Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these end-of-year lists. Two years, to be exact; shortly before the pandemic took away all my cinema joy. During the period I refer to as “the time we couldn’t have nice things,” I used the hours I would have spent sitting in a theater to get caught up on all the classics I’d never had time to watch before. Let’s just say, there was a lot of Cary Grant. But looking back on the last twelve months, and all the great new releases I had the pleasure of watching, I think it’s safe to say: movies are BACK.
As with each of these lists I make, I’m going to throw this caveat out: I like what I like. It’s probably not what most film critics, or the Academy, or probably even most of my readers like, and that’s okay. I have very specific tastes, generally involving beautiful people in beautiful places wearing beautiful things, and for too long, this just didn’t exist within the cinema landscape. But over the past year, Hollywood got back to what it does best- making magic. Making our world look better than reality. So here they are, my Top Five Favorite Films of 2022:
Like a pastel macaron, this pure-hearted confection of a movie feels almost too pretty to consume. Based on the novel by Paul Gallico, the film version sparkles like the beads on a 1950s Dior haute couture gown. With gorgeous production design showcasing 1950s Paris, and an earnest performance by Lesley Manville, this stylish, heartwarming movie makes me believe (for the first time in a long time) that everything’s going to be okay. It’ll all work out the way it’s supposed to.
I keep hearing how the rom-com genre is dead, or breathing its last gasp on streaming, but Sandra and Tatum are here to prove the haters wrong. They are perfection together, and this movie is the funniest thing I’ve seen in years. If any programmers decide to bring this adventure/comedy/romance back to the local cinema as a special event, with props and cocktails and cheese plates, I will buy a ticket in a hot second. And wear my sparkliest jumpsuit.
2022 was the year I discovered the Fletch franchise, having no idea that a new iteration was already in production. Thus it was a happy surprise when I discovered that my favorite Mad Man would be trying the ole’ Lakers hat on for size, and gosh, what a great fit. Jon Hamm is full of snarky, brilliant one-liners, and obviously, pretty easy on the eyes. Plus, we’ve got cocktails and Italian scenery! Where is Fletch headed next? I can’t wait to find out.
4. Bullet Train
Featuring a terrific ensemble cast, Bullet Train is like a high-octane mash-up of Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie. But what sets it apart from those other directors’ films are its fight scenes. Rather than resorting to long, tedious shootouts, director David Leitch finds clever ways to choreograph deadly combat with very, very minimal gunfire. Honestly, with the rising threat of gun violence in our real lives, I’m totally over seeing bullets fly onscreen. Kudos to a movie that finds more creative methods to off its characters.
5. Three Thousand Years of Longing
George Miller’s latest special effects extravaganza seemed to come and go from the theaters quite quickly over the summer, which is a shame because it’s great! What I love most about this strange and wonderful tale about a scholar who discovers a magic Djinn in a bottle is its reverence for storytelling. Also, Tilda and Idris have terrific chemistry and look adorable in their fluffy white hotel bathrobes. Somebody- put these two in a rom-com!
Honorable Mentions: Elvis, Fire of Love, Marry Me, Fire Island, The Menu
I’m so glad to see the Top Five list back!