2022: The Best Year Since Who Knows When

 Tis now the end of August.  The blockbuster season has wound down after an almost return to normalcy since the pandemic started in early 2020.  We had a slew of big budget films to watch, but also have seen a number of interesting releases that may not have seen wide release in a year prior to Covid.  The effect that the coronavirus had on the studio system is still being felt, but this year has been full of hope that recovery is happening.

Normally, this is the time of year that I get most excited for movies.  We are beginning the festival period when Oscar hopefuls start popping up, and the next few months are generally full of a variety of different offerings.  We get the aforementioned prestige films, and also all other genres one could hope for.  Family films, horrors, blockbusters, dramas... all filling out the final four months of the year.

Things are different for me this year.  While there are a plethora of films that I am excited for, if the studios decided for some bizarre reason to just shut down shop for the remainder of the year I would still be content.  Why?  Well, this year has been so amazing already and I am completely content.  That's not to say that I'm done watching films, but more that I've been fed some of the best fare I've seen in years.  Today I will list some of the greats from 2022 that are among the best of their genres.

Everything Everywhere All at Once - This is literally the best overall film that I've seen in years.  It stretched across so many genres and themes that it should have been a trainrwreck.  Somehow, directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert were able to make this movie hilarious, thoughtful, entertaining, and cohesive.  There is no way that the script should have worked, but it did.  If you haven't seen Everything Everywhere All at Once, stop reading and rent it.

Top Gun: Maverick - I'm not going to lie.  I rolled my eyes when I heard of this film, and had no interest in seeing it.  The first film was okay at best, and the character of Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell was one dimensional and nothing worth wanting to revisit.  The trailers begun winning me over to the point of making it my most anticipated film of the year.  With Joseph Kosinski directing, I knew it would be a beautiful spectacle that needed to be seen in theatres.

What I was not prepared for was a story with a lot of heart.  Tom Cruise's performance, as well as the rest of the cast, really drew me in.  This time the main character was complex.  Even if all of the aviation sequences were removed, it still would have been an engaging movie.  In regards to the action, it eclipsed anything I had ever seen in a movie.  Yes... ever.  The meticulously shot set pieces came from a level of ambition that somehow miraculously got green lit.  For me, this was the best action film since Mad Max: Fury Road from 2015.

The Innocents - Horror has always been my sweet spot.  A good horror doesn't just scare the audience, but also has something to say about individuals or society.  This Norwegian film is what some would call 'elevated horror' because of how it looks at super powers and disturbed people all in the context of the innocence of children playing.  I hate that term.  This is just a great film, period.  Forget the genre, it is just a masterful work of art and story telling.  This may be the best horror film since The Babadook from 2014.

The Northman - Being directed by Robbert Eggers, I knew that this would be a film that would be both historically accurate in terms of set production and dialogue as well as steeped in mythology.  Essentially, it is historical fantasy, and I really don't know what to compare it to.  That's not unique to films by Eggers, as they balance both reality and the surreal.  Like Everything Everywhere All at Once, it doesn't fit into a specific category very well.  I honestly can't remember the last time I saw a film like this.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent - Starring Nicolas Cage as Nicolas Cage, this is a comedy that has grown on me.  I have seen it three times, as well as viewing the director commentary.  This is a love letter to the career of Cage, and hosts one of the most fun bromances in film between Cage and Pedro Pascal.  This has turned into a 'chicken soup for the soul' film that I know will pick me up when I'm feeling down.  The last time a comedy landed this successfully for me was Game Night from 2018.  Coincidentally, the wonderful Sharon Horgan was in both films.

Hustle - This isn't the best Adam Sandler starring film, but it is without a doubt my favourite Happy Madison film.  Normally, when he is starring in Happy Madison films I cringe at what I may end up seeing.  Usually the film confirms all of my worries.  When Sandler is in other people's movies we get to see the abilities of one of the most talented people in Hollywood, and I am not saying that hyperbolically.  Hustle ended up being a charming comedy that centred around an amazing performance from Sandler that added terrific depth to the lead character.  This is the best Happy Madison film ever made.

The Sea Beast - A pirate centric animated film, The Sea Beast was a terrific family film set on the high seas.  This isn't the best animated film in recent memory, but that doesn't mean it doesn't excel at what it does.  I was really blown away with the animation of the water (yes, that may seem an odd thing to be hung up on, but I think animating water properly adds a lot to an open seas adventure), which was easily the best since Moana in 2016.  Also, the action sequences were on a whole new level, being the most impressive for an animated film since Big Hero 6 in 2014.  It's not a surprise, since The Sea Beast was directed by Chris Williams, the director of Big Hero 6 and the co-director of Moana.

Mad God - A Shutter Original film, this is an animated film that can be interpreted many different ways.  In fact, I actually completely disagree with the film synopsis that is posted on Wikipedia.  Written and directed by Oscar winning special effects master Phil Tippet, the film is a glorious and disturbing depiction of hell on earth.  After watching the movie, it took me a few days to piece together what I thought of this film.  Mad God is the best WTF journey through insanity since Mandy in 2018.

Prey - A prequel to Predator, this movie caught me by surprise.  It was the most thoughtful film in the Predator franchise, and had a deeply complex lead.  When it came to action, the set pieces were both chilling and fist pumping at the same time.  So far, I have seen it twice, and I am sure by the end of the year I will have watched it at least one more time.  The last time I saw a sci-fi action film this good would have been since... well, I honestly don't know.  Prey will be competing with Top Gun: Maverick for my favourite action film of the year.  As well, both of those movies will be in a wrestling match with others for my number one spot.

This year has easily brought some of the best cinema already.  I am sure there will be some fantastic films in the next four months, but I'm already a happy camper.  No other year has brought so many movies of this calibre when compared to their genres.  Heck, throw out the genre comparison completely, and we still have a collection of quality that somehow all came out during the same few months.  I doubt that I will ever find another year that surpasses 2022 in terms of creating all time classics.

As well, there are a ton of films that I didn't mention here that were also amazing for what they are.  Chip n' Dale: Rescue Rangers blew away my expectations for a movie resurrecting an old property.  If not for Top Gun: Maverick, it would have been the best movie of the year for doing that.  As well, we had properly fun films like The Lost City and Turning Red.  At the start of the year I thought that the best scenario would be that it felt like it was the same quality as years pre-covid.  I was not expecting it to be one of the best years ever.