The theatrical experience made a comeback (for me) in 2022, as the result of a handful of films that looked great on the big screen and/or provided a communal escape. But aside from those high highs, the rest of the cinema that I consumed this year – whether from my couch or in a theater – was mostly forgettable.
Despite seeing a ton of disappointing comic book flicks this year, my movie consumption dropped off considerably compared to 2021, but that just means you can expect a lengthy rundown of television shows for 2022.
The best of 2022
Licorice Pizza (2021) – A fun (and problematic) love story that evokes Rushmore, Adventureland and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in all the best ways.
CODA (2021) – Despite a predictable plot, this feel good movie about family and identity punches above its weight as the result of fantastic acting performances.
The Worst Person in the World (2021) – A romantic comedy packaging delivers an often-heartbreaking drama about the protagonist discovering her identity, both as an individual and with a partner.
The Batman (2022) – I’m a sucker for the world of Batman in any form, but especially in this noir format that evokes Se7en, offers a fallible Caped Crusader and has electricity jumping off the screen from Zoë Kravitz. It’s also a treat to have a comic book movie with grounded action scenes.
Top Gun: Maverick (2022) – A great mix of nostalgia and 21st century filmmaking that produces the rare sequel that reaches (or maybe exceeds) the heights of the original hit and reminds you of the importance of experiencing a movie in the theaters.
Nope (2022) – Jordan Peele‘s latest horror/comedy is a delightful theater experience – because of how it looks on the big screen and the benefits of a communal activity – and evokes the best storytelling elements of Signs, while continuing to expand the limits of the audience.
Jackie Brown * (1997) – Quentin Tarantino was born to bring the work of Elmore Leonard to the screen and Pam Grier is the cherry on top in this fun underworld hangout. Fire take: Better than Pulp Fiction.
Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) – If you’re nostalgic about movies and are looking for a creative take on action films or the multiverse theory this is a fun adventure with a family drama at its core.
The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) – A dark tragedy with a lot of laughs.
The rest of 2022
The eyes of Tammy Faye (2021) – A paint-by-numbers biopic with characters that feel cartoonish (so of course it won an Academy Award).
Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021) – As always, Ryan Reynolds is a delight, but this action sequel had bad CGI and is less inventive and enjoyable than the charming original.
The Town * (2010) – Jeremy Renner is electric in this rewatchable heist film that gets its steady heartbeat from Ben Affleck and Rebecca Hall.
The Eternals (2021) – A new contender for worst comic book movie, as Marvel wastes an amazing cast and offers boring fight scenes
Palm Springs * (2020) – This pandemic surprise loses a bit of its sparkle on a second viewing, but remains an enjoyable watch with a story that moves quickly.
Don’t Look Up (2021) – I’m the target audience for a political satire from Adam McKay, but this is way too long and on the nose. A double feature evening of Dr. Strangelove and Network would be much more rewarding.
The King’s Man (2021) – The third installment in the Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman series lacks the charm and engaging fight scenes from the previous two installments and gets bogged down by the seriousness of Ralph Fiennes.
Free Guy (2021) – A saccharine sweet action-comedy blend that effectively plays with pop culture nostalgia and successfully deploys the charm of Ryan Reynolds.
French Dispatch (2021) – An indulgent collection of short stories without any stories or characters to care about, but plenty of style (if you’re into that).
West Side Story (2021) – This remake isn’t really my bag, but its vibrant looking, sounds great, and Ariana DeBose jumps off the screen.
East Side Sushi (2014) – A cute underdog story that is comically heavy handed and has a few good food porn scenes.
Venom: Let there be Carnage (2021) – It feels like you are rubber necking for all 97 minutes of this car crash of a sequel.
Top Gun (1986) – A fascinating cinematic relic that has dated, confusing action scenes and a captivating performance from an early 20s Tom Cruise.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022) – This once promising series sinks to new lows with a story that’s a mess and wastes an amazing cast.
Fire Island (2022) – A romantic comedy that tries too hard and ultimately isn’t as smart as it wants to be.
Spiderhead (2022) – Chris Hemsworth steals the show as a humorous supervillain in this underwhelming prison-based psychological thriller.
Lord of the Rings: Two Towers * (2002) – The scale of this movie is slightly less impressive two decades later, but it’s still a great escape with a pretty fast-moving story (for a 3+ hour movie) and plenty of heart.
Last Night in Soho (2021) – An upscale horror movie that looks amazing and has a winning soundtrack.
Broadcast News * (1987) – The romantic and technological aspects of this story have not aged well, but the scenes capturing the drama and politics in a news organization remains relevant and depressingly hilarious.
Thor: Love & Thunder (2022) – A fun ride that tries to tackle too much story and probably won’t hold up on a second watch.
The Gray Man (2022) – The charm of Anna de Armas is almost capable of redeeming this loud, long and dumb action flick.
Raising Arizona (1987) – It’s hard not to wear a smile throughout this screwball comedy that kept shocking me with how young its actors were.
Don’t Worry Darling (2022) – A glossy film that looks pretty and initially piqued my interest, but ultimately the story is too much buildup and not enough coherent payoff.
I Want You Back (2022) – A charming cast of characters tasked with administering a lackluster script added up to a B- comedy.
Blue Jasmine (2013) – Cate Blanchett is mesmerizing as she struggles to adapt to her socioeconomic fall and the supporting world around her provides meaningful stakes.
The Witch (2015) – A period, family drama with a sprinkling of supernatural flavoring that is both captivating and too scary to watch at points, while serving as the coming out party for Anya Taylor-Joy.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) – This sequel gets bogged down by all the plot it tries to advance and Marvel elements it’s tasked with introducing. The series would have been better off delivering a more intimate display of loss and remembrance.
See How They Run (2022) – This period piece feels like a Knives Out copycat that badly misses the mark
The Menu (2022) – A funny, stylish skewering of our current foodie culture (that hit a little close to home) and – much like a restaurant dessert – doesn’t succeed in finishing the experience on a strong note.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) – Maybe there’s an interesting movie in here, but the finished product is too long, too reliant on fan service gimmicks and too afraid (or unable?) to take creative leaps with the multiverse storytelling.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (2022) – A screwball satire of the music biopic genre that only offers a few minutes of laughs. The experience made me extremely nostalgic for Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.
Confess, Fletch (2022) – Jon Hamm strikes a balance between the suave Don Draper and his hapless character on 30 Rock, as he picks up the Fletch mantle from Chevy Chase in this watchable and forgettable comedy.