Some very quick picks indeed this year, for a couple of reasons.
First of all, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic the major streaming platforms — Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple, Disney+ — all sought to entrench their position in the film food chain, with many major releases going direct to people’s homes. This didn’t affect me too much, as I’ve only been in a cinema a couple of times in the last decade. However, the other thing about a lot of direct-to-streaming releases is that they never come out on DVD. As time goes on, I suspect this is a situation that will only get worse, as cinemas and DVDs both become fossilized cultural artefacts. But then, so are blogs. Social media itself might soon be going the same way.
Second, I didn’t get around to seeing many new releases even on DVD, and those I did see were mostly crap. Or, to be a bit more charitable, movies that I thought might be at least passable but turned out to be somewhat below that. I’m starting to think that new movies just don’t interest me all that much, which shouldn’t surprise me since new fiction doesn’t interest me as much as it used to either. I usually try to plow through as many new releases as I can in November and December in order to prep for this post, but this year I just couldn’t be bothered with what I saw on the shelves.
In any event, here we are with the 2022 releases that I watched in 2022.
Crimes of the Future
Death on the Nile
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Thor: Love and Thunder
Just you try picking some winners out of that field of beauties!
Best Film: I did not think Bullet Train was a great movie. But it was at least pretty much as advertised, meaning a jokey, slickly turned-out fairground ride. I can’t say the same for any of the other movies on this list, though many of them were going for the same audience. So Bullet Train it is.
Worst Film: Look, there’s no denying that Gasoline Alley was the worst movie on this list. But it also had a tenth, or less than a tenth, of the budget of many of the others and I don’t even think that the people who made it thought it was going to be any good. Moonfall was laughable, as was Morbius. Blacklight was very bad, with Liam Neeson’s turn as an action star bottoming out. Crimes of the Future was just disappointing. The megabudget epics were dead on arrival. So there was a lot of garbage here to choose from. But I guess if I’m being honest and fair I have to stick with calling the worst the worst and make it Gasoline Alley.
Best Actor: I actually liked Devon Sawa in Gasoline Alley. He was trying his best in a lost cause. Rory Kinnear gets a tip of the hat for playing all those different parts in Men. Brad Pitt didn’t do anything beyond his usual Brad Pitt thing in Bullet Train, but he did have to carry everything with his copious charm. A true star, he is always watchable. So Brad Pitt in Bullet Train.
Best Actress: It’s hard to get excited about anyone here, though there was some good work handed in. I thought Zoë Kravitz was a really good Catwoman, but she didn’t impress me with her acting so much as she nailed a certain look. Naomi Watts was good in Infinite Storm, but it was a one-woman show and I didn’t like the show that much. So I’ll go with Jessie Buckley in Men here.
Best Screenplay: Another year to again wonder if this category is even worth keeping. There wasn’t a single moment watching any of these movies where I said to myself “This is quite well written” or “I really like what the screenwriter did there.” The movies that should be in the running here — Crimes of the Future and Men — were both pretentious and unoriginal. So I’ll cast my eye at two movies that had to labour under heavy, heavy franchise expectations and yet still managed to come up with something at least sporadically interesting: The Batman and Scream. Given that Scream was still too much of a retread and had too much bad stuff in it, I’ll say The Batman. But if you ask me why I think it’s a good screenplay I can only respond with a shrug. I mean, the Riddler’s riddles weren’t even clever or interesting.
And there you have it. Am I looking forward to 2023? Not a bit. I’m pretty sure the coming year will be just as disappointing, on every front. But if I’m expecting to be disappointed, can what happens really be a disappointment? We’ll see!