End of Year 2022: Favorite Watching

While we are a community focused on games and how they intersect with our lives, we’ve never shied away from exploring and discussing other media critically and enthusiastically. It only seems appropriate, then, that our End of Year event offer up a space for us to share our own “Waypoints” from 2022.

This topic is dedicated to anything that you watched. As pretty much the whole realm of moving image, that can mean a lot of things! A big blockbuster, a small indie film, a prestige drama, a great anime, or even a YouTube video! Whatever it is, feel free to tell us all about it!

[Hub Thread]

I do feel like some of the best documentarians working in film today are doing so by making YouTube videos, and, thinking about this topic, most of what comes to mind for me is their work. There are a few honorable mentions for me — Dan Olson’s Line Goes Up was somehow from this year, and Jon Bois/Dorktown’s four-part documentary on Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Dave Stieb came out in March. The ending of Episode 3, about the conclusion of Stieb’s career-long quest for a no-hitter, filled with near misses and incredibly bad luck, contains the best description of the sport of baseball I’ve ever heard anyone put into words.

But I think the runaway winner for me is Defunctland’s documentary on the history of the Disney Channel theme.

I got very into Defunctland in the summer, rewatched a bunch of the channel’s videos and watched a bunch more for the first time, and it’s striking to see how Kevin Perjurer develops from someone making quick and simple videos about defunct theme parks to these increasingly involved, funny, and — at this point — deeply moving documentaries about the overwhelming amount of unseen creative work that goes into making theme parks and entertainment experiences. I think this one is worth watching without knowing anything else, but I will say that its ending spoke to a lot of my own anxieties as an artist, and it’s a worthwhile watch for anyone who cares about the process of making art.

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banging the table increasingly loudly Andor! Andor! Andor! I don’t want to exaggerate it as more than it was, but I’ve rarely had more fun with a Star Wars… anything… than this show, and the basis it created for an all-time run of A More Civilised Age episodes was icing on the cake. (Insert gif of Gordon Ramsay yelling “finally, some good fucking food!”)

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Joins in the table banging ANDOORRR

ONE WAY OUT.

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Everybody is gonna say Andor. (And yes, I’ll bang that table too, ANDOR!!!) So while that is a great answer, I’m gonna say something else:

Gotta give this one to the best movie of 2022, Everything Everywhere All at Once which together with Turning Red, was a fantastic one-two punch of millennials dealing with conservative elders with fantastic magical power and everybody learning to embrace the weird and strange. But as much as I love that Disney movie, the Daniels’ film is superior, both greater in scale, emotions, and artistic inspiration. It’s the only movie that could ever create a montage featuring a parody of Ratatouille right next to direct references to Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love. There’s giant action sequences, there’s infinite ridiculousness, there’s a heartbreaking scene that stars two rocks with googly eyes.

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/bangs table with rest of thread. ANDOR! ANDOR! I’ll have to replay Knights of the Old Republic II to solidify its placement, but I think it could be my new favorite thing in Star Wars. Great performances, stellar effects, phenomenal writing. There were like three award-winning monologues in this show…

And yet somehow it still didn’t grab me the way Interview with the Vampire did, nor did any monologue hit me as hard as the one Jacob Anderson delivers near the end of the first episode. Erotic, horrific, perhaps the most… compelling(?) portrayal of an unhealthy relationship since Possession. The first episode alone is my new favourite vampire film, and worth a watch even if you never plan to watch the rest.

I prefer drama to comedy, and this year was no different, but… Our Flag Means Death occasionally grated with the tropes of the Waititi school of comedy, but his performance as Blackbeard and the main romance of the show were shockingly riveting. The latest season of What We Do In The Shadows had some major missteps for me, primarily regarding Marwa, but Laszlo and Guillermo continue to deliver a lot of laughs. And Peacemaker didn’t blow me away but it was far better than the MCU’s attempts at making a TV show, with one of the best opening themes I’ve seen outside of anime in years.

On the subject of anime, I’m quite enjoying the latest Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury. If Gundam needed anything, it was of course, an opening episode that is nearly a direct adaptation of the first episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena. Add to that Lady Prospera, who has some of the worst Char vibes since Char Aznable himself, and a frankly foreboding The Tempest-theming throughout, and I think it could be the best non-Tomino Gundam. But we’ll see how it goes, there’s at least one more cour left of the show and Gundam has had some bad back halfs.

(Birdie Wing Golf Girls’ Story was a fun show, too.)

Haven’t seen many films this year, honestly, but it was nice to see several new stop-motion features this year; Pinocchio (del Toro, not Disney), Wendell & Wild, Mad God. Some very beautiful bits of animation in all three. RRR rocked, too.

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Andor would be my number one show, but this just happened to be the year that Severance came out. Such an incredible takedown of our modern corporatist society held together with striking cinematography and a cast full of sublime performances.

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There’s actually a lot of things I feel like shouting out this year and maybe I’ll end up making multiple posts but for now I want to just shout out this year’s season of the U.K. comedy/gameshow/whatever Taskmaster. I don’t think Taskmaster has ever really had a bad season, with even weaker years being very fun and watchable, but this year might be among my favourites. Just a great mix of comedians on it doing a great batch of tasks, including some smartly repurposed tasks from the New Zealand iteration of the show.

Also I love Fern Brady.

I honestly didn’t watch a huge amount this year - apart from watching whatever the ongoing MCU or Star Wars thing was on Disney+ to justify my paying for it (partly as it gives me something to talk to my dad about). (The thing I did watch otherwise - Wednesday on Netflix, I had mixed feelings about and definitely wasn’t Favourite Watching fodder)

As such, I’m going to echo everyone else on the Andor bandwagon, as basically the best Star Wars thing that’s been made in decades. It’s so effortlessly better than Obi Wan (which one assumes the Disney execs expected to be the big hitter of the year for them SW wise?) that one feels a bit sorry for the other show.

(I’d also like to shout out, though, from the other Disney+ franchise, She-Hulk, which I thought was the best MCU thing I’ve seen in a while - and certainly the best D+ MCU series. Partly, that’s because it does something similar to Andor in deciding to just be different to all the other things in the medium before it - whilst Andor’s different thing is “being an actual adult show written for actual thinking adults”, She-Hulk’s twist is being a show that is both meta without being annoying and also prepared to actually take down everything hackneyed about the entire franchise it is part of. Plus, we get Charlie Cox being allowed to have fun with Daredevil in his cameo appearances too.)

(Second-place for MCU Moon Knight of course, which would have been in that top spot if She-Hulk hadn’t pipped it there.)

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Live Action:
Andor is my #1. But I have other nominees:

Yellowjackets: a soccer team is stranded in the woods, we see the before and after, slowly figure out what the hell happened. Drama, comedy and horror. Highlight is Christina Ricci playing against Juliette Lewis, they are so good together why the fuck hasn’t this happened before.

Animated:

Chainsaw Man has felt like an animators flex from day 1, this show has an absurd amount of quality animation, it’s like the one climactic scene in a Shonen where they spend all the budget but it’s EVERY EPISODE

Bee and Puppycat (Netflix): it’s a very particular sense of humor and timing that I associate with a time not too long ago so the whole show is like a pleasant time capsule for me + Natasha Allegri is a goddamned national treasure.

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Well, we got two seasons of Atlanta this year. That was cool and good. I don’t have much to say on it cause I’m kind of bleh on critical thought right now but no one else has posted it. Hell of a finale.

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The context of the World Cup was horrendous and evil.

chanting in the distance Andor Andor Andor

The World Cup final will go down in history as one of its best.

chanting gets louder Andor Andor Andor

She-Hulk’s a good show but nothing Marvel did on D+ this year is really blowing the doors down

chanting is deafening ANDOR ANDOR ANDOR

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I will join the chorus of people praising Andor in this thread! It’s just an excellent show. Some time in the past decade or so I decided that Star Wars wasn’t really for me anymore. It’s not that the movies weren’t good anymore (well at least until RoS), but more that the creators working on the franchise didn’t really value what drew me into the world in the first place. Star Wars enchanted me in a way that most sci-fi didn’t because its world felt real. There was constant hints and allusions to the real lives the characters led. Some time during the sequel trilogy, after they visited the nth planet that seemed to only have one building on it, I started to question if the magic was ever there to begin with. That was, until Andor! There’s so much to say about this show (and a lot I have already said in the AMCA thread), but it easily tops my list of favorite watching this year by bringing the magic back to Star Wars.

There was some good anime this year too! Spy x Family was a fun little diversion every week. Chainsaw Man is really special! It’s the first anime I watched after reading the manga. They nailed the quiet melancholy that really made the books shine, which I was worried would be left out for more bombastic action. The action is great though! I will say that the anime is pretty heavy handed with the fan service, but they at least don’t let it get in the way of the cool thematic stuff around that aspect. Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury is pretty good too. It has the rocky start that a lot of Gundam series have. Let’s hope it finds its groove like ZZ, and doesn’t end up a ruinous mess like Seed! I will say I’m not a big fan of most of the mech design in the show. The Aerial is like my 3rd favorite main suit design in the whole franchise, but literally every other mech has failed to make any impression on me at all. Hopefully they’re saving some sicko shit for the back half.

I didn’t see a lot of new movies this year, but We’re All Going to the World’s Fair was excellent! I really couldn’t recommend it more!

Edit: I forgot to mention Nope!!! What a great film! Jordan Peele is a great filmmaker, and I’m glad he got to make an honest to god blockbuster.

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I was about to double-post if this thread kept growing without anyone mentioning Nope. The more distance I get from it the more I can’t stop thinking about it, and it’s now been… five months? Genuine masterpiece.

And damn I guess I really do need to get on watching Andor huh? It is funny how every once in a while something comes along that seems just perfectly tuned for everyone on this forum to go bananas over and those are always special times.

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I watched Andor, it’s good, moving on.

While very much not from this year, Scrapped Princess is a very moving anime that deals with depression and suicidal ideation, fate, guilt and building lives with people. It’s also a fantasy setting in the post-apocalypse of a sci-fi setting, and there are dragon-mechs, it’s extremely sick.

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gestures to the raucous banging and cheers of the thread

Gets to you, doesn’t it? That’s what a reckoning sounds like.

What can I say other than Andor really is that good. I can’t wait to introduce my Star Wars weary friends and family over the break.

On the subject of YouTube essays I think Tim Rogers put out his best work yet with Action Button’s boku no natsuyasumi review.

with a slightly slower pace that matches the subject matter, in the review he really nailed the synthesis of game’s analysis, tangents, and introspection that have defined Action Button so far into something insightful, personal, and ultimately deeply moving.

I loved a bunch of other stuff mentioned here (Severance, Nope, Atlanta, RRR) but to toss a few new names in:

The Owl House is as good as you remember your favorite Saturday morning cartoon being. A cast and world the steadily unfolds until what started as a easygoing comfort show has become a edge of your seat adventure story.

Halloween Ends is this years Matrix Resurrections, a bizarre and brazen examination of what producing a sequel means.

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Like everyone else TV wise I was ALL IN on Andor. A terrific show that was elevated by the discourse which I didn’t think was possible. A really smart and and well-executed series that knew what it wanted to say and said it with aplomb.

I really have to shout out AMCA though for giving us two weekly can’t miss appointments. It felt like the ultimate companion to a show which deserved the analysis they gave it.

My other show of the year, however, couldn’t have been more different more in concept and how it was talked about: The Rehearsal. Nathan Fielder took the weird meta-reality business show Nathan For You and imbued it with pathos and really thought provoking critiques on the exploitation of reality TV and unprecedented levels of self-reflection that I didn’t anticipate from the guy who insisted on nearly being pantsed on stage in front of children.

The discourse on it was so bad though. Endless discussions of whether Fielder was a bad guy or a sociopath when this show deserved to be taken so much seriously and treated with greater consideration. To quote Austin Walker: the audience was mid.

Shouts as well to Peacemaker for reminding me that that Whedon-esque sort of “well that happened” can be funny when combined with gratuitous violence.

Shouts to Barry for being the best Breaking Bad show that came out this year and Severance for it’s loopy cool concept and really beautiful cinematography and use of colour. Wild that two of our best television directors are Bill Hader and Ben Stiller. Add in Atlanta here because Hiro Murai must be on his way to his own A24 feature. His direction looks so striking and real.

Shouts to The White Lotus which raised the stakes, the drama, the tension, and the humour in S2. I loved the first season but it blew me away this time. I’ve seen people say it’s a hate watch given how awful the characters are but that’s not accurate at all for me. These people are objectively not good people but they’re all so loveable in the chaotic and insane ways they live their lives. If we had a 1789 moment I’d thank these people for their service when I let the guillotine loose. The rich could never be this entertaining.

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While joining in with the ever increasing calls for Andor, as well as Chainsaw Man, I do want to highlight some films that I definitely think are worth checking out.

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair is an absolutely incredible film that is incredibly trans and is maybe one of the few films that feels anywhere close to capturing the feeling of the internet that existed before the extreme corporate-ification and consolidation of the modern net. Even if the gender aspect doesn’t resonate with you, the nature of online relationships and the way we experience being online gutted me.

Barbarian is this year’s Malignant in the sense that the less you know going in, the better. But what a ride. I went in expecting a bizarro horror film and got what was also somehow maybe my favorite comedy of the year???

Three Thousand Years of Longing is something that I watched this past weekend because somebody said it had Myst vibes and while I somewhat disagree with that statement, it was a wildly shot film about the nature of love/desire and stories that really resonated with me. Also I know that George Miller has way more under his belt at this point, but it kept hitting me in waves while watching it that this is the Mad Max guy.

And of course, the lightning round: EEAAO, Crimes of the Future, Prey, Nope, Avatar: Way of Water.

A banger year for movies imo and I haven’t even touched some of the bigger things still on my list.

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I don’t usually watch a ton of television or movies (lots of work plus prefer to use the spare free time for games) but a couple shows really did it for me this year and didn’t see them mentioned yet:

1. Reservation Dogs

This show is just terrific and the second season builds on the first in such a profound way that it catapulted its way to my best shows I’ve ever seen list. If you want a funny, raw, real, and insightful look in on the lives of native people’s in the states, this is it. Just a wonderful show.

2. The Bear

This is the Uncut Gems of the restaurant world. It’s so good and intense. Just go watch it.

3. Slow Horses

I don’t usually like shows like these but for some reason this one resonated. Just kidding, I know why it did, it’s about a ragtag team of mediocre MI5 agents who are somehow thrust into the midst of a big situation and being led/insulted by their leader, Jackson Lamb played by the wonderfully hilarious Gary Oldman. It’s a fun spy thriller and it’s a short series that doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Lightning round: Everything Everywhere All at Once, FIFA World Cup 2022, The 2022 F1 season, Bob’s Burger (show and movie), Russian Doll

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Oh, I forgot S2 of Russian Doll was this year. That was good, Natasha Lyonne was delightful as always.

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