Barack Obama shares his top films, TV shows, songs and books of 2020

Movies 'Soul' and 'Nomadland', hit Netflix show, 'The Queen’s Gambit', music by Bad Bunny and books by Erik Larson and Karla Cornejo Villavicencio all feature

Netflix show 'The Queen's Gambit' and a track by Puerto Rican rapper and singer, Bad Bunny made former US president Barack Obama's list of his favourite books, shows, movies and music of 2020. Charlie Gray / Netflix 2020, AFP, AP
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Whatever Twitter, Spotify and YouTube can do, Barack Obama can do too. As the big tech platforms release their most popular lists for 2020, so too has the former US president, who took to social media to share his favourite songs, TV shows, books and movies of the year.

Obama, who also got to celebrate his former vice president Joe Biden winning the 2020 US election, shared his big and small screen highlights of 2020, as well as the books he's read and the music he's been listening to, showing off his diverse tastes. Here's a look at all of his top picks for the year:

Obama’s movie and TV picks

When it comes to movies, potential Oscar frontrunners loomed large on Obama's list, with Mank and Nomadland making the cut, as well as Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, which was one of the last films Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman made before his untimely death in August.

"Like everyone else, we were stuck inside a lot this year, and with streaming further blurring the lines between theatrical movies and television features, I’ve expanded the list to include visual storytelling that I’ve enjoyed this year, regardless of format," tweeted Obama.

Also on the list was Disney Pixar animation, Soul, which has been garnering rave reviews from critics, and Let Him Go, which stars Kevin Costner and Diane Lane and is based on real events. Obama also showed his love for foreign films with Russia's Beanpole on the list, as well as documentaries, recommending Time in which a woman called Fox Rich fights for the release of her husband, Rob, who is serving a 60-year sentence in prison.

Viola Davis in a scene from 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom', which is gaining Oscar momentum ahead of next year's nominations. Supplied

On the small screen, like everyone else who has seen it, the former president chose Netflix's chess drama The Queen's Gambit as a highlight, alongside Better Call Saul, Amazon Prime hit, The Boys, and the BBC drama I May Destroy You, about a young woman who seeks to rebuild her life after being raped. He also gave a shout out to the acclaimed Michael Jordan documentary, The Last Dance.

What’s on the presidential iPod

When it comes to his music highlights of 2020, the former President showed some eclectic taste, with Megan Thee Stallion, J Cole, Bob Dylan and Phoebe Bridgers all on the list. Bad Bunny, the Puerto Rican rapper and singer who was named Spotify's Most Streamed Artist of the Year was on the list with his track, La Dificil, along with the late Mac Miller's Blue World, Jhene Aiko's Summer 2020, and Franchise by Travis Scott featuring Young Thug and MIA.

"Here are some of my favorite songs of the year," he wrote on Twitter. "As usual, I had some valuable consultation from our family music guru, Sasha, to put this together. I hope you find a new song or two to listen to."

And with plenty of tunes influenced by his daughters, there were also some oldies on the Obama playlist with Bruce Springsteen's Ghosts and Bob Dylan's Goodbye Jimmy Reed.

Barack’s books

When it comes to books, the former president, who recently released his newest tome, A Promised Land, a collection of presidential memoirs, showed an appreciation for both fiction and non-fiction.

Ayad Akhta's Homeland Elegies, drawn from the author's experience as the son of Muslim immigrants living in the US made the list, along with Anne Applebaum's Twilight of Democracy which was also named a best book of the year by both The Washington Post and The Financial Times.

Kawai Strong Washburn's debut novel, Sharks in the Time of Saviours, meshes the legends of Hawaiian gods into a family saga, while in How Much of These Hills is Gold, author C Pam Zhang follows two children of Chinese labourers as they take their father's body on a journey through the California hills in the middle of the Gold Rush.

The debut novel by Kawai Strong Washburn, 'Sharks in the Time of Saviours', struck a chord with fellow author Barack Obama this year. Supplied

"As 2020 comes to a close, I wanted to share my annual lists of favorites. I'll start by sharing my favorite books this year, deliberately omitting what I think is a pretty good book – A Promised Land – by a certain 44th president," he added, with a cheeky bit of self-promotion. "I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I did."


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