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Be Positive: BaeBae’s Top 10 of 2022




BaeBae’s Top 10 of 2022



I think we’re afraid to be positive. Or maybe we’re afraid that happiness will reveal our vulnerabilities. Maybe we’re afraid that if we grant ourselves a sigh of relief and say “it's all going to work out,” we etch a prophecy of failure into some sacred slab.


I shouldn’t say “we.” You might be very good at being positive. A cute little positive guy. That’s what you are.


*boop*


This year I’m trying something different. I want to read these opening paragraphs twelve months from now and be like, “Damn, that was a happy little positive guy, and he really called his shot.”


My intro last year lamented on feeling burnt out like I was spinning my tires and had accomplished very little with my craft. Throughout 2022, I actually tried to change that. I was proactive: I made a resume. I applied for jobs. I took jobs that fell through and had my biggest accomplishment in years – I got paid to write. How about that!


I have 2023 in my sights. It took me a long time to realize that the mud I was spinning my tires in was made up of all the gross feelings I’d let myself sink into. No more! Big things are ahead for me, I can feel it, and if in a year I look back at this little annual journal entry and think, “Damn, I was wrong lol,” at least I’ll know it wasn’t for lack of trying.


Anyway, that’s enough of that. My name is Robby Anderson (my friends call me BaeBae). I’m head of podcasting for Story Screen, and this isn’t a list of the best movies of the year, this is a list of my favorite movies of the year.


Alright, let’s get into it.




10. Prey


It’s been 35 years since Predator was released and after four sequels and two spin-offs, we finally figured out what these movies need to be: a period piece. Prey on its own is a rock and roll time. It’s thrilling and its characters are extremely likable (Amber Midthunder for President), but you can’t help but imagine, “what’s next?” Let’s drop the Predator in ancient Egypt! Let’s see him duel a samurai! Let’s see him navigate a future cyberpunk dystopia! Or let’s add him to a genre. Let Benoit Blanc try and solve the mystery of what infernal creature is hunting the members of this dinner party one by one.


If movies are soup, the Predator can be the best ingredient. Prey could’ve gotten away with just “insert Predator here,” but it goes far beyond that. The Comanche tribe depicted in the film is the perfect juxtaposition to the Predator. Our heroes hunt for survival, out of necessity, and they respect their prey. The Predator is just a big game hunter with advanced tech, like a rich piece of shit hunting elephants. The film avoids the mistakes of the entries before it. This isn’t a movie obsessed with Predator lore or motivations. He’s a big, powerful, bad guy and you want to see him get taken down.


There’s truly not an ounce of fat to be found on this one and I hope director Dan Trachtenberg is on the hunt for what narrative the Predator lands on next.




9. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish


If you’re chronically online this may not come as a surprise to you, but if you’re a normal person who stays out of annoying film nerd social media spaces then boy howdy let me tell you something: this movie fucks.


Earlier this year we covered all of the Shrek movies in a special podcast we affectionately titled: Getting Swamped AKA Peeling the Onion. It’s absolutely worth a listen, BUT generally, my feelings on the Shrek franchise are:


Shrek: Masterpiece

Shrek 2: A great time

Shrek the Third: Boring as absolute shit

Shrek 4ever After: Shockingly good


We talked about maybe covering the original Puss in Boots movie at a later date, but it wasn’t necessarily on the docket. Then… the internet started whispering, and the reviews for Puss in Boots: The Last Wish started coming in. The quote I kept seeing in reviews that really blew my mind was: “This is the Shrek franchise’s Logan.” You know, Logan, the R-rated superhero movie that acts as a swan song to Hugh Jackman’s nearly twenty-year run as Wolverine.


Now that I’ve seen the film, it does have big Logan energy. But where that film felt like the spiritual closing of a franchise, this actually feels more like a refresh button. I dare not give any story beats away, even the trailer for this children’s movie is as misleading as a Marvel movie trailer desperately trying to hide its spoilers. Instead, what I’ll say is that the film looks incredible. We continue to see the ripple effects from the splash that Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse made in the world of animation. Last Wish uses a fusion of 2D and 3D animation techniques to create what is easily one of the best pieces of animated fare this year. The hyper-stylized look of the film lets the franchise discard its clunky, faux-realistic visual roots and embraces a look it’s always deserved. It looks like a fairytale. Also, there’s action, a lot of it, and it’s great. Clearly, the animators took many inspirations, but iconic anime action sequences and deep-cut movie references came as a complete surprise to me.


I cried three times during Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, which is three more times than I cried during The Whale. This is mostly because I am a weirdo, but also because I didn’t realize this was the movie I always wanted. I grew up with Shrek. It’s the first movie my family had on DVD. We used the cassette to get my baby brother to fall asleep during long car rides. It’s a movie I didn’t know meant so much to me and now we got a sequel that has a level of heart and artistic merit I never thought I’d see in the franchise. If you have a kid and are looking to see a flick in the theaters, it’s a no-brainer. Even if you are sans child and have a soft spot for a gentle green giant and his friends, I guarantee there’s a lot here for you.


Also, I should mention the voice cast is crazy and the movie is hilarious.



8. AmbuLAnce


I’ve never been a Michael Bay guy. Pretty sure the first Michael Bay movie I saw was The Island and the last Michael Bay movie I saw was Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. I knew I was missing out on a lot of his newer work, and I still haven’t seen Bad Boys, The Rock, Armageddon, Pain & Gain, or Transformers: The Last Knight.


But I have seen AmbuLAnce and that movie rules.


A cliché phrase you see a lot when reading film reviews is “breakneck pacing.” I’m convinced this movie has “decapitated head pacing” or “snorted all the cocaine in the world pacing.” The biggest hero of the movie is drones. It’s crazy. No movie has done what this movie has with drones. Whether they’re weaving in and out of a high-speed car chase, dive bombing after a long ascent up a skyscraper, or encircling two performers talking; the cinematography is absolutely electric.


The movie also oozes charisma, a trait that I feel like all memorable action movies need and few have had since the genre's height in the 90s. The giant, pulsating, bleeding heart of this movie comes from the performances of our three lead actors. Jake Gyllenhaal is using all of his years of being a weirdo to play one of the greatest eccentrics to grace the silver screen. Yahya Abdul-Mateen plays a veteran screwed over by the American healthcare system, and he’s the most likable guy ever. It’s like he was created in a lab that was trying to produce likable guys and then they created Yahya and were like “Shut it down, we’re done, we did it, it’s over!” And finally Eiza González, a character who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and beautifully plays this film’s moral compass, guiding all things cinema to its exciting conclusion.


AmbuLAnce is a Bay movie that convinced me that I need to run out and see more Bay movies. Still, I imagine this particular entry in his explosion-filled catalog will stay with me the longest.


(I’m capitalizing the LA in Ambulance because the movie takes place in Los Angeles)




7. The Northman


Radicalize me, daddy.


I need more weird art movie directors to direct action movies. I need it. I want Luca Guadagnino to make a movie about robots fighting space wars. I want Trey Edward Shultz to make a pirate epic. I want Yorgos Lanthimos to make a buddy cop movie. I want Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert to make a Matrix parody exploring the multiverse and the complex relationship between a mother and daughter. Wait a minute…


What I’m trying to say is The Northman isn’t just a Nordic action movie, and that’s largely because of who’s behind the camera. Director Robert Eggers’ previous films, The VVitch and The Lighthouse help inform The Northman’s most creative decisions. The film handles mysticism with grace and ambiguity, without making the prime thought experiment of the film: “Did this really happen?” Every frame in the film is perfect. Whether it’s the hulking figure of Alexander Skarsgård in a doorway looking across a lush Icelandic vista, or a valkyrie riding across the cosmos to Vahalla; every single moment is gorgeous.


This is also Eggers’ most accessible movie. It’s not two sailors screaming and farting at each other in black and white. It’s kinda just a nordic Hamlet, but it never feels redundant. Its interpretation of nordic myth somehow doesn’t seem to tread on any of the PLENTIFUL adaptations of the mythology that we’ve seen. The way it retells Hamlet isn’t necessarily new either; there’s some familial betrayal followed by some sweet vengeance. It’s the whole Northman soup that’s special, not necessarily its ingredients.


The Northman combines the aesthetics of arthouse cinema with a tried and true narrative. It reminds me of my favorite movie of last year, The Green Knight, in the ways it chooses to convey magic, lore, and above all, honor. We may never see the night blade feed again but I can’t wait to see what’s next for Eggers and his unwavering style.



6. Watcher


If it’s a horror movie and Maika Monroe is in it you know it’s going to be good. Watcher is the next great film in the “paranoia thriller” genre and it feels like an absolute standout among its peers.


Married couple Julia (Maika Monroe) and Francis (Karl Glusman) move to Bucharest because of a promotion Francis recently received. Francis speaks Romanian; Julia does not. When Julia feels she is being stalked by a mysterious stranger, we begin her paranoid journey toward the truth.


The way language is used in the film might be one of the most clever narrative techniques I’ve seen. We see characters lie to Julia’s face during conversations, or at least, we think they do. Thanks to some brilliant camera techniques, we feel Julia is being stalked around every corner. Akin to how some films or shows will hide ghosts in weird places for the audience to find, Watcher makes you feel like you’re never safe, that you’re never alone; a stranger could be watching through a cracked doorway or that dimly lit apartment a few yards away.


The film tows a delicate line. We as the audience have to ask ourselves “is she just imagining it?” I don’t want to spoil anything, but another clever layer that the film adds to the paranoia genre is gaslighting. When characters don’t believe Julia, you feel like you’re not being believed. You, as the audience, know what you saw but the film wants to trick you. Rarely has a movie so easily put me in the mindset of the protagonist.


An easy read of the film is “believe women.” It’s simple. The movie wouldn’t happen if a single character treated Julia seriously; if they genuinely believed her instead of just trying to appease her anxiety long enough for it to not bother them. The thing about believing in women is that it’s also simple. It’s not hard or complicated. I’m hoping more movies like this can exist to make audiences everywhere feel the way Julia feels. Maybe next time they’ll trust how someone is feeling without a moment's hesitation.




5. Everything Everywhere All At Once


What more can you say about Everything Everywhere All At Once? It’s really an undeniable moment in cinema this year. This frankly bizarre, out-of-control multiverse movie captured the hearts and minds of audiences everywhere, all at once, and I think that’s what really impresses me about the film.


I think general audiences are starting to have a nerdier lexicon as comic book movies and other nerdy fare start to funnel into the mainstream. As a result, we get weirder, more abstract films that hit harder with larger audiences. No longer do multiverses, cloning, or even magic need to belong to just the biggest mega adaptations. This isn’t to say that Everything Everywhere All At Once is the littlest indie darling that could. The mission statement of production/distribution company A24 might as well be “let’s market arthouse cinema to general audiences.” Also, this film had the Russo Brothers as producers and if they know how to do anything, it's how to make money at the box office. Regardless, it’s still really cool to see a movie featuring women with hot dog fingers in a different universe have a relatable emotional moment that can bring an actual tear to your eye.


I’m in awe of how this movie resonated with people. I was in a theater full of sobbing weirdos because this movie made us all weirdos for a few hours. For all the insane frills this movie has, at its core it is an emotional tale that can hit with anyone. People didn’t walk away from this movie being like “fuck, do you remember the dad fanny pack fight scene?” They walked away being like “fuck, I also can relate to when two people speak different love languages and are too stubborn to meet somewhere in the middle because sometimes insecurities take the shape of an immovable monolithic wall - also can you believe the dad was Ke Huy Quan?”


The Daniels are at their directorial peak in this film. If you’ve followed their career leading up to this, it’s easy to see the trajectory. I’ll be excited if they give us another, bigger-budget sci-fi flick, but I’d be equally happy with another farting corpse movie, and being able to say that makes me think that sometimes we do, in fact, live in the good timeline.




4. NOPE


Jordan Peele doesn’t miss. Despite not being blown away by his previous film US, and absolutely loving his first feature GET OUT, NOPE is something really special. There’s no such thing as a simple story with Peele. Even in the case of a seemingly straightforward flick like GET OUT, there are hours of digging you can do to uncover deeper meaning and even lore. The worlds in all of Peele’s films are so rich, I would be happy to see him revisit any one of them.


NOPE is Peele’s boldest film by far in terms of scope. The film feels like a spectacle. It’s so large it houses almost another movie within its narrative walls. NOPE also feels fresh. Yet another flavor of horror from Peele, but this has more Spielberg in it. NOPE is scary, but in the way War of the Worlds is scary. This movie also features Peele’s brand of humor which adds a masterclass level of levity to all his films. The cast is extremely dialed in and kills it in every scene. Keke Palmer bounces wonderfully against Peele film veteran Daniel Kaluuya, but she steals every scene she’s in. Steven Yeun is wonderful (as always), but carries a ton of narrative weight on his character’s shoulders. Also, a special shoutout to Brandon Perea who is delightfully hilarious from the moment he enters the fold.


Peele really hit the movie scene with extreme confidence. For now, it seems he's staying in the realm of horror, but he’s trying to hit all corners of the genre while he’s there. It’s really exciting to see him make a horror movie of this scope. If he’s making a movie, I’m showing up. It’s really as simple as that.




3. Three Thousand Years of Longing


I would not have expected George Miller’s first movie since 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road to be a horny fairytale, but I also wouldn't have expected him to direct two Happy Feet movies. Three Thousand Years of Longing is a cautionary tale. It’s a narrative about narratives. It’s a love story, but most of all it is a fairytale.


The marketing for this movie was understandably a little misleading. The pull quote that got thrown around a lot was “Aladdin for grown-ups.” When I’m feeling particularly facetious I like to say that Todd Philips’ dark clown movie Joker is “finally a comic book movie for grown-ups.” It means nothing, it’s empty and it’s barely an endorsement, let alone a coherent point of criticism. The thing is, it's spicy enough to get people’s “not baby” butts in the seats I guess.


This movie isn’t a horny, action-packed romp through history. It’s actually a horny somber meditation on narrative and love, and how, for one character, maybe narrative and love can be the same. This isn’t to say the film is without its flairs. It’s colorful, gripping, magical and it looks amazing, but at its core, it’s a conversation between two characters.


Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba are incredible in the film. Elba plays a Djinn recently released from a bottle and Swinton plays a human narratologist named Alithea. What unfolds over the course of two hours is everything that makes stories special. The film is a love letter to tales; it’s a love letter to love. It’s also a cautionary tale, not about what someone would do with three wishes, but what it means to love, to be loved, and the dangers and dynamics that come with it. It begs you to take everything in your life as a whole and not to reduce something like love to a metaphor.


Not enough people are talking about this one. Every time I watch it, time just flies by. It’s everything I want in a movie. Stunning visuals and two people talking. That’s it! I’m good. Make the next Batman movie Bruce Wayne and Joker talking about love for two hours.


That being said, I'm jazzed that George Miller is making another Mad Max next.




2. Barbarian


I’m so glad I didn’t see the trailer for Barbarian. I think maybe I might’ve seen a really early teaser trailer but man I just watched the official one on Youtube and they give all that shit away. Barbarian might be my favorite theater-going experience in a long time. Nothing beats a crowded horror movie screening where NO ONE knows what’s about to happen, which is Barbarian’s specialty. It wants you to think it’s going in a very specific direction until it aggressively switches lanes. The thing is, the movie is so good it didn’t even have to do that for me to like it, but the fact that it subverted my expectations transcended it to the coveted number two spot on my list.


What makes Barbarian special? In many ways, the movie feels Jordan Peele-esque, which isn’t surprising since apparently writer, director, and former Whitest Kids U'Know collaborator Zach Creeger spoke with Peele a lot during his time writing the script for the film. The world of Barbarian feels like it spans far beyond what we see in the film. It feels lived in, like any number of stories could spawn from it. The movie is oftentimes hilarious, with a surprise role that was a joy to see on-screen. There are also a lot of perfectly spun thematic plates that miraculously crash together by the film's climax.


Barbarian, similar to Everything Everywhere All at Once, felt like another moment in cinema this year. It had all the buzz and all the mindshare for a few weeks. I love movies like that. There’s not a bad thing to say about this flick. It's just a fun time. Zach Creeger is another sketch comedy actor/writer turned horror director and I’m starting to think all of the funny creators out there should take a stab at the transition.




1. The Batman


Mr. Vengeance everybody. Batman has seen his fair share of adaptations and the thing about them is that they’re all pretty different. Goofy camp in the 60s, Burton-brand darkness in the early 90s, the queer romp of the Schumacher era, the grounded gritty militarized trilogy, and whatever Zach Snyder’s version was. Batman has been done, it’s over. What more do we want?


They gave me what I didn’t know I wanted.


I didn’t know I wanted an emo, socially inept, flawed Batman. I didn’t know I actually wanted the movies to become darker and grittier. Though, in many ways, I did get what I always wanted out of a Batman movie. This is a noir, first and foremost. Batman returns to his role as the world’s greatest detective, a position he’s actually never really held on the big screen. For all this darker, grittier, finally-a-comic-book-movie-for-grown-ups talk, this movie doesn’t feel more realistic. It feels more like a comic book movie than the Christopher Nolan movies do. It has more levity than people give it credit for. It has gadgets that seem plausible, but the movie doesn’t go to great lengths to explain their plausibility.



The Batman is a whole-ass vibe. The film has an amazing color palette, from deep oranges and reds that fill out the foggy Gotham streets to the flashing lights of The Penguin’s club and base of operations. The music by the legendary Michael Giacchino taps into that cultural membrane of what we think a Batman film should sound like. Not since Danny Elfman’s composition of Batman (1989) or Batman Returns has a dark knight score felt so iconic.


The characters feel fresh and fit perfectly into this new cinematic mold. Colin Farrell’s Penguin is hilarious. Like everything about him is hilarious, it's insane that this handsome Irishman is playing this version of the character. Zoe Kravitz shoots to the top of the list of best Catwomen. She feels dangerous in every scene; she can overpower every other character, and it’s impossible to trust her allegiances. Paul Dano has come out of “playing extremely weird fucking guy” retirement one last time to bring the absolute heat with his performance as the Riddler.


Let’s not forget the big one. Robert Pattinson’s performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman is immediately iconic. A young Batman not just in age but also in his crime-fighting career. This Batman is flawed, but not because he isn’t well equipped for the challenges of being Batman. His view is flawed, his philosophy is flawed. He’s angry, and his view on justice is black and white. This movie accounts for the fact that Batman is, under the cowl, a rich white man with endless privilege. This gives you a brash and interesting Batman, a Batman who makes decisions you may not agree with, a Batman with room to grow. This is only one side of the caped crusader coin. Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne feels wholly unique. The dichotomy of Batman asks: “Which is the disguise?” Does Bruce Wanye wear the cowl to become Batman or does Batman put on the expensive suit to become Bruce Wayne? We see Bruce in this movie far less than we ever have in a Batman film. When we do see him, he feels vulnerable and exposed. Like a nerve that shivers against the cold breeze. When he’s Batman, he’s confident…maybe too confident. I'm excited to see what this iteration of Bruce Wayne evolves into. I'd imagine “billionaire playboy” is a role we will have to see our hero learn.


The thing that really, absolutely sold me on this Batman was the ending. If you haven’t seen it then feel free to skip these next few sentences, but if you have…


At the end of the movie, we see Batman actually helping people. From lighting a flare in the dark to leading trapped citizens out of crashed rubble to loading the wounded onto stretchers as day breaks. Historically, we never actually see Batman help the people of Gotham. Sure we see him save the lady he’s trying to smash but rarely do we see Batman interact with the thing he’s trying to save in Gotham – its people. It is at this moment that Batman learns that his pursuit isn’t aimless vengeance; it’s to help people. I think that’s the thing I’ve always wanted out of a Batman movie, I just never knew it.




 


Robert Anderson

Head of Podcasting

Robby has a degree in Screenwriting and Playwriting and works in multiple genres. He's just your typical man-child who enjoys most things nerd culture. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @RoBaeBae


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