2022 - A Year In Review
So where do you even start? I've sat down over the past few days to write this piece for the site, stared at the blank, expectant page, nonplussed, and then got up again and boiled the kettle, usually to prep a hot water bottle. It has been chilly of late and these old bones are starting to feel it more and more often. Age may only be a number but it has never been so important that it remains above zero. Suffice to say, compulsion has so far held back duty. Like any self-respecting gold-digger (you know who you are, madam), something better might come along, I guess, but at some point you still have to jump up on the ninety-year-old and grind like your life depended on it.
And so, here we are, at the grind of 2022.
With the imminent arrival of Cinebuffs' best of the year (television anyday now and movies still a couple of awards parties away, think end of Feb, as it has come to be over the last decade or so) it seems politic as we leave the cave that was this year, squinting into the light that 2023 promises, that we hark back at some of the last twelve months' best (and not so best) bits.
Cinebuffs, in this and all of its previous incarnations, has always stood for/by entertainment value. This has never faltered. We do not agree in providing opinion for profit, hence a noticeable lack of advertising and a lack of affiliation. We do it because we love it and would do it anyway, regardless. Yes, we have been paid for doing it before because we do know our shit, believe it or not, but to remain relevant is not to provide critical opinion through the promise of riches as that is a dangerous moral quandary to navigate. Cinebuffs refuses to become beholden to any one individual or organisation, as freedom of speech, ugly though it may sometimes be, is more important than it ever was, seeing as it appears to be being abused almost everywhere you look. We will never be unduly harsh or gush without suitable validity. We think you prefer it that way, which is handy, as we already agree with you.
It has often been the case that when the top ten or twenty movies as judged here are announced, that you may well have heard of only a few of them and may have seen even less. This is a passion, but not necessarily for you, so don't be surprised. This is not because Cinebuffs is a place for auteurs. From from it. Whilst we appreciate art in cinema, we give it the same amount of respect as anything else and that includes triple A blockbusters. The question is always the same - does it entertain? Is it worth your time and money? We won't pull punches, but you're welcome to ignore us, should you want to. I would encourage you look here as well as other places of reliable commentary. You'll do that anyway, I would hope against hope.
Take Our Money
By the end of the year, I wanted to take a gander at just what was moving and shaking all of us at the box office and subscriptions services. Did the projects with the biggest marketing budgets bring in the big bucks and what, if any, influence would the rise in prominence from the East mean for Hollywood coffers? Would the best films make the most money?
You can't help but have noticed a rather pleased Tom Cruise pictured at the top of this article. And he's not chuffed without good reason. Summer blockbusters don't really come any bigger than the highly anticipated sequel to Top Gun. But just how big it became was a surprise even to him. The original Top Gun doesn't appear anywhere on either Rolling Stone's or Timeout's best 100 films of the 1980s, which makes the result even more perplexing. Written by Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer and Cruise's regular Mission: Impossible collaborator, Christopher McQuarrie, Top Gun: Maverick stunned everyone by its success. It's no secret that Cruise is a box-office magnet, but the success was unprecedented and by some degree, Cruise's most financially successful film of all time so far.
Not quite the distance from original film to the arrival of its sequel (it took 36 years between Top Gun and Maverick), there was only a mere thirteen years between James Cameron's Avatar and the follow-up, The Way of Water. It's been a while since 'The King of the World' and his best-selling original film, overtaking his own Titanic and the highest grossing movie in history in the process and here Avatar still sits today on a global
all-time sales list, just shy of three billion dollars. The Way of Water hasn't had anything like the time it would take to reach these lofty heights, but the further adventures of Jake Sully on Pandora, released only in December 2022 has already soared past the billion dollar mark in revenue and looks like becoming what will be the highest grossing movie of the year when it has time to catch up with Cruise's afterburners.
Just sneaking over the one billion dollar revenue marker and at the time, the last of only three on the list so far this year comes Jurassic Park: Dominion with a perfect example of the industry's tendency to laziness where possible, casting the old guard of previous films to pad out projects for the purposes of nostalgia, so the likes of Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum all make an appearance to one degree or another.
It clearly didn't do their box office takings any harm at all, even if you do get the distinct impression that the numbers were down to the completionists rather than the lovers of fine cinema. Like the previous two mentioned, Jurassic Park is a monster franchise of bewildering proportions and for better or worse, this was always going to be a banker for Director Colin Trevorrow.
The Entire Movers & Shakers List 2022 - Ref Box Office Mojo
1 - Top Gun: Maverick
2 - Avatar: The Way of Water
3 - Jurassic Park: Dominion
4 - Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
5 - Minions - The Rise of Gru
6 - Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
7 - The Batman
8 - Thor: Love and Thunder
9 - Watergate Bridge
10 - Moon Man
Scanning down the list, even the regular cinema enthusiast may be surprised by the inclusion of those projects in ninth and tenth places respectively. Water Gate Bridge, a Chinese production and another sequel, this time to The Battle at Lake Changjin earned its place with a global worldwide box office take of over 626 million dollars. A couple of hundred million behind is Moon Man, another Chinese production. What is important to note is that less than a million dollars of the revenue from each of these pictures comes from outside China, their country of origin. By comparison Avatar: The Way of Water has only made 104 million dollars in China so far, less than a fifth of Water Gate Bridge.
Opinion will always be divided and some of the best movies out there will often raise little more than a heavy sigh, depending on the audience. Tom Brookes' Talking Movies for the BBC dropped his list only a few days ago and whilst there is at least a couple of pearls to be found amongst the hubbub, it is just one person's opinion, which therefore makes it no more or less relevant than my own opinion. The opposite of this is Imdb's Fifty Films of 2022 which is made up entirely of fan opinion of huge numbers. Rolling Stone picks 22 for 2022 of course, which has some similarities to both of the previous lists mentioned but some surprising additions that you may not expect. The same is largely true from Timeout too.
Whilst it may not be the last words on movies for the year of 2022 (that will come from me, of course, leading up to the Oscars 2023), it is an interesting marker for what mass audiences were drawn to and have loved in the last twelve months.
The reason for leaving it so late to post my recommendations in the form of a top twenty for this year is solely because the UK doesn't get the same release dates as the US and I wouldn't then be giving some really potentially great movies the chance to be included, if I haven't personally seen it. For now, keep watching the screen!