Best of 2022: Jeff Ames’ favorite movies, TV shows and games

The best of 2022 is ComingSoon’s week-long celebration of entertainment that made last year so memorable.


Well, kids, 2022 is now in the rearview mirror, and I have to say, as far as pop culture entertainment goes, the year that mostly delivered. Of course, there were a number of disappointments – Obi-Wan Kenobi, anyone? — but we also received some true classics in almost every medium.

Without further ado, here are my favorite movies, TV shows, books, CDs, and video games released in 2022.

Avatar: The Way of Water

It took 12 years, but James Cameron finally released his long-awaited follow-up to 2009’s Avatar. whoa boy The Way of the Water is an awe-inspiring cinematic achievement of the highest order. While it retains some of its predecessor’s weaker aspects – read: simplistic story, goofy dialogue – the visuals and action are leagues better, easily trumping anything that hit the cineplexes this year. Seriously, this is astonishing cinema at its best – a visual tour de force of heart-pounding action, tear-jerking drama and some of the most incredible visual effects you’ll ever see. The Way of the Water is one for all time and easily my favorite movie of the year. Kudos to composer Simon Franglen for preserving James Horner’s iconic score while branching out in unexpected new directions.

God of War: Ragnarok

Forget Thor: Love and Thunder; the true battle with the Norse gods takes place in God of War: Ragnarok, which offers one of the most exciting video game experiences ever produced. Following the same beats as its predecessor while fleshing out its characters and mythos, Ragnarok is a gritty human drama wrapped in a colossal big blockbuster filled with incredible sets, robust dialogue and visual splendor. Will definitely go down as one of the all-time great video game sequels.

Heat 2 (audiobook)

I listened to a lot of audiobooks this year, but none were as thought provoking Heat 2. Written by Michael Mann and narrated to dramatic perfection by Peter Giles (whose voice makes even the most trivial scenes feel epic), the story continues where the original 1995 classic Heat relaxed and expands on the characters portrayed by Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro and Val Kilmer in unique and exciting ways. I was already crazy about the planned movie, and the audiobook added to my excitement.

Top Gun: Maverick

Big fireballs! Tom Cruise continues to treat audiences with the type of acting that dominated the market in the 80s and early 90s. While Top Gun: Maverick certainly looks like a modern action film, albeit designed using incredible practical effects, the picture feels like a throwback to simpler times when the need for speed trumped everything else. If anything, Top Gun prove that audiences will show up in droves as long as you show them a good time.

Batman

Dark, moody and incredibly bleak, Matt Reeves’ Batman stands as one of the best adaptations of our pointed ears to date. The story of the Riddler taking down Gotham’s elite could be an obvious riff on David Fincher’s Sevenbut the presentation nails the look and feel of the Caped Crusader like never before. Batman is a graphic novel that comes to life and sets the stage for an exciting new comic book universe on the big screen.

Everything everywhere at once

A24 continues to defy expectations with its bizarre, albeit highly original content, and almost hit a home run with it Everything everywhere at once – perhaps the most original film to hit the big screen in ages. With stunning turns from Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and scene-stealer Stephanie Hsu, along with incredible direction from Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, EEAAO delivers the goods in terms of spectacle (at half the price of your typical Marvel fare), but also provides a fascinating commentary on the modern family and the eternal battle between the old and the new. Here we have a delicious piece of cinema that deserves all the awards.

Andor – Season 1

Admittedly, it took me a while to get into Andor. I enjoyed the first three or so episodes, but chose to wait for the entire series to hit Disney+ before diving headfirst into the further adventures of Cassian Andor. I’m glad I took the plunge because Andor is the best Star wars published since Rogue one – perhaps even The Empire strikes back. Showrunner Tony Gilroy wisely grounds his actions and characters and sidesteps the mistakes he makes Obi-Wan Kenobi and The book about Boba Fett and instead presents the audience with an intriguing character study more interested in political intrigue than poorly rendered action. So at this point I say give Gilroy the keys to the kingdom.

House of the Dragon – Season 1

No TV show held my attention every week quite like it House of the Dragon. Dark, captivating and full of political intrigue, fascinating characters and intense violence, Game of Thrones spinoff raises George RR Martin’s defunct franchise from the dustbin. House of the Dragon making dragons and the Targaryens relevant once again. Sure, the huge time gaps took some getting used to, and there wasn’t much of a payoff to Season 1, but count me in for the continued adventures of this bat-shit-crazy Targaryen family.

The Norwegian

Was there a movie as cheeky, weird and raw as The Norwegian? While certainly not the most original film ever released, this Robert Eggers production certainly ranks as one of the more ambitious big budget offerings in recent memory and serves as a thrilling (at times terrifying) tale of good old fashioned revenge. Eggers spent a lot of time and money transporting the audience to the past, and the results do not disappoint.

Amistad extended result

La La Land Records treated film music fans to plenty this year with fantastic releases such as the extended scores for James Horner’s Field of dreams and The Grinchalong with reissues of extended/complete scores for Horner’s Brave heartJerry Goldsmith’s ‘BurbsDanny Elfman Spider Manand David Arnold’s Tomorrow never dies.

Still, my favorite of the bunch was the extended release of John Williams’ largely forgotten score for Steven Spielberg’s Amistad. More somber than your typical Williams album, Amistad delivers the goods via two and a half hours of beautiful music spread over 2 CDs. A must-own for soundtrack collectors.

Better Call Saul – Last Season

The final chapter of Better call Saul delivered everything I wanted and then some. Aided by incredible performances from Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn, creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould offered a slow-burning character drama that was equal parts harrowing and heartbreaking—a perfect prologue and epilogue to Breaking Bad. Better call Saul deserves mention among the greatest TV shows of all time.

Honorable mentions

  • The Fabelman family – Steven Spielberg’s powerful autobiography is among his best films to date. Hopefully this will find an audience on streaming.
  • Violent night – The epic Santa we didn’t know we needed features a riveting star turn by David Harbour.
  • Spirited – I dug this lavish musical production starring Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell. A fun spin on A Christmas carol.
  • The Guardian’s Holiday Special – James Gunn brings the Christmas magic with Guardians and Kevin Bacon.
  • Nix – The third act flies off the rails, but Jordan Peele’s alien epic remains essential entertainment regardless. I never buy a chimpanzee.
  • Ambulance – Audiences turned their noses up at Michael Bay’s latest action extravaganza, but the picture is an exciting bit of adrenaline-fuelled mayhem.
  • x – A wildly graphic A24 production that perfectly captures the feel of an old-fashioned horror film. That’s how it’s done, folks.
  • Completely quiet on the west front – Beautiful, gripping WWI drama with stunningly realistic battle scenes.
  • Congestion – Adam Sandler once again shows off his strong acting chops in this entertaining basketball dramedy that has somehow disappeared since its arrival earlier this year.
  • A Christmas Story Christmas – Man, holiday deals were strong this season. Ralphie returns in a worthy follow-up to the 1983 classic.
  • Moon Knight – The best Marvel produced this year gets praise for trying something new and having the good sense to hire Oscar Isaac in dual roles.

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