Movie Recommendations and Reasons to Be Cheerful
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More Movies and TV Shows
2020 was bad on nearly all counts, but one of the silver linings was the opportunity to watch more movies than ever before.
I made two lists this year, one for new movies released in 2020, and one for movies that weren't made in 2020. I've excerpted the top 5 from each list here, but click here to see the full list of 30 movie recommendations.
Note that each of the titles is linked to the Rotten Tomatoes pages, in case you want to confirm that I'm not the only one who liked the movie.
Favorite Non-2020 Movies I Saw In 2020
- Yi Yi [Taiwanese Drama]: As another critic once said, saying ‘Yi Yi’ is a three-hour Taiwanese family drama is like calling ‘Citizen Kane’ a film about a newspaper. The single best movie I watched this year, possibly the best movie I've seen in years. Life-affirming, devastating, small and huge simultaneously. The little boy is the key to the movie. Definitely not for everyone, but if you've ever heard of this movie and debated watching it because its run time is 3 hours - go watch it. It is worth the time investment.
- Minding the Gap [Documentary]: A disaffected skater kid makes a documentary about his friends and ends up delivering piercing insight into the core of America. Truly exceptional. Couldn't stop thinking about it for days.
- A Separation [Iranian Drama]: A movie about divorce in Iran that ends up being about class, duty, responsibility, and so much more. A true masterpiece.
- The Bicycle Thief [Italian Drama]: 1940s movie about a man looking for his bike in post-war Italy. Absolutely crushed me. I see why every significant director has listed this as one of their favorite films.
- The Secret in Their Eyes [Argentinian Thriller]: The most fun movie I saw all year. Sprawling blend of mystery, legal thriller, and political thriller set in Argentina. It might be helpful to have a working knowledge of Argentinian politics before you watch, but it's not necessary.
Favorite 2020 Movies
- Mangrove [Drama]: This courtroom drama about 1971 police brutality in the UK is so specific, so engrossing, and so perfect for this moment. Warning: you may accidentally pick up a West Indian accent for a few days after watching.
- Collective [Documentary]: A jaw-dropping investigation into the healthcare system and corruption more generally of Romania. Will not inspire any love for your fellow man. Will inspire fear at what man is capable of.
- Boys State [Documentary]: Watching boys play at politics and learn the realities of the world is way more fun (and way more depressing) than anyone would have expected.
- Hamilton [Musical]: I never saw the play and expected this to be overhyped. It was not.
- The Trial of the Chicago 7 [Drama]: Sorkin remains the best screenwriter alive. Hilarious, perceptive, and beautiful script buttressed by a few great performances.
More Reasons to Be Cheerful
This optimistic website is entirely dedicated to good news and just released a number of highlights from 2020. Below are a few of my favorites, but you can check out the entire list of 112 reasons to be cheerful here.
- Rockford, Illinois began tracking the personal situations of each of its homeless residents. Now the city is on track to reduce homelessness to functional zero this year.
- Police in Durham, England are helping arrestees get access to social services instead of prosecuting them. Of the 2,600 people they’ve helped, only 6% have re-offended.
- France converted a high-speed train into a 200-mile-per-hour hospital to race coronavirus patients to less-overwhelmed regions of the country.
- Two-thirds of the world’s people now live in countries where renewable energy is less expensive than coal.
- A jazz club in Paris has re-opened for performances –– for one patron at a time. In just a few weeks, Le Gare hosted over 3,000 concerts for one.
- “Talk pedometers” for babies are increasing vocabulary exposure from 8,000 words per day to over 12,000.
- When Switzerland started prescribing heroin to addicts in combination with methadone and therapy, their daily heroin use dropped from 81 percent to six percent.
More Optimistic about Alternative Energies
BP, the largest non-government oil producer in the world, has written the obituary for the global petroleum industry.
In their capital markets forum, they shared their outlook that the world demand for oil has peaked forever at 100 million barrels a day, and will soon go into precipitous decline.
They believe by 2050 global demand will fall to 25 million barrels a day, mostly for use in plastics. They also suggested that half the world's proven reserves (1.7 trillion barrels) will never be needed.
When the company with the most to lose admits their future is so dire, we ought to celebrate. First, this means they must transition their own business into more green forms of energy. Second, this is confirmation of the fact that the world is effectively changing its approach to energy. Renewable energy is getting cheap enough to displace oil, and we might have a fighting chance as a civilisation to bend the curve on climate change.
"The invention of the ship was also the invention of the shipwreck." — Paul Virilio
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