BAFTA’s long lists are bringing me down, man. ’20 and ’21 were downish years, obviously, but so was ’22 to some extent. Several “good” films and performances here, but nothing really turns me on except for Top Gun: Maverick and Cate Blanchett‘s Lydia Tar. Not a single Best Picture long-list selection made me swoon…not really. Each creme de la creme film has stuff that irritates me. Example: I hated, hated, hated Todd Field‘s decision to run Tar‘s closing credits at the very beginning.

The whole year was like that. What happened to the concept of movies reaching into your soul and altering the way you see life? Half the time after seeing a film in a commercial megaplex I want to pick a fight with an usher, preferably a fat Millennial one. Well, not actually but I fantasize about this from time to time.

BAFTA’s Best Picture Long List (alphabetized) + HE reactions + my own preferred list of ten.

Aftersun (HE: Dreary, inconclusive, middle-of-the-night nothingness inside a Turkish coastal resort for British tourists…my eyes glazed over, my brain left the room.)

All Quiet on the Western Front (HE: “I respect and admire AQOTWF for what it is and what it’s worth. But in our current realm this kind of large-sprawling-canvas, chaos-and-brutality-of-war film can only sink in so far. And 147 minutes felt too long. 120 or 125 would have sufficed.”)

The Banshees of Inisherin (HE: “There are many sane people out there who’ve found this film mystifying. I respect many things about it, including Kerry Condon’s performance. It’s not ‘bad’ as much as infuriating.”)

Elvis (HE: “Elvis isn’t quite as bad as I feared, but several sections are punishing to sit through. It’s a flashy, pushy, often exhausting carnival sideshow, very primary and primitive, clearly made for the ADD peanut gallery…a fairly blunt tool. And Tom Hanks‘ Colonel Parker accent is impossible.”

Everything Everywhere All At Once (HE: “It made me want to jump off the top of a 50-story office building with the intention of pressing a hand grenade against my chest and pulling the pin halfway down.”)

The Fabelmans (HE: “A truly fair-minded, non-obsequious opinion would have to acknowledge that the saga of Spielberg’s teenage years (mostly Phoenix, some Saratoga) is neither boring nor hugely interesting…it’s diverting in an on-the-nose, broadly performed way, but it mainly boils down to ‘decent with three pop-throughs — the Judd Hirsch rant, filming the Nazi war flick in the Arizona desert, and John Ford lecturing 17-year-old Steven about horizon lines.'”)

Living (HE: “The descriptive terms are ‘low-key,’ ‘no hurry,’ ‘tonally and visually accurate” (it’s set in 1952 London) and ‘quietly affecting emotional undertow.’ One quibble: Whenever old-school British bureaucrats of yore sat down in their first-class train compartments and unfolded their newspapers, they took their bowler hats off. Not so in Hermanus’ film.”)

Tar (HE: “Atmospherically transporting, powerfully charged and yet curiously infuriating. Watching with subtitles definitely helps. The best of the bunch, but I almost wish it wasn’t.”)

Top Gun: Maverick (HE: “High-powered San Diego flyboy saga, great action sequences, unambiguously straight-while-male-ish, “Great Balls of Fire”, etc.

Triangle of Sadness (HE: Not as good as The Square.)

In this order, HE’s top ten picks of ’22 (originally posted on 12.20.22):

Empire of Light
She Said
Emily The Criminal
Christian Mungiu‘s R.M.N.
Top Gun: Maverick
Avatar: The Way of Water
Tar (despite the many irritations)