Saturday, December 31, 2022

Movies Round Up 2022

After 2 years and change I watched a movie in a theater. 'The Worst Person In The World, March 2022. If nothing else, just that makes this annual post more special than its predecessors. We went back to that cavernous, dark room with strangers and sat through a few hours or shared air to breathe and moments to remember. 2022, let no one tell you that you were not special.

Managed to watch 100+ movies (103 to be precise) once again, so there's that for a start. Some age old mistakes were amended, such as finally  watching (and loving) the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Some new mistakes were made, such as openly sharing my lack of enthusiasm for RRR, and getting trolled on Twitter. Wait till the end of this post to see what masochism looks like. Another highlight was watching several (~15) movies with my 7 year old movie buff. We caught up on the Ice Age series and more and it's fascinating to see not only how much more they enjoy by completely suspending disbelief, but also how much more they observe. Unfortunately, for now you're left with me and my cynical observations, yet again.

Now to the annual post. This is the 14th year of this tradition, and as always here's a recap of the prior years.

20092010201120122013201420152016201720182019, 2020, and 2021.

Let's move on to the usual metrics we review before we get to the piece you're waiting to read and disagree vehemently with me on - the actual year end wrap up.

Here is the Summary Table (in its 16th year) of movies released in the same year (2022 for this post) that I watched.

Year     # Seen    Hindi:English:Others   Top Rating  Avg. Rating
2007     32               22:10:0                           9.0             5.78
2008     30               23:7:0                             8.5             6.35
2009     24               18:6:0                             9.0             6.85
2010     25               16:9:0                             8.5             6.62
2011     22               15:6:1                             8.5             6.77
2012     28               12:11:5                           9.0             7.33
2013     28               14:14:0                           9.0             7.12
2014     16               10:6:0                             9.0             6.16 
2015     26               20:6:0                             9.0             6.55
2016     30               17:13:0                           9.5             6.98
2017     31               17:13:1                           9.0             7.03
2018     87               23:59:5                           9.0             7.29
2019     86               12:65: 9                          10.0           7.45
2020     38               16:20:2                           9.0             7.40
2021     53               15:34:4                           9.0             7.20
2022     67               21:38:8                           9.0             7.30

The split of the movies by source (not just movies released in 2022) was as follows. Those are 14 small movies for a man in a theater, but a giant relief for mankind.

HBO Max13
Amazon Video13
Apple TV+2
Grand Total103

And now for the annual ratings. A slight-major change being introduced from this year. Like in the past, we will have the Top 5 for Hindi movies released in the year. However, earlier we used to  also look at Top 5 "Non-Hindi". As over the years I have watched almost 2X as many English movies as Hindi, I am introducing a dedicated Top 5 English movies section, and a separate Top 3 "Non Hindi/English" section. Also, no documentaries are included as they were moved to the "Books, Shows, Podcasts" blog post from last year.

Gentle reminder these are based on just the 67 movies I watched in 2022 that released in 2022. Also, my blog my rules but our discussions. Here we go. All images courtesy of Wikipedia. 

Non-Hindi/English Movies

3. Aparajito (Language: Bengali, Director: Anik Dutta)

A Bengali movie about Satyajit Ray making Pather Panchali is something that stacks most odds against you even before you begin. You're straddling blasphemous territory and you just can't come out unscathed. However, to the immense luck and greater credit of Anik Dutta, Jeetu Kamal and a stellar team, they pulled off this miracle. Didn't know Ray could be made more endearing to Bengalis, but you will want to watch his movies again, with even more admiration, after watching this.

2. X=Prem (Language: Bengali, Director: Srijit Mukherjee)

Srijit Mukherjee has been a bit of a one-man show in Bengali cinema for a few years, focusing on quality and quantity and mostly managing to pull both off. Here he tackles romance, replete with Kolkata college canteens and college prem, memory loss, and some clever plot points to tell an old tale in a very attractive new bottle. Also some of the songs like Bhalobashar Morshum becoming earworms for many.

1. A Hero (Language: Persian, Director: Asghar Farhadi)

Did he? Didn't he? Is truth black and white after all, or just another shade of grey? Simply brilliant movie making that keeps you at  the edge of your living room couch till the end, and even after the end credits role you don't know what exactly you were hoping for and if you're satisfied. 

English Movies

5. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Director: Rian Johnson)

What? A guilty pleasure can't make Top of the Year lists? Who makes these rules? As I mentioned, my post, my rules. absolutely hit the spot during that missing week between Christmas and New Year. Never taking themselves seriously but not dumbing things down for us, the audience either. Benoit Blanc is one to watch out for, the only detective from our times who may leave a legacy behind. 

4. Good Luck To You, Leo Grande (Director: Sophie Hyde)

If you haven't heard of this one, don't be hard on yourself. One of those, what's the cliche, ah, hidden gems. If older people, especially women having their wishes and desires makes you uncomfortable, this movie is just for you. Emma Thompson has a blast scandalizing the prudes and Daryl McCormack is strangely dreamy throughout. Will be on the lookout for anything he does in the coming years.  

3. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (Director: Tom Gormican)
A movie about Nick Cage, with Nick Cage playing Nick Cage in a movie about Nick Cage. What's not to love? The self referential jokes come in thick and fast. But this is not one of the so-good-it's-bad movies, simply a very enjoyable one. It's genuinely funny, uses the comic-book style license to go crazy to good use. The jokes land, the references land, sometimes even if you haven't seen any NC movies (I have not seen a lot myself). Plus gorgeous Mediterranean European backdrops and some car chase.
2. Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood (Director: Richard Linklater)

 I wasn't in the Houston area, or even US, when we sent those initial men to the moon. Actually I wasn't even close to being born. And this animated masterpiece from Netflix manages to get us in those neighborhoods around NASA where every family has someone or the other in some way, shape or form being involved with the history being created. This however looks at the ones who are even one step further removed, the kids, spouses, teachers etc of the neighborhood, leading a regular life  but knowing that something big is going on. Great animation to go with the tender storytelling.

1. The Fallout (Director: Megan Park)

I have scoffed at Trigger Warnings many a times, but watching this movie days after the latest school shooting in America helped me realize how good film making unfortunately does require those much more than bad ones (those do for different reasons). A poignant portrayal of how our regular life turns upside down, not just for the victims and their families, but even the survivors of these grisly incidents. How regular, mundane life in mundane places become unrecognizable. The contrast of the boring and the horror of the unpardonable hits home hard in this Megan Park creation. Life moves on, sure, but there are many ways in which it can move on and not all are remotely similar. 

Hindi Movies

5. Darlings (Director: Jasmeet K. Reen)

To paraphrase the great all-rounder, DJ Bravo, Alia is a champion, Shefali is a champion, Vijay is a champion. Darker than the average dark comedy made in India in recent times, this borders on the farcical and heart wrenching, sometimes at the same time. The kind of movie where even as the "What?" becomes crazier by the minute, the "How?" is what keeps you in.

4. Badhaai Do (Director: Harshvardhan Kulklarni)

Ayushman Khurrana Rajkumar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar teach us and our Indian families societal lessons, as they have been for almost a decade now, but wrapped in that familiar sugar coating. While the message may get a bit heavy handed at times, the able performers and the cast manage to take us for the ride without giving up halfway. You (mostly) know and are rooting for the end, but the meandering ways by which we reach there was tactfully handled.

3. Kantara (Director: Rishab Shetty)

I am aware placing this through and through Kannada movie in my Hindi Top 5 is asking for trouble. However I used a simple rule of thumb for this, the language I watched a movie in is the language I slotted it under. Also, if you don't agree, remember, my post, my rules! This isn't even normally a genre (village-period-gore) I am naturally inclined towards. But the makers and actors deliver a story and performances that keep you waiting for the next act and the climax. 

2. Kaun Pravin Tambe (Director: Jayprad Desai)

So, just to reiterate, these ratings are directional preferences, and not like the elements of the periodic table that cannot be moved from their place by any force of nature. All this because this was almost the movie of the year for me till the other one came out towards the end of the year. And KPT is a masterclass. A story that's hardly believable but fully true and also a gentleman who is almost hardly believable in his simplicity and warmth, even outside of the absurd tale. Wonderfully portrayed by Shreyas Talpade, Pravin Tambe gets the recognition he richly deserves and we get one of the best sports movies in recent years.

1. Monica, O My Darling (Director: Vasan Bala)

Thrill hai, drama hai, twist hai, story hai, humor hai, what else can we ask for? While Vasan's previous movies - especially the short story in Ray and Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota showed us strong glimpses of his unique creative style, he is fully in his elements here in MoM with roles tailor made for Rajkumar Rao, Huma Qureshi and a hilarious Radhika Apte. Another made for OTT dark comedy in the Top 5 and we may have a trend, right? The twists come fast enough to bamboozle you but not confuse you and get you out of the mood for the story. Congrats to this Movie of the Year.

Here's the final list of ALL movies watched in 2022 (in alphabetical order within groups. Movies listed above removed to avoid duplicates)

Grade: Must Watch
Licorice Pizza
Parallel Mothers
Promising Young Woman
The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Worst Person in the World

Grade: Recommended
Being The Ricardos
Bodies, Bodies, Bodies
Byomkesh Hatyamancha
Drive My Car
Eeb Allay Ooo
Ice Age
The Batman
The Lost Daughter
Tick, Tick... Boom!
Top Gun Maverick
Turning Red

Grade: Read Summaries/Use Discretion
7 Days
A Christmas Story Christmas
After Yang
Avatar: The Way of Water
Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui
Costa Brava, Lebanon
Death on the Nile
Deep Water
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Don't Worry Darling
Father of the Bride
Gangubhai Kathiawadi
Hit The Road
Honk For Jesus
Ice Age: Adventures of Buck Wild
Ice Age: Continental Drift
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Ice Age: The Meltdown
I'm Your Man
Laal Singh Chaddha
Loop Lapeta
Minions: The Rise of Gru
Mr. Malcolm's List
Nightmare Alley
Operation Mincemeat
Rocketry: The Nambi Effect
Ron's Gone Wrong
Sharmaji Namkeen
Spider-Man: No Way Home
The Beta Test
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
The Kashmir Files
The Land
The Nest
The Northman
The Outfit
Thor: Love and Thunder
Three Thousand Years Of Longing
West Side Story

Grade: Please Avoid
India Sweet & Spices
Jugjugg Jeeyo
Kakababur Pratyaborton
Pushpa: The Rise