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Movies

Top Ten Films of 2022

Like my 2021 list, I rounded out the number of films I saw in 2022 at about 70 films. Unlike 2021 (or the last few years, for that matter), this year is not a top 20.

I’ve always been vocal in saying there are no bad movie years, but 2022 was a tad dull when compared to the likes of 2021 (and certainly to the juggernaut that was the 2019 movie year). 

This also could factor into something that hasn’t happened to me in sometime: I did not get to rewatch any movies on my list (save one). That is more on me than the movies themselves (I did watch some more TV this past year than previously, and while not a movie, I can’t stop praising the amazing Andor.)

As always, I had my share of blindspots, so movies you won’t see on here include:

  • All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
  • Babylon
  • Barbarian
  • The Black Phone
  • Close
  • Devotion
  • EO
  • Living
  • A Man Called Otto
  • No Bears
  • Pearl
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
  • X

Finally, the honorable mentions

Now for the top ten, which begins on the frontlines.

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"Top Tens", and others Movies

Top 10 Worst films of 2022

Two weeks ago, I was experiencing back pain that I was more than likely sure were kidney stones. While the pain was not as severe as it had been in the past, it lasted enough days for me to double check with the doctor. Well, turns out it wasn’t a kidney stone…it was two.

My friend Peter said it best: “You are one stone away from an Infinity Gauntlet”.

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4 Stars

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

After 2009’s Avatar became the highest grossing movie worldwide (Avengers: Endgame did overcome it for a bit, but a rerelease just pushed Avatar back into first place), Cameron wasted little time in working on the second film (he is hoping to make a total of five).

Unlike the MCU movies, Cameron does not seem to feel any pressure with release dates. It also helps when it is reported how much of a perfectionist he is. Now, thirteen years later, we get to see if Cameron is able to live up to the hype with Avatar: The Way of Water.

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4 Stars

The Fabelmans (2022)

Years ago, I remember going on the epic, arduous, and downright absurd task of ranking my 20 favorite directors of all time (looking back, at least I was not foolish enough to say they were the concrete “best” of all time). The list was obviously personal, but I don’t regret saying that Steven Spielberg came in at number 2…just behind Hitchcock.

With the possible exception of Scoresese, no other director is more familiar with the public in the last half century than Spielberg. I can’t think of another director in my lifetime who has played the nostalgia card to perfection, and nostalgia is indeed one of the key forces that drives his semi-autobiographical tale, The Fabelmans.

I have read up a bit on Spielberg’s life over the years, so I can say a good amount of what is shown is indeed based on his experiences. The avatar for young Spielberg is young Sammy Fabelman (Mateo Zoryon Francis-DeFord), who we are introduced to right away outside the movie theater as he is about to see his first movie, Cecil B. Demille’s The Greatest Show on Earth. Even though the film nowadays is considered by many (including me) as one of the worst Oscar winners for Best Picture, it still has a profound impact on Sammy (as it did Spielberg), mainly the famous train wreck scene. With the blessing of his mother (Michelle Williams), Sammy uses his father’s camera to record a train wreck scene of his own with his model trains, sparking his love for making home movies even more. 

Sammy’s love for making movies continues even into his young teen years (played by Gabriel Labelle, who does look somewhat like Spielberg), making his own westerns and (especially) war pictures. He is fortunate to still get the support (or at least enough support) from his mother and father (Paul Dano), as well as his father’s best friend, “Uncle” Bennie (a cleanly shaven Seth Rogen). Some of the best advice comes from a great uncle (Judd Hirsch, still thriving and thrilling to watch at 87 years old) in one remarkable, memorable scene. The support of his younger sisters varies throughout Sammy’s childhood (one of the sisters played by the mega talented young Julia Butters, the stand out child actor from Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood).

From my vantage point, perhaps the most intriguing thing about Spielberg as a filmmaker is his ability to balance all aspects of a film. Sure, he knows the importance of camera movement perhaps better than any living director, but he does not put all his chips in that basket. 

He values the script (which he co-wrote with Tony Kushner) as much as he does the lighting (which is marvelous thanks in part to his frequently used cinematographer Janusz Kaminski) or the film’s editing (another frequent Spielberg collaborator, Michael Kahn). 

Each performance is as valued as another, from Michelle William’s almost certain next Oscar nomination to the scene stealing Chloe East as Sammy’s love interest. 

He even values the little details such as how the family cleans the dinner table (was that something that happened back then, or was it just a thing the Spielberg household did?) as much as he does the musical score (which says something when he is using his lifelong friend/music legend John Williams). 

Parents, the movie is PG-13, mainly for the content and some swearing (I don’t recall any F bombs). There is some kissing, but no sexual content. I would think mature middle schoolers and above would be fine.

Toward the end of the film (which is admittedly rather long), we see the story of Spielberg’s youth I was hoping we would see, his encounter with one of his filmmaking idols. I won’t say who it is, only that is indeed one of the most influential filmmakers of all time (and, looking back at my previously mentioned list of directors, was ranked number three behind Spielberg). 

By the end, we realize, somewhat by indirection, what makes Spielberg such a masterful cinematic storyteller: his movies (even the mediocre ones) are the cinematic dreams we truly never forget.

Overall:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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4 Stars

She Said (2022)

Are there any movies about journalism that are considered bad?

Of course, I have some I have not seen, but of the ones that I have (especially those based on true stories), they are downright solid pieces of film.

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3 1/2 Stars

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)

It is feasible to believe that no other MCU film to date has had a bigger emotional mountain to climb than Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

The first film was such a mammoth success (financially, critically, and even Oscar wise) that a sequel was inevitable from the get go. Then, of course, tragedy struck when the world lost Chadwick Boseman in August of 2020, leaving the sequel in serious jeopardy. Also add in the fact that this would be the final film in Phase 4 of the MCU, and you can see why this film had a lot to accomplish. 

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4 Stars

Armageddon Time (2022)

Anyone who has ever taken any form of creative writing class surely knows one of the first rules: write what you know.

Filmmakers  have been making films loosely based on their own childhoods for sometime now, going as far back as Truffaut’s 1959 masterpiece The 400 Blows. Yet ever since 2018’s Roma (based off of past experiences by it’s director,  Alfonso Cuarón), there has seem to be a slight uptick in these types of films: Lee Issac Chung’s Minari (2020), Kenneth Branaugh’s Belfast (2021), and Steven Spielberg’s The Fablemans, which is soon to be released in a few weeks. Now the spotlight is on the childhood of director James Gray, with Armageddon Time.

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5 Stars

TÁR (2022)

Perhaps I should just state it from the get go here: If you are someone who wants as little ambiguity in a film as possible, then TÁR is not a film for you.

If you want to have a movie to tell people they need to seek out for the purpose of needing someone to talk to about what you just witnessed, you won’t find a better candidate on any sized screen this year. 

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2 1/2 Stars

Black Adam (2022)

There was this one moment in The Office when Dwight mentions the online game called “Second Life.” In it, he does everything he would do in his everyday life, except now he can fly.

As the titular character of Black Adam, one could say something along the same lines for Dwayne Johnson (and before you say “Wait, he doesn’t have electrical powers!”, keep in mind I grew up knowing him as the most “electrifying man in sports entertainment”.)

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1/2 Star

Jeepers Creepers: Reborn (2022)

Note: Earlier this year, I was blessed to be a guest on the Game for a Movie Podcast, hosted by an old high school buddy of mine, Mike.

On his pod, he and his friends like to talk about random types of media consumption, including takes on bad movies.