Favorites are in bold. Updated for the last time tonight…
Movies Watched in 2022
1. Wild Target, 2010. A dark comedy about a lonely assassin who is hired to kill an attractive fraudster and thief (Emily Blunt), but who instead develops feelings for her. A fun movie all around with solid talent. Ron Weasley is also lounging around for some reason.
2. No Time for Sergeants, 1958. a comedy about an ambling country boy drafted into the US Air Force, and the inspiration for Gomer Pyle.
3. The Quiet Man, 1952. A John Wayne / Maureen O’Hara movie in which Wayne plays an American boxer who retires from the sport and returns to the home in Ireland in which he was born. He promptly annoys the local big man (who wanted to buy the home and property to expand his own) and falls in love with the big man’s sister, Mary Kate. The result is a romantic drama with abounding comedy, featuring a lot of Irish stereotypes.
4. Unstoppable, 2010. Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson. Terrific retelling of a real-life runaway train incident where a harrowing disaster is averted through the brave and creative efforts of a train crew. Working class heroes!
5. The Many Saints of Newark. 2021. Sopranoes prequel focusing on the life of Dickie Moltisanti, Christuhphuh’s dad and Tony’s main role model and inspiration for joining la cosa nostra. Superb casting, but the story had a frustrating loose end.
6. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, 1974. Strange horror film about a group of teenagers who wander into a house and…er, get invited for dinner. Not something I’d watch again, but given its cult-classic status I’m glad I at least know what it’s about now.
7. This is the Last Dam Run of Likker I’ll Ever Make, 2002. Documentary celebrating the folk hero Popcorn Sutton, who brewed and sold moonshine for decades before the ATF began targeting him. He killed himself rather than submit to imprisonment at the hands of the goonie boys.
8. A Knight’s Tale, 2001. Heath Leadger stars as William Thatcher, a young knight’s apprentice who, when his lord dies unexpectedly before a joust, dons the man’s armor and uses it to create a new life for himself as Sir Ulrich von Lichtenstein. What follows is an unusual sports-comedy-romance with a soundtrack by Queen and David Bowie. Ludicrous but absolutely fun.
9. Red Dawn, 1984. Russia and Cuba launch a surprise attack on the United States, but a small group of teenagers creates their own resistance cell. Expected camp, got a surprisingly dark but very entertaining movie.
10. 21, 2008. Kevin Spacey is an MIT professor who recruits a team of math whizzes to earn money on weekends counting cards in Vegas. Loosely based on a true story. Very much a fun movie. I kept expecting Frank Underwood to erupt from Spacey’s genial professor and was not disappointed.
11. Into the Woods, 2014. A ‘medley’ of classic fairy tales spun into a musical about a childless couple, a young woman who desires to go to the prince’s festival, and a boy and his friend the cow. Absolutely brilliant music, but some of the characters were increasing unsympathetic as the story wore on, especially the Chris Pine-prince and the Baker’s wife. Lots of talent here, but my favorites were Anna Kendrick (Cinderella) and Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood. Little girl can sing!
11. Shrek: The Musical. 2008. It’s….Shrek. The musical. Impressive singing all around. The Farquaad character was Springtime for Hitler-level campy, but the actor carried the role well. Sutton Foster as Fiona and Brian d’Arcy James as Shrek were especially powerful vocalists, and I’m still wondering how they did her ogre makeup so quickly on stage. If you’re ever in a gloomy mood and don’t have the time to read Wodehouse, watch the first two minutes of Foster’s “Morning Person”. Black moods = gone!
12. Blade Runner 2049. 2017. The sequel to the original Blade Runner, featuring Ryan Gosling as a next-gen replicant who works as a bladerunner. In the process of ‘retiring’ another replicant, Gosling’s character makes an astonishing discovery that threatens to throw society into upheaval. The move is consistent with the world and aesthetics of the original, with now-defunct brands like Pan-Am still in existence. Very good.
13. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, 2013. Part two of Peter Jackson’s expansion of the Hobbit story into three movies. Features some very improbable fighting along the river, but Smaug is a fun character.
14. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armie, 2014. The finale of the Hobbit expansion. Nonstop fighting, so it grew bit tedious.
15. Top Gun: Maverick. 2022. The sequel to the eighties original, this follows Tom Cruise’s character Maverick as he trains a cadre of young hotshots for a brutal mission that resembles the attack run in Star Wars. Adding to the drama is the fact that one of the hotshots is Cruise’s late wingman’s son. Great action flick, with no politics or posturing: just cool Navy machines, kickass pilots, and some thrilling heroics. There’s also a P-51 Mustang!
16. Johnny English. 2003. A Rowan Atkinson-starring James Bond parody. A bit like Get Smart or The Man Who Knew Too Little. Hilarious all around.
17. The Terminal (rewatch). 2004. A touching story about a man stranded in an airport after his country falls into civil war while he’s in the air.
18. Guardians of the Galaxy. Action superhero-esque movie about a ragtag group of people who try to prevent a powerful artifact from falling into the hands of a major league baddie.
19. Rise of the Guardians. A kid’s movie about heroic fantasy figures from childhood (Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, etc) being threatened by a villain.
20. Willow. A light fantasy story about a Herod-like evil Queen who is prophesied to be felled by a baby girl. The girl is sent down the river a la Moses, and rescued by a farming family (led by an aspiring magician) who then have to form a little fellowship of the baby and return her to a castle far away. A young Val Kilmer appears as an action hero.
21. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005). Stars Martin Freeman, the fellow who was in The Hobbit and The Office.
22. West Side Story, the original. A rewatch for movie. Never get tired of listening to that soundtrack or admiring Natalie Woods.
22. Top Gun. A 1986 action movie about jets, starring a young Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer. I enjoyed the music, but the story was spoiled for me by having watched Maverick.
23. Ghost Town. 2008. A film starring Ricky Gervais and Brian D’Arcy James, in which Gervais is a misanthropic dentist who has a near-death experience while under anesthia and wakes to find that he can see and hear ghosts. New York has a multitude of them with unfinished business, and they’re desperate for Gervais’ help so that they can move on. From this premise we get a rom-com, and my estimation of D’Arcy James’ acting chops continues to increase.
24. Carrie, the 1976 original with Sissy Spacek and directed by Brian dePalma. An adaptation of Stephen King’s novel. Not quite as violent as the novel, but well-acted, scored, and directed.
25. The Blair Witch Project. 1999. An innovative art-horror film from 1999 about three teenagers who go missing in the woods while investing the legend of a ghost-witch.
26. Slacker. 1989. Not sure how to sum this one up, but imagine a film where the character changes every scene. The setting is 1990 Austin, and the camera follows around a wide variety of characters and eavedrops on them and their stories before some other passerby enters the frame and we follow them, instead.
27. Pink Flamingos. 1972. This was a joke played on me by a friend who refused to say anything about the film, who insisted he wanted to see my honest, gut reaction. (It was mute horror.) Trash for trash’s sake.
27. Goodbye, Lenin! 2003. A rewatch for me, introducing someone to the work of Daniel Brühl. Goodbye is the story of the fall of East Germany, as lived through a young dissident who, despite being arrested by the DDR’s authorities, was forced to keep it ‘alive’ for his medically frail mother, creating an elaborate charade complete with fictitious East German newscasts to prevent her from knowing the DDR and her world were gone. A thought-provoking film with comedic elements.
28. The Miracle on 34th Street, 1947. The gorgeous Alabama Theater does Christmas movie showings in December, and I re-watched this movie for the first time since I was a kid. I enjoyed it enormously, from itty-bitty Natalie Wood’s already respectable acting abilities to the writing. A lot of the film’s meaning and humor was lost on me as a kid.
29. The Last Picture Show, 1971. An interesting movie following several high school kids in their last days of school. Think Dazed and Confused but set in 1950s Texas. The cultural mores are more in line with the seventies, though.
30. Mr. Right, 2015. Easily the sweetest little rom-com featuring frequent bouts of murder I’ve ever seen. Anna Kendricks, the reason I watched this movie, encounters an interesting chap in the grocery store and the two of them fall in love. Said chap is an ex-assassin who still assassins, only now he targets those who try to kill others. He’s being actively huntted by both his former assassins, who see him as a rouge, and some criminals who view him as a threat. Hilarity, adorableness, and headshots ensue Anna Kendricks is absolutely adorable.
31. My Girl, 1991. A re-watch for me, for the first time since…well, since George H.W. Bush was president. It’s set during one summer in the 1970s, in which a young girl struggles with her widow-father’s falling in love with a new woman, and another tragedy that ensues. It’s interesting to have watched this as a kid the same age as Vada and Thomas J, and now as an adult.
32. Beat the Devil, 1953. The first Bogart movie I saw and acutely disliked. Bogart plays a reluctant associate of some criminal-esque entrepreneurs who want to buy some land with uranium deposits, then sell said uranium without the British government being none the wiser. This supposedly makes them the bad guys. Bogie has an affair with some rando’s wife, his wife has an affair with said rando, and then the police arrest everyone at the end a la Monty Python. Truman Capote supposedly contributed to this.
33. Wild at Heart, Nick Cage & Willem Defoe. Nick Cage and his girlfriend road-trip across the southern US despite Cage having a bounty on his head by his girlfriend’s mother-in-law, who thinks he witnessed the murder of said girlfriend’s father, who was associated with the criminal sort. Nice music. Nick Cage is pretending to do an Elvis voice the entire time and it’s hilarious after a while. He even sings “Love me Tender”.