At The Movies With Josh: Best and Worst of the YEAR!

I found this to be a very disappointing year for movies. Don’t get me wrong, I saw a lot of movies that I gave good reviews. It’s just a lot of the ones I was looking forward to disappointed me. And I can’t imagine there will ever be a year I can’t compile a list of Top 10 movies that were great. 

I love that with Barbie and Oppenheimer coming out the same weekend, it created this fun “Barbenheimer” buzz. It gave a much needed boost to sagging ticket sales at movie theaters. I just wish they were better films.

It’s also so frustrating seeing all the various entertainment magazines picking their best of the year, even when they get deeper in the categories. How can so many songs from “Barbie” have been nominated, when they weren’t that great (Okay, the Ken song was cute). And I’m a huge Jack Black fan (even his folk metal band Tenacious D), but the “Peaches” song was weak. Where was the Awkwafina song “Scuttlebutt” (written by Lin-Manuel Miranda) from “The Little Mermaid”? But instead of all the various categories, I’ll stick with the best/worst for movies.

It was also a year that got huge box office numbers for the latest Mission: Impossible and John Wick films. Again, I wished they were better. Yet “The Creator” was a fun little sci-fi movie that didn’t get the best reviews or box office numbers. 

Now it’s the “creator” of these 10 films, that I’d love to applaud. It’s the filmmakers and actors involved in these favorites of mine that make this an enjoyable job. 


10. A THOUSAND AND ONE. Everyone likes to complain there aren’t enough movies made by female directors and blah blah blah. The first movie on my list is from an African-American woman, A.V. Rockwell, who wrote and directed. I’m waiting to see what she rocks me with on her next project. Teyana Taylor is terrific as a mom kidnapping her son from the foster care system, going on the run, and trying her hardest to make a better life for him. It’s wonderful.

9. SALTBURN. This is another story. you could say, of someone that’s looking for a better life. And another female director. She’s now two for two, as writer/director Emerald Fennell gave us “Promising Young Woman” a few years ago, and now this, with a protagonist (Barry Keoghan) that’s even crazier. He goes to stay at a rich classmate's estate, and hijinks ensue! There will be a few scenes that you’ll be talking about for days, and having nightmares about for years. My original review:

8. DREAM SCENARIO. It’s amazing that Nicolas Cage spent decades doing crappy movies, and recently started giving us better pictures with Pig, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, and an underrated vampire movie from earlier this year – Renfield. In this he plays a nerdy college professor that everyone (even people that don’t know him) starts dreaming about. But what happens when they become nightmares? Hijinks ensue (I’m going to keep milking that line). 

7. ANATOMY OF A FALL. I first saw German actress Sandra Huller in 2016, in the movie “Toni Erdmann.” It’s one of those movies (similar to ones on my worst list this year), that all the other critics fell all over, even though it was garbage. She’s great though, and showed it with this picture (also written and directed by a female). This won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.  It’s a great courtroom drama dealing with her being accused of killing her husband. Don’t be scared of subtitles (but perhaps be scared of standing on balconies when you have an angry wife!). 

6. NO HARD FEELINGS. So…what? Jennifer Lawrence gets love from all the critics and awards shows when she does serious films, but not a raunchy comedy? She’s great in this as a down-on-her luck woman who sees an ad, offering a free car for a woman willing to “date” their son before the nerd goes off to college. It’s got some heart to go along with the big laughs (and nothing like Matthew Broderick as the dad clarifying “Yes, we want you to ‘date’ our son. Date him hard.”). My original review:

5. LANDSCAPE WITH INVISIBLE HAND. This will definitely be the only year I have two YA novels that became movies and made my list. Who said when aliens take over, they’re going to shoot us with laser guns and spaceships? This is a blend of satire, social commentary, and comedy. Tiffany Haddish is the biggest name in it, and she’s terrific. My original review:

4. AMERICAN FICTION. The trailer for this looked amazing, but you know how that usually goes. Well, except for this time. It exceeded my expectations, and is the best thing Jeffrey Wright has ever done (and will help me forgive him for doing a movie on my “worst” list this year). There’s a terrific ensemble in a film that’s part satire, romance, and dysfunctional family. A disillusioned Black author and professor decides to give the people what they want – a book he writes as if he’s a Black gang member that just got out of prison. Oh yes, hijinks really ensue in this one. 

3. YOU HURT MY FEELINGS. I saw this movie early in the year and told everyone it would be the best movie they see all year. It’s an absolute shame that director Nicole Holofcener (Friends With Money, Please Give, and Enough Said), isn’t being talked about the way Greta Gerwig is (especially since her “Barbie” is easily the most overrated movie of the year). Julia Louis-Dreyfuss plays a writer who overhears her husband say her latest book sucks. And…arguments ensue! My original review:

2. THE HOLDOVERS. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. You’ll be glad Alexander Payne has made another movie, and that he re-teamed with his star of “Sideways” – Paul Giamatti. My original review:

ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME, MARGARET. I remember once renting a movie at Blockbuster, because a friend was claiming it was the best film he’d ever seen. I told him a few of my other friends hated it. He said they were wrong, so I gave it a shot. I hated it, too. He said, “That’s because you already had low-expectations going in because of your other friends dissing it.” My wife refused to attend the screening with me, saying, “Why would I care about a movie dealing with teenage girls waiting to get their period? It’s a Judy Blume YA novel. I’ll pass.” I couldn’t pass. It’s my job, yet I attended with low expectations. And I’m so glad I didn’t. It’s one of only two movies this year that I gave 5 stars. I found out it was directed by (yet another talented female, Kelly Fremon Craig). Everything about this movie was wonderful. The young actress (who as a Critics Choice Awards member, I am happy to announce we gave her a nomination), the parents (filmmaker Benny Safdie and Rachel McAdams), the grandmother (Kathy Bates); the humor, the heart. It’s insane that so many other critics put garbage on their lists and left this gem out. Leonard Maltin and I both put it on our lists. He called it a “perfect movie” and I agree. 

Honorable mentions: Air, How to Blow Up a Pipeline, Theater Camp, Shortcomings, The Blackening, Inside, Rye Lane, Renfield, and After Love.


10. A MAN CALLED OTTO. Why remake it, and why is Tom Hanks disappointing me lately?

9. 80 FOR BRADY. Stop making movies where you just cast a bunch of old people and think that’s comedy (is “Cocoon” the last film that pulled that off successfully?)

8. MAGIC MIKE’S LAST DANCE. Let’s hope it is! Worst movie of Salma Hayek’s career.

7. ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA. Is this the last movie of Jonathan Majors career? (and another bad superhero movie sneaking in under this years wire – Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom)

6. SPINNING GOLD. The story on the Casablanca Record label is a great subject for a music biopic. It’s a shame it was so bad (off topic, why haven’t more people seen “Cadillac Records”?)

5. MASTER GARDENER. I’m a huge fan of Joel Edgerton, and writer/director Paul Schrader (First Reformed, Taxi Driver). I was also a bit disappointed with his last film, too (The Card Counter).

4. FAST X. It’s a Fast and Furious film. Enough said.

3. FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY’S. Fans of the video game liked it. Nobody else did.

2. MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 3. Tom Hanks produced. Why? The first movie was cute. The second was bad. This is worse. A lot of my non-movie critic friends saw it and hated it, too.

DICKS: THE MUSICAL. The songs sucked. The jokes sucked. The cast sucked (both literally and figuratively). 

And the final portion of my “worst” list goes to movies that were praised by all the critics, and on most of their Top 10 lists. These films all had great stories, and a few brilliant scenes, but most of the movie was garbage. Those include: Asteroid City, Joy Ride, Carmen, All of Us Strangers, The Zone of Interest, May December, Polite Society, and Poor Things. The “poor things” are the audiences that sat through some of those.

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