New from Peter Spedale on Be Movie See Movie: The Top 10 Movies of 2022 So Far: The Early High Bar for the Awards Contenders

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Looking back at the best of 2021, it has no perfect movie, 8 4.5 star films, and 2 4 star films. I could say 2021 was a weak year (it was), but I’m more inclined to say 2022 is just a really good year, because it has already hit those metrics, and it hit those by June!!!!!

Why is that the case. I see a few reasons. 1) We had an incredible spring, with 8 of the top 10 movies released from March to June. 2) A24, who has an incredible 4 films in the Top 10, and will probably stay there! 3) Action films, who are having their best year since Mad Max Fury Road. And 4), the 2020’s might end up becoming the decade abroad, because none of the Top 5 movies are set in the United States, which continues to prove to me that life is better when I live by Roger Ebert’s great words “the movies are a machine that generates empathy.” So keep those amazing machines running everyone! The world is better for it.

Happy watching!

Honorable Mentions:

Petite Maman

Jackass Forever

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande

Fire Island

Pleasure

Happening

Now, see why 2022 is already an early contender for one of the great movie years of the decade:

10 Top Gun: Maverick
The skies were just too quiet for too long. Tom Cruise smartly held off on releasing this movie until he could be sure everyone could see it on the big screen. And the wait could not have been more worth it. Through the crazy physical performances by the cast and crew, this movie takes a classic Hollywood tale and Mach 10.1’s it into the 2020’s. The final 40 minutes of this movie will be spent gripping the seat and smiling like a 9 year old kid after a sugar rush. See it on the biggest screen possible.
9 Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
I’m pretty sure when Jenny Slate and Dean Fleisher-Camp put their little YouTube clip of Marcel the Shell online, they never thought A24 would want to make a feature with that character. But A24 saw something in Marcel: a family movie for all ages. This delightful little miracle has jokes for days, and also a sweet, delicately rendered tale about growing up and taking risks. You won’t be able to look at tennis balls, honey, dusty tables, or chess pieces the same again.
8 After Yang
Kogonada, the director of After Yang, made Indiana seem like the most interesting, ephemeral place in the US after his first feature. For his 2nd, he takes a standard AI tale (AI breaks down, family member tries to fix it) and imprints upon it a waking dream of a movie that is about memory, humanity, family, and love. It’s smallness somehow makes the themes bigger too, an impressive feat. Plus the soundtrack will make you burst into tears of happiness the minute you hear it.
7 The Fallout
This movie is bleak, but entirely necessary. In a country filled with guns, lets face it, school shootings are going to happen, repeatedly. Jenna Ortega is incredible here, playing a student forced to live through one of those vile days in human history, and more horribly, forced to perpetually deal with the aftermath of simply getting through the day without emotionally crippling under her stress. The slow arc of progress can be satisfying, except the movie constantly reminds how this completely altered her happy life path, it also threatens to unravel the whole family, and that a setback is waiting the minute she even hears about another shooting, which might be the next day, or even hour. This is reality in the United States in 2022, and it’s heartbreaking to watch.
6 X
Ti West got his start in horror movies, and with this one he might have crafted the best slasher movie since the OG Halloween. Yes it’s that good. In 1970s Houston, a group of strippers and their handlers go to make some of that sweet porn VHS money by shooting on a rundown old Texas farm run by an elderly couple. West turns the tables by upending the rules of a slasher movie, grounding them more in how people in the real world might act, building the story more around generational misunderstandings, and turning the tale into a chilling allegory about capitalism in the United States. Plus the old Howard and especially Pearl are two of the more fascinating horror characters in recent horror memory.
5 Turning Red
Domee Shi should get the Best Director award for simply pitching Disney a movie about a girl becoming a woman. Set in 2002 Toronto, 13 year old Mai is faced with temptation everywhere, including boy band 4 Town, Never Not on Mai’s mind. Shi miraculously manifests all the emotional turmoil happening inside Mai’s body into a cute red Panda, which gets the point across without being gross. In addition, the story also envelops the women in Mai’s family, and how their “pandas” changed the relationships with their parents and themselves, sometimes for worse, but also maybe for the better. I never need to see another female puberty movie again, cause this one’s almost perfect.
4 The Worst Person in the World
Technically a 2021 Oscar contender, but I saw it at the end of February. Renate Reinsve envelopes the new type of woman in the past 50ish years with beautiful messiness. Reinsve’s Julie, a thirtysomething bound by nothing, tries to live a series of different lives depending on how she feels at the moment. She gives that particular relationship/career her all for a time, but after that life becomes unfulfilling or she discovers some new perspective, she moves on. In the end, the real love story is between Julie and herself, as she figures out what truly will make her happy. Thankfully, Joachim Trier the director freezes time all the time for her to run around and figure shit out before it gets to be too late.
3 The Northman
The Northman was a great lesson for me. A director can cross the line between making movies you just admire to making one you can actually love. I was mostly offput by Robert Eggers and his sinister gothic horror tales, though I could tell they were expertly made. However, with The Northman, Eggers murdered the line with his bare hands, and dragged me over into full blown movie love. The amazing director takes a simple revenge tale and overflows it with his directing juices in the form of mysticism, historical accuracy, and intimidatingly good action. I would go so far as to say this is the best Viking movie to date, and it will a long while before a better one comes along.
2 RRR
The surprise of my year. I was blown away by the action in the long awaited Top Gun, and 3 days later this gem released on Netflix and became the best action movie of 2022. Incredible! From Telugu Bollywood in India, S. S. Rajamouli’s latest is a historical fantasy, kinda similar to Inglorious Basterds in conception. In this fantasy, real life unfamiliar Indian crusaders Komaram Bheem (N. T. Rama Rao Jr.) and Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) were actually best friends, but were secretly also fighting on opposite sides in the British oppression of India in the 1920s. The story is a fun larger than life hero’s tale, but what kicks it into the stratosphere is Rajamouli’s incredible eye for crafting an amazing set piece. Every 20 minutes, something amazing happens on screen only to be topped 20 minutes later. And for 3 hours? That means at least 9 of the best setpieces of 2022, all in one movie!
1 Everything Everywhere All At Once
A once in a generation film I’m so glad I did not miss. Directing duo Daniels take something as overused and irritating as a concept like the multiverse and they boil it down to its most simple, powerful elements and themes. In the beginning its fun, exciting, and crazy, like when Ke Huy Quan (a lock for Best Supporting Actor for me, welcome back you wonderful man) lays the smack down with a fannie pack or Jamie Lee Curtis Staples herself in the forehead. But as the story expands, it somehow also gets more personal, as the fraught relationship between the breakout Stephanie Hsu and legendary Michelle Yeoh encompasses more and more real/emotional casualties in its wake. I’m tearing up just trying to write this, because this movie so overwhelmed all of my senses in a way no film has done in a very long time.

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