Five Great Films I Saw in 2022

Normally, this would be a top ten of 2022 after going through a wide variety of movies from the year. But in 2022, I spent five months in the hospital due to awful health complications that left me incapable of doing anything but lying in bed and hoping that I’d recover to full health. While on recovery I did my best to check out some anticipated movies, sadly with little success.

I was able to squeeze in viewings of a lot of movies upon my return home, though. While I wasn’t able to see much of anything in 2022, I was thankfully able to compile a reasonable top five list of great films I managed to find time for during the holidays. The list is subject to change upon viewing more 2022 films, but for now, I’m happy with this top five.

5.5 Encanto
I cheated a bit with this entry but there are extenuating circumstances. I saw “Encanto” literally on New Year’s Eve 2021 at night, so I kind of count it. “Encanto” is a riveting, brilliant and wonderful musical. It’s a masterpiece that explores the idea of family, generational trauma, and the difficulty of dealing with the responsibilities thrust us on by our elders. “Encanto” garners some of the most infectious earwigs in yeas with songs like “The Family Madrigal,” “Surface Pressure,” and my favorite “We Don’t Talk About Bruno.” I’ve seen it three times, and I’ll likely see it again very soon.

5. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
The loss of Chadwick Boseman shook everyone, from his family, to Hollywood, and of course the collective Marvel fan base. He gave a passionate turn as T’Challa, the king of Wakanda, also known as Black Panther, so when he died from cancer, not many knew what would happen with the series. “Wakanda Forever” is a Marvel superhero movie, but it’s more about grief, and how we can move on in the face of losing our loved ones. How do we move on? When can we move on? How do we pay tribute to them? How do we pay respect to their spirit? “Wakanda Forever” is every bit a tribute to Chadwick Boseman’s incomparable spirit as it is a sequel to “Black Panther” and it’s an emotional, stirring follow up that Ryan Coogler handles with class.

4. Scream (or Scream 5)
There was a lot of doubt about how “Scream” would fare after the death of Wes Craven, but “Scream 5” is an indicator that it’s in good hands. This sequel/reunion is something of a masterful commentary on horror fandom that follows in Craven’s typical tradition of commentary on some basis of filmmaking. This time “Scream” tackles the idea of toxic fandom and puts the ghost face on two very toxic fans of the “Stab” franchise and their lengths to stage the horrendous slashings that tainted Sydney Prescott. “Scream 5” goes for the throat with some brutal slayings, sharp tension, and an opening that completely breaks the tradition of the first victim being offed before the narrative starts. I loved it. I’ve seen it five times already.

3. Nope
Jordan Peele is making nothing but bangers these days, as he creates meticulous, brutally creepy genre films that also have something to say about society. While “Us” and “Get Out” dealt with racism, and classism, “Nope” is about sensationalism and our voyeuristic society. It’s all told through the device of a UFO hiding in the clouds that is indulging in mysterious activity. Director Peele works gels with his cast allowing folks like Daniel Kaluuya, Steven Yeun, and Keke Palmer to shine bright. Peele creates a stunning and mysterious villain in the form of “Jean Jacket” a being that will make you wonder after the credits if there are anymore waiting in the clouds. With Peele’s talent for comedy, “Nope” is darkly comic, often morbid, and features one of the most disturbing, viciously violent flashbacks ever put to modern horror cinema. One word: Gordy.

2. X
Ti West’s “X” is both an homage to classic grindhouse slashers, and Tobe Hooper’s anarchist flavor, as it drops a group of unsuspecting free loving individuals in a setting where its caretakers are unwilling to compromise with their sense of sexuality. Star Mia Goth (in duel roles) is fantastic in what is an uncomfortable and gruesome horror film, all filled with violent pay offs, and memorable scenes of absolute carnage. The cast also are superb with great turns by Jenna Ortega, Kid Cudi, and Brittany Snow, respectively. Snow especially gives a great turn and suffers probably the most horrendous fate of anyone in the whole film. “X” is a knock out horror film, one filled with technical prowess and the creeping, building terror West is known for.

1. Pearl
Directed by:
Ti West
Written by:
Ti West, Mia Goth
Starring:
Mia Goth, David Corenswet, Emma Jenkins
I admit that I had no real faith in “Pearl,” as often times the back stories of horror villains are rarely interesting. And movies about the back stories of villains are rarely good (Ahem—“Hannibal Rising”). That said, “Pearl” proves me wrong in every respect. It’s an outstanding, uncomfortable, and superb slasher movie that also acts as a genuine character study of a girl covered in cracks, who is only a hare away from completely shattering. When Pearl finally does shatter, it amounts to immense, sadistic bloodshed and dismemberment. Mia Goth’s performance is extraordinary and she’s deserving of an Oscar nod simply for her final monologue alone. The final shot of Pearl living her “ideal life” is haunting both in its grisly nature, and Goth’s ability to make Pearl both a heartbreaking figure who is also incredibly horrifying. Ti West simply outdoes himself with “Pearl.”