I have never kept track of these things, but I’m pretty sure I saw more individual movies in 2020 than in any other year. It certainly feels like it!
The closest I have ever come before was in 2008 when I kept track of my New Year’s Resolution that year to see twenty-six unique movies in theater (I wanted to average one every two weeks). I kept track of that! But I have no idea how many movies I watched at home that, or any other, year.
This year, I pretty easily cracked 100 movies, thanks to a combination of my previous podcast’s reviews, guest spots on other podcasts, watch parties, and general COVID-19 boredom. I entered December having seen 92, and I was worried I wouldn’t break triple digits by New Year’s. I needn’t have been at all; I end up with 110 different movies watched following a very ample December load.
So I figured: let’s take a look back, from the worst all the way through the best, and see how the year shaped up. Was in quantity over quality this year? Or did I keep the year paced with stellar viewing experiences?
(It was… it was the former. By a lot. You’ll see)
(Also! Check out my Letterboxd because I don’t just rate these flicks, but I review them, too! So you can get my full thoughts on each there.)
The 1/2 Star Movies
So, remember quarantine? And that whole pesky pandemic thing? Here’s the thing about that: a lot of people didn’t DO things anymore. My wife and I used to go out most weekends and have big goings-on. Not this year!
But it wasn’t just us! That is what led to my buddy Larry over Connecticut Cult Classics’ Facebook Page to start hosting a Saturday night watch party of D-list movies every weekend! No one was going anywhere, so why not watch some trashy flicks and have a bunch of folks go all Mystery Science Theater on it in the comments in real time?
Satanic Panic–a trash Shudder exclusive–is the only movie here NOT from those Watch Parties. Thanks, Larry (I guess). If I had to pick the WORST of the lot? Boy, that is a hard toss-up between Xtro, Terrorvision, and Blood Diner. If Letterboxd let me do 0 stars…
I think we’ll settle on Terrorvision. That was atrocious, but in that snide where where they were trying to make trash. I couldn’t even find the typical perverse enjoyment in watching it since it was striving SO HARD for that feeling.
The 1 Star Movies
Believe it or not, only TWO of these–Maniac Cop 2 and Prom Night 3–were from the cult classics watch parties! The rest were all either movies I chose to watch, had to watch for another podcast, or I was in the room while my wife watched.
And yeah, that is Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown in there. Come at me. That movie is terrible. I went through a QT spree in the summer, and I was genuinely excited to watch that one. But it is ridiculously self-indulgent and boring. I made it a solid two hours in before ultimately shutting it off.
The worst of this batch? Hm, probably take your pick of the Hell House movies. Prom Night 3 was definitely the best and maybe should have been 1.5 overall. Oh well.
The 1 & 1/2 Star Movies
Adventureland was THE biggest disappointment of the year for me, because by the time I got around to watching it, I had heard so many good things. But it’s such a pretentious early 20-year old’s world view, and it feels like the roadmap to where Nice Guys and their sense of entitlement comes from.
You’ll also notice the start of two things you’ll see a lot of across all the ratings here: First, my annual rewatch of all of the Halloween movies (but I’d never logged them before). And second, my rewatching of all of the Friday the 13th movies for a video series over at Pint O’ Comics.
Also, I DEFINITELY remember TimeCop being better when I was a kid. But I was young, dumb, and easily wow’ed I guess. Now I’m scared to ever rewatch Bloodsport.
By the way, that is the 80’s movie Trick Or Treat, not the 2000’s horror anthology Trick ‘R Treat, which I think is super and would rate much higher if I’d watched it this year.
Best? The Stuff. Worst? Honestly, Adventureland.
The 2 Star Movies
The Room is the biggest “Pick A Rating” movie in the world, because quality-wise it’s a 0.5, but entertainment value wise, it’s… at least somewhat more. I called it a 2 and moved on; I had actually never watched it in full before this year.
I don’t remember whatever the hell a The Midnight Man is AT ALL, but to be fair, I did watch it within the first two weeks of the shutdown, so it’s been a while. But at least I had the decency to remember Bloodshot and Antbellum. God bless Letterboxd for helping me remember all these middling flicks I watched.
There is a head-and-shoulders-above-the-rest best pick of this litter, and it was Riki-Oh, which was god damn glorious, and I’d watch again any day. That was part of the cult classics watch parties, and I’m eternally grateful for that. I still need to make my wife watch it. As for the bottom of this barrel? I guess we will go with whatever The Midnight Man was.
The 2 & 1/2 Star Movies
With the two-and-a-half’s, we reach what is, to me, the top of the cinematic bell curve. These are the exact middle between Good and Bad. If I were grading these movies, they are the pure C’s. They either are completely average throughout (Centigrade, Godzilla), or they have wild swings between their highs and lows (Without Warning, Reservoir Dogs, which again: come at me. I hated the opening 20 minutes of this, but then it got great).
Man, Street Fighter. What a flick. I haven’t seen that since I was a kid. It wasn’t AS cheesy and ludicrous as I’d been lead to recall, but man, the hammy moments are just so worth it. “GAME…. OVAH!”
[REC] is probably a bit low here and should be a solid 3.0, so we’ll say that it’s the peak of these. The Deeper You Dig is honestly the WORST of them all, but given how it was made, it’s hard to downgrade it any more than this.
I could be wrong, and I’ll see as I go, but I think this where the watch party movies stop, so that tells you all you need to know about them. Maniac Cop, Without Warning, and Evilspeak were all the best of what we got from there. Evilspeak… I did think that was great for what it was.
I should have put Riki-Oh with them, honestly.
The 3 Star Movies
Hey, it’s GOOD movies! Finally, we’ve arrived! This is where I think the movies were enjoyable, even if they had a major flaw or two that pestered me a bit (Look, Alien is a GREAT ATMOSPHERE MOVIE–I’m not knocking it–but why does the setting look so cheap? I’ve seen low budget movies that have a better set).
And of these, only a handful were flicks I’d seen before 2020 (The Halloween and F13th entries, as well as Be Kind Rewind and You’re Next).
Boy, picking a top and bottom here is starting to get hard. Well… the top is. The bottom is pretty easily New Mutants, which was FINE, but spectacularly unmemorable. I’m sure I’d downgrade it on a rewatch.
What did I ultimately like the most? Toss-up between Alien and Mars Attacks!.
The 3 & 1/2 Star Movies
(Not pictured: Escape Room (2019), which I watched at 7pm New Year’s Eve after I screen capped my movies)
So Letterboxed gives you a place next to movies you review where you can click a star if you “Liked” the film. And I tend to start doing that in the 3 1/2 range. Not ALL 3 1/2 movies get that arbitrary Like click, but nothing under it does, and everything ahead of them will. Look, it’s my nonsense system, and I’ll do what I want.
YES, I gave every single Bill & Ted movie the exact same star rating. My rationale was this: the first one is the most original and heartfelt, the second is the weirdest and funniest, and the third one is the best combination of the two extremes.
There are a lot of new 2020 movies that hit this range for me, with Wonder Woman 1984 (I know you hated it; it’s fine), Freaky, The Hunt, Bill & Ted 3, and the Borat sequel all falling here.
I’ll go ahead and admit Bill & Ted 3 is the least of these and probably doesn’t ACTUALLY deserve the same grade as its predecessors. But I did enjoy it. It’s, again, quite hard to pick a favorite here, but it feels like it has to come down to Predator, Dream Warriors, or From Dusk Til Dawn.
And on that note: Pulp Fiction would be much higher if they had cut 75% of the Bruce Willis stuff. Take out everything starting with Christopher Walken meandering on about a watch in his butt until right before Bruce sees Marcellus Wallace in the crosswalk. Then you have a solid 4.5 star movie. But that half hour or so in between was DEATH. Bruce Willis talking to women with weird accents OH MY GOD, WHO CARES?
Between PF and RD, I was becoming convinced that Tarantino could only make spectacular movies with really bad sequences that pulled them down (oh, and Jackie Brown). But it would get better…
The 4 Star Movies
The movies that just… weren’t… QUITE… great. Obviously, these were all very good and of a high quality, but it will be a while before I watch them again so I can build up more appreciation for them.
The ONLY thing from the segment I had seen before this year was Anchorman, believe it or not. Although I guess everything else except The Mummy was from the 2010’s, so that’s not so bad.
I was pleasantly surprised by the, essentially, non-dip in quality from Creed to Creed 2. Are they making any more of these? I’d like to see if they can keep it up.
Or, hell, maybe they will pull a John Wick 3, and part 3 will be SUPERIOR to its immediate forefather!
Hard to call any of these the “worst” in their division, but Scare Me had two “meh” acts (Act 1 and Act 3) sandwiching a solid gold Act 2. John Wick 3 and Train to Busan can share the crown of the King Of The 4 Stars.
The 4 & 1/2 Star Movies
And here we get to the movies I don’t just like… I LOVE. I will watch any of these over and over and not feel bad about myself.
Parasite is honestly probably a 5 Star flick, BUT… I have only watched it once, and I refuse to give a movie 5 stars on one viewing. I’ll find the time to watch it again this year to confirm its deserved bump.
The Tarantino movies finally peaked for me with the legitimately amazing Inglourious Basterds. It was the last of the QT movies I watched this year, but it was worth it. I’ll be eventually catching Django Unchained in 2021 for a guest spot on another podcast that is already lined up. Hopefully that is of the same quality.
YES, I have TWO SEPARATE Jason movies as legit 4.5’s. I have terrible taste; whatever, I know. You’ll be okay. But I unabashedly adore parts 2 and 6.
I had SOMEHOW never seen The Exorcist before this year. And I was prepared to be let down by it, but nope… there’s a movie that earns its rep. More on that in a minute…
The 5 Star Movies
One [Cut of the Dead] of these things is not like the others, but you know what? That movie brings me glee. I watched in January for the first time, then again in August when I had out of state friends visiting. On the second watch, I was so damn excited not just to be watching it again, but also to be watching it with other people who hadn’t seen it before. So it earned its 5 Star bump.
Same for Jojo Rabbit, which I saw in theaters and then again at home with my wife.
Can you believe I NEVER watched Groundhog Day before? What the hell, right? Well I rectified that this year, and it was WELL worth the wait. For as much as Alien and Reservoir Dogs were classics that let me down just a tiny bit, Groundhog Day and The Exorcist lived all the way up to their hype.
I also rewatched the the Groundhog Day slasher make-over Happy Death Day, and while I’m sure no one else on earth would call that a 5 Star movie, it works on every level for me. It’s in the Cabin In The Woods tier of horror/comedy for me.
And I friggin’ LOVE Horror-Comedy.
All right, if you haven’t already, I’m sure you have thoughts to share, so let me have them. What are your favorites here? Your least favorites? What have I overrated? And underrated?
While you are at it, do you have any idea how many movies you watched at least once this year? What were the best and worst of what you saw?
I wonder if I can keep up this pace for 2021. I sure would like to, but… we’ll see how it shakes out. It’s already noon on New Year’s Day, so I have no more time to waste!
Until next time… take care!