This is a live list where I rank the movies of 2022. If something isn’t on the list, I haven’t seen it. Leave your comments and we’ll talk. I give a lot of weight to scope, scale, and depth. If a movie is higher than you expect, it probably did one or all of those things very well. If it’s lower, well, it probably frustrated me.
Rankings: updated August 7
- Fire of Love
Amazing (nothing yet)
- Death on the Nile
- Thor: Love and Thunder
- Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers
- The Bob’s Burgers Movie
- Fourth of July
I Hate (nothing yet)
August 7: Prey
Prey was very cool. I’m a big fan of the Predator franchise (see my ranking) so was excited and nervous for this. I’m glad it was good and that others like it. Ever since Predator 2, people have discussed having Predator movies taking place in different eras. What would Predator in Wild West America be like? What about Predator in samurai Japan? Or Predator in the Aztec world? Or Predator in modern day Johannesburg? World War 2 Predator. I want all of these. But “Native Americans vs Predator” was also very high on the bucket list. It sounds cool and it turns out it also looks very cool.
Prey is also arguably (though actually unarguably) the best shot Predator movie ever. The original is impressive because of how practical everything is. But that can be limiting as well. I think Predator 2 is fun in the way a lot of early 90s movies are, especially when they have that Verhoeven-like RoboCop vibe to them. But it’s not really a “beautiful” cinematic experience. Prey is. While it effectively blends horror, thriller, and action genres.
My biggest complaint, and I said this in the franchise rankings, is how video-game-y the movie sometimes feels. In the world of video game development, there’s a simple, binary descriptions of “simulation” and “arcade”. Simulation is realism. While arcade leans into exaggeration. Gran Turismo is a video game series known for its authenticity to car racing. Mario Kart is a racing video game known for letting you hurl turtle shells at your opponents. That’s simulation vs arcade. Some games lean heavily into one or the other. While many just blend the two. Like Madden football games have some arcade aspects to them even though they’re mostly simulations. Prey was like that. A lot of the scenes felt more arcade than simulation. Especially in comparison to Predator and Predator 2. For example, Naru’s rope ax. It was cool. I enjoyed it. But it’s more arcade than simulation.
Or compare Arnold covering himself in mud to hide from the Predator’s heat vision vs Naru eating a random plant that instantly drops her body temperature below detection levels with no side effects to her ability to do anything. One is simulation, the other is arcade. The arcade aspects won’t bother everyone. In fact, they might be what some people like the most. But, for me, they can push on my ability to suspend disbelief. Thankfully, Prey handled everything in a way I ended up enjoying despite sometimes bordering on going too far.
Prey enters at 12 of 24, in the upper reaches of the Positives category. I put it below Nope because Nope is just a far more impressive movie in almost every way. Shots, performances, themes, story, etc. Actually, I think Prey is more successful in executing on everything it sets out to do. But it’s also attempting less. Vengeance has a similar scope to Prey but in comparison is less efficient and far more anti-climactic. So Prey goes above.
August 6: Fresh
I honestly confused Fresh with Raw so when friends wanted to watch Fresh, I spent the first 20 minutes expecting the plot from the trailers of Raw. Turns out they’re very different movies but united in their love of forbidden meat. Overall, I liked Fresh. It’s in that category of solid movies where they’re doing a good job with what they have but the scope and scale is really contained. The basic structure, reminded me somewhat of Get Out. Go on trip with significant other, have them try and imprison you, and they’re part of a network of people who want to use your body. In Get Out it’s physically taking over the other person and getting into cultural appropriation. In Fresh these guys want to physically consume the person, getting at the more terrifying aspects of the male-female dynamic. In both Fresh and Get Out, you have the best friend on the outside doing investigative work. Rod is less impactful on the plot, only showing up at the end. While Mollie goes a bit further to find Noa.
There were a lot of nice, non-traditional choices that meant I wasn’t sure exactly which direction the movie would go. How triumphant or tragic would it be? Who would or wouldn’t survive? How bad would it get? So I was thoroughly entertained while also appreciating the emphasis on male weakness. Whether it’s scarf-diva Chad, or Steve’s inability to not want female adoration, or Mollie’s guy running away when he could have been a hero. Fresh does a nice job defamiliarizing a lot of very real issues.
It lands at 15 of 23, at the end of the Positives category. It’s a scope and scale thing for me. What Fresh does it does well, I just feel it’s a little small. Like a short story rather than a novel. And there some advantages to that in terms of how quickly the story moves. But I’m someone who prefers a bit more complexity. Going back to the Get Out comparison, watch these films back to back and I think you get a sense of what I’m talking about. Get Out doesn’t have that much larger of a cast, or that many more settings, but the movie feels larger.
Fresh is below Hustle because I think both have some limitations in scope/scale but Hustle was just so charming. Looking at the list, there’s a lot of heavier things, so giving the edge to one of the more positive films. But Fresh is above Death on the Nile because it was making so many smart choices and was commenting on something that will resonate with a lot of people. Nile didn’t really do either of those things.
August 5: Hustle
Hustle was fun. It’s Draft Day meets Rocky but NBA rather than NFL. Filmmaking style was above average and there was clearly an emphasis on good basketball. It’s always nice when a sports movie takes the time to find people who can actually play the sport. It’s one of the reasons Little Big League stands out above some other baseball movies. The director didn’t have to hide the action through a bazillion cuts. Also cool to have something focused on the NBA rather than high school or college like so many of the popular basketball films are. Sandler and Queen Latifah are charming. Ben Foster is his usual self. Anthony Edwards showed up and showed out as Kermit Wilts. And Juancho Hernangómez was cool as Bo Cruz. I actually didn’t realize he was an NBA player until right now when I looked it up. That makes a lot of sense. What’s wild is that he looked really good in the movie but was just an average to below average NBA player. Just goes to show how much skill the elite players possess.
I ranked Hustle at 14 of 22, near the bottom of the Positives category. The biggest issue is simply a low ceiling. The story is basic, the acting is okay, the cinematography is decent. Everything’s well done but very safe. You don’t have the larger moments necessary for this to elevate above other movies that do have those moments.
I have it above Death on the Nile because Hustle actually had characters I liked and emotional stakes. Which makes me want to move Nile down to the neutral category. Hustle will be our new baseline for the category. But it’s below Everything Everywhere simply because Everything Everywhere has the higher highs and more creativity.
August 3: Fire of Love
Fire of Love is one of the most impressive films I’ve ever watched. And I only saw it on a whim. I hadn’t heard anything about it. Knew nothing about. I watched 15 seconds of a trailer. But I love volcanoes. Always have. Always will. I went to Legazpi in the Philippines just to see the Mayon volcano in person. So a movie about volcanoes is an easy sell. What I didn’t realize is that the footage making up 99% of the film would be some of the most genuinely jaw-dropping visuals I may see in my entire life.
I’m fascinated by how unique of a movie this is. Katia and Maurice Kraft were these groundbreaking volcanologists who spent decades filming volcanoes. In the world of explosive mountains, the couple’s body of work is essentially unrivaled. And it just so happens Maurice was an amazing filmmaker and Katia an amazing photographer. You don’t just have husband and wife volcanologists who are this talented and have decades of such high quality work. That in and of itself is cool. But the way Sara Dosa and team turned decades of footage into a narrative and developed themes and built to what, in hindsight, seemed to be an inevitable conclusion, was just so masterfully done. I’m in awe. I’m so happy I saw this in theaters.
So Fire of Love is the first Colossal entry of 2022 and debuts at number 1 of 21. I didn’t expect a documentary to land that high as I’m not usually a documentary guy. But this thing was undeniable to me. The Batman was a great movie. A nice twist for the superhero genre as it’s essentially Seven but with Batman. That’s a winning formula. But Fire of Love is one of a kind. It’s beyond precedent and without antecedent. It’s this singular, special thing. With that said, it won’t have the wide appeal of The Batman and whatever films get nominated for best picture. Many people won’t feel as strongly about it as I do. Which is fine. Nothing will resonate with everyone. I’m just saying, if you get the chance to watch it, give it a shot. I can’t express with words how incredible some/most of the footage was.
July 30: Vengeance
Vengeance was a fun movie. Pretty by-the-numbers character journey (establish routine life, interrupt routine, establish superiority, melt the superiority away, moment of peak connection, nadir, redemption, establish new routine) but told in a modern way so that it feels very present. So even though the journey is standard, it’s not a story that could have been told 10 years ago, 20 years ago, because BJ Novak grounded everything in our present technology and interests. It’s not an uncommon thing for genre films to do but I feel like it’s not often done as well as it was here. Vengeance is smart, fun, charming. Kind of Cohen Brothers-lite. Inspired by them but not trying to be them.
I put it in the Positives category. While I didn’t have any major complaints it just felt like the movie had a bit of a ceiling on it. The cinematography was good but there wasn’t never a shot that made me want to applaud. The acting was good but the story never gave anyone a big moment. The themes were interesting but maybe not fully embodied so much as talked about. And there wasn’t much in the way of a twist. The trailers pretty much told you who the killer was. Which seems like a horrible decision. Despite knowing who the villain would be, I still enjoyed the journey. That’s why Vengeance comes in at 11 of 20 rather than, say, in the top 5.
I put it above Everything Everywhere, something I’ve said a lot so far this year. Everything Everything has become my benchmark. Kind of a film’s first boss battle into the higher realms of the rankings. I have to keep repeating it, but Everything Everywhere essentially being The Matrix meets Cloud Atlas with a parent/child story I’ve seen a lot leaves me less enthused about it than other people. So I keep referring to things like Vengeance as more original and that could probably baffle some people since EE is so often uniquely outrageous. But I’m referring more to the core narrative elements and thematic expression. And Vengeance felt just a bit more unique to me. But it goes below Nope because even though I had more issues with Nope, Nope still had, I think, higher highs. More of a “wow” factor.
But Vengeance is a nice first project for BJ Novak and bodes well for whatever he does next. I hope he continues to lean into exploring familiar genres in a modern setting. But finds the space to go a bit bigger. One example is a scene where there’s a party in the desert and a bunch of fireworks go off. It was the perfect moment to have a long shot of the people, the land, the sky, the fireworks, and feast on that image. Let it linger for a few seconds. But we don’t get it or anything like that. There’s just a quick, standard, medium shot of some fireworks then cutting back to the normal medium shot of people talking. That made me sad. I guess for a first film, it can be helpful to play it safe. Hopefully the next one seizes more opportunities.
July 24: Nope
I’m frustrated by this one. Part of me wonders if the negative feelings I have for Nope are me being too harsh? Because there’s a lot to like. It’s essentially Jaws in the sky. And has more thematic depth. So I should just be happy with that, right? But I’m not. And that’s because the first half of Nope felt very thoughtful and like it was building not just a narrative but some kind of commentary on the entertainment industry, humans and animals, and more. I was ready for the finale to bring everything together and send me on a months long crusade of “Nope is the best movie of the year so far!” Then we got to the last hour and it fell completely flat. It became simply a monster movie. And that’s cool. But it’s disappointing in context of the first hour. Even if we forget that and just look at what happened at the end—eh. The unfolding of the saucer into this giant, beautiful, terrifying ribbon-monster was cool. But it took that form and essentially did nothing. It stares down OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) then takes off after Emerald (Keke Palmer) then stupidly eats a giant balloon and blows up. I wish the events that transpired would have done justice to how cool the concept was. But it felt anti-climactic to me. Both in terms of action and thematics.
Plus, I have a huge issue with movies ending just a bit too soon. Nope starts us off with the ranch and this issue of legacy and whether OJ and Emerald can keep what their father (Keith David as Otis) built. Will they maintain not just Haywood Hollywood Horse Ranch but also the family itself. Ending with the defeat of the monster is part of the story but not the end of the story. Does the photo Emerald took have the success they hope for? Does the ranch become this huge deal? Do OJ and Em decide they need to forge their own paths and create their own things and not just be burdened by their past? Do people not believe the photo and they lose the ranch? What happens? I think it’s actually kind of unforgivable to not follow up with just 1-5 more minutes of aftermath. It’s like if Inception ended with everyone waking up on the plane rather than with Cobb returning to his kids and spinning the top. Or if Jurassic Park ended with the survivors jumping in the car with John Hammond and Alan Grant saying “After careful consideration, I’ve decided not to endorse your park.” But it doesn’t end there. Instead, we see everyone on the helicopters and Grant sits between the two kids then we end on a shot of birds flying. Not only does it grant closure that everyone got off the island. It concludes Grant’s character arc of going from focusing on work at the expense of having a family to wanting to have a family. Then we also know modern birds are related to ancient dinosaurs, so the last shot conveys this sense of wonder and fear.
You don’t get any of that with the end of Nope. There’s no character journey really for Emerald. Or OJ. We don’t know what happens to them or the farm. OJ’s kind of even outright abandoned at the end. So weird. So so so so so weird. I just have so many little issues. Sigh.
But with all that said I still put Nope in the Positives category, at number 10. It’s above Everything Everywhere All At Once because I think Nope is just a more technically impressive and original film. Everything Everywhere has a nice gimmick that leads to some cool moments, but I’m less impressed with it than a lot of people. Nope has more thematic scope and depth. But I put it below The Northman because I think The Northman tells a more complete story while being even more visually and technically impressive. I think Nope has higher highs but also lower lows.
Maybe I’ll come around on this when I start writing about Nope. But I thought the same thing about Us and my recent rewatch of that left me with a lot of the same complaints. Great idea. Awesome scenes. But takes a lot of liberties with the logic of everything and never fully explores its themes the way Get Out did. This is a good movie. I’m just mad because it could have been amazing.
July 22: Morbius
Well. It was finally Morbin time. I gotta say, this wasn’t the absolute dumpster fire I thought it was going to be. The floor was a lot higher than the Internet led me to believe. But the ceiling was also incredibly low. It’s one of the most cliche-driven movies I’ve ever watched. In terms of main story beats, there’s almost nothing that’s original. This feels like the absolute peak performance of a college screenwriting 101 class. Maybe the guys behind this are way better than their filmography thus far and they’re just playing the “by-the-numbers” game to please studios. Or maybe they’re the next generation of the terrifying duo of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman who had an impressive string of movies that weren’t outright awful but were definitely far from their potential (The Island, Legend of Zoro, Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Cowboys & Aliens, The Amazing Spider-Man 2…).
When you string together a bunch of cliches, you usually get something that works. It’s just cliche. And lifeless. But not necessarily so bad it becomes fun to hate. When something is that bad, you at least feel something. During Morbius, I felt pretty much nothing. The dialogue was never quite bad enough. The acting had effort. The shots and editing were coherent. The action sequences decent. There were even good moments. Just not enough strung together to the point of achieving positive momentum.
Only two moments tripped me up. First, the random “iris-in” during the transition from the first bat cave scene to the flashback to Greece. The iris shot is when the scene closes in a circle or opens in a circle. It’s very old fashioned and not used as much in modern filmmaking (except in Star Wars). So it randomly happening at the start of Morbius absolutely threw me for a loop. The second was when Morbius runs from the police and gets onto the roof. There’s a random echo wind that gusts him all the way across the roof and nearly off of it. It’s INEXPLICABLE. I know later in the movie they reveal it’s currents he flies on? It’s just weird as hell. Why did he feel this at no other point? Why doesn’t he feel it as soon as he’s on the roof? Was the wind on the roof really that strong? Have his bones gotten lighter? Like…what is the mechanism he uses to fly? Bats have wings. Morbius doesn’t have wings.
Actually, the flight thing alone is so infuriating that I’m getting mad. Which feels great. It’s such a dramatic plot hole that I’m actually going to move Morbius from the Flawed category to the Bad category. It’s the first one in the Bad category. So cheers to Morbius. The reason I put it below Minions: Rise of Gru is because Minions was cliche but at least had some scope, scale, polish, and heart. And it goes above Fourth of July because I wasn’t angry. But, you know what, Fourth of July is at least putting in more effort to say something and have heart and go from broke. Even if it pissed me off in its choices. There was at least genuine effort. Man. Okay. I just convinced myself to lift Fourth of July out of the I Hate category and put it into the Bad category. It has to go above Morbius. I can’t put a movie as unoriginal as Morbius over something that was bad but trying.
July 20: The Northman
Very torn on this. On the one hand, Robert Eggers makes gorgeous movies. The way he entwines tone and atmosphere is incredible and immersing. On the other hand, there’s the storytelling. I wasn’t particularly fond of Eggers’s debut, The Witch. Amazing visuals. Amazing world building. But a story that left me going, “That’s it?” It hit all the 1630s New England witch-story plot beats that I expected. Had a pretty cool climax. And then was over. The movie really didn’t start to take off for me until the very last scene. I would have gladly given back 30 minutes worth of build-up to have 30 minutes more of aftermath. The Lighthouse I missed but will watch soon. Northman I was still excited for. So it’s not like I’m down on Eggers. I’m just waiting for a story that does justice to the visuals. Unfortunately, I don’t quite think The Northman is it.
While it’s cool too see the story of Amleth given such production, it’s also very, very, very familiar. It’s the basis for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Which is the basis for so many other works of art. From The Lion King to the novel Infinite Jest. It’s one of the most influential narratives in modern history. So even though Amleth predates Hamlet, there’s still a sense of “I know what’s going to happen.” For me, that takes a lot of the narrative excitement out of the journey. Especially when this clocks in at 2 hours and 17 minutes. Much like with The Witch, I found myself almost more interested in what would happened after the revenge rather than just getting to the revenge. This feels like a story that ends at ACT II rather than giving me ACT III. It actually had me thinking a lot about The Green Knight. And how much more I enjoyed it. Green Knight could have just ended with Gawain finally reaching the titular Knight. And it does, but not before showing us a future. The aftermath of Gawain taking a coward’s way out of the encounter. We see how the rest of his life plays out. So when he opts to do the honorable thing, the future is full of meaning. Because we’ve already seen the negative destiny, we can begin to imagine the antithesis of that. So you can easily project ahead to how the story goes.
With Northman, you can’t really do that. We get some hints about a Maiden King. But it’s only ever talk. The whole stretch of Amleth arriving as a slave and going through the machinations of finally facing his uncle just took such a long time to unfold. And I typically like patient storytelling. But not if it’s so obvious what will finally happen: Amleth fights Fjölnir. I don’t need an hour to get there. 35 minutes. 10 minutes of being there. 15 minutes of aftermath. So, that’s my major complaint.
But it was a hell of a job by the cast. Alexander Skarsgård did an amazing, amazing job. And the final fight in front of the volcano was incredible. And, I think it’s fair to say, worth the wait. It’s just crazy how good of a fighter Fjölnir still was at his age. Amleth was also pretty weak at that point. But Fjölnir was definitely final boss level.
So the Northman goes in at 9 of 17, at the top of the “Positives” list. The familiarity of the story and pacing keep it out of the “Really Good” category. But the visuals and performances put it above many other 2022 movies. It arguably has higher highs than Crimes of the Future, but I think the originality of Crimes wins the day for me. And while Everything Everywhere All At Once had a lot of originality to it, it also had a pretty predictable story. The Northman ended up being more impressive to me so earned the higher rank.
July 19: Death on the Nile
I wanted Death on the Nile to be better than it was. I missed Murder on the Orient Express so wasn’t sure what to expect, quality-wise. It’s hard not to make comparisons to Knives Out but Knives Out has kind of become the gold-standard for modern mysteries. The cinematography of Nile was better than Knives Out. A little more artistic rather than merely productive. And the performances were all impressive. My issue is that I figured out the mystery almost immediately. From the very first dance scene with Margot Robbie, Armie Hammer, and Gal Gadot. Along the way, I hoped that the obvious answer was merely a red herring. And there were moments I started to doubt. But, alas. So while it was a pretty solid movie, it felt not clever enough for the premise at hand. Almost but not quite. I put it below Everything Everywhere because I thought Everything Everywhere was the more ambitious movie. But it goes above Thor: Love and Thunder and Chip ‘n Dale for the same reason. I could see an argument for Thor and Rescue Rangers having higher highs, but I think Nile had higher lows. In this case, , not all the time, but in this case, I’ll take consistently okay over the ups and downs.
July 16: Turning Red
Turning Red really surprised me. I expect Pixar movies to be charming but it’s been a minute since I felt how I felt watching Wall-E and Up for the first time. Things like Toy Story 3, Inside Out, and Incredibles 2 were fun and emotional but not quite as powerful, to me at least. It got to the point where I passed over watching Onward, Soul, and Luca because I just wasn’t sure if I’d grow out of the Pixar experience. Now that I’m back to needing to watch everything for the site, I bit the bullet and put on Turning Red. And my nose is still stuffy from all the tears. And it wasn’t even sad tears, you know? Just that welling up of vicarious emotion. The highs. The lows. The breakthroughs. It absolutely surprised me that Domee Shi was a first-time feature director. What an amazing first film. It didn’t quite have the big initial scope of Wall-E or Up but building up to a kaiju-sized red panda was well worth the wait and satisfied my desire for scale. What surprised me was how much Turning Red had in common with Everything Everywhere All at Once. It’s probably jarring to some people for me to compare those. I’m not saying they’re exactly alike or that it’s even a bad thing. Just that both explore the mother-daughter dynamic through the lens of Chinese culture, generational trauma, and fantasy. Both films involve the daughter turning into a monster. And both have the mom ended up with the same powers and that being the thing that ultimately connects them. With the mother having to confront their parent to feel better. Obviously Everything Everywhere went about it in the different way than Turning Red, but it’s the same starting ingredients. It shows just how many ways there are to tell a story. And how the intended audience can shift those story dynamics. The existentialism and nihilism at the core of Everything Everywhere wouldn’t be appropriate for Turning Red, just like the main POV being from the daughter makes more sense in a kid’s movie than it would in Everything Everywhere.
I put Turning Red in the “Really Good” category. It comes in at #6, ahead of TG:M because, while that was very fun and cinematically impressive, I think Turning Red has more value to it in terms of message and is a bit more unique in its story. But below The Black Phone because I think The Black Phone had a bit more going on and was dealing with subject-matter that’s a little more uncommon. Turning Red probably is the more consistent movie, start to finish. But I think the scope and highs of Black Phone give it the edge.
July 12: Fourth of July
I hate to say this is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. But it’s one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. People put time, effort, money, and a lot of hope into this project. So I feel bad dunking on it. But, man, I was miserable. And it wasn’t just a single thing that frustrated me. It was all things. The acting. Cinematography. Editing. Pacing. Characters. I don’t know anything about Joe List but this seemed like a very personal movie for him. And I think there are components to the story that people can 100% relate to: scared of being a parent, hate their family, resentful of their parents, dealing with addiction. A lot of us have experienced awkward family gatherings where you have to constantly bite your tongue. I can appreciate what it was going far. And it did succeed in making me dislike Jeff’s (Joe List) family. But I disliked pretty much everyone who appeared in the movie. And whatever catharsis or redemption Jeff achieves was so anti-climactic that the slog to get there just wasn’t worth it. The movie asked too much of me without giving me anything back. There’s something to be said about “Well, life is often anticlimactic and this is more realistic than it is Hollywood.” Sure. But that doesn’t mean it was good. There was one amazing moment where a frustrated Jeff plays a beautiful classic piece on the piano while his obnoxious Boston family drowns him out by trying to sing Billy Joel’s “Piano Man.” It’s this fleeting collision of Jeff’s culture against this family full of dullards. Outside of that one moment, I disagreed with pretty much every decision. Though, hell, one person in the theater applauded when the movie ended. So maybe I’ll be in the minority here. Or maybe they were as relieved as I was.
July 9th: Thor: Love and Thunder
Thor was better than I feared but worse than I hoped. I really loved Thor Ragnarok and thought they finally found the perfect tone for the character and movies. Like 65% serious and 35% humorous. Love and Thunder flipped that for me. It was silly to the point of almost being cartoonish. Which probably is fine for a lot of people. These are superhero movies, after all. But I really enjoyed that stretch from Captain America: Winter Soldier up through End Game because it felt like the movies took themselves somewhat seriously while still having fun. Since End Game, it’s been back and forth. Things like Black Widow, Shang-Chi, and No Way Home were still in the ballpark of what I think makes for a great Marvel movie. Even Eternals. But the TV shows, Multiverse of Madness, and Love and Thunder have been tonally all over the place. With all that said, I still enjoyed Love and Thunder. The Goats, Tessa Thompson, and Christian Bale stole the show.
July 5th: Mad God and Minions: The Rise of Gru
So Mad God is one of the most impressive movies I’ve ever seen. The amount of time and effort to make it is just…mind boggling. It’s an achievement and deserves recognition for even existing. Part of me almost wants to put it at 1. What’s holding me back is that the movie is so focused on its idea that God is mad at us and punishing us that there’s not really room for anything else. It’s this holistic bleakness. There is merit and beauty to how overwhelming the message is. But it also makes me wish there was just a little more going on. And with Minions, I mean…it was fine? I laughed. The CGI was impressive. It didn’t impress me like How to Train Your Dragon or Kung-Fu Panda or Frozen did. Or even Rise of the Guardians. But it didn’t pain me to watch it either. It comes in last but it’s not a bad movie. **Note, Mad God had its festival debut in 2021 so tends to be viewed as a 2021 movie, but it didn’t have a theatrical release or streaming release until 2022. So I’m counting it as 2022.
July 3rd: The Black Phone
Black Phone really surprised me. It looked alright but I wasn’t sure how they’d make the premise of the kid talking to ghosts through a phone anything but ridiculous. It became very poignant, though. Especially as the film is so much a commentary on abuse and how it’s something that’s passed down and on and around. That it couches a coming of age story within a social commentary within a horror premise is pretty great. It being in the 70s, I couldn’t help but think of this as a post-Strange-Things kind of movie. But in a good way. Like this felt like it was an amazing seasons of Stranger Things except it was condensed into two hours. Ethan Hawke was as creepy in this as he was in Taking Lives. And the kid actors, Madeleine McGraw and Mason Thames, were very impressive. I’m torn over whether or not I should put it above Elvis. I think Elvis was probably more impressive overall in terms of filming and Austin Butler’s performance. But The Black Phone, despite some negatives, found some magic.
June 30th: Initial thoughts
The Batman maintains the top spot. Elvis has moments that are some of my favorites of the year. But I just don’t find a biopic quite as interesting as, say, Batman. jeen-yuhs maintains such a high rank because the footage is pretty incredibly and almost unprecedented. Top Gun Maverick was a lot of fun and better than I expected. It’s above Everything Everywhere simply because I thought it had higher lows. As fun and emotional as Everything Everywhere was, I had frustrations with pacing and knowing exactly where the story was going to go. Chip ‘n Dale and Bob’s Burgers are kind of neck and neck. I think Bob’s probably had more highs but nostalgia wins out here. Then Doctor Strange is my big disappointment, so far. I think the MCU is at its best when the movies are in the vein of Iron Man (2008), Winter Solder, Civil War, Ragnarok, and Infinity War. As in, they take the logic of what’s happening seriously, even when it’s fantastic or ridiculous. When the logic goes away, it’s easy for the story to feel more like a Saturday morning cartoon for 5 year olds. It’s not like I’m against superhero movies. I love superhero movies. I just don’t want them to get away with lower quality writing simply because they are superhero movies.