The first full year of post-pandemic movie going was not exactly the greatest year for the film world. There were a few greats, a few really goods, and a lot of theater experiences that makes one say NO as they walk towards the parking lot. When Tom Cruise makes a sequel to one of the worst bro-ish movies ever and that is head and shoulders superior, to one of the greatest filmmakers making a jerk off to yourself story about himself then we are living in the upside-down. On top of that, Brendan Fraser as best actor, arguably the greatest Bollywood movie ever released, a surprisingly excellent rom-com starring J-lo, and an unbelievable German sided movie based on the Great War. We also had a sexist as hell movie about “Men”, Jordan Peele making fake intellectualism for the second time in a row with “Nope”, and another “Avatar” movie that nobody asked for and you have an eclectic gauntlet. These are my TOP 10 BEST AND WORST FILMS OF 2022.
Top 10 Best:
10. “Top Gun: Maverick”:
I have argued for decades with people as to how the original “Top Gun” is the ultimate douche bag bro movie that the popular kids who pick on the weak love to watch. That is still a fact. Fortunately Tom Cruise somehow found a way to mostly right the ship with “Top Gun: Maverick”. This is one of the rare sequels better than the original, and in this instance way way better. The action which is mostly shot practically with the stars really flying planes is thrilling. Miles Teller does a great job as the son of Cruise’s fallen copilot Goose. Unfortunately they have to throw in a totally nonsensical slow motion beach volleyball scene that has nothing to do with the story just like the original. But other than that, I have no complaints. “Maverick” is what a true summer popcorn movie looks like.
9. “Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinnochio”;
Leave it to Guillermo Del Toro to completely twist a beloved Disney classic in all of the right ways. Filmed in an animation style that combines stop-motion with CGI, “Pinocchio” is one of the most visually original movies of the century. The story of the wooden child who cannot tell a lie without his nose growing is the simple basis for Del Toro to create a multi-layered story about humanity. The grief of a father, the exploitation of an innocent, an unrelenting journey towards life, and even an indictment on Fascists are all part of this heartwarming story. Fans of the typical Disney classic animated movies may be turned off by this admittedly strange interpretation. Trust me, this “Pinocchio” is a far more enriching story for both children and adults.
8. “Marry Me”:
Not every excellent movie has to be an Oscar contender. Sometimes they can be one that simply makes you feel good while watching it with the fam. For what it is, I stress that again, FOR WHAT IT IS, “Marry Me” holds its own with most other rom-coms. J-Lo does of course play basically herself. And the fact that she has a failed marriage does reflect real life. And yet somehow her and Owen Wilson find this strange chemistry together when she decides to marry the math teacher trying to make children’s lives better. This is so far from the real world in terms of story lines of course, but “Marry Me” absolutely oozes with charm. I guarantee the main song will get stuck in your head for days.
7. “The Menu”:
A person who lives in the world of high society is always, in the end, simply a person destined to die. Director Mark Myold’s twistedly hilarious chamber piece that is “The Menu” is the perfect example of how all of us are expendable. So many people from various backgrounds are going to die in the most creative of ways. From the rich to the pretentious foodies to those who married well, nobody is safe during this expensive weekend getaway. The one outlier is Anya-Taylor-Johnson’s character Margot who knows that nothing is right with this vacation. From there it becomes a battle of survival. “The Menu” is very similar to “The Hunger Games” series. One difference is this picture knows what it is satirizing, and it does it so perfectly.
This is 100% the lead actors movie. That actor would be Cate Blanchette. Based on the western world of classical music performances, Blanchette plays the titular character Tar, an unbelievable composer who is constantly trying to prove how important a composer actually is as they run a beautiful symphony. On top of that Lydia Tar is one of the first female performers to have the honor of leading an award winning orchestra. If you are into symphony music, “Tar” is right up you alley. More importantly, if you are into great cinema that pushes your limits then look no further.
5. “Empire Of Light”:
“Empire of Light” is arguably the most complex movies in terms of human struggle to deal with life of 2022. Director Sam Mendes has fortunately dropped the whole ‘BAG IN THE WIND IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING IN THE WORLD’ bullshit from “American Beauty” and instead made a film that is actually beautiful. Olivia Coleman is, well Olivia Coleman, as she of course delivers a tour-de-force performance as a woman who lives in a world that is both safe and also foreign. Coleman runs a classic movie theater in the early 80’s England landscape with race wars still raging. The theater owner Colin Firth is constantly using her sexually. The projectionist played by Toby Jones takes the neurotic film lover to another level. And then, as she is in the middle of falling down into her dark hole of extreme mental illness, she is ignited by a young black man played by Michel Ward that invigorates her both mentally as well as physically. Of course plenty of white men are not happy with a black man tearing theater tickets. “Empire of Light” is not simply an ode to cinema. It is an ode to the human spirit. No other movie in 2022 will have you inspired and also heartbroken at the same time.
4. “The Whale”:
Everybody has demons, and everybody is simply human when it’s all said and done. “The Whale” takes both of those concepts head on. Brendan Fraser in the best acting performance of the year, yeah, Brendan Fraser, I know, plays a man living out the last week of his life. He is so obese that getting out of his wheel chair to answer the door is basically impossible. The brilliant English teacher is afraid to turn on his FaceTime as he fears his class would find him grotesque. His care worker is so tired of his every need. His daughter hates him for ruining the possibility of a good childhood. But, in the end, “The Whale” sucks your soul into the idea of what could have been as death is knocking on the door, and still forgiving to ever give up.
The universe of Bollywood in the western culture of film goers is not exactly the most popular way to spend your Friday night. “RRR” goes beyond the genre and is simply a great, crazy, beautiful damn movie. It opens with British dictators stealing a young girl from her village because she can sing. Then you get an Indian man trying to work his way up the ranks of the British military by single-handily taking on an Indian mob at the U.K. embassy. On top of that our other main character takes on a tiger in the woods and wins. The two protagonist become dear friends without knowing that they are on opposite sides of a difficult to understand part of history. A great musical sequence that embarrasses the rich white elite. Fight sequences that include a man so enraged that he catches a motorcycle with his bear hands. This is how crazy, enjoyable, and ultimately awesome “RRR” is.
2. “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent”:
Just see it. Just see “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent”. Did you ever see a Nicholas Cage movie? The man is nuts. Sometimes in a good way, sometimes not. “Massive Talent” is one the most ‘Meta’ movies you could ask for. So ridiculous and hilarious while also being well shot, acted, and directed. Of all actors, who could pull this off like Nike Cage. It is a rarity to see see a movie that was meant to exist, and here you have it. To any film nerd, stop with the serious movie talk and just have fun!
1. “All Quite on the Western Front”:
This movie is going to destroy you. No way to sugar coat it. Visually from top to bottom “All Quite on the Western Front” is unbelievably well constructed. Felix Kammerer as the star completely dives into a role that involves some of the most brutal live action war scenes ever done. I will end there as “Western Front” must be experienced instead of explained. Good luck to any viewer…
Top 10 Worst:
Why? Was anybody watching shocked about who the killer was. No spoilers, was anybody shocked about the familiar who was killed because somebody with a knife walked in with the floor boards creaking? The “Scream” series is turning into the latest “Chucky” saga. Its very simple, just kick em and jog slowly. Maybe that would defeat Michael Myers too?
9. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”:
Marvel killed it with “Avengers:Endgame”. Now the franchise is going so far down the rabbit hole. Why the MCU decided to go full on multiverse is beyond me. “Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness” begins to make zero sense about ten minutes in. I understand Kevin Feige and company are attempting to brach out from the standard superhero movies. “Madness” is completely off the rails with scenes that make no sense at all. Maybe stick to what works?
Just like Quentin Tarantino, movie fans fall in love with a director. Jordan Peele is the latest example of the narrative of filmlovers that are blind. “Get Out” was amazing, no question. “Nope” is a complete egomaniacal shit-show that wants to laugh at the less intelligent. The suspense is less than complete. The racist undertones are forced and hold zero weight. And on top of that, there are no actual aliens! I will no ruin what is really going on, but to be frank it is simply bad filmmaking.
7.. “The Lost City”:
Why this movie exists is beyond me. I get that Channing Tatum, Sandra Bullock, and Brad Pitt are attractive But the screenplay for “The Lost City” is so incredibly stupid. Let’s make an action movie centered on a romance novel series. Ok? They already did that in the 80’s and it was called “Romancing the Stone”. The bumble experience that is “The Lost City” is not anywhere close to that cult classic.
. 6. “The Northman”:
The fascination with director Robert Eggers work eludes me. His first big hit “The Witch” is such a ridiculous horror movie that tries to take itself seriously with a talking goat being the big twist. “The Lighthouse” is essentially a reboot of “Fight Club” with two great actors involved. Now we have “The Northman” which is beautifully shot. Unfortunately, the story is completely hollow and a waste of time. Imagine “Conan the Barbarian” minus the fun without injecting real reflection. That is what “Conan” was. That is also why for some reason “The Northmans” thinks it is.
5. “Avatar: The Way of Water”:
I suppose I am wrong as the box office numbers have shown people around the world wanted another “Avatar” movie. Don’t know why. Just like its predecessor it is beautiful. And just like its predecessor the concept and overall storytelling is completely ridiculous. The soldier guys coming back as infiltrator blue people while also keeping their “HOORAH” army tattoos for some reason. The green people teaching the blue people how to kind-a breathe underwater with the main characters holding their breath just long enough when the plot needs. And the hour or so when the main characters are just hanging out with alien whales in slow motion. It’s beautiful to look at, and also more enjoyable to see with earbuds in to drown out the dialogue.
4. “The Father of the Bride”:
This is the Apitomía of lazy filmmaking. The original 50’s “Father of the Bride” all the way to the two remakes in the 90’s are all family comedy gems. Andy Garcia is so miscast in this role as lovable angry parent is not exactly in his repertoire. There is nothing fun or plucky with this remake that the previous version had. From act one to the end, “Father of the Bride” never invites its audience in.
The original “Enchanted” was a surprising gem not officially Disney cannon. Amy Adams and company led a crew of misfits that started in a fantasy world and suddenly found themselves in the real world of NYC. It was a fun piece of family entertainment. The sequel, not so much. “Disenchanted” lacks everything that is enjoyable. All of the actors look as though they are doing paint-by-numbers for a paycheck. Nothing moves the fairytale forward. No-one asked for this sequel, and for good reason.
We are all aware of the ‘ME TOO’ movement, an excellent cause for women around the world as sexual harassment should not be tolerated. Ever. Director Alex Garland, who made the excellent “Ex Machina”, takes a huge step backwards with his work. The idea that all women have to exist in a black hole for their lives is absolutely ridiculous. This should offend all ‘WOKE’ people as it is a total crock of garbage film that makes zero sense.
1. “White Noise”:
What is the purpose of this movie? It’s loaded cast-wise, but what are we suppose to take away? Director Noah Baumbach made one great film, coincidentally starring Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”. Other than that his work is a pile of pretentious nonsense. “White Noise” is the latest on his resume of useless filmmaking. Nobody will remember this film, and for good reason.