Although it may seem off-topic for what I usually write about, I love film. I try to go to the movies at least once a week (and being an AMC Stubs A-List member helps).
This tradition goes back a long time ago. When I was little, I adored my older sister. I thought she was the coolest person ever. And in high school, she wanted to be a film director. That’s all I needed to know that I also had to obsess over film. It was what I studied in high school and it was what lead me to work at a video rental store for years longer than I should have.
It was also why I made that New Years' resolution when I was 16 to watch a movie EVERY day for a year. Encore was the best channel ever back then. No matter what nonsense was on, I watched it.
Fast forward a few years and I stopped watching as many movies and instead read a ton of books. I started using goodreads.com to track them. As my reading died down, my film going returned, and I switched to a spreadsheet. This was back in 2015, and I only wrote down their names and the order in which I saw them. I ended the year by rearranging them in order of the ones I liked the most. It was only a short list (20 movies) that started with Creed at #1 and Sisters at #20.
2016 I decided to rank them 1-10 as I saw them, to make sorting them easier, and in 2018 I moved on to ranking each one on a 10-point scale for Acting, Directing, and Writing and then averaging those numbers together to get its final placement.
So this brings us to 2022—our most recent year in film. Last year, I watched and rated 115 movies. All films were released in 2022.
Before I move on to what made it to the top of the list and what made it to the bottom, I want to call out the films I did not get to see but were on my radar.
- Clerks III
- Crimes of the Future
- The Invitation
As a lover of spreadsheets, you know I have a documented list of shame that details all that fell through the cracks throughout the years, and it’s usually at the beginning of the year when the pressure is off that I get to catch up on those.
A fun thing I’d like to explore is the movies that earned a 10 somewhere in the rating but did not make it onto my final top 10 of the year.
All of these are movies that I recommend, especially “The Fire Place” (go in completely blind- it’s on HBO Max). I always give extra points to any movie that shows me something I’ve never seen before, and that movie has it in spades.
Now for the not-so-great. Before sharing this list, let me warn you that my wife and I LOVE to watch Hallmark movies during the holiday season. A bad movie can still be an entertaining movie. There are plenty of Hallmark originals throughout my list. My highest-rated one made it up to #59 out of 115 films, so cheers to “The Christmas Sitter.”
I don’t curate the order of the bottom 10, so here are my worst-reviewed films of 2022:
And in case you’re wondering, “The Colors of Christmas” is about a colorblind elementary school science teacher who falls in love with an optometrist that gives him special prescription glasses that let him see color for the first time, which makes him finally understand the spirit of Christmas.
To make sure these don’t all fall into obscurity, here are some honorable mentions:
- Goriest film: “Terrifier 2”
- Biggest Surprise: “Hustle”
- Most Slept on: “Kimi”
- Most Charming: “Fire Island”
- Biggest Disappointment: “Thor: Love and Thunder”
- Most Depressing: “All’s Quiet on the Western Front”
- Best Standup: “Trash White”
Okay, now for the top 10. Since I started rating on these three levels, only two movies have gotten solid 10s across the board, and one of them is from 2022. The other one to get this distinction was 2019’s “The Biggest Little Farm.” If you haven’t seen it, you MUST. A documentary about organic farming will make you cry while smiling ear to ear.
In 2022, I gave out twelve “10s” from a possible thirty spaces across the three categories. This is way higher than any year prior. Maybe it’s because the pandemic allowed artists to have time to reflect on what was most important or what they really wanted to say. There was no rush in my top three movies- each one is deeply plotted and takes time in each scene to really layer the impact of their messaging.
- “Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel” - Although it’s technically a standup, it’s more of a group therapy session, which is why I have a different one listed for Best Standup in my honorable mentions. This piece is raw, deep, honest, and hilarious, and made me a fan of Jerrod Carmichael. If you enjoyed Tig Notaro “Live,” then you’ll enjoy this.
- “Top Gun: Maverick” - I never cared about Top Gun, but this movie shows the audience how important it is to fight for realism. CG can only go so far, and our eyes are more trained to identify it than we think they are.
- “Nope” - Jordan Peele’s third worst film is still a masterpiece. Less of a horror and more of an adventure, it takes you through lots of excitement, and drama, and you find yourself cheering on the main characters. You get deeply involved in their plotting.
- “Bodies Bodies Bodies” - This whodunnit is hilarious, twisted, gorgeously shot, and full of characters you love to hate. No deep soul is searching here, just a wonderfully good bucket of schadenfreude.
- “Babylon” - While the story kind of falls apart in the end, the mastery of directing is fully on display from the moment the movie begins. The idea of wrangling that much insanity into one room and having it perfectly choreographed all while being filmed and mic’ed is insane. Good on you, Damien Chazelle.
- “Barbarian” - You know I give extra points to movies that show me something I’ve never seen, and boy does this not disappoint. Totally a movie that you need to go into blind. I would LOVE to hear about that pitch meeting. Who gave them money for this? Thank you.
- “The Fabelmans” - A simple film about a family growing up around a child’s dream to be a filmmaker. Spielberg knows exactly how to portray emotion and impart it to the audience. I no longer have that desire to make movies but I believed every second of the desire he put on the screen. I also think that Michelle Williams is one of the great actresses of our time.
- “Men” - taking it back to seeing something I’ve never seen before- holy hell does this one deliver. It’s a beautifully shot rotten apple of a film. A bucolic horror movie in the tiny subgenre of liminal horror. I want to watch it again, but you need to get that taste out of your mouth first.
- “Bones and All” - Luca Guadagnino is three for three getting on my top 10 lists. I trust this director to create a scene that I want to be a part of but also terrifies me. This was a lovely tale full of memorable moments where the horror lies in the things that are not happening, but might. The only thing that held it back from a full slate of 10s was that while I wholly believed the friendship between the two leads was there, I didn’t feel the romantic chemistry that the film implied.
- “Everything Everywhere All at Once” - I mean what else is there to say? This film is a masterpiece in storytelling and most importantly, rule-breaking. It put directors with larger budgets to shame. It proves what is proved time and time again- make your story small and it will become more universal. No matter how specific your anecdote is, it will more easily translate to the audience that is watching it. Broadness is a weakness dreamt up by financial advisors. The beauty of writing takes place in the specific.
I hope my ridiculous amount of tracking has helped someone out there. I’ll keep watching movies and I’ll keep writing down numbers, with or without anyone reading them.