By Christian DiMartino
I will be honest, I rarely ever release a “Best of the Year So Far” list because usually by around June there might be like one or two movies that really wows me, and the rest range from “pretty good” and on. In 2022, I’m not going to lie, I’ve been really impressed by the slate so far. Mind you, they haven’t all been home runs but there’s been some really impressive works to come along this year, and we’ve only just entered July.
Oddly enough, I’ve barely reviewed any of them.
Yeah, at around the mid-February point, I was cranking out a lot of reviews, as well as actively participating in a Youtube Channel called “So That Was a Movie” as well as starting a new job (which I adore). To be honest, it all just sort of added up and it broke my brain. In the breaking came what can only be considered “writer’s block.” That, mixed with the fact that going to the movies wasn’t just going to the movies; I had turned it into something of a homework assignment. I wrote a few pieces, but the spark just wasn’t there. Even after being wowed by some of the movies that I’m going to be discussing.
Recently though, I think I have found my spark again… but, knock on wood. What I’ve concocted here is my five favorite films of the year, with a few additional categories. Truthfully, I’m not 100% in what the rest of the year will bring. What is known though is that we get a new Spielberg, a new Scorsese, (fingers crossed) a new Aronofsky. Jordan Peele has a new movie, and sadly I didn’t get to see A24’s Marcel the Shell With Shoes On before making this list but I’ve heard it’s also special. Having only seen 46 movies so far this year, perhaps I’m not the best judge. With that said, I’m the best I’ve got.
5. X: Here’s one of the few that I actually reviewed. I had a great time at Ti West’s X, which is violent, gross, but also utterly hilarious. The film is an homage to 70’s grindhouse slasher flicks, and it’s very proud of being one while it’s also proud of poking fun at itself. The performances are a knockout too, particularly Brittany Snow and Mia Goth. Can’t wait for the prequel, which has apparently already been filmed.
4. Elvis: Hey, another one I reviewed. Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis was among the year’s biggest cinematic question marks, as Baz will always be Baz, and we had to fear that he might tarnish The King. Tarnish, he did not. Celebrate, he sure did, with flashy, gorgeous style and a vision that only he could conceive. Elvis is one of the year’s grandest visual feasts, and yet I remain mystified by just how effective I found it. Maybe it’s because Elvis Presley really is awesome; maybe it’s because Luhrmann, over nearly 3 hours, sucked me into this world; or maybe it’s the central performance from Austin Butler, who is certainly worthy of an Academy Award nomination.
3. Everything, Everywhere, All At Once: It’s been about 3 months since the release of A24’s Everything, Everywhere, All At Once, and not only are people still talking about it, but we’re probably going to keep talking about it. This film is an achievement; an achievement of filmmaking (truth be told, I’m not sure if there’s been anything like it) and an achievement of creativity. This is a film that, from beginning to end, just keeps giving. It’s a film that left me exhausted but thrilled while I was also laughing, and it’s sold so beautifully by the performances (Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis, and the triumphant, wonderful return of Ke Huy Quan) that it’s no surprise that this movie was such a smash. The success of this movie is a reminder that movies are still worth saving.
2. The Northman: Y’all totally slept on this one though. Robert Eggers’ The Northman is a grand, astonishing achievement; the type that they don’t make anymore (and the type they may never make again because, cough, nobody went to see it). Eggers (the great The Witch and The Lighthouse) was given his largest budget by a mile and he worked wonders with it, churning out a film that is weird and incredibly violent but also utterly gorgeous and, I’ll say it, badass. I mean, guys, there’s a sword-fight between two naked men in a volcano in this movie. What more do you want? This might be an acquired taste, but I ate it up as much as Nicole Kidman chewed the scenery (it’s always great to see her having a good time).
- Top Gun: Maverick: Hell yeah, baby. Inject this movie into my bloodstream. The first Top Gun is of course a classic, oozing with 80’s cheese and homoeroticism. Top Gun: Maverick plays a lot of the same beats as that film, but… it’s just so much better. It has the spirit of the original film while also being its own thing. Typically when they decide to make a sequel like this, it is anything but necessary. The magic of Top Gun: Maverick is that it gives you everything you want. Everything that was enjoyable about the original film is even more enjoyable here, and this film (which I had the pleasure of seeing in IMAX) really took my breath away. Tom Cruise is an absolute nutbag, but I’m so grateful for him for still believing in the moviegoing experience and making it his mission to give us a great time at the movies. Which he has done here. Top Gun: Maverick is a great time at the movies, and it’s a great, wonderful, moving and exhilarating piece of filmmaking.
The Rest of the Best: The Batman, Ambulance, Scream, Men, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers, Beavis and Butthead Do the Universe (quite a list, I’d say)
Best Performances: Austin Butler- Elvis, Emma Thompson- Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, Jessie Buckley- Men, Paul Dano- The Batman, Michelle Yeoh- Everything, Everywhere All at Once, Nicole Kidman- The Northman, Tom Cruise- Top Gun: Maverick
Morbius: I’m in good spirits so I’ll only be knocking one movie (Judd Apatow’s The Bubble and the Liam Neeson vehicle Blacklight are definitely known though), and that movie is the already legendarily terrible Morbius. I would like to put it on the record that more people saw this in theatres than The Northman, despite the horrendous reviews. Shame! I actually just had the misfortune of sitting through this murky, ugly, lame, bloodless movie recently and although it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever seen… that’s perhaps the only praise I can give it. Something went wrong here. That something was perhaps the lack of effort to make an actual movie. Seriously, had the time actually been devoted to making a good movie, they probably could’ve done it. Yet the movie I saw was disinterested in telling an actual story, because there’s barely a story. Barely a story, barely a character of interest. There’s violence, but it’s all toned down for a PG-13 rating. Had this movie gone forth with an R-rating it at least would’ve had an identity; not a personality, necessarily, but it would’ve stood out a little more than this. As is, the movie is just a deadly dull dud whose only purpose is to (rather clumsily and horribly) set up upcoming adventures. If those adventures are going to be anything like this, I can wait.
Ambulance: The people ALSO chose to skip out on Michael Bay’s Ambulance, and this one I’m a little more understanding of. Because, well, when Michael Bay is good, he’s really good, but when he’s bad, he’s terrible. I gotta say though, Ambulance is… shockingly really good. Don’t get me wrong, it’s exhausting, which is a Michael Bay signature. But it’s also thrilling, really well acted, pretty well made, and here’s the real kicker: this time, Bay has made a movie not just with a heart, but with a soul. By the end of this thing, worn out as I may have been, I actually felt human emotions. From a Michael Bay movie. Um, what year is it?
Deep Water: Maybe we saw this one coming. The film sat on the shelf for nearly three years. BUT, I entered Deep Water, Adrian Lyne’s first film in 20 years, with an open heart because, well, Lyne makes movies that I want to see. Glossy, trashy, erotic thrillers are a thing of the past, but by golly I love them and would watch any of them in a heartbeat. Not going to lie, for a good 80 minutes of Deep Water, I wasn’t sure where it was going but I was undeniably compelled… just for the movie to literally drive off a cliff in the final act. Something had to have happened in that three year span that totally tampered with the end result. Because by the time the film reaches its conclusion, you’re not sure why you’ve just spent two hours with it. The end result is a film that is incoherent and just a hot mess. Love the cinematography and the performances, but there’s no way that the source material, a novel from the late great Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr. Ripley) was this wonky. Guys, if you want, you can try it again. I’ll allow it.
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