AV Brew: Best of the Year So Far
We have reached the halfway mark in 2022, so I asked my fellow members of Pop Culture Uncovered, “What are your picks for the Best Movies and TV Shows so far this year?” Our responses are below.
Best Show: Stranger Things- Season 4: Volumes 1 & 2; The Boys
Stranger Things has consistently been great but this year The Duffer Brothers and their writing team have upped the ante. This season once again introduced new characters I instantly fell in love with in Chrissy, Argyle and of course, Eddie Munson while giving us continued character growth and change with our main cast.
Granted, there were stumbles: Jonathan remains the weakest link character and acting wise, though he gets a wonderful moment with Will that almost makes up for it. I definitely need more of Lucas, as well as The Duffers to really examine (or hire a black writer who can) what being one of the few black children in a town like Hawkins is like and lastly the unnecessary Steve/Nancy situation felt false to both of the characters: we all remember that Nancy cheated on Steve (with his friend), belittled and condescended to him and still does, broke his heart and has never apologized. Putting them back together in any way is super gross and would require a lot of work on Nancy’s part to make it believable.
However, overall this season really was brilliant, I keep rewatching it even though I have other shite to watch, it’s that good and any show that gives us Joe Kerry’s Steve Harrington will own my heart. If Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven is the heart of the show, then Joe’s Steve is the undefeated soul of the series.
The Boys has continued to push the boundaries while at the same time drilling down even more on why these people are the way they are. So, for every gory, bloody scene we get, there’s three of the characters trying to process their trauma. Karen Fukuhara, Laz Alonso, Antony Starr and Jensen Ackles are giving award worthy performances and the entire cast is meeting them at their level. The show has no cast weak links, but you realize just how important casting is for something like this, this season.
Best movie: The Batman.
The Batman really shows what DC can do when they actually let the character be a detective and not always right and lean into things we haven’t seen, like him being bad at his job or Bruce not paying attention to Wayne Industries being just as damaging as what’s happening with the super-villains. The cast all came to play and it shows while the direction really reminds us that Bruce Wayne is, for all his money and vigilantism, a child who is hurting, trying desperately to make sure that no one suffers like he did but having no idea how to really do that.
Best TV Show: Ms. Marvel
While DC won movies for the year (so far), Disney and Marvel Studios have been putting out hits on the small screen. While Moon Knight deserves its praise, my favorite series has been Ms. Marvel. Targeting the Gen Z audience, it brings humor, action, and drama and is probably my favorite MCU show yet.
Unlike Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel balances its funny side with its dramatic in a more palatable way, smoothly switching between Scott Pilgrim-esque overlays, super heroic sequences, and deep looks at Pakistan’s history, culture, and faith. Like the comics, the show accurately represents the lives of many Pakistani Americans and Islam, something sorely needed. Also, Iman Vellani is the perfect Kamala Khan, optimistic and excited yet held back by her anxiety and family expectations.
Best Movie: The Batman
Despite MCU’s best attempts at remaining at the peak of superhero films, a DC adaptation beat them all. Matt Reeves’ The Batman showed a Dark Knight different from his predecessors. Instead of the over-the-top action dramas full of “wonderful toys,” we were greeted with a grim noir crime thriller, where Batman proves he is the World’s Greatest Detective.
The Batman provides a psychological, philosophical, and political look at multiple issues. Failed police and justice systems, the dangers of vigilantism and the question of whether Batman really is a hero are a fresh take after so many black-and-white approaches to the genre. Also, the performances are amazing, particularly Pattinson, who shows once more (since The Lighthouse) what a great performer he is.
Best TV: Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
A welcome return to the tried-and-true Trek of old: a new planet, species, or problem in every episode. It leads to strong character development and a true sense of loyalty to the characters. And to find myself enjoying the voyages of the starship Enterprise once more? This almost 50-year-old is transported back to a time when I thought that the ideals of the 23rd century would happen within my lifetime. Alas…..
Best Movie: Top Gun Maverick
For me, both of my choices have to do with nostalgia. Top Gun: Maverick hit every note, right down to the nameless enemy nation, the crazy stunt flying, the easy-going romance. It flung me straight back to that 10-year-old kid pretending to be a fighter pilot.
Best TV: Hacks
The sharp satire of Hacks keeps me laughing, whilst the serious topics and strong feminism keeps me engaged. Jean Smart is wonderful and proves that she deserves all of her flowers.
Best Movie: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
I enjoyed Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness from start to finish. I’m going to be honest, I love me some fan service, so the cameos were perfect but what put it over the top was hearing the 90s X-Men theme song! It. Was. Everything!
Best TV: Moon Knight
Marvel is killing it with their TV projects on Disney+, while I am enjoying Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight has stayed with me long after the series ended. The origin story plotline let me in on everything I needed to know about his backstory, his powers and what he is supposed to be doing with them. This expansiveness of character could have not been fleshed out in a movie and frankly I want more of the story, I want more character, I want more Oscar Isaac.
Coming in a close second is Reacher on Amazon Prime. As adaptations of books go, this one was perfect.
Best Movie: The Batman
I’m going with the majority here; this is the best Batman film in decades. I loved the depiction of the imperfect Batman we got in this film; he doesn’t always land on his feet. He thought more than he fought and Zoe Kravitz is, hands down, the best Catwoman to date.
Best TV: Ms. Marvel & Umbrella Academy Season 3
In a world in which Islamophobia and systemic racism against South Asian, Middle Eastern and North & East African persons are rampant, Disney/Marvel’s Ms. Marvel, focusing on a Pakistani-American teen as she navigates not only new powers but typical growing-up challenges while being proud of her culture, is necessary and delightful! Showrunner Bisha K. Ali and the entire team demonstrate the simple yet crucially important fact that creatives of a particular ethnic demographic can, should and must take lead on projects in the big publishing and production houses to bring stories to life with appropriate cultural accuracy, nuance and vibrancy. [cf. Black Panther and Shang-Chi: The Legend of the Ten Rings] Additionally, as Marvel checks off the genres it has amply demonstrated its ability to incorporate into superhero storytelling, it now has its teen show—one which can thoroughly be enjoyed by adults as well. The graphics are phenomenal, too!
The Umbrella Academy has continued its excellent presentation of the quirky, sometimes surrealistic story of a dysfunctional-yet-strangely-lovable family of adopted, super-powered young adults trying to save the world from oblivion yet again. Stellar acting across the board drives the series, allowing the plot twists, graphics and fashion to have even more of an effect. Particular props should go to the performances of Robert Sheehan as Klaus Hargreeves, Emmy Raver-Lampman as Allison Hargreeves, and the youngest of the main cast members, Aidan Gallagher, who once again performs beyond his years!
A shout-out also to Star Trek: Picard—good Star Trek fun, and the mastery of Patrick Stewart! [Note Michelle Hurd’s, John De Lancie’s and Brent Spiner’s performances as well.]
These are our picks, what are yours? Any shows we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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