In this article, we the editors here at the Film & TV section look back on the year in film and TV, discussing our favourites we discovered this year as well as some that we weren’t so much a fan of.
Pui Kuan Cheah:
It’s safe to say 2020 has not been the best year for the film industry, with the countless release delays and production disruptions, but looking back I’d say there were still some wonderful things to come out of this overall disastrous year. While I had to trade in the cinema experience for a 24/7 relationship with my Netflix account, I still managed to get my fill of content.
My most memorable Hollywood moment from this year has to be Parasite sweeping the Oscars (yes, that was this year – shocking I know). It was a sweet way to end off the period of normality, even when we did not know back then how the world was going to turn out thereafter. I still go back to it to relive the thunderous joy in the auditorium that radiates through the screen.
Mid-2020 was the driest part of the year, as the industry was in a state of shock. Nonetheless, streaming platforms expectedly thrived. Netflix brought the gem that was Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. Starring singing duo Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams (who would’ve thought?) and a wild Dan Stevens (still not over him), it was a film this year that surprised me the most, given that I’ve never been the biggest fan of Ferrell’s humor. Shortly after Eurovision, we finally got the filmed production of Hamilton on Disney+, and my musical theatre love resurfaced.
Then, Warner Bros. made the bold decision to release their Christopher Nolan blockbuster Tenet in cinemas, which I was incredibly thankful for because that meant I could finally head back there. Though audiences were divided on the film, it was just what I needed – a thrilling action-packed film, featuring the dashing Robert Pattinson. Alongside this, The New Mutants finally got its moment to shine after being pushed back a total of four times in two years – I was unmotivated to watch this though (sorry).
This was when things started picking up again, though cinemas were mostly closed worldwide. We got the highly-anticipated Mulan, which frankly was a disappointment for me and I wish that wasn’t the last film I watched in cinemas, but alas. Netflix continued to deliver though, with the fun little film Enola Holmes.
London Film Festival headed online in September, and I chose to watch Miranda July’s Kajillionaire – a spectacular feature showcasing the underrated talent that is Evan Rachel Wood. I also admittedly had a blast with the new adaptation of The Witches and felt guilty about it, but I couldn’t help but love Stanley Tucci and Anne Hathaway’s reunion. Another guilty pleasure for me? The sequel to Netflix’s The Princess Switch, this time starring Vanessa Hudgens in three(!) different roles.
I sealed off the year with The Prom, and it was like hitting the jackpot. It had all the singing and dancing that I missed from live theatre, and was the feel-good movie needed given the bonkers year we’ve had. Overall, despite being devastated particularly about not getting to see Black Widow and Wonder Woman 1984 (yet) on the big screen this year, there were silver linings. Here’s hoping 2021 will be better.
2020 has undoubtedly been a challenge in itself with the entertainment industry taking a forceful hit by the pandemic, stopping most set productions and cinema releases. Although most headlines consisted of the delayment of much anticipated films, in hindsight there were still some showstoppers; this time all easily accessible from the comfort of my own sofa and lounge projector, which definitely proved to be the best purchase I made.
Even though new film releases seemed to become stagnant, another aspect of the entertainment industry seemed to thrive right at the peak of lockdown: Reality TV. To be honest, watching these guilty-pleasure, absolute trash reality TV shows, including Tiger King, Love is Blind, Too Hot To Handle as well as Indian Matchmaking, proved to be the perfect escape from the increasingly devastating real-life impacts of Covid-19.
Throughout the year I also re-discovered my love for K-Dramas and it didn’t take long before I was invested in all the cheesy romantic storylines; probably more than I’d like to admit. Crash Landing on You particularly caught my attention with its powerhouse lead actors, Hyun Bin and Son Yejin, both of whom delivered that romantic chemistry that they are known for. Additionally, most scenes in the series set in North Korea were actually shot in Mongolia, which I was pleasantly surprised by since my home country’s not particularly known for being a shooting location in any major production.
On the downside, 2020 also held some disappointments for me, in both film and TV. The major let down of this year was Normal People, the BBC series based on Sally Rooney’s best selling novel. Now I know that this is a very controversial take, given Paul Mescal’s status as an absolute heartthrob, but truth be told: most of the time the show’s characters lacked depth and the whole plot felt more like a Wattpad love story aimed at horny teenagers (sorry not sorry!). Speaking of this year’s duds: Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated release of Tenet also didn’t do it for me and I left my first trip back to the cinema after lockdown feeling unsatisfied.
Despite this somewhat rocky road in this year’s entertainment, there were also some incredibly memorable moments. This year’s highlights for me were without a doubt Michaela Coel’s series I May Destroy You as well as Bassam Tariq and Riz Ahmed’s film Mogul Mowgli – of which the latter had its UK premiere at this year’s BFI London Film Festival. Both of these releases had an immense personal impact on me for very different reasons, yet in both instances I found comfort and empowerment from seeing BAME representation on-screen and in creative production. In midst of all the turmoil of 2020, I was once again reaffirmed in my belief that telling stories from a BAME perspective was incredibly powerful in terms of validating my own experience as a second generation immigrant.
Here’s to hopefully a better 2021- with even more diverse on-screen representation!