favourites of the year

Favourite films of 2020

It’s been a weird year for many reasons and the whole pandemic thing certainly has had an affect on films and when and how they’re released. While I still watched a lot of films throughout the year, there weren’t as many new 2020UK releases. That, along with how this year seems to have gone on forever and it’s hard for me to even remember some of the things I watched and liked months ago, made it a bit difficult to figure out what films I saw and loved this year. Thank goodness for Letterboxd is all I can say.

In no particular order, here are my ten favourite films of 2020.

Enola Holmes
This was an unexpected delight of a film. It’s fun with good performances and a compelling mystery. I really liked the score and how Mille Bobby Brown would break the fourth wall.

Just Mercy
One of the first (and only) films I saw in the cinema this year and I still think about it. Just Mercy is such an important true story and Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx are both incredible.

Misbehaviour
This is such a fun biopic. I love the cast, the humour, the story and how it shows the differences between women and what they’re fighting for in different ways.

The Old Guard
Considering we didn’t get many comic book adaptations this year, The Old Guard was my favourite and one of the best in my opinion. I loved the world and the characters and really hope there’s a sequel as there’s so many interesting elements to this story I’d love to see explored.

Dark Waters
I love an investigative true story about the small guy standing up to the big corporation and Dark Waters is just fantastic. It’s tense, compelling and such an unbelievable true story that kept me hooked.

Da 5 Bloods
The performances in Da 5 Bloods are all a standout and I really liked how the flashbacks had the same older actors in them. It’s a powerful film that tackles some difficult themes with some emotional moments.

Herself
I think this technically might be released in early 2021 but I saw it during the London Film Festival in October, and it affected me so much that I had to include it. It’s heartfelt and heart-breaking and powerful.

Miss Americana
Not that I watched many documentaries this year, but Miss Americana was definitely my favourite. It’s really interesting and while I’ve always liked a lot of Taylor Swift’s songs, Miss Americana made me see her in a whole new light.

The Personal History of David Copperfield
I always think that classics are a bit stuffy and boring, but this adaptation of The Personal History of David Copperfield was so much fun! I loved the costumes, the cast and how the story was told, it’s so quirky and really engaging.

Underwater
I’m a big wuss but I really liked how Underwater built the tension and creepiness. Plus, I thought Kristen Stewart was great in it.

What were some of your favourite films of the year?

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Favourite Books of 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. It’s that time of year again, 2020 – which often seemed to last forever – is coming to an end. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump over the past month or so but I have read almost 60 books this year and some of them were pretty great.

Spain: The Inside Story of La Roja’s Historic Treble by Graham Hunter
This may be my favourite books of the year. It was such a fun trip down memory lane, reliving all the highs of Spain’s Euros and World Cup, there were anecdotes and facts and while some things I knew or remembered from watching the matches, there was a lot I didn’t.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
I didn’t write a review for Clap When You Land but I did do an Instagram post on it because it really knocked me for six. This is the first book I’d ever read in verse and it was fantastic.

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott and Harmony Becker
This was a sad and frustrating graphic memoir but one that I think was really interesting and important.

Hawkeye: Kate Bishop Vol. 1: Anchor Points by Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, Michael Walsh and Jordie Bellaire
I read all three volumes of Hawkeye: Kate Bishop this year so this really counts as the whole series. It’s fun seeing Kate try and become a private investigator and all her new friends were nice additions.

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
I’m a wuss so I very rarely read or watch horror stories, but I ended up liking Dread Nation far more than I thought I would. It’s action-packed and how it twists history.

Love in No Man’s Land by Duo Ji Zhuo Ga
This is one of my Read the World Project reads of the year. I thought it was a very descriptive and beautiful story about people who are so different to myself.

The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard
This was a very quick read about a prank got wrong and murder and girls standing up for one another. I’m still reading the sequel, The Good Girls, and I’m looking forward to how it all turns out.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
This is a book I had for ages and I’m equal parts pleased I finally got around to reading it and annoyed it took me so long because I really did love it. I listened to the audiobook and it was fantastic, and I plan to read the rest of the series that way.

The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne
I think this was the saddest book I read this year and it really hit me in the emotions like a gut punch.

West Coast Avengers Vol. 1: Best Coast by Kelly Thompson, Stefano Caselli and Triona Farrell
I read both volumes of this in 2020 and it’s such a fun series with larger-than-life characters and great relationships between them all.

What are some of your favourite books you’ve read this year?

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Favourite Books I Read in 2019

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. And so another year comes to an end so it’s time to look back at the books I read this year and figure out what were my favourites. Without further ado, in no real particular order, here’s my favourite books of 2019 and I’ve linked back to my reviews (if I reviewed them that is!).

The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven
The Exact Opposite of Okay was one of the first books I read this year and it has stuck with me since then. I thought it handled the subject of revenge porn so well while still having a main character that was sarcastic and strong while still hurting. Think this (and its sequel which is also great) will be all-time favourites.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
I’m probably one of the last people to read this book but I definitely got why Children of Blood and Bone received so much hype. It was a gripping magical adventure and though I didn’t like the romance at all, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Safe as Houses by Simone van der Vlugt
This was a creepy thriller and one where it was so tense and that all hope seemed to be lost for so long that I wasn’t even sure if everything would turn out OK in the end.

The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Considering I found The Shadow of the Wind tough to get through (enjoyable but slow-going) I found The Angel’s Game to be so readable. I loved the mystery, the setting and how it linked to The Shadow of the Wind.

The Runaway Jury by John Grisham
I’d not read a John Grisham book before but this one was great. It was gripping and intriguing and I was never really sure how the central court case would end up.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
This is the kind of book that makes me want to read more science-fiction. The characters, the setting, the writing; it was all so good. I want to read the next books in this sort-of series but as I’m so bad at reading series we will see how soon that happens!

Internment by Samira Ahmed
This book was tough to get through at times because it unfortunately felt so close to our reality. It was a gripping book though with characters you couldn’t help but root for.

Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal: The Lives and Careers of Two Tennis Legends by Sebastián Fest
I went to the Laver Cup in Geneva and had such an amazing time watching tennis legends Federer and Nadal play. Before I went, I read this book and found it a fascinating insight into the two of them and their legacies.

Old Man Hawkeye Volumes 1 and 2 by Ethan Sacks, Marco Checchetto, Andres Mossa, Francesco Mobili and Ibraim Roberson
I didn’t read a lot of graphic novels or comics this year, but I did read all of the Old Man Hawkeye series. It’s a prequel to Old Man Logan (which I also really liked) and I thought it did a great job at connecting to story while adding new things. Plus, it focussed on Hawkeye, an older-version of Hawkeye but one that still is Clint Barton deep down.

What are some of your favourite books you read this year?

My Top Ten Films of 2019

As there’s just two more days of 2019 and I’m not going to be watching any new 2019 releases over those two days, here’s my ten favourite films of 2019. These are based on UK releases and I reviewed a lot of these films so will link to my review if I did so.

I have contributed to the HeyUGuys Online Critics Top Ten once again (though my top ten on there is slightly different as I’d forgotten a film that I loved) and do think it’s a cool and interesting thing to check out. I honestly found it more difficult than normal to even think of ten films that I really loved from this year but without further ado, here are my favourite films of 2019 in kinda of order.

10. Capernaum
This film was brutal but brilliant. The very young star was incredible and how the filmmaker got such a genuine performance out of a young child and a baby is astounding. Capernaum is a film I would highly recommend to anyone but it’s not one that I could watch again any time soon. It’s just so sad.

9. Crawl
This is like the perfect monster movie. It’s tense, atmospheric, with so many surprises. It’s a film where it knew exactly what it was – alligators going after a trapped father and daughter (and a dog) in a hurricane – and did it very well.

8. Hustlers
Hustlers is a funny and vibrant film with great performances and sharp storytelling. I love how it gives space for you to make your own judgements on these women that conned men out of hundreds of thousands of dollars but also made a family too.

7. What They Had
This is another film that I think is great with brilliant performances and a touching story but not one that I’d want to watch again anytime soon. What They Had hit close to home as it’s about a family dealing with a relative going through Alzheimer’s. That’s something I’ve been dealing with for over five years and I think the writer and director captured the highs and lows of it all perfectly.

6. Shazam!
Shazam! was an unexpected delight. It’s so much fun and sweet and young cast are great. It has one of my favourite tropes – found family – and it works so well and I cannot wait for a sequel.

5. Spider-Man: Far From Home
Spider-Man: Far From Home is a film I almost forgot came out this year even though it’s so great. I love all the twists and turns and illusions and those post-credit scenes are fascinating to me and I can’t wait to see what they mean.

4. Unicorn Store
I really need to rewatch Unicorn Store. Gosh I loved it so much when I watched it in the Spring because it resonated with me so much. Just that feeling of not knowing what you were doing our why and who you’re meant to be – it really struck a chord and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for ages.

3. Instant Family
Having rewatched this film yesterday I am very happy to give it such a high spot on my favourites of the year. It makes me laugh and cry and it gets me right in the feels.

2. Knock Down the House
This is such a fantastic documentary that’s equal parts frustrating and inspiring. To see women fight for what they believe in, a better country for normal people, and how some might not make it but there’s still ripple effects because of their actions – it makes you want to stand up for what you believe in.

1. Avengers: Endgame
Oh boy. What can I say about Endgame?! It was such a satisfying ending to a lot of these characters arcs, it was big and bold and I full on sob for the last 10 minutes or so every time I watch it (and I’ve seen it four times now).

What are some of your favourite films of 2019?

My Top Ten Films of 2018

A bit later than normal, because life, but here’s my favourite films of the past year. I contributed to both the HeyUGuys Online Critics Top Ten and Jumpcut’s Top 10 Films of 2018 this year as well so check out what took the top spot on both of those lists.

This Top Ten is based on UK releases in 2018. I reviewed most of these films so will link to my review if you fancy learning more about why I thought it was so good. I’ve put these films in a rough top ten but really the film that takes the number one spot is the one that is my all-out favourite and even though I’ve watched it five times in 2018, I still adore it.

10. Dumplin’
This film was so sweet, funny and lovely. It was released in early December on Netflix and I watched it twice in about ten days. Dumplin’ made me laugh and cry and I can see it becoming a go to comfort film for me.

9. Game Night
I definitely need to rewatch Game Night to see if I laugh as much as I did when I saw it in the cinema. I wasn’t expecting much from it, but I ended up having such a good time with it, and “Oh no he died!” is still my favourite line delivery in any film I saw last year.

8. The Hate U Give
I loved the book so was eagerly anticipating the film adaptation of The Hate U Give and it didn’t disappoint. Amandla Stenberg was fantastic, and I think the story was translated to the screen so well.

7. Widows
I love a heist film and Widows was brilliant. It’s a slow-build kind of film but all the characters are compelling and the performances in Widows should be getting more awards buzz than they are currently.

6. Crazy Rich Asians
Crazy Rich Asians was one of those surprising occasions where I liked the film way more than the book. It’s funny, big, bold and it also made me cry at the end.

5. Black Panther
Ever since I watched the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon I’ve loved T’Challa so I was super excited about his standalone film in the MCU. I loved the world of Wakanda, the characters and the story, I haven’t done an MCU ranking recently but I think Black Panther would be in my top 5.

4. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Well this was a non-stop thrill ride! Ghost Protocol is still my favourite Mission: Impossible film because that’s the team I like the most, but Fallout is definitely my second favourite and I really do think that Tom Cruise is super-human.

3. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
I grew up loving ABBA thanks to my mum and I think Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is just as good as the first film. I think how they combined a prequel and a sequel was great, I laughed, I tapped my feet, and I cried at the end.

2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
I really want to see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse again before it leaves the cinema because it deserves to be seen on the big screen. I loved the story, all the spider-people worked so well, I loved Miles, and the animation was stunning.

1. Avengers: Infinity War
I love Infinity War so so much. I think not only is it a great film, where I like all the characters and the different stores going on, but it’s an achievement really that ten years of build-up and stories works.

Those were my favourite films of 2018. What were your favourite films of last year? Do we have any in common.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Best Books I Read In 2018

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. This week it’s all about our favourite books of the past year. I read 72 books this year which was great, but it did make it a bit difficult to narrow down by favourites. I managed it though and, in no particular order, here are ten of the best books I read in 2018.

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
I found The Garden of Evening Mists to be a beautiful story about war, forgiveness and growth.

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
I don’t think I read as much YA in 2018 compared to previous years but what I YA I did read was generally pretty good. The Nowhere Girls was the best that I read. It was funny, inspiring and I loved all the main girls and what they set out to do.

The Power by Naomi Alderman
I finally read The Power and I found it compelling and fascinating. It’s hard to read at times but that made it even more affecting.

The Three Musketeers by Alexadre Dumas
I’m so happy I’ve now read this classic. It was a great adventure story with interesting characters and it was a lot of fun.

Kartography by Kamila Shamsie
Events in Kartography were affected by the civil unrest when Bangladesh became independent from Pakistan, a historical event I knew very little about. My Read the World Project has made me read books set in countries during notable events in their history and I’m really enjoying that experience.

Thirty Days by Annelies Verbeke
It took me a while to get settled into Thirty Days but when I did, I loved the main character and his desire to help others, even when it was detrimental to his own happiness and relationships

Tales of Suspense: Hawkeye & the Winter Soldier by Matthew Rosenburg, Travel Foreman and Rachelle Rosenburg
I didn’t read many comics or graphic novels this year but Tales of Suspense: Hawkeye & the Winter Soldier was a lot of fun and memorable. Clint Barton is one of my favourite characters ever and I love seeing how he bounces off more stoic characters like the Winter Solider.

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
The only book on this list that I didn’t review, but that’s mainly because I find it difficult to review thrillers that have a lot of twists and turns and surprises without giving everything away. Then She Was Gone was a book where I could figure out some of what happened, but never managed to get it all straight in my head before the big reveal – I think that’s the best kind of thriller.

Multitudes by Lucy Caldwell
This is one of the best short story collections I’ve ever read. It’s all about girls and women, and each character feels so real even though you only spend a dozen or so pages with them.

Lala by Jacek Dehnel
This story made me laugh and cry. It’s a sweeping family epic but it’s the little anecdotes and the ridiculous things that make a person, and their family, more real that stood out to me.

What were some of your favourite books you read in 2018?

My Top Ten Films of 2017

With a few days left of 2018 it’s time for another best-of-the-year list! If you haven’t already seen it, I contributed to the HeyUGuys Online Critics Top Ten again this year, so check out what made the top ten from loads of online film critics and bloggers.

This Top Ten is based on UK cinema release and I reviewed most the films in my top ten, so the links go to that original review if you want to know more of my feelings on these films.

I loved all these films and have put them in a rough top ten, though my top three are pretty solid.

Honourable mention: Free Fire
If you search for my list on the HeyUGuys Online Critics Top Ten you’ll see Free Fire made the top ten – that was until I saw another film at the end of December which bumped it off. Free Fire is a completely bonkers film and I can understand why it’s not for everyone. I really enjoyed it though, the action kicks off straight away and it never really lets up, the characters are hilarious and the whole thing is absurd.

10. Battle of the Sexes
I saw the documentary The Battle of the Sexes at Edinburgh Film Festival in 2013, that was the first time I really learnt anything about Billie Jean King and equal rights in men and women’s tennis. I was so happy that the dramatization of these true events was so well-acted and as gripping as the real thing.

9. Wind River
This was a beautiful yet harsh film. The mystery is intriguing and sad, and the cinematography is gorgeous. The performances in Wind River are all brilliant and I was brought to tears a couple of times by them.

8. Dunkirk
I don’t think I’ve ever been so tense watching a film in the cinema. No matter what people say, seeing Dunkirk in IMAX is an experience. It’s tense, scary, upsetting and stressful. It shows the best and worst in people and is a brilliant film.   (more…)

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten Favourite Books of 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature run by BrokeAndBookish each week. It’s coming up to that time of year where we reflect on what we’ve read and decide which books have been our favourites. Now there is a couple of weeks left of 2017 so something could sneak in here but here’s how it stands at the moment.

In no particular order, here are my ten favourite books of 2017 – links go to my review.

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
This book is a great feminist read. I sped though this book because I related to the characters so much and as I read I’d get this pain in my chest because it felt so real and was equal parts inspiring and frustrating.

Frangipani by Celestine Hitiura Vaite
This book surprised me by how much I loved it. It’s a family drama with a compelling mother/daughter relationship at its heart and it’s such a nice read. I know “nice” isn’t really seen as a positive word but that’s what it is, there’s no major drama or sudden plot twists, it’s just a comforting read.

Power Man and Iron Fist Vol. 1: The Boys are Back in Town by David Walker, Sanford Greene and Flaviano
This was such a fun comic! The art style is really cool and vibrant, and I loved the relationship between Danny and Luke. If you like the Marvel Netflix shows featuring these two, then I’d definitely recommend this comic. (more…)

My Top Ten Favourite Films of 2016

It’s the end of the year so that means it’s time for best-of lists! So if you haven’t spotted my top ten list on HeyUGuys Movie Bloggers Top Ten – a list you should check out because it’s interesting to see what a load of different bloggers love – here is my top ten and my thoughts on each film. Now please note, all of these were released in the UK in 2016 because as you’ll notice, a couple of these films came out last year in America. If the film title has a link, it goes to my review of it. These are kind of in order but really the only one that has a definite spot is my number one film of the year, nothing has beaten it.

10. 13th
13th is a powerful and important documentary about the American prison system and racism in America. It’s shocking and frustrating at times because it shows how racism is almost encouraged through laws, still it’s riveting film everyone should watch.

9. Midnight Special
Midnight Special really surprised me. It’s definitely one of those films that benefits from going into it knowing as little as possible. It’s a beautiful film full of love and hope and a special kind of magic.

8. Spotlight
Spotlight was so stressful but so good! Just seeing the time and effort this group of ordinary journalists to share the truth about something so horrible is inspiring (more…)

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten Books of 2016

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature run by BrokeAndBookish each week. As 2016 is coming to a close, this week’s theme is all about our favourite books of the year. I didn’t really get much reading done in the last few months of the year, I started a new job and couldn’t really get into any of the books I was picking up but I did read some good books in 2016. So below, in no particular order, are my ten favourite books I read this year – the links in the book titles go to their reviews where you can find out more about why I liked them so much.

The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Peet
This book was unlike anything I’d read before. It’s the perfect commentary on the fantasy genre and it’s a very funny read as well.

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
This was one of the first books I read this year and it stuck with me a long time after I finished it.

Asking for It by Louise O’Neill
This was such a tough read but it was still a really good and important book. It is often a frustrating book with a frustrating and unlikable protagonist but that makes it all the more interesting and memorable. (more…)