My 2022 Movie Diary

My 2022 Movie Diary

There’s never enough time to see all of the movies in the conversation for “best of the year,” much less to summarize thoughts on the previous twelve months of new releases. But here, finally in February, is my movie diary for 2022: a top ten list, some thoughts on honorable—and dishonorable—mentions, and a rundown of everything I watched over the year.

My grand total this year was 217 films, a noticeable decline from 2021, though still about on par with my general movie watching trend over the past five years.

Total Movies Watched by Year

Total Movies Watched by Year, 2022

It was a busier twelve months, that’s for sure, but it also felt like a markedly worse year for film. I saw only fourteen new releases in theaters in 2022. While that’s a post-pandemic high, more often than not I felt less than enthusiastic about what I was heading to theaters to see. I’m not just talking about the unrelentingly mediocre pablum that Marvel continued to churn out. Even the year-end prestige fare struck me as particularly lackluster; if I never see another flick in which an auteur director revisits his childhood and/or pays rhapsodic tribute to the magic of film, I’ll be just fine. I’ve also excused myself from the latest “Avatar” sequels—and however many more might be coming down the pike.

Still, I’m hoping (perhaps against hope) that this is all just cyclical, that we’re just in a temporary downturn, and that 2023 will breathe some new life into the movies, particularly theatrical releases. A look at what’s on the slate is actually pretty exciting: a calendar full of new works from Martin Scorcese, Denis Villeneuve, Wes Anderson, Michael Mann, and Christopher Nolan, among others. Reasons to stay optimistic.

Top Ten for 2022

  1. After Yang” Colin Farrell goes on a quest to repair an android companion that’s on the fritz, and what follows is a remarkably deft, nuanced look at how technology changes us as much it changes the world around us. This beautifully imagined and winningly complex vision of the near future has an uncanny understanding of how mundane details can make for far more convincing sci-fi than wild pyrotechnics.
  2. Happening” In 1960s France, at a time when abortion was still illegal, a young student seeks to end an unwanted pregnancy, and must clear horrifying societal hurdles in order to do so. Director Audrey Diwan casts an unflinchingly honest and emotionally fearless eye on a brutal social landscape, where women face entrapment at every turn and trust is largely transactional. Hauntingly relevant.
  3. Petite Maman” Celine Sciamma’s follow-up to “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is at once fantastical and exceptionally simple: at a time of crisis for her parents, a young girl somehow meets and befriends a version of her mother when she was the same age. There’s nothing ornate or tricky about the execution; it’s just a simple tale of two children at play, and yet it’s still mind blowing and completely heartbreaking in how much it says about inter-generational empathy.
  4. Tár” A statement movie about art and power and an acting showcase for Cate Blanchett, who is utterly commanding as a musician at the very top of the classical music echelon, and then utterly infuriating as she sabotages herself and spins out of control. As a prestige picture, it feels at first like Oscar bait—my least favorite genre—but director Todd Field makes it a genuine work of art that asks complex questions and refuses simple answers.
  5. Top Gun: Maverick” A transparently propagandistic pack of Hollywood clichés, with a paper thin plot, that somehow manages to be whatever movie every viewer needs it to be. Looking for a blue-blooded adrenaline rush for red state viewers? Check. Looking for a disquisition on the continued viability of analog in an increasingly digital horror-scape? Check. Looking for an escapist thrill ride in the form of an aerial heist flick? Check. My favorite: looking for a death dream meditation on resolving personal relationships at the end of a long life? Maverick is your man. In its square, uncool way, this relentlessly enjoyable popcorn actioner is a miracle.
  6. Triangle of Sadness” Lampooning the cluelessness of ultra-wealthy passengers on a luxury yacht is like shooting fish in a barrel, but with this movie director Ruben Ostlund reminds us that shooting fish in a barrel can be a ridiculously good time. What makes this really work is a pleasingly digressive, unhurried style that allows the cast’s astoundingly naturalistic performances to shine. When the characters act stupidly, which they do often, they tap into a deep empathetic vibe that allows you to recognize yourself in them, even as you’re laughing your head off at them.
  7. Nope” Jordan Peele’s extraterrestrial horror film pulls together a disparate array of hidden Hollywood backstories into an almost cohesive whole—not quite fully successful, but the delirious ambition on display here was some of the most thrilling cinema I watched all year. Its opening scene, which takes place on the set of a sitcom where things have gone horribly wrong, is stunning and indelible. Peele is not resting on his laurels as one of the most exciting directors working today.
  8. Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” I very superficially assumed that this story of a middle-aged widow’s sexual awakening was not for me. But Katy Brand’s screenplay is so thoughtful about the subject matter, and director Sophie Hyde is so surehanded in its execution, that the universality of the story shines through with exceptional lucidity. It’s hard not to get swept up in both the sadness and redemption in the stories of its two principal characters.
  9. Turn Every Page–The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb” Over the years I’ve read so much about the writer Robert Caro, about his work and about how he works, that I had modest expectations for this documentary. But its spotlight on Caro’s decades-long collaboration with his editor Robert Gottlieb was a revelation. It illuminates the under-appreciated dynamic between author and editor and it captures for posterity the particulars of one of the most important literary partnerships of the past half-century. I don’t like most documentaries, but I really liked this one.
  10. The Batman” The super-hero genre is in such dire straits—there were few cinematic experiences that I had this year that I detested more than the Marvel movies I had to sit through—but this umpteenth reboot, imperfect as it is, just thrilled me. It takes itself way too seriously but I much prefer an enterprise that is determined to amount to something of substance. It has a genuinely adventurous, provocative, beating heart that harbors legitimately courageous ambitions to expand the vocabulary of modern myth beyond pure commerce. It’s also the best Batman movie, period.

Honorable Mentions

A few quick notes on some releases that didn’t make the top ten but that I think were still worthwhile:

Park Chan-Wook’s “Decision to Leave” is a beautiful, near miss of a Hitchcockian thriller. “The Menu” can’t pay off its irresistible premise, but it’s loads of fun anyway. The French romantic comedy “Anaïs in Love” is nothing we’ve never seen before, but its warm execution is a winner. I’ve never seen a movie that’s as good as “Babylon” is for its first two-thirds turn so bad in its last act, but it’s still well worth a viewing. People missed Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas hamming it up in “Official Competition” but they shouldn’t. Guillaume Pierret’s “Lost Bullet 2” is building the crazy car-centric action franchise that the Fast & Furious movies have completely forgotten how to be.

Dishonorable Mentions

And a few movies that, in my view, were overpraised:

Baz Lurrman’s “Elvis” has some entertaining musical numbers but otherwise it’s a groaner. Spielberg puts everything he’s got into “The Fabelmans” but it’s still overwrought nonsense. “All Quiet on the Western Front” has a very important message about how war is bad! The movie itself is also bad. Robert Eggers’s “The Northman” is just a high class version of Zack Snyder’s low class “300.” While not un-fun, it’s time to get off of David Leitch’s “Bullet Train”—and other John Wick derivatives.

For a more comprehensive overview of what I watched last year, you can see my Letterboxd stats, beautifully presented as always by that amazing platform for all kinds of movie watchers and fans. Below is a month-by-month inventory of everything I watched, old and new, in 2022. You can also turn back even further in time and see what I watched in 2021, 2020, in 2019, in 2018, in 2017, and in 2016. Finally, you can always follow my capsule reviews as I write them at my Letterboxd library.

January 2022

  1. The Power of the Dog” (2021) ★★½
    Exquisitely made prestige drama without a lot of substance.
  2. Yesterday” (2019) ★★★
    Rewatched. Leaves a lot unexamined in its “Only one guy remembers The Beatles” plot, but it has a real soul.
  3. Polytechnique” (2009) ★★★★
    Powerful, hypnotic meditation on a mass shooting.
  4. Bergman Island” (2021) ★★★★
    I expected this to be flimsy fan fiction, but it manages to be both faithful to Bergman’s legacy and uniquely its own expression as well.
  5. Titane” (2021) ★★★★
    This movie has everything in it and I couldn’t stop watching it, even if its images are so excruciating that I also couldn’t wait for it to be over.
  6. Raging Fire” (2021) ★½
    Thick-headed, sad echo of what was once great about Hong Kong action flicks.
  7. Encanto” (2021) ★★
    Wake me when people finally get over Lin-Manuel Miranda, please.
  8. Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop” (2011) ★★★½
    Rewatched. Inspired look inside the mind of one of our comic greats.
  9. A Cat in Paris” (2010) ★★★★
    A kids movie that’s also a revelatory reminder of the power of hand-drawn animation.
  10. Howl’s Moving Castle” (2004) ★★
    I’m sorry, Ghibli fans, I was so bored watching this.
  11. The Tragedy of Macbeth” (2021) ★★★
    Appropriately wry take from Joel Coen that results in a lot to admire, relatively little to truly love.
  12. Nightmare Alley” (1947) ★★★
    The original version is a bit hokey, but still full of wonderfully raw desperation.
  13. A Hero” (2021) ★★★★
    Absolutely gut-wrenching portrayal of what it’s like to be a nobody in a world of bureaucrats.
  14. Shadow of a Doubt” (1943) ★★★★
    Rewatched. Hitchcock crystallizes the ideal of “Small Town USA,” then slashes it to pieces.
  15. The Last Duel” (2021) ★
    Colossally stupid morality tale directed by an overrated production designer who has somehow masqueraded as an auteur for more than three decades.
  16. The Prisoner of Zenda” (1937) ★★★★
    A fairy tale of benevolent monarchies that’s also a marvel of old school Hollywood storytelling.
  17. Avengers: Infinity War” (2018) ★★½
    Rewatched. Mass death as cheap thrills.

February 2022

  1. Light Sleeper” (1992) ★★★★
    An absurd premise but executed so well; Paul Schrader creates a somnambulent version of Manhattan that Willem Dafoe glides through like a wounded ghost.
  2. Boiling Point” (2021) ★★★½
    Scrappy indie film about a restaurant staff basically on fire. Not perfect but very worthwhile.
  3. Boiling Point” (2019) ★★★
    The original short film that formed the basis of the 2021 feature-length version. Also very worthwhile.
  4. Old Henry” (2021) ★½
    The terrific Tim Blake Nelson in a western, but fighting against a mediocre plot and casting.
  5. To Live and Die in L.A.” (1985) ★½
    Rewatched. Aside from a car chase clearly meant to one-up “The French Connection,” the rest of this is satire-level macho posturing.
  6. Nightmare Alley” (2021) ★★★
    Both better and worse than the 1947 original, but not a movie that really sticks with you.
  7. Radio On” (1979) ★★★
    A gorgeous, dissonant tone poem in the form of a road movie.
  8. My Cousin Vinny” (1992) ★½
    I can’t believe this sitcom plot of a movie made any kind of cultural impression at all, much less garnered an Oscar for Marisa Tomei.
  9. Paper Moon” (1973) ★★★★½
    Rewatched. A grand slam of a movie, with a walk-off home run ending that’s spot on perfect. The Coen Brothers learned so much from this.
  10. What’s Up, Doc?” (1972) ★★★½
    A remarkable recreation of the wit and spirit of screwball comedy, but still a recreation. Streisand is fabulous though.
  11. 5 Fingers” (1952) ★★★★
    A corker of a spy tale but in the old fashioned sense, so don’t expect explosions and golden girls. Instead what you get is a comedy of manners, rendered with extreme elegance by James Mason in the lead role.
  12. All About Eve” (1950) ★★★★½
    Every bit as good as everyone says it is.
  13. A Letter to Three Wives” (1949) ★★½
    Post-war melodrama sports three terrific leads and digs into some interesting territory for a while, but never really breaks through.
  14. Kimi” (2022) ★★★½
    Capable, small scale noir unexpectedly set in the world of smart speakers defies expectations and manages to be terrific.
  15. The Worst Person in the World” (2021) ★★★
    I would’ve enjoyed this exact same movie more if it didn’t have that clickbait title.
  16. Gaslight” (1944) ★★★★
    I’m amazed that the 21st century reached way back in time to this terrific but fairly obscure noir and turned its title into a culturally incisive colloquialism.
  17. Lifeboat” (1944) ★★★★
    Hitchcock’s specialty: a sparse, limited set; richly drawn characters; and a taut, morally ambiguous conflict. Genius.
  18. The Hit” (1984) ★★★★
    An existential odyssey disguised as a gangster flick.
  19. Speed Racer” (2008) ★★★★
    Rewatched. This might be the best f all of the Wachowski’s films, even that one with the sunglasses and trench coats.
  20. Rushmore” (1998) ★★★★
    Rewatched. Holds up, and shows how Anderson’s early characters were sometimes more internally coherent than they are today.
  21. The Thief of Bagdad” (1940) ★★
    Dunderheaded plot logic, but interesting to see how special effects were pulled off in the dark ages.
  22. The Addams Family” (1991) ★★★
    Rewatched. Raul Julia and Angelica Huston were perfect.
  23. Phantom Boy” (2015) ★★½
    Gorgeously animated, as expected, but not much of a progression from “A Cat in Paris.”
  24. A Whisker Away” (2020) ★★★
    The story, a teenager’s fairy tale in every aspect, is delicately executed, but the main reason to watch this is for the long string of exquisitely, lovingly rendered backgrounds.
  25. Air Bud” (1997) ★½
    There’s not a moment here where naturalism of any kind creeps in, even for a second.
  26. Napoleon Dynamite” (2004) ★★★
    Rewatched. Charming if only mildly impressive.
  27. Death on the Nile” (2022) ★★
    Reasonably entertaining if intermittently bombastic and unconvincingly woke take on a classic drawing room (on a boat) whodunit.

March 2022

  1. A League of Their Own” (1992) ★★★½
    Rewatched. Formulaic but fun, with a full slate of irrepressibly genial performances.
  2. Steamboat Bill, Jr.” (1928) ★★★★½
    Buster Keaton’s masterwork of invention, completely undiminished, even ninety-four years later.
  3. The Batman” (2022) ★★★★
    Takes itself way too seriously but does what we can only wish more super-hero movies would attempt: do away with the fan service and tell a story with a real point of view.
  4. Morocco” (1930) ★★★
    When you’ve got two smoldering hot leads like Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper, having a plot is almost unnecesssary.
  5. Joker” (2019) ★★★★
    Rewatched. Didn’t expect to be as impressed with this—or enjoy it as much—the second time around.
  6. Irma Vep” (1996) ★★★★
    Fleetfooted and nimble and hilarious in ways that so many indie movies, including this same director’s, just aren’t.
  7. The French Dispatch” (2021) ★★★½
    Rewatched. Totally fine.
  8. The Batman” (2022) ★★★★
    Rewatched. Confirmed that this is the best Batman film.
  9. Turning Red” (2022) ★★★
    Pretty endearing.
  10. Sherlock, Jr.” (1924) ★★★★
    Went back for more Buster Keaton and just bowled over by this genius deconstruction of the fourth wall.
  11. Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes” (2020) ★★★★
    Totally delightful, mind-bending sci-fi comedy from Japan. Highly recommended—but don’t read anything about it beforehand!
  12. Everything Everywhere All at Once” (2022) ★★
    I’m in the minority on this one.
  13. Seven Chances” (1925) ★★★½
    Early Buster Keaton; takes a while to get in gear, but it’s worth it.
  14. Red Desert” (1964) ★★★½
    Rewatched. Antonioni’s uncompromising vision is conceptually rewarding but also exhausting.

April 2022

  1. The Great Beauty” (2013) ★★★½
    A somewhat preposterous protagonist makes for a movie that is shallower than it thinks. Still, Paolo Sorrentino’s incredibly vivid direction turns it into something exactly as rapturous as his aspirations.
  2. Drive My Car” (2021) ★★½
    Is Haruki Murakami really that good of a storyteller, or are we all just deluding ourselves? This movie really made me wonder.
  3. The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil” (2019) ½★
    This Korean gangster flick looked promising, but it was so dumb and boring that I…I…yawn…zzzzz.
  4. France” (2021) ★★★
    Not fully successful but still quite compelling blurring of the line between the real and unreal for those who live in the media spotlight, starring Léa Seydoux.
  5. Crimson Peak” (2015) ★½
    Blood, blood everywhere! Entirely skippable exercise in mediocre gore.
  6. Rescued by Ruby” (2022) ★½
    Ripped-from-the-headlines story of a hero dog that no grown up will ever enjoy.
  7. Everything Everywhere All at Once” (2022) ★★½
    Rewatched. I went back because my wife wanted to see it, and I liked and understood it a little better, but it still fell short for me.
  8. Shiva Baby” (2020) ★★★
    Scrappy little indie film with great performances compensates for a shaky script.
  9. Dune” (2021) ★★★★
    Rewatched. For the fifth time. Guess what? This movie is still amazing.
  10. Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy” (2021) ★★★★
    Three enchanting tales of hidden love. Recommended.
  11. WarGames” (1983) ★★★½
    Rewatched. This movie barely understands computers or even its own characters, but it somehow works amazingly well anyway.
  12. Asako I & II” (2018) ★★★
    Ryusuke Hamaguchi can make any humdrum romantic plot, like this one, much more interesting than it really is.
  13. The Living Daylights” (1987) ★
    Rewatched. From the era when Bond was in the wildnerness. A total waste of Timothy Dalton.
  14. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” (2022) ★★★
    A fun enough ride but way more self-congratulatory than substantive.

May 2022

  1. Happy Hour” (2015) ★★★
    A very long, complex journey through the lives of four women friends. Starts very off strong but eventually can’t resolve itself.
  2. The Player” (1992) ★★★★
    A zippy, entertaining compromise between a true Altman film and a great Hollywood script.
  3. Z” (1969) ★★★★½
    A fantastic political thriller that feels borne from the heart of 1960s era social unrest, made with shocking confidence.
  4. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969) ★★½
    Rewatched. They really were trying to do something different with James Bond in this movie; they just weren’t trying hard enough.
  5. Free Guy” (2021) ★
    Slick, soulless garbage.
  6. The Batman” (2022) ★★★★
    Rewatched. I enjoy Robert Pattinson’s performance a little more with each viewing.
  7. Official Secrets” (2019) ★★★½
    Trips its way into some inelegant speechifying, but this political drama is very gripping and surprisingly emotional.
  8. Flora & Ulysses” (2021) ★★
    Mostly just standard kids fare, but occasionally it surprises with real directorial chops.
  9. Adaptation.” (2002) ★★★★½
    Rewatched. Virtually perfect interrogation of Hollywood formula that’s somehow just as entertaining as it is provocative.
  10. Operation Mincemeat” (2021) ★½
    An overly polite historical drama that renders a genuinely fascinating real life story super boring.
  11. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” (2015) ★★★★½
    Rewatched. Great.
  12. The Cheat” (1931) ★★
    This morality play sports an incredibly rudimentary script but features a fascinating performance from its lead, Tallulah Bankhead.
  13. Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers” (2022) ★½
    Movies that are acutely aware of how clever they are have become a scourge.
  14. Django & Django: Sergio Corbucci Unchained” (2021) ★★★
    Watching this documentary about the great Italian director of spaghetti westerns is like storytime at Uncle Quentin’s place.
  15. The Color of Money” (1986) ★★★★
    I’d always heard that this is lesser Scorsese but it still rocks.
  16. The Adam Project” (2022) ★
    Ryan Reynolds has become the face of the overbudgeted, undercooked Netflix era of film.
  17. The Man Who Never Was” (1956) ★★½
    Rewatched. A much better (if still kind of unremarkable) recounting of the events behind “Operation Mincemeat.” I saw this as a kid and I’ve been fascinated with this story ever since.
  18. Top Gun: Maverick” (2022) ★★★★
    A cinematic triumph of conservative ideas that even a lefty can dig.
  19. Top Gun: Maverick” (2022) ★★★★
    Rewatched. I went back to see it again the very next day.
  20. The Parallax View” (1974) ★★★★
    Rewatched. Still fascinatingly paranoid, but the real star is Gordon Willis’s gorgeous cinematography.

June 2022

  1. Edge of Tomorrow” (2014) ★★★★
    Rewatched. The character building throughout is masterful.
  2. The Bad Guys” (2022) ★★★
    Sharply styled, marginally above-average kids movie.
  3. Mission: Impossible – Fallout” (2018) ★★★★½
    Rewatched. Action poetry.
  4. Turn Every Page – The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb” (2022) ★★★★
    I don’t like documentaries, but I ate up this one about the author of “The Power Broker” and his dysfunctional relationship with his editor.
  5. Jack Reacher” (2012) ★★★★
    Rewatched. Yes, still very good.
  6. The Personal History of David Copperfield” (2019) ★★
    A strikeout, but a commendably wild swing.
  7. The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1938) ★★★★
    Rewatched. They don’t make ’em—or cast ’em—like they used to.
  8. Hustle” (2022) ★★
    Spend a career making crap and you too can can get applauded for half-trying every once in a while.
  9. Five Graves to Cairo” (1943) ★★★
    A weird little World War II movie where none of the accents are right, but it’s still just smart and cynical enough to be worth it.
  10. The Package” (1989) ★★½
    Quite old fashioned, novelistic take on an action movie, but Gene Hackman is mesmerizing in every frame.
  11. Mr. Bean’s Holiday” (2007) ★★
    Not much of a movie, but they tried to make it into something interesting.
  12. Lightyear” (2022) ★★★
    Not the best, but certainly not the worst thing Disney has put out this year—so far.
  13. That Darn Cat!” (1965) ★★
    Basically nonsense, but delightfully naive in its idiocy.
  14. Atlantis: The Lost Empire” (2001) ★
    Why hand-drawn animation died.
  15. No Way Out” (1987) ★★★★
    Rewatched. Holds up as a crackerjack, Reagan-era neo-noir.

July 2022

  1. Jurassic Park” (1993) ★★½
    Diverting at times but also a bit of a slog.
  2. The Rules of the Game” (1939) ★★★½
    Rewatched. Still trying to decode this movie.
  3. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” (2022) ★
    Really feels like no one over at Marvel really gives a damn about anything other than buying themselves new vacation homes.
  4. Confidence” (2003) ★½
    Rewatched. Completely undersells the thrill of the grift.
  5. Highlander” (1986) ★
    Bombastic and undercooked. Makes sense only through the lens of a heavy metal afternoon spent in your parents’ basement.
  6. Top Gun: Maverick” (2022) ★★★★
    Rewatched. Ready to rewatch again, too.
  7. Leave Her to Heaven” (1945) ★★★★
    Aw shucks gosh this a really wholesome slice of incredibly sinister melodrama.
  8. Revenge” (1990) ★★
    Agreeably sleazy and actually quite captivating for a while despite its many, many clichés.
  9. Carnal Knowledge” (1971) ★★★½
    Jack Nicholson in a ruthless script that lays bare the male libido.
  10. Niagara” (1953) ★★★
    A fairly pro forma film noir lit aflame by Marilyn Monroe’s epochal vamping.
  11. After Yang” (2021) ★★★★
    Wonderfully gentle and yet unsparingly cutting examination of our relationship with technology.
  12. Thor: Love and Thunder” (2022) ★
    Practically a nothingburger, except for the fact that its vacuity says so much about what we go to the movies for.
  13. High Sierra” (1941) ★★★½
    The Bogart persona in full effect.
  14. Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes” (2020) ★★★★
    Rewatched. Still a marvel.
  15. The Fourth Protocol” (1987) ★★★½
    Rewatched. Serviceable, late-Cold War spy thriller featuring Michael Caine in a ridiculous 80s dad ski jacket.

August 2022

  1. Last Night in Soho” (2021) ★½
    A horror movie that’s barely even scary, made by a director more concerned with visual spectacle than fundamental storytelling.
  2. Oblivion” (2013) ★★★
    Visually impressive post-apocalyptic action flick that manages to be surprisingly engaging, despite its many blatant rip-offs from other, better sci-fi movies.
  3. Spider-Man 2” (2004) ★★½
    Rewatched. Much more heavy-handed than I remembered, full of useless moping and unconvincing histrionics.
  4. Die Hard” (1988) ★★★★
    Rewatched. The script is the real winner here but somehow everything else—performances, music, editing, cinematography—is great too.
  5. To Be or Not to Be” (1942) ★★★★½
    Rewatched. Lubitsch’s genius in full bloom; he sees the inherent silliness of theater and drags it out into the coldness of wartime.
  6. All the President's Men” (1976) ★★★★★
    Rewatched. The mesmerizing beauty of grunt work in the service of something much, much bigger.
  7. To Be or Not to Be” (1983) ★★
    Really hard to see why Mel Brooks would remake this without really having anything new to add.
  8. Bringing Out the Dead” (1999) ★★★★½
    An incredible, harrowing journey through the underside of sanity.
  9. Dirty Harry” (1971) ★★
    Shot with great style but little more than an abysmally stupid piece of copaganda.
  10. Emily the Criminal” (2022) ★★½
    A “topical” thriller with some interesting ideas, but loaded with rather boring filler.
  11. Only the Brave” (2017) ★★
    A souped-up, made-for-TV weepie aimed straight at the red states.
  12. The Outfit” (2022) ★★½
    Amusing, small-scale mob drama that’s showier than it is convincing.
  13. Ted K” (2021) ★★★½
    A little bit long, but compellingly imagined and staged. Deducted half a star due to the titles being typeset, ostentatiously, in Arial.
  14. The Badlanders” (1958) ★★★
    A heist flick/Western mashup based on the same source material as the superior “The Asphalt Jungle,” but that manages to deliver its own kind of whallop.
  15. Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” (1948) ★★
    A humiliation for two of the brightest stars of the peak screwball era.
  16. The Lost Weekend” (1945) ★★★★
    An agreeably overwrought message film elevated by Billy Wilder’s unflinching honesty.
  17. Tenet” (2020) ★★★★
    Rewatched. A rare thriller where it’s as enjoyable to not understand as to understand what’s happening on screen.
  18. The Sea Beast” (2022) ★★★
    A pedantically woke script with few surprises, but for some reason they decided to direct the hell out of it.
  19. Official Competition” (2021) ★★★½
    Little more than an excuse for the three leads to clown around, but their clowning is magnificent.
  20. Happening” (2021) ★★★★½
    A bare knuckled, uncompromising story for our time, set sixty years ago.
  21. Miami Vice” (2006) ★★★★½
    Rewatched. Hits a frequency that few other filmmakers have even heard.
  22. Paris: 13th District” (2021) ★★½
    Buoyed for long stretches by its two ridiculously watchable leads, but never figures out where it’s going.
  23. Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015) ★★★★★
    Rewatched. Every viewing is like peering into an impossibility.

September 2022

  1. Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” (2021) ★
    Noxiously unimaginative in virtually every way.
  2. Lightyear” (2022) ★★★
    Rewatched. Still seems not particularly necessary, but I liked its earnestness.
  3. Top Gun: Maverick” (2022) ★★★★
    Rewatched. A dream of death disguised as an action flick.
  4. The Servant” (1963) ★★★★
    Sordid, creepy, remarkably effective hothouse thriller.
  5. Batman: Under the Red Hood” (2010) ★★½
    Impressively not-too-dumb script.
  6. Bullet Train” (2022) ★★½
    Admittedly rather fun for a while, but probably about twenty minutes too long.
  7. Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn” (2021) ★★½
    Over-the-top bonkers Romanian morality play that’s really just a one-act show stretched out to feature length.
  8. On the Count of Three” (2021) ★★★
    A tidy little indie film made with heart and smarts, but maybe not quite with enough ambition.
  9. Police Academy” (1984) ½
    Vacillates wildly between slapstick farce, horny 80s comedy, bland actioner and limp morality play, with the only consistent throughline being its utter incompetence from start to finish—and its utter lack of laughs.
  10. Do Revenge” (2022) ★½
    Another frustratingly self-aware yet clueless Netflix original that no one will remember in thirty minutes.
  11. Heat” (1995) ★★★★½
    Rewatched. They’ll never make a heist film to top this one.
  12. The Knack… and How to Get It” (1965) ★★½
    Chuck Jones meets Jean-Luc Godard in 60s swinging London.
  13. Petite Maman” (2021) ★★★★
    A wildly simple premise executed with so little fanfare, and yet it’s both mind blowing and heartbreaking in a wholly unique way.
  14. Blue Collar” (1978) ★★★★
    Doesn’t even try to hide its plainly political agenda, but hangs onto its humanity throughout. Richard Pryor is amazing in a straight role.
  15. Bad Day at Black Rock” (1955) ★★★★
    Rewatched. Understated, highly economical, searing noir that feels like it almost stumbles onto its own story. Superb.
  16. Suede: The Insatiable Ones” (2018) ★★★

October 2022

  1. Elvis” (2022) ★★★
    A terrific music video, but not much of a movie.
  2. Deep Cover” (1992) ★★★
    An intense, ambitious policier with a commanding performance from Lawrence Fishburne, but the script is undercooked.
  3. Car Wash” (1976) ★★★
    Breezy, loose-fitting hangout flick that pulls off a surprisingly meaningful ending.
  4. Reno 911! The Hunt for QAnon” (2021) ★★
    Fun characters as always, but adds up to little more.
  5. Spaceman” (2022) ★★
    One of Adam Sandler’s periodic attempts at redeeming his career.
  6. Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009) ★★★★
    Rewatched. Saw it projected for the first time since its original run and it looked almost entirely new.
  7. The Gentlemen” (2019) ★★½
    Ridiculous, macho-laden gangland romp, though intermittently diverting.
  8. The Velvet Vampire” (1971) ★½
    A sexed up vampire tale that’s not nearly as creepy or sexy as it ought to be.
  9. Cha Cha Real Smooth” (2022) ★½
    Insufferable indie derivative.
  10. August 32nd on Earth” (1998) ★★★½
    I was surprised to find that this early Denis Villeneuve is a romantic comedy.
  11. Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) ★★★½
    Rewatched. Still fun, but hardly a masterpiece.
  12. Maelström” (2000) ★★½
    Another early Villeneuve executed with great style but too little narrative substance.
  13. Safety Last!” (1923) ★★★★
    Most of the run-up to the iconic clock scene is only amusing, but the clock scene makes it all worth it.
  14. The Gunfighter” (1950) ★★★½
    A sober, classically Hollywood western that’s conspicuously bloodless and morally upright as can be.
  15. The Invisible Man” (1933) ★★★½
    Not particularly creepy but appropriately manic.
  16. Decision to Leave” (2022) ★★★½
    Park Chan-Wook on his best behavior.
  17. The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993) ★

November 2022

  1. Brief Encounter” (1945) ★★★★
    Rewatched. A wonderful marvel of muted passions in post-War Britain.
  2. Bottle Rocket” (1996) ★★½
    Rewatched. With the benefit of hindsight we can now see that from the beginning Wes Anderson skirted the line between charming and cutesy.
  3. Decision to Leave” (2022) ★★★½
    Rewatched. An intricate, densely layered construction. Invites repeated viewings.
  4. …And God Created Woman” (1956) ★★★★
    Brigitte Bardot in the role that made her immortal. A kind of lightning strike of all the things in the post-War zeitgeist.
  5. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (2011) ★★★★½
    Rewatched. An oaky, finely detailed masterpiece.
  6. The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014) ★★★★
    Rewatched. Possibly the apotheosis of Wes Anderson’s live action filmmaking.
  7. DC League of Super-Pets” (2022) ½
    Another argument that despite his putative charms, Duane “The Rock” Johnson has outrageously poor taste in projects.
  8. See How They Run” (2022) ★★★½
    This spry corker of a comedy-mystery doesn’t pretend for a moment it can really deliver on its promise of a truly elevated whodunnit—and in the end it does not. But it has a blast along the way.
  9. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” (2021) ★★★½
    Terrific vocal performances in a winningly gentle, unpretentious indie flight of fancy.
  10. Joint Security Area” (2000) ★★★★
    A thoughtful, even heartbreaking meditation on the continuing pain of the division between North and South Korea.
  11. Triangle of Sadness” (2022) ★★★★
    A bit long and rambling, but a wickedly funny skewering of the super-rich, with amazingly authentic naturalistic performances.
  12. Knives Out” (2019) ★★★★
    Rewatched. With each viewing, I’m more and more impressed by how cleverly constructed this script is.
  13. Enchanted” (2007) ★★
    Rewatched. I was almost okay with it until the shopping sequence meant to symbolize the actualisation of Amy Adams’s protagonist. Gross.
  14. Monkey Man” (2022) ★★★
    Actor Dev Patel tries his hand at an action thriller, with occasionally impressive results.
  15. Fast & Feel Love” (2022) ★★★
    You can’t help but root for this extremely emo, Thai-made, quirky love story, even if it is overlong bt thirty minutes.
  16. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” (2022) ★★★★
    A rollicking good time at the expense of the super-rich.
  17. Knives Out” (2019) ★★★★
    Rewatched. The family wanted to rewatch this again after “Glass Onion.”
  18. The Pink Panther” (2006) ★★
    This mostly unnecessary remake is thin as a tissue, but someone forgot to tell Steve Martin expectations were very low.

December 2022

  1. Paper Moon” (1973) ★★★★½
    Rewatched. Transgressive fun for the whole family.
  2. The Blue Dahlia” (1946) ★★
    Beautiful couple Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake can’t bring alive this generally sedate noir.
  3. Athena” (2022) ★★★½
    Ambitious, vital rendering of a ghetto riot on the outskirts of Paris.
  4. The Northman” (2022) ★★
    Visually arresting but essentially dunderheaded.
  5. Lost Bullet 2” (2022) ★★★½
    Forget the Fast & Furious movies. This is the best insane car chases franchise out there—by miles.
  6. All Quiet on the Western Front” (2022) ★★
    This anti-war movie doesn’t have a lot to say beyond “War is bad.”
  7. Stars at Noon” (2022) ★★★
    An example of a creative mismatch between text and filmmaker; the correct creative team for this doomed expat romance would have been Wong Kar-Wai and Christopher Boyle.
  8. Prey” (2022) ★★★½
    Remarkable by virtue of not being yet another terrible entry in the “Predator” franchise, but also genuinely engaging thanks to the two leads.
  9. Nope” (2022) ★★★★
    Jordan Peele’s directorial voice is more sophisticated and confident than ever.
  10. The Stranger” (2022) ★★★½
    Disappointingly generic title for a distinctively moody neo-noir.
  11. Anaïs in Love” (2021) ★★★½
    On paper, pretty pro forma stuff, but executed so well it’s impossible to resist.
  12. It's a Wonderful Life” (1946) ★★★★★
    Rewatched. A Christmas joy.
  13. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” (2022) ★★★
    Maintains its bonkers, deadpan hyperbole with admirable consistency.
  14. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” (2022) ★★★
    Rewatched. I was surprised by how much less I enjoyed this on second viewing.
  15. The Great Muppet Caper” (1981) ★★★★½
    Rewatched. The best, most nimble, most inventive, least sentimental Muppet movie.
  16. The Banshees of Inisherin” (2022) ★★★½
    Superbly scripted and performed, even if it didn’t quite go the distance at the end.
  17. Carmen” (2021) ★
    Somehow this has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes?!
  18. Dog” (2022) ★★½
    Exactly like it says on the tin: this is a movie about a dog, and the dog does a bunch of movie dog stuff. Enjoyable enough if you’re okay with that.
  19. Three Thousand Years of Longing” (2022) ★★★½
    So completely different from “Fury Road,” mostly in a good way, but also frustratingly thin in parts.
  20. The Fabelmans” (2022) ★★½
    A pair of outstanding performances can’t save this confused, frequently overwritten script.
  21. The Menu” (2022) ★★★½
    Sets up a premise so delicious (sorry) that it can’t pay it off, but somehow it still works.