Sunday, March 5, 2023

My 20 Best Films of 2022

 My Choices for 20 Best Films of 2023

Jerry and Marge Go Large
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
The Fabelmans
The Woman King
The Menu
Women Talking
The Whale

TOP 20

20. Chip N' Dale: Rescue Rangers

4.5 out of 5 stars! - I thought it looked stupid from the ads. I was so wrong. So very, very wrong.
Every line, and I mean every line has a laugh. It's the writing that makes this film. It is pure genius comedy. The writing is as good as it gets for comedy.
The voices in the film are also talented and funny. The references, even the hidden references, will keep you cracking up. The amount of nods to past animated films and the amount of "cameos" is incredible. Those are great, but again, it's the writing that is perfect.
This is the funniest movie - BOTH animated and live action - that I have seen in a long, long time. My face hurts from smiling and laughing so hard. My nine year old didn't get all the references, but he also could not. stop. laughing.
This is a movie I am going to rewatch again and again. I think I missed so many jokes the first time. It's the best movie of 2022 for me so far. It's on Disney + now as part of your subscription. Watch it, especially if you watched cartoons in the 80's and 90's. 19. Nitram 4.5 stars - Heart-wrenching and almost cruel to watch, this true story is shaking. A slowwwwww burn, but filled with agony and will shread you to pieces. A movie to be watched once, but definitely not twice. One of the finest acting performances I have ever seen by Caleb Landry. He's able to capture both the tragedy of mental illness and the tradgedy that guns combined with mental illness may cause. 18. Breaking 4.5 stars - I believe that there are a lot of things that this film is trying to say... I might not even be sure of all of them. But in the midst of all the statements it is trying to make (race, class, treatment of veterans), lies an absolutely riviting and fierce drama and thriller.
This true story kept me on the edge of my luxury reclining theater seat. My butt was sweating from anticipation, either that or from the heated seats. For 2 hours, I barely moved... only occasionally blinking, fixated on the upcoming apex of the film.
John Boyega is the 2020's Denzel. He shines in this film and I hope he gets at least some mentions come award season.
This one is worth seeing! 17. Emily the Criminal 4.5 stars - A story that goes from intrigue to spellbinding to intense thrills, this film took me along for a riveting ride. Aubrey Plaza with the performance of her career and Theo Rossi matched her performance at ever step. This is one of the year's best films so far. 16. Charm City Kings 4.5 stars - A real life look into the lives of black teenage boys trying to escape the realities of poverty in inner city Baltimore with the recent trend of dirt bikes. More than just a dirt bike movie though, this film has real despair and presents these boys with such fervor, it is difficult not to fall in love with them. Some very persuasive and graphic language, but certainly nothing that you wouldn't find in the streets of inner city Baltimore.
I loved this film. The flickering hope these boys felt, the dirt bike culture they get enthalled into and the coming-of-age lessons that they learn. It will pull on your heartstrings, but in the end it feels like you've been doing a wheelie for blocks and blocks.
Originally released on HBO in 2020, but just released on video this year. 15. The Black Phone 4.5 stars - 4 and 1/2 stars out of 5 stars - Not sure how I missed this one when it came out a bit ago. I think I was taken aback by the cover and the description.
This is a well made, extremely well acted and well written movie. It has just a hint of mysticality that makes it extra terrifying. The kid acting in this is superb. The story and the interconnecting of characters is rich. Ethan Hawke and the kid actors raised this one to another level. Finally, it is truly terrifying! 14. Till 4.5 stars - It could be argued that this film is too straight forward and formulatic. But some stories simply need to be told in a straight forward and formulatic way. The story of Emmett Till and his mother, Marnie, is one of those stories.
This is a film that should be shown in high schools forever. It is poignant, bitter and at times, hard to watch. It's a story of racial hate that assists our vision in seeing current times.
Most of all, this is a story of motherly love. Danielle Deadwyler gives a performance of a lifetime as Marnie. I hope to see her name on the Academy Award nominations this year.
This is a movie that deserves your attention and the attention of the world. I hope it is not one that is easily dismissed of forgotten. 13. She Said 4.5 stars - Based on your political leanings, this film may not be for you. It tells the tale of the media takedown of Harvey Weinstein that absolutely crushes it.
Part of the "crushing it" part stems from my favorite actress on the planet, Carey Mulligan, who is powerful, strong and downright adorable all at the same time in this film.
The pacing is perfect, the true story is fascinating and the tension is high. I enjoyed it quite much and it's always fun to see an awful villain like Weinstein get taken down! Shame that this film didn't get more Oscar buzz or noms, especially for the always great Mulligan.

12. Thirteen Lives 4.5 stars - An incredible surprise! Often films that portray events of not long ago do so cheaply and does not do it justice. This, however, is a gem!
My only complaint is that I wish there was more from the perspective of the boys trapped in a cave. But alas, this is much more about the rescuers and their bravery.
The underwater shots are dramatic and intensely shot. This one will keep you on edge, even if you already know how it ends. One of the year's best films. It's on Prime. 11. Enola Holmes 2 4.5 stars - A celebration of fun. Strong writing and store, mixed with charming performances and a sense of whimsy. This film captures the spirit and liveliness of the Indiana Jones films. I loved watching Enola and Sherlock work together and separately, but I also loved watching Enola not needing to be saved by her older brother. The first film sets this one up perfectly and this one adds to and builds off of it. As a result, it's even better than the first. 10. The Banshees of Inisherin
4.5 stars - I think I laughed more in this film than any other of the 100 films I watched in 2022. And the odd thing is that its main purpose is certainly NOT to be funny. But the situations it portrays and the choices of the characters are surprising - even shocking - and just downright funny.
The thing is, this film will certainly make you think as well. It is a thought provoking experiment that is certainly not predictable. It will getting you thinking about friendships, time spent in life, so much. I'll certainly be thinking about it for some time.
It's a little slow, but the surprises certainly spice things up, almost like every 15 minutes or so, the filmmakers sprinkle some comedy pepper on the film. In doing so, they've created one of the year's best films and I'm sure it will receive its share of attention at the Oscars.

9. The Phantom of the Open 4.5 stars - This film is filled with so much optimism and joy, you can't help but smile through the entire thing. This film makes a case to be the best golf film of all time, and I do not say that lightly. Better than Caddyshack, better than Happy Gilmore, better than Tin Cup, better than Bagger Vance. It's just that good.
Even if you don't like golf, you can't help but get caught up in the ignorant wonder and amusement of it all. It's not a comedy, but I found myself belly laughing on many occasions. Mark Rylance is sensational, but it's Sally Hawkins that absolutely steals the show. I'd love to see her get some award nominations for this role.
The best film of 2022 so far? Might be Top Gun OR it might be The Phantom of the Open. This true story is a treasure. It's in theaters now! 8. To Leslie 4.5 stars - I found this to be a sweet little film with marvelous performances, most notably Andrea Riseborough, who was nominated for Best Actress for this role and basically put this film on the map.
And thank goodness she did because I otherwise never would have watched it. I found myself cheering for Riseborough's character and genuinely disappointed in her and thrilled for her. It was just filled with raw emotion and again, I just found it super sweet, but not in a corny way. Certainly worth watching.

7. A Man Called Otto 4.5 stars - WARNING!! Do NOT watch this film within a couple months after losing a parent! My wife, who NEVER, ever cries in movies, cried for the entire last 30 minutes.
Sometimes the best stories are the most simple. Thus is the case with Otto. It's simple, straightforward and extremely earnest. In fact, its earnestness the earnestness of Tom Hanks is what makes it very watchable and not over-the-top syrupy garbage. (Just a little syrupy.)
Otto is also funny at times, but ultimately full of heart. Certainly worth 90 minutes of your life.

6. The Fallout 4.5 stars - It's going to be darned tough for many people to watch this film about a school shooting... especially those that have been through violent trauma or are triggered by violent trauma. Yet this is a persuasive reminder of how trauma can impact and change lives. Jenna Ortega gives a potent and stirring performance. The entire cast is extraordinary.
Amongst the darkness, dread and anguish of this film, there are moments of hope and light. The bonding that occurs between teens that normally wouldn't have anything to do with each other, but are now close because of this shared trauma is a source of wonder in an otherwise dreary world. If you have the fortitude to watch this film, it is well worth it. One of 2022's best. 5. Cha Cha Real Smooth
5 stars - To be perfectly transparent, this is not a perfect movie. It has flaws. But for what I am looking for in a movie, it is near perfect. It has all the things I love: a coming of age story, heart, humor, an uncertain storyline that is not too predictable. Cooper Raiff is entirely likable in the lead role, even when he's supposed to be a jerk. Dakota Johnson plays a complicated, faulty but charming character. I have newfound respect for her as an actress. Their onscreen chemistry is palpable. Leslie Mann is the biggest surprise here. She's quite good.
This film won't blow your mind, but if you're in the mood for a film with a lot of heart and humor and that might make you cry at the end, this is one for me, or maybe for you too. It's on Apple+ now. 4. Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical 5 stars - There is always a hesitation when a movie is made about one of your favorite books or Broadway musicals, or in this case, both. I was nervous that Netflix would ruin what is my all time favorite musical and one of my all time favorite books. And sure, there have been a few non-musical film adaptations of Matilda that have been anywhere from decent to bad.
So I wasn't too hopeful that Netflix wouldn't ruin it. And I am totally relieved that they absolutely did it justice. It might be because they stuck almost 100% to the script and songs in the musical... that certainly helped.
But there is more that make this a special movie: the visuals are fantastic, the mood is perfectly captured, the singing is near perfect, the songs are catchy and above all, the choreography of hundreds of school-aged kids is downright impressive. Even if you don't like Matilda, I can't imagine you walking away from watching this without a smile on your face. And if you're a mom, no doubt that when it's over, you will say, "AH, that was SO CUTE!"
Emma Thompson gives a superb performance and the. main performance of Matilda by Alisha Weir was well beyond her years. So, thank you Netflix, for not only NOT ruining one of my favorite things, but maybe even making it BETTER!

3. RRR
5 stars - I promise, promise, promise, you will NOT be bored for even a MICROSECOND! It's got everything: dance, singing, romance, incredible cinematography, a wonderful story and some of the most intense action sequences on film this year. It's a little over 3 hours, but that might be because an hour of the action scenes are in slow motion - but a super, duper cool slow motion that you wish will never end. It is incredibly over the top, yes... but it kinda makes you love it even more. It's on Netflix. Watch it, it deserves to be way more popular than it currently is. 2. Top Gun: Maverick 5 stars - PURE... MOVIE... MAGIC. Will someday be known as an all-time great. An all-American movie that will make you love American movie making all over again. Definitely, definitely see it in theaters. DON'T wait for streaming or video. It will not be the same experience in your home. 1. All Quiet on the Western Front 5 stars - This Netflix film is actually the THIRD iteration I have watched of this story in the past year! The 1930 film, deemed one of the greatest films of all time, was wonderful, but painfully dated. The 1979 version had excellent character building, but at times was painfully cheesy. This version - the 2022 version - was by far the most chilling, violent and realistic look at the first World War.
There are some absolutely horrific scenes in this film, scenes that I will never forget. Some of the scenes are the same as the two previous versions, but captured in more detail and with more pain. It was a challenge to watch, but I certainly felt appreciation for both sides that faught in this hellistic trench-war.
My only complaint is that the characters in the film are not well developed. They die off one by one before we even learn enough about them to form a bond. Thus, the stakes feel lower than they should be. Thus, as it stands, the 1930 version should still be a classic, but this version should be the go-to viewing version for the most realistic look at the WWI.

10. C'mon C'mon 9. Mass 8. A Quiet Place Part II 7. On the Rocks 6. Encanto 5. Last Night in Soho 4. Belfast 3. Blue Bayou 2. Coda 1. Cyrano

10. News of the World 9. The Wolf of Snow Hollow 8. Manari 7. Nomadland 6. The Father 5. The Invisible Man 4. The Little Things 3. Princess of the Row 2. Sound of Metal 1. Promising Young Women

2019: 10. Parisite 9. Rocketman 8. The Art Of Self Defense

7. Greener Grass 6. The Mustang 5. A Marriage Story 4. Richard Jewell 3. 1917 2. Peanut Butter Falcon 1. JoJo Rabbit
10. Upgrade 9. What They Had 8. Leave No Trace 7. Three Identical Strangers 6. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs 5. Free Solo 4. A Quiet Place 3. Green Book 2. Won't You Be My Neighbor 1. Eighth Grade

10. Dunkirk
9. Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi
8. The Shape of Water
7. Get Out
6. The Big Sick
5. Logan Lucky
4. Lady Bird
3. It
2. Brigsby Bear
1. Only the Brave

2016: 10. 10 Cloverfield Lane 9. Sully
8. Eye In The Sky
7. La La Land
6. Life, Animated
5. Pete's Dragon
4. Hidden Figures
3. Hacksaw Ridge
2. Arrival
1. Lion 2015
10. Spotlight
9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
8. The Martian
7. The Revenant
6. Ex Machina
5. Ant Man
4. Inside Out
3. The Walk
2. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
1. Room

10. The Hobbit
9. Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
8. The Theory of Everything
7. Joe
6. Big Hero 6
5. Boyhood
4. The Imitation Game
3. Big Eyes
2. Whiplash
1. St. Vincent

10. The Heat
9. Mud
8. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
7. Despicable Me 2
6. Gravity
5. Short Term 12
4. Nebraska
3. 12 Years a Slave
2. Philomena
1. The Kings of Summer

10. Premium Rush
9. Moonrise Kingdom
8. The Amazing Spiderman
7. Looper
6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
5. Argo
4. Frankenweenie
3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
2. Sleepwalk With Me
1. Safety Not Guaranteed

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