The Best of Awards 2020 (The BOAs)
Each year The Best Of Awards – The BOAs – takes a look at the best books, music, movies, TV shows, and podcasts for the year. In looking back at entertainment media to recognize the efforts that stand out from the crowd, it’s also our callout to readers to find out what we missed.
We should note that all of the selections did not have to be released in 2020. These are the selections that we read, watched, or listened to in the year 2020 although they may have been published earlier.
So, if you’re looking for ideas for what to watch, read or listen to, the following should give you a few ideas.
The BOAs in Entertainment – 2020
And, now, on to the BOAs…
Best Podcasts of 2020
Rolling Stone Music Now
Features interviews and features on stories about rock stars from today and yesterday. The Smokey Robinson interview was great. The King of Motown details how he comes up with his song lyrics.
“I Second That Emotion” was the result of a conversation he and a friend had with a shopping clerk. When the clerk told Smokey’s friend that he looked good in a scarf he was considering purchasing, his friend replied, “I second that emotion.” They shared a laugh at the time, and the line stuck with Smokey. Smokey wrote the song later that week.
Smartless with Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, & Will Arnett
There’s good chemistry between the two “Arrested Development” stars and Hayes (best known for Will & Grace) and a fantastic guest list. The Premise: One of the hosts invites a mystery guest for the show (he can’t tell the other two hosts who it is).
Check out the Will Ferrell episode and the Ricky Gervais episode. Funny stuff! Is there a better straight man in the business than Jason Bateman?
Ricky Gervais Episode Promo
Ask Big Questions – Bill Gates & Rashida Jones
Bill Gates has become much more likable as he’s aged, and he’s brilliant and articulate on a variety of topics. Jones does an excellent job of setting the stage and has a more pleasing voice than her senior partner on this podcast.
This show is destined only to get better, but you’ll likely get smarter by tuning into this one.
The Best of Awards (BOA) Winner: Podcast Category
And the BOA goes to Smartless. We’re looking forward to listening to more of their programs.
Christmas Music Albums
A Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spector (1963)
It features Darlene Love’s Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) as seen on many a Letterman show, The Crystals singing Rudolph, and the Ronettes performing Frosty the Snowman and Sleigh Ride.
This album is the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson’s favorite album ever, and you can hear why Wilson loved Spector’s harmonies. Hard to believe this album is now 57 years old. Still amazing!
Darlene Love’s Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) on Letterman
A Legendary Christmas by John Legend (2018)
Legend’s voice and jazzy interpretations add some fun to old Christmas favorites. With Kelly Clarkson, a politically correct version of Baby It’s Cold Outside got some attention when released. But, every mother’s child knows that Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan render this song the best. Legend excels on solo vocal efforts like My Favorite Things.
John Legend – My Favorite Things
The Christmas Album by Leslie Odom Jr. (2020)
Odom starred as Aaron Burr in Hamilton and has released his second Christmas album. A great pick if you’re looking for something new.
The Best of Awards (BOA) Winner: Christmas Album Category
And the BOA goes to A Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spector. Rolling Stone awarded this the “Greatest Christmas Album of All Time,” and who are we to disagree?
Best Television Shows of 2020
The Last Dance / Netflix
Ten basketball episodes were released in March in a year when March Madness wasn’t happening. Talk about perfect timing. And, this series more than delivered. Finally, a basketball documentary that was better than “Hoop Dreams.”
The Undoing / HBO
Starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant, this show created a classic who done it with many viable candidates. Nicole Kidman is on a winning streak between “The Undoing” and “Big Little Lies.”
It’s been a long time since I’ve looked forward to a revelation about what really happened as much as with this series.
The Undoing Official Trailer
The Queen’s Gambit / Netflix
The concept, the sets, and the acting were all first-rate in this series that focuses on Beth Harmon, a chess prodigy. It’s no wonder that between this series and quarantine, chess set sales (up 200%) and chess book sales (up 600%) have skyrocketed.
If this series sparked your interest in chess, check out “Magnus,” a documentary on Magnus Carlsen. He is the current world champion and the grandmaster with the highest chess rating ever recorded. His IQ is 190.
(You might like The Queen’s Gambit Quotes)
Creating The Queen’s Gambit
The Best of Awards (BOA) Winner: TV Category
And the BOA goes to All three of these binge-worthy shows get a BOA in the TV category this year.
Movies of 2020
Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown plays Sherlock’s young sister in this family-friendly fare. She’s a superstar.
Enola Holmes Official Trailer
Based on a real-life high school scandal, Hugh Jackman stars.
The Best of Awards (BOA) Winner: Movies Category
And the BOA goes to Enola Holmes.
Honorable Mention Movies
- Borat: Subsequent MovieFilm
- The Social Dilemma
- The Booksellers
- Palm Springs
- Athlete A
Best Books of 2020
Break Shot: My First 21 Years by James Taylor (only available as an Audio Book).
Before James Taylor was 21 years old, he:
- Checked himself into McLean Psychiatric Hospital for a nine-month stay to deal with his depression (he was sleeping 20 hours a day).
- Broke both his hands and feet in a motorcycle accident.
- Overcame a heroin addiction after six months of treatment.
- Recovered from a throat operation to fix his vocal cords from singing too harshly.
Yet, because of all he went through he “sang with a conviction that other singers his age didn’t possess,” according to his manager.
Apple Records, with the nodding approval of Paul McCartney and George Harrison, signed him up. Taylor went on to sell millions of records, and in the process, essentially created the singer/songwriter genre of the 70s.
Only 90 minutes long to listen to, it’s well worth the time.
James Taylor Explains “Break Shot”
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
The Pulitzer Prize-winning book draws similarities between how the treatment of Blacks in America parallels the Caste system in India and how it influences people’s lives and behavior.
To learn that much of the Nazi caste system – specifically related to their treatment of Jewish people – comes from how Germans studied how Americans in the South treated enslaved people is troubling. There’s a lot to take in here, and much of it doesn’t make you feel good about our American past.
The NY Times has already called it the most important non-fiction book of this century.
The Guest List: A Novel by Lucy Foley
A destination wedding is planned on a remote Irish island sets the stage for this Agatha Christie-like thriller. Who doesn’t like a good mystery? This book was Good Reads’ Mystery of the Year.
The Best of Awards (BOA) Winner: Book Category
And the BOA goes to all three nominees.
Honorable Mention Books
The Kids Stays in the Picture by Robert Evans.
Evans was a producer and studio head best known for his work on The Godfather, Chinatown, and Love Story. The stories behind the movies, as well as his personal life, are fascinating.
Levels of the Game by John McPhee
John McPhee’s book is widely recognized as the best book ever written about tennis. It focuses on one match played between Arthur Ashe and Clark Graebner at Forest Hills in 1968.
McPhee alternates between action on the court and profiles of the two contestants. Excellent for sports fans and outstanding if you play tennis.
The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger.
Iger, the consummate deal-maker, led the charge in Disney acquiring Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel, and 20th Century Fox.
What did we miss?
Please let us know what shows, books, podcasts, movies, and music we missed. What should’ve been on our list, but wasn’t?
— Mike O’Halloran
Mike is the co-founder of ListCaboodle.
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