To say the wide releases of 2022 have been lacklustre is an understatement. The endless sequels, generic superhero films, and the fact that indie theatres are struggling and closing shop have made it hard to see something different. Seeing smaller, weird movies being kicked out of theatres in favour of (empty) hourly showings of Marvel films or the thing with blue aliens was agonising. I can count the wide releases I liked on two fingers. This year, my mantra was: the weirder, the better.
So, a sequel that wasn’t necessarily needed but turned out to be fantastic was Top Gun: Maverick. Initially, I was not going to see it at all because why? Honestly, the only thing I remembered about Top Gun was the soundtrack. But I went because my mom asked me to go with her; who was I to turn down a free movie and meal? Luckily, Maverick was made for everyone, and you didn’t necessarily need to see the first Top Gun movie. The film was visually stunning, had a solid plot, and gave the original audience a perfect amount of fan service. It was one of those films that is best to see in theatres in order to fully appreciate the visual effects.
Park Chan-wook released Decision to Leave, his first film since 2016 this year, and I was not disappointed. Decision to Leave was a noir romance that shouldn’t have worked but did. The use of language and imagery is still something I think about months after the fact. I can’t get the film out of my brain. I wish more people had seen this film; it was only at my local Drafthouse for a week or two. Maybe the film will get a re-release since it’s now on the Oscar Shortlist.
While I can’t forget Decision to Leave, a film I completely forgot about this year was The Batman. Most likely because it was released at the beginning of this year. Typically, forgetting a movie is a bad thing, and it is one of my yardsticks to determine whether I liked it. However, The Batman is excluded because I thought it came out last year. Batman is one of my favourite superheroes, and I’ve been a Robert Pattinson fan since Goblet of Fire. His casting interested me because I didn’t think he’d consider a role like Batman. I liked Pattinson’s version of Batman, and I was relieved when the film focused on the character’s abilities as a detective rather than aliens or something. Paul Dano’s Riddler and Colin Farrell’s Penguin were terrific, and they are both now my favourite versions of those characters.
Speaking of Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin was another favourite this year. Banshees had everything that makes a great film: the chemistry between Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, beautiful scenery, a little comedy, sadness, and drama. I didn’t know how it would end, and it was intriguing until the last moment.
My favourite film of the year was Alienoid, a South Korean sci-fi, historical fantasy mishmash. Initially, the poster drew my attention, and then the tiny summary. I’m glad I took the chance. It took robots, time travel, and aliens, combined them with historical fantasy, and created a fun film. It was the weirdest film I saw this year and was worth sitting in a theatre to watch.
Multiple streaming services make it difficult to decide on a show to watch; the sheer volume of new series released weekly is astounding. It’s both a good and bad thing, good because there is tonnes of content, and bad because it’s paralysing to decide what you want to watch. Also, bad when you try to pick your favourites at the end of the year.
There were so many series that were based on true stories this year, mainly true crime and fraud cases; there were so many that I even did a combined review of several series at once. Some of them did not work, while others were excellent. My favourite out of the bunch was Hulu’s The Dropout, based on the start-up Theranos, and its CEO, Elizabeth Holmes. Amanda Seyfried was creepily like the real-life Holmes, which was fascinating to watch. I think the best thing about The Dropout was that it influenced public feelings on the actual trials of Holmes and her business partner, Sunny Balwani. Hey, if a television series can influence public sentiment and get these people in jail, so be it.
Everything I watched on Apple TV+ this year was top-notch, so I’ll roll them all into one entry. Apple TV+ produces good stories and usually keeps the series at the perfect length of six episodes. They also have a good variety, which many streaming services lack. Do you want a darkly comedic spy thriller? Slow Horses. Based on a true tragedy story? Five Days at Memorial. Science fiction that may be close to science fact that’s an effort to jump on the k-drama train? Dr. Brain. American greed to a sickening extent and a stunning downfall? WeCrashed. Each of these series was great, and some of the best.
My top two shows this past year were watched on Viki, a streaming service for Asian dramas with excellent subtitles. I took a chance on the short k-drama, Semantic Error. This k-drama was a short and sweet series about two drastically different dudes that were initially enemies and became lovers. It even gave an emotional robot like me warm and fuzzy feelings. If a series can evoke emotions in someone like me, it’s pretty good in my book.
K-drama Reborn Rich was my favourite series this year, hands down. A fantastical reincarnation tale of revenge against a wealthy family? Sign me up. Not only did the synopsis pull me in, but I also recognised Song Joon Ki from Vincenzo in the lead role. Song Joon Ki was compelling in both roles and worked well with Lee Sung Min, the scary “mean old man.” The relationship between grandson and grandfather carried the entire series. Every time there was seemingly a setback, it all worked as part of the long game, and the ending was so sweet. This series just finished airing on Christmas Day and was an exclusive on Viki; I hope it gets released on other streaming services so more people can watch it.
I’m a Data Analyst, from the land of Matthew McConaughey. I’m an avid movie-goer and love seeing films in theaters. My most recent favorite films are Good Time, Only Lovers Left Alive, TENET, and England is Mine. When I’m not at the movies, I’m either reading or watching obscene amount of true crime and historical documentaries.