These Top 2020 Movies and TV Shows Got Us Through This Wild Year
In a year like no other, 2020 became a time for staying home, getting comfy, and watching every single movie and TV show the entertainment industry had to offer. While many of us stayed in to avoid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we found ourselves watching dramas, comedies, documentaries, and, of course, a little show on Netflix called Tiger King.
Google put together a list of the top movies and TV shows of 2020, based on what people were watching and what they were searching, and one thing is very clear—streaming services reigned supreme. Ahead, see the top 10 movies of 2020 and the top 10 TV shows of 2020, according to Google searches. If you haven’t yet checked them all off your own viewing list, we have a suggestion for how you should spend your next free weekend.
The Academy Award winner for Best Picture was a bit of a sleeper hit that picked up more steam as it won more awards. Korean film Parasite is one of those comedic thrillers that can make you laugh, even in the darkest of times. It features a family that infiltrates the home of the elite, only to end with a wild twist that will leave you wanting more.
Inspired by real stories of World War I, 1917 follows two British soldiers during the war. The film is directed by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes, who used the stories from his own grandfather—a runner in the war—to write the harrowing script. Mendes produced the project as well, and it took home three Oscars and two Golden Globes this year.
Movie: ‘Black Panther’
Though Black Panther originally premiered in 2018, it saw a boost in search and views in 2020 after the tragic passing of its star Chadwick Boseman. The Marvel film has been widely lauded for featuring admirable Black characters, most especially superhero Black Panther himself. Boseman even had a hand in crafting the story behind the film, which director Ryan Coogler shared after Boseman’s death.
Movie: ‘Birds of Prey’
The first DC movie to come out in 2020, Birds of Prey, gave the quirky-yet-strong character of Harley Quinn a story all her own. Margot Robbie reprises her role as Harley in this film that checks in with her after her disastrous breakup with the Joker. But she forms a badass girl group that doesn’t need any men to get shit done—and that’s exactly what they do.
Movie: ‘Little Women’
The latest take on the beloved story of Little Women may have been released at the tail end of 2019, but it’s gotten a lot of love in 2020. It has an all-star cast and crew—Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Timothee Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Greta Gerwig, to name just a few—that was able to convince just about anyone to give the classic story about the March sisters a chance.
Movie: ‘Just Mercy’
Based on the non-fiction book of the same name, Just Mercy stars Michael B. Jordan as the lawyer trying to help Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx) get his murder conviction appealed. It’s a heart-wrenching story that delves in to the failures of the justice system that will undoubtedly leave a mark on any viewer.
Movie: ‘Bad Boys for Life’
If there was one thing 2020 needed, it was another installment of the Bad Boys trilogy—and that’s exactly what we got. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence reprised their roles in the film, which comes almost two decades after Bad Boys II. The two detective lieutenants are funny as ever in this action film and keep up *pretty* well, despite being a little older than they were last time around.
Movie: ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’
Much of the hubbub around this film had to do with the early trailer depicting a Sonic character that viewers were not happy with. After a redesign—and delayed release—Sonic the Hedgehog made its debut, many years after being conceptualized. Ben Schwartz voices the title character, with James Marsden and Jim Carrey also starring in this fun film.
This 2011 film unsurprisingly saw a resurgence in 2020. It’s all about a deadly virus transmitted by respiratory droplets that’s befuddled medical professionals—sound familiar? People everywhere searched this film and watched it out of, perhaps, morbid curiosity? Irony? Nevertheless, Contagion was big this year as we also searched for our own answer to a deadly virus.
Movie: ‘Fantasy Island’
Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island is a little bit like Lost, a little bit like Survivor, and a little bit like the most intense horror scene you can imagine for yourself. After a group of people find themselves on Fantasy Island, they quickly realize that even though their wildest fantasies are coming true, they’re coming with a price—and it’s a nightmare.
TV: ‘Tiger King’
Tiger King really kicked off the COVID-19 lockdown. The docuseries landed on Netflix in March, featuring Tiger King himself Joe Exotic. The show went behind the scenes of his controversial big-cat zoo and followed him through the ups and downs of his life—including his never-ending fight with fellow big-cat-lover Carole Baskin. Netflix even tacked on a special, hosted by Joel McHale, the following month.
TV: ‘Cobra Kai’
Netflix snagged this popular series this year after the first two seasons aired on YouTube Red. The lighthearted series takes inspiration from the iconic Karate Kid films, even bringing its stars, Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, into the show. It’s gained popularity on Netflix this year thanks to its perfect marriage of new-school actors with the nostalgia of the original Karate Kid, making it a series that spans generations.
Season 3 of Ozark landed on Netflix this year—just months before Julia Garner’s Emmy win for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series at this year’s award show. (She won last year, too, NBD.) The series also stars award-winner Jason Bateman, who directs and executive produces as well. As a crime drama about a family embroiled in a money-laundering scheme, it feels right at home on Netflix among the streamer’s other intense shows.
TV: ‘The Umbrella Academy’
My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way originally penned the comics The Umbrella Academy series is based on before Netflix picked it up for streaming. The scifi story follows a family of ragtag superheroes as they try to figure out who killed their dad. Season 2 dropped on Netflix this year, and Season 3 is already in the works.
TV: ‘The Queen’s Gambit’
The Netflix drama based on the book of the same name, The Queen’s Gambit, is a dark and twisty tale of a chess prodigy who also dabbles in drugs and alcohol. The show—which aired as a one-season miniseries— stars Anya Taylor-Joy in a role that’s catapulted her to fame and has everyone begging for the series to continue.
TV: ‘Little Fires Everywhere’
Based on the book of the same name, Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere stars Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington as moms from two very different walks of life. Despite their children forging a friendship, nothing can make these women see eye to eye and soon it all comes to a head when Elena (Witherspoon) outs Mia (Washington) for her past transgressions.
TV: ‘Outer Banks’
There’s only been one season of Outer Banks so far on Netflix, but viewers are already hooked. We head down to the coast of the Outer Banks in North Carolina to meet these teens who are forever caught in a class war. It’s a battle between the Kooks and the Pogues as they fall in and out of love and try to figure out the mystery of who killed John B.’s (Chase Stokes) dad.
Loosely based on the character Nurse Ratched from the book One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, this Netflix Original Series stars Sarah Paulson in the title role. Ratched has all the vibes of creeptastic American Horror Story, which makes sense, considering it’s helmed by AHS creator Ryan Murphy. This thriller follows Nurse Ratched as she cons her way into a mental hospital, in hopes of doing things her own way.
All-American found a whole new life on Netflix in 2020, with Seasons 1 and 2 available to stream. The CW show follows the story of high school football player Spencer Paysinger, inspired by his real life. Daniel Ezra plays the main character, who’s recruited from a rough Los Angeles neighborhood to play in prestigious Beverly Hills. Of course there are clashes among all the characters, but at its core, it’s an inspiring story of finding your way.
TV: ‘The Last Dance’
ESPN’s The Last Dance gave viewers an inside look at the Chicago Bulls amazing 1997-1998 season, which also happened to be Michael Jordan’s last with the team. The docuseries paired footage from the Bulls in the ’90s with present-day interviews with its biggest names—Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and more—and showed what it was really like behind the scenes of perhaps the most famous and beloved NBA team in history.