Media Inventory: What I Watched and Read in 2020


For a long time I’ve aimed to watch approximately one movie a day, averaging around 350 a year. In a typical year as a movie critic, about 200 of those were new releases, films that came out that year. The rest would be about an even mix of first-time watches and movies I’d seen before that had come out before the current year.

This year things were different, obviously. It was my first year in non-movie-related employment, meaning I no longer had any obligation to see movies in theaters if I didn’t feel like it. And then the movie theaters closed and movies stopped being released anyway, on account of the pandemic.

I ended up watching a typical number of movies this year: 380. But instead of the usual 200 or so being new releases, only 56 were — and 38 of those were before the shutdown (including 24 at Sundance in January).

And instead of 60-80 rewatches, this year I had 196! I watched a lot of old favorites in the early weeks of the quarantine — comfort viewing, I guess, if “Se7en” can be said to provide “comfort.”

The most rewarding gain was in movies that I saw for the first time. Instead of 50-70, this year I had 114 new-to-me experiences. The Criterion Channel and, somewhat surprisingly, HBOMax were both very helpful here.

I was even able to watch movies remotely with a few friends through a website called TwoSeven. You and the other person can see and hear each other through your webcams (especially important when you’re watching something that will be making you laugh), and the app syncs the movie up for you. The downside is that you have to watch the movie in a browser, you have to use headphones, and there’s almost always some TwoSeven wonkiness at first with getting connected. Once I got the hang of it, though, it became a valuable way to simulwatch movies (that’s what we’re calling it) with friends I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

Of the 380 movies I watched in 2020…

56 were 2020 releases:

Anything for Jackson B+
Babyteeth B+
Bad Boys for Life B-
Bill and Ted Face the Music B-
Birds of Prey B-
Black Bear B
Borat: Subsequent Movie Film B
Boys State B
Brahms: The Boy II C+
Cuties B
Da 5 Bloods B+
Devil All the Time, The C+
Dolittle D
Downhill B-
Emma. B
Eurovision Song Contest B
Fantasy Island C
Gentlemen, The B
Glorias, The B-
Gretel and Hansel C+
Grudge, The C+
Hamilton B+
His House B
Hunt, The B- (the last movie I saw in a theater!)
I’m Thinking of Ending Things A-
Invisible Man, The B+
Kajillionaire C
Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist B-
Lovers Rock B
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom B+
Mank C+
Minari A-
Miss Americana B
Never Rarely Sometimes Always B+
Onward B
Palm Springs B+
Possessor B
Possum C+
Psychokinesis B-
Relic B-
Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street C+
She Dies Tomorrow B-
Sonic the Hedgehog B-
Soul B+
Sound of Metal A-
Spree B-
Tenet C+
Tesla B
Time A-
Uncle Frank B-
Underwater B-
Vast of Night, The B+
Wendy D+
WW84 C+

8 were films I saw at festivals that will be released in 2021 (or possibly never):

Come True
Dream Horse
Father, The
My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell it To
Nine Days

196 were pre-2020 movies that I rewatched:

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
21 Jump Street (2012)
22 Jump Street (2014)
500 Days of Summer (2009)
8mm (1999)
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
Adaptation (2002)
Adjustment Bureau, The (2011)
Age of Innocence, The (1993)
American Psycho (2000)
Anastasia (1997)
Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)
Baby Driver (2017)
Batman Begins (2005)
Batman Forever (1995)
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)
Being John Malkovich (1999)
Bellflower (2011)
Best in Show (2000)
Big Hero 6 (2014)
Black Dynamite (2009)
Boogie Nights (1997)
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
Burn After Reading (2008)
Cape Fear (1991)
Cell, The (2000)
Chinatown (1974)
Clockwork Orange, A (1971)
Cloud Atlas (2012)
Clueless (1995)
Contagion (2011)
Dark Knight, The (2008)
Dave (1993)
Dazed & Confused (1993)
Death of Stalin, The (2018)
Departed, The (2006)
Descent, The (2006)
Dick (1999)
Dick Tracy (1990)
Django Unchained (2012)
Doors, The (1991)
Dr. Strangelove (1960)
Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Drive (2011)
Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Election (1999)
Emperor’s New Groove, The (2000)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Ex Machina (2014)
Fall, The (2008)
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Fargo (1996)
Few Good Men, A (1992)
Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
Frequency (2000)
Game, The (1997)
Ghost World (2001)
Godfather Part II, The (1974)
Godfather Part III, The (1990)
Godfather, The (1972)
Goodfellas (1990)
Hairspray (2007)
Hamlet 2 (2008)
Hannibal (2001)
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
Heathers (1989)
Hello, Dolly! (1969)
Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party (2015)
Hercules (1997)
Hereditary (2018)
History of Violence, A (2005)
Holy Motors (2012)
Hot Rod (2007)
In the Loop (2009)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Inherent Vice (2014)
It Happened One Night (1934)
Jaws (1975)
Jennifer’s Body (2009)
Jerk, The (1979)
Josie and the Pussycats (2001)
Jumanji (1995)
Jurassic Park (1993)
Kill List (2012)
Killing Them Softly (2012)
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Knives Out (2019)
Ladykillers, The (2004)
Life of Brian (1979)
Lilo & Stitch (2002)
Limey, The (1999)
Little Hours, The (2017)
Little Women (2019)
Long Goodbye, The (1973)
Looper (2012)
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
MacGruber (2010)
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Maltese Falcon, The (1941)
Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The (1977)
Mascots (2016)
MASH (1970)
Matrix Reloaded, The (2003)
Matrix, The (1999)
Mean Girls (2004)
Michael Clayton (2007)
Mighty Wind, A (2003)
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Munich (2005)
Muppets, The (2011)
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie — Extended Edition (1996)
Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear, The (1991)
Naked Gun 33 1/3 (1994)
Naked Gun, The (1988)
New Nightmare (1994)
Newsies (1992)
Nice Guys, The (2016)
Nightcrawler (2014)
Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, A (1985)
Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, A (1987)
Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, A (1988)
Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, A (1989)
Nightmare on Elm Street, A (1984)
Nightmare on Elm Street, A (2010)
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)
Other Guys, The (2010)
Others, The (2001)
Panic Room (2002)
Perks of Being a Wallflower, The (2012)
Pineapple Express (2008)
Poltergeist (1982)
Popeye (1980)
Prestige, The (2006)
Promotion, The (2008)
Raging Bull (1980)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Rango (2011)
Ratatouille (2007)
Red Dragon (2002)
Road to Perdition (2002)
Rocketeer, The (1991)
Rocky II (1979)
Rocky III (1982)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Se7en (1995)
Shining, The (1980)
Signs (2002)
Silence of the Lambs, The (1991)
Simpsons Movie, The (2007)
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Smiley Face (2007)
Snowpiercer (2013)
Social Network, The (2010)
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Spaceballs (1987)
Splash (1984)
Starship Troopers (1997)
State & Main (2000)
Step Brothers (2008)
Swiss Family Robinson, The (1960)
Synecdoche, New York (2008)
Talented Mr. Ripley, The (1999)
Team America: World Police (2004)
That Thing You Do! (1996)
They Came Together (2014)
Thing, The (1982)
This Is the End (2013)
Three Amigos (1986)
Tommy Boy (1995)
Tony Takitani (2005)
Top Secret! (1984)
True Grit (2010)
Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The (1964)
Uncut Gems (2019)
Under the Skin (2014)
Up (2009)
Us (2019)
V for Vendetta (2006)
Wake Up, Ron Burgundy (2004)
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
Witch, The (2016)
Withnail and I (1987)
Wizard of Oz, The (1939)
Wolf of Wall Street, The (2013)
Wonder Woman (2017)
World’s End, The (2013)
Zodiac (2007)

…and 114 were pre-2020 movies that I watched for the first time:

5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, The (1953)
Abyss, The (1989)
Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The (1988)
After Hours (1985)
Alchemist Cookbook, The (2016)
Anchors Aweigh (1945)
Anderson Tapes, The (1971)
Anguish (1987)
At War with the Army (1950)
Beau Travail (2000)
Beyond, The (1981)
Bigamist, The (1953)
Black Narcissus (1947)
Black Orpheus (1959)
Blackboard Jungle (1955)
Blithe Spirit (1945)
Blob, The (1958)
Breaking Point, The (1951)
Brute Force (1947)
Buck Privates (1941)
Bugsy Malone (1976)
BUtterfield-8 (1960)
Candyman (1992)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Cat People (1982)
Color of Money, The (1986)
Coma (1978)
Daytrippers, The (1996)
Dead Reckoning (1947)
Die Hard 2 (1990)
Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995)
Don’t Look Back (1967)
Dybbuk, The (1960)
Experiment in Terror (1962)
Fade to Black (1980)
Fail Safe (1964)
Fantastic Planet (1973)
Footlight Parade (1933)
Frighteners, The (1996)
From Beyond (1986)
Front Page, The (1931)
Giant (1956)
Girl Crazy (1943)
Girl on the Third Floor, The (2019)
Gun Crazy (1950)
Hardcore (1979)
History Is Made at Night (1937)
Hollywood Shuffle (1987)
Hunger, The (1983)
I Married a Witch (1942)
It’s Alive (1974)
Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
Jawbreaker (1999)
Joe (1970)
Johnny O’Clock (1947)
Keeper of the Flame (1943)
League of Gentlemen, The (1960)
Lifeforce (1985)
Lonely Guy, The (1984)
Longest Yard, The (1974)
Man Who Knew Too Much, The (1934)
Man with the Gun (1955)
Manhunter (1986)
Marnie (1964)
Masque of the Red Death, The (1964)
Merrily We Go to Hell (1932)
Mikey and Nicky (1976)
Money Pit, The (1986)
Monty Python: The Meaning of Live (2014)
My Left Foot (1989)
My Little Chickadee (1940)
Nutty Professor, The (1963)
Obsession (aka The Hidden Room) (1949)
Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
Orlando (1993)
Parallax View, The (1974)
Phantom Lady (1944)
Phase IV (1974)
Play Time (1967)
Player, The (1992)
Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)
Prince of Egypt, The (1998)
Pump up the Volume (1990)
Purple Noon (1960)
Pygmalion (1938)
Real Life (1979)
Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979)
Right Stuff, The (1983)
Road House (1989)
Rustlers’ Rhapsody (1985)
Saboteur (1942)
Season of the Witch (aka Hungry Wives) (1973)
Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The (1947)
Shampoo (1975)
Silent Partner, The (1978)
Six by Sondheim (2013)
Spider Baby (1968)
Stop Making Sense (1984)
Three Colors: White (1994)
Three Men and a Baby (1987)
Three on a Match (1932)
Topaz (1969)
Torn Curtain (1966)
Town Called Panic, A (2010)
Trilogy of Terror (1975)
Trog (1970)
Trouble in Paradise (1932)
Two Jakes, The (1990)
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970)
Vampyr (1932)
Walking Hills, The (1949)
Welcome II the Terrordome (1995)
Young Girls of Rochefort, The (1967)
Zelig (1983)


I don’t care about TV anymore. There’s too much of it. In 2020 I kept watching the shows I’d been watching. I also watched a few new shows — “Space Force,” “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” “Devs,” “The Haunting of Bly Manor” — and didn’t particularly care for any of them. Good day.


I happened to read two books in a row (re-read, actually, in both cases) that had “Winner of the Pulitzer Prize” medallions on the cover (“The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay” and “A Confederacy of Dunces”). I wondered how many other Pulitzer winners I’d read in the course of my travels. I consulted the list on Wikipedia and found I’d read a total of 10 — and liked every single one of them. That’s a pretty good success rate.

So I made the Pulitzer winners my new reading list! I’ve been buying cheap used copies of them to add to my shelves. There are 93 winners (minus 10), so I don’t expect to finish anytime soon, and possibly never. (Having read one of John Updike’s “Rabbit” novels on my own, I don’t relish having to read another one.) My selections thus far have been based on what was immediately available and, of those, what was shortest. And I’ve liked them all.


The Comedians, by Kliph Nesteroff. A history of stand-up comedy! Highly entertaining and informative (and funny).

The Weird Accordion to Al, by Nathan Rabin. A song-by-song analysis of Weird Al Yankovic. I was expecting more background info, trivia, tidbits about the songs, but it’s mostly just Rabin’s opinions about them. Which is fine, he’s a good writer.

Finishing the Hat, by Stephen Sondheim. The great songwriter’s lyrics are compiled with commentary from the man himself. (I think this is what I was hoping the Weird Al book would be.) He’s brilliant, and also a bitchy old man.

Saints Vol. 1
Saints Vol. 2
The Mormon Experience, by Leonard J. Arrington & Davis Bitton. I really enjoyed the first two volumes of history published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They’re written in a lively voice, very readable. Since I was bingeing, I then read this history I picked up at a used bookstore, published in 1979. Not as interesting, but it was written 41 years ago for a non-LDS audience, so whaddaya gonna do?

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris. More funny stories and whatnot.


I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, by Alan Bradley. This is from his series of novels about a plucky girl from the English countryside in the ’50s who solves murders. I love them.

Main Street, by Sinclair Lewis. I’ve been a fan of Lewis since high school and enjoyed this one once I got into it (which took some doing). I was fascinated by the depiction of small-town life a century ago, especially small-town life for a bored housewife.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things, by Iain Reid. Loved the movie, read the book, also loved the book.


The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon. A re-read. One of my favorites.

A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole. Another re-read. Much of the humor in this very funny novel comes from the voice I have in my head for the protagonist, Ignatius Q. Reilly. It’s a bit like Foghorn Leghorn, though this time around it had evolved into Daniel Craig from “Knives Out.”

Ironweed, by William Kennedy.

The Fixer, by Bernard Malamud.

The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton. I saw this movie years ago and was bored with it. Expecting the novel to have the same effect, I was intrigued when something droll on the first page made me smile. I ended up enjoying the book quite a bit, then went back and watched the movie again and liked it better, too.

The Reivers, by William Faulkner. I have a spotty history with Faulkner. I suspect his Pulitzer Prize here was more of a lifetime achievement than for this specific work, which is slight and comic (and easy enough to follow, unlike certain other Faulkner books). It’s fine.

The Optimist’s Daughter, by Eudora Welty. Lots of Southern novels have won the Pulitzer, apparently.

The Known World, by Edward P. Jones. Set in slave times, primarily about a group of slaves owned by a black man.

A Death in the Family, by James Agee. His ability to describe the feelings and get inside the head of every member of the family is an impressive display of imagination and empathy.

The Pulitzer winners I had already read are the two mentioned and:

“The Bridge of San Luis Rey,” Thornton Wilder
“The Old Man and the Sea,” Ernest Hemingway
“To Kill a Mockingbird,” Harper Lee
“Middlesex,” Jeffrey Eugenides
“The Road,” Cormac McCarthy
“The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” Junot Diaz
“All the Light We Cannot See,” Anthony Doerr
“Less,” Andrew Sean Greer