It doesn’t seem like nearly a decade since I started covering entertainment news for This Is Infamous. Yet here we are, and I’ve FINALLY compiled my 10th annual list of what I consider to be the top 10 in genre entertainment for 2022 on the big or small screen. It doesn’t matter how we consume our entertainment anymore.
There was a time when a televised motion picture or weekly produced series carried with it a negative stigma. That changed with the advent of serialized series, like HBO’s The Sopranos, and ABC’s Twin Peaks. These led to LOST, Heroes, and a reimagined Battlestar Galactica. Soon, every network (sic streaming service) had a flagship show, and Breaking Bad led the pack until The Walking Dead premiered. The Walking Dead helped contribute to the resurgence in the horror genre. And then came Game of Thrones, a 10 year, bittersweet love affair with its fandom.
The same can be said of Superhero entertainment. Once regulated to newstrips, comic books, low budget theatrical affairs and no budget TV. No better example can be given for how the industry has changed over the last decade. Iron Man busted the flood gates open. Now, superheroes dominate the multiplex blockbusters, while horror is the darling of independent cinema.
We may not know it, but we are living in the last era of animated films from big studios, especially Disney. With CGI being as advanced as it is, traditional animation is doomed. When Disney started making live action reinterpretations of their IPs, the days of traditional animators, and even PIXAR staff, started counting down.
Regarding Superhero films, many believe we are in overload, and the subgenre is doomed. I disagree. James Gunn taking over at DC was the best thing they could have done. Batman, for the most part, hasn’t been a problem for WB, and I think they should build off that universe. Even The Rock couldn’t save Black Adam from being a pale copy of the MCU. I also think people will be surprised at what happens in the MCU phase 5.
Horror, Superheroes, and the legacy sequel continue to dominate the box office, and this list. You may notice some television/streaming shows that were on previous top 10’s didn’t make it. For example, as funny as season 4 of What We Do in the Shadows is, it isn’t as good as previous seasons. Halloween Ends was polarizing, and as a result, failed to make this list. Game of Thrones in the guise of House of the Dragon was great, but not great enough because of the jarring time jumps. American Horror Story seems to have been usurped by its own progeny, And don’t talk to me about The Walking Dead… Enough chatter and commentary. Here’s the top 10:
10 Something in the Dirt – The renegade pandemic movie from Benson and Moorhead, also stars the writing/directing team. They’re the kings of cinematic cosmic horror, and have benefited from working on Marvel’s Moon Knight series. This movie, about a pair of sad sack conspiracy theorists, is a welcome addition to their theatrical library.
9 American Horror Stories, Season 2 – The anthology spin off the long running anthology series from Ryan Murphy. Manny Coto’s work shined through in the second season, and I for one can’t wait for his first theatrical film. As I said before, American Horror Stories is Ryan Murphy’s Prodigal Son, often surpassing the mother series, especially with its main continuity tie-ins. And this season was no different. The episode linked to Coven, Dollhouse, kicks off the season with a bang. But it’s the extreme horror of NECRO that really clinched the deal for this season making the top 10.
8 Prey – There is a path entertainment properties take. A movie will get sequels, each one with a lower budget than the previous entry, then it will either get a made-for-TV movie OR a TV series. Sometimes, a comic book adaptation will be made and catch some notoriety, but only for a brief moment. The Predator franchise has touched most all these bases, or at least it had the sequels and comic books covered, until the pandemic, and Disney decided to release the next film in the franchise on HULU (basically, it’s a made-for-TV movie). But, much like The Night Stalker fifty years before it (the ABC broadcast of the movie premiere of the adaptation of The Kolchak Tapes novel held the top spot as the most watched TV program until the series finale of M*A*S*H!), PREY made an impact. Critically acclaimed as a return to form for the franchise, the fans loved it, too.
7 Andor – Andor is the best of the Star Wars live action series because it delivered on what The Mandalorian promised us but reneged on – doesn’t have any freaking Jedi. Telling the story of a character we know is doomed to die, it somehow manages to maintain levels of tension not seen in other Star Wars spin-offs. The stakes are high and all too real. It’s also dark, and shows us that people in Star Wars do get naked and bump uglies, and yeah, shit is shit, even a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. This is the first Star Wars property I can safely say isn’t Epic Pooh – it actually shows the evils of war and what war does to people.
6 The Black Phone – C. Robert Cargill and Scott Derrickson are a force to reckon with. The former writer at Ain’t It Cool News met Scott Derrickson at an entertainment function, and that led to them being the creative team behind Marvel’s Doctor Strange. And this film, The Black Phone, is the reason Derrickson left Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. I’m so glad he did – and so are you. Because The Black Phone is my favorite horror movie of the year. It’s this generation’s family horror movie, much like Spielberg’s original Poltergeist.
5 The Northman – Vikings, like Cowboys, Pirates, and Dinosaurs, are a story bacon. Their addition makes everything better. Robert Egger’s clever reimaging of Shakespeare’s Hamlet goes back to the source material to create a beautiful film. Eggers drew his inspiration not only from The Bard, but from other historical figures of the era, as seen in Anya Taylor Joy’s witch, Olga (whom smarter people than me realized was an allegory for Olga the Great, the iconic figure responsible for the Ukraine national identity). But it’s the fierce determination of Alexander Skarasgarrd’s Amleth that drives the narrative. Part horror film, part fantasy, part revenge story, all Viking.
4 Peacemaker – I’m a splatterpunk author and splatterpunk appeals to me. For those unsure of what splatterpunk is, try watching James Gunns’ The Peacemaker show on HBO MAX. Like the half-orcs of AD&D fame, this show is rash, brash, and generally obnoxious. Season one focused on the DC version of the MCU’s Skrull Invasion angle, with the Butterflies. It’s an over the top splat fest, with juvenile humor, more sexual innuendo than Beavis & Butthead, and a heart like none other. What makes something splatterpunk and not just extreme, is the message delivered by the story being told. Peacemaker’s complex, titular hero and his relationship with his abusive, white-supremacist father are at the heart of this show. Peacemaker’s PTSD over the abuse he received drives him to be a better hero, and it’s how he grows throughout the series that appeals to everyone, not just fans of splatter gore.
3 BLACK PANTHER: Wakanda Forever – The MCU’s eulogy to the memory of Chadwick Boseman introduced the best villain/anti-hero of Marvel’s Phase 4, Namor. A tear fest for fans of the Boseman and his character T’Challa, director Ryan Coogler gut punches you right away, and we spend the film going through DABDA (the 5-Stages of Death – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance), through the eyes of Queen Ramonda and Shuri.
2 The Batman – Riddle me this… Is The Batman a Batman movie? Yes. Is it a Police Procedural Drama? Yes. Is it a horror movie? Oh, yes. Is it a commentary on the current socio-political state in the USA? Yes, indeed. And it’s because of all of these points that Matt Reeves’ The Batman is not only one of the best movies of 2022, it’s also the best Stand Alone Batman movie ever made (and I’m looking at you, Dark Knight!). Robert Pattison is in prime form as Bruce Wayne, but it’s the grittiness, the realism, of this film that appeals to me.I am looking forward to the HBOMAX companion series.
1 Avatar: The Way of Water – Unlike the film, I’ll keep this short. NEVER, EVER bet against James Cameron. Yes, it is Moby Dick. Yes, it is 3 hours long. Yes, it is Papyrus font. With that all being said… It is also the best non-MCU science fiction film of 2022. Do not prejudge, enjoy this film and its wonders and see it on the big screen in 3D.