As the world crumbles, and us with it, there may be little consolation in hearing that there was much, maybe too much, to be grateful for in the year’s movies. But consolation—whether large or small—is there to be found once again, and sometimes the rewards are truly heartening.
One measure of that spirited abundance might look like this: I’m thinking I can mount at least three separate but very respectable “Best” lists out of the year’s movie experiences here at the Stream & Dream Lounge:
1. Best films that I reviewed in this space in the first 11 months of 2022 (listed alphabetically): Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (Romania), The Card Counter (USA), Dead For a Dollar (USA), Drive My Car (Japan), The French Dispatch (USA), A Hero (Iran), Hit the Road (Iran), Nope (USA), Out in the Open (Spain), Petite Maman (France), The Tragedy of Macbeth (USA).
2. Best cinema-quality TV series I binged on, and for the most part reviewed, during the past year: 1883, Bosch, The English, the Irma Vep “remake” series, Landscapers, Longmire, Lupin, Midnight Mass, The Old Man, Outer Range, The White Lotus and a belated encounter with 2020’s The Good Lord Bird.
3. The outstanding run of feature films I’ve caught up with in the last two months: Amsterdam (USA), Banshees of Inisherin (Ireland), Bardo (Mexico), Both Sides of the Blade (France), Donbas (Ukraine), The Eternal Daughter (UK/USA), God’s Country (USA), White Noise (USA), The Wonder (Ireland), You Won’t Be Alone (Macedonia).
And there’s more, which is why I’m resisting the urge to reduce this movie year to a single hierarchical Top 10. Thus, in the interests of further celebrating the diverse wonders of the movie year, let’s consider a series of mini-lists, mostly “honorable mentions” of a topic-specific sort:
Multi-story “portmanteau” films: Wes Anderson’s French Dispatch, Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, the Saudi Arabian Six Windows in the Desert and Donbas, Sergei Loznitsa’s scathing 2018 docu-tragicomedy about Ukraine under Russian occupation.
Rowdy East European gangster flicks: The Getaway King and How I Fell in Love with a Gangster, both from Poland, and Buba, Balkan-style absurdism from Germany.
Great westerns, and good: The English, 1883, Dead for a Dollar, Longmire, the Spanish Out in the Open, plus some extraordinary hybrids: Nope, Outer Range, God’s Country, Montana Story, and The Good Lord Bird, Ethan Hawke’s mini-series about John Brown and pre-Civil War Kansas.
Films about filmmaking (Nope, Bardo, Irma Vep, Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir trilogy and the Israeli tragicomedy Ahed’s Knee) plus documentary self-portraits (“Sr.” with both Robert Downeys, Sr. and Jr.; Marx Can Wait, Marco Bellochio’s “family portrait”; and Django & Django, a survey of Sergio Corbucci’s spaghetti westerns, with on-screen commentary from Quentin Tarantino).
Mysteries (identity and gender): The Eternal Daughter, You Won’t Be Alone, Petite Maman, The Wonder, Both Sides of the Blade, The Good Lord Bird.
Mysteries (character and crime): The Card Counter, Bosch, Out in the Open and Australian psychodrama The Passenger.
Double doubles (up, not down): Tilda Swinton plays both protagonists in The Eternal Daughter, voices the Wood Sprite in Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, and has featured roles in Three Thousand Years of Longing, Memoria, The French Dispatch and The Souvenir Part II. Honorable mention: Aubrey Plaza in The White Lotus and Emily the Criminal; Florence Pugh in The Wonder and Don’t Worry Darling; Ciarán Hinds and Toby Jones in The English and The Wonder; two films by Claire Denis (Both Sides of the Blade, Stars at Noon) and two by Steven Soderbergh (Kimi, No Sudden Move).
Most interesting films that I didn’t like much: Triangle of Sadness, Everything Everywhere All at Once and, maybe most of all, The Northman.
Books: Cinema Speculation by Quentin Tarantino, Always Crashing in the Same Car by Matthew Specktor, Camera Man by Dana Stevens and Disaster Mon Amour by David Thomson.