Those inevitable ‘Best of 2020 lists’ might be useful sometimes but often tend to award all the same 10 titles but just in a different order. A certain gregariousness among critics is inevitable, so today we’d like to recommend a list of 10 series that, even though are very unlikely to appear on any of these highlights from 2020 lists, they could, and perhaps even should feature.
1. The Plot Against America (HBO)
There’s a good chance that the return of the creators of “The Wire” will be left off the best of the year lists. Undeservedly in my opinion: its warning against populist leaders is pertinent, it has scenes of unquestionable dramatic power, a great visual invoice, albeit classic in nature, and Zoe Kazan is shocking.
2. Primal (HBO)
An out and out work of art from the master Genndy Tartakovsky. The story of the Neanderthal and the dinosaur is a narrative prodigy developed without dialogue. Through brutal action scenes and excellent compositions in each frame, it has been a magnificent experience, denied the recognition it deserves purely because it’s an animation feature.
3. Gangs of London (Starzplay).
If this series had been released by one of the larger streaming platforms, the discussion would have ended there and then. The Gareth Edwards action scenes are incredible, crazy even and which defy the conventions of what we are used to seeing. The cast of this “Peaky Blinders” in modern-day London, with Joe Cole at the helm, is another of its strong points.
4. Caliphate (Netflix).
This Swedish mini-series successfully explores the psychological and social mechanisms that lead young Westerners to be seduced by Islamic fundamentalism. It asks the difficult questions without reneging on the tension of a storyline more common of an imminent terrorist attack.
On a similar note, central to this Danish miniseries is another terrorist attack which is then used to explore the lives of several characters impacted by the event and develops an interesting discourse in which it focuses on the cracks within the welfare society.
Let’s see whether Ted Lasso gets passed over merely because it’s a comedy. This lifeline of optimism during a year in which we’ve seen so much drama, which on top of all that, made something difficult seem easy: creating an upbeat character who’s not over-sentimental, whose moustache-lined smile slipped us all into his pocket with his comforting philosophy on life.
7. The Third Day (HBO).
Doing a 12-hour episode live should be enough to have this series raising its head among any ‘best of’ list. As a television experience, few things have been more innovative this year. It was as exhausting as it was disturbing and disruptive in its intention to make the viewer experience the event in their own flesh.
8. Giri/Haji (Netflix).
Released in January and even though there’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then, this series about a Japanese detective who travels to London in search of his brother, whom he believed to be dead, made such an impact that we’re still mulling it over in our minds at year-end. Excellent in the way it breaks down the relationships between the characters and with a daring visual proposal that blends moments of extreme violence with others of breathtaking beauty.
9. Bedrag (Filmin).
This flawless Danish series arrived in Spain earlier this year with its stark portrayal of the darker underbelly of the business world. Where every season the setting changes, the series follows the trail of money to show the fraudulent practices of greedy businessmen.
10. The Investigation (Movistar).
The norm tells us that series released towards the end of the year, rarely make it onto the hit lists. This may be the case for “The Investigation”, a magnificent mini-series about the real-life case of a missing journalist from the same writers room as “Borgen” and featuring two of the same cast members. Very well documented, sober in execution and with a storyline that’ll have you glued to your screen from start to finish.