I can’t say I’ve ever been particularly punctual with these things, but the start of 2023 really threw me for a loop and it’s taken me much longer than I would have liked to put out these lists. Still, there’s no shame in taking your time with something you only do once a year, and given how little free time I’ve had the last few weeks to work on it, I’m surprised I managed to get them done at all. In any case, we’re starting with the good list and 2022 definitely had some standouts even if we were still trying to figure out how to make movies in a Post-Pandemic world; or at least in a world that is choosing to ignore the still ongoing pandemic. In any case, let’s get started!!
Honorable Mention – The Marvel Cinematic Universe
It’s hardly an interesting choice given how pervasive the MCU has been for the last decade and even I’ll admit to feeling some fatigue in trying to keep up with it all. Still, where other franchises are struggling to adapt to the new Normal, Marvel has managed to once again stay ahead of the curve with a slew of outings this year that will cater to just about anyone still invested in this universe. Lighter fare like the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and She-Hulk sat alongside some of its darker outings like Moon Knight and Werewolf by Night, and all were perfectly suited for a more casual viewing experience which was greatly appreciated as things got very hectic this year. Moon Knight in particular was a highlight as it had some excellent acting to go with its moody atmosphere and I appreciated that it spent much more time on that than the action so that when things finally did ramp up it felt like a genuine escalation of stakes. The ones that did make it to theater, like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder, may not be the highlights of the MCU but were still some of the better blockbusters of the year and are the kind of movies that make theaters worth seeking out even as they cede more and more ground to the streaming services. In any case, this is less about saying that Marvel is the height of cinema as it is about appreciating how they continue to make their output more accessible with each passing year; something that DC and Warner Bros Discovery have proven is not as easy as it looks.
10 – Ambulance
Michael Bay may not always hit it out of the park but I appreciate the times when it’s clear that he’s invested in the movie he’s making and not just churning out another paint-by-numbers summer blockbuster. Unfortunately, those films also tend to be the ones that underperform and even with such a low budget to overcome, this just didn’t grab audiences the way that it should have. It’s a shame that, once again, he makes a great film and not enough people show up to see it, but regardless of its lackluster box office, it’s still one of the better action films of the past few years. Gunfights, chase scenes, they’re all present and accounted for in Bay’s uniquely exaggerated world, but the cinematography is a standout as he manages to pull off some fantastic shots with far fewer resources than he’s used to working with; once again proving how much of a genuine auteur this guy is even if I can barely stand half his filmography. It helps that this is just as much a character piece as it is an action film with the majority of the film taking place in or around the titular ambulance, and with such a tight focus it ensures that the momentum is constantly motivated and forward moving which can often be an issue with his bigger movies that tend to spread themselves too far with no clear direction or purpose. Bay’s passion is infectious when he really puts himself into a project and I hope that those Transformers movies got him enough clout to continue making movies like this, and I’ll still show up to see them even if no one else will.Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Top 10 Best Movies of 2022”