Tuesday, January 17th, 2023 at 2:00 pm
Well folks, we did it. One more year has passed and things continue to move towards getting back to normal. Although the meaning of normal is still up for debate. For me, normal is a year full of movies that I got to enjoy in the theaters, and more than a few that I wished I had seen in a dark theater instead of my TV. 2021 was the year I hit 53 new movies watched, and I am happy to report that I doubled that in 2022, as I ended up with 112 new movies watched. And just for a quick reminder, any movie I see for the first time, no matter in theaters or on my TV, counts towards that total. If you follow my social media, you know locking in that #10 spot was a very tough decision. And as I was first writing this out, I ended up switching movies once more. Therefore, before we get to my Top 10 movies of 2022, I’d like to highlight a few honorable mentions that just missed making the main list.
2022 Honorable Mentions
Honorable Mention: Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (available to stream on Roku Channel)
As I said, as I was writing this up I made a last-minute decision for the #10 spot. This was the movie that was originally there, but as I re-watched the trailers that I added to this post, I had to switch movies. But I still wanted to show Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, and a few others some love. I am one of the many who pretty much knew I was going to see this one as soon as that first trailer dropped. Being a huge Weird Al fan was a big reason for that, but also the fact that Daniel Radcliffe has been really knocking it out of the park past his Harry Potter days, really showing that he is pretty much up for playing any part, even a farting corpse, but more on that later. Directed by Eric Appel, who co-wrote the screenplay with Weird Al Yankovic, this wild and crazy exaggerated telling of the life of Weird Al is chocked full of cameos and laughs that will make repeat viewings of this mandatory. I must also give some kudos to both Evan Rachel Wood as Madonna and Rainn Wilson as Dr. Demento, both also knocking it out of the park. This film may not be for everyone, but if you are familiar with Weird Al and his wild sense of humor, this is your personal catnip, more on that later. And much like the next movie, not 100% accurate when it comes to the real story, but still very much enjoyable. One downside is that we didn’t get a theatrical release, so fingers crossed we still may get that at some point, because this is the perfect movie to see in a crowded theater with fellow Weird Al fans.
Honorable Mention: Blonde (available on Netflix)
And next up is another movie that isn’t exactly 100% accurate to what really happened, but based on a fictional telling, a book written by Joyce Carol Oates of the life of Marilyn Monroe, focusing more on the Norma Jean aspect of her life. This was one of the many movies clocking in at around 3 hours, this one just being 13 minutes short. But even though this is a Netflix movie, I was lucky enough to be able to see this on the big screen with a great sound system, and the sound editing in this one is really well done. Yes, I know, a weird comment for this movie and not one you would expect. I need to also point out the fact this movie goes back and forth between B&W and color, as well as a few different aspect ratios, but neither really drew me out of this movie, but drew me in even more at certain points. Blonde is directed by Andrew Dominik, who also wrote the screenplay based on the aforementioned Oates book. But it is not just the technical aspects of this that are stunning, as Ana de Armas was lighting up the screen with her presence. And thanks to some extra attention to detail, a few times made you forget that she wasn’t actually Marilyn Monroe. I think I would be shocked if she doesn’t get some love once the Oscar nominations come out. But for some there were a few issues with this movie, as most seemed more concerned about her accent which came out at times and the fact that this wasn’t a true story, neither of which bothered me. It’s not a happy film and perhaps there is a reason for that. It’s not a perfect movie and there are some very weird moments dealing with babies that did draw me out at times. This was enough for me to watch a few of her movies I hadn’t seen before, and if I didn’t already have a stack of things to read, perhaps I would have read the book too.
Honorable Mention: Cat Daddies (only in select theaters)
I shouldn’t have to give much explanation as to why this was in consideration for my top ten list, as I was hooked the first time I saw this trailer pop up. For those who don’t know, I myself am a cat dad to two cats, Korra and Kipsi, and have gotten some weird looks at times, but that could be for other reasons too. Cat Daddies was directed by Mye Hoang and follows various stories of men and their cats. And don’t worry, they are all happy stories, as having to say good-bye to my previous cats, Seth and Scarlett, I didn’t need to be reminded of that in any way. But I will say that one of the stories did really hit me emotionally, one dealing with a homeless man and his cat. A few of the stories involve cats who like to be out and exploring the world, which I kind of wish mine were like that, but perhaps it’s less stressful that they aren’t. I was lucky enough to have this showing at a theater here in Milwaukee during a film festival, but I will say this one may be a little difficult to see in theaters, but a simple Google search should let you know, when or if it will be showing in your area.
Top 10 Movies of 2022
And as we finally get to the best of the best, we kick things off with Belle, an animated movie written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda. I was not aware of this movie until it was brought up on a podcast I was listening to (I am guessing it was the /Film podcast). And sadly I missed out on seeing it in theaters, but when it popped up on a Blu-ray release, I decided to give it a blind buy, and guess what, I loved it! When the first song hit, I was blown away by both the music and visuals, and was bummed I missed out on seeing this in glorious IMAX — fingers crossed for a theatrical re-release at some point. The movie is about a girl who loses her voice and as she dives into a virtual world, gets it back in a way but does her best to hide the fact that she is Belle. And there is also a big Beauty and the Beast vibe to this story, as a beast interrupts one of her songs and she is determined to find him and help him, but she finds out there is a lot more to his story. This was one of the movies that I quickly bought the soundtrack as soon as I was done watching, although I think I did pause it and bought it before the movie was even done. I also feel like both the original dialogue and dubbed versions of this film are both impactful, but I always tend to go for original dialogue with subtitles.
9. Clerks 3
After watching Clerks 2 I was ok with how that story ended and didn’t feel like we needed to revisit it again. But Kevin Smith and his crew of Quick Stop employees and patrons were able to both continue the story as well as bring back plenty of nostalgia. Based on a real-life event, Randal ends up in the hospital and spends some time reflecting on his life and decides to write and direct a movie about his life. I don’t know if there is much more to say, if you are a fan of the View Askew-verse, this is your jam; if not, this may not end up being one you will enjoy or appreciate. But for me, it was a great way to close out this story and a nice way to hold us over until Mallrats 2?
8. Prey (available on Hulu)
This year was full of movies that sadly didn’t get a theatrical release. Instead, we had to watch them on our TVs, which is just not the same. The general consensus was that Prey did reserve a theatrical release, if even just a short one, like Glass Onion did. I was never a huge Predator fan, but when Dan Trachtenberg is directing and also part of the story process, then I am interested in seeing this movie. Top that off with some great buzz for both Trachtenberg, and our leading lady, Amber Midthunder, who knocked it out of the park and showcased a strong female lead, who can take on even a Predator. It may have thought she wasn’t a threat, but he realizes that is far from true. This movie basically opened up a huge swell of people wanting more Predator movies, placed in various timelines throughout history. And the great news is that you can hop on Hulu right after you finish reading this and be able to watch this.
7. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (available on Netflix)
There were a few times that we did get to watch a movie in an actual movie theater that was supposed to be on a streaming service. And yes, you guessed correctly, this was one of those movies. And before we go into a little detail about Glass Onion, I just want to say the experience was fun. We had a full theater and everyone had a fun time, with plenty of laughs throughout. Having a great experience in the theater always makes the movie an overall better experience. And as we finally get to the movie, I am pretty sure the first Knives Out was also on my top ten for that year, so when we found out we were getting more, I was very excited, even with the thought of it being on Netflix. Once again written and directed by Rian Johnson, we get another chapter in the weird and mysterious world of Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig, and his wonderful outfits that deserve some love as well. Throw in yet another stellar cast to join in the mystery, with Edward Norton bringing his friends together on his private island to host a murder-mystery party. That is more than you need to know about this movie, so just sit back, fire up Netflix, and prepare to join in on a fun and entertaining mystery. Can’t wait till the next chapter; would love to see the Muppets being included, but that is just wishful thinking from the Internet.
And as someone who enjoys reading and looking over others’ top ten lists, sometimes I get a little annoyed when they bend the rules a little. To be honest, I have done it a few times before, so in 2022, I am doing it once again with this double-feature (soon to be a trilogy) written and directed by Ti West, with Mia Goth being our lovely and talented lead. Also the fact that we had a string of movies with more than 3-hour run times, you can call this one movie, just in two parts. X is a gritty grind-house horror movie about a group of filmmakers who go to a secluded farm to film the next big porno. The old couple are not aware of their complete plans, but the couple also has a few surprises as well. Pearl is an origin story that not only enhances the first movie, but also really gives Mia a chance to shine, showing off her emotional energy and delivering a spine-tingling monologue around a dinner table. Top that off with one of the most uncomfortable end shots of a movie ever. And because there are a few surprises along the way, I am not going to be telling you much more about these movies. If you are a horror fan, I am sure you have already checked this out, but if for some reason you haven’t, this makes a great double feature, as we wait for the next movie in the trilogy, MaXXXine, to come out.
5. Avatar 2: The Way Of Water (only in theaters)
2022 was full of theater experiences, and we have a few more to come in this top ten list, including this next pick, a tiny independent film you may have not heard of. I am not proud of using that easy joke, but I had to. Anyways, I was a big fan of the first Avatar movie, have seen it multiple times in theaters, even took my parents to see it in 3D, because if they are going to see it, they have to see it in the best way possible. It’s been a few years since the first film came out, and I can say it was worth the wait. As of now, I have seen the sequel, Avatar 2: The Way Of Water, three times: twice in LIMAX 3D and recently in real IMAX 3D. I even took my family to see it, and pretty much everyone enjoyed the ride, as well as the stunning visuals, which is why you need to see this on a big screen and in 3D. We dive back into the world of Pandora, catching up with Jake Sully and Neytiri, who have built themselves a family, but just as things seem to calm, you know that isn’t going to last as we once again get the return of the evil humans, this time with a little twist. The humans are still evil, and will provide evidence quite early on in the movie, as well as later in the movie. The first movie was director James Cameron’s love letter to the forest and how we need to save it. This sequel has the same message, but with the ocean. As we meet the water tribe of Na’vi, we learn of their life and customs as Jake and his family join them. And as we are going to meet a fire/ash tribe next, so yeah there is going to be plenty of people saying it reminds them of a different Avatar, the Last Airbender kind. I can understand if you aren’t a fan, but I just wish you would give this one a shot, but like I said, pay the extra money to see it in IMAX 3D, the best possible way to see it. You stopped watching stuff in standard definition, so why would you not see this in the best way possible. James Cameron, I see you, keep doing your thing and I am ready for the ride, the full ride.
4. Top Gun: Maverick (available on Paramount+)
When you think of movies in 2022, I feel like Top Gun: Maverick was the biggest surprise and for most of the year, the highest grossing movie, until that other “indie” film Avatar 2 came along late in the year and knocked it off the #1 spot. A sign of a good movie is when you see that first trailer or teaser and immediately want to see that movie, and having to wait sucks. Well we had to wait for this one, but my god was it so worth the wait. And once again this was a movie theater experience, and yet another movie that begs to be seen on a big screen, being blown away by both the sights and sounds. Top Gun: Maverick was directed by Joseph Kosinski, and once again starred Tom Cruise, showing off his ability to show off his particular skills, you know flying fighter jets. Maverick is back to show a new group of recruits, with Miles Teller as Rooster, how to be their best and train them for a mission against an enemy from an unknown origin. And what follows is some amazing flight scenes, especially in IMAX, shot to make you feel like you are in the jet with them, feeling the various Gs as they pull off maneuvers. We get a return of the infamous beach volleyball, although with a new and confusing twist. And a small easter egg from the first movie turns into the talented and beautiful Jennifer Connelly, and a varied awkward love scene(?). Lots of nostalgia along the way and just an overall great movie, and I can’t wait to see it again in IMAX at some point. I’ve yet to watch it on my TV to see how it holds up on a smaller screen. Also, how long before the next Mission: Impossible movie?!
3. The Batman (available on HBO Max)
And we continue the trend of movies that were an experience in the theaters, I once again ventured off to the nearest IMAX screen to experience this one in the best way possible. And from that opening sequence of The Batman I was overwhelmed with the dark and gritty world of Gotham, while also being blown away by the theater rumbling sound. Rumbling also comes into play later on in a great car chase scene, kicked off with the roar of the Batmobile and continues with some great camera work, showcasing the chase. I am one who has a weird relationship with the Batman movies, was more a fan of the Tim Burton ones, and even though I had issues with the Nolan ones, I feel they are still some decent films overall. But when it comes to The Batman, we get the very emo and broody Bruce Wayne, who is still new to the whole caped crusader routine. But another reason this was great was that we got Detective Batman, not to be confused with Detective Pikachu, as he tries to track down the Riddler, played wonderfully by Paul Dano. Along with Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman and a barely recognizable Colin Farrell as the Penguin. See we can have numerous heroes and villains in a movie and it can be great. Can’t wait to see what director Matt Reeves has in store for us next and a little curious about the Penguin TV series we are supposed to get.
2. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
We all dread the numerous trailers we have to sit through before the actual movie starts, although if you are at an AMC theater, we can’t forget about that bumper with Nicole Kidman. But sometimes we get a trailer that actually does its job and sparks our interest in a movie. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is a perfect example of this, as I was not familiar with this character before I saw the trailer, as it is based on some shorts. And thankfully I was able to catch this earlier, as it played in Chicago at a film festival, and I got to first experience this touching tale in a packed theater of people of various ages and not a single dry eye in the theater as the movie ended. Marcel, voiced by Jenny Slate, starts a friendship with a home’s newest renter, Dean (voiced by Dean Fleischer-Camp, who also directed and co-wrote with Slate and Nick Paley), and they immediately build a friendship and Marcel becomes the subject of a documentary film, as he tries to track down the rest of his family. Marcel is not completely alone, as his Grandma Connie, voiced by Isabella Rossellini, offers support through Marcel’s journey and shares their love of the TV show 60 Minutes. As we inch closer to the number one spot, we have reached that moment where the movies are going to be a little different, and perhaps not your particular cup of tea, but I just hope you give them a chance, because you may actually end up liking it.
1. Everything Everywhere All At Once
Well we have reached the #1 movie of the year, and it’s one that many have also put as their #1 movie as well: Everything Everywhere All At Once. This was another one that piqued my interest from the very first viewing of the trailer. Going in I was sure how crazy and weird things were going to be, and they were both, but I enjoyed every minute of it. It features the directing/writing crew of the Daniels — Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert — along with our leading lady, the legendary Michelle Yeoh, along with some great supporting cast. We had the return of Ke Huy Quan (best known for his child acting role as Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), and a wonderful introduction to Stephanie Hsu. And I can’t forget about the legendary Jamie Lee Curtis. Just a great cast of people in a great movie. Now after all of that praise, this is a weird movie, and for some of you out there, perhaps a little too weird. There is a sequence where things get really weird and wild, but amongst the chaos is a powerful message about life, family, and all kinds of emotions. The story revolves around a family and the idea of a multiverse, and perhaps one of the best multiverse movies since Into the Spider-verse, another top film for that year. I just ask you to give this one a shot. I was able to see this one multiple times in a theater, and each time I brought someone new to see it. And I am happy to report that most loved it as much as I did.
And there you have it, a collection of the best movies from the past year, according to me. I hope you give these movies a shot and I hope you enjoy the ride or escape from reality as much as I did. And hey why not head back to the theater, there is nothing like the experience of seeing a great movie in a dark room with others who are along for the experience. I am not sure I am going to be able to top 112 new movies in 2023, but if I can keep it above 100, I will be very happy. It’s early in the year, but I am already at 5 new movies, and a few more lined up for this vacation week. Feel free to leave a comment below, or you can find me at @seandps on Twitter, or you can follow my list of movies I see at letterboxd.com/seandps/lists.