2020 Year in Review

Well what do we say about 2020?

I sit down each year to do my year in review and usually it is an easy catalogue of the places I’ve been and the things I’ve done. That’s hard to do in 2020 because I’ve been inside my house for 90% of it! That’s part of the reason I haven’t written on this blog much this year.What is there to say?

I’ve podcasted a lot. Worked really hard and that’s about it.

Well, not quite all. There are a few things that happened…

At the beginning there was Sundance which was my 4th year attending and because I didn’t get the locals pass it wasn’t as good a year as the previous years. Still I watched a record 25 films (which would later greatly boost my films seen in theater number for 2020, 76 total!). My favorite films out of Sundance are Dick Johnson is Dead and Save Yourselves– both which remained in my top 15 through the end of 2020.

I also had a memorable birthday where I got to spend it with my friends and my cousin. This simple gathering of a few friends would prove to be very precious in the many months of isolation I had in the year. I hope to be able to do it again soon.

At the end of February I went to the last screening with my friend Jen (there was 1 more in March I went to solo and then 2 during the pandemic I attended. 3 if you include a screening at the drive-in). Jen and I used to go to every screening, several a week. Since they have been removed I have been forced into the screener game which is not nearly as glamorous as it sounds. Emailing publicists, contacting streaming companies, usually multiple people hoping you get approved is a real hassle and time suck! I hope we get back to just going to screenings again someday. I miss it so much.

Then the pandemic closed everything in March and everything fell apart.

Well, not everything but it felt that way.

In some ways I was very fortunate. For starters, I haven’t gotten the COVID virus (thank the Lord), and I already worked from home, and had a social structure in place to support me through the experience. Not everyone was so lucky.

It’s weird because on one hand I was very busy recording interviews and making videos/podcasts. But on the other my life isn’t very interesting to talk about because that’s all I am doing. I would sit down to write entries in this blog and think ‘yep I’ve been podcasting a lot’. What else is there to say? It’s this weird combination of something totally new happening and yet the same thing every day…very surreal even after months of living it.

I did have a heart scare in April and that was terrifying. Luckily through some medicine and changed eating habits (limited salt for one) I have been able to get my blood pressure to less scary levels and have been feeling good.

I did receive many great blessings from my Heavenly Father through this tough time. To begin with my friend Chris agreed to do a series of Sunday Devotionals because we were both not able to attend church. He is not a member of my faith but we share a love for The Bible and God so that proved enough to have many great discussions over 31 episodes. I’m super proud of every last one of them.

I also started the Hidden Gems podcast with my friend Ryan where we talk about streaming services each week and that has been a huge blessing. Not only for the friendship but to have something to look forward to each week.

I also started a podcast with my friends called The Francast talking about The Nanny which was a dream of mine. Talking with Larry and Colleen is something I look forward to each week. You can listen to the full show here.

My friend Conrado and I also have a great time hosting the monthly (and sometimes bi-monthly) podcast called The Criterion Project where we talk about films on The Criterion Channel. This is a nice break for me to talk about more independent and artsy fare since I normally cover lighter films. I’ve been particularly grateful to Conrado for editing the podcast while I was so busy with Christmas coverage.

Another cool experience I had this year is my Female Film Critics Speak Out panels. With this series I road the bonding over zoom trend and each month had a group of female film critics on to talk about our experiences and share what we have learned in our careers. I absolutely love this series and still can’t believe I got critics like Christy Lemire and Mara Reinstein (to name a few) to come on my little channel. Amazing! (And we are continuing on with a great one planned for January so subscribe).

Podcasting with my friend Stanford was a great blessing in my life. He’s just the best and I love talking Disney and obscure animation with him. We even had a couple live streams to talk about Disney news. I loved every guest we had whether it be Kristen Maldonado, my friend Alyssa to talk The Little Mermaid, or Dave Lee (they were all incredible). I treasure every last minute we spent talking about the art of animation we love.

And then of course there’s Hallmarkies

And then the Hallmarkies Podcast was the well of blessings that never dried up. I got to interview so many incredible people including the Fran Drescher (see above!). Just in Christmas coverage we did over 70 episodes of the podcast! It consumed my life from August onward and I’m grateful. It gave me something to strive for and plan for and how many people had that this year?

I am very proud of an interview I did with actor Antonio Cayonne in June talking about the BLM protests and the importance of representation. Thank you to him for giving of his time and for many others.

I’m grateful for every guest host we had, for every interviewee I got to talk with, and most importantly for my outstanding co-hosts who make my dreams come true unpaid on a daily basis. I can’t believe there exists such women that are so kind and give of their time and talents so unsparingly to make our little show. I couldn’t be more grateful.

And all the Friends…

It’s really interesting for how lonely this year has been I have been surrounded by so much love. Yes I may not have been able to go to screenings or church and bond with people like my extroverted heart wanted to but the Lord blessed me to overflowing with people. Whether it is chatting in a recorded or unrecorded fashion the many conversations I had (via text, google hangout, messaging, zoom or phone call) with my friends from around the world are so dear to me.

One of my goals for 2021 when travel is safer is to take a bunch of little trips to see these friends. I want to go to Virginia to see Megan, Denver to see Larry, Austin to see Sean and Jennifer, LA to see Dory and Colleen etc. It’s going to happen!

I would also like to thank my parents for their unfailing support. I don’t know how I would have gotten through this if they weren’t close by here in Utah. It just would have been too much. I love you so much.

On to 2021…

And so I have done a lot of podcasting in 2020 and I expect to do a lot in 2021. What else happens it remains to be seen but I am full of gratitude and honestly anticipation for what is to come. (Dare I say it can’t get worse? LOL). Hopefully I can continue to stay healthy and will be able to keep writing, interviewing and hosting all my shows. I love my work as a blogger for Kobayashi. I love my career as a critic (I get great satisfaction from writing my reviews). I love my podcasting and interviewing. I am hugely blessed even in a tough year!

Congrats! We made it through 2020!


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