Lisa Marie’s Top 8 Novels of 2020

As I said earlier today when I posted my top 8 non-fiction books of the year, I’m disappointed in myself.  Considering how much time that I spent at home in 2020, I should have read more books.  I should have read every book that I have in the house.  That was certainly what I was expecting to happen but, as the lockdown went on and on, a combination of frustration and depressing kicked in and I basically totally lost focus.

So, I didn’t read as much as I should have.  But, at least I can say that I did read.  To be honest, I imagine that’s more than a lot of other people did.  Language is a wonderful thing and it’s dying.  Though I may not have read as much as I wanted to, I still read some very good novels over the course of 2020.  Listed below are eight of my favorites.

  1. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia — This was a wonderfully atmospheric book, one that took all of the traditional gothic elements and imagined them through the prism of Mexican culture and history.  This was a wonderful read, both entertaining and thought-provoking.  Apparently, it’s being turned into a miniseries for Hulu and I’ll definitely be watching.
  2. The Swap by Robyn Harding — Swapping partners leads to chaos!  (Well, yeah.)  This is an enjoyable thriller about a drunken night and the drama that follows. The characters are all sharply etched, especially Low, a the manipulative teenager who you’ll kind of sympathize with even when you know you shouldn’t.
  3. The House on Fripp Island by Rebecca Kauffman — Two families share a vacation house on Fripp Island.  One family is rich and one family is poor and both families are full of secrets and lies.  The House on Fripp Island is the literary equivalent of a good Lifetime film and, if you know how I feel about Lifetime films, then you know that’s a huge compliment.  I will also admit that I another reason why I liked this book was because it featured a character named Lisa.
  4. The Sister-in-Law by Sue Watson — Speaking of books that would make a good Lifetime film, The Sister-in-Law is another book about a family at a vacation home.  Once again, it’s all about secrets and lies and melodrama and it’s an incredibly fun read.
  5. Regretting You by Colleen Hoover — This book is an examination of the relationship between a overprotective mom and a rebellious daughter.  It rang true in all the best ways.  I could relate.
  6. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig — Nora is given a chance to see how her life would have turned out if she had made a few different choices.  This book made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me think.  This is a perfect read for anyone struggling with regret.
  7. Wild Child by Audrey Carlan — What happens when you combine a serial killer thriller with a romance?  You get this well-written and fast-paced book about how Simone goes from nearly being a victim to falling in love with a handsome FBI agent.
  8. Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth — Though this book may be a bit overlong at 640 pages, this epic and sprawling novel about love, history, and yellow jackets still held my interest.  It’s a challenging and well-written book by the author of The Miseducation of Cameron Post.

TSL Looks Back at 2020:

  1. Lisa Marie’s Top 8 Non-Fiction Books of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  2. Lisa Marie’s 20 Favorite Songs of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  3. Lisa Marie’s 16 Worst Films of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  4. My Top 20 Albums of 2020 (Necromoonyeti)
  5. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems That I Saw In 2020 (Valerie Troutman)
  6. Top 10 Vintage Collections (Ryan C)
  7. Top 10 Contemporary Collections (Ryan C)
  8. Top 10 Original Graphic Novels (Ryan C)
  9. Top 10 Ongoing Series (Ryan C.)
  10. Top 10 Special Mentions (Ryan C.)
  11. Top Ten Single Issues (Ryan C)

Here Are The Winners of 2020 Hollywood Music In Medi Awards

The winners are listed in bold!

DA 5 BLOODS (Netflix) – Terence Blanchard
THE LIFE AHEAD (LA VITA DAVANTI A SE) (Netflix) – Gabriel Yared
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM (Netflix) – Branford Marsalis
MANK (Netflix) – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
THE MIDNIGHT SKY (Netflix) – Alexandre Desplat
NEWS OF THE WORLD (Universal Pictures / Netflix) – James Newton Howard
PIECES OF A WOMAN (Netflix) – Howard Shore
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 (Netflix) – Daniel Pemberton

THE 24TH (Vertical Entertainment) – Alex Heffes
AMMONITE (Neon) – Dustin O’Halloran, Volker Bertelmann
THE GLORIAS (LD Entertainment / Roadside Attractions) – Elliot Goldenthal
MINARI (A24) – Emile Mosseri
SHIRLEY (Neon) – Tamar-kali
WILD MOUNTAIN THYME (Bleecker Street Media) – Amelia Warner

THE CROODS: A NEW AGE (Universal Pictures) – Mark Mothersbaugh
ONWARD (Walt Disney Studios) – Mychael Danna, Jeff Danna
SOUL (Walt Disney Studios) – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste
WOLFWALKERS (Apple TV+) – Bruno Coulais

THE NEW MUTANTS (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / Disney+) – Mark Snow
THE OLD GUARD (Netflix) – Volker Bertelmann, Dustin O’Halloran
PALM SPRINGS (Neon) – Matthew Compton
TENET (Warner Bros. / HBO Max) – Ludwig Görannson
WONDER WOMAN 1984 (Warner Bros. / HBO Max) – Hans Zimmer

ANTEBELLUM (Lionsgate Films) – Nate Wonder, Roman GianArthur
THE DARK AND THE WICKED (RLJE Films / Shudder) – Tom Schraeder
THE EMPTY MAN (Walt Disney Studios) – Christopher Young, Lustmord
THE INVISIBLE MAN (Universal Pictures) – Benjamin Wallfisch
SWALLOW (IFC Films) – Nathan Halpern

ATHLETE A (Netflix) – Jeff Beal
CRIP CAMP (Netflix) – Bear McCreary
JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE (Magnolia Pictures / Participant) – Tamar-kali
RISING PHOENIX (Netflix) – Daniel Pemberton

“Fight for You” from JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH – Written by H.E.R., Dernst Emile II, Tiara Thomas. Performed by H.E.R. (Warner Bros. / HBO Max)
“Hear My Voice” from THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 – Written by Daniel Pemberton, Celeste. Performed by Celeste (Netflix)
“Húsavík (Hometown)” from EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA – Written by Savan Kotecha, Rickard Göransson, Fat Max Gsus. Performed by Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Molly Sandén (Netflix)
“The Plan” from TENET – Written by Jacques Webster II, Ebony Naomi Oshunrinde, Ludwig Göransson. Performed by Travis Scott (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment / HBO Max)
“Poverty Porn” from THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION – Written by Radha Blank, Khrysis. Performed by RadhaMUSPrime (Netflix)
“Seen (lo Sì)” from THE LIFE AHEAD (LA VITA DAVANTI A SE) – Written by Diane Warren, Laura Pausini, Niccolò Agliardi. Performed by Laura Pausini (Netflix)
“Speak Now” from ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI – Written by Leslie Odom Jr., Sam Ashworth. Performed by Leslie Odom Jr. (Amazon Studios)
“Tigress & Tweed” from THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY – Written by Raphael Saadiq, Andra Day. Performed by Andra Day (Hulu)

“Everybody Cries” from THE OUTPOST – Written by Rod Lurie, Larry Groupé, Rita Wilson. Performed by Rita Wilson (Screen Media Films)
“I’ll Be Singing” from WILD MOUNTAIN THYME – Written by Amelia Warner, John Patrick Shanley. Performed by Sinéad O’Connor (Bleecker Street Media)
“Rain Song” from MINARI – Written by Emile Mosseri, Stefanie Hong. Performed by Yeri Han (A24)
“Staring At A Mountain” from NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS – Written by Sharon Van Etten. Performed by Sharon Van Etten (Focus Features / HBO Max)

“Carried Me With You” from ONWARD – Written by Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth. Performed by Brandi Carlile (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / Disney+)
“Feel the Thunder” from THE CROODS: A NEW AGE – Written by Alana Haim, Danielle Haim, Este Haim and Ariel Rechtshaid. Performed by HAIM (Universal Pictures)
“Free” from THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN – Written by Diane Warren. Performed by Charlie Puth (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / Disney+)
“Just Sing” from TROLLS WORLD TOUR – Written by Max Martin, Justin Timberlake, Ludwig Göransson, Sarah Aarons (Universal Studios)
“Rocket to the Moon” from OVER THE MOON – Written by Christopher Curtis, Marjorie Duffield, Helen Park. Performed by Cathy Ang (Netflix)
“Stand for Hope – When I Stand with You” from TWO BY TWO: OVERBOARD! – Written by Eímear Noone. Performed by Sibéal (Entertainment One)

“The Future” from THE WAY I SEE IT – Written by Aloe Blacc. Performed by Aloe Blacc (Focus Features)
“How Can I Tell You?” From NASRIN – Written by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty. Performed by Angelique Kidjo (Virgil Films & Entertainment)
“Never Break” from GIVING VOICE – Written by John Legend, Nasri Atweh, Benjamin Hudson McIldowie, Greg Wells, John Stephens. Performed by John Legend (Netflix)
“Only The Young” from MISS AMERICANA – Written by Taylor Swift, Joel Little. Performed by Taylor Swift (Netflix)
“See What You’ve Done” from BELLY OF THE BEAST – Written by Mary J. Blige, Nova Wav, DJ Camper. Performed by Mary J. Blige (PBS)
“Turntables” from ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY – Written by Janelle Monáe. Performed by Janelle Monáe (Amazon)

ALL AGAINST ALL (Fivia) – Kristian Sensini
BLACK BEACH (eOne Films Spain) – Arturo Cardelus
BLIZZARD OF SOULS (DVĒSEĻU PUTENIS) (Access – A / Pandastorm) – Lolita Ritmanis
SUMMER KNIGHT (China Film Administration) – Min He
ZERØ (Nemesis Media) – Ricardo Curto

Angela Leus – TROLLS WORLD TOUR (Universal Studios)
Bonnie Greenberg – THE LIFE AHEAD (LA VITA DAVANTI A SE) (Netflix)
Guy C. Routte – THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION (Netflix)
Linda Cohen – THE HIGH NOTE (Focus Features)
Sue Jacobs – PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN (Focus Features)
Tom MacDougall – SOUL (Walt Disney Studios)

BILL & TED: FACE THE MUSIC (Lakeshore Records)
ONWARD (Walt Disney Records)
SOUL (Walt Disney Records)
THE EDDY (Sony Classical)

Lisa Marie’s 8 Top Non-Fiction Books of 2020

I have to admit that I’m a little bit disappointed in myself.  Considering that I pretty much spent 9 months on lockdown, I didn’t read anywhere near as much as I should have in 2020.

Certainly, when I was first told that I’d be working from home, I thought to myself, “Finally!  I can work my way through my library!”  I thought I was going to read a book a day and watch 100 movies every week.  It didn’t work out that way.  To be honest, I got so frustrated with the whole endless lockdown thing that I often couldn’t focus enough to do anything productive with my time.  I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

That said, I may not have read as much as I was hoping to read but I still read some very good books.  So, without further ado, here are my top eight non-fiction books of 2020!

  1. Made Men: The Story of Goodfellas by Glenn KennyGoodfellas is one of the best films of all time and Glenn Kenny’s examination of both the movie and it’s place in pop culture is perhaps one of the best film books of all time.  Kenny not only details the true story behind Goodfellas but he also examines the film scene-by-scene.  This book is full of unexpected insight and behind-the-scenes trivia.  It’s everything you could want from a film book.
  2. Alright, Alright, Alright: The Oral History of Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused by Melissa Maerz — This is a frequently fascinating oral history about one of the greatest Texas films of all time, Dazed and Confused.  Maerz was able to interview almost everyone involved with the film and the end result is funny, touching, and thought-provoking look at a classic film.  This is worth it just for the chapters on Shawn Andrews.
  3. Dolls! Dolls! Dolls! Deep Inside Valley of the Dolls, the Most Beloved Bad Book and Movie of All Time by Stephen Rebello — This fun book details everything you could possibly want to know about the film version of Valley of the Dolls.  Especially interesting are the chapters that deal with the actresses and actors who were considered for the film.  There are indeed some surprising names to found.
  4. Taking Shape II: The Lost Halloween Sequel by Dustin McNeill and Travis Mullins — Probably the only thing I like more than a good book about the production of a film is a good book about a film that didn’t go into production.  Taking Shape II is an exhaustive look at all of the sequels that have been proposed for Halloween over the years.  The book not only details what each film could have been but also why they ultimately weren’t produced.  If you’re a horror fan, this is essential reading.
  5. Cinema ’62: The Greatest Year at the Movies by Michael McClellan and Stephen Farber — Was 1962 the greatest year in film?  This book makes a good case that it may have been.
  6. The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood by Sam Wasson — This is another fascinating behind-the-scenes look at a classic film.  The Big Goodbye not only tells you everything you could want to know about Chinatown but it also places it in its correct cultural and historical context.
  7. The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History by Andy Greene — This oral history of my favorite sitcom is both a funny tribute to a great show and also a rather sad look at how The Office was often screwed over by NBC.  The only thing keeping this book from being ranked higher is the lack of fresh interviews with Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, and some of the other principles.  Indeed, much of the “oral history” is lifted from various DVD commentaries.  Still, Greene does a good job of organizing the information and the book will definitely make you want to sit down and rewatch the show.
  8. Gone at Midnight: The Tragic True Story Behind the Unsolved Internet Sensation by Jake Anderson — This is a thought-provoking examination of the mysterious death of Elisa Lam and the internet culture that sprung up around the video of her final hours.


TSL Looks Back at 2020:

  1. Lisa Marie’s 20 Favorite Songs of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  2. Lisa Marie’s 16 Worst Films of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  3. My Top 20 Albums of 2020 (Necromoonyeti)
  4. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems That I Saw In 2020 (Valerie Troutman)
  5. Top 10 Vintage Collections (Ryan C)
  6. Top 10 Contemporary Collections (Ryan C)
  7. Top 10 Original Graphic Novels (Ryan C)
  8. Top 10 Ongoing Series (Ryan C.)
  9. Top 10 Special Mentions (Ryan C.)
  10. Top Ten Single Issues (Ryan C)

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Ernst Lubitsch Edition

4 (or more) Shots From 4 (or more) Films is just what it says it is, 4 (or more) shots from 4 (or more) of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 (or more) Shots From 4 (or more) Films lets the visuals do the talking.

129 years ago today, Ernst Lubitsch was born in Germany.  It was in Germany where he first started his directorial career, directing his first silent film in 1918.  He came to Hollywood in 1922 and continued to work as a director up until he suffered a sudden and fatal heart attack in 1947.  Lubitsch was famed for the “Lubitsch touch,” which could roughly be translated into the fact that he made sophisticated, sexually-charged comedies for adults.  During the Depression, he provided audiences with an escape from the drudgery of everyday life.  Lubitsch brought the comedy of manners to Hollywood and his influence is still felt to this day.

In honor of Ernst Lubitsch’s career and cinematic legacy, here are….

4 Shots From 4 Ernst Lubitsch Films

Rosita (1923, dir by Ernst Lubitsch, DP: Charles Rosher)

One Hour With You (1931, dir by Ernst Lubitsch, DP: Victor Milner)

Trouble In Paradise (1932, dir by Ernst Lubitsch, DP: Victor Milner)

The Merry Widow (1934, dir by Ernst Lubitsch, DP: Oliver T. Marsh)

Artwork of the Day: Not So Funny (by Eric Stanton)

by Eric Stanton

Yeah, I don’t know what to make of it either.  I apologize to anyone who has a thing about clowns.  I guess Bozo married Wonder Woman but the marriage has hit a rough spot.  This book was first published in 1966.  The cover was done by Eric Stanton, who was responsible for some of the best and strangest covers to come out of the pulp era.

Music Video of the Day: Rappin’ Rodney by Rodney Dangerfield (1983, directed by ????)

Yes, this is a real thing that happened.

In 1983, Rodney Dangerfied released the Rappin’ Rodney album, which was basically Rodney doing his usual routine but this time, he was rapping about how he didn’t get no respect instead of just talking about it.  It’s always easy to make fun of these celebrity projects but this one gets a pass because it’s Rodney Dangerfield and he obviously wasn’t trying to start a new career as a rapper.  Dangerfield received a Grammy nomination for Rappin’ Rodney so there’s that.

This video was reportedly popular when it was released on MTV in 1983.  Since MTV didn’t play black artists during the first few years of its existence, you have to wonder how many many early MTV viewers were first exposed to rap as a result of Rodney Dangerfield.  Pat Benatar and Don Novello both make appearances in this video.  Novello appears as Father Guido Sarducci, his SNL character who was never really that funny but still showed up on a frequent basis.