Top Movies of 2022

Between movies and shorts, Wherever I Look covered over 230 productions in 2022, and here are our picks for what was the best of the year.


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An old school film reel drawn by artist Dean Nelson.

Between movies and shorts, Wherever I Look covered over 230 productions in 2022, and here are our picks for what was the best of the year.

Note: Images and text in this post may contain affiliate links which, if a purchase is made from those sites, we may earn money or products from the company. Also, these are sorted by when they were reviewed.

Belle

Dragon (Paul Castro Jr.) and Belle in U

Summary

When Suzu was a child, her mother introduced her to what looks like GarageBand on an iPhone, and through the years, she’d write and record music and even made a friend in Hiro to handle the arrangements and more. However, after the loss of her mom, Suzu became so traumatized about singing that she’d vomit even if she tried. This is why Hiro introduces Suzu to U, which becomes a lifesaver.

In U, a metaverse-type world, Suzu can become Bell, later renamed Belle, and sing as she wishes she could in reality. But alongside getting the ability to sing again, she gains a following, and one person in particular who needs U to be the lifesaver it was for Suzu, but in their reality.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

While it came out in Japan in 2021, the United States wasn’t blessed with this until 2022, and it was the perfect way to start the year. From Square Enix-type music, reminiscent of FFX-2, to being a film with a compelling lead and the ability to get you to invest in supporting characters? “Belle” set the standard for a good movie for the rest of 2022.

Where Can You Watch It

Stop-Zemlia

Yana (Yana Isaienko), Masha (Mariia Fedorchenko), and Senia (Arsenii Markov) in Masha's bed
Yana (Yana Isaienko), Masha (Mariia Fedorchenko), and Senia (Arsenii Markov)

Summary

It’s senior year for Masha and her friends, and with someone interviewing them and asking questions regarding their life as it is and what they hope for the future, this triggers a realization of fleeting youth for many. For with the full weight of adulthood on the horizon, so comes the need to gain as many moments to remember in this fragile transition period.

Example: the lead, Masha, pushes herself to talk to her crush, Sasha. Also, she is trying to spend as much time as she can with her best friends Senia and Yana. All while talking to a mysterious stranger known as “Gryum74” on Instagram, who she so dearly hopes is someone who she can be mutually attracted to.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

More often than not, we get the extreme when it comes to depicting teenagers. We get that “Gossip Girl” or “Euphoria” sense of being a teenager where excess is everything, sex is gratuitous, and if that wasn’t your life? You almost wonder whether you are the outlier or the consistent depiction of a youth that is rather dramatic.

“Stop-Zemlia” gives you something different. It presents something tame but never boring as it explores what it means to be a teenager in ways that adults often forget. As quoted in the review, and often whenever we watch anything featuring teenagers,

“[…] we forget that when you’re a teenager, everything is literally happening for the first time. Growing up is dramatic! It’s emotional, it’s sad, and it’s really amazing.” Rowan Blanchard

All of that is given in the experience which is “Stop-Zemlia.” Nothing is shocking or overtly angsty to the point of cringing. But, there is something real that can remind you of the highs and lows of friendships you thought would last forever, being so uncertain about the future yet torn between wanting to ask for help and figure it out on your own. And, most of all, being unsure of what can or should come next for you’ve been on autopilot for so long thanks to school, that now being given the reins of your life? That’s terrifying.

Where Can You Watch It?

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande

Leo (Daryl McCormack) and Nancy (Emma Thompson) in a hotel room together
Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack appear in Good Luck to You, Leo Grande by Sophie Hyde, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Nick Wall.
All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Summary

Over the course of a month, Leo Grande and Nancy Stokes meet three times with the goal of having sex. Nancy is Leo’s solicitor and what she wants is to do is experience all the things she didn’t with her husband and tap into her wasted youth. However, the more they talk, the more both find themselves confronted about what they want and who they are. Thus sex, while still very much a part of their meetups, eventually doesn’t become the sole objective.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

As many an actress says in an interview, after a certain point, it can just seem like the exploration of what it means to be a woman no longer interests filmmakers, producers, distribution companies, the industry in general. So with “Good Luck You You, Leo Grande” focused on the pleasure of a woman, her hang-ups, and trying to process all of that after having children and a full life, it’s rare to see. Which makes it a shame that, after a bit of a splash as Sundance and being released on Hulu, this was a casualty of the Streaming Wars.

Where Can You Watch It?

On Hulu

Am I Ok?

Lucy (Dakota Johnson) and Jane (Sonoya Mizuno) having a sleepover
Dakota Johnson and Sonoya Mizuno appear in AM I OK? by Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Emily Knecht.
All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Summary

At 32, Lucy hasn’t really enjoyed sex with men, and dating has never really been her thing. So upon the reveal her best friend since high school, Jane, kissed a girl, so comes conversations about maybe Lucy being bi or even a lesbian and Jane’s quest to help her best friend find out – especially since Jane is about to take a new job in London, far from Lucy.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

First and foremost, because it is 86 minutes. In a time when movies have seemingly abandoned thinking 90 minutes is the sweet spot, and now are going towards being two or even three hours, a movie respecting your time, and coming in under 90 minutes, is rare.

But, beyond that, there is the adventure of watching someone beyond their twenties coming out. Specifically, someone in their 30s, for with everything so youth-focused when it comes to the experience of any demographic, any venture beyond life as a teen or twenty-something is a blessing. Also, the way “Am I Ok?” handles Lucy’s journey makes it abundantly clear that Dakota Johnson is the princess of American independent films.

Where Can You Watch It?

Unfortunately, this seems to be a casualty of all that is happening at HBO since it was supposed to premiere on HBO Max, but it has yet to do so.

Girl Picture

Ronkko (Eleonoora Kauhanen), Mimmi (aamu Mionoff), and Emma (Linnea Leino) together and happy
Eleonoora Kauhanen, Aamu Milonoff and Linnea Leino appear in Girl Picture by Alli Haapasalo, an official selection of the World Cinema: Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Ilkka Saastamoinen.
All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Summary

Best friends Mimmi and Ronkko are complete opposites, and that’s probably why they love each other. Mimmi has a bit of a chip on her shoulder but can let her guard down around Ronkko, and with Ronkko having a more realist view of life, she can give Ronkko an occasional reality check when necessary. But, while they go to school together and work together, they also live separate lives.

For Ronkko, want she wants is love, a relationship, someone who can potentially make her orgasm, and as for Mimmi? Well, being closer to her mom is the top thing she wants, but what she gets is a professional figure skater, Emma, falling for her and perhaps coercing her to realize she may not be ready for a serious relationship. Yet, with Emma having dedicated her life solely to competing and Mimmi being her first everything, so it seems, so comes the question if Mimmi may run away, step up, or ease expectations? While Ronkko tries to figure out if it is all these guys or maybe it is just her?

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

The depiction of intimacy can be very difficult in the modern age. As shown in “Close,” it is very easy to slip into the dramatic side of same-sex relationships, whether platonic or not, for we live in a world where two people of the same sex being close have to be gay. See the conversation around Bert & Ernie. But in “Girl Picture,” while there is an exploration of a girl/girl relationship, there is also the question of whether hetero-romantic asexuality is possible, how platonic relationships between girls operate when one is queer, and us moving beyond the trauma of coming out as it has often been depicted. For now, like heterosexual couples, queer cinema is allowed to explore the issue of dealing with baggage beyond what the outside world thinks, for you have more than enough issues to make being in a relationship difficult.

The other person identifying as the same gender is one of the least of your worries.

Where Can You Watch It?

On Amazon

I Didn’t See You There

Reid's shadow as he passes a circus tent
A still from I Didn’t See You There by Reid Davenport, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Reid Davenport.
All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Summary

Over the course of a little more than an hour, Reid Davenport walks us through the experience of being him. Be it the mundane day-to-day experiences of traversing Oakland, taking a shower, seeing friends and family, or dealing with life as someone who uses a wheelchair and has to deal with a world that isn’t always considerate towards people like him.

Which parlays into the constant reminder of what a tent outside his Oakland home means to people like Reid, alongside his hometown of Bethel, Connecticut, which is famous for PT Barnum, the man who popularized the Freak Show and circuses.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

Documentaries aren’t a genre we cover often. Generally, we watch a quick Vox, CNN, or other videos on YouTube on a subject matter, usually under 30 minutes, and that’s it. However, there is a draw to Reid Davenport’s story that is undeniable. Mainly in that he isn’t the subject. You aren’t supposed to gawk and stare at him for more than an hour, but see from his perspective, and it humanized him in a way that many documentaries about people who experience life differently don’t get.

Where Can You Watch It?

It’s premiering on PBS on January 9th, 2023.

The Fallout

Vada (Jenna Ortega) in therapy
Vada (Jenna Ortega)

Summary

After six minutes of absolute terror, Vada, Mia, Quinton, and so many others were deeply traumatized. For Quinton, he lost his brother in the shooting. Mia? Her desire to leave the house, ability to sleep, that was stolen from her. Then Vada? Whether it is her friendship with Nick, her relationship with her sister Amelia, and the trust her parents had in her? It was shot to hell as she began to either cut people off, experiment with different ways to deal with life, or search for new people and relationships.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

School shootings are a norm in the United States of America. Whether you are in high school, college, or even elementary school, there isn’t a period in your life where you are undeniably safe. But, rather than focus on the shooter, the shooting, or the build-up, “The Fallout” focuses on the trauma, the lives changed and reminds you of that while the word “victim” has been demonized, in favor of the word “survivor,” there is no denying the damage done and that in the pursuit of claiming to be a survivor, you still are a victim of trauma trying to figure a way to cope. At least in a way where people don’t feel the need to ask, “Are you okay?”

Where Can You Watch It?

HBO Max or Amazon

Shark

Sofie (Rose Byrne) and Jack (Nash Edgerton) standing next to one another
Sofie (Rose Byrne) and Jack (Nash Edgerton) in Nash Edgerton’s Shark. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Summary

Both Jack and Sofie like to prank each other and other people. Some of their pranks are silly, like Jack trying to scare Sofie with a Halloween mask, but others are on a grander scale, like the prank Sofie pulls on Jack at their wedding. But, with Jack always taking things a bit too far, his latest prank may end up leaving someone, maybe even himself, dead.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

With “Mr. InBetween” ending, there is the need to wonder what’s next for the director of most of the series, Nash Edgerton, and the answer is “Shark.” It’s a short, only 12 minutes, and shows that while he didn’t write “Mr. InBetween,” the show’s dark humor is something he can tap into and translate to new productions. This one, in particular, starring himself and Rose Byrne in the type of dysfunctional relationship that leaves us hoping this is eventually expanded into a series or a film.

Where Can You Watch It?

On Hulu

Wake

June (Chase Sui Wonders) in Wake
June (Chase Sui Wonders)

Summary

It isn’t clear how long June may have liked Lily’s boyfriend Hank, but it does seem that this may have been one of the reasons they became distant since the end of high school. So when it is Lily’s funeral, and June is asked to be part of it, neither Dora, Mary, or especially Edith take kindly to June reminding everyone of her worst traits. Specifically, her willingness to pursue Lily’s boyfriend, Hank, at Lily’s wake.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

Point blank, Chase Sui Wonders, since “Genera+ion” has become the type of actor, now director and writer, you can bet on. No, “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies” isn’t on this list, but “Wake” is for this is the epitome of a good short. It presents an interesting thought, such as why everyone’s friend, Lily, died, and considering there are complicated relationships between everyone, 15 minutes just doesn’t seem to be enough.

Where Can You Watch It?

Heart Shot

Title Card - Heart Shot (2022)

Summary

With Sam and Nikki being seniors and Sam off to college in 5 months, it makes the two days they’ll have alone in Sam’s house seem like bliss. However, Nikki’s older sister Ty arrives and ruins Nikki crafting a beautiful memory with her girlfriend.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

Like nearly all shorts on this list, “Heart Shot” is here because you’re left wanting more. But what has “Heart Shot” stand out is that you could easily see someone writing a queer taker of something similar to this, but instead, it is original. It leads you to think Nikki is just someone from a bad neighborhood, hence the gun she keeps on her, but then things ramp up, and it becomes another Netflix queer production you are hoping they’ll give you more of, rather than them leave it as just more content to feed the beast.

Where Can You Watch It?

On Netflix

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)

Leatherface (Mark Burnham) without his mask
Leatherface (Mark Burnham)

Summary

What could be seen as Downtown Harlow has had better days. However, with nearly every property owned by the bank, a group led by Melody and Dante buy all the titles to said properties and begin planning for a new day is on the horizon. However, one property, an orphanage, still has occupants, and between Melody and Dante, but especially Dante, they awaken the beast of Harlow, who has been kept at bay for 40 years.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

2022 was a hell of a year for the horror genre, and mainly with original movies. But yet another remake of the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was released, and it was far better than expected. It showed gentrification outside of a major city, it has all the workings of a film that leads to you wanting to watch with someone, yell at the screen, and things like that, and it is just a fun horror movie to watch. Especially if you like gore.

Where Can You Watch It?

On Netflix

Family Squares

Kassidy (Elsie Fisher), Robert (Billy Magnussen), Diane (Margo Martindale), Bret (Timothy Simons), Chad (Scott MacArthur), and Bobby (Henry Winkler) at the start of their Zoom meeting
Clockwise: Kassidy (Elsie Fisher), Robert (Billy Magnussen), Diane (Margo Martindale), Bret (Timothy Simons), Chad (Scott MacArthur), and Bobby (Henry Winkler)

Summary

With the matriarch’s passing, Mabel, her wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren mourn her in their own way. But, no sooner than they are crying, some wailing, they learn that she has filmed multiple videos that coerce everyone to reveal their secrets. Be it who isn’t really related to her, crimes against the family, and so much more. However, none of this is done out of spite or to make it harder for the family to come together. Mabel just hoped with getting all the secrets out of the way, maybe everyone would learn to love each other with intention.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

COVID was a major force on the film industry, making many get creative. So a film primarily being done via Zoom, and yet still being able to churn out emotional performances? I mean, granted, the movie has Ann Dowd in it, so you know the quality was a given. However, what really pushes “Family Squares” is that it is an ensemble that doesn’t make any actor feel expendable. Everyone gets a spotlight, and they show why they deserve it. Which is something many movies, even shows across a whole season, don’t do well.

Where Can You Watch It?

Everything Everywhere All At Once

Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) in a meeting with Deidre
Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh)

Summary

Splitting itself into three parts, Everything, Everywhere, All At Once focuses on Evelyn who is dealing with the IRS wanting to audit her business, a borderline inept husband named Waymond, her seemingly aimless lesbian daughter named Joy, and her cruel visiting father Gong Gong. That is until a Waymond from what is known as the Alphaverse arrives and tells Evelyn she, the least successful of all the Evelyns in the multiverse, is needed to save everyone from Jobu Tupaki – a being whose mastery of universe jumping has reached dangerous, apocalyptic levels.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

With Marvel and DC having a stranglehold on any concept of multiverses, people with powers, multiple timelines, and the whole fantasy genre, “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is a major disruptor. For one, it is utterly bizarre. Not to the point of it being meant to be taken lightly, but rather it taps into the volatile emotions of its characters, and you can see, as Michelle Yeoh and her co-stars try to tame, harness, and understand one another.

And with the depiction and pursuit of having characters with real emotions, trauma, and there not being a plan for a dozen of sequels, you are reminded why films that wanted to venture beyond the norm and, explore different worlds, and exhibit what is considered impossible, were once special.

Where Can You Watch It?

On Showtime

The Outfit (2022)

Summary

In 1956 Chicago, Leonard Burling owns a suit shop where he spends his days and nights cutting suits for various clientele, including the local mob run by Roy Boyle. For the most part, it is a peaceful life, and while Boyle’s men seem to hide money in Leonard’s back room, he is kept out of it, and he is thankful for that. However, as Roy’s boys, Richie and Francis, catch wind that this mob network known as “The Outfit” is checking them out, they think it makes for a perfect time to take out their rivals led by Violet Fontaine.

But, after a mishap gets one of Boyle’s boys shot, Leonard has to be quick to keep himself alive and his receptionist Mable.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

Crafting a quality mystery is hard. Especially if you want to implement twists, turns, keep the audience guessing yet always engaged. Yet, “The Outfit” does that. Thanks to Mark Rylance, who keeps a firm grip on each scene, as accusations fly and you question who may die, who may live, and who did what, time flies by, and as icing on the cake? There is a Black female mobster, head of her family, who pushes you to wonder why don’t we see more Black women, in period pieces or in non-urban dramas, in roles as Nikki Amuka-Bird gets to play?

Where Can You Watch It?

Or, as of this post, you can get a free Prime trial, via Amazon, and watch for free

    

As They Made Us (2022)

Barbara (Candice Bergen) and Abigail (Dianna Agron) talking to a doctor
Barbara (Candice Bergen) and Abigail (Dianna Agron)

Summary

For most of her life, Abigail has weathered the storm of her parents, Eugene and Barbara’s, marriage. Whether it was the highs of Eugene passing gas while everyone was in the bathroom or the lows which had him calling their mother anything but a child of God. Abigail was there. Her older brother was there too for every disparaging comment Barbara said, and both of his parents being so cruel that he’d rather not see them for 20 years than be in their presence.

However, with Eugene coming towards the end of his life at 73, Abigail hopes Nathan will reconsider his self-imposed exile or disownment and see their father as he lays on his death bed.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

Dianna Agron. She and the fact there wasn’t the pursuit of villains or damning anyone when it comes to “As they Made Us.” There was no bad person, just a series of people with flaws, triggers, and a lack of desire to show up when it wasn’t convenient. And as a family drama, “As They Made Us,” could easily have sought your usual level of dramatics by having people yell, scream, shout, and be over the top – which sometimes it employs. However, it rarely, if ever, feels like those moments are meant to keep you awake or engaged. If anything, they are used so you understand the frustration of trying to live up to the ideal of a family being forgiving, a lifelong commitment, and the expectation that you’ll get over what was said and done to you and continue to respect your parents.

Where Can You Watch It?

On Showtime

Dual (2022)

Sarah (Karen Gillan) taking a break from her training to kill her double
Sarah (Karen Gillan)

Summary

With being told she has a terminal disease rooted in her stomach, Sarah prepares to die by having a double of herself made to comfort her boyfriend Peter and her mom. However, after ten months of waiting to die, she learns she is in remission. This sucks for her since her double has already taken over her life and relationship, and while decommissioning a double is an option, unfortunately, it isn’t once the double has its own identity.

So, in order to get her life back, Sarah has to kill her double in a duel or be killed, and the double will officially get to take over if they win.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

“Dual” has deadpan English (UK) dry humor and has you laughing because the awkwardness is just insanely thick. But, what also helps is that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. You get to understand the premise, and the characters, get a good laugh, and while the violence may not be at the level you may hope for, it delivers enough.

Where Can You Watch It?

On Hulu

The Northman (2022)

Amleth (Alexander Skarsgard) and Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy) traveling by horse
Alexander Skarsgård stars as Amleth and Anya Taylor-Joy as Olga in director Robert Eggers’ Viking epic THE NORTHMAN, a Focus Features release.
Credit: Aidan Monaghan / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC

Summary

When Amelth was a child, his father, King Aurvandil was murdered by his brother Fjolnir. On that day, Ameleth escaped with his life and committed himself to revenge as he became consumed with hatred. Years later, after becoming a man, a notable warrior in his own right, he allows himself to become enslaved to get within reach of his uncle to avenge his father, rescue his mother, and take back the kingdom that was rightfully his.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

Epics have become a hard sell, but “The Northman” circumvents a lot of what leads to others failing. It gives you a reason to not just be invested in the advertised violence but also gives you a quality romance in Amleth (Alexander Skarsgard) and Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy). Together they make it so that you aren’t bored waiting for the next kill when the film takes a pause on the action.

And speaking of kills and violence? No, you won’t flinch based off what you’ll see. However, unlike a lot of action films, or films with action sequences, you are given a sense that if someone loses their head, it isn’t just about shock or style. There is meaning behind each action. Even the pacing, as you see people catch their breath, gives you the sense that “The Northman” has the realist battle scenes you’ve watched in a long time.

Where Can You Watch It?

On Amazon (Included With Prime)

Pompo: The Cinephile

Gene (Hiroya Shimizu) directing a scene
Gene (Hiroya Shimizu)

Summary

Pompo, the granddaughter of a legendary Nyallywood producer, has made a career of spotting talent and sticking to simple, almost guaranteed, hit movies. However, with taking note of her assistant’s talents and interests, she decides to write a script that is different from what she usually produces. Also, she risks having her assistant, Gene, direct a film for the first time, a newcomer named Natalie be the female lead, and the legendary Martin Braddock, a six-time Nyacademy Award Winner, be the male lead.

This is an overwhelming responsibility for Gene, but with wanting to impress Pompo, honor the sacrifices he has made thus far, and make a film that reignites dreamers like himself? He might be a bit scared and stressed out, but he is going to do what needs to be done.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

Every year it seems some filmmaker wants to make an ode to film history and/or filmmaking, and it often seems geared toward the choir (read: The Academy) rather than has any real general audience appeal. “Pompo: The Cinephile” is different. Part of the reason is because it is animated, but also because it balances taking on what the film industry calls for with the eccentric people who work within the industry. Which gives you a quality hour and 34-minute film to spend time with. Especially since the way characters are developed goes against what the trailer would lead you to believe, and you find yourself in for a real treat.

Where Can You Watch It?

Crush (2022)

Paige (Rowan Blanchard) longing to talk to AJ
Paige (Rowan Blanchard)

Summary

Paige has dreams of going to Cal Arts for school, but many things are standing in her way. First and foremost, the application. But following that, there is the issue that Paige doesn’t do extracurricular activities and doesn’t compensate for that with anything else to make her stand out. But, thanks to being accused of being KingPun, an artist who vandalizes the school with quite good puns, things change.

With Principal Collins and Coach Miller, a deal is made where she’ll join her friends, Dillon and Stacey, on the track team, and be trained by AJ, the fraternal twin of Paige’s crush Gabriela. On top of that, Paige is tasked with finding the actual KingPun, or risk suspension.

But what starts off as a punishment and quest to vindicate herself becomes Paige opening up more, taking risks, and being fairly rewarded for doing so.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

First off, it skips the coming out portion of a lot of queer teen romances and focuses on what you want to see – a love story. Now, is everything smooth sailing? Hell no. But while the film does sometimes overdo it on “Woke” language and showing its characters are progressive, once you get past that, you get a taste of what might become the norm in queer cinema. At least when it comes to romantic comedies – with a dash of healthy, relationships are complicated, kind of drama.

Where Can You Watch It?

On Hulu

Lilith and Eve

Lilith (Susan Wakoma) and Sam (Jake Graf) before Sam flies off with Lilith to hang out
“Lilith (Susan Wakoma) and Sam (Jake Graf) before Sam flies off with Lilith to hang out,” Sam de Ceccatty, Lilith and Eve, 2022.

Summary

Around the time that Eve bites the apple, Lilith appears and ruins Adam’s big lie that he is all-important and Eve exists to serve him. With that, Eve questions everything she was told, much to the chagrin of Adam.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

The story of Adam and Eve, and the often slighted Lilith, really needs to be told as a centerpiece story, and preferably outside of the hands of someone ready to damn the women and let Adam off scott-free. Which is why we love and will probably reference “Lilith and Eve” for a long time. For like “Luv U Cuz,” from 2021, it not only presents an untapped story, considering the characters, but pair that with it being animation? The skies the limit!

Where Can You Watch It?

Not safe for work.

LILITH & EVE from Sam de Ceccatty on Vimeo.

Pete

Pete (Pete Barma) smiling
“Pete (Pete Barma) smiling,” Bret Parker, Pete, 2022.

Summary

All Pete wants to do is play in Little League Baseball. The problem is, with Pete being born Kathy, they face many hurdles to getting to play. Thankfully, their mom is there for every moment to make sure Pete gets to play and be part of the team.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

Alongside “Anything’s Possible,” “Pete” pushes us to see the world beyond the binary and the limitations many expect and enforce when it comes to those who are trans. But, unlike a lot of media about those who are often othered by society, Pete isn’t trying to make a statement. It isn’t trying to encourage inclusive language or depict a perfect society. It’s just about a kid wanting to be a kid and not be limited because of their gender assigned at birth.

Heck, I should note, when it comes to “Pete,” whether it is a story of a trans or non-binary kid isn’t even part of the story. It’s just something you could easily project.

Where Can You Watch It?

Unfortunately, it isn’t available, but check out the production company’s website for updates.

Elvis (2022)

Promotional Poster for AMC Early Access Fan Event Featuring Austin Butler as Elvis At Three Major Points of Elvis' Life
“Promotional Poster for AMC Early Access Fan Event Featuring Austin Butler as Elvis At Three Major Points of Elvis’ Life,” Baz Luhrmann, Elvis, 2022.

Summary

From Elvis’ gaining inspiration on Beale Street to being a multi-year headliner in Las Vegas, we see it all from the perspective of his long-term manager and swindler, Colonel Tom Parker. The man who took Elvis from local fame and made him a global icon. Mind you, while slowly but surely, as all exploitative managers do, isolate him from family, friends, and his wife and chipped Elvis down into a money-making machine who needed pills and an audience to have any semblance of a soul on stage.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

After “Bohemian Rhapsody,” it seems any and every big-name musician with a huge, money-making catalog is getting a biopic of epic proportions. Many of which, like Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” are crowd pleasers, but the person playing the icon either gets swallowed by the persona or seems to simply want to be a vessel for a good time.

I’d submit Austin Butler figures a way to be consumed yet benefit. He isn’t just playing Elvis, collecting a check, and moving on. Butler delivers a noteworthy performance, star-making even, showing that every biopic can be more than a nostalgia fest as your favorite songs play one after another. You can get a quality story, a new perspective, and emotional over what the actor is giving you vs. remembering where you were or what you were doing when the best and worst news about your favorite singer happened.

Where Can You Watch It?

On HBO Max

You Can Live Forever (2022)

Jaime (Anwen O'Driscoll) and Marike (June Laporte) embrassing each other
Jaime (Anwen O’Driscoll) and Marike (June Laporte) | You Can Live Forever, directed by Sarah Watts and Mark Slutsky (2022; New York City: Prospector Films, 2022), https://tribecafilm.com/films/you-can-live-forever-2022

Summary

In 1992, Jaime, after her father’s death, finds herself temporarily living with her aunt Beth and her partner. In the beginning, this is fine, for Jaime’s mom is dealing with the shock of losing Jaime’s dad, and Jaime gets it. However, with Beth and her partner being Jehovah’s Witnesses and expecting Jaime to be part of their community for as long as she stays, that complicates things.

However, putting on a dress and going to boring services is one thing. What makes things hard is a girl named Marike falling for Jaime and struggling under the weight of conservative values while wanting Jaime close. Thus leading to Jaime trying to be understanding of Marike’s situation. Especially considering Beth and Marike’s community isn’t above excommunicating someone who threatens their version of “The Truth” and could tempt their people with worldliness.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

“You Can Live Forever” handles its depiction of faith, specifically Jehovah’s Witness, with respect to all sides of the issue. Yes, it is steeped in patriarchy, which limits Marike’s ability to express her feelings for Jaime, but creativity comes with limitations. It makes Marike more appreciative of any moment she can be with Jaime and have some sense of intimacy, and because of how limited their time together is and the risk of it, the relationship becomes all the more precious as both understand the risks involved.

Where Can You Watch It?

Unfortunately, it is still on the festival circuit.

The Black Phone (2022)

Movie Poster - The Black Phone (2022)

Summary

It’s 1978 in Denver, and 4 boys have been kidnapped within the last year by someone simply known as “The Grabber.” It isn’t clear if there is a pattern beyond boys being taken or if there is a motive. However, it has shaken the community to its core.

But, while many are aware of The Grabber, unfortunately for Finney, the person who usually is his protector, Robin, ends up kidnapped, leaving him only with his sister Gwen. Someone who has, on more than one occasion, helped him with bullies and even taken a few hits for getting involved, but when The Grabber sets his sights on him, the only thing that may save Finney is that he and Gwen, like their mom, seem able to interact with things not of this world and have visions.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

Original horror movies were the gift that kept coming in the latter half of this year. There was “Barbarian,” “Smile,” and the first notable one was “The Black Phone.” Now, admittedly, I wish they did more to develop “The Grabber” as an individual – from their motive to how they choose their victim. But you could submit the air of mystery is what keeps him creepy. Plus, what we don’t get from “The Grabber” we get not only from his past victims but his potential latest in Finney, and his little sister Gwen, who, even with not being a target, isn’t forgotten and has a memorable impact on the film.

Where Can You Watch It?

Amazon – Included with Prime

Cha Cha Real Smooth (2022)

Lola (Vanessa Burghardt) and Domino (Dakota Johnson) talking amongst herself
Lola (Vanessa Burghardt) and Domino (Dakota Johnson)

Summary

22-year-old Andrew is in a complicated place in his life. His ex has moved on, and he is now in his little brother David’s room and working at the mall. To further complicate things, he’s living in his stepdad’s house, and while his mom tries to play peacekeeper, Andrew likes to pick fights.

But, Andrew’s saving grace is his people skills. Hence, he got a job as a party starter for bar and bat mitzvahs for the local Jewish community. However, by helping one girl, Lola, feel seen and get on the dance floor, he meets one of his soulmates, Domino. It’s just too bad that she has a fiancé named Joseph, and it isn’t clear whether or not this is just Andrew falling in love with an older and unavailable woman all over again.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

Like, “As They Made Us,” what you have to appreciate about “Cha Cha Real Smooth” is that there is no pursuit to damn or villainize anyone. It’s all about the pursuit of understanding, people being in a rough patch and needing grace, and I’d add, considering the depiction of girls with autism is rare, Lola is an important character who needs to be seen and has to be acknowledged. That is alongside the depiction of a miscarriage, how it handles mental illness, and overall, “Cha Cha Real Smooth” just really has all that you’d expect from a 2022 film, as the pursuit for new voices, perspectives, and depictions of experiences are increasingly desired and delivered.

Where Can You Watch It?

Apple TV+

Hoop Dreams (2022)

Savannah (Madison Southerland) with hoop earrings of her own
Savannah (Madison Southerland)

Summary

Savannah has to speak in front of her class, which is daunting. So she thinks that her mother’s hoops, which are part of her mom’s allure and power, are all she needs to have the confidence necessary to read a poem in front of her 5th-grade class.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

Whether you mention “The Chi” or” On My Block,“ it can be difficult to find productions in an urban setting that allow for some sense of showing the hood and those living in it but don’t fit bastardized perceptions created by reality television or social media. Which is why we love “Hoop Dreams.“

It shows a young family who live in the hood, have the looks and hustle of people you would know if you grow up in an urban area, but they neither exist within the realm of respectability politics nor being raw. Savannah has the family you wish a kid show would have so that it doesn’t have to feel like everyone on television is rich and lives in far-off places compared to you.

Where Can You Watch It?

It is unavailable online.

Hustle

Bo (Juancho Hernangomez) and Stanley (Adam Sandler) talking before Bo plays basketball
HUSTLE (L-R) JUAN HERNANGOMEZ as BO CRUZ, ADAM SANDLER as STANLEY BEREN. SCOTT YAMANO/NETFLIX

Summary

For nearly 30 years, Stanley has dedicated his life to the NBA, specifically the Philadelphia 76ers. Not as a player nor coach, but as a scout. Because of him traveling internationally, he has missed a multitude of birthdays and other milestones with his daughter, Alex, and while his wife, Theresa, understands, as his daughter preps for college, all he missed weighs on him.

Hence why, when Rex notes Stanley could become an assistant coach, he is excited. But no sooner than he is told he has the job, Vin, Rex’s son, takes over and puts Stanley back on the road, for no one can scout as he can, and he wants someone who can complete the team. Enter Bo Cruz, who Stanley hopes, and trains to be that person, but between Bo’s past, Vin’s petty feud with Stanley, and Stanley coming to his wit’s end, it isn’t clear whose dreams will come true or to an end.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

As Brendan Fraser said of Adam Sandler, “He doesn’t play underdogs, He plays champions that are overlooked.” This film is a prime example for honestly, Adam Sandler has proved himself as one of the most diverse actors of this generation. While his comedy isn’t for everyone, he can still elicit more laughs than many, and in terms of his dramatic performances, since “Spanglish,“ I’m not sure if he has done one serious role where he didn’t shine.

“Hustle” is no different as he takes on the role of an NBA recruiter with aspirations to coach, and, as Fraser said, you are given yet another Sandler role where you’re reminded of the appeal comedians bring to the drama genre. Their everyman or woman personas translate to characters who you can see just want better for themselves and those they are close to, and they are willing to pour their heart and souls into a dream. Even if there are times when they are overwhelmingly told there is no chance of those dreams becoming a reality.

Where Can You Watch It?

On Netflix

Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko

Nikuko (Shinobu Otake) waving
Nikuko (Shinobu Otake)

Summary

Kikuko has had a bit of an unstable life. Her mother, Nikuko, who is child-like and naïve, often moved around, reinventing herself, after falling in and out of love with men who often were terrible and used her. But, after the last man, a novelist, left, potentially to end his life, Nikuko found herself in a port town, where she settled.

There, Kikuko found herself trying to navigate local drama between her first friend Maria and the other girls; deal with having a very eccentric mother, and handle one of her first crushes in Ninomiya. All while dealing with her feelings about how the community sees her mother, trying to keep her head low when it comes to all that is going on, and dealing with the fact that she is on the brink of becoming a teenager and all that means.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

Like, “Pompo: The Cinephile,” it would be easy to dismiss “Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko” for being animated and having a rather silly trailer that doesn’t convey to you the full story. But that’s what makes this movie great. Until you watch it, you don’t know how it dives into fatphobia, how it makes sure nearly every character matters, and it wants their relationships to clearly have an effect on their well-being and, perhaps the biggest thing here is that, “Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko” lets a girl simply be a girl.

When it comes to Kikuko, she isn’t meant to save the world or go on some grand adventure. She is dealing with her period, navigating all the different groups at school, and trying to stay neutral. Heck, she is trying to see, considering she is sporty and may not be the most feminine to some, does that mean she is any less attractive than others? In many ways, this slice-of-life film goes directions you don’t see common in most animated movies or shows.

Where Can You Watch It?

Where The Crawdads Sing (2022)

Kya (Daisy Edgar-Jones) drawing an insect, animal, or plant
“Kya (Daisy Edgar-Jones) drawing an insect, animal, or plant,” Where The Crawdads Sing, directed by Olivia Newman, 2022, (Sony Pictures Releasing)

Summary

Catherine “Kya” Clark gained the nickname “Marsh Girl” thanks to her rarely leaving her family’s land for most of her life. Mind you, she has no issues getting in a boat, interacting with people, or even going into town. However, after a long series of abandonments throughout her life, getting too close to anyone is fearful.

However, a childhood acquaintance named Tate cracks her shell and has her see the light, alongside two nice people at the store she frequents, Mabel and James, aka Jumpin’. However, a young man named Chase truly changes her world. Mainly due to him reminding her of the worst parts of her daddy and Kya being accused of Chase’s murder.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

“Where The Crawdads Sing” is a prime example of making a long movie worth it. Clocking in just a bit above two hours, this mystery film knows how to keep you engaged by not building up to a grand moment but sprinkling them in throughout. On top of that, while it does split the film a bit between the past and present, both Daisy Edgar-Jones and Jojo Regina are allowed to shine as individuals sharing the same character. But, what really pushes this film to be on this list is that it avoided the things that could have felt like fat.

Kya, abandoned by her family as a child, could have been taken by the State and put in a group home, her house could have been taken from her for not paying taxes, and a slew of other issues, alongside Kya dealing with a murder accusation. Yet, instead, it quickly addresses the issue, and keeps it moving. It knows what will keep you watching and what will make you bored, seeking a distraction, and feeling this film is too long for its own good.

To me, not enough films, whether original or adaptations, know-how or when to cut the fat, address the obvious, and then just focus on the meat of the story. If the industry would do just that, we’d all be better for it.

Where Can You Watch It?

On Netflix or

Bros (2022)

The movie poster for Bros, with Billy and Aaron touching each other's butt
“The movie poster for Bros, with Billy and Aaron touching each other’s butt,” Bros, directed by Nicholas Stoller, 2022, (Universal Pictures )

Summary

For his 40 years of life, Bobby has always struggled with love. Hooking up, often bottoming? Finding someone for that has long been easy as he is fully engaged with hookup culture in person and through Grindr. But love? Relationships? Genuine romance? That is a foreign idea he sees other gay people get into, and of course, heterosexuals, but it has never been meant for him. This has long been fine because Bobby is a writer and journalist and recently became the head of getting an LGBTQ+ museum made, which has been a massive undertaking.

However, things shift for Bobby when his best friend Henry points out and introduces Aaron, a probate lawyer. Mind you, not quickly, as he and Aaron come with a unique set of baggage due to being gay, but between Bobby wanting to live out loud and Aaron wanting to be discreet, both work through their trauma and insecurities to try to create the first long term relationship for both.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

You cannot undercut the fact “Bros” is a romantic comedy with the LGBTIA community front and center. They aren’t the best friend issuing advice, who are complaining about being single, or the only one not in a dysfunctional relationship. They are all those things, and even the poster features two men groping each other.

But what also makes the film special is that it isn’t the same old rom-com but now with men. It brings the highs and lows of being part of the community and, truly is a movie that deserves a pedestal, even if it wasn’t as financially successful as many hoped it would be.

Where Can You Watch It?

On Peacock or

The Woman King (2022)

Izogie (Lashana Lynch), Nanisca (Viola Davis), and Amenza (Sheila Atim) speaking to the agojie
“Izogie (Lashana Lynch), Nanisca (Viola Davis), and Amenza (Sheila Atim) speaking to the agojie,” The Woman King, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, 2022, (TriStar Pictures)

Summary

In  the 1800s (1823 specifically) Dahomey, the slave trade was in full force, and many kingdoms, including Dahomey, rich. However, with the new king, Ghezo, there is a new regime and the need to question whether going forward if those captured should be sold to the Europeans, specifically the Portuguese. Ghezo’s general, Nanisca, is against it, as is her best friend and right-hand Amenza. However, Ghenzo’s wife Shante, who enjoys the riches slavery has allowed, is against the idea of ending the trade of captors.

But, while Nanisca and Shante clash politically, especially in the quest for Ghenzo’s ear, Nanisca also has to focus on her elite soldiers, which she needs more after a recent village raid to free slaves and kill enemies. This leads to a girl from the village, Nawi, being dropped off by her dad for not being easy to sell and meeting Izogie.

Under Izogie’s wing and with butting heads with Nanisca, Nawi finds herself becoming a leader in the making. But with the threat of men like Oba Ade, of the Oyo, who wish to dominate the Dahomey, alongside the forbidden half Dahomey/ half Portuguese man named Malik, a friend to a slaver, Nawi has multiple distractions that lead to watchful eyes.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

Viola Davis and Gina Prince-Blythewood, combined with newcomer (at least stateside) Thuso Mbedu and the familiar faces of Lashana Lynch and Sheila Atim bring a story no one may have specifically asked for but delivers all you could want and more. It turns on its head the strong Black woman stereotype and does show that they are strong, but not because innately they feel less, but because society, to allow them to feel safe and valued, even if just for how they can be exploited on their own terms, coerces them to. And while the slavery element rightfully may make some uncomfortable, it is the brutal truth. It wasn’t until Belgium and others in the 1800s that Europeans ventured deep into the African continent. Before that, enslaved people were captured and sold by other Africans.

It’s an unfortunate history lesson combined with an action movie that expands what we should expect from the legendary Viola Davis and those who feel like her juniors who will start on the road she paved before finding their own way.

Where Can You Watch It?

Lucky Fish

Maggie (Lukita Maxwell) talking to Celine in the bathroom
“Maggie (Lukita Maxwell) talking to Celine in the bathroom,” Lucky Fish, directed by Emily May Jampel, 2022, (NewFest)

Summary

Both Maggie and Celine are having dinner with their families, who are talking about topics that aren’t at the forefront of their minds, like boyfriends and school. So when the two end up talking in the bathroom and hanging out upstairs in the restaurant, it is a welcome reprieve and potentially the start of a relationship with someone who gets it.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

Clearly, we have a soft spot for queer love stories, and in this short, we get “Genera+ion” alum Lukita Maxwell finding romance in a Chinese food restaurant. It’s simple, sweet, and has a sense of culture which, as diversity moves beyond skin tone and brings culture along for the rise, it makes shorts like “Lucky Fish“ appear to be depictions of the future many thought would have long been here.

Where Can You Watch It?

Unfortunately, the only thing we have found is the trailer here

Stay The Night

Grace (Andrea Bang) at a bar, opening up to Carter
“Grace (Andrea Bang) at a bar, opening up to Carter,” Stay The Night, directed by Renuka Jeyapalan, 2022, (Freestyle Digital Media)

Summary

With Carter being demoted to the minor leagues of the NHL, Grace not getting the promotion she wants, and the guy she likes at work likely having an interest in another girl, neither are having a good day. However, a chance encounter at a bar, where Grace was meeting her long-time roommate, leads to Carter originally pushing himself into Grace’s life to escape a fan. But, as the night wears on, Grace, for the first time, finds herself taking the initiative in her personal life, not just her professional one.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

The “Meet-Cute” method of telling a story is a staple. Boy meets girl, girl meets girl, boy meets boy, and they speed through friendship and go straight towards being romantic. That isn’t the case with “Stay The Night.” Grace is so awkward that at times you almost wonder if she is someone asexual trying to push herself to not be. And rather than Carter loving her through the awkwardness, his pursuit is to help her understand herself. To give her the space to be the messy one instead of the stable one taking care of someone else. And in the process of watching that, you don’t fall in love with the idea of two characters because things are hot and heavy, but because they truly put in the work to have a solid friendship before your eyes, rather than you come in halfway.

Where Can You Watch It?

Violet Night

Violent Night movie poster featuring David Harbour as Santa Claus
Violent Night movie poster featuring David Harbour as Santa Claus

Summary

On Christmas Eve, Jason brought his family to his mother’s mansion. There, things are as they always are. His sister Alva actively sucks up to their mom Gertrude, Alva’s son, Bert, is talking to his followers, and Jason’s daughter, Trudy, is just hoping Santa can bring her Mom, Linda, and dad back together. Unfortunately for Trudy, a man named Jimmy and his crew have other plans for Christmas, they take the family hostage, and if they don’t find the money they expect to, Trudy may go from celebrating Christmas to going to a funeral.

But with a very drunk Santa just so happening to be there as Jimmy’s crew begins to take over Gertrude’s property, maybe, even if her parents don’t get back together, they may live to see her turn ten.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

While “Bad Santa” delivered us a drunk and messy Santa, David Harbour goes beyond that since he is actually Santa. Albeit a former Viking turned Santa, but the combination of being a drunk, having a Viking background, and being Santa for generations works so perfectly. Especially when you insert the comedy that comes from the likes of John Leguizamo and the Lightstone family, who Leguizamo’s character, Jimmy, is trying to extort millions from.

Oh, and a special shout-out has to go to it not only having flinch-worthy violence but also Leah Brady, who plays Trudy. The combination of Leguizamo, Brady, and Harbour gives you a violent, hilarious, and heartfelt film in one package.

Where Can You Watch It?

In Theaters or Amazon

The Sound of Christmas

Title Card -The Sound of Christmas (2022)
“Title Card -The Sound of Christmas (2022),” The Sound of Christmas, directed by Booker T. Mattison, 2022, (BET Plus)

Summary

After three years with her boyfriend Rio, Montana has had enough. He wants to have sex, drink, and go against all her renewed Christian values, so she steps out on faith and leaves him. She brings this testimony to church during choir practice, and that leads to one of the wealthy members of the choir, Ms. Estelle, offering Montana a job. She is to help raise her grandchildren, Daniel and Deirdre, as their father, Quentin, doesn’t have the time and seems to still be traumatized by his wife dying of cancer.

But, while Estelle is lovely, and Montana is willing and able to get used to the kids and Quentin, Quentin’s girlfriend, Chloe, is something else. She feels threatened by Montana’s presence and how quickly she integrated into the family while she has been waiting for years for Quentin to propose. Thus leading to some contention that gets nasty.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

It can be difficult to find faith embedded in a Christmas or holiday movie unless it is on Hallmark or from a faith-based organization. So BET+ having a movie in which a character doesn’t only go to church but openly expresses her faith; I can only assume this is what people mean to keep Christ in Christmas.

Jokes aside, while “The Sound of Christmas” does have some unfortunate staples of Christmas movies, like a weakly written villain, it has an unmatched balance of music, faith, and drama that very few Christmas movies have had this year, or maybe in years.

Where Can You Watch It?

BET+

In Her Hands

Zarifa
“Zarifa,” In Her Hands, directed by Marcel Mettelsiefen and Tamana Ayazi, 2022, (Netflix)

Summary

Covering the period from January 2020 to the first few months of 2022, we meet Zarifa, a 26-year-old mayor of Maidan Wardak. Her goal, as one of the youngest mayors in the country, alongside one of the few female ones, was to have her people see the value of government and the capabilities of women in power. This was no easy task; even her father needed some convincing, but behind every great woman is a handful of men.

One of the most notable men are Massoum. He is not from an upper-class family, or spent his life in the military like Zarifa’s dad, none of that. He is a man who believed in Zarifa and, with his life, protected her as a bodyguard and driver. But, as the fall of Kabul approaches in September 2019, we’re forced to realize that the United States withdraw from Afghanistan, and occupation, didn’t improve anything. All it did was give some a tease of a better life.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

What “In Her Hands” does wonderfully is bring a face to a news story that has, at best, become political fodder and not much more. Through Zarifa’s story, we see the fall of Afghanistan, from a war-torn country with the potential to rebound to the heights its citizens have long dreamed of, to devolving back to where it constantly is after a superpower realizes they cannot conquer the country.

But, what also has to be appreciated about “In Her Hands” is the recognition of Zarifa’s privilege over others, like Massoum, her former driver and bodyguard. Now, is having to become a refugee for your safety truly a privilege? No. However, having the option to leave, and not potentially be at the mercy of those who you openly opposed months ago, like Massoum, cannot be understated. “In Her Hands,” makes it clear, while much can and could be done, it requires both those born into some form of privilege and those who don’t come from much yet have so much to offer to work together. Because neither side, on their own, can build something that will last.

Where Can You Watch It?

On Netflix

Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me

Selena Gomez with the words 'I'm a work in progress.'
“Selena Gomez with the words ‘I’m a work in progress.’,” Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me, directed by Alek Keshishian, 2022, (Apple TV+)

Summary

Covering the period from Selena Gomez’s “Revival” tour to after the release of “Rare,” we see one of the most vulnerable portraits of a celebrity. One that seeks to go beyond the concept of “It gets better” or “I survived, so can you” and wants you to understand it doesn’t get better; it gets manageable, and sometimes, it’s not. But, through faith and finding a sense of purpose, you can, hopefully, find a way to power through.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

Too often, when a celebrity, especially a female celebrity, releases a bio-doc covering their entire or a portion of their life, there is this desire to be uplifting and empowering. That isn’t given in “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me.” She is shown as messy, vulnerable, and flailing, yet still resilient. However, as said in the summary, it is never in such a way to downplay what she has gone through and make it appear that it was a chapter in her past and her struggles are over now. She is still going through it, but with the right medication, good days, and finding purpose in the moment, Selena has found, discarded, and discovered new ways to cope with what it means to be human.

Where Can You Watch It?

AppleTV+

Christmas With The Campbells

Becky (Joanna Garcia Swisher) flirting the way she does
“Becky (Joanna Garcia Swisher) flirting the way she does,” Christmas With The Campbells, directed by Clare Niederpruem, 2022, (RLJE Films and AMC+)

Summary

Despite being together long enough for Jesse to be expected at nearly every holiday, including her birthday, Shawn breaks up with her. The reason? With him seeing himself as a hotshot accountant in New York and her wanting to focus on things like photography, it just didn’t seem like it would work in his head. Never mind, she wanted kids with an “s” and a pet? No, nope, not gonna happen.

But, despite Shawn breaking up with her, Liz and Robert, Shawn’s parents, invite her to Ketchum, Idaho, anyway. Now, at first, it is a bit of a scandal, at least going by Mrs. Cruickshank’s opinion. However, as Jesse settles in for another holiday with her now never-will-be in-laws, Shawn’s cousin, David, shows up and presents Jesse with all she wanted out of Shawn. However, between Shawn showing up and the local village bicycle Becky, who knows if Jesse may get her Christmas wish or head back home alone.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

When holiday, or Christmas, movies stray away from being wholesome, sometimes you get films like “Violent Night,” which are surprisingly good, or films like “A Miracle Before Christmas.” “Christmas With The Campbells” exists within the realm of, it is mainly a holiday movie to bring people together. Beyond that? As you get one raunchy and crass joke after another, you realize the holiday setting is, at best, for shock value.

But, with Vince Vaughn being one of its writers, you are reminded of his heyday when he was one of the hottest acts in comedy, and as Alex Moffat, and especially JoAnna Garcia Swisher deliver one notable line after another, I’m telling you, this might become something you watch annually. At least with those who have a naughty sense of humor.

Where Can You Watch It?

On AMC+

A Man Called Otto

Otto Anderson (Tom Hanks) waving
“Otto Anderson (Tom Hanks),” A Man Called Otto, directed by Marc Forster, 2022, (Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE))

Summary

In a cul-de-sac, Otto and his wife, Sonya, were a notable part of the community for decades. Otto was even the Home Owner Association head for many years. However, an accident that Sonya had, combined with a beef he started with his neighbor Reuben chipped away at Otto’s power in the neighborhood, but with Sonya by his side, he never stopped being an integral part of it. She was a light in the area and would cook and have people over, but six months ago, she died, and Otto hasn’t been the same.

Mind you, people still check on him, even though he has devolved into a curmudgeon old man, the kind pestering people about recycling and about rules that came about long before they moved in, but he comes with the neighborhood. The newest neighbor, the very pregnant Marisol, learns this as her husband upsets Otto with his driving. However, as Marisol latches onto Otto, partly because he reminds her of her father, she gets him interested in living again rather than hastening death.

Full Review

Why Is It On This List

I cannot recall the last time I cried so much throughout a movie. From the scenes where Tom Hanks character is trying to kill himself, and reminiscing about times with his deceased wife, to Mariana Treviño going toe to toe with Tom Hanks and excelling? It truly was the best way movie to be the last new film we see this year.

Where Can You Watch It?

In theaters, as of this posting.


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