Obviously 2020 wasn’t the best year. I’m not going to go into all that, because we all know it. Instead, here I’m going to focus on the things I liked the most in 2020, particularly my favourite movies, games, books and graphic novels.
A quick note; some of the following may not have been released in 2020, but 2020 was the year I saw/read/played them. Also, these are my opinions, which generally tend to differ from the popular.
In 2020 I watched 58 movies (although this number is probably out a little bit as I only started using Letterboxd late in the year and may have forgotten some). Due to the various lockdowns most of these films were older ones, or ones I’d seen previously. However, of those films to have released in 2020 I’m sure it won’t be a surprise to learn my favourite.
Sonic the Hedgehog could have been an absolute disaster, and probably would have been if they hadn’t changed Sonic’s design from that Gods-awful original. Sure, it’s not a perfect film, but it was way better than I expected it to be, and so much fun! It captures the spirit and character of Sonic perfectly, and Jim Carry was wonderful as Robotnik. With all the little Easter eggs and nods to the games it was clear the makers of the film love the source material. Obviously I’m a bit bias here as I love Sonic, but even so I though it was a really enjoyable film in its own right. It was the most fun I’d had watching a film probably since Avengers: Endgame, so it gets my “best movie of 2020” award.
Special mention also goes to The New Mutants, which I didn’t think was anywhere near as bad as some were making out, In The Mouth of Madness which is a brilliant Lovecraftian horror film, and Extra Ordinary, the funniest supernatural comedy this side of What We Do in the Shadows.
Over 2020 I read 11 books and 35 graphic novels, for a grand total of 46 reads. I was able to pick up several volumes of graphic novel series to finish them off, so re-read the earlier volumes, hence the large number of those.
My favourite novels were The Final Empire and The Well of Ascension, the first two books in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series. The books have everything I love about good fantasy; interesting characters, a well realised and intriguing world, loads of lore, mystery, a great villain (or, in this case, villains) and a “magic” system that makes sense. Oh, and it didn’t have that “oh, I have power. I’m an outsider now. Poor me” angsty trope I hate so much. This is the best fantasy series since Lord of the Rings in my opinion. Can’t wait to read book #3.
In regards to the graphic novels, Silver Surfer: Parable and Kingdom Come were the standouts, the first being a beautiful thought piece on the nature of deity and religion, the second a warning on what heroes could become if left morally unchecked. Both are considered classics of the comics medium, and having read them it’s easy to see why.
I also need to make special mention of Ian Flynn’s continued work on the Sonic the Hedgehog series. It was a great surprise when IDW hired Ian to write their Sonic series after Archie lost the licence (where Ian also wrote Sonic), although I did worry that after fourteen years of writing the Blue Blur across multiple series he’d be getting a bit tired. Thankfully, the opposite is true and if anything this new start with IDW has proven all over just how amazing a job he has done. He obviously loves the source material and he treats all the characters and Sonic’s world with more respect and love than many writers would.
Throughout 2020 I played47 games, completing 35 of them. They were spread across a mix of platforms, and included retro and newer titles. I’ve a bit of a backlog on Steam and on my X-Box One, so I’ve been working my way through that. I also modded my New 2DS to play retro games which has opened up a slew of possibilities.
Of the games I didn’t complete, most I just did not care for apart from Lemmings which I dip into every now and then, and Castlevania Anniversary Collection as I’ve just not got to all the games included yet.
I have to say I found Doom Eternal to be hugely disappointing. All the annoying platforming and the ridiculous Marauder enemies completely ruined the flow of combat that was so amazing in the first game. The difficulty also felt like it was trolling you, throwing so many enemies at you at once it was simply overwhelming. Tell me to “get gud” of you want, but I did not find it an enjoyable experience.
My favourite of the games I played this year would easily be Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. I’m pretty new to the Castlevania series, but I had heard that this is one of the best. Personally, I think it’s just one of the best games, full stop! It’s absolutely gorgeous, and you can read my review if you’d like to find out why.
Following closely behind is Streets of Rage 4, a brilliant return for a brilliant series. Again, you can read my review if you’d like to know more. No Man’s Sky continues to be enjoyable, I never seem to tire of exploring that universe. I haven’t been delving into it as much lately, but I still jump in at least once a week to explore and do Nexus missions.
There you have it, my best of 2020. I make note of these things each year, so expect another of these toward the end of 2021. Let’s just hope that everything outside of movies, comics, books and games is a little better this time around.