Where has 2022 gone? It seems like the last year was even shorter than the previous one. Perhaps the pandemic initiated some kind of temporal contraction, causing time to pass faster even when we’re not having fun. Or maybe I’m just getting older. Either way, it’s been an enjoyable year nonetheless, allowing me to settle into my software position and take on more of a leadership role. In addition, the absence of school allowed me to finally start on a new project that I might as well announce here: I’m working on a musical! At least, I’m writing the lyrics while a friend of mine does the music. It’s still developing and is based on the work of one of my favorite poets, so I look forward to when we’re ready to share it with the world. I’ll certainly be posting on this blog for any musical lovers like me out there.

Unfortunately, working on that meant that I drifted away from blogging for much of the year. I was surprised at how few posts I’d done in 2022, but I still managed to find enough new favorite films for my annual Top Twelve list (plus one). They’ll be added to THE LIST of my top 365 movies soon enough. Interestingly, none of 2021’s Best Picture nominees made the cut, though some came close, and instead this list of the best films I saw in the last year is an eclectic mix of new and old.

Before we get to the main list, I feel it’s only right to give a nod to some worthy movies viewed in the last year that I wish I could add if only it didn’t mean bumping off others I love more. Among these quality List Runners-Up, I’d recommend CODA, Belfast, Werewolves Within, Walk the Line, West Side Story (2021), Nope, Chef, King Richard, Better Off Dead, See How They Run, Avatar: The Way of Water, The Bad Guys, and Father Stu (which had been List-Worthy but got edged out by the others below). Just as I mentioned the stage recording of Hamilton last year, I’ll also give a shout-out to the filmed version of Come From Away, which would probably top this list if only I could count it as a “movie.” Somehow, filmed stage performances just feel like they’re in a separate category, but I still would encourage everyone to go watch it.

Please let me know what your favorite films of the last year were. I’m sure there are plenty I missed, for which I’ll have to play catch up, as usual. Without further ado, time to get to my Top Twelve!

12. A Chorus Line (1985)

Part of writing a musical has been getting acquainted with the multitude of musicals I had never sought out before, including this game-changing meta narrative based on the 1975 hit show. Featuring an ensemble of mostly unfamiliar faces, it’s a glimpse into the joys and struggles of theater performers trying to stand out enough to be worthy of a simple chorus line. While many considered it a failure compared to its acclaimed stage version, I have nothing to compare it to and so found the film to be an excellent peek into why dancers do what they do.

11. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)

Everyone loved the first Black Panther, while I liked it but didn’t feel the same passion others did. However, my opinion has grown with further watches and the sad passing of Chadwick Boseman, and this sequel furthers my admiration for this corner of the MCU. Wakanda Forever may be a bit overstuffed, but it’s an exciting and poignant sequel to a hard-to-follow blockbuster.

10. The Pianist (2002)

There is no shortage of Holocaust movies, but some just hit harder than others. Following the increasingly desperate life of pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman, this film showed the heartache and upheaval of World War II Poland, revealing the daily strain of survival even outside the concentration camps. Standing above the stigma of its director, The Pianist is a historic must-see and gave Adrian Brody the role of a lifetime.

9. Short Term 12 (2013)

This year had some especially strong Blindspots, and Short Term 12 was one of the best. This low-key drama about a group home for troubled teens boasted bravura performances from its young cast of soon-to-be stars and a wonderfully nuanced screenplay that should have won an Oscar. Painful and beautiful in equal measure, it’s an affecting portrait of trauma being gradually overcome.

8. Spirited (2022)

I’m not the biggest fan of Will Ferrell or Ryan Reynolds, so I was dubious about them starring in this modern riff on Scrooged. But the fact it was a Pasek and Paul musical gave me hope. I was relieved then that this high-energy Christmas Carol update is a toe-tapping joy and a likely Christmas classic, in my house at least.  

7. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022)

Knives Out was a tough act to follow, but writer-director Rian Johnson managed to create a worthy successor in Glass Onion. With its trenchant wit aimed at many modern targets from out-of-touch billionaires to two-faced politicians, this second Benoit Blanc outing is fast-paced entertainment that once again proves the mystery genre is far from dead.

6. Wolfwalkers (2020)

When I finally bit the bullet and signed up for Apple TV+, Wolfwalkers was one of the first of its exclusives I sought out. Cartoon Saloon’s best film to date, this animated tale steeped in Irish folklore treads some familiar ground plot-wise but more than makes up for it with stunning animation and sincere heart. And a well-chosen Aurora song doesn’t hurt.

5. Gattaca (1997)

Although I opted to not make Gattaca one of my Blindspots in 2022, I ended up watching it anyway and was floored by its profound dive into a dystopia where genetics determine exactly how far society allows one to go. Choosing thought-provoking themes over sci-fi action, it serves as a prescient warning that will certainly become even more timely in the future.

4. National Velvet (1944)

I had low expectations for this oldest of my Blindspots, but it ended up being my favorite of them all. A genuine classic of the highest order, National Velvet is a near-perfect family film, with a very young Elizabeth Taylor winning over everyone around her with her passion for her beloved horse, including me.

3. Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Since I was never that enamored of the first Top Gun, this long-awaited sequel continued the trend of surpassing expectations. A summer blockbuster through and through, Tom Cruise’s return to the cockpit added expected thrills and unforeseen depth to his role as the titular hotshot. It was the rare exciting and satisfying follow-up that managed to blow past the original.

2. Cyrano (2021)

What is this, the third musical on the list? Largely ignored in the last awards season, Peter Dinklage’s turn as Cyrano de Bergerac deserved better, considering its brilliant acting and sumptuous staging. A far more understated musical than others, its soundtrack was as intoxicating as Cyrano’s romantic banter, and I kept coming back to songs like “Every Letter” and “I Want More.” I wish Hollywood would make more like this.

1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)

While Dr. Strange’s foray into the multiverse may have been disappointing, the adventures of Shang-Chi’s aunt seemed to win over everyone who saw it. This madcap fever dream of a film gave Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan their best roles in years and felt like a new milestone of creativity that few other films could match. As I stated in my review, much of Everything Everywhere All at Once doesn’t really jive with my Christian worldview, but its endorsement of kindness and connection in the midst of chaos still rings true. It remains the funniest, weirdest, and most original film I saw all year, so it had to snag the top spot.

And the thirteenth list addition that still deserves a mention:

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022)

And that’s another blog year in the books. As always, here are my own unofficial awards for the List-Worthy films:

Best opening scene:  A Chorus Line

Best final scene:  Spirited

Coolest scene:  Everything Everywhere All at Once

Biggest emotional impact:  Short Term 12

Oldest film:  National Velvet (1944)

Most recent film:  Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022)

Longest film:  Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (161 minutes)

Shortest film:  Short Term 12 (96 minutes)

Best soundtrack:  Cyrano (though some more listens to Spirited may be in order)

Best score:  Gattaca

Best special effects:  Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Most mind-bending: Everything Everywhere All at Once

Most family-friendly:  National Velvet

Most mature:  The Pianist

Funniest:  Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best VC Pick:  Three Men and a Baby (also the only one this year)

Best male performance:  TIE: Adrian Brody in The Pianist and Peter Dinklage in Cyrano

Best female performance:  Brie Larson in Short Term 12

Personal favorite poem written: Werewolves Within

Most represented year: 2022, with six films

Thank you to everyone who has read, liked, and commented on this blog over the last nine years. It’s been a wild ride, but even if it slows, I hope to keep it going for years to come! My updated Top 365 LIST will come out in the next few days, and I still have some 2022 Blindspot posts to finish as well, plus reviews for some of the films in this list, but then I’m on to a new year of movies and poetry. Thanks again to all, and I hope everyone has a very Happy New Year!

To end things off, here’s a cinematic montage for the films of 2022. Years are usually better in retrospect, aren’t they?