2022 In Review: Lisa Marie’s Top 30 Films of 2022


Without further ado, here are my top 30 films of 2022!

(Why 30?  Because Lisa doesn’t do odd numbers!  Also, be sure to check out my picks for 2010201120122013201420152016201720182019, 2020, and 2021!  Wow, I’ve been doing this for a while!)

30. Marcel The Shell With Shoes On (dir by Dean Fleischer Camp)

An animated film with heart, Marcel The Shell With Shoes On would probably be ranked higher if Marcel’s favorite news show had been something other than 60 Minutes.  Still, questionable viewing habits aside, Marcel and Nana Connie and all the other shells were amazing characters and the end of the movie brought tears to my mismatched eyes.  With this film and I Want You Back, Jenny Slate had quite a year.

29. Ted K (dir by Tony Stone)

Released in February of this year, this film about Ted Kaczyski and his descent into madness was unfairly overlooked. Sharlto Copley was perfectly cast as Ted K.  This is a film that probably won’t make Ted’s supporters happy but, at the same time, it also avoids painting him as just being a straight-out madman.  It’s refusal to simplify makes the film far more than just another true crime biopic.

28. Dashcam (dir by Rob Savage)

Starring Annie Hardy as herself, this low-budget horror film is a scathing satire of life during the age of COVID and performative “wokeness.”  After the past few years, there’s something rather cathartic about Hardy’s refusal to obey.

27. The Batman (dir by Matt Reeves)

At this point, I’m fairly cynical about comic book movies in general and Batman films in specific.  I mean, how many Batmen have we had over the past ten years?  (Actually, I think only four but it feels like a lot more!)  That said, I enjoyed The Batman, for both its noirish atmosphere and it’s willingness to embrace the melodrama.  You have to love the fact that the villain was basically a nerdy podcaster.

26. Operation Mincemeat (dir by John Madden)

Based on a true story, this film was a throwback to the earnest World War II films of the past.  Colin Firth, Kelly MacDonald, Matthew McFayden, and Johnny Flynn were all well-cast and did their part to bring this moment of WWII history to life.

25. Father Stu (dir by Rosalind Ross)

You don’t have to be from a Catholic background to appreciate Father Stu but it probably helps.  This was one of those roles that only Mark Wahlberg could have pulled off.

24. See How They Run (dir by Tom George)

This stylized murder mystery was terrifically entertaining and witty.  Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan are both treasures.

23. I Want You Back (dir by Jason Orley)

Two friends conspire to win back their respective romantic partners and end up falling in love with each other instead.  This was an enjoyable comedy, one that was blessed with an outstanding cast that included Jenny Slate, Charlie Day, Scott Eastwood, and Gina Rodriguez.  The scene in which Jenny Slate sings Suddenly Seymour is a classic.

22. Ambulance (dir by Michael Bay)

This was the film that Michael Bay was born to direct.  For once, Bay’s hyperkinetic style was perfectly matched by the story being told.  It also helped that the ambulance was a real ambulance and not a robot pretending to be an ambulance.

21.Send Me (dir by Nick Palmisciano)

This is a heart-breaking documentary about the efforts of 12 veterans to evacuate as many allies as they could during the disastrous withdraw from Afghanistan.  This film deserved more attention than it got.

20. The Bombardment (dir by Ole Bornedal)

Based on a true story, this Danish film deals with the accidental bombing of a school during World War II.  It’s been overshadowed a bit by All Quiet On The Western Front but, in its quieter way, The Bombardment is also a strong look at the horrors of war.

19. Goodnight Oppy (dir by Ryan White)

This is a poignant documentary about Opportunity, the NASA exploration rover that spent 15 years exploring Mars.  This movie proves that a robot can make you cry.

18. Dark Glasses (dir by Dario Argento)

Don’t listen to the critics.  This enjoyably over-the-top giallo was an entertaining return-to-form for Dario Argento.

17. Wildcat (dir by Melissa Lesh and Trevor Fost)

This poignant documentary follows a depressed veteran as he finds purpose helping to raise a baby ocelot in Peru.  Be prepared to cry.

16. Apollo 10 1/2 (dir by Richard Linklater)

Richard Linklater’s animated film was well-received by critics but it’s still hard not to feel that it’s been a bit overlooked.  Narrated by Jack Black, the film details the 1969 moon landing from the perspective of a child with a very active imagination.  Nostalgic, sweet-natured, and ultimately rather moving, Apollo 10 1/2 is a film that celebrates life.

15. Three Minutes: A Lengthening (dir by Bianca Stigner)

This haunting and moving documentary, which is narrated by Helena Bonham Cater, examines a three-minute snippet of 16mm film that was shot in a Jewish town in Poland in 1938, shortly before the Nazis invaded.  By examining every aspect of those three minutes, this documentary becomes both a memorial for the inhabitants of that town and a much-needed reminder of the horrors and reality of the Holocaust.  With anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial on the rise, this is an important documentary.

14. The Northman (dir by Robert Eggers)

The Northman is occasionally thrilling and occasionally ludicrous but it’s always watchable.  Robert Eggers finds moments of humor and odd beauty in this Viking epic.  Nicole Kidman embraces the melodrama and goes all out.  I just hope Valhalla was actually worth all the trouble.

13. Puss In Boots: The Last Wish (dir by Joel Crawford)

Yeah, you knew this film was going to show up on my list.  To be honest, the film could have been about just about anything.  I’d watch Puss In Boots read the phone book as long as Antonio Banderas returned to do his voice.  The fact that the film itself was cute and even touching was an added bonus.

12. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (dir by Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson)

Yes, a puppet can make you cry.

11. Babylon (dir by Damien Chazelle)

Was it flawed?  You bet.  Did it run a little bit too long?  Yes, it did.  Could I have done without the scene with the elephant?  You better believe it.  That said, this film was so gloriously excessive and over-the-top that it was easy for me to forgive its flaws.  The critics may not have liked it but Babylon is a film that will be rediscovered.

10. The Fabelmans (dir by Steven Spielberg)

I went back and forth over whether to put The Fabelmans or Babylon in the number ten spot.  In a way, they’re kind of similar in that they have their flaws but they’re both saved by their director’s obvious love of cinema.  In the end, David Lynch’s role as John Ford moved The Fabelmans into the 10th spot.

9. Everything Everywhere All At Once (dir by the Daniels)

To be honest, I think some people are going a little bit overboard in their praise for this film.  Yes, it’s one of the year’s best but 2022 wasn’t that strong of a year and Everything is one of those probable Best Picture winners that, like Nomadland and CODA, will probably not be quite as celebrated after it actually wins.  That said, Michelle Yeoh and especially Ke Huy Quan deserve all the praise that they’ve received and I appreciated that the film featured the destruction of an IRS office.  It’s not as perfect as some say but, due largely to the cast, it still deserves to be in my top ten.

8. Nitram (dir by Justin Kurzel)

This is another unfairly overlooked film, this time from Australia.  Caleb Landry Jones gives a powerful and disturbing performance as a troubled young man named Nitram who commits an act of shocking violence.  Anthony LaPaglia and Judy Davis play Nitram’s parents, who are both troubled in their own individual ways.  Essie Davis plays the older woman who falls in love with Nitram, despite the fact that Nitram is incapable of loving anyone.

7. Emily the Criminal (dir by John Patton Ford)

Aubrey Plaza plays Emily, who discovers that not only does crime pay but, in the gig economy, it’s one of those few ways to get ahead.  Part thriller and part satire, Emily the Criminal reminds us that Plaza is one of the most interesting actresses working today.

6. All Quiet On The Western Front (dir by Edward Berger)

This German anti-war epic stays true to the themes of its source material while updating the plot for the modern era.  The contrast between the generals and the diplomats planning battles and the soldiers dying in them is a powerful one.

5. Elvis (dir by Baz Luhrmann)

This wonderfully excessive biopic features good music, a great performance from Austin Butler, and a wonderfully eccentric one from Tom Hanks.  Luhrmann is hardly a subtle director but Butler’s performance keeps the film from spiraling out of control.

4. Vengeance (dir by B.J. Novak)

This whip-smart satire of both true crime podcasts and the red state/blue state divide deserved far more attention than it received.  Ashton Kutcher has actually become a surprisingly dependable character actor.  Director and screenwriter Novak tells the story with sensitivity and a sharp eye for the absurd.

3. The Banshees of Inisherin (dir by Martin McDonagh)

In his best film yet, Martin McDonagh examines friendship, art, violence, and anger in Ireland.  Brendan Gleeson no longer wants to be Colin Farrell’s friend.  Farrell’s attempts to discover why leads to all sorts of surprising and macabre developments.  Gleeson and Farrell have never been better.  Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan offer up poignant support.

2. Tar (dir by Todd Field)

Lydia Tar is a brilliant artist.  Does it matter that she also might be a terrible human being?  Todd Field’s return to filmmaking meditates on the meaning of art, morality, and the consequences of hubris.  Cate Blanchett is perfectly cast.  The scene where Tar talks to a student who objects to playing music by a white male is a real litmus test.  Do you think Tar is a bully or do you think the student is being too sensitive?  For all the talk about how Lydia dismisses the student’s claims, many also fail to note that the student is the one who calls her a “bitch” and runs out of the room.  Much as in Field’s previous film, no one is as perfect or as justified or as blameless as they may believe.

And, finally, my top film of 2022 is….

  1. Top Gun: Maverick (dir by Joseph Kosinski)

After 2 years of lockdowns and pessimism, Top Gun: Maverick was finally released and it reminded audiences of what they loved about movies in the first place.  Top Gun: Maverick was the movie that we needed in 2022.

Well, that concludes my late look back at 2022!  Now, let’s focus on 2023!

Lisa Marie’s 2022 In Review:

  1. 16 Worst Movies
  2. 10 Favorite Songs
  3. 10 Top Non-Fiction Books
  4. Lisa Marie’s Favorite Novels
  5. The Best of Lifetime
  6. 10 Good Things I Saw On Television

Film Review: Operation Mincemeat (dir by John Madden)


Based on a true story, Operation Mincemeat takes place in 1943, during the second World War.  The British are planning an invasion of Sicily, both to break Hitler’s hold on Europe and to also knock Italy out of the war.  The problem is that the attack on Sicily makes so much strategic sense that the Germans have spent months preparing for it and, even if successful, the invasion will cost an untold number of British lives.  Somehow, British intelligence must trick the Germans into thinking that the British are planning to invade Greece instead.

With the help of Lt. Commander Ian Fleming (Johnny Flynn), Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth) and Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew McFayden) come up with the plan to fool the Germans.  A dead body will be disguised as a British officer.  The body will be transported, via submarine, to Spain, which was technically neutral during the war.  The body will wash up on shore and, when the body is examined, a note detailing Britain’s invasion of Greece will be discovered and passed along to the Germans.  Because the Germans have been fooled by a similar trick in the past, Montagu and Cholmondeley create a fake backstory for “Maj. William Martin” and soon start to think of him as being a someone who truly did live.  Joining them to create a life for Major Martin is Jean Leslie (Kelly MacDonald), a secretary in the office who volunteers a photo of herself to be placed in Martin’s wallet.

Of course, things get complicated.  While plotting out the operation, Jean starts to fall in love with Montagu, whose marriage is currently strained by Montagu’s obsession with his work.  (Because he knows what will happen to a Jewish family in the UK if Germany invades, Montagu has sent his wife and his children to the U.S.)  Cholomondeley is in love with Jean and soon finds himself growing jealous of the man that he’s been assigned to work with.  Meanwhile, the head of British Intelligence (Jason Isaacs) wants to investigate Montagu’s brother for being a communist.  As for Ian Fleming, he keeps himself busy by writing a book.  In fact, so many members of British Intelligence are identified as being aspiring novelists that it becomes a bit of a running joke.

I have always appreciated a good World War II film and I enjoyed Operation Mincemeat.  It’s a bit of an old-fashioned film, of course.  The F-word is used exactly once (which makes this a rarity amongst modern British films) and there’s one scene in which a member of British intelligence discreetly gives an informant a handjob in return for information.  Otherwise, this is pretty much a film that you could safely show your grandma without having to worry about her getting depressed over how much movies have changed since her day.  Old-fashioned or not, it’s a well-made film, full of good performances and sharp dialogue.  It’s not a flashy film but it’s very nicely put together and it’s hard not to admire the craftsmanship responsible for it.  Operation Mincemeat is all the more interesting for being, more or less, true.  While the love triangle was invented for the film, it is true that Ian Fleming was a part of Operation Mincemeat and the film’s use of him as a character works surprisingly well.  The scene where a young Fleming tours the World War II version of Q Branch provides some nice comic relief, particularly when Flemings comes across a wristwatch that doubles as a mini-saw.

What elevates Operation Mincemeat is its theme of loss.  Almost all of the major characters have lost someone or something to the war.  Jean Leslie is a widow.  Cholomendely’s brother was killed in action and his body is still in Europe.  Montagu has had to send his family away for their own safety.  For them, the Major Martin becomes a stand-in for all of the people that they’ve lost.  The effort to make Martin into a real person allows all of them one final chance to honor their loved ones.  Major Martin becomes a stand-in for all British soldiers and civilians who sacrificed their lives to battle Hitler’s war machine.  Operation Mincemeat becomes about more than just fooling the Germans.  It becomes about being worthy of the sacrifice that it took to defeat them.

As is shown in the film, the real Major Martin was a vagrant named Glyndwr Michael, who died after eating rat poison.  The film suggests that Michael deliberately killed himself but no one will ever know for sure what led to him eating that poison.  After his death, he was given the uniform of a British officer and his pockets were filled with things that would identify him as being Major William Martin.  Though he never knew it, Glyndwr Michael become one of the greatest heroes of World War II.  Operation Mincemeat serves a worthy tribute to both Glyndwr Michael and Major William Martin.

Playing Catch-Up: Clouds of Sils Maria (dir by Olivier Assayas)


Clouds_of_Sils_Maria_film_poster

It’s a little bit disheartening, to be honest, to see the lack of attention that has been given to Clouds of Sils Maria.  Kristen Stewart has picked up a lot of awards for her supporting performance and she might even get an Oscar nomination on Thursday but otherwise, the film has been ignored and that’s a shame.  Last year, it was one of the best films to be released here in the States.

Of course, it’s difficult to talk about Clouds of Sils Maria without also talking about Maps To The Stars.  After all, both films premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and both of them deal with an aging actress struggling to remain relevant in an industry that prizes youth above all else.  The main difference between the two is that Clouds of Sils Maria is a great movie while Maps To The Stars is a pretentious mess.  And yet, when initially released, Maps To The Stars was the more critically acclaimed of the two films.

Why was that?

I imagine it has something to do with the fact that Clouds of Sils Maria demands a certain amount of intelligence on the part of the audience.  Whereas there’s neither a subtle moment nor an unexpected detail to be found in Maps To The Stars, Clouds of Sils Maria rewards repeat viewing.  Clouds of Sils Maria invites the audience to ponder its mysteries and it does so without spelling anything out.  Clouds of Sils Maria is all about nuance and, as such, it’s not exactly the ideal film for critics who make their living off of clickbait.

As for what the film is about, it tells the story of Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche), a world-famous stage and screen actress.  20 years ago, Maria became a star when she appeared in both the theatrical and the film versions of Maloja Snake.  Maria played the role of Sigrid, a callous young woman who seduces a middle-aged, bourgeois woman named Helena.  When Sigrid eventually abandons Helena, the older woman is driven to suicide.  Though she is now closer in age to Helena, Maria continues to think of herself as being Sigrid.

When the writer of Maloja Snake dies, Maria is offered a chance to appear in a new stage production.  However, this time, she will be playing Helena and a young American actress named J0-Ann Ellis (Chloe Grace Moretz) will play Sigrid.  (Jo-Ann is better known for her scandalous private life than her acting.  Moretz appears to have a lot of fun playing the Lindsay Lohanesque Jo-Ann.)  At first, Maria does not want to play Helena.  She dismisses the role as being boring and says that she cannot see herself playing such a “normal” character.  (As well, Maria is haunted by the memory of the death of the actress who originally played Helena opposite Mara’s Sigrid.)  Even after Maria is finally convinced to take on the role, she continues to insist that she’s not right for it.  As quickly becomes apparent, it’s not so much the role that upsets Maria but what the role represents.  By playing Helena, Maria will be admitting that she is no longer the invulnerable Sigrid.

In order to rehearse, Maria retreats to a remote cabin in the Alps.  Accompanying her is Valentine (Kristen Stewart), her assistant.  At first, it seems that Val and Maria have an almost sisterly relationship but it quickly becomes obvious that the out-of-touch Maria is largely dependent on Val for any information about the outside world.  (Maria has to be constantly reminded that she can google any information she needs.)  Despite needing her, Maria occasionally talks down to Val (especially after learning that Val thinks Jo-Ann is a good actress and that Val likes a sci-fi film that Jo-Ann has appeared in) and Val occasionally seems to be annoyed with Maria’s neediness.

In the Alps, Maria continues to try to learn Helena’s role and, as the weeks pass, her line readings go from awkward to natural.  Reading opposite her, in the role of Sigrid, is Val and, often times, it’s difficult to distinguish between the play and reality.  How much of Val and Maria’s relationship is real and how much of it is just a rehearsal?

Clouds of Sils Maria is a visually stunning film, one of that is fully mystery and beautiful images.  Even more importantly, it’s a film that features three strong roles for three talented actresses, all of whom do some of their best work.  Clouds of Sils Maria did not get the attention that it deserved when it was first released but it’s never too late to discover a good movie.