2022 has come and gone and awards season is now upon us. I saw a lot of movies and shows last year so below are my thoughts on all of it! WARNING: THERE BE SPOILERS BELOW!
- Everything Everywhere All At Once: This was amazing and so unrelentingly mind-expanding. The concept was interesting, the acting was great, the meta-commentary was smart, and it was so heart-warming to see Data back in action (literally). The third act was a bit too long, but this was easily one of the best movies of the year and I will still probably need to see it many more times to grok it all.
- Prey: This was such a fresh take on a franchise that has been so bad for decades. Despite a few instances of poor editing (like the mountain lion fight), this film was non-stop tension from the go. They went all-in on the Comanche setting and it really paid off. Amber Midthunder was a badass protagonist (Stabbing the Predator with its own fang was such a boss move!), but she ultimately won by out-learning her opponent. It was so cool to see the Predator on its own learning journey, working its way up the food chain (Seeing the Predator’s outline in bear blood was epic!) and the sound editing was next level. Showing up covered in green blood at the end was the perfect bookend callback to the beginning. This is easily the second-best Predator film.
- Ghostbusters: Afterlife: I had very low expecations about this one due to previous sequels but this was so good that we watched it again the next night. It blended creepy and funny like the first movie and kept me guessing up until the end. What really made this film work was McKenna Grace, whose deadpan comedic timing was perfect. She was almost too good; part of the charm of the original was the parity between each of the three original protagonists (Egon – the brains, Ray – the hands, Peter – the mouth), but, in this version, there was McKenna’s character and then everyone else. Still, it was really enjoyable and I hope they build on this strong foundation.
- Nope: This was a creepy and tense creature feature that kept me guessing most of the way through and then, even when I knew where it was headed, blew me away with the payoff at the end. We were still discussing it days later, especially the relevance of the chimpanzee. I will definitely rewatch this one!
- Glass Onion: It seems that Rian Johnson can do no wrong. This didn’t quite capture the magic of Knives Out for me, but it was still very entertaining and it kept me guessing to the end. I enjoyed its structure but found its characters to be less compelling than those of its predecessor. I probably won’t rewatch this one but I’m very glad to have seen it!
- Apollo 10 1/2: This was a fun, understated snapshot at life in Houston in the 1960s with special attention to the Moon race. Much of it resonated with me, even though I wasn’t alive during that time period. I probably won’t rewatch it, but it was enjoyable and I’m glad to have seen it.
- Ted Lasso: I was late to the Ted Lasso phenomenon, but it was worth the wait. Coaching through kindness and believing in others was refreshing and many of the characters were endearing. Season 1 was 10/10, Season 2 lost its way a bit (I found some of the character choices/motivations a bit unbelievable.) but was still enjoyable, and I can’t wait for Season 3!
- Only Murders In The Building: This series is delightful so far! Excellent writing and acting, some fun high-concept moments, and a mystery that keeps me wondering whodunit until the end. Season 2 was almost as good as Season 1 – as above, I can’t wait for Season 3!
- Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore: It is no secret (See what I did there?) that I am no fan of the Fantastic Beasts franchise, so I came into this with low expectations, and yet it still underwhelmed. There were so many plot holes, so many “but why?” character decisions, and so many “but who cares?” scenes – and so much expository dialog of characters just talking to each other. I hope this is finally the nail in the coffin for this misguided series.
- Obi-Wan Kenobi: Oof, speaking of beloved IPs really screwing up prequel attempts. This was well acted and featured great music, but that couldn’t compensate for a nonensical plot, utterly predictable/bad writing (We were calling out what each character would say before they said it.), and even bad special effects (some terrible green screen). There were so many inconsistencies with the original trilogy and then the climax was just a rehash of the fight at the end of Revenge Of The Sith or the second season of Rebels (This fight even borrowed verbatim dialog and choreography from that fight.). This really felt like they had an idea to have a fight between Obi-Wan and Vader and just focused on the spectacle of that without regard to plot and character. If there is a Season 2, I won’t be watching.
- Rings Of Power: I was so excited for this. It seemed to have the blessing of the Tolkien estate and Amazon seemed to be investing a lot in it – but it was bad. Production values were high – great music and sets – and it was cool that orcs were true menaces, not fodder. However, the show seemed so intent on creating shocking reveals that it forgot to make them earned, interesting, or even sensical.
It came across more like a Tolkien-themed soap opera than anything serious. I’m so bored of “will they or won’t they” inter-species romance subplots; it’s been done thrice now and each time it becomes less interesting. They were going for Game Of Thrones, but they wound up with GOT Season 8! And, like GOT Season 8, they had too much going on simultaneously so that they had to transport people instantaneously all over the place, which I found to to diminish the scale of Middle Earth.
They also mischaracterized well established characters from Tolkien’s Legendarium. I don’t believe that source material is sacred in adaptations, but, if you’re going to mess with the writings of one of the most beloved writers of the 20th century, it should be purposeful. Instead, this was just . . . fan fiction. Very disappointing; I won’t be watching Season 2.
- Foundation: Similar to the above, this was pretty and well acted, but that’s about it. They were trying so hard to make GOT in space that they forgot what made GOT so interesting: it was sociological, not psychological, storytelling. The written Foundation Series is one of the greatest sociological stories of all time, but the show runners tried to shoe horn the material into psychological stories of individualist heroes. It was literally the opposite of the source material and it just doesn’t work. I won’t be watching Season 2.
- Top Gun: Maverick: This was . . . fine. It didn’t really capture the magic of the original film for me. The original movie was a sports film set in jets. This movie was more of a Mission: Impossible movie set in jets, but without any big reveals, which are what make Mission: Impossible movies interesting. The action was great and there was a wonderful scene with Tom and Val, but otherwise the characters were pretty forgettable. The original movie was a cultural phenomenon, but people have already forgotten this film. Disclaimer: I didn’t see this in the theater, which probably would have helped.
- The Northman: My hopes were high for this film since I have found the previous work of Robert Eggers to be rivetting. I found this instead to be meh, not nearly as interesting as its predecessors. It was a pretty straight forward bloody revenge tale and there isn’t much more to say.
- His Dark Materials: I’m a huge fan of the source material and I even liked the film adaptation but found this adaptation to be pretty meh. It felt very BBC: the actors were very capable but they just seemed to be expositing to each other on soundstages. To make it more GOT-like, they parralelized some characters that were serialized in the novels, with the result being that those characters didn’t have much to do for much of the series.
- Wheel Of Time: I’m not a huge fan of the source material but decided to give this adaptation a try. It suffers from some of the same plot/character parallelization issues as the above, but the production values seem a bit higher. I don’t love it, but will give Season 2 a chance.
What do you think? Do you agree/disagree with my reviews? Have I missed any key content from 2022? Let me know!