My Year in Lists: 2022 Movies

TOTAL: 222
New releases: 
Rewatches: 44
Unseen: 122

Here’s some of my favs.
FYI my favorite movie overall I watched in 2022 was the donkey movie… no, not that one. I didn’t even see that one, I’m talking about the OG. (The fact someone even had the audacity to try and remake it still boggles my mind.)


I saw it in theaters but had the chance in June while watching my friend’s cat to binge the entire franchise on Paramount+. Gained a lot of appreciation for the crew and what these movies do as a result. A bunch of dudes goofing around showing their dicks and abusing their bodies? *chef’s kiss* That’s the epitome of stunt cinema, right there. The Godzilla penis opener is spectacular, all the more once you learn the lengths and industry resources required to produce it after viewing 4.5. Ehren McGhehey can’t catch a break.


Kyle Turner wrote the best article I’ve seen about this movie, it’s worth checking out. This is probably going to be The Terminator for multiverse movies going forward: new template, the touchstone. Which, if box office receipts, audience reception, and total global Marvel saturation is anything to go by, we’re in for a lot more of. *sighs* At least this is refreshing, even if I had weird annoying cognitive dissonance at the fact it almost feels lifted from Matt Fraction’s Casanova. (Maybe there’s only one viable narrative you can tell with this multiverse stuff…?) I gave up my nerdy gatekeeping and gave over to it wholeheartedly once the rocks started talking, though. Michelle Yeoh remains a certified queen but it was Stephanie Hsu’s swagger that got me most. I’m still boggled the guys who made the ‘Turn Down for What’ music video directed something like this.


It’s a rom-com, it made me laugh, it’s got Charlie Day playing a weird little guy opposite Jenny Slate. I ain’t gotta explain shit.


A couple people I know told me they didn’t really ‘get’ this movie. Enjoyed it more or less just fine, they confessed, but afterwards when the dust settled found themselves having expected something more; they couldn’t figure out what the point of it all was. I can understand the urge as well the difficulty. Despite the hermetic quality of his debut, if the three films under his belt are anything to judge, Jordan Peele’s work now seems characterized by eclectic screenwriting as much as they are social commentary. Us is a messy sophomore movie, an idea sketched from a metaphor that doesn’t quiet coalesce yet without resulting in a cascading failure, and if Nope gets accused of the same or worse, it’s only ostensibly because screenwriting by Hollywood accountants and Netflix originals seem to have damaged our critical faculties. (The people who complain about the monkey or how Steven Yeun’s character doesn’t add anything to the plot: congrats, you’ve shown your ass.) I actually think there’s a lot going on in here, mostly related to how media and spectatorship operate, blackness and film history, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to try parsing the ‘meaning’ when better, more insightful people than me have done so (go listen to Celia Mattison talk about this movie!). I wonder if it might even be beside the point anyways. This is a proper Spielbergian summer blockbuster, a Moby Dick monster tale of chasing a white whale, and on first viewing at least, it wants you to get swept up in these characters, their situations, and their psychology – Keke Palmer is a joy anytime she’s on-screen, Steve Yeun’s acting creates a fully realized side-character, Daniel Kaluuya continues to embed his roles with a nuance that is so compelling to watch– everything else becomes ancillary or emergent concerns to what is immediately at hand. At the core its drive is telling a story about metis in the classical sense, wrangling and wits, escalation kept apace with more and more of what the Haywoods learn and, by proxy, the audience, about Jean Jacket’s behavior: by the time we’ve arrived at that cool-ass AKIRA motorslide into Jupitar’s Clam during the climax, we’re in the final minutes of JAWS with the pressurized scuba tank and rifle. When Keke pulls off the one perfect shot? Pure triumphalism. THIS IS WHAT MOVIELAND IS ALL ABOUT!


I literally went into this in a packed theater on a date expecting nothing. The trailers looked horrible, the premise dumb; it seemed only degrees removed from the pedigree of something like The Bye-Bye Man. I figured I was in for nothing but jump scares. And yeah, it plods along almost exactly as you’d expect, occasional nice set-dressing and compositions working overtime to compensate for the requisite studio horror beats and trauma themes (uggggggggh). And yet… something happens about a little over mid-way through. It involves Kal Penn, an actor who I’d formerly thought lost his way back to Hollywood after serving in the White House with Obama a decade ago, walking into the room and looks horrified at the main character holding a knife over a bloodied body. He starts yelling hysterically… then proceeds to rip his fucking face off. I dunno, man! Just the imagery of that moment… Kumar peeling his goddamn face off with his fingers while screaming WHAT DID YOU DO AGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH…  it’s great, I was beside myself, I pepped up immediately after that. Same for the ultimate monster in this thing, especially how the lighting during those final confrontations works on the figures. Truth be told, if I’m affording this movie a spot instead of Barbarian, an equally fun theatergoing experience and overall much better movie that I’m sure I’ll rewatch plenty of times, it is only because… well, Smile is a bad movie I’m likely to never rewatch again but which nonetheless seems to have seared some of itself into my brain for life anyways. When it was over my date asked me afterwards if I wanted to go walk around and see the old town ruins on Douglas Island (…ok? lol). Tiptoeing around delipidated structures in pitch dark forest, I realized my brain was trepidatiously filling in all the shadows like a child with the gross entity I’d just seen on-screen.  Infesting your world like a dream: isn’t that the best thing you can hope for from a horror movie? (Well, I mean that and a rowdy-theater where 13-year olds run out screaming in droves.) I admit the charge, because I feel the quality.


We could talk about how this movie sorta talks about itself as a film (or works of art in general) in terms of its food content: contempt for mass audiences, artist versus audience relations, what we want out of art and why we come to it, yadayadayada. We could also bring up how, like so many other offerings lately (Glass Onion, Triangle of Sadness, a half-dozen TV shows), it belongs to a certain strain of popular entertainment enabling a form of consumerism Mark Fisher once called interpassivity: films and TV purporting to satirize or showcase how dumb the rich among us really are, thus making you feel smarter than them, enabling it to perform our protest toward the state-of-affairs for us while nonetheless making us complacent with its ongoing reality. We could, we could. We could! But at the end of the day… aren’t both of those things the exact over-intellectualization this film is deriding, much as it is the dregs with no taste seeking easily-digestible content? Alfred Hitchcock once joked puns are the highest form of literature, and when all is said and done, I think I gotta respect a thriller whose entire plot seems ultimately mediated on manifesting a well-worn proverb (there’s no accounting for taste, baby!) This movie is lean with no fat, it sits you down with a story of motley characters and ushers you out of the theater less than two hours later feeling like you got a full-course meal. John Leguizamo said he based his character on Steven Seagal and goddammit I might just like it for that alone. It’s not the greatest but it filled me up. I went back to the theater a week or two later for a second helping.


How can a movie so cold be so lush? Doomed and sexy, mmmmm. I wanted to keep observing these characters, watch their relationship unfold, become a romantic voyeur in perpetuity to their lives… right up until the waves came crashing down and then suddenly I didn’t. Shattered indeed!


As someone who lived around his inscrutably nice best friend every waking moment for the last two years and perpetually found myself annoyed at how much that could annoy me at times: too much, Martin McDonagh! STOP IT. But also: glad you’re back on track after your Three Billboards mishap. (Also: another donkey!)


A crazy-day-at-work/one-crazy night type movie in the manner of Mikey and Nicky. Two best friends acquire a gun and decide to kill themselves together – one out of trauma, one out of situation – and wind up going on a tear which, by the end of day, inverts reasonings and emotional standing. I liked how small, how intimate this thing is. I also like how it’s incredibly funny, despite the morbid content (because that’s often how absurd suicide’s razor’s edge actually is). “You can’t listen to music that exactly describes the emotional thing you’re going through. You know how cheesy that is? I don’t listen to Alanis Morissette when I’m going through a breakup, and I’m not listening to Papa fucking Roach on the day I’m gonna kill myself.” Slayed me. Henry Winkler has been getting a lot of work lately, hasn’t he?


I’m in a weird metastable state about this movie right now. Depending on what scenes you poke and prod me to reminisce about, I’ll either be giggling about it (the opener and everything during the movie-shoot in the desert) or scoffing at the inanity of it all (dressing up the plot as some grand statement about cinema by the last 45-minute mark). It’s an odd mess, basically, and for once, the divisiveness of the criticism surrounding a film seems somewhat earned. (Walter Anyone complaining of anachronism with the content would be better off just reading something like Crickets by Sammy Harkham – I’d take that comic about making movies over half the movies about making movies, truth be told! –  but nor should it be bestowed any pretense at being more than what it is. When it’s at its best, it has the playfulness of a food fight. If only Tobey Maguire had gotten more things to throw.