Give Us Your Best! Films, TV and Games of 2022
Yeah, it's 2023, and so f&*$ing what?
We're only a couple of weeks past December the 30th, so there's still plenty of material to cover from last year. And while everyone else including my bro, Bop has mentioned their favorite films of 2022, here are my picks for films, games and television! The listing is not within any order, but I will spotlight my top favorite from each category.
Like so many, I was skeptical of Robert Pattinson's casting after Ben Affleck, and before him, Christian Bale but after watching say ,3 hours of the latest Batman reboot, I had a change of heart. Pattinson delivers a credible take on DC's Dark Knight who provided narration of a decaying Gotham City, that’s reminiscent of 1976's Taxi Driver but less angry and unhinged than Travis Bickle. While the atmosphere has that David Fincher vibe going for this Neo noir thriller disguised as a superhero movie.
A24 and Ti West, has come out with not just another movie, but a prequel to X, in Pearl, the titular character who made her debut in X, has dreams of stardom but first, she must deal with her abusive mother. While X was mostly Grindhouse fare, Pearl serves as a great psychological thriller as you watch her spiraling into disillusionment and madness. This is perhaps actress director Mia Goth's best performance to date. If the story, pacing and brutal scenes does not have you sold, the cinematography will!
Ti West's homage to Seventies exploitation films, has a clever concept when a porno production rents a house for shooting locations only to be picked off by a mysterious elderly couple, well, mostly Pearl.
While X spares no expense on the kills and Gore, part the appealing factor of this thriller, was the aging subtext during the 2nd act. It’s more than a one-note horror film, but instead, X is the first of a psychological thriller trilogy.
Sonic 2 accomplished what it was intended to do both story and entertainment the kids will find it both heartwarming and at times, heartbreaking while the grown-ups will chuckle at the inside jokes, easter eggs from the source material and of course Carrey's over the top performance. The sequel is one of my favorite films of 2022 and unlike Resident Evil Welcome to Raccoon City, was another great videogame adaptation, insuring Sega and Paramount's credibility. Should that winning streak (pun intended) continue, perhaps we can get more projects based on the "Segaverse" like Altered Beast, Vectorman, Shinobi, Nights into Dreams, Panzer Dragoon, Space Harrier, Phantasy Star, and Afterburner since Top Gun is now the talk around town. Just as long as Uwe Bollshit stays the hell away from these properties since he ruined House of the Dead!
More of a prequel, than a legacy sequel to the iconic Predator franchise, that takes place during the 1700s where the Extraterrestrial hunter lands on earth with a nearby Native American reservation as a hunting ground. The action is tense and Amber Midthunder headlines this movie as a young medicine woman turned warrior.
Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness
Yeah, I know plenty were left disappointed in this sequel featuring Marvel's Sorcerer Supreme, but I really appreciated Multiverse of Madness, (MoM?) for its ambitious scenarios and of course Spider-Man Director Sam Raimi helming another Comicbook property outside of the Webslinger. Benedict Cumberbatch seems to be having fun with his iconic role, as he brings more of the snark, while Elizabeth Olsen does a good job as the tragic heroine Wanda Maximoff and this is where Raimi uses his horror roots, where Wanda dispatches the cameo Superheroes Illuminati, in horrific fashion, to top it off, Stephen battles his dark half, in very creative means. Plus, there's Bruce "Ash" Campbell giving one of the funniest deliveries from this unfairly maligned sequel.
I had no idea what to make of this movie during the first 10 minutes, but once the story gets its legs, it hits the ground running with a slight bait and switch, with a menacing “Airbnb" creature that does not take kindly to "renters". There are underlying themes of Gentrification, economic disparity, a disturbing plot reveal regarding incest. The face-off between “The Mother” and Tess as the “Final Girl,” ascertained Barbarian as a strong contender in the list of better horror films from this year.
Werewolf by Night
Werewolf by Night was a great surprise thanks to Giacchino's cinematography, soundtrack, amazing color palettes, and its respectful homage paid towards the classic Universal Monsters franchise! That said, the scenes that had me smiling, was the MCU debut of Man-Thing, one of Marvel's signature Monsters. For what few minutes he had on screen, Man-Thing aka "Ted" was the breakout of this special, crushing the disappointing 2005 film, and no doubt Feige and Disney, will usher more projects from the Midnight Sons slash Marvel Monsters intellectual properties starting with the Blade reboot, and possibly Ghost Rider, Jericho Drumm and Simon Garth (Tales of the Zombie). I can only hope.
The Black Phone
Set during the late Seventies, this coming-of-age suspense features Ethan Hawke as the menacing child killer called The Grabber," delivers a terrifying performance but what is even more intriguing, is the titular phone's supernatural "connection" with Grabber's previous victims. Directed by Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange) Black Phone lived up to the hyperbole and hopefully, it's just a one-off, as Movie studios are quick to crank out a sequel following the success of the first film.
Top Gun: Maverick
I'm going to be honest for a minute, I never cared much for the first movie that came out during the jingoistic eighties, which in various ways was a 2-hour advertisement for the US Navy. And when I learned that a Revival sequel would arrive 35 years too late, I couldn't help but roll my eyes. After watching Maverick, I was very impressed. Its part action, with a story that had plenty of heart and a revisit of the hero's journey and like the first movie, there was pathos and spectacular aerial combat cinematography. Top Gun Maverick is "aces!"
2022 hasn't been that much of a stellar year for television, and while it marks one with the most cancellations and finales, there was a handful of new offerings that stood out amongst the others. Whether its high conceptual ideas, or just damn entertaining, here are my better shows, if not the best of 2022.
Part Lord of the Flies, part Lost, and a dose of Jawbreaker, Showtime's latest thriller and at times, dark comedy.Throughout the first season, Yellowjackets unravel a decade long mystery told via back-and-forth flashback sequences, with standout performances by Christina Ricci, Jenette Lewis and Melanie Lynskey (Castle Rock) there's also that great intro which I hope doesn't change in the upcoming second season. Excellent opening/theme too!
The Tulsa King
Stallone's back! This time he's headlining as a "retired" Mob Capo in Paramount Plus' The Tulsa King, that fully utilizes Sly’s acting chops, whether it’s his deadpan humor, sense of loyalty, or even fragility at times, this is another win for the Paramount Plus network.
Let the Right One In
Madison Taylor Baez as Eleanor Kane is a breakout actress who easily gravitates to her role as the cursed pre-teen trying to have a normal life despite her hunger pangs. Speaking of "gravitate " there are some movies or TV shows that I can lose interest during the first 10 minutes, but this reimagining had me glued instantly, but then again, I liked the original adaptation and the American film starring queen of Reboots, Chloë Grace Moretz With solid performances, intertwining story arcs and impressive special effects, Let The Right One In, looks like another strong contender from the network that gave us Dexter New Blood and Yellowjackets!
A few critiques aside, James Gunn’s Suicide Squad spin-off, was very entertaining, thanks to its overt black humor, a few solid performances from John Cena, or as Bop refers to him, as "John China" for apologizing to PRC, for a simple mistake that wasn't meant to offend anyone. That said, Peacemaker one of the cleverest openings from a Comicbook series.
At last! Tommy Egan has his own series after the events from the original POWER series, Egan has relocated with plans to setup a distro network in Chicago, but his arrival is not well received when he finds himself caught in the crosshairs between rival gangs, pushers and organized crime families! Actor Joseph Sikora delivers the always clever wit and unhinged demeanor from the iconic Antihero.
This Miniseries fell under the radar somewhat, but it stands out as another great docudrama based on the making of the iconic Godfather film from the perspective of Producer Albert S. Ruddy. However, it was Matthew Goode's brilliant portrayal of movie mogul Robert Evans, that lend a modicum of credibility to the underrated series. If it were up to me, Goode would have been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in A Miniseries Drama.
Jo Jo's All Star Battle
I've been a fan of the Anime since back in the nineties during the OVA boom, and while this reissue was originally developed for the Playstation 3 consoles, "All-Star" now features updated graphics, with sharper resolution, defining color palettes, and with the current gen consoles including Series S/X, the frames are now 60fps. another reason for purchasing this standout fighter, is that all the DLC characters such as my favorite Anime Antihero/Superhero Baoh, is now including within the roster!
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
Just when I thought I was done with Call of Duty after the horrible 2021 vanguard, “they bring me back in!” Activision’s popular franchise returns to its roots, with a sequel to the 2019 remake Modern Warfare. The campaign is so damn good, that I wish it was an extra 2 hours longer and its more than a “run n gun” shooter, but in certain circumstances, your main protagonist Soap McTavish, is forced to use his wits, whether its stealth or creating makeshift weapons ala McGiver, when faced against a dangerous conspiracy that feels straight out of a Tom Clancy novel/series! Oh, and the multiplayer is fun as always. Now I see why Sony feels threatened, should their competitor Microsoft acquire Activision.
A Plague's Tale Requiem
Legendary Actor Sidney Poitier's career in film and in activism, is further unearthed in this captivating retrospective courtesy of Filmmaker Reginald Hudlin.
Excellent “Whodunit” which at times, plays with one’s personal judgement and especially when it comes to bias. Its an ill-fated romance that provides speculation of who is the real victim, or at the end of the day, were both parties guilty? You be the judge.
In Search of Tomorrow is another excellent love letter to Gen-Xers, Trivia buffs, and Sci-Fi enthusiasts who have the nostalgia itch. For the most part, it checks the boxes and then some.
Is That Black Enough for You?!?
Film critic Elvis Mitchell (of New York Times) examines the craft and power of African American films released from the landmark era of the 1970s, and it’s told in a rather unapologetic narration. Now we know where John Travolta got his infamous strut, during the opening of Saturday Night Fever from. If you want to know about the origins, and contributions from Black cinema that paved the way for future mainstream films, look no further !
If there was another reason why I’m a proud (for the most part) subscriber to HBO MAX’s streaming platform, it’s documentaries such as “generations” that gives an in-depth retrospective of the Black created comic book company, Milestone Media. From its humble origins to behind-the-scenes conflict, which led to the DC Comics sub-brand’s demise. The featured commentators from Reginald Hudlin , Denys Cowan, and Derek Dingle had me immersed as if I was watching a biopic. This is more than a “Rise and Fall” documentary, but a fantastic experience.
The US and The Holocaust
Anti-Semitism as with Anti-Black hate crimes, is on the rise in America and Filmmaker Ken Burns goes way back to what inspired the Nazi regime in the first place, America’s vile mistreatment of Blacks within the United States! It’s a shocking, and very informative piece told in part from the perspectives of Holocaust survivors.
Blumhouse's Compendium of Horror (Enter the Dark Horse of Horror documentaries!)
It seems that Super Docs are all the rage within the Special Interests market, which began with 2019's In Search of Darkness, that became an monumental success followed by two sequels which I previously covered. What followed was Shudder’s and 101 Scariest Moments, respectively. Now enter a new contender titled Blumhouse's Compendium of Horror,
which I wasn't aware of until I resubscribed to Epix, which will soon be branded as the MGM Channel. What I at first assumed was yet another rip-off of In Search of Darkness, Epix’s "Compendium" dives deeper into Horror films that reflected various socio political topics throughout decades. It's an ambitious discussion from the perspective of some of Horror cinema's greatest alumni: John Carpenter, Bruce Campbell, Kane Hodder, Jamie Lee Curtis, and narrated by "Freddy" himself, Robert Englund. Unlike several film retrospectives, the commentaries are not sugar coated when giving anecdotes behind the controversies of certain films, i.e., Roman Polanski raping a minor after his film Rosemary's Baby was celebrated. The social allegories' impact and inspiration of Horror cinema from the Great Depression, Feminism, Civil Rights, Bullying, High homicidal rates, and even AIDS serves as the connective tissue which were on the nose, making this limited series a much watch for both Horror fans and history buffs. As with Search of Darkness, Blumhouse’s Compendium of Horror, serves as an intriguing Time capsule endeavor.
Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis
Whether you're a fan of Pop Culture Icon, Elvis Presley or a Cinephile who loves docudramas, there is a plenty of good things about Director Baz Luhrmann directed film. Actor Austin Butler gives it his best when portraying the sometimes disputed King of Rock n Roll from his mannerisms to his physical performances. Sure, Baz took creative liverities when shoehorning rap and other contemporary songs of today, but the overall artistic expression combined with Butler's (insert cliche term) "Tour-de-Force" makes Elvis a satisfying tribute to the rock legend.
Luhrmann, was generous enough to codify Elvis' inspiration from Black Gospel music, and swagger, but on the flipside, Tom Hanks' Colonel Parker came off like a James Bond villain.
Overall, I highly recommend 2022's Elvis, which made Lisa Marie Presley, proud right before her unfortunate passing. 2022 was another great year for popular culture. Here's to you, 22!