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Dublin: 11 °C Saturday 6 June, 2020

Here are the books, movies, music, and television that writers loved this year

It was a big year in entertainment.

IT’S BEEN A good year in entertainment. 

PastedImage-48713 Source: VHI

But what did you enjoy most? Let us know in the comments.

To kick things off, here are our picks of the year in TV, film, books, and music. 


The drama on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season three was unrivalled for me. I’m still reeling to be honest, and I doubt I’m the only one. I’m not sure how season four will top it, but I’ll also be bet into that, guaranteed.

- Fionnuala Jones

Derry Girls (of course), and Homecoming, a psychological thriller starring Julia Roberts on Amazon Video. 

Julia plays a case worker in a facility which purports to reintegrate members of the military into civilian life. It’s shot very cinematically and is so unsettling. Just ten eps a season and only 30 mins an ep which works well if you have the attention span of a gnat, like I do.

Also, a mention to Marchella.

A detective, played by Anna Friel, is investigating a serial killer and attempting to deal with the chaos of her personal life. The lines between her professional and private life become blurred, putting her own children at risk. It can get a tiny bit convoluted at times, but I found it gripping and watched the entire series across one weekend.

- Niamh McClelland 

PastedImage-47838 Source: Netflix

Puberty has never been so funny or so painfully relatable and you’ll wish you had Big Mouth growing up. The cartoon, which is on Netflix, follows a group of American 13 years old as their minds and bodies transition from being children to adults. Oh and they’re plagued by ‘hormone monsters’ played by Maya Rudolph and Nick Kroll.

- Claire Woods 

PastedImage-49173 Source: Netflix

The best new TV shows I watched this year were two series on Netflix. The Haunting of Hill House and the new series of The Sinner. I never, ever watch any kind of dramas and usually avoid horror because I find it a bit boring, I’ve never seen a properly scary film before and the jump-y bits never give me a fright either, so I really didn’t have any expectations for The Haunting of Hill House but I was bored on Halloween night so I started it and I thoroughly enjoyed it and wouldn’t shut up about it for days afterwards, recommending it to anybody who would listen. So here I am recommending it again, for the last time in 2018.
I enjoyed The Sinner just as much, watching the entire thing in just two sittings. Aside from that, my comfort viewing this year was every Alan Partridge title that Netflix had to offer, which was also very enjoyable. 

- Kelly Earley 

PastedImage-32092 Source: HBO

Sharp Objects was a highlight for me this year. It was only eight episodes long and it took me back to the old days where I had to wait a week to watch the latest, like some kind of caveperson. 
Amy Adams plays a good stint as a newspaper reporter sent back to her small Missouri hometown to investigate a series of murders. It’s an adaptation of Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn’s debut novel, and is as stylish as it is intriguing. 
Also, shout out to Bojack Horseman. Things got deep. 

- Nicola Byrne 


PastedImage-90128 Source: Mercury Records

Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour

I’m bad for obsessively listening to stuff before abandoning it indefinitely. Not so with this - the songs are beautifully written. If you find Taylor Swift a bit frantic but still want to indulge in that country-pop vibe, she’s your gal. 

- Fionnuala Jones

Nobody – Mitski

Yes, we should all aspire to be independent women who buys their own diamonds and rigns and ‘only rings your celly when I’m feelin’ lonely’. But what if you’re lonely all the time? Well blare Mitski at full blast and wallow in the aching solitude of nobody wanting you and the longing for ‘one good honest kiss’.

- Claire Woods 

PastedImage-99432 Source: Bandcamp

Kojaque – Deli Daydreams

I think my favourite album this year was Irish rapper Kojaque’s debut album Deli Daydreams, which was unreal. My two fave songs from that would be White Noise and Eviction Notice. For second place, it’s a draw between Lily Allen’s album No Shame (which was ridiculously underrated) and the new IDLES album Joy as an Act of Resistance. Honourable mention for north Dublin band girlfriend. who finally put some of their music on Spotify this year too.

-Kelly Earley 


Ariana Grande – Sweetener 

Come on, an obvious choice. Although Ariana abandoned Sweetner promo, I won’t. Special mention goes to Screaming Females – All At Once (no, they’re not just screaming females), Wyvern Lingo’s debut, and Khalid’s American Teen

- Nicola Byrne 


I loved Ladybird and I don’t care what anyone says. I’m bet into any film which explores the mother/daughter relationship. I saw it twice; don’t @ me.
A Star Is Born: I can’t remember the last time I banged on about a film as much as I did after seeing this one. There are actually some people out there who haven’t see it yet, and I’m jealous that they get to see it for the first time.

- Niamh McClelland 


I have to agree with Niamh on A Star is Born. I LOVED it and was expecting, to not. 
I’m just going to leave it at that because nothing else came close this year.

- Nicola Byrne 

callme Source: Sony Picture

Call Me By Your Name came out last year, but it’s still a 2018 pick here.

A beautifully shot and irresistible love story that will remain for you days after, not least because of a speech on heartbreak at the end. Also, it’s a LGBTQ+ movie that ignored stereotypes and cliches: it’s set in the 1980s and the main character doesn’t die, have AIDS or get rejected by their parents. 

- Claire Woods 

Now that I think of it, I don’t think I went to the cinema once in 2018, but I watched every single Fast and Furious movie on Netflix and judge me all you like, I enjoyed every minute of it.
I just looked at my Netflix viewing history to see what else I watched, and it turns out I watched Pride three times in 2018 (was I ok? probably not). Pride tells the true story of how a group of Welsh miners reluctantly accepted the help of LGBTQ activists from London during their strike in 1984, when Margaret Thatcher was giving both demographics an equally shit time. Although both groups came from very different backgrounds and had very different experiences, their unlikely union proved very positive. 

- Kelly Earley 


I’d be surprised if The Importance of Being Aisling isn’t on everyone’s list. The first book came to me at such an important time, so I was gleeful when I realised the sequel was coming so soon after. This is the literary equivalent of a hug – warm and comforting. Bring on the third one.

- Fionnuala Jones 


I know it has its critics but I adored the simplicity of Normal People. Sally Rooney expertly summed up that weird facet of Trinity heads and the complexity of young relationships that don’t need to be complex in the slightest.

- Nicola Byrne 


Dolly Alderton: Everything I Know About Love. I wrote an entire piece on it, it’s that good. 

- Niamh McClelland  

The Elders Source: JONATHAN BRADY

Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience and the Fight for a Sustainable Future by Mary Robinson is my pick. 
Our former President’s message in this book is simple – climate change has become a human rights issue because those most affected by it are the ones least responsible for it. Robinson’s overarching mantra is the book is uplifting: small individual actions on a local level can snowball into a global ideas, resulting in change for the good of humanity. 

- Claire Woods 

My favourite book this year was Striking Back: The Untold Story of an Anti-Apartheid Striker by Mary Manning, which told the entire story of the Dunnes Stores anti-apartheid strike during the 1980s, from the point of view of the woman who accidentally started it all.


It was a really good read, and it made me cry a few times too (which I was not expecting). I think it’s definitely an essential part of modern Irish history that everybody should learn about, particularly because it recounts how a group of ordinary working class women made a huge difference in society, which was initially resisted by the church and many members of the general public, but was later lauded by Nelson Mandela. I read quite a bit of fiction this year and can’t really remember any of it because it feels like it was such a long year, but I did love Sally Rooney’s Normal People.

- Kelly Earley 

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