Best of 2022
In the past, I used to do an end-of-year roundup of all the awesome books I’d read. Well, I’ve never been so far behind in my Goodreads Reading Challenge in my life (so much so, I gave up entirely and started reading Stephen King’s It. We all know that’s a bloody brick and a half). Instead, to get me back to writing, I’m going to take a look at all the media that made my 2022 a little brighter. Here are my favourite movies, books, tv shows and podcasts that I devoured during the last twelve months.
Best of 2022 – Movies
Nope by Jordan Peele
I’m a massive Jordan Peele (Us, Get Out) fan and always get psyched about his latest releases. The trailer didn’t give too much away (which makes a nice change from seeing 90% of movie highlights in advance) so I wasn’t too sure what to expect – which was perfect. Because of that, I’m not going to spoiler anything here but, keeping it short, Peele nails it again. A lot of this film is based around the unveiling of a creature…and that’s all you’re getting out of me.
Nope has so much going on, I’m dying to see it again. If violent chimps, bloody houses, weird monsters and the wonderful Daniel Kaluuya (swoon) appeal, then get on it now.
The Batman by Matt Reeves
I put my hands up, I admit it – I thought Robert Pattinson as Batman would truly suck. But, it’s Batman, so I had to go see it anyway.
I guess I forgot that the best Batman movies are never about Batman himself, they’re always made great by the characters surrounding him. For example, Heath Ledger as The Joker, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Danny DeVito as The Penguin. The Batman is no exception.
Pattinson does a stellar job being emo (extra tick for the smudgy black eyeliner), brooding his way through the film and cutting a great outline as he walks away from explosions etc. However, for me, it was Zoë Kravitz as Batman and Paul Dano as The Riddler who stole this movie. Kravitz commands your full attention any time she’s on screen and I’m pretty sure someone gasped out loud when she appeared in a corset for the first time (I cannot be sure it wasn’t me). Dano is creepy, unnerving and seemingly unhinged – I loved him.
If you had doubts like me, park them because The Batman is a must-see movie.
The Wailing by Na Hong-jin
Although The Wailing came out in 2016, I didn’t see it until this year so it goes on the list. My list, my rules.
The Wailing is a Korean film, featuring a bumbling policeman who is called in to investigate a strange hysteria that’s leading to violent crimes in his small, rural village. When his own daughter succumbs to the strange infection, he goes above and beyond to figure out what the hell is going on.
I love horror, and it takes quite a bit to unsettle me, but this movie got under my skin. The mix of tradition, disease, ghosts and folklore all make for exceptionally creepy viewing. Often, kids in horror movies can be…thinking of a polite term…annoying AF. However, the young actress that plays the policeman’s daughter is brilliant. Her truly horrific screaming (and I mean that as a compliment) really adds to some of the most distressing scenes she’s involved in.
It’s streaming on Amazon Prime at the moment, so go and enjoy! I hope it freaks you out too.
Ed Wood by Tim Burton
How haven’t I seen this movie before 2022? It’s by Tim Burton and features awful monster movies – two of my favourite things!
Welcome to the stage Johnny Deep (before he just got creepy) as Ed Wood, the real-life, budget movie filmmaker who passed away in December 1978. Some of his cult B-movies featured the monster movie master, Bela Lugosi (Count Dracula in the 1931 horror classic) and he’s a larger-than-life character throughout this film.
You follow Ed Wood from his early days trying to break into Hollywood when he’s hiding his crossdressing from his girlfriend, through to his not-so-critically acclaimed movie premieres.
Warning that the handling of gender in this movie is occasionally questionable, but I guess that’s 1952 for you *sigh*.
Overall, Ed Wood is massively over the top, features some bloody awful acting (deliberately), has an incredible performance by Billy Murray and makes for a great watch.
You can watch Ed Wood on Disney+ now.
Best of 2022 – Books
Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield
The best novel I read in 2022 is Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield.
Miri is used to her wife, Leah, being away for weeks at a time on underwater research missions, but her last expedition was different. Leah was away for months and the company she dove with barely provided Miri with any updates. After weeks of uncertainty, Leah returned. But she wasn’t the same woman who left her wife on the dock. Whatever happened to Leah on the seabed has changed her forever.
Our Wives Under the Sea is a real mishmash of genres; there are parts romance, sci-fi, fantasy, family drama and literary all squeezed within its pages. The chapters alternate between the perspectives of Miri and Leah, providing almost two separate stories. Miri’s half focuses on her anxiety while Leah is away and her attempts to look after her when she returns. Whereas Leah’s half focuses on what happened in the darkest depths of the sea.
Bleak, haunting and claustrophobic, Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield was a great read.
Chainsaw Man Vol 1 by Tatsuki Fujimoto
Chainsaw Man, written and illustrated by Tatsuki Fujimoto, is a Japanese manga series that I’ve been hearing about for a while now but I’ve only just gotten to. And I’m so glad I did.
Denji is a young man, desperate for money after his father’s suicide, leaving Denji to fend for himself. He turns to devil hunting as his main source of income and quickly meets his best friend, Pochita.
Pochita is a devil (who looks a bit like a dog with a chainsaw for a nose) who was on the verge of death, Denji saves his life and their pact to stick together begins. While they’re fighting demons, Pochita melds with Denji and Chainsaw Man is born.
I found the first few pages of Chainsaw Man a bit jumpy as it seriously races into the story at 100mph, but that sorts itself out very quickly. Denji has major simp vibes and is desperate to keep his newfound status so he can get close to a woman (he seems unconcerned as to which one in particular. Boobs are boobs; he’s gonna take whatever he can get apparently). The demons are hugely varied (tomato demon, sea cucumber demon etc) and I’m looking forward to seeing more of them in the future.
Chainsaw Man is violent (shocker!), imaginative, fast-paced and looks incredible. I’ll definitely be reading more and checking out the TV series too.
Best of 2022 – Podcasts
Things Fell Apart by Jon Ronson
Jon Ronson, of The Psychopath Test and The Men Who Stare at Goats fame, was back this year with another incredible podcast, Things Fell Apart. He describes this 10-part series as, “A series of strange, unexpected human stories from the history of the culture wars.”
Felt like the world has been slowly turning into one massive dumpster fire over the last few years? Yeah, me too. And we’re not alone. The delight that is Jon Ronson uses his investigative journalism skills to learn all he can about the individuals that have either positively or negatively (usually accidentally) changed the world.
Anyone that knows Jon Ronson’s work will be aware he doesn’t shy away from the unusual, quite the opposite. Whether it’s the TV evangelist who became a gay rights supporter, the real victims of satanic panic or the man who accidentally enhanced the anti-abortion movement, Ronson introduces them with genuine intrigue and care.
Things Fell Apart was my new podcast of the year and I have everything crossed that there is more to come.
Also, if you haven’t listened to it, please, please, please listen to Jon Ronson’s earlier podcast, The Butterfly Effect. This incredible series looks at the rise of free porn on the internet and how it changed the world – it’s mind-blowingly good.
Look at me recommending something that might not scar you for life! Probably about time I gave you some giggles and this podcast is the only show that had me snort-laugh tea out of my nose this year. And yes, that’s a good thing,
The Wolf and Owl features comedians Tom Davis (The Wolf) and Romesh Ranganathan (The Owl) chatting about their everyday lives and attempting to solve listeners’ problems. Sounds simple enough but these guys make such a great pair. Tom Davis is everything positive and Romesh is there to balance it out with his loveable cynicism. Although I’d describe it as a bro-love comedy podcast, I’ve also lost count of the times it’s also had me on the verge of tears.
The Wolf and Owl podcast has probably made me laugh more than any other media this year, even on those super bleak days. I was really ill during the middle of the year and this kept me company through some brutal sleepless nights. I hope it brings you as much joy as it has me.
To Live and Die in LA – Season 2
Although I’m loathed to recommend anything Neil Strauss (author of the absolute fuckery that is The Game – hell no I’m not linking to it) has touched, I was too gripped by this true crime podcast not to mention it.
Season 2 of To Live and Die in LA features the disappearance of 20-year-old college student Elaine Park, who vanished after leaving her boyfriend’s California apartment in January 2017. The podcast looks back at the evidence but swiftly changes course when a break in the case happens during recording.
People’s obsession with true crime will always be a contentious subject but I believe it generally comes from a good place. We want the bad guys to get caught and we want to know how people survived if they did. This podcast doesn’t make enjoyable listening, but it is gripping and fascinating, and Elaine’s story is told with respect and care.
Best of 2022 – TV
I know, I know, another one where I’m late to the party.
Firstly, I’ve gotta say that Euphoria is probably the bleakest show I’ve ever seen. So why recommend it? Because it’s also magnificent.
Roo, played by Zendaya, is the main character (although this is arguable for the second season) and we follow her journey from a light-hearted teenager to a desperate drug addict. The show branches out to involve her eclectic group of friends, which includes terrifying ‘it’ girls, an early-stage dom, her drug dealer, her transgender girlfriend and her Narcotics Anonymous sponsor. This is the tiniest snapshot into some of the most wonderfully crafted characters I’ve seen or read. Every one of them is given so much depth, you can’t help but feel for them in their worst situations. Personally, it’s Roo’s dealer, Fezco, that broke me. There’s one incredible scene where he sits on a sofa and chats to a girl he likes before attacking someone (no spoilers) and it’s simply heartbreaking.
The look of Euphoria is also stunning; the lighting, the angles, the locations, the styling, they’re all perfect.
Don’t even think of going near this show if you’re having a shitty day, but if you’re feeling resilient, Euphoria deserves all the hype it’s received and then some.
Over the Garden Wall
Yep, look at me go, recommending something from 2014. Come at me with your digs, but I only watched Over the Garden Wall for the first time early this year and I’ve watched it a fair few times since. This is pretty much the opposite of Euphoria and is the perfect feel-good watch.
Half-brothers Wirt and Greg get lost in a forest packed with strange characters and have to find their way home. Sounds like a simple kids’ cartoon right? Well, add to that the creator is Patrick McHale of Aventure Time (and more recently, DelToros’ Pinocchio) you’ll have a better idea of the wonder that awaits you (or, you’ve probably already watched by now). Cute characters, random songs, beautiful drawings and lots of laughs – what more could you ask for?!
Gangs of London Season Two
I watched the first season of Gangs of London in 2020 and was mesmerised by the entire season. The title says it all, you follow the warring gangs of London after the main crime lord, Finn Wallace is assassinated. He leaves behind two sons, a daughter, a hard-as-nails wife and a pregnant mistress.
The second season continues the story as Finn’s widow, Marian attempts to reestablish the family name by moving into the gun trade. Unsurprisingly, not everyone wants the Finn’s back on the scene – let the violence begin.
Gangs of London is one of the most beautifully shot and devastatingly violent shows I’ve seen based in the UK. If you thought the deaths in Game of Thrones were galling, they’ve got nothing on this. I probably shouldn’t say this about excessive violence, but strap in – the thing I like about about many of the bloodiest scenes is the realistic desperation of the characters. Stick with me on this! You hear the characters wear out, they slow down, they grab absolutely anything they can to defend themselves, and I love it. I hate watching an action scene where people are surrounded by household items and never reach out for anything but a knife to defend themselves. And if you’re looking for strong female characters, these women are as tough as they come.
Gangs of London got me gasping out loud at the treachery, squinting at the violence and in awe of making London filth look so nice. In short, bloody brilliant.
Stranger Things Season Four
Yeah, no shockers here – Stranger Things was a bit good wasn’t it? The main reason I love it is probably obvious – Eddie Munson. But why, why, why would you kill off such a lovely metalhead? *sobs*
I won’t go into what it was about, because I’m pretty sure you all know. The Upside Down is coming, Vecna is the big bag monster of the season (apart from the demobats *sobs again*) and Eleven does some big yells and bleeds from the nose a bit. However, they gave Steve Harrington some balls and a baseball bat, Max has some exceptional music taste, there’s some bloody eye popping, Jim gets buff, and Will’s hair gets scarier than ever.
But back to the important bit – Eddie Munson. Tying into the satanic panic timeframe, it made perfect sense to add a D&D-loving metaller for the Hawkins resident to point a finger of blame at. His friendship with Dustin is cute as a button and I’m going to carry on hoping they bring him back somehow in the future. We didn’t see a body, so it’s a possibility, right? Please, a possibility right, yeah?!
Best of 2022 – Music
I don’t think I need to do much explaining here, the music will speak for itself. Here are a few of my favourite songs that I heard for the first time in 2022.
Wait for the drop in this one. Had me dancing in my kitchen more than any other song this year…
There you have it, those are my ‘best of’ choices for 2022. I’m sure I’ve forgotten tons from early in the year thanks to…my brain. Please add your favourites to the comments below because I live for this stuff!
Happy 2023, let’s all stay chill about it in case we get too excited and mess it up like the last few years. Take it easy, no one scare it off.
If you need more book recommendations, check out my best books of 2020 (yes, I know I haven’t read or written enough recently, leave me alone I’m small and poor).