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 Tragedy of Macbeth
Open a can of tennis balls and smell the potential. That is how 2022 feels. Undoubtedly, my favorite film of the year will change before we pop the champagne on the 31st of December, but for now, The Tragedy of Macbeth has left an impression on 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.
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 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 the world reacted to his homosexuality on full display. In the years following this movie, this film 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.
Licorice Pizza is the newest film from acclaimed director, Paul Thomas Anderson. It focuses on a fascinating relationship between Alana Kane (Alana Haim), Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman), and a struggle to make it in 1973’s San Fernando Valley. Watching these two chase their dreams and settle for get rich schemes, I was reminded how fun going to the movies can be. In the madness of what has become modern cinema, we have forgotten original stories transfixed on relatable characters can bring joy and fascination. Mr. Anderson, thanks for reminding us once again.
Don’t Look Up
Don’t Look Up features an all-star cast comprising Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, and many more. Directed and written for the screen by Adam McKay (Vice, The Big Short), the film attempts to draw a parallel line between the depiction of an asteroid heading for Earth and a populace that won’t heed their warning to how we are responding to the climate crisis in the real world. In lots of ways, this film doesn’t stick its landing perfectly, but I think we should commend it for its execution.
Starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams and directed by Christopher Nolan, Insomnia is one of those films I have been meaning to watch for years. On a frigid January night, I finally pulled the trigger and made it happen. The film focuses on two Los Angeles homicide detectives who are called upon to assist with a murder investigation in a small Alaskan town. Boiling beneath the surface of this movie are subplots that have a habit of exploding at just the right time. When these truths are realized, this movie gets exceptionally good!
The Matrix Revolutions
I know The Matrix Revolutions is controversial. For many movie-goers, it felt like a letdown when compared to the previous two entries in the series. I hear those complaints, but still find myself willing to defend this film. With all its symbolism, mystery, and intrigue, I find something new to appreciate about what it is trying to convey each time I watch it. Is it the weakest film of the original trilogy? Yes, but it still entertains.
The Matrix Resurrections
The Matrix Resurrections spends almost every second of its run time trying to justify its own existence. By doing so, it undoes foundational work that began over 20 years ago, all to breathe life into a series that did not need to be resurrected. Without a doubt, there is still a lot to like about this movie. It is beautiful to behold. It is packed with surprises for die-hard fans and nostalgia. It leaves you thirsty for more, but in these pursuits the film never stops to ask whether it should.
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
Released in 1974, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is a story about a lonely, German widow who falls in love with a much younger, Arab worker in the decades following World War II. Surprising friends and family, they marry and must carry the weight of their decision. This film has a lot to say about racial tensions and how we view age gaps in relationships.
Boy is the story of an 11-year-old who is a devout Michael Jackson fan living on the east coast of New Zealand of 1984. When Boy’s absentee father returns after a stint in jail, the family is thrown into chaos as a search for money buried years ago is launched. In this search, this film’s awkward and dark sense of humor may shine. From beginning to end, this film made me laugh, but it also possesses a lot of heart. This movie is filled to the brim with countless moments that made me think of my father and our relationship.
Be good to each other,
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