We are coming to the last few weeks of 2022 and it is almost that time once again for EYG to look at our annual Year in Review, this time for the year of 2022. This is our twelfth year of doing the Year In Review
We have a bunch of categories in the world of pop culture where EYG will give our opinions. These choices and opinions are those of Embrace Your Geekness and we do not intend on pushing those opinions on anyone. Feel free to agree or disagree with anything that I put on these lists because that is your right. However, these are my opinions and I have the right to mine. Always remember that you can disagree respectfully because cinema is always subjective.
We will be looking at the best and the worst of TV, Movies, YouTube, WWE wrestling, among other things. We have a record of past winners for our awards such as the John Carter Memorial Award for flop of the year as well as several others. We usually add categories every year and this year we will be including a separate TV category for “Super Hero” shows.
These lists and awards will continue until the end of the month of December when the Top 30 best Films of the Year and the Worst Films of the Year lists come out. I am still watching films that could go onto these lists so this is a very active and potentially fluid list. I can say that, although I have an idea of what films will be at the top of each list, I do not have a runaway #1 for either. I am fascinated to see when I sit down and start compiling the list where these films will end up.
As with any year end list, star ratings I give during the year will not be placed in any sort of order. They are, at best, used to generalize the films. A 4.5 star movie may end up higher than a 4.75 star movie on the list. Movies are always adjusting upon reflection.
So as we move forward, we keep an eye to the past.
This will be the In Memoriam graphic used during the Year End Review each year, starting in 2013. This is just a place to put all the art for easy access.
Over the years, there have been some celebrities whom passed away after the In Memoriam was posted in the year end review. I would add a comment when these December deaths would happen. Now, I put together a special In Memoriam for these who missed the main montage.
The annual Top 30 Best Movies List from EYG. Once again, this is all my opinions. If they’re different than yours, that is okay. There should be differences. (Oh, by the way, technically there are 32 films here)
I will remind you again as well that when it comes to the Best Movies list, the star ratings I give during the year are simply guides. A 4.5 star movie may be higher than a 4.75 film in the end. And that is OK.
Here we go….
#30. Mass. I just watched this the other day as I was finishing this list up and I wanted to make sure it had a place on it. Had I seen it earlier, this would have been higher. Emotional gut-punch of a film.
#29. Being the Ricardos. The Amazon Prime original tells the story of a week in the life of Lucille Ball when she was being looked at as a Communist. Greta performances, especially from Nicole Kidmon as Lucy and JK Simmons as William Frawley.
#28. Army of Thieves. The sequel of the film released this same year that we did not know we needed. An actual prequel to the Army of the Dead, this featured thieves instead of zombies.
#27. CODA. This is a great movie on Apple TV +. Featured Emilia Jones as the only non-deaf character in her family. Jones wanted to be a singer, but the family needed her translation skills. Excellent movie with powerful scenes.
#26. Godzilla vs. Kong. The ultimate showdown between the two alpha monsters shook HBO earlier in the year. There was a clean result too. Sure it is campy, but what did you expect? The monster battles continue to be the highlight of these flicks.
#25. Muppet Haunted Mansion. Debuted on Disney + around Halloween this year. It was an hour or so special that featured Gonzo the Great and Pepe the King Pawn spending a night in the Haunted Mansion. It had all the Muppet goodness, but some odd cameos.
#24. Boss Level. Unexpectedly awesome, it featured another version of the “Groundhog Day” style of film with Frank Grillo trying to make his way to the next day. Very entertaining.
#23. Raya & the Last Dragon. And early Disney film this year with the typically great animation and touching story. Raya tried to find the last dragon to save her world from the monstrous Druun.
#22. PG: Psycho Goreman. This one had no right to be as awesome as it was. On Shudder, two kids accidentally unearth an intergalactic overlord, which attracts those beings that buried him in the first place. Funny and exciting, Psycho Goreman is an unexpected treat.
#21. Pig. Nicolas Cage’s pig gets kidnapped )kidnapped? stolen?) and he goes after the thieves. Some thought this was going to be John Wick with a pig, but it was much more introspective than that. Nic Cage gave a powerfully emotional performance and this is much more of a character piece than John Wick.
#20. Free Guy. One of the biggest hits of the year, Free Guy’s success was unexpected. It had been pushed several times and, even when it was about to be released, people did not know about it. However, people knew about it after it was released. Ryan Reynolds plays Ryan Reynolds, but he does it well.
#19. Dune. A film that has now officially became a Part One, Dune is a excellent sci-fi film with great visuals. The story did feel incomplete, because, of course, it was. Denis Villeneuve has gotten his passion project so we’ll see how it continues.
#18. Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Probably one of the most nostalgic films this year. Paul Rudd, McKenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard along with some emotionally satisfying Deus Ex Machinas made Afterlife a lot of Ghostbusting fun.
#17. Mitchells vs. the Machines. From Lord and Miller, this animated movie was colorful, engaging, full of family fun and intelligent. If you missed this, Mitchells vs. the Machines is on Netflix.
#16. A Quiet Place II. A worthy sequel to the huge hit, Part II looks not only at the result of the first film, but flashes back to see how it was like when the aliens first arrived. The contradiction between the noise at the beginning and the silence at the end is compelling.
#15. A Boy Called Christmas. I am so glad that I ended up watching this. I had not planned on it, but I loved it when I did. It hit all the right emotional chords for me and I had tears in my eyes during the third act. Outstanding Christmas movie, right up there with Klaus.
#14. No Time to Die. The long-awaited next film in the James Bond franchise finally arrived, marking the final appearance of Daniel Craig as 007 in a grand and exciting way. It was full of action and a surprising amount of emotion. It provided a beautiful end to Daniel Craig’s run.
#13. Eternals. I was nervous about Eternals because, even though I am a huge comic fan, the Eternals were characters that I was not that familiar with. I found this movie to be much better than I thought it could be and way better than the critics did.
#12. The Suicide Squad. This is so much better than the first film, Suicide Squad, and the main reason is James Gunn was in charge. I was a little disappointed with Starro, but the team’s chemistry overcame all of that and John Cena was great as Peacemaker.
#11. West Side Story. This was a great year for musicals. Steven Spielberg’s reboot of the Oscar-winning movie was not seen by a lot of people’s eyes, but they really missed out on something great. I preferred this version to the original and it had some great dancing and music.
#10. Belfast. Kenneth Branagh’s semi-self autobiographical film showed life in Belfast during the late 1960s. Funnier than expected, Belfast included some amazing performances, in particular from young star Jude Hill.
#9. Black Widow. Giving Natasha Romanoff a background and a “family” was great, if not too long overdue. This film introduced us to Yelena, played so naturally by Florence Pugh, as well as the Red Guardian himself, David Harbour. Scarlett Johansson was deserving of this film for years.
#8. The Rescue. I usually do not include documentaries on this list unless they are special. I had the Fred Rogers doc in the top ten a few years ago and now there is this National Geographic doc about the rescue of a group of Thai kids who were trapped in a cave that is quickly filling with water. This had more tension than most scripted movies this year. It is on Disney +, go see it.
#7. Fear Street trilogy. Yes, I kind of cheat here and I put all three films together, but it would be difficult to divide them into separate films. Fear Street 1994, 1978 and 1666 was so much fun and I really was looking forward to the release the following Friday of the next installment on Netflix.
#6. In the Heights. The second musical on the list (third if you count the Muppets) and the first one in the top 10 so far, In the Heights was such a joy and an amazing experience seeing it in the theater. Lin-Manuel Miranda had a big year and this kicked it off.
#5. In & Of Itself. Derek DelGaudio’s magic show on Hulu was more than a magic show. It was about family, it was about pain, it was about loss. It featured jaw dropping magic. It was one of the earliest experiences I had this year and it was amazing.
#4. Werewolves Within. A comedy horror film that was a mystery too. Could this town be dealing with a murderous werewolf? Or is there something less supernatural about the deaths happening? You’ll keep guessing all the way to the end of this great film.
#3. Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The Master of Kung Fu’s debut in the MCU was brilliant. Shang Chi brought representation to the Asian culture and some of the best martial arts we’ve seen in a while (certainly the best from the MCU). Simu Liu was a wonderful casting as Shang Chi and Awkwafina made us all care about Katie. Plus, dragons!
#2. Tick, Tick…Boom. Andrew Garfield was unbeleivable in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut in a musical about the writing of a musical. Garfield played legendary Jonathan Larson, who would eventually write the massive Broadway hit, Rent. This was before that as he struggled to get the attention he needed. Garfield won EYG Star of the Year and the Strangelove off the power of this performance.
#1. Spider-Man: No Way Home. This was probably a foregone conclusion, but the film was truly great and it was the best experience I had this year. Tom Holland gave his best performance ever and Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina brought such deep feelings back to their famous roles. No Way Home has become the first film to break the $1B level (without a release in China) and it continues to make money. People talk about fan service all the time, but this film does not have much fan service (yes, the lawyer scene is fan service). Fact is, what many people are calling fan service is part of the narrative and not excess. This is how you do this effectively. Spider-Man: No Way Home is amazing and spectacular.
The amount of bad films that I saw this year was down. The fact is that I used to go to the theater to see nearly all of the new releases, no matter what. However, with the pandemic still a problem, if I saw that a film had low Rotten Tomatoes scores or bad word of mouth, I would not go to it. They were also less likely to be bought on a streaming service.
So there is only 20 films this year that make this list.
Through the year, I give star ratings for the films I review. However, those star ratings go out the window for the final consideration for this list. It may help me narrow the list down, but just because one film got 1.5 stars and another got 1.8 stars, it does not mean that is the order that I have it. Opinions on films can change as time moves on.
Finally, this is my list and my opinions. If you disagree, that is fine. It is your right. If you do not like Worst Films lists, that is fine too. You are entitled to your opinion. I disagree and that is my right.
Top 20 Worst Films of 2021
#20. Don’t Breathe 2. I loved the first film, but when they tried to make Stephen Lang’s character the hero of this film after his character was a murderer and a rapist in the first one. Lang was like a superhero too. He did not feel like he was blind. All in all, really disappointing.
#19. Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway. James Cordon’s vehicle was watchable the first time, but the new sequel was terrible. It had a ridiculous story with the humor very limited.
#18. Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins. I guess that new G.I. Joe series of films is a no go, huh? Snake Eyes was truly the villain of this movie and Stormshadow was the hero. Then, the fight scenes were unwatchable.
#17. F9. The Fast and the Furious films were never great, but it went completely off the rail this year. They sent the crew into outer space in a car. The long rumored trip to space actually happened.
#16. Voyagers. It was like Lord of the Flies in outer space, only with less tension or surprises. It was pretty dull too.
#15. Halloween Kills. So many things wrong with the new sequel. The trailers made it look as if this was going to be the final confrontation between Michael Myers and Laurie, but they never see each other in the film. “Evil dies tonight”? Nah.
#14. Woman in the Window. Amy Adams is an agoraphobic, alcoholic, pill-popping child psychologist who witnesses a murder across the street that nobody believes happened. A poor person’s Rear Window, Woman in the Window has so many ridiculous twists that it becomes idiotic.
#13. The Unholy. A young girl seems to have gained the power of healing from the Virgin Mary, but Jeffrey Dean Morgan has doubts. I wish I had doubts before seeing this.
#12. The Forever Purge. In a film all about the anti-immigration ideas, the Forever Purge wastes our time with silly characters and bad decisions.
#11. Space Jam: A New Legacy. In what turned out to be a basic commercial for HBO Max and the WB franchises, LeBron James added to the argument why Michael Jordon is better than he is. And they killed Bugs Bunny.
#10. Reminiscence. Hugh Jackman stars in this sci-fi love story about memory and searching the past for lost memories. This neo-noir wannabe is just a waste of time.
#9. Thunder Force. How can a film with Octavia Spencer and Melissa McCarthy be this unfunny? The worst superhero movie of the year would have been higher if it had not been for Jason Bateman’s Jerry the Crab character. The rest is terrible.
#8. Addams Family 2. I do like the character designs of the Addams Family in this animated film, but the story is so stupid and the character choices make zero sense. You should not have to dumb down the Addams Family to get kids to enjoy it.
#7. Monster Hunter. Another failed video game adaptation, Milla Jovovich plays the same character she has been playing since The Fifth Element. Oh, how I miss Leeloo.
#6. Mortal Kombat. Another failed video game franchise film. Mortal Kombat is dumb and dull. It takes too long to get into the story and it never gets to what we wanted to see.
#5. America: The Motion Picture. I hated this. I had hear some positive things, but it has ever bit of humor that I despite. I found it completely unfunny and mostly offensive. One of the worst animated film of the year.
#4. Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin. I have no doubt that this movie was, in no way, a Paranormal Activity movie. I believe they had a film and they tossed the Paranormal Activity tag on it to try and boost the film’s profile. It failed.
#3. The Devil Below. Honestly, any of the top three could have been #1. These are the three lowest rated films of the year for EYG. I am so glad this is the last time I have to talk about this movie.
#2. Infinite. I purchased Paramount + to see if this was as bad as everybody was saying. It is. Don’t watch it.
#1. Tom & Jerry. There is a reason why the old Tom & Jerry cartoons were shorts. This was just terrible use of these characters in a stupid film with a idiotic story. This was one of the earliest films of the year and ends it on the top of the worst list.
I am adding a second winner because I just saw this movie and had I seen it before, it would have been a shoo-in.
HERE is what was before:
Sometimes a movie does not have an obvious lead actor or actress and, instead, has a group of characters that all serve the story. The group is recognized with this award.
The Avengers: Endgame Ensemble Cast of the Year Award
Previous Winners: Avengers: Endgame, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Runners-Up: Marvel’s Eternals is a perfect example of the ensemble cast. We meet a whole flock of new characters in Chloé Zhao‘s epic. James Gunn put out another great super hero…well, maybe a super villain… film this year called The Suicide Squad. It was a top notch ensemble too including Margot Robbie, Sylvester Stallone and John Cena, to name a few. West Side Story has a great ensemble for the remake of the 1961 Oscar winner. Fear Street was a three film series released on Netflix for three weeks with a group of actors who played different characters in the different time periods.
Winner: In the Heights
Lin Manuel-Miranda’s stage play made the leap to the big screen in 2021 and the cast was just tremendous. Along with Manuel-Miranda, there was Anthony Ramos, Leslie Grace, Olga Merediz, Jimmy Smits, Corey Hawkins, Melissa Barrera, Dascha Polanco, Ariana Greenblatt, Stephanie Beatriz, Rita Moreno, Marc Anthony, Gregory Diaz IV, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Noah Catala.
GOING ALONG WITH IN THE HEIGHTS, THE TIE GOES TO….
These four actors are so brilliant in this movie that they bring such emotion and such an amazing energy without any clear lead. This is the perfect example of an ensemble as they are special. The four actors are Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, and Martha Plimpton.
Yes, nobody sets out to make a bad movie. Yet, it happens quite a bit. You cannot just brush it under the rug. Bad is part of life. And as anything else, movies are subjective and maybe what I think is bad is your favorite thing. More power to you.
Worst Movie: That will come to the Worst movie list in a day or two.
Worst Actor: Mark Wahlberg, Infinite. Wahlberg can be so goo. And then there is this.
Worst Actress: Milla Jovovich, Monster Hunter. She has never been good since Leeloo.
Worst CGI: Monster Hunter. CGI that is bad hurts this movie especially
Worst Sequel: Addams Family 2. Did not get any better.
Worst Superhero Movie: Thunder Force. Great year of superhero movies, and then there was this.
Worst Director: Tim Story, Tom & Jerry. Tim, Tim. Why?
My Favorite “Rotten” Movie: Eternals. I loved this. It was much better than I expected and I am surprised that the critics were not fans where the audience was.
Worst Movie I Did Not See: Dear Evan Hansen. This was a great year for musicals. And then there was Dear Evan Hansen.
Cashing a Paycheck: Bruce Willis (for his multiple direct-to-streaming films). Bruce seemed to have an unending list of movies in 2021 and none of them are heard of. This is the definition of cashing a paycheck.
Book was Better: Without Remorse. I have not read the book, but it would have to be better.
Worst Reboot/Remake: Tom & Jerry. Yup
Most Successful Bad Movie: F9. They went to space. In a car. ‘Nuff said.
Worst Movie Based on TV Show: Tom & Jerry. Tom & Jerry is all over this list. Foreshadowing, perhaps?
Worst Performance from Oscar Winner: Octavia Spencer. She was really slumming in this Netflix flop.
Worst Fighting: Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins. I could not see anything. The fight scenes are nearly unwatchable and when that happens, there is not much hope for Snake Eyes.
Previous Winners: James McAvoy (Split), Denzel Washington (Fences), Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Michael Keaton (Birdman), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips), Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Ryan Gosling (Drive), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), Joaquin Phoenix (Joker), Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)
#15. Jonathan Majors (The Harder They Fall)
#14. Joaquin Phoenix (C’mon C’mon)
#13. Bradley Cooper (Nightmare Alley)
#12. Mahershala Ali (Swan Song)
#11. Tom Hanks (Finch)
#10. Jake Gyllenhaal (The Guilty)
#9. Daniel Craig (NO Tome to Die)
#8. Anthony Ramos (In the Heights)
#7. Jude Hill (Belfast)
#6. Nicolas Cage (Pig)
#5. Ryan Reynolds (New Guy)
#4. Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog)
#3. Will Smith (King Richard)
Will Smith gives one of his best performances as the father of Serena and Venus Williams. This biopic takes a look at the way Richard kept his plan to bring his daughters to the top of the world of tennis. Richard Williams is a controversial figure and Will Smith brings him to life.
#2. Tom Holland (Spider-Man: No Way Home)
Tom Holland gave his best performance of his young career as we see his development of Peter Parker. His sixth appearance as Peter gives us the most emotion, the most powerful, the hero that Spider-Man is. With great power there must come great responsibility. The MCU Peter Parker finally learned that lesson and Tom Holland was right there.
#1. Andrew Garfield (Tick, Tick…Boom)
Our EYG Star of the Year, Andrew Garfield wins the prestigious Strangelove Award. His work in Tick, Tick…Boom, the story of the creator of Rent, Jonathan Larson, is just amazing (no pun intended). Who knew he could sing the way he did? Apparently not even Garfield. Andrew Garfield has always been known as a top actor, but this film put him on a new level.
Previous Winners: Frances McDormand (3 Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri), Viola Davis (Fences), Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road), Rosemund Pike (Gone Girl), Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Berenice Bejo (The Artist), Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn), Yalitza Aparicio (Roma), Renee Zellweger (Judy), Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)
#15. Rooney Mara (Nightmare Alley)
#14. Tessa Thompson (Passing)
#13. Emma Stone (Cruella)
#12. Naomie Harris (Swan Song)
#11. Rosamund Pike (I Care A Lot)
#10. Megan Fox (‘Til Death)
#9. Jennifer Hudson (Respect)
#8. Margot Robbie (The Suicide Squad)
#7. Emilia Jones (CODA)
#6. Angelina Jolie (Eternals)
#5. Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos)
#4. Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye)
#3. Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow)
The long overdue Black Widow MCU solo movie finally hit the big screen this year and Scarlett Johansson delivered. She had great chemistry with Florence Pugh, David Harbour and Rachel Weitz. She looked like she should be leading a MCU movie. It is a shame that Natasha died in Endgame because her solo movie status just started.
#2. Kristen Stewart (Spencer)
Kristen Stewart has come a long way since Twilight. Her brilliant take as Princess Diana in Spencer this year was haunting. She showed the problems that Diana had to face within the Royal Family and how her marriage with Charles caused her such emotional problems. Kristen Stewart gave her career defining performance in Stewart.
#1. Rachel Zegler (West Side Story)
Rachel Zegler is a star. This was her big screen debut and she became the first debut performance to win The Liz Award. She was a light through Spielberg’s West Side Story. You could not take your eyes off of her in every scene she was in. Her voice is beautiful and she has that “IT” factor. She has a long career ahead of her.
Previous Winners:Patrick Stewart (Logan), Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals), Sylvester Stallone (Creed), Edward Norton (Birdman), Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained), Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Richard Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Robert Downey Jr (Avengers: Endgame), Sasha Baron Cohen (Trial of the Chicago 7)
#15. Jimmy Smits (In the Heights)
#14. Ben Affleck (The Last Duel)
#13. Jon Bernthal (King Richard)
#12. John Cena (The Suicide Squad)
#11. David Alvarez (West Side Story)
#10. David Harbour (Black Widow)
#9. Robin de Jesus (Tick, Tick…Boom)
#8. Delroy Lindo (The Harder They Fall)
#7. Andrew Garfield (The Eyes of Tammy Faye)
#6. Troy Kotsar (CODA)
#5. Ciarán Hinds (Belfast)
#4. J.K. Simmons (Being the Ricardos)
#3. Eugenio Derbez (CODA)
Eugenio Derbez gave us a wonderful performance as the music teacher from CODA who inspired Emilia Jones to continue to push through the challenges. He did it with humor, dedication and a brilliant performance.
#2. Tony Leung (Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings)
Legendary Tony Leung brought more humanity to Wenwu than you ever expected and he made you think that Wenwu had relatable reasons for what he was doing. He is one of the best of the Marvel villains this year.
#1. Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man: No Way Home).
Then there is the top Marvel villain this year. Norman Osborn ditched the Power Ranger mask and became much more terrifying as the Green Goblin. Willem Dafoe was absolutely on fire during this film and he deserves this place.
Previous Winners:Dafne Keene (Logan), Tilda Swinton (Dr. Strange), Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina), Emma Stone (Birdman), Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), Sally Field (Lincoln), Jennifer Aniston (Horrible Bosses), Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place), Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit), Margo Martindale (Blow the Man Down)
#15. Marisa Tomei (Spider-Man: No Way Home).
#14. Marlee Matlin (CODA)
#13. Zendaya (Spider-Man: No Way Home)
#12. Regina King (The Harder They Fall)
#11. Maggie Smith (A Boy Called Christmas)
#10. Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place II)
#9. Awkwafina (Swan Song)
#8. Nina Arianda (Being the Ricardos)
#7. Judi Dench (Belfast)
#6. Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard)
#5. Caitriana Balfe (Belfast)
#4. Ariana DeBose (West Side Story)
#3. Olga Merediz (In The Heights)
Olga returned to her role from the stage and she was one of the major points of In The Heights. I loved her song and she was an emotional key.
#2. Florence Pugh (Black Widow).
Florence Pugh feels like such a natural. She was one of the best parts of the Black Widow movie. She is going to be a mainstay in the MCU for years to come.
#1. Rita Moreno (West Side Story).
This year’s winner is an iconic legend who won an Oscar for the original West Side Story. Rita Moreno brings so much energy and a powerhouse performance for the new film in a new role. She is an amazing woman.
2021 was supposed to be better than 2020, and, to an extent, it was. Theaters were opening back up, COVID-19 was not as deadly (though it has some variants), and the world was getting back to “normal.”
Some of the biggest stories of 2021 affected all of us, geek or not. The Jan. 6th events are a good example. That was a huge story from 2021, and could work with the Geek brand (I actually heard about it for the first time at my comic shop), but I am leaving it out. Sticking with the pop culture references that stand out.
In no particular order, here are the Top Geek Stories of 2021 from EYG
Disney + Marvel Series create cooler talk. When Disney + first released WandaVision in January, there were plenty of people calling for them to drop the entire series, ala Netflix. However, Disney + used the weekly method and it brought all kinds of buzz to the series. First WandaVision, then Loki, What If…? and finally Hawkeye. It was appointment viewing with people staying up into the night to watch the premiere. With more series in 2022, Disney + should continue its excellence.
Spider-Man: NoWay Home Trailer…where is it? The internet lost their minds this year as they waited for the first Spider-Man: No way Home trailer to drop. With the rumored cameos expected in the movie, fandom lost their minds wondering what the studio was going to show us. There were YouTube videos everywhere detailing every little detail. Clickbait articles popped up everywhere.
Shang Chi Labor Day Weekend Dominance. Shang Chi destroyed the record for any movie released over the typically slow Labor Day weekend. It made over 70 million (and 90 million over the five day period). It was another massive success for Marvel Studios.
William Shatner in Space. Yes, Captain Kirk himself found his way into outer space aboard the Bezo’s aerospace company Blue Origin’s New Shepard NS-18. The 91 year old actor made it up and back safely.
Squid Game. The show that influenced pop culture the most this year would be on Netflix and it came from South Korea. Squid Game was what everyone was talking about during a stretch of the year. The show was amazing, emotional and played with those emotions expertly.
ScarJo takes on Disney. Scarlett Johansson was unhappy when Disney released Black Widow on Disney + premium as well as in the theaters. She believed that that strategy cost the film millions of dollars and she filed a lawsuit. This created some real tension within the studio, though Marvel Studio head quietly supported Scarlett. They settled the lawsuit a few weeks later and ScarJo announced she was producing a secret project with Marvel. Maybe a story for the future.
Gina Carano Out of the Mandalorian. People still do not realize that they need to be careful with what they post on social media. Gina Carano, who played Rebel Alliance soldier Cara Dune, was released from her contract because of tweets she made comparing being a Republican these days to being a Jewish person in the Holocaust. Some were mad about her being “cancelled” but others thought it was the right thing to do. Watch what you put out on social media.
WWE Releases 80+ wrestlers. Citing money issues, the WWE spent much of 2021 releasing wrestlers from their company. And not just any wrestlers, but huge named stars such as Braun Strowman, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt, Jeff Hardy, The Iconics, Keith Lee, Karrion Kross, Bronson Reed, John Morrison, Nia Jax, Eva Marie, Ember Moon, Fandango, Aleister Black, Buddy Murphy, Ruby Riott, Andrade, and Mickie James. Some of these performers were in mid storyline. It was a tough year to be a WWE Superstar.
Dave Chappelle and Netflix. The comedian Dave Chappelle had a big Netflix special, but it received a ton of backlash because of the topics that he covered, in particular, his remarks about transgender people. However, the cancellation did not seem to last too long as Chappelle is still scheduled to lead a Netflix comedy festival in 2022.
Spider-Man: No Way Home crosses $1B. After an opening weekend that was the second largest domestically ever at $260 million, Spider-Man: No Way Home became the first film to cross the 1 billion dollar club since The Rise of Skywalker in 2019. The film holds a 94% critics response on Rotten Tomatoes as well as a 99% audience rating. The Marvel-Sony hybrid became the most successful film of the year in a week period and created amazing and spectacular word of mouth from audiences who loved the story.
We are up to the Best Director Award given out at EYG. We do not always match what the Oscars do since we focus in on some genre specific film more than the Academy does. Still… here are previous winners:
“All Right, Mr. Deville, I am Ready for my Close Up” Award for Best Director
Previous Winners: A.G. Inarritu (Birdman), Tim McCarthy (Spotlight), Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman), Alfonso Cuarón (Roma), Anthony and Joe Russo (Avengers: Endgame), Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods)
#12. Guillermo Del Toro, Nightmare Alley. Even though I was split with this movie, the atmosphere and direction cannot be blamed. De Toro did an admirable job.
#11. Wes Anderson, French Dispatch. The four stories told each required a deft hand and Wes Anderson brought his specific quirks to the film. It was a wonderful film.
#10. Sian Heder, CODA. The film on Apple TV + featured a family of deaf people with one daughter who can hear and wants to sing. The shots of the ASL and its use was important to the story.
#9. James Gunn, The Suicide Squad. James Gunn managed his large cast extremely well, although when you just kill a bunch of them off, maybe it is not handling it that much. This is way better than the first Suicide Squad film and much of the credit goes to Gunn.
#8. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast. I did not expect to love this movie as much as I do. Kenneth Branagh has a great touch at the young humor and the powerful images.
#7. Jon M. Chu, In the Heights. With such a massive cast and so many dance routines and songs, a musical of this scope requires a sound director and John Chu made In the Heights a classic.
#6. Chloé Zhao, Eternals. Last year’s Oscar winner, Chloé did a tremendous job with a huge cast of Marvel heroes that nobody really knew. The look of Eternals was not the issue people had with this film.
#5. Denis Villeneuve, Dune. Dune was a passion project for Villeneuve and it showed. One of the largest scale films of the year, it will be interesting to see what Denis does with the scheduled sequel.
#4. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story. Taking a beloved classic film and rebooting it for a new age is tough, but Spielberg is one of the greatest of all time. I actually liked this way more than I did the original.
#3. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tick, Tick…Boom. As a directorial debut, Lin-Manuel did a fantastic job with the dance numbers and songs of the musical. He placed Andrew Garfield in a position where he had to sing and only found out later that he could. Gutsy.
#2. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog. A Netflix film with a great cast and a powerhouse story, all mixed into a Western. She has a complex tale with some wonderful characters and a top notch performance from Benedict Cumberbatch.
#1. Jon Watts, Spider-Man: No Way Home. He had to manage so much. Characters from other films. A bunch of story. Aunt May’s death. And he brought out the best performance we have ever seen from Tom Holland, and he brought out the best Spidey performance from Andrew Garfield and he brought out Willem Dafoe’s raw and powerful performance. I can’t wait to see Jon Watts with FF.
Animation was pretty good in 2021. There were several decent films and the worst of the animation was really combination live action/animation.
And with that, we’ll start with the worst of the animated movies.
Worst Animation: America: The Motion Picture.
I heard such good things about this and I thought it was such a horrid, disgusting film, with mean-spirited humor and filled with hatred. More vicious than satire, I will never feel the need to revisit this piece of “history”
Dis-Honorable Mentions: The two live-action/animation mash-ups were Tom and Jerry and Peter Rabbit2. Both are huge flops and so unfunny. The other animated film that I did not enjoy at all this year was The Addams Family 2. I disliked the first one and the sequel did not improve much. I was disappointed in Encanto, but that is one that I am hoping to revisit on Disney + before school restarts. I have a feeling this will be one that I like more on a second viewing.
EYG Frame Award- Best Animation
Previous Winners:Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse, Coco, Moana, Inside Out, Big Hero 6, Flashpoint Paradox, Paranorman, Winnie the Pooh, Klaus, Wolfwalkers
Best Animated Movie: Mitchells vs. the Machines
The biggest surprise in animation this year is Mitchells vs. the Machines from Netflix. Produced by Lord and Miller, this was funny, brilliant animation, full of color and bright imagery and a banging story of family and love and fun.
Honorable Mentions: Luca started the year off with a solid Pixar film, but I just thought it was not quite up to par. Batman Long Halloween came in two parts to the specialty market. Raya & the Last Dragon is another wonderful Disney release. Wish Dragon was another Netflix animation that was fantastic. I just saw Ron’s Gone Wrong on Disney +. It was a very enjoyable story with fun characters. I really enjoyed the music of Sing 2 this past weekend.
Best Animation in Television
We’ve added the TV category once again. Here are the top 4.
#4. Hit Monkey. I am still working on this. It is fun, bloody Marvel fun.
#3. Masters of the Universe: Revelations. I don’t care what the internet said, Kevin Smith’s adaptation was a lot of fun and exciting adventure.
#2. Invincible. Amazon Prime’s comic adaptation was shockingly good and bloody as could be.
#1. What If…?
Marvel Studios’ first animated series looks to be important in the MCU after all. We get great voice work from a bunch of returning MCU actors and The Watcher! Vision as Ultron? T’Challa Star Lord? Captain Carter? Evil Doctor Strange (who looks as if he is going to be in Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness in May). What If…? has been renewed for season two and the possibilities are endless.
There have been a ton of horror movies again this year. Horror has had a renaissance over the last few years and there have been some high concept horror that have been great. There have also been several horror films that did not reach the levels you might hope for.
Let’s start with…
The Worst Horror Movie of 2021: The Devil Below
It has a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. Admittedly only 11 reviews, but still, 0%? The film deals with coal miners and their heading into an underground area in an abandoned place nestled deep in Appalachian country. They find something there that is deadly. Could it be…
Or not. Maybe just some horrible CGI demon of some sort. Either way it was not memorable and not enjoyable.
Dis-Honorable Mentions: There was a new Paranormal Activity movie called Next of Kin which did not feel like a Paranormal Activity movie at all. Unholy featured a hearing impaired girl who was supposed able to heal people after being approached by the Virgin Mary. Or maybe not. Could it be Satan, Again? Don’t Breathe 2 tried to make me cheer and root for the mass murderer/rapist from the first film. Didn’t want to do that. Spiral: From the Book of Saw was a film I saw coming. The Forever Purge lacked the power of some of the franchises previous films. Halloween Kills was such a disappointment and a bad, bad film.
Best Horror Movie
Previous Winners: A Quiet Place, It, Don’t Breathe, It Follows, The Conjuring, As Above So Below, Cabin in the Woods, Doctor Sleep, Black Box
Best Horror Movie(s) of 2021: Fear Street trilogy
This may be cheating, but I am connecting all three films, Fear Street 1994, 1978 and 1666, together as a trilogy. This three week release strategy on Netflix was awesome and the quality of the three films had me looking forward to the next Friday almost immediately.
Honorable Mention: I almost gave this award to PG: Psycho Gorman from Shudder. It was one of the most entertaining films, not just horror films, of the year. Antlers featured a fantastic performance from young Jeremy T. Thomas. Willy’s Wonderland showed Nic Cage in a role where he didn’t speak. A Quiet Place 2 was a solid sequel, though not up to the first one. Last Night in Soho was a supernatural story of two time periods. Just saw Lucky, also on Shudder, and it was a new take on slasher movies with a shock end.