I avoid ever saying this is the worst about anything because to me that is tempting fate.
Invariably life will answer you back with, really, then try this, and you will find yourself wishing and dreaming and hoping of what you once thought was the worst because in retrospect you had no idea how truly “worst” things could get.
All that being said, 2022 was by no means a STELLAR year.
If it wasn’t the WORST, and clearly it wasn’t in case life is listening, it was by no means the BEST.
I will cop to the fact that it was better than sitting quarantined at home in an infinity number of Zoom chats, as we were in 2020 and large swaths of 2021. It was also preferable to the morning after Election Day 2016 or that time in 2006 when Crash won the Oscar for best picture over Brokeback Mountain (Note: March 5th, somewhere between 8 and 9pm PST, to be exact. Not that I hold grudges. Much).
I watched Black Panther: Wakanda Forever the other night and I quite enjoyed it. Or let’s say, it hit home with me and I wasn’t bored, which is more than I can say for the majority of critic’s darlings this year (Note: I still want my 12 hours back for Tar and the other 18 that I devoted to _____fill in the blank___).
Side Note: What is it with the length of movies this year, anyway? Why has more become more, and even more be determined to be even better??
Nevertheless Wakanda. At two hours and 41 minutes it is actually four minutes longer than Tar but to me plays like a short film by comparison.
And I guess that is the real point.
Taste, like life, or even year-end recaps and annual 10 best lists, is really all about point of view and perspective.
For me, Wakanda summed up a several year period of loss and gave us a comic book blueprint about moving on. If it wasn’t the best film of the year, and certainly it wasn’t even though that’s a pretty low bar, it certainly was one of the most relevant.
What do you do when the world, as you understood it, disappears? How do you survive when one of the people closest to you dies? How do you move on when your hero (or heroes) disappears and your moral compass is gone?
And what actions can you take when there is no one left to lead you but yourself and deep down you know you are nowhere near up to that task?
Wakanda answers that question in a reassuring, old-fashioned way. That, of course, none of us are by ourselves if we’ve ever loved and lost because the memory of that person, or the good that once was, is always inside of us. We merely need to go deep down and feel the joy, through the pain of what once was, and use it and all we experienced as the basis for a new path that we create for ourselves to move forward.
A kind of moral, even informational, blue print, if you will.
I heard some politician or theologian this year talk about the history of social movements as a relay race that one runs in during their time. You advance the cause as far as you can and then pass the torch on to the next generation, in hopes that they can go even further
The race never ends but neither does the spirit of anyone that has come before you, despite the inevitable losses.
That’s the way we move on and carry on and certainly it’s all far above the pay grade of anyone trying to summarize 2022.
Except, clearly, some people.
The horrific invasion of the Ukraine by Russia began in Feb. 2022 and continues through this very moment and beyond. Yet Volodymyr Zelensky, a former actor with little political experience, unlikely leads a shockingly strong and still standing Ukraine, and was just voted Time Magazine’s Man of the Year.
Dressed in fatigue colors and armed with the ability to stay charismatically on message as bombs drop all around him, Zelensky has somehow risen to fill a leadership gap in the world by merely stepping up in a moment. No more so then when he addressed the U.S. Congress a few weeks ago and proclaimed that the billions in military aid we are giving to Ukraine should not be seen as “charity” but an “investment” for freedom and all of our futures.
What could read like political tripe played as exactly the opposite merely because it was the truth and was said with conviction and a little bit of humor. And it got him a standing ovation from the vast majority of blue AND red politicians in the chamber. Not to mention the world.
To make a cheap comparison to movies – which is cheap because they are NOT real life despite what we think – it’s what happens when an actor so totally inhabits a role that the effect is undeniable. Austin Butler in Elvis and Brendan Fraser in The Whale. Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans and Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once. Four high points of many low points overall in 2022 cinema.
Actors, in particular, often get their moments in the unlikeliest of roles and/or in the strangest of times. And many of them, like many of us, never hit that jackpot in quite the way they or we imagine they would.
Nevertheless, we all continue running the race, as the mere fact of you reading this proves. And that is at least one other great thing about 2022. We are all still running.
I could tell you The Bear and Wednesday and Smiley brought me the most fun on streaming platforms in the past 12 months, and that the Jan. 6th hearings were clearly the smartest and most interesting thing on network television but what would that prove?
I can confess that re-watching select films on Turner Classic Movies this year probably gave me more pleasure than any other 2022 release (Note: I marveled at Paris Blues (1961), a perfectly imperfect movie, and cried once again at Jacques Demy’s classic Umbrellas of Cherbourg) but who really cares.
It’s even less important than admitting that I loved Mary Rodgers’ autobiography Shy a lot more than the 2014 Pulitzer Prize winning novel All The Light We Cannot See, which I tried reading over the summer but never finished because there is only so much description of items in a room (Note: Meaning, not much) that I can bear.
That fact is even less surprising than publicly stating I listen to almost none of the new songs and albums that made it onto music critics’ 2022 top ten lists (Note: I can’t anymore with Taylor Swift, and Beyoncé, though they and their admittedly oversize talents, should live and be well).
Still, in fairness I must state that I do love me some Brandi Carlisle and was really, really, really disappointed that the forever young and forever cool indie rock group, Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, had to bow out of the season finale musical guest spot on Saturday Night Live because one of them was ill.
They should live and be well (Note: When did I turn into my great-grandmother?) through 2022 and beyond, too.
As should we all and then some for what a new, potentially fabulous year could have on the horizon. Or not.
No pressure, 2023. At All.
Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs – “Spitting Off the Edge of the World”