Season 6 Finale, Pt 1

To sum up the films of 2022, the word eclectic comes to mind. The year features two major pushbacks against Elevated Horror, a few comedies targeted at very niche audiences, a rise in post-Knives Out murder mysteries, two versions of Pinocchio and a few triumphs of independent filmmaking. After long breaks got the return of Beavis and Butt-Head, Art the Clown, Chip and Dale and Martin McDonough. And we got wild new visionaries, including the best movie of the year…

1)  Everything Everywhere All At Once (Dir. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert)

An endlessly inventive pastiche of genres and styles, The Matrix via Robert Frost and a Hong Kong action movie, Everything is an excessive, indulgent, surprising vision that breaks the mold and redefines it as it goes. In a pop culture where multi-verses are all the rage the Daniels’ drop in a little movie that with a fraction of the budget and a lot of filmmaking creativity conveys the experience of being in multiple, endlessly possible realities better than any comic book universe. Part thrilling action movie, absurd comedy, mother/daughter relationship drama and a clever use of the multi-verse to explore what it means to feel like you’ve taken all the wrong paths in life. A must see that re-defines the prestige film to it’s own quirky taste.

2) Terrifier 2 (Dir. Damien Leone)

A game-changing slasher movie that loves being a slasher movie in an Elevated Horror environment that celebrates anything but. Terrifier 2 breaks the rules left and right. Slasher movies are supposed to have one tone, obnoxious characters you root for to die and clock out under 90 minutes. What they’re not supposed to do is have multiple tones, be funny, care for it’s characters so that it matters if they die and run a whopping 2.5 hours. Terrifier 2 is a loving celebration of gritty 80s slasher movie macabre, in equal parts horrific, hilarious, disturbing, cheesy, indie invention and epic in scope. Both excellent and impossible to recommend to anyone but the most hardcore gorehounds,  Terrifier 2 is more than the sum of it’s parts, stretches the slasher movie farther than it’s ever been pushed and gave me second hand pride watching Leone come so far from the humble beginnings of the first film. A thrilling experience of indie horror resourcefulness.

3) Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Dir. Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson)

Even knowing Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro’s MO is to deliver a deep, dark take on fairy tales might not be enough to prepare for his take on Pinocchio. A film that honors the rough, weird edges of the story, that celebrates our differences and explores a grief state in a world surrounded by death, Pinocchio is beautiful both in it’s lushly detailed stop motion animation and the way it cleverly wraps this story around to themes of sacrifice and what it means to be “a real boy”.

4) All Quiet on the Western Front (2022) (Dir. Edward Berger)

Lewis Milestone’s 1930 adaptation has set the standard for WWI trench warfare films and anti-war films for 100 years. Director Edward Berger’s German adaptation more shows than tells in this bruising and beautiful symphony of man made horrors and the negotiations that hold these lives in the balance. While you could recreate every inch of World War 2 through film, WWI films are few and far between with this exquisitely crafted, well paced thriller shooting right to the top.

5) Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe (Dir. Albert Calleros and John Rice)

The triumphant return of Beavis and Butt-Head into a world that desperately needs its sense of humor back was an invigorating experience, but this carnival of stupidity is also a tightly written comedy of errors where our heroes bumble from one spectacular experience all the while having no idea where they are or what they’re doing. It has to be a challenge to construct a story around character that are this dumb, stay true to them, but having them push along a story. This is the best use of Beavis and Butt-Head, fish out of water stories that drop them in spectacular situations to screw up. Few movies are this funny from start to the final joke.

6) The Banshees of Inisherin (Dir. Martin McDonough)

While the In Bruges reunion of Martin McDonough with stars Colin Farrell and Brendon Gleeson is enough to make this film a must-see, McDonough’s ability to start with a nothing premise and build a thoughtful, compelling story one mistake, coincidence and decision at a time as it unfolds is unparalleled in today’s world of tightly formulaic screenplays. Banshees has a lot of big things to say and does so masterfully.

7) Ultrasound (Dir. Rob Schroeder)

A wickedly clever feature debut, Ultrasound takes an age-old plot device and spins it into a tight puzzlebox film. I love feeling like I’ve been had in a way that doesn’t cheat and this movie wraps the viewer in it’s trap before they even know it. Very well done.

8) See How They Run (Dir. Tom George) 

This was a unique year where comedies went from being dominated by the broad and dumb to the silly and specific. Tom George’s post-Knives Out murder mystery wears it’s Agatha Chrisie influence right in the title. A specific, niche, comedy about Christie’s play The Mousetrap, See How They Run functions a lot like Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy, a clever British comedy that parodies a specific genre and becomes what it is parodying. Loads of fun and the year’s best, of several, star-studded mysteries.

9) The Northman (Dir. Robert Eggers)

Horror director Robert Eggers’ most accessible film to date (it’s Hamlet, or The Lion King, if you will) is still an aggressively uncompromising vision. This time the revenge tale is set in a near-prehistoric Viking land, painstakingly recreated for Eggers several, immersive, unbroke tracking shots that survey the carnage.

10) Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers (Dir. Akiva Schaffer)

In 2016 The Lonely Island’s Akiva Schaffer made the fantastic Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping and was rewarded with a huge commercial dud for his efforts. Again not taking the easy way back in, his reboot of the Disney Afternoon series goes in the most unlikely and unexpected directions, a parody of reboots and specific animation trends that have popped up in the last 20 years Chip ‘N Dale is a Hollywood parodying reboot that set in a world of animated actors that is 1,000 miles better than it needed to be.

Honorable Mentions:

A Christmas Story Christmas, Marcel the Shell With Shoes On, Decision to Leave, Scream (2022), I Want You Back, The Menu, Do Revenge.