January 5, 2021

Alexa & Macky's Best of 2020: Movies, TV Shows, Anime, Music & Games

A new year has started! This is the first of two posts where Macky & I highlight some favorites from the past year. The shoutouts we're doing today feel extra special, as these are just a number of things that really helped us get through the year (that felt like a decade) that was 2020. Without further ado, we're going to be gushing about our favorites in film, tv, anime, music and games.

Alexa: Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai's latest feature film with a beautifully animated story about a high school boy who has run away to Tokyo that ends up crossing paths with a girl who appears to be able to manipulate the weather) is one of the two films we were able to watch in theaters. The animation was gorgeous, the soundtrack was phenomenal and the cameos were a delight. The other is also anime-related as Macky & I snuck in a theatrical showing of the newest My Hero Academia film Heroes Rising (which was an epic addition to the MHA canon featuring our faves from Class 1A kicking butt together one summer against a very tough villain). It was seriously so fun to watch, and got us surprisingly emotional by the end! Of the films I watched at home, I most enjoyed P.S. I Still Love You (the sequel to To All the Boys I've Loved Before, which was still aesthetically pleasing and very entertaining), Knives Out (a closed circuit murder mystery that was fun to watch), Onward and Soul (two Pixar film releases, one about two brothers on a quest to retrieve a rare phoenix gem in order to complete the spell to summon their dad and one about a middle-aged schoolteacher who goes on an out of body adventure to get back into his body and make his dream happen). Both films made us very emotional and inspired some personal reflection!

Macky: Greta Gerwig's Little Women by Greta Gerwig was a pleasant surprise this year, what with Florence Pugh doing something previously unheard of and making people love Amy (as well as Amy and Laurie together). Weathering with You and the second My Hero Academia film Heroes Rising, plus the Disney/Pixar one-two punch of Onward and Soul are also on my top movies list for 2020 and I'll defer to Alexa on our thoughts on all of them. My two cents is that these awesome movies that gave us ALL the feels. Wonder Woman 1984 made the cut (contrary to the rather mixed reviews it's getting) because I just genuinely loved it and felt it solidified a lot of things for this particular elseworld Diana. Lastly, I cannot say enough good things about Charlize Theron and crew’s Old Guard performances. This Netflix film about a found family of immortals who have pledged to do as much good they can in the shadows has scratched every “immortal being story niche” itch I had, and with the promise of sequels as the graphic novels keep (hopefully) coming.

Alexa: I definitely watched a lot of anime in 2020 (and you can check out all my 2020 Adventures in Anime posts for more detailed thoughts on some of them)! I kept up with the latest seasons of Boruto: Naruto Next Generations (there was a recent Shikamaru-centric episode that made me cry!), and My Hero Academia (the hero mission in the second half of this season was epic), as well as watching most of Fruits Basket (I only stopped when it got to a point I knew was going to be really hard on me emotionally). I also managed to finish watching Rising of the Shield Hero (a D&D type tale where four ordinary young men are transported into a magical world where they are expected to be heroes, and which was quite stressful but also tugged at the heartstrings) and Snow White with the Red Hair (a healer who escapes forced marriage to her kingdom's prince by traveling to a neighboring kingdom where she befriends their prince, which was so lovely and wonderful and heartwarming). I also watched Violet Evergarden (a beautifully animated, scored and told tale about an emotionally detached female soldier who becomes a ghostwriter postwar and searches for the meaning of her commander's final words to her) and Black Clover (the story of two childhood rivals who train and compete and grow in their journey to become the Wizard King) and I cannot even tell you how much I adore both of these series.

I managed to squeeze in a couple of tv shows, which is a rarity for me since I don't watch a lot of live action (and find that it doesn't really hold my attention most times). What do all three shows have in common? All three were released in 2020 on Netflix and all three were adapted from books. I binged The Baby-Sitters Club (a lovely and modern adaptation of a childhood series I hold dear to my heart about a group of friends who form a baby-sitting club), Dash and Lily (a charming short series adaptation of this book about two teens exchanging dares and secrets during the week leading up to the holidays in NYC) and Bridgerton (the first season of this historical romance series adaptation that centers around a young debutante who agrees to fake date a duke for both their benefits that has a great aesthetic, lovely soundtrack and an excellent cast). 

Macky: My 2020 with the “small screen” has been monopolized by SciFi of various kinds. Altered Carbon's second season was such a welcome sequel, with the continued adventures of former freedom fighter and super mercenary Takeshi Kovacs, shining a harsh but needful light on his life, his loves and how he fits in a world where the rich live forever via multiple bodies they can beam their consciousness to and the poor are stuck with just the one “sleeve” if they’re even lucky enough to get to keep it. The current Star Trek trifecta of Picard (set after the events of Star Trek: The Next Generation), Star Trek: Discovery (set… well… everywhere except maybe the canon tv timeline) and the animated comedy Star Trek: Lower Decks has certainly ensured that I am now officially a Trekkie (as if the JJ Abrams movies weren’t enough to make me one!). My Star Wars side has been equally blessed with The Mandalorian's second season, arguably a better season than the last and chock full of new and old things to prove the theory that yes, you can introduce new things while keeping the old things so the older fans are very happy and you get a lot of new fans to boot. Finally, I’ll skip my second from the top best show of 2020 (it's Black Clover, and I'm nodding my head emphatically with Alexa on everything that she’s written about it), and jump straight to the final season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, especially the finale which was a perfect ending for a largely imperfect but fully loveable show. Not only did it have a great run with amazing actors bringing brilliant characters to life, but it was also a series finale that really brought a lot of closure to this franchise. Tears and joy and heartache and screaming… it was a ride and one of the brighter spots of 2020.

It was a surprisingly great year for music! We had a couple of exciting album releases, including Dua Lipa's 'Future Nostalgia' (fun bops that always get me grooving), Selena Gomez's 'Rare' (had this one on repeat for a couple of months because I'm a huge fan of her sound and this album was *chef's kiss*), Taylor Swift's 'folklore' (very cottage core sound that really grew on me) and 'evermore' (sister album to the former that was immediately my jam). I also had some favorite singles from this year, including James Bay's 'Chew on My Heart' (my #1 song according to Spotify), Macky's 'Take My Hand' (which is a great tune and totally sounds like an anime credits song), Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande's 'Rain on Me' (which is 100% a song I always dance around to when it comes on), Tomorrow x Together 'Everlasting Shine' (I cannot stop bopping to this anime opening. Can't stop, won't stop!), Ed Sheeran's 'Afterglow' (a recent release that gave me all the warm fuzzies).

Broadway had to go dark in 2020, but that hasn’t stopped some artists from using the internet to do what they do best. Hamilton hitting Disney Plus, the Stephen Sondheim 90th Birthday Tribute “Take Me to the World” on Broadway.com and the release of Jason Robert Brown’s online benefit concert for the SubCulture theatre (featuring Shoshana Bean and Ariana Grande) were three such highlights. Also, two songwriters I have admired for a while now - James Bay and Taylor Swift - dropped some music this year, as well as a few live-stream concerts. Lastly, I am extremely late to the Dua Lipa party but Future Nostalgia is an album that I can listen to from start to finish without skipping a song (something that hasn’t happened to me since Alanis Morrisette released Jagged Little Pill, and even then that took a decade or so for me to love absolutely every song without skipping). As someone who believes music can light up the darkest night of anyone’s life, music like this was certainly a balm to the soul given the year 2020 has been.

Part of this year's indoors activities included playing new games! I started out with Okami (a tale inspired by Japanese folklore and mythology to tell how the land was saved from darkness by Amaterasu, who is in the form of a white wolf), got very deep into Animal Crossing: New Horizons (players are invited by Tom Nook to make a home on a deserted island and just about everything is customizable), replayed Overcooked and Overcooked 2 (a multiplayer cooking simulation game) with my sister, got back into Magic the Gathering (it is a very serious game now in our group of friends) and started playing Crash Bandicoot 4 (a classic game that has some modern updates).

There’s a heavily memed scene from Robin Williams’ run in Jumanji where he’s unshaven and yelling “What year is it?” floating around the interwebs. That’s the summary of my year of gaming what with games like Persona, Resident Evil 2 and 3, Final Fantasy VII, and God of War being my primary focus. That, and my return to playing Magic the Gathering, created a few precious seconds of cognitive dissonance where I was suddenly in the late 90s to early 2000s, but with better graphics and I actually had the money to fund my hobbies. As a side note, I may not have finished the Persona 5 Royal Edition in 2020, but in its place, I finished the Spider-Man game (super gorgeous and fun, and gives you a chance to swing through all of the MCU’s New York city complete with Avengers Tower!). I did not finish Resident Evil 3 (I am effectively too old for survival horror, I think) but I conquered Resident Evil 2 and took both Claire and Leon through the perils a zombie/bio-weapon infested Raccoon City and off to safety. To my surprise, I also managed to complete Final Fantasy VII (lamenting the fact that the PS4 remake is literally just maybe 1/8 of the actual game), and as a magnificent palette cleanser, finally got to finish God of War. I will say this about God of War: the creators took out all the unnecessary indulgent violence and absurdia of the first few games and forged an amazing father-son story with whatever core awesomeness they kept of the earlier releases in the franchise. So few games have managed to spark such wonder in me that if 5 years ago you told me God of War would do so, I wouldn’t have believed you. But here we are now, and the sequel is the only reason I am getting a PS5.

What were your favorite films, tv shows, anime, music and games from 2020?


  1. STOP! Weathering With You was this year?! It feels like 10 years ago! Knives Out (if I had seen it in 2020) and Ps I Still Love You would definitely be on my list too! The Baby-Sitters Club and Dash & Lily were both such heartwarming watches<3 And I need to finish Violet Evergarden- it's likely going to be a 2021 favorite! And of course, you know my feelings on Bridgerton and Mando!! Also, so happy to see Okami and Animal Crossing on your list!


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