"Saala ek machchar aadmi ko hijda bana deta hai". It was a year when the Nana Patekar line from Yeshwant (1997) was made true by something thousands of times smaller than a mosquito. The nuns in The Sound of Music (1965) sing a song which asks, "How do you solve a problem like Maria?" about someone who is confusing and confounding. We all felt that way about this ironically numbered year 2020, that nobody had the foresight to see, but all the astrologers will have crystal clear hindsight about next year.
The whole world's population was confined to their homes, leaving megapolises looking like a post-apocalyptic, dystopian wasteland, where a neutron bomb had gone off taking away all the people, but leaving physical structures intact. As we bring this year to a close though, and none too soon, hope springs eternal and there are signs that the world is on the mend. A narcissist autocrat who sought to take the country down with him in a scorched earth policy of undermining the basic tenets of democracy failed miserably, and will forever be dubbed the moniker that makes his thin skin crawl, "The Greatest Loser". A vaccine that seemed years away was created in months, not by banging thaalis creating mythical, magically medicinal sound waves, but by science harnessing mRNA. Those of us lucky and privileged enough to earn our livelihood working remotely from home, also had the good fortune to enjoy in the comfort of those homes, the arts and entertainment all-you-can-eat buffet that streaming technology provided.
In that streaming landscape, our viewing habits have profoundly changed. We no longer think in terms of language or format like we used to do for theatrical viewing or television. For that we had to make up our mind as to exactly what we were going to watch - a Hindi movie, an English movie or some other language fare, a network show, a cable show. Now we just fire up the personally tailored and curated menu, scroll for a few minutes, and off we go. The same people who would whine about a movie longer than 2 hours now blissfully binge-watch 10 hour-long episodes of a series in a single sitting.
Thus, my list is not broken down by any of those constraints, nor is it rank-ordered. It's just good, smart entertainment versus mind-numbing drivel. It's all subjective of course because one man's patriot is another man's terrorist. I have obviously not seen all there is to see so this list comprises only what I saw while keeping my day job. I would be glad to hear from you in the Comments section any suggestions on what I should have watched and may have missed, or any other howlers I should have missed. Those that I have reviewed previously on this site are hyperlinked.
Best of 2020
Panchayat (Amazon Prime)
The Test: A New Era for Australia's Team (Amazon Prime)
Paatal Lok (Amazon Prime)
Uncut Gems (Netflix) (released theatrically in 2019)
Gulabo Sitabo (Amazon Prime)
Knives Out (Amazon Prime) (released theatrically in 2019)
Raat Akeli Hai (Netflix)
Bandish Bandits (Amazon Prime)
Special Ops (Hotstar)
Scam 1992 : The Harshad Mehta Story (Sony Liv)
Serious Men (Netflix)
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)
The Crown (Netflix)
AK vs AK (Netflix)
Worst of 2020
Love Aaj Kal (Netflix)
Baaghi 3 (Hotstar)
Sadak 2 (Hotstar)
Coolie No. 1 (Amazon Prime)
December 30, 2020