2022 At the Movies
This really was a solid year for movies. I’m sure Nope and The Way of Water will end up near the very top of my favorites for the decade and both seemed fairly overlooked in awards season. It was a year of great entertainment to come from movies, mystery/comedies, and fictionalized autobiographies of directors and their love of movies. I have to say that 2022 boasted a batch of movies that were really exciting, fun cinematic experiences that didn't feel like they got a lot of buzz surrounding them (like Nope or Three Thousand Years of Longing), but also some of the big movies (like Avatar The Way of Water or The Batman) or award nominated movies were incredibly enjoyable (like Triangle of Sadness or Babylon). Overall, it was a pretty fun year for movies.
A perfect movie. Oddly, a horror/alien movie with a theme of animal behavior. As much as Jordan Peele nailed it with Get Out, I argue that this is his masterpiece… So far. The guy is only three movies into his directorial career and he's only getting better.
2. Avatar: The Way of Water
While the first Avatar movie was a bit of a disappointment for me, I have found myself to be a James Cameron fanatic in the 13 years. And yet, this might be in contention with my favorites from his filmography. This is the height of spectacle and also manages to spin Moby Dick toward a sci-fi setting.
3. Glass Onion
Great fun, great cast and a nice mystery. Rian Johnson's films have established themselves as some of the most beautifully shot of the past decade.
4. Three Thousand Years of Longing
A modern take on genie mythology, mixing storytelling and a very unorthodox love story. Effects mixed with a great soundscape create an otherworldly aura.
5. Decision to Leave
A wild thriller from the director of Old Boy. Incredibly stylized to the gills. A homicide detective falls in love with a former subject of a past case after they both move to the same town.
6. The Batman
The world's greatest detective finally works as a detective in a movie. Beautifully shot, interesting Nirvana inspired score and an unrecognizable Colin Farrell.
Rear Window is one of my favorite movies of all time and Steven Soderberg nails this homage to Hitchcock's classic in the digital age. Zoe Kravitz is the perfect embodiment of pandemic PTSD.
8. Triangle of Sadness
I had been avoiding this just from the heaviness of the title, not knowing that it seems to be a play on expressions of models as well as a reference to the Bermuda Triangle. I love how much this mirrors the ocean liner energy of Fellini's And The Ship Sails On.
9. Thirteen Lives
The story of the rescue of twelve young soccer players and their coach in Indonesia, the performances are wonderfully understated and the story is harrowing.
10. Fire of Love
I'm not sure I've ever seen a documentary with a style like this. The Jocques Cousteau style Volcanologists that put themselves in some pretty scary situations while also learning and teaching quite about about Volcanos along the way.
A beautiful and wild fictionalized history of the transition from Silent to Sound in Hollywood. A fantastic cast and great storytelling make the long runtime fly by.
Cate Blanchet is amazing as a larger than life figure if major symphonies around the world. A film very firmly fixed in realism takes such a surreal turn at the end that it plays out like a feature length joke.
13. See How They Run
Another fun murder mystery, this time benefitted by the charisma of Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan. Rockwell's character is really well written as overconfident in his abilities while struggling with a debilitating and hilarious drinking problem.
14. Bullet Train
Extreme action and violence, great effects and unique and effective humor. I do love a train movie and this takes full advantage of a really fast commuter train.
15. Top Gun Maverick
One of the most underrated skills in film studies is the ability to make a crowd pleaser and this hits every note perfectly. It hits great heights in spectacle yet never clutters u the screen or jumbled up the story. Simple yet grand.
A great Sandler role where he plays a very natural version of himself. Incredibly entertaining as a basketball movie, very well made. Great use of unrecognizable NBA players.
17. The Fabelmans
Not only is an interesting alternate telling of Steven Speilberg’s early life, and maybe a little alteration based on introspection later in life, but it’s also a very well made movie on its own. The movies within the movie are all very good on their own, some come directly from Speilberg’s childhood, the World War II movie is presented in clips on the Saving Private Ryan extra features.
18. No Bears
Iranian director Jafar Panahi is one of the great directors in the world and he has spent the last 13 years banned from making any movies or leaving Iran. This is at least the fifth movie he has made and smuggled out of the country in that time, and all that I have seen have been incredible. Here, he plays himself, a filmmaker in a remote town stumbling into a local scandal that only escalates. After the release he was sent to prison and thankfully has since been released.
19. Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio
The story of Pinocchio or the ‘real boy’ concept that has found its way into science fiction films has never appealed to me, but del Toro’s interpretation is both uniquely funny and visually amazing. Quite touching, and a hauntingly funny take on immortality.
An interesting companion to Top Gun Maverick, this tells the true story of fighter pilots in the Korean War. It’s a bit funny that Glen Powell is in both movies, but interesting that he plays two very different personalities of fighter pilots. This plays with very different themes and has a quite different tone than Maverick.
21. The Northman
This could have been a straight forward period piece brutal revenge action movie, but supernatural imagery and an epic story make this unique. A viking movie that doesn’t get too historical despite incredible attention to historical detail, and has plenty of action while still feeling artistic.
22. Doctor Strange Multiverse of Madness
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies but did enjoy Dr. Strange’s previous MCU appearances, so I was a bit apprehensive going into this movie. I do, however, really like some of Raimi’s other movies that have now taken a back seat in moviegoers memories. This plays more on Raimi’s roots in horror/comedy than trying to capture an essence of the comics, a sensibility that might have doomed his Spider-Man movies for me.
23. Confess, Fletch
Jon Hamm makes a great Fletch, he truly makes it clear that Chevy Chase isn’t singular in the role and Hamm perhaps brings more depth to the character. This would make a great series of comedic mysteries, as long as the mini-genre has proven itself to have been oversaturated with two other similarly fun mystery/comedies of 2022.
24. The Banshees of Inisherin
The first ten minutes or so had me hoping that this would be a fun little comedy like Local Hero, but takes a very Martin McDonagh turn toward a kick in the gut to the viewer. I don’t want to enjoy a movie with the brutality that this has, but it’s hard to shake from my memory with the beauty of the setting and the perplexities of the very unique cast of characters.
Horror is a great genre for filmmakers to break through, they don’t always require the biggest budget, they need to play to some pretty intense emotions, and they need to find a way to be unique to set themselves apart from all the other low budget jump-scare-fests. This takes some pretty major left turns from the expected horror movie formula to the point that a synopsis really leads you to expect a very different movie, and a very different antagonist. Not only does this subvert expectations of who is a dangerous character, but the film completely flips around the half-way mark, probably at the same timing of the Psycho shower scene.
Bones and All, Elvis, Lightyear, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Whale, The Lost City, and Vengeance
Morbius was just not as bad as it had been hyped up to be, Blonde had some issues with the story taking fictional liberties and pairing those with fact, and Jurassic World Dominion was just plain forgettable. These movies weren't great but they weren't the worst. The Worst movie I saw in 2022 easily goes to Ambulance, directed by Michael Bay. Not quite a fever dream, more like a coked out nightmare.