5 Best Film Experiences of 2022

Have you seen any good films lately?

That’s been my driving force in writing, long before I founded this site in 2010. My interest has always been to share my enthusiasm about good films and explain why other films simply did not connect with me. Over the past year, I’ve published 77 reviews of feature films, including 58 reviews that I wrote for two other sites (ScreenAnarchy and EverythingButHorror).

Here at Dallas Film Now, my esteemed colleague, Joe Baker, has written a flock of excellent reviews that are definitely worth your attention. As for me, I’ve published just 18 reviews here, which is as many as I could fit into an ever-tightening schedule.

Of those 18, eight were experienced in local movie theaters, which remains my preferred venue. Here, then, the five best film experiences I enjoyed in 2022, in reverse date order.

  1. Avatar: The Way of Water. Yes, it’s “more like a theme-park amusement park ride than a movie. But what I ride!” Mine came in an auditorium at AMC Northpark, surrounded by gloriously empty seats at the advance screening. (I believe attendance was limited to 10 people!) The sound was thunderous, the seat was comfortable, and the 3D glasses … well, since I am bespectacled, 3D glasses have always a bane of my existence, so I have to take a half-point off for that. Also, I didn’t realize, or didn’t remember in advance, that the film was shot at a High Frame Rate, which means the action sequences all bore an unmistakable similarity to live television or live sports. Undoubtedly a memorable experience. [My review.]
  2. The Fabelmans. My first theatrical experience with Steven Spielberg came in 1975, when my big brother and one of his friends brought me to a screening of Jaws at a jam-packed Panorama City multiplex theater. Close Encounters of the Third Screen, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E.T. The Extra Terrestrial followed, all leaving deep imprints on my brain, though I believe Jurassic Park was the last to truly take advantage of the big screen. I’ve seen the majority of Spielberg’s films in movie theaters, but his latest brought true delight, rewarding the effort to see it in theater — in this case, a press screening at AMC Northpark — before the inevitable move to the small screen. [My review.]
  3. Marcel the Shell With Shoes On. My favorite film of the year hit me hard with its emotional impact, which may be a strange thing to say about a movie. As it happens, I attended an advance press screening at Alamo Drafthouse, Lake Highlands, though I didn’t see any other critics, which ties it with the movie’s themes: “A lovely mixture of live-action faux documentary techniques and stop-motion animation that is utterly beguiling and, somehow, completely transfixing and entertaining. I laughed, I cried, I was glad to be alive to see Marcel the Shell With Shoes On with an audience as we shared the experience. It’s good to be alive.” Sometimes I struggle, but sometimes, I get the words just right to express my feelings. [My review.]
  4. Top Gun: Maverick. If memory serves, I never saw the original Top Gun in a theater, only on videocassette (?!). (Hey, it was the 80s.) The military advocacy never appealed to me; also, it felt very much like an MTV movie, a collection of music videos. Still, Tom Cruise’s mad desire to create incredible, truly cinematic sequences to make his movies stand out has become well-known over the past 20 years, especially, and so I wanted to see his latest in a movie theater. Thus, when an invitation to an advance press screening in IMAX at AMC Northpark arrived, it was easy to lower my expectations and attend. The sound and vision exceeded the story, but that kind of sound and vision justifies the time and expense to attend in person. [My review.]
  5. The Batman. Director Matt Reeves has consistently impressed with his moviemaking talents, wrestling franchise “properties” into compelling cinematic experiences. It was a no-brainer for me to accept the invitation to an advance screening at AMC Northpark, where the sound and vision definitely impressed. An added bonus for seeing it in a movie theater: it’s so dark! In the extreme dark of a movie theater, it still looked very, very dark on a big, big screen, which means I could never hope to come close to replicating that particular experience at home on my 32-inch television, even with all the curtains pulled tight around my windows. [My review.]