by Miguel E. Rodriguez
Another challenger arrives! This challenge comes from Anthony Casale who asked us (me, Marc Sanders, and the estimable Mr. Thomas Pahl) what our 10 favorite movies and/or TV shows were from the 2022 calendar year.
Below are my answers, along with a few cherished honorable mentions. Let me know how I did in the comments. And thanks for reading!
10. BABYLON – Recipe for making the movie Babylon: Take three parts Singin’ in the Rain, three parts Boogie Nights, two parts Moulin Rouge!, two parts The Artist, and a dash of Goodfellas. Throw everything into a Cuisinart and mix it all together into a frenetically-edited dough. Smooth it out into a bread pan, being careful to leave a VERY few uneven spots. Throw it into an oven that’s hotter than a poor guy locked in a sound booth. Bake until everything is a golden brown with a tinge of debauchery, insanity, and highly questionable morals. Serve while sizzling. (Wait…is this a good review or a bad review? The answer is: yes.)
9. CLERKS III – As a fan of all things Kevin Smith…well, MOST things Kevin Smith…this was one of my most highly-anticipated films of 2022. I was not disappointed. Clerks III retains all the irreverent humor from the first two installments, wrapped in a surprisingly touching screenplay that goes so meta it becomes almost impossible to identify what’s fiction and what’s autobiography. Mr. Smith has sometimes said he CAN make “good” movies when he wants to. It would seem this good movie escaped the editing room without him realizing it.
8. LIGHTYEAR – Okay, I’m not going to change anyone’s mind about this movie, so just move along if you didn’t like it. As for me, I didn’t just like it, I loved it. I thought it was an intriguing thought experiment that fits extremely well into the Toy Story-verse. (If that’s not a word, it should be.) Not only was the story compelling on its own, but the filmmakers also threw in multiple throwbacks and Easter eggs referencing specific moments and shots from the first two Toy Story films. I will acknowledge the negative opinions of this film, but I cannot say I understand them. This was a treat.
7. HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, Season 1 – Due to the trash fire that was the final season of Game of Thrones, my hopes were very, very low for House of the Dragon. Rumors abounded: it’s been axed, it’s been delayed, it’s been transferred to Netflix, etcetera. So, I was very pleasantly surprised when I found myself drawn back into the Thrones-iverse (patent pending) with this prequel series set nearly 200 years before the original. Like the original, the very first episode reaches out and grabs you, then settles in for palace intrigue, bloodshed, betrayal, and boobs. (It’s not porn…it’s HBO.) I couldn’t tell you any of the names of the main characters if pressed right at this moment, but while it plays, it’s compelling television. I hope the remaining seasons can live up to the promise of this first one.
6. TURNING RED – One of Pixar’s best, funniest movies since Inside Out. Most of the negative reviews of the movie that I read had one thing in common: they all called the lead character “irritating.” Well…the lead character is a rebellious, hormone-stricken 13-year-old girl. Of COURSE, she’s irritating. That just makes her character feel more real and grounded. Some folks also had problems with a kid’s movie addressing feminine hygiene, however briefly. Well, gee whiz, heaven forbid we introduce a daily – monthly? – fact of life into a film. That element of the movie made it feel like an animated film written by John Hughes. This is not a bad thing. (Read my full review here: TURNING RED (2022) – 2 UNPAID MOVIE CRITICS!!!! )
5. SUCCESSION, Season 3 – Succession is basically Game of Thrones without the dragons, incest, nudity, and gory violence. All the other elements are there: power struggles, betrayals, conspiracies, double-crosses, family loyalty, explosive secrets, etc. Season Three was just as entertaining as the first two seasons, with more twists and turns than the Monaco Grand Prix. Brian Cox’s performance as the family patriarch, Logan Roy, stands with the best work he’s ever done. His brood of conniving children are every bit his equal…but they just can’t seem to get him out the door. Every time they think he’s cornered, he pulls a Houdini by being even more lowdown than they would ever suspect. It’s a breathtaking feat of writing, acting, and direction. My favorite HBO series since, you guessed it, Game of Thrones.
4. TOP GUN: MAVERICK – The sequel NOBODY wanted…but when it finally arrived, miracle of miracles, it was actually good. No…not just good. It was GREAT. The film’s creators wisely realized they needed to inject this sequel with a healthy dose of nostalgia for fans of the original 1986 film. (Thirty-six years previous!) As one of those fans, let me tell you: when the first notes of the “Top Gun Anthem” started playing over the opening credits, a ridiculous grin was plastered on my face, and it stayed there for almost the whole movie. Attention must be paid to the fact that virtually all the cockpit scenes in the film are 100% real, filmed with the real actors in the real cockpits of real Navy jet fighters. The effect of this method cannot be overstated. The aerial combat scenes felt absolutely authentic, creating a vibe that green/blue-screen trickery simply cannot duplicate. True, the story/screenplay isn’t exactly Oscar material…but who cares? What a ride! (Trivia note: this is one of the most financially successful sequels of all time, if not THE most successful. Total global box office take from May thru December 2022: nearly $1.5 billion. I think this Tom Cruise guy may have a future in movies…)
3. ANDOR, Season 1 – It’s finally here: the Star Wars series for people who hate Star Wars. Purists have been heard to lament the fact that Andor has very little in it to identify it as part of the Star Wars universe. No Jedi. No lightsabers. Very little mention, if any at all, of the Force. Only one space “battle”, if you’d even call it that. As for me, I thought all those absences worked in Andor’s favor. Created by Hollywood veteran Tony Gilroy (screenwriter of, among many others, the Jason Bourne franchise, Michael Clayton, and wouldn’t you know it, Rogue One), Andor presents us with a more realistic version of the Star Wars universe. Did you know there are desk jobs in the Imperial bureaucracy? Well, why wouldn’t there be? Fighting a rebellion costs money – where does that money come from? Who funds it? A highly placed senator has a plan, but she must find a way to keep it a secret, not just from Imperial oversight, but also from her husband and daughter. These people couldn’t give two figs about the Force; they’re just trying to stay one step ahead of the bad guys. There are so many brilliant details, I could literally go on and on. Andor is the most compelling new series I watched all year.
2. THE BATMAN – Wow…and I thought Joker was dark. A serial killer goes on a spree, leaving behind notes and riddles for the Batman. Putting his considerable deductive skills to work, Bruce Wayne follows the clues, but the killer manages to stay one step ahead. Do these seemingly random murders have a connection? Does the killer have a master plan? Is water wet? What made this new version so thrilling was the fresh screenplay, yes, but also the visual style. This new version of Gotham City seems to inhabit the same universe as Blade Runner, where the rain is more or less perpetual, and the nights are lit like an early episode of Miami Vice. Robert Pattinson’s take as a younger, but equally tortured, Bruce Wayne felt even more “organic” than Christian Bale’s Batman. Pattinson pulls off a younger, even angrier vibe, and it’s interesting to see that part of the Batman’s evolution. The serial killer’s methods and personality felt like something right out of Se7en. Colin Farrell’s Penguin is a master class in knowing just how far is too far to go with a big character. Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle is every bit as dangerous as her predecessors. And holy crap, that Batmobile…? DAYAM. Nolan’s The Dark Knight is still my favorite Batman film overall, but The Batman stands as an impressive example of the right way to reboot.
- EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE – Far and away the single best movie I saw from 2022. I’ll keep it short by saying, read my full review here: EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE (2022) – 2 UNPAID MOVIE CRITICS!!!!
HONORABLE MENTIONS, in no particular order:
The Bob’s Burgers Movie
Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness
Stranger Things, Season 4
She-Hulk, Season 1
Avatar: The Way of Water
Solar Opposites, Season 3
Moon Knight, Season 1