Happy quarantine anniversary!
A year ago at this time we were all locking ourselves down at home for a period of time we were unsure about. Since there were no sports on the horizon, most of us turned to other forms of entertainment.
Even though sports came back, they were often weird and not as fun as they normally are. I regularly forget who won the World Series even though I watched most of the games.
The other forms of entertainment stuck with me way more than the sports did, so I thought it would be fun to share my favorite movies, shows and video games from the year spent indoors.
Ex Machina (2015)
I watched this the night LSU canceled in-person classes for the rest of the Spring 2020 semester. It was my girlfriend and I’s last night in Baton Rouge as LSU students and we wanted a damn good movie to enjoy our time. This delivered.
I hate horror movies because there’s nothing about the feeling and being scared or shocked that I enjoy. But this movie is a kind of psychological, slow-burn, anxious thriller that I absolutely love. Honestly this trailer is a little too spoilery because I knew very little going in and was blown away. I’d highly recommend.
Knives Out (2019)
I mean it’s a whodunnit starring Daniel Craig doing an over-the-top Southern accent. Even without the absurdly talented supporting cast this is a must-watch. If nothing else, watch it in honor of the late Christopher Plummer. You can’t have a bad time with it.
Good Time (2017)
I, like everyone else, watched Uncut Gems when it came out during quarantine. It was fine, but it was the other Safdie Brothers movie that stuck with me.
Good Time is a tour de force of anxiety and Robert Pattison’s charm. His character (like Adam Sandler’s in Gems) is a pretty awful person who doubles down and does worse things as the film progresses. But Pattinson is talented enought o keep you invested throughout despite this. My God I cannot wait for his Batman.
If you follow movies at all, you’ve heard about Parasite. If you haven’t seen it, you abso-freakin’-lutly have to. My God is it unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It transcends pretty much every genre and makes you feel just about every emotion. I’m not attaching a trailer because the more blind you go in, the more transfixed you’ll be.
Obviously it got a lot of buzz for not being in English and a lot of people refused to watch something that required subtitles. I promise you, this movie is absolutely worth it.
Since there were basically no movies in 2020, I’ll just act like Parasite came out last year. Parasite is my favorite movie of 2020. If I kept it in 2019 it would have to go up against Avengers: Endgame and my heart can’t take that.
If you’re not immediately sold on this premise I don’t know what else you need. Bill Hader as a desensitized hitman who finds inner purpose in an acting class led by Henry Winkler? That’s it. If you’re not already booting up Season 1 as soon as you finish reading this story then what are you doing?
Harley Quinn (HBO Max)
A longtime fan of all Batman media, I have never connected with the character of Harley Quinn. “The Joker’s Girlfriend” is not only uninteresting to me, it makes Joker himself less interesting in my eyes. But this show takes that concept and flips it upside down by making Harley the star of a ragtag group of hilarious superheroes.
The show is raunchy and violent but doesn’t rely on cheap gags for laughs. The cast is also incredible and the way they spoof nearly every Batman villain and character is always funny. I can’t recommend this enough to superhero fans.
I loves movies and shows, but one genre I have never liked is British period dramas. I literally could not care less about rich people deciding which other rich people they will marry in order to preserve their high status.
But, I.. liked (?) Bridgerton! I’m still honestly not sure why! The episodes are super long and features just about all of the tropes you’d expect from the drama. And yet… shit I was entertained. To all the boys out there fighting back against your girlfriend telling you to watch it with her, lay down your sword. You’ll have a good time.
I know y’all have all watched this already, I just had to mention it.
Also yeah, I know I still need to watch Ted Lasso. I promise I’ll get to it soon.
Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
I didn’t have a PS4 at LSU, but my brothers back at my parents’ house did. I didn’t want to play this until I’d have it for an extended period of time to sink into this world. Naturally, quarantine was that time.
I don’t like open-world games, overly long stories and ESPECIALLY hate Rockstar’s jaggy control scheme, and yet I was sucked into this game for two weeks. The story is leagues ahead of any GTA and the setting is beautiful and real enough to make this my favorite Rockstar game by far.
Ring Fit Adventure (Switch)
It’s easy to understand how an exercise game was a massive success in a year where gyms were closed for months, but Ring Fit really has been a fantastic, at times even addictive way to stay in shape during quarantine. I’ve never been into fitness or exercise, but I’ve still been playing it consistently this year. It’s a perfect way to do a variety of exercises at your own pace in your home without the stress of working out in public or the fear that the workouts you’re doing aren’t effective.
It’s finally back in stock after it was nearly impossible to find for a few months. If you have a Switch and need a home workout, this is pretty perfect.
God Of War (PS4)
Even as someone not extremely attached to this franchise, this game is a must-play for PlayStation owners. One of the most seamless unions of story and gameplay I’ve ever experienced, this game is a monumental achievement. I’m honestly embarrassed it took two years and a worldwide pandemic for me to finally get around to playing it.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury (Switch)
I never got around to playing the original 3D World on Wii U and thank god because the four straight days I spent 100 percenting it on the Switch was a perfect pastime during a historic freeze. THEN Nintendo had the nerve to throw in a whole new bonus Mario game as well! There’s no reason for you to not own this if you own a Switch.
The Last Of Us Part II (PS4)
The crown jewel of media I experienced in 2020. I was beyond excited for this game. I counted down the days after counting down the months after counting down the years.
It still blew me away.
An absolute titanic force of emotion and violence, this game redefines what kind of stories are capable of being told through this medium. Movies can’t touch the level of perspective that’s achieved by playing as various characters in a game. Books can’t deliver the visual aesthetic that hundreds of incredibly talented artists brought to life to a degree we’ve rarely seen. TV shows can’t give you the quiet, exploratory autonomy you have to explore every nook and cranny of a desolated world.
The story of The Last Of Us Part II goes in a wildly different direction than I expected. I absolutely loved it. Very rarely does a piece of media I’m highly anticipating completely turn my expectations upside down in a way that is organic and faithful to the story and characters. I still can’t believe they pulled it off.
The zombie genre has never particularly interested me, but this game works because it’s simply used as a backdrop to tell human stories that we can relate to in a non-apocalyptic world. My friend Ryan did a great job breaking down how this is similar and different from other zombie stories in this video that you should check out after beating the game.
This game wasn’t just my favorite video game of the year, it was one of my favorite moments of 2020 period. Yeah it was a shitty year, but LSU won the National Championship, I graduated college (from home, that sucked) and landed an awesome job I’m super excited about. After those three things, this game was best part of 2020 for me.
If you have any of the PS3-5 you should give The Last Of Us a try. It’s tragic and violent story might not be for you, and that’s okay. The writing and performing is on a level so otherworldly for the medium, it makes what’s admittedly a pretty straightforward story one of the greatest ever in a video game.
The sequel does something entirely different. It tells a story so bold, jaw-dropping and audacious, it has no business being as good as it is. On top of all that, the acting is still flawless, the writing is gripping and the gameplay is as free and fun as anything you’ll ever play. It’s a masterclass in entertainment, and one of the most memorable things I experienced in the past year.