Go Big or Stay Home? ALSO: The 2022 Silver Screen Self Care Top Ten

What moves you to the movie theaters these days? Which of these apply to you?

That was the question I posed on Facebook recently, particularly in light of the multiplexes having been reopened for some time after a pandemic.

The options:

  1. My moviegoing habits have returned to pre-pandemic levels
  2. I go out to the movies less often than I did prior to the pandemic
  3. I’m still uncomfortable being in close proximity to people.
  4. I go out to the movies but only for superhero movies/blockbusters/cinematic spectacles.
  5. Nah, I’ll just wait for it to stream on Netflix
  6. Go out to the movies? That’s cute. I’m a parent! Too much of a hassle and when we do make a family affair, I end up spending a small fortune. 
  7. The behavior of audiences has turned me off to the cinematic experience. Cell phone use, talking, etc. HOW’WUDE!
  8. Movie tickets are too expensive. 
  9. There just haven’t been any titles I felt drawn to the theater for. They just don’t make them like they used to.

Bear in mind that it is hardly representative of the movie-going public at large, but rather my echo chamber! Here are the results by percentage:

Where do you fall in my survey?

THE TOP TEN

Now that that little prologue is out of the way, let’s get to the big event! The Silver Screen Self Care Top Ten Movies of 2022. As always, each blurb will include a quote and a lesson.

First, some movies I have not yet seen that could reasonably have made the list:

Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans. Semi-autobiographical, this appears to be his most personal film to date.

Wakanda Forever. It hasn’t exactly been blowing critics away, but audiences seem to love it and imagine the challenge facing director Ryan Coogler, amidst the death of his leading man in Chadwick Boseman and then having to craft a whole new script simultaneously advances the story and grieving the loss.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. I know. But it’s been receiving great reviews and tremendously positive word of mouth. I’m surprised, too.

10. Enola Holmes 2 (PG-13, Netflix)

Millie Bobbie Brown returns in another delightful and charming turn as Enola Holmes, the kid sister of the world’s most famous detective. The tale diverts from the popular books and instead gives us a wholly unique tale with historical underpinnings. In this case, the 1888 London’s Matchgirls’ strike. 

Edith: (to Sherlock) Those who can turn to others when they are in need are truly brave amongst us.

Lesson: Independence is often help up as a lofty goal, perhaps to a fault. It’s okay to ask for help! Enola and Sherlock learn this the hard way. Not allowing others to help may rob them of the opportunity to bless you. 

9. Smile (R, Paramount Plus)

Smile! Wait, on second thought.

TW: SUICIDE. Did you know that Kevin Bacon has a daughter? Yeah, neither did I! Sosie Bacon sells us as a therapist who witnesses a client’s suicide and then becomes unraveled as she is followed by a supernatural entity in the form of… anyone… smiling. It’s terrifying. She must confront her own childhood trauma if she is to survive. I like the film because it is a reminder that the mental health journey is not something you can easily and simply “get over.” For some of us, it is truly a life-long battle and that is okay. I only wish the ending worked for me.

Rose: I came to you, the person I’m supposed to trust most in the world, and I confided that I am scared to death. That I needed you. And you just didn’t even listen to a word I was saying.

Lesson: There are people in the world who will let us down simply because they lack the mutual experiences to truly understand, through no fault of their own, of course. This can be frustrating and underscores the importance of finding a support group. 

8. The Adam Project (PG-13, Netflix)

Time travel. Ryan Reynolds. YES, PLEASE. Half the fun is watching Reynold’s Adam Reed interact with his younger self, portrayed convincingly by newcomer Walker Scobell (the future Percy Jackson), who matches the elder actor’s trademark snark beat for beat. Their chemistry fuels a fun sci-fi romp through space and time. 

Young Adam: It’s easier to be angry than it is to be sad. And I guess when I get older, I forget there’s a difference.

Lesson: It helps to look at anger as another way our mind and body is trying to tell us something. What are the underlying issues that are driving it? 

7. NOPE (R, The Peacock)

I love that studios are essentially giving director Jordan Peele free reign to basically do his own thing and we are all the better for it! In this case, his own thing is cowboy horror, dealing with themes of race, art, exploitation and race. The less said about it here the better, so I can best preserve the surprises.

OJ: NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. NOPE.

Lesson: That voice in your head that repeatedly says “nope”? Don’t ignore it. Conversely, know when to face it. Cryptic advice, I know. You’re welcome. 

6. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (PG, Netflix)

The nose knows, you know?

It should be no surprise that Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio has more in common with the director’s 2006 adult fairy tale Pan’s Labyrinth than anything Disney has put out. It is dark!  Set somewhere between World War I and World War II, it touches on topics of death and what it means to live. Yeah, like I said, dark.

Pinocchio: He’s made of wood, too. Why do they like him and not me?

Lesson: Talking to my fellow Christ-followers here… I was taken by the context that Pinocchio used that quote above. He is at a church, noting that a Christ figure also made of wood, who people sing songs to every Sunday. It was a cruel juxtaposition to how he was treated by the same folk that previous Sunday. It is a real heart check, asking: How are we being towards those who are different from us and also created in God’s image?

5. The Batman (PG-13, HBO Max)

It feels like lot of people were put off by Robert Pattinson’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne, the “Emo Batman.” But his aloof, ant-social persona was perfect, in my opinion. Who wouldn’t buy him as someone who would dress up as a bat every night? Of all the Batman films to date, this one has leaned most heavily into the Dark Knight as a detective. It felt quite noir and a Gotham straight out of Batman: The Animated Series. High praise, indeed. 

Batman: Our scars can destroy us, even after the physical wounds have healed. But if we survive them, they can transform us. They can give us the power to endure, and the strength to fight.

Lesson: Sometimes the only way out is through.

4. Glass Onion (PG-13, Netflix)

Bond goes Benoit.

Besides holding the distinction of one of the sillier, more unnecessary titles, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is a star-studded twisty affair. Daniel Craig, fresh into 007 retirement, has a new franchise on his hands. And his detective Benoit Blanc could not be more different than Bond. It’s Janelle Monáe’s turn as the mysterious Andi Brand, who steals the movie. The screenplay works on so many levels – mystery, revenge flik, and comedy.

Benoit Blanc: Well, I keep returning in my mind to the Glass Onion, something that seems densely layered, mysterious and inscrutable. But, in fact, the center is in plain sight. 

Lesson: We really are quite good at overthinking our problems, aren’t we? What we are looking for is often… in plain sight.

3. Top Gun: Maverick (PG-13, Paramount Plus)

This sequel 34 years in the making is just like the original Top Gun only better. Tom Cruise’s Maverick is BACK. Just because he is an instructor now doesn’t mean he isn’t STILL DANGEROUS. It has all the familiar beats, but like I said, when it is done so well and so much fun, it’s easy to forgive. The plot line of Maverick still grieving and grappling with the loss of his wingman Goose permeates throughout, made complicated by his mentorship of Goose’s son, Rooster.

Iceman: It's time to let go.
Maverick: I don't know how.

Lesson: It’s been said that time heals all wounds. This story is an argument against that notion.

2. Avatar: The Way of Water (PG-13, Theaters)

It almost feels cliché, but it’s earned. Director James Cameron really does continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in the world of cinema, giving us new sights and thrills. Like the first installment, this return to the world of Pandora could be described as an “experience.” See with the largest screen possible. In 3D.

Tsireya: Our hearts beat in the womb of the world.

Lesson: There’s a certain romanticism attached to the idea that we are all connected. And why not? It’s well known that we are all six degrees from Kevin Bacon.

1. Everything, Everywhere All At Once (R, Showtime)

Michelle Yeoh yeah!

Multiverse stories were hot this past year! This one was everything I hoped Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness would be. I haven’t felt this way about a movie since The Matrix, and like that movie, I regret missing it on the big screen!

Marya E. Gates said it better than I ever could: “If the void arises from the compounding of generational trauma, [writer and directors Dan Quan and Daniel Scheinert] posit that it can be reversed through the unconditional love passed down through those same generations, if we choose compassion and understanding over judgment and rejection. Chaos reigns and life may only ever make sense in fleeting moments, but it’s those moments we should cherish. Moments of love and camaraderie. Sometimes they happen over time. Sometimes they happen all at once.”

Evelyn Wang: You are not unlovable. There is always something to love. Even in a stupid, stupid universe where we have hot dogs for fingers, we get very good with our feet.

Lesson: It may feel like this universe has dealt you a bad hand, but you will adapt. You will find a way. Don’t give up.

What about you?

How about you?

What moves you to go out to the theater and see a movie on the big screen? How would you answer my survey?

What was your favorite movie of 2022 and what did you learn? Let me know in the comments below!

Comments

  1. Unwanted Life

    I haven’t wanted to return to the cinema since the pandemic. Even before then, we’d only occasionally go to one of the fancier ones with armchairs and sofas, otherwise I’d be in too much pain in the cramp theatre seats. I’m surprised at how you were able to find a lesson in all these films. The lesson that I took from glass onion was that being rich doesn’t always mean you’re smart, as it parodies Elon Musk unintentionally

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  2. Charlie-Elizabeth Nadeau

    Great movies choices and reviews! A few on this list I have t see. Yet but based on the lesson would be interested in viewing. Thank you for sharing!

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