By Nathan H. Box, MNPL
The Ten is a ranking of the ten best films watched in a calendar year… so far. New films, old films, theatrical releases, and streaming adventures, all movies are considered. Many films will enter, but only the ten best will make the list. Every movie watched in 2022 has the potential to shake up the list. Be sure to check back often and let me know what you think.
The Worst Person in the World
I need more people to see The Worst Person in the World. It was my selection for Best International Feature Film at this year’s Oscars. It is a movie I cannot shake. In reflection, I cannot think of a more original approach to what it means to be in your late 20s and early 30s. From every direction, you can feel the crushing weight of expectation; expectations about relationships, your career choice, and children. Better than most, I think this film fully encapsulates this period in life when you become a fully formed adult.
Audible is an Oscar-nominated documentary short film about a deaf high school football team in Maryland. Given its premise, it might be easy to dismiss this as another sports movie about a team overcoming impossible odds. This movie is that and so much more. At its core, it is about a collection of unique individuals, each with personal trials and tribulations to overcome, coming together around a common purpose. I found it so inspiring and desperately needed.
Lead Me Home
I have walked and worked the streets of Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. I have spent time in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District. I have interacted with and loved on my homeless neighbors in Seattle. Lead Me Home attempts to tell the story of homelessness on the west coast. It does not concern itself with answering questions about how we got here. Instead, it is deeply focused on the people who live unhoused on our city’s streets. It moved me deeply and made me cry more than a short film should. I encourage you to watch it with an open mind.
The Tragedy of Macbeth
The Tragedy of Macbeth has left an impression of me I cannot shake. Featuring stellar performances from Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, this familiar story is given new life thanks to the vision of director Joel Coen. Coen chooses a minimalistic approach that enhances the dread, perilousness, and ominous nature of this story. Without a doubt, this film breathes new life into Shakespeare’s famous play and left me in awe.
For the uninitiated, DC stands for Detective Comics. The Batman sees the caped crusader return to his roots as a detective first and crime fighter second. By focusing on a Bruce Wayne, who is in the second year of the job, we meet a man who is still learning the ropes of what it means to be a hero in a violent and unforgiving Gotham City. The entire experience felt raw, apocalyptic, and unhinged. While I prefer Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of the Dark Knight, this version checked a lot of boxes for me.
V for Vendetta
Every couple of years, I return to V for Vendetta. During the Trump years, it felt like required viewing in the same way that 1984 felt like mandatory reading. In the shadow of those dark days, this film now feels like a cautionary tale. If we are not careful, misinformation, exploitation of current events, governmental surveillance, and rights sacrificed for the greater good will form a slippery slope leading to a reality few of us will recognize.
The Thin Red Line
“War is hell.” There is no glory to be found in killing your fellow man. All too often, film paints conflict as some noble trial without showing the harsh and violent reality. The Thin Red Line does not succumb to this idea. It shows war for what it is, the devolution of man. On the battlefield, we meet men longing for home, scared of conflict, conflicted about the prospect of taking life, and warriors who throw caution to the wind. In the same vein as Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, and Apocalypse Now, this film is an honest betrayal of war demanding of your attention.
When drug use escapes the inner-city and heads toward the suburbs, white parents finally pay attention to the epidemic. But this film is so much more than that. It strings together an end-to-end network by providing stories focused on supply and demand. Along the way, we meet cartel members and the cops they employ. We come face-to-face with Americans profiting off the drug trade. As an audience, we see the results of demand as drugs wreck a family. This film puts a human face on drug trafficking and everyone it touches.
The Imitation Game
The Imitation Game is one of the best movies released in 2014. Looking back on the life of Alan Turing, you see his brilliance, sacrifice, work, and how he was treated on full display. In the years following this movie, this means more to me. Throughout history, who else has had their work discounted because they looked or loved differently? Who are the heroes lost to time because of prejudice and discrimination? When I think about the life of Alan Turing, my heart breaks for those who will never fully get the credit they deserve.
For months now, my television screen has been filled with images of refugees escaping the borders of Ukraine. Seeking safety from a war without merit or purpose, they are fleeing their homeland in pursuit of peace and calm. While Flee is not about the current conflict in Ukraine, it asks us to step into the shoes of refugees escaping Afghanistan. Throughout their journey, we learn what it means to lose a sense of home. Forced into the shadows, we come to understand the uneasy life of those who just want peace. Without a doubt in mind, this is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen about the refugee experience. It is an empathy inducing juggernaut that is more than worthy of your time.
Be good to each other,
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