Hey, remember me? I used to write here from time to time, but haven’t been very active (on here at least) since I transcribed the lyrics to the end-credits song of a bad shark movie you’ve probably never seen. Well I’m back for my annual new year posts, starting off with ranking all the new releases I saw in 2022, and I’m keeping up the tradition of being a little late, and seeing a few more 2022 releases since I started this post, and the longer I leave finishing this post the more films I’ll need to add to it, and so on. Anyway, also as always there’s a bunch of new films I didn’t get to for various reasons that I’ll hopefully get to in my 2022 wrap-up post, but currently I’ve seen 70 new releases from last year (up from 57 in 2021). Here’s a list of some of the films I haven’t seen yet, but hope to soon, although many of them are available streaming to me right now, and have been for a while, so the fact that I still haven’t seen them yet doesn’t bode well: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Troll, The House, The Northman, Studio 666, The Tragedy of Macbeth, Bones and All, Elvis, The Woman King, Decision to Leave, Brian and Charles, Triangle of Sadness, Aftersun, Living, Mrs Harris Goes to Paris, The Worst Person in the World, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Emily the Criminal, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Violent Night, Vengeance, Bros, Avatar: The Way of Water. That’s enough of the films I haven’t seen, here’s the ranking of the 70 I did, starting out with a couple that I actually haven’t. You’ll see what I mean. Oh, and as always this ranking is true as of today, and will almost certainly be different tomorrow. That’s the case more so this year than ever before as 2022 had a lot of films I really liked, but no particular one that was immediately deemed better than all the rest.
This may be unfair, but I think the only film I opted to turn off and didn’t come back to deserves the bottom spot. The first 45 minutes of Uncharted were kind of terrible, so we bailed.
69 Enola Holmes 2
As for Enola Holmes 2, I saw more of it than I did Uncharted, but almost an hour in I decided it wasn’t for me, and took a nap instead whilst my wife finished it off. She said it was good, but I was ambivalent.
68 Shark Bait
A wasted premise and truly unlikeable characters made this shark movie just not good. A drunken group of friends steal some jetskis and end up injured and stranded on a broken one with a shark nearby and unnecessary soap opera melodrama thrown in for good measure. I hated everyone in this film.
Review here: https://blueprintreview.co.uk/2022/06/shark-bait/
Podcast here: https://www.spreaker.com/user/11106493/shark-bait
A real “wait, why are we watching this?” film. Every one in it is fine, but nothing exciting happens throughout.
66 The Gray Man
I remember nothing about this film other than Chris Evans’ moustache. With this cast and crew this should’ve been something great, but what it actually was I cannot recall.
65 The Reef: Stalked
A sequel to a shark movie I didn’t much care for, The Reef: Stalked is a little more exciting and starts with a truly harrowing opening scene. Should come with a domestic abuse content warning.
Review here: https://blueprintreview.co.uk/2022/07/the-reef-stalked/
Podcast here: https://www.spreaker.com/user/11106493/the-reef-stalked
64 Sing 2
Bono plays himself, if he was a lion. You can practically hear the clock ticking down in the background of every major star’s recording session. The narrative is so fractured and barely fits together.
63 The 355
As with The Gray Man, this was quite forgettable despite an incredible cast of actors I normally like elsewhere.
62 The Electrical Life of Louis Wain
Good performances and production design can’t help the lack of an interesting story.
Essentially 47 Meters Down but 2,000 feet in the air and with significantly fewer sharks (not a good thing). Grace Caroline Currey and Virginia Gardner are good in the leads, but other than being really high up there’s nothing new here.
60 Strange World
This would be significantly lower without the dog, who stole the show in every scene. Fun creature designs don’t make up for a lacklustre story and brick-to-the-face moral.
59 Death on the Nile
I liked Murder on the Orient Express well enough, but this felt an odd choice for a sequel to me as I didn’t much care for the book. I find the plot too convoluted, and much of the cast is underused.
58 Deep Water
It turned out this romantic thriller was far less Deep Blue Sea-adjacent than expected.
Podcast here: https://www.spreaker.com/user/11106493/deep-water
Michael Bay traded his editor for a drone in this overblown action movie that could’ve been a tight three-hander with excellent leads, but ends up spending way too much time outside of the eponymous vehicle.
56 The Adam Project
It’s a decent premise – a guy from the future travels back in time to stop a calamitous event with the help of his younger self and pre-deceased father who was integral in the invention of time travel – and Walker Scobell makes for an excellent young Ryan Reynolds, but I found this fine at best, and surprisingly violent with little regard for human life.
Roland Emmerich’s vendetta against the world returns to space with one of his sillier plots yet in a film that my podcasting co-host loves a lot more than anyone else I’ve spoken to, and which I thought was fine. Sorry, Mark.
54 After Yang
It looks very nice and is exceptionally acted, but this wasn’t the “Colin Farrell goes on a quest to fix his daughter’s robot” movie I wanted.
53 See How They Run
Another extremely well cast mystery, this thinks it’s far smarter than it is, when a murder occurs during the production of The Mousetrap, the infamous whodunnit play. There could be a lot of in-jokes here that I’m missing from the many mystery plots I’m not familiar with, but as it stands I expected a lot more, entertainment-wise. Saorise Ronan is a delight, as always, but I kept waiting for a twist involving Sam Rockwell’s character that would make more sense as to why he was cast, as he underplays everything.
52 Werewolf by Night
I fell asleep both times I tried to watch this, but that was definitely more my fault than that of the film. I’m up for more moody horror shorts from Marvel.
Allison Janney seems to have opted for a Liam Neeson-esque post-Oscar career delving into the retired action hero genre. Lou was a solid time-passer, but doesn’t stand out in the sub-genre.
50 Operation Mincemeat
As with The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, I’m not sure there was quite enough story – at least within the realm of the film’s scope – to make this worthy of its length, requiring too much time spent on an irritating love triangle that’s barely even there. However, a phenomenal cast (including Paul Ritter’s final performance) and some fun asides primarily involving Ian Fleming’s involvement, made this at least worth a watch.
You make a film where Idris Elba fights a lion, and you make a film I will watch, and most likely enjoy.
48 The Good Nurse
A decent drama I enjoyed more because I couldn’t remember anything about the actual news events. Those of you who keep a closer eye on the news might enjoy this less.
47 Licorice Pizza
Paul Thomas Anderson made another film that everyone loved more than I did? All I remember about this is the driving sequence in the middle and how the more well-known the actor was in the film, the less likeable their character.
It’s still aggravating that this got a theatrical release of Turning Red, but it’s also undeniable that the superior film likely would’ve made less money in cinemas than this did, so I guess it makes financial sense, which is primarily what Disney are all about these days. Lightyear is only ranked this high because of Sox the cat, amongst my favourite characters of the year.
45 Marry Me
A fine if predictable rom-com. Owen Wilson and Jennifer Lopez are pretty great together, with John Bradley and Sarah Silverman offering entertaining support.
44 Significant Other
Significant Other is not a film you should dedicate an evening to watching, but it is well worth a background watch or a viewing whilst wrapping Christmas presents, as was the case with me. My co-host recommended it saying there was one scene I’d enjoy, and without spoiling it he was very correct. If you’re a fan of the kinds of films we cover over on Deep Blue Sea – The Podcast then you’ll probably enjoy this too.
43 Day Shift
Jamie Foxx and Dave Franco fighting vampires, what’s not to like? I enjoyed the Brazil-esque (Brazilian?) red tape and paperwork involved in the business of vampire-hunting, and there’s a pretty great fight sequence involving Scott Adkins.
42 The Lost City
It’s like Romancing the Stone, but both the leads are pretty dumb. I didn’t much care for Romancing the Stone, but I found this charming enough, and Daniel Radcliffe made for a fun villain.
41 Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
The third and possibly final part of this quintet was certainly better than the abomination that was The Crimes of Grindelwald, mainly because this felt like it was actually going somewhere. I have a lot of time for Dan Fogler’s Jacob, and bringing in Richard Coyle as Albus’ brother Aberforth (Ciarán Hinds in the original series) was an excellent choice. I still admire how they manage to justify Newt’s involvement by making everything centre around magical creatures in some way, and of course Mads Mikkelsen is the best Grindelwald so far.
Podcast here: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Out-Now-493-Fantastic-Beasts-The-Secrets-of-Dumbledore-Podcast/B09VCM7BQD
40 Thirteen Lives
I think from this point on I’d recommend watching the films to most people. Some of you would enjoy some of the earlier films in the list, but you’re more of a niche bunch, and you know who you are. Thirteen Lives was a great little surprise to find streaming with little fanfare. Ron Howard got back into Apollo 13 mode of telling a true, gripping story of survival in extreme conditions. It’s not as perfect as Apollo 13, but it’s still pretty great, and a decent part of Colin Farrell’s superb year that was 2022.
39 Jerry & Marge Go Large
A nice, pleasant film. Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening portray real life retired couple Jerry and Marge, who exploit a lottery loophole and try to improve their ailing town in the process. Some obstacles rise up along the way, but for the most part this is just solid, inoffensive and sweet.
38 The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
Drax and Mantis try to bring Quill’s Christmas spirit back with the help of Kevin Bacon. A fun time, with some great songs from Old 97’s.
I’ve just realised there was a very real chance of Kenneth Branagh being my most-watched director on my Letterboxd stats this year, what with this, Death on the Nile and Peter’s Friends, something I’d’ve been shocked and appalled by, but fortunately by partially Renny Harlin-obsessed podcast put paid to that once again. Branagh isn’t my favourite director, but I have to applaud his restraint at making a film that he didn’t appear in. Belfast is well made and tells an interesting story about a perilous time, but I didn’t quite gel with it as much as I’d wanted to. It could be the child’s perspective that put me off. Aside from that, this small scale family drama is worth a look.
36 Do Revenge
Far better than I expected from a modern high school set retelling of Strangers on a Train, with some pretty great revelations, excellent characters and frankly ludicrous outfits.
35 Wendell & Wild
A new Henry Selick movie dropped! I loved the look of it, the character design, and trying to work out just how some segments were created, but the story left me a little bored.
34 Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
Daniel Radcliffe as Weird Al Yankovic was not something I knew I needed in my life, but here we are. It’s pretty inconsistent comedically, with some very funny scenes between otherwise dry patches, but I still had a lot of fun. The poolside scene was over-sold though, I was expecting far more cameos than were delivered based on what I’d been told.
33 Thor: Love and Thunder
Nowhere near as good as Ragnarok, but that would’ve been tough, and I’m glad this wasn’t as close to Big Trouble in Little China as some of the marketing visuals might have had us believe. Christian Bale is a fantastic villain doing some terrifying work in a completely different film to the rest of the cast, and I’ll be quite frustrated if the child characters return in future films but the screaming rams do not.
32 Top Gun: Maverick
Look, everyone needs to calm down about Top Gun: Maverick. It’s fine. I’m happy that some of you think it’s better than that, but please stop proclaiming it as one of the greatest films of all time and setting expectations at impossible heights. Yes, it’s probably better than the original, but I didn’t much care for that one so that’s not saying much. The stakes are well established but it never felt like anyone was ever in danger, and I don’t care how much you go on about how incredible and dynamic the flying sequences are, they’re still just shots of people flying in airplanes, and that’s just not exciting to me unless one of the planes is full of escaped convicts and a stuffed rabbit.
A fun throwback slasher that plays with the format a little, but mostly is just entertaining. I knew the casting gimmick going in and I’m intrigued to see how it plays out in the prequel and sequel once I eventually get to see them.
Another surprise delight waiting for me on streaming one day, Kimi is pretty great as a small scale thriller that’s under 90 minutes long (although my streaming service initially put me off my stating 150 minutes). Zoë Kravitz is excellent here, the story is nice and tense, and I was hooked throughout.
29 Bullet Train
A little over-stylised and overall not as funny as I’d have liked, I still had a great time with Bullet Train, which my wife took me to see at the London Soho Curzon for my birthday. I love that they gave an origin story to a bottle of water.
28 The Duke
As with Jerry & Marge Go Large, this is another nice, pleasant film, with a terrifically charming central performance from Jim Broadbent as a likeable working class man charged with stealing a famous painting. Helen Mirren, Fionn Whitehead and Matthew Goode provide great support work, but this is truly the Broadbent show.
27 Nightmare Alley
I’m not certain, but this might have been my favourite of last year’s best picture Oscar nominees, though I still haven’t seen Drive My Car, and to be honest none of the nominees impressed me all that much. It’s a Guillermo del Toro film, so it looked great, all moody and macabre, with an outstanding cast all giving great performances. Not enough Willem Dafoe, Mary Steenburgen or Tim Blake Nelson, though.
A new entry in one of my favourite horror franchises? Yes please! It had everything I wanted from a Scream film – returning cast members, commentary on the state of horror, fun deaths, suspenseful sequences – so I was all good with this. Looking forward to the next one!
25 The Sea Beast
A semi-remake of How To Train Your Dragon, but with more brightly coloured aquatic kaiju and a more piratical setting, this was quite fun. I particularly appreciated the weird little blue guy (pictured) and the various costume design elements that were made from bits of sea creature. Gotta love a crabshell hat. Podcast here: https://www.spreaker.com/user/11106493/the-sea-beast
24 The Phantom of the Open
Mark Rylance plays Maurice Flitcroft, a very amateur golfer who makes his way into the British Open, much to the chagrin of the officials. Written by Paddington‘s Simon Farnaby, I’d been looking forward to this one, and it didn’t disappoint.
23 The Outfit
Another Rylance performance, this time as a cutter (not a tailor) whose shop is a known mob collection office. Its limited locations and cast made for a perfect lockdown shoot, and whilst it feels a little stagey at times, some excellent performances and a tense, twisting story make this a recommendation.
22 The Wonder
Florence Pugh continues to do nothing but impress in this period drama about a nurse called to look into a child who has been alive for some time despite apparently never eating any food. I tend to be drawn towards most films where the moral is “religion is bad, don’t do it”, so this was a good, if occasionally slow and dour, watch.
21 Turning Red
I was annoyed that, despite not watching any trailers, I still knew that Turning Red was about a girl who unwittingly turned into a giant red panda in a barely veiled metaphor for puberty, but it turns out that was only part of the story, as this film goes some places I was not expecting.
The “Wherever I Fall” scene? Come on.
Alex Garland continues to make polarising and trippy movies with endlessly debatable messages, and this might be my favourite so far. The climactic sequence is definitely something I haven’t seen before, but now it’s in my head and I see it all the time, whether I want to or not. Jessie Buckley is excellent, Rory Kinnear will finally get some more recognition after this, hopefully.
18 Boiling Point
I love a good one-take (or simulated one-take) movie, and Boiling Point is certainly a good one. Stephen Graham leads the cast in a frantic, tension-filled knot of a story where you just want to scream at a lot of the characters. It’s not a pleasant watch, and in fact my wife opted to not finish it after only about 15 minutes, but it’s definitely worth sticking with.
17 Cha Cha Real Smooth
Another sweet film, Cooper Raiff plays the wayward Andrew, whose natural charisma make him a perfect party-starter at the bar and bat mitzvahs of his younger brother’s friends, leading to a romantic dalliance with Domino (Dakota Johnson), the mother of Lola, who has autism. Leslie Mann and Brad Garrett remain as delightful as ever in the parent roles, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for what the depressingly young Raiff does next.
16 The Menu
Rich people are often terrible, so it’s fun watching them be dropped in an awry situation when a bunch of them attend an exclusive, island-bound restaurant and things don’t go how they were expecting. Ralph Fiennes is particularly commanding as the head chef, I loved the story and how it all played out, and it’s always fun when John Leguizamo shows up unexpectedly.
15 Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
As with The Outfit, this feels a lot like a stage adaptation, given the limited cast and locations. Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack have terrific chemistry as a sexually frustrated woman and the sex worker she hires to attempt to assist her in her first orgasm. Another mostly nice, pleasant film.
A Predator film, set in a time before automatic weapons, with Native Americans fighting back with spears and arrows? Hell yes. If they’re of this quality, I hope we get more films of the predators hunting through the ages.
I went in knowing a little more than I would’ve liked, whereas I think this is a film best experienced knowing nothing. If you’re as jaded by romcoms as Daisy Edgar-Jones’ Noa is of the dating scene, then this is a must-see.
12 Jurassic World Dominion
I’ll admit this is placed higher than it has any real right to be, but this is my franchise, dammit, and I enjoyed myself immensely. Was it the nostalgia from the returning characters? The excitement at new dinosaurs? The swarms of giant prehistoric bugs? Maybe. It certainly wasn’t the lack of dinosaur-related deaths or the utterly ridiculous number of characters who survive this film, that’s for sure. I spent a good 4-5 hours one Sunday afternoon guesting on back-to-back podcasts discussing Dominion, mostly fighting against a tide of people who thought it was fine, but I loved it, and whilst I’m often wrong, and certainly am here, I still loved it, and look forward to an imminent re-watch.
Podcast here: https://largeassmovieblogs.com/2022/06/lambcast-640-jurassic-world-dominion.html
Podcast here: https://audioboom.com/posts/8102742-out-now-497-jurassic-world-dominion
In the Jordan Peele rankings I’d put this better than Us but not as good as Get Out, which seems to be the common consensus. There’s some fascinating Hollywood history here, along with a tangential flashback that isn’t necessary but is immensely enjoyable, and the main plot involving an unknown flying presence is entertaining as well. Not enough Keith David.
10 Mad God
What a film. What an undertaking. So many images burned forever in my mind. A must-see for anyone with a passion for stop-motion animation, or who wants some fresh inspiration for their nightmares.
Review here: https://blueprintreview.co.uk/2022/12/mad-god/
Believe the hype. I went in relatively blind, knowing nothing but that this was supposed to be a fun horror, and it delivered completely. You’ll get no more spoilers from me, just a hearty recommendation and a demand to know who sells tape measures that long.
8 Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
As with Jurassic World Dominion, this is a very flawed movie that I loved regardless. I’m amazed at just how many Evil Dead homages Sam Raimi was allowed to put in an MCU film. I could watch the multiverse jumping scene for several hours without getting bored. The music fight is ridiculous and incredible. The cameo-laden alternate universe fight was bonkers. Wanda was a bit mistreated, but I don’t know what else you can do with a character that powerful without the dull route of depowering them. I don’t know where Doctor Strange goes from here, but I hope Raimi remains on board.
Podcast here: https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/lambcast/episodes/2022-05-09T15_54_46-07_00
I was wary (it’s 3 hours long and doesn’t feature Batman) and ended up having to watch it over the course of several days, but thankfully this action musical is broken up into convenient chapters, and is one of the most entertaining times you can have watching a film. If you’re not on board after the motorcycle/bridge/fire scene, I don’t know what more you could want from a film.
6 The Batman
This may well have knocked The Dark Knight out for my second favourite Batman film (sorry, Lego Batman isn’t going anywhere any time soon). I’ve had the same debate several times with someone at work I’m frankly tired of arguing with who has dismissed this film entirely because of one scene where Robert Pattinson’s fully armoured Batman walks down a corridor with a couple of people shooting at him, and he is able to keep going unharmed. I can’t understand how anyone would have that problem when they’re watching a Batman film, and even if they do, I’d like to direct them towards the utterly perfect, no-notes scene in Con Air where Cameron Poe walks through a bullet, unarmoured and unflinching. Anyway, The Batman is too long, very gritty and looks glorious.
Podcast here: https://largeassmovieblogs.com/2022/03/lambcast-626-the-batman.html
5 Glass Onion
I loved Knives Out, and I wasn’t about to let a little thing like my local cinema, that I have a membership to, not showing this film for its meagre one-week theatrical release so dammit I went and paid more money to see this elsewhere, then watched it again as soon as it dropped on Netflix. For me it’s not quite as good as Knives Out – it’s missing those beautifully scathing quotes regarding Nazi children masturbating to photos of dead deer and doughnut holes in doughnut holes, and the cameos felt more gratuitous this time around – but I still loved everything about it.
Podcast here: https://largeassmovieblogs.com/2022/12/lambcast-667-glass-onion-a-knives-out-mystery.html
4 Everything Everywhere All at Once
A remarkable work, I don’t know why I haven’t watched it again given that it’s right there on Amazon Prime. I’m very happy for the awards this is already garnering. So much creativity and invention on screen.
3 Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers
A Who Framed Roger Rabbit style update of a cartoon I hadn’t thought about in years, this was utterly delightful. I always enjoy the work of The Lonely Island, and this was no exception. J K Simmons’ clay-mation police captain stole the show for me, but he had a lot of competition.
2 The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
It starts with someone watching Con Air, so of course this is high on my list. Cage is having a blast playing up all his idiosyncrasies, Pedro Pascal is adorable, it’s all so much fun!
Podcast here: https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/lambcast/episodes/2022-04-26T14_11_33-07_00
1 The Banshees of Inisherin
I’ve been watching this again whilst writing the end of this post, which basically meant I stopped writing and watched the film for another hour and forty minutes and delayed finishing this for another day. You see the problems I have? Martin McDonagh is four-for-four in films I’ve loved, and this might be top of the pile. Colin Farrell is pitch perfect as a nice guy finding out he’s maybe a little dull and dim when his best friend (Brendan Gleeson) opts to stop being friends with him, but it’s Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon who I’m expecting to see around awards season. Also, Sheila Flitton as the possibly demonic Mrs McCormick is a delight. In fact, every supporting cast member is so well drawn and believable, whilst walking the line between being funny and devastating. I love this film so very much (to confirm, it was already number 1 before tonight’s re-watch), and I’d like a supercut of all the scenes involving the adorable animals, please and thank you.
That’s my 2022 film ranking, what were your favourite films of last year? What did I miss that I should make an effort to watch soon? Check back soon for my full review of 2022 and plans for 2023.