2020 Viewing

In February, I was sweetly-made in an Alamo Drafthouse recliner, watching Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow in the theater, loving it every bit as much as I expected to. Nothing in 2020 would surpass it.

Four weeks later all local theaters were shuttered, and ten months later, it’s still hard to guess when the window will open in 2021, and what will survive. But across the year, between streaming services, virtual cinemas, a great catalog year from Criterion and Mubi, and mail-order discs, there was plenty to see.

And there was so much more that I was unable to catch – given limited-runs, force-scarcity ticketing and deferred releases. Wanting and waiting to see Nomadland, Minari, About Endlessness, Saint Maud, Fire Will Come, among others. So still plenty to take in, impatience or no. What follows is the best of what came to me, film and series, via (mostly) the smaller screens in 2020.


  1. First Cow – Kelly Reichardt
  2. Small Axe: Lovers Rock – Steve McQueen
  3. Bait – Mark Jenkin
  4. Vitalina Varela – Pedro Costa
  5. Beanpole – Kantemir Balagov
  6. Dick Johnson is Dead – Kirsten Johnson
  7. Wolfwalkers – Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart
  8. I Was at Home but… – Angela Schanelec
  9. The Forty Year Old Version – Radha Blank
  10. Sound of Metal – Darius Marder
  11. Sorry We Missed You – Ken Loach
  12. Collective – Alexander Nanau
  13. Time – Garrett Bradley
  14. I’m No Longer Here – Fernando Frías
  15. The Wolf House – Joaquin Cociña, Cristóbal León
  16. The Vast of Night – Andrew Patterson
  17. Deerskin – Quentin Dupieux
  18. Bacurau – Kleber Mendonça Filho, Juliano Dornelles
  19. Possessor – Brandon Cronenberg
  20. Relic – Natalie Erika James

12 more films I enjoyed:

City Hall, Color Out of Space, David Byrne’s American Utopia, Driveways, Family Romance LLC, His House, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Palm Springs, The Nest, The Personal Life of David Copperfield, Young Ahmed


1-10 (unranked)

Babylon Berlin (Season 3)
Better Things
Ethos (Bir Başkadır)
Giri / Haji
I May Destroy You
My Brilliant Friend (Season 2)
Ramy (Season 2)
The Good Lord Bird
The Queen’s Gambit
What We Do in the Shadows (Season 2)

(Honorable mention: Tuca & Bertie. 2019 series, but just caught up!)

11-20 (unranked)

Curb Your Enthisiasm (Season 10)
Last Week w/ John Oliver
Lovecraft Country
Mrs. America
Never Have I Ever
Normal People
Pen15 (Season 2)
Sex Education
The Mandalorian
The Valhalla Murders

(Gratuitous mention: Dark (Season 3). Ponderous and exhausting, but glad to have finished.)

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