My Favorite Movies of 2022

This short essay is part of a series called ‘Writing on Writing.’ This series takes a few different forms, and in this post, I’m featuring some of the art that fuels my creativity. Want to see content like this more often? Consider supporting me on Patreon.

Following up from the ‘best books‘ post, here are my favorite ‘movies’ that were released in 2022. The quotes are because I’ve tossed a mini-series in here, but if it counts on Letterboxd, it counts for me!

TÁR dir. by Todd Field

Cate Blanchett gives a truly transcendent performance in this film as symphony conductor and composer Lydia Tár. This is a film that requires multiple viewing because of the incredible amount of detail in every scene. I’ve seen it twice now, and with each viewing, I discover something new in the story of a problematic woman slowly losing her status. The ending is equal parts hilarious and deeply sad. 

The Fabelmans dir. by Steven Spielberg

This movie managed to please me, Oscar, and both of my parents, which is a pretty impressive feat. Spielberg’s autofiction (autofilm?) is captivating. My only complaint at the end was that the film wasn’t longer. It’s about family, and growing  up, and how movies are really, really amazing. If you can, go see it in a movie theater. It’s really worth it to see it on a big screen.

RRR dir. by S. S. Rajamouli

 I’ll be honest, I’m not super sure that the politics of this film are something I’d normally buy in to. But, I have no context for this film and trying to look it up has been unhelpful, so we’ll just take the film at its face. With that out of the way–this is such a fun film! I don’t have a lot of experience with Bollywood films, but I’m always excited about a musical, and this thing has some excellent songs. It’s a story about two men trying to resist British colonization, and while it’s very long, there’s literally an intermission. So, if you’re in the mood for a film that’s equal parts fun and equal parts serious, this is the film for you!

Broker dir. by Hirokazu Kore-eda

I saw this in a test screening, so I technically didn’t see the final cut. That being said, this is a really gorgeous movie. It follows an odd collection of people trying to facilitate an illegal adoption and the law enforcement following them. It stars one of my absolute favorite Korean actresses, Bae Doona. The film takes a very non-moral stance, instead presenting all sides of an issue that elicits a lot of strong feelings and has no real right answer, I think. I’ll be honest, if you’re not in New York in LA, I’m not sure how you’d ever see this in a theater. But with any luck, it’ll show up on streaming somewhere, and when it does, I hope everyone watches it. 

Everything Everywhere All at Once dir. by Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan

What a weird, incredibly feel good movie! Michelle Yeoh is always incredible, and Ke Huy Quan is a joy to watch. If you were to ask me exactly what the movie is about, I’d say it’s about a family trying to relate to each other, which is something I think we all have experience with. By the end, I was crying in the best possible way. Keep in mind, though, it’s weird. Like, super weird. But if you roll with it, you’ll have a blast watching this one.

Elvis dir. by Baz Luhrman

What a movie! I think it’s perhaps a smidge too long, because there’s definitely a part where it starts to drag, but I just couldn’t resist giving it 5 stars. Austin Butler’s performance is over-the-top amazing. I’ve seen it twice, and on the second viewing, there was so many little details that I picked up on. It’s sad, of course, because Elvis had a sad life towards the end, but Luhrman really outdid himself with the stylization and with the music. The updates and he twists he puts on Elvis’s music are really something.

Women Talking dir. by Sarah Polley

I am absolutely fascinated by cults, and this took a really unique take on ‘cult exploration’ media. As far as ‘based on a true story’ goes, this one definitely leans towards the more fictional side. The horrific treatment of women is all true, but everything else has been created for the film. It feels a little like a play in that it focuses on the woman of the ‘colony’ discussing how they want to respond to the revelation that they weren’t being attacked in the middle of the night by demons but by the men they live with. It takes place mostly in the hay loft of a barn, but manages to be riveting until the end. Claire Foy and Rooney Mara give stellar performances, but the real stand-outs for me were Ben Whishaw and Michelle McLeod.

Three Thousand Years of Longing dir. by George Miller

Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba. If that doesn’t sell you on a movie, I don’t know what will! The film follows a woman who accidentally stumbles on a djinn who proceeds to share his life story with her. It’s a movie about stories and telling stories, and I think that’s what makes it so beautiful. I only got to see it in theaters once because it wasn’t well received, and I’m ready for it to be streaming because it’s a film that demands multiple viewings. It’s complex and strange, but also really beautiful. I doubt it will ever be a film that gets a lot of attention, but it certainly deserves it.

Moon Knight dir. by Mohamed Diab

Now for a mini series, which I hope will have a season 2 announced and get itself off my movies list. This is easily my favorite thing that Marvel (and possible Disney in its entirety) have ever done. Oscar Isaac gives an amazing performance, and Ethan Hawke really shines as a lawful evil type villain. I think Marvel films are really suffering under the weight of what they used to be, and Moon Knight seems to exist outside of that. If superheroes are at all your thing, I highly recommend this.

Werewolf by Night dir. by Michael Giacchino

Another Marvel thing! This one is basically a short film, and I think it has such a fun vibe. The story is tight, and the aesthetics really pop. I’m also generally excited to see Gael García Bernal inn anything. Harriet Sansom Harris also pops as the matriarch of a monster hunting family. In a time when Marvel films are starting to struggle, Disney+ is consistently delivering some really excellent work (with the exception of She-Hulk, maybe). This work originally came out for Halloween, and I would agree that the best viewing involves a dark, stormy night.

Love and gratitude, friends.

Last Month In Art – November 2022

This short essay is part of a series called ‘Writing on Writing.’ This series takes a few different forms, and in this post, I’m featuring some of the art that fuels my creativity. Want to see content like this more often? Consider supporting me on Patreon.

Here we are with last months art review! Is it just me or did this year go by fast?

All That Jazz 1979

I’ve now seen this movie three times this year. I love it. I’m obsessed. This is what I hope dying is like.

Arrival 2016

Another rewatch. This movie gives me chills every time. Simply a beautiful meditation on life and time, and very cool aliens.

Certain Women 2016

This film in vignettes was very pretty and very sad. It’s an all-star cast including Laura Dern, and the film manages to describe ‘America’ better than film explicitly about America ever could.

The Fabelmans 2022

What a sweet movie! A wonderful film about growing up and about how important movies are. If it’s still in a theater by you, go see it. 

Galaxy Quest 1999

I haven’t seen this since I was a child, and I was surprised at how well it held up! A truly hilarious tribute to Star Trek. They even made a poster of it that ripped off the original Star Trek movie.

Party Girl 1995

This wasn’t a five star film for me, but I’m including it because Parker Posey works at a library. I watched this movie right as I was applying to MLS schools, and it felt a bit like a sign.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

This is the only book I gave 5 stars this month. Until this year, I had no idea Vonnegut wrote what today is called ‘speculative fiction.’ His books are so much funnier than I expected.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home 1986

I rewatched this with a commentary track from William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, and it was honestly the sweetest thing. Who knew Shatner loved whales so much? What a guy!

TÁR 2022

My absolute favorite movie of the year. A rewatch for me, and an incredible rewatch at that. The detail in this film is overwhelming.

Zen – Grogu and Dust Bunnies 2022

This is a tiny short with no plot or anything. It’s simply very soothing. Watch it next time you’re anxious.

There you have it! Making these lists every month is always really fun for me, because it reminds me what I loved and also reveals how I’ve been consuming art. The goal for next month is to read more.

Love and gratitude.

On Motivation (or lack thereof)

This short essay is part of a series called ‘Writing on Writing.’ This series takes a few different forms, and in this post, I’m discussing some of the things affecting my writing right now. Want to see content like this more often? Consider supporting me on Patreon.

I am writing this very reluctantly. Not because I don’t value all of you (because of course I do) and not because I’ve stopped liking doing Patreon (I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done). I am just feeling very, very tired.

I suppose I’m still recovering from Covid just a little, though my energy feels back to normal overall. There’s a lot of uncertainty in my life right now, too. There’s the job hunt, which is generally unpleasant, and then larger issues around the news and midterm elections and the general state of the world. 

I have this really bad habit of looking at really negative things on Facebook. There’s a particular profile belonging to an extended family member of mine that I seem to enjoy torturing myself with. I won’t go into details, as it’s unnecessary to put all of you through it, but I’m sure you can form an idea of what I mean. I tend to excuse looking at it by saying I’m ‘doing research’ or ‘understanding the other side.’ But really, what am I actually learning from looking at it? The particulars of pro-gun talking points or the newest anti-Pride rhetoric? And what do I actually gain from ‘learning’ those things?

In the end, all I’m doing is making myself sad. What’s so tragic about this is I’ve always liked this extended family member. Our interactions have only ever been kind, and they have always made an effort to keep up with me and check in. We’ve never been close, but nothing they ever said or did gave me the impression that what they’re really thinking is so negative. Because really, what I’m seeing when I look at that Facebook, is that they hate me.

That sounds extreme, of course. Like I’ve said, they’re very nice to me when we interact. Just a few months ago they reached out to see how I was feeling after my first bout with Covid. They tend to like my posts when they’re about things like traveling with my parents or school accomplishments. In fact if asked, they’d probably say they don’t hate me at all, despite the fact that I’m queer or pro-choice or any of the other stances they don’t agree with. But I also know that if they didn’t know me, if I was just some person that was described to them as being all the things that I am, they would say the most vicious things. And that is really disheartening. 

I think deep down what has me so tired right now is that I feel kind of hopeless, but not in a way that I’m used to. I’ve struggled with depression for years now, and that personal hopelessness is something I’ve learned to manage. This is a different feeling. It’s a lot less personal, but also a lot bigger. As much as I tell myself that the true majority of the country is more left-leaning, or that the only thing I have the power to do is live my own life the way I think I should, I can’t seem to shake the feeling that it doesn’t matter. It seems like the bad guys are winning.

I’ve always considered art to be incredibly powerful as a tool for empathy and compassion. I still think that’s true. But in my day to day, when I’m sitting down to try and work on my own art, I’ve wondered what the point is. It’s a really awful feeling, and so far, I’ve been very unsuccessful at talking myself out of it. Things aren’t all bad, though. For the first time in months, I’ve finished reading two books and I’m quickly working my way through two more. I’m going on walks by myself or with Peggy Sue in the sun, which I know is good for me whether I feel it in the moment or not. I’m applying to jobs at companies and institutions I believe in. I’m going through the motions, waiting for the good feelings I normally have to come back. And I’m sure they will come back. It just kind of sucks right now.

I hope you don’t find this post too depressing, and please don’t spend any time worrying about me. I honestly feel a little better now that I’ve gotten to the end of this, which I think says something about the value of my strategy. If I just keep doing the things I know are good for me, I’ll get out of this funk. It’ll just take time.

Love and gratitude to all of you.