Best-Reviewed Returning Series 2020Season 4 of The Crown finished off the last of its filming just as production shut down for the pandemic – fortunately for fans of the Netflix series about the British monarchy. The season and its stars are now racking up awards, including the No. 1 spot on our list of the best-reviewed returning TV in 2020. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Amazon’s very modern superhero satire The Boys at No. 2. What do most of these titles have in common? Excellent ensemble casts fleshing out strongly-written characters.The order of the rank below reflects the Adjusted Score as of December 31, 2020. Scores might change over time.« Previous Category Next Category »
In a nation where a movie called Crazy Rich Asians breaks theatrical records, K-pop albums can hit #1 on the Billboard charts, and anime and vintage Japanese pop songs connect online communities together violent hate crimes against Asians have skyrocketed. Where Minari is foreign according to the Golden Globes, despite being written and directed by an American filmmaker, telling a story set in and about America. It s a movie that exists within an enormous entertainment industry which pushes progress, yet regularly reports its box office demographic breakdowns by defining Asians as literally Other. In this moment of achievement and anger arrives Raya and the Last Dragon, releasing simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ on March 5. Kelly Marie Tran leads a majority Asian-American voice cast as Raya, who resurrects a legendary yet juvenile dragon (Awkwafina) to assist undoing a spell that has rendered her father and kingdom-people to stone. The rest of the cast including Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh, and Benedict Wong reflect the eclectic, imaginative world of Raya, which draws influence and inspiration from Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, and more Southeast Asian countries.We spoke with Qui Nguyen, who co-wrote Raya and the Last Dragon with Adele Lum. A Vietnamese-American playwright who got into Marvel s writers program, and has written and worked on stories for Incorporated, The Society, and Dispatches from Elsewhere, Nguyen gets his first credited movie screenplay with Raya. Here, he talks about how he got into the Disney fold, the opportunity of helping create something that will inspire the next generation, and making sure the fights (and all the food!) was just right in the new film.(Photo by Disney)Alex Vo for Rotten Tomatoes: So I’m pretty sure you’re the first Vietnamese-American writer to be credited for screenplay on a major Hollywood production.Qui Nguyen: That’s crazy. I didn t know that. I mean, it s been a complete blessing to do this. This goes down to the big dream: Being a writer and to be able to tell a story like this for my kids.I grew up in Arkansas. I didn t ever see anyone who looked like me. And I didn t really get to see myself up on screen except for Vietnam War movies. So we were either sidekicks or we were victims. To be able to be part of this film and create characters who celebrate Southeast Asian cultures specifically one that is voiced by Kelly Marie Tran which my kids can see and feel empowered by is such a big deal. I got to affect and change and shape a character that will be part of the Disney canon forever.What was the process of joining Disney and this project? What was it like once you got into the studio?Nguyen: I was actually already working on the lot across the street from Disney over at Marvel as part of the writers program. And I came across the street just as a general meeting that happens out here in LA. I met with one of the execs here and she was like, Hey, would you ever want to do something like this? I was just very, very honest with her: It would be a dream to be able to make a big Hollywood film. To make a movie as big as something like this that I know everyone will see that would celebrate us.Ironically, I came back and interviewed with Don [Hall], the co-director of Raya, on a different project. And I ended up working with him on that. I still am working with him on that movie. And then about a year-and-a-half ago, Raya was coming up and they were at a point where they wanted to solidify the script. Adele was shaping the world and the characters at that point. And then I came in and they teamed me up with the Adele to officially write the script with Don and Carlos [López Estrada] as directors. And we created something that I think both Adele and I are very proud of.(Photo by Disney)An initial script had already been written by the time Adele and you joined. How much was changed or developed from there?Nguyen: At its inception, Disney wanted something that celebrates Southeast Asian cultures. They wanted to do an epic fantasy film, and they wanted to base it around a female warrior who is basically bringing a whole bunch of fractured countries together to save it through unity. A part of that first pitch that still exists to this day. And through that, there were iterations that Adele worked on. She wrote different scripts of it, just exploring the world, exploring the characters, before you re like, Oh, this is the plot. And then by the time I came in, a lot of the DNA is there. The father-daughter relationship is there. A lot of the character archetypes that were there. When I came in, I had the chance to shape the characters. I was like, Here’s the personality that we should give Raya that s different than the lone warrior that we re used to seeing. It was stuff like that, helping shape the specificity of the world. We knew that the movie was always going to be about unity. But unity isn t a verb. It s really hard to do that. So the one extra step was going, “Well, how do you achieve unity?” You have to find the bravery to trust, especially trusting people that perhaps wronged you. And so what does that take? It was the active thing we tried to imbue Raya with throughout the journey in this film.Being Asian-American is not a monolithic experience. Japanese-American history is very different from Korean-American history and that’s different from Chinese-American history. Is there anything about being Vietnamese-American, or Vietnamese history, that you brought specifically to Raya?Nguyen: It s hard to go into specific details without spoiling it, but the things that were important to me was definitely the chance to create these characters that someone that looked like me could see and be very, very proud of.I have kids and it s something I always think about a lot. It’s one thing for me to tell them to be proud of who they are and the cultures that they come from, because I m their dad and that s what I m supposed to do. But it doesn t land the same way as when you get to see it on a big screen. There is something very empowering because for the longest time, we ve always had to put our faces on people that don t look like us. I was like, I have to pretend to be Captain America. I had to pretend to be Peter Parker. I can pretend to be Black Panther, but I m putting it on their face. It’s something else to have the kid next to me who has blonde hair and blue eyes, look up, and go, Oh, I want to be Raya. Or this person who s Black say, I want to be Raya. That positive influence is something that is really, really important, to give that context for my kids.(Photo by Disney)You’re a martial arts advocate and beyond writing you also helped ensure the accuracy of the fights in Raya, that even though it’s a fantasy movie, the action is grounded and realistic. Anything you’re particularly proud of?Nguyen: I was one of the five consultants on this film, and it was a big pleasure of mine because it s a big passion. I ve been a lifelong martial artist. Like, if you loved Karate Kid, you could go study Kenpo karate. If you loved Bruce Lee, then you could go study Wing Chun or Jeet Kune Do. I wanted it so if you saw Raya and you loved it, you could actually go study the martial arts. Pencak silat, Muay Thai kickboxing, traditional Vietnamese wrestling, Arnis, Kali those were the martial arts that I really wanted to show off.But I think if I m being super selfish about it, there was a part of me that wanted to do this because martial arts is how I connected with my father. One of the central relationships in the film is about Raya and her dad. Her dad turning to stone and that desire to save him is the thing that s going to drive her. And I was like, Well, what is something that I personally connect with Raya s dad teaches her how to fight, and my dad taught me how to fight. These traditional martial arts of our cultures is a very visceral thing. And now it s something I do with my kids. I m now teaching them martial arts that I grew up with.There’s a fight in the movie where you could tell that it s a Pencak silat fighter and a Muay Thai fighter. They re throwing knees and elbows at each other. That s not something you often see in an animated film. There is a version where you can amp that up and make it into a hard R action movie if you wanted to. Obviously, we don t ever cross that line. But it is something that I think that I m excited for my dad to see, because obviously I want to make a movie that my kids will enjoy watching, but I also want to watch a movie that I can sit with my parents and go, Hey, dad, this is for you and mom. This is a celebration of all of us and the achievement of the American dream that you set up for me. When I started out to being a writer, they thought I was going to be a bum my whole life. And for 15 years of my life, I probably was a bum. And now to be here doing this, they finally get it. And they’re so proud. It’s also just one of those things that I got to connect with Kelly Marie Tran a little bit about that stuff.
Since its stellar start back in 2013, the Conjuring Universe has been a bumpy ride with critics. Even the Annabelle spin-offs have been met with a mix of positive and negative reviews. Now the third of that specific series, Annabelle Comes Home (the seventh in the overall cinematic universe), is itself garnering a mixture of responses. Some think its variety of monsters make for a fun outing, while others see the concept as too gimmicky and not scary enough for this brand of horror movie. One thing all seem to agree on, though, is that it’s full of more franchise fodder.Here’s what critics are saying about Annabelle Comes Home:How does it fit into the Conjuring Universe?A breath of fresh air for the Conjuring Universe that both surprises with a lighter touch and demonstrates the incredible potential for the expanding continuity. Eric Eisenberg, CinemaBlendAnnabelle Comes Home is textured differently than the other films in the Conjuring Universe, yet it fits comfortably right into the legacy. Courtney Howard, Fresh FictionAnnabelle Comes Home never loses the streak of genuine humanity that sets the Conjuring movies apart from many of its horror franchise counterparts. William Bibbiani, Bloody DisgustingCheekily reflects the drive-in popcorn thrillers from the period in which the movie is set more than it does the other films in the series. Oliver Jones, ObserverIt s a mix of high points and low points, much like the overall series itself. Rafer Guzman, NewsdayDespite being a perfectly fine addition to the series, Annabelle Comes Home is just not as inventive or creepy or even scary as some of the other Conjuring films. Edward Douglas, The Beat(Photo by New Line Cinema)How does it compare to the other Annabelle movies?Easily the best film in the Annabelle franchise. Alyse Wax, ComingSoon.netAnnabelle Comes Home cements the Annabelle trilogy as a rare series that gets better with every installment. Eric Eisenberg, CinemaBlendPure joy… better than ever. Courtney Howard, Fresh FictionMaybe the most hyper and generic. Owen Gleiberman, VarietyIf Annabelle Comes Home should be the last Annabelle-centric film in the series, it feels like a perfect final chapter. Juliet Bennett Rylah, IGN MoviesIs there too much to this installment?Name your fear trigger, and it’s probably there, somewhere, in Annabelle Comes Home… it’s really the horror equivalent of speed dating. Owen Gleiberman, VarietyIt felt a lot like Scooby-Doo: Monsters Unleashed.. Whatever you’re creeped out by, Annabelle Comes Home has got you covered. Patrick Cavanaugh, The Wolfman ComethIf the Conjuring franchise has run low on original methods of making ghosts jump-out-of-your-seat scary, then Dauberman has found a workaround in diversity. Andy Crump, Paste MagazineStarts to feel like a stack of random ideas. Rafer Guzman, Newsday(Photo by New Line Cinema)Does it just feel like it’s made to introduce more spin-offs?Annabelle Comes Home suffers, I think, from a mercantile quality, the sense you’re watching multiple elevator pitches crammed into feature shape. Darren Franich, Entertainment WeeklyIt kind of feels like we are getting a preview of what the next handful of films in the Conjuring Universe will be. Alyse Wax, ComingSoon.netThere are more than a couple of evil entities featured that could eventually generate their own special branch of the Conjuring Universe. Eric Eisenberg, CinemaBlend
It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that a film from the Harry Potter universe is the most anticipated of November, but it wasn’t quite the runaway favorite one might have assumed it would be. See, there’s also a sequel in the Rocky universe coming this month, as well as a rock biopic of a legendary band and its iconic frontman. This month’s poll also featured a tie between a couple of animated films and a J.J. Abrams-produced horror thriller, so there’s a little something for everyone. Read on to see the Most Anticipated Movies of November!1. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) 36%(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)3,619 Want-to-See Votes#1 pick by our Twitter and Instagram fans, #3 pick by our Facebook fansOpens November 16If you didn t see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, you should probably watch it before you head into The Crimes of Grindelwald, because the plot of the latter hinges largely on a spoilery twist at the end of the former. That said, Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston return for this follow-up, joined by Jude Law as a young Dumbledore and Johnny Depp as the nefarious Gellert Grindelwald. This one rated high on all of our social platforms and on our site, which wasn t too much of a surprise.Watch Trailer2. Creed II (2018) 83%(Photo by MGM, Warner Bros. Pictures)472 Want-to-See Votes#1 pick by our Facebook fans, #2 pick by our Twitter fans, #3 pick by our Instagram fansOpens November 21In 2015, Ryan Coogler s Creed became an Oscar-nominated hit, ensuring the Rocky franchise would continue through Michael B. Jordan s Adonis Creed, the son of the late Apollo Creed. In this sequel, directed by Steven Caple Jr., Adonis faces off against the son of Ivan Drago, the same Russian boxer who killed his father. This film also ranked high among all of our social media fans, but couldn t quite match Fantastic Beasts.Watch Trailer3. Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) 60%(Photo by Nick Delaney/20th Century Fox Film Corp.)2,880 Want-to-See Votes#2 pick by our Facebook fans, #4 pick by our Twitter and Instagram fansOpens November 2Despite all of the behind-the-scenes troubles Bohemian Rhapsody faced, expectant fans of rock band Queen remained optimistic, and judging from the reviews, there s a lot to like in this profile of the band and Freddie Mercury. In particular, look for an impressive performance from Rami Malek as Mercury and an exhilarating climactic recreation of Queen s appearance at Live Aid in 1985. It didn t rank as high as Creed II on our social platforms, but its popularity on our site placed it right behind it at #3.Watch Trailer4. Overlord (2018) 81%(Photo by Paramount Pictures)363 Want-to-See Votes#2 pick by our Instagram fans, #4 pick by our Facebook fansOpens November 9Anytime J.J. Abrams name pops up in the background of a mysterious project, you can count on certain movie fans to begin speculating on whether or not it s part of the Cloverfield universe. This time, it s a World War II horror-thriller about a group of soldiers who come across a secret Nazi lab full of monsters. Overlord (and the rest of the films in November, really) had no chance against the top 3 choices, but it did well enough on Instagram and Facebook to make it to our fourth slot, and it s already tracking impressively high on the Tomatometer.Watch Trailer5a. Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) 88%(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)1,251 Want-to-See Votes#5 pick by our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram fansOpens November 21The fifth most anticipated movie of November is actually a tie between two animated films Ralph Breaks the Internet happened to sneak into the top 5 in all of our social media polls, and it pulled the fourth most Want-to-See votes. John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman return to voice Ralph and Princess Vanellope, who are joined by the likes of Gal Gadot and Taraji P. Henson, as well as a slew of Disney Princesses.Watch Trailer5b. Dr. Seuss' The Grinch (2018) 59%(Photo by Universal Pictures)8,030 Want-to-See VotesOpens November 9The other animated film that snuck onto our list actually made it in surprising fashion: though it barely registered on our social media channels, The Grinch unexpectedly garnered the most Want-to-See votes on Rotten Tomatoes of any film opening in November, more than doubling that of Fantastic Beasts, which came in second behind it. Universal s new adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss story looks to capitalize on the warm holiday fuzzies as a bit of counterprogramming when it opens against gritty adult titles like The Girl in the Spider s Web and Overlord.Watch Trailer