch movies and shows at home with louder, better sound without disturbing my neighbors. So my viewing experience has definitely improved, and I’ll be better equipped for all the films going direct-to-streaming in 2021.

But in the meantime, instead of a 2020 top-10 list, here’s a list of every new movie I’ve seen this year (or at least, a list of the movies I’ve seen that are considered 2020 releases), in the order I saw them.

  1. The Gentlemen. B
  2. Birds of Prey. B
  3. Downhill. B–
  4. The Invisible Man. B
  5. The Way Back. B+
  6. The King of Staten Island. B
  7. Hamilton. A
  8. Palm Springs. B+
  9. Bad Education. B
  10. The Way I See It. B+
  11. On the Rocks. B
  12. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. B
  13. Promising Young Woman. B
  14. David Byrne’s American Utopia. B
  15. Happiest Season. B
  16. Mank. B+
  17. The Prom. B+
  18. Sound of Metal. B+
  19. Let Them All Talk. B
  20. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. B+
  21. Wonder Woman 1984. B–
  22. Soul. A
  23. Tenet. B+
  24. One Night in Miami. A
  25. The Midnight Sky. B–
  26. Da 5 Bloods. C–
  27. Lovers Rock. B
  28. Dick Johnson Is Dead. B+
  29. The Assistant. B+
  30. Supernova. B+
  31. Judas and the Black Messiah. B
  32. Nomadland. A
  33. The United States vs Billie Holiday. B–

Let’s hope that next year will be better, and safer, and that my movie-watching will pick up again.

What was your favorite movie of 2020?

3 Responses to “Movie Watching Just Wasn’t the Same This Year”


  1. In Spite of Everything, I’m Ending 2020 Feeling Very Lucky | Martin's Musings - December 30, 2020

    […] or angry or frustrated (or all three), I lost my job over the summer, I couldn’t travel or go to the movies or experience concerts or do other in-person things I enjoy, and there’s been a nagging sense […]

  2. After More than 14 Months, Go Back to a Movie Theater and Enjoy the Silence of “A Quiet Place Part II” | Martin's Musings - May 26, 2021

    […] more than 14 months, most of us have had no choice but to watch our movies at home, by ourselves, on TV screens (or worse, on mobile devices), with substandard sound. It’s been […]

  3. 2021 Was a Great Year to Go Back to the Movies | Martin's Musings - December 27, 2021

    […] In short, it was pretty great. Joni Mitchell once said, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” and, while I never took movie theaters for granted, I sure came to appreciate them more when I couldn’t go to them. […]

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