The good, the bad, and the Will Smith

December 04, 2022

From the kerfuffle over a local film’s content to the slap heard around the world, 2022 provided lots of cinematic entertainment as well as plenty of water cooler moments, and also gave us a gentle reminder that we as a species need to figure out just how many Batman movies the world really needs.

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Top Gun: Maverick was the highest grossing film of 2022 because who doesn’t enjoy a good old-fashioned dose of U.S. military propaganda.

Locally…

- Saim Sadiq’s debut feature film Joyland wowed the world, earning rave reviews as well as standing ovations at international film festivals. Back home, the movie was initially cleared by censors, then irrationally barred from release – first nationally, then regionally – because freedom of expression can just suck it.

- After several legal and pandemic-related delays, Bilal Lashari’s The Legend of Maula Jatt finally roared into cinemas and quickly became the highest grossing Pakistani film of all time, earning two hundred umptysquiddlyzillion rupees at the box office.

- Saba Qamar proved just why she is the reigning queen of Lollywood by starring in not one but two critically praised films: Kamli and Ghabrana Nahi Hai.

- Humayun Saeed first starred in a film called London Nahi Jaunga, then promptly appeared in the British historical drama series The Crown, clearly because he is a fan of irony.

Joyland was acclaimed internationally but banned in Pakistan. This is why we can’t have nice things.

- According to the very timely Lux Style Awards (held in November 2022 to honour things that happened an entire year earlier because aren’t we efficient!), Khel Khel Mein, Kahay Dil Jidhar, and Sheenogai (huh?!) were the best Pakistani movies released last year. They were also the only Pakistani movies released last year, so there’s that.

Khel Khel Mein swept the film categories, obviously a super meaningful honour given the incredibly high calibre of the competition.

Internationally…

- All hail Xenu! Top Gun: Maverick was the highest grossing movie of 2022, as well as the most successful film of one Thomas Cruise Mapother IV’s career. It made nearly US$1.5 billion. No, we don’t know why either. Now let us quickly hook ourselves up to our e-meters before our thetans start showing!

- The Marvel Cinematic Universe continued to circle the drain and made billions in the process because obviously. The snoozefest that is Phase Four gave us the meh Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the very meh Thor: Love and Thunder, and the sort of meh Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

And then there was Morbius, which, as we all know, is unequivocally the best film that has ever been made in the history of cinema.

Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards and that’s all anyone will ever remember about the 2022 Oscars.

- The brilliant James Gunn and some dude named Peter Safran were given the reins of DC Studios, so the DC Universe can finally stop sucking now, yeah?

- Also, DC released their 3821479th Batman movie – very creatively titled The Batman – because why not.

- The underwhelming Jurassic World trilogy came to an underwhelming end.

- Twin films alert: two different Pinocchio movies came out this year. Why though? … is a question no one seemed to have an answer to. First Disney decided to continue its celebrated tradition of making awful live action versions of animated classics by releasing their new Pinocchio musical. Then Netflix proceeded to show how to do it right with Guillermo del Toro’s stop motion version of the tale.

- The very consistent Netflix, meanwhile, gave us a new instantly forgettable movie every week of the year. Such a mystery why they’ve lost millions of subscribers…

- Stephen Spielberg fabled a fable about fables in The Fabelmans, a semi-autobiographical film about films that is an early front runner for the upcoming award season.

Hollywood loves a movie about the power of movies? You don’t say!

(See also: Babylon.)

- The trippy Everything Everywhere All At Once scrambled our brains and forever changed the way we will look at bagels. And googly eyes. And rocks. And life.

Man, isn’t life weird?

Excuse us while we have a quick existential crisis.

- Weird: The Al Yankovic Story reminded us just how much we can learn about people from totally completely 100% accurate biopics.

- Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery masterfully peeled off the layers of another murder mystery. Minus ten points for not enough cable knit sweaters though.

- The very belated Avatar sequel The Way of Water – one of the most expensive films of all time – dived right into the burgeoning aquatic blockbuster trend, but, according to James Cameron, the project will need to make nearly $2 billion to break even. The 2009 original has, in the meantime, grossed around US$2.9 billion so far, so that’s around 5 cents in profit then?

- The Little Mermaid being black upset people who totally aren’t racist at all.

- Chris Pratt voiced Mario because why hire an actual professional voice actor when you can have this A-list blandness instead!

- Johnny Depp and Amber Heard showed the world in excruciating detail what a toxic relationship looks like.

- Ok, so … Olivia Wilde left Jason Sudeikis for Harry Styles after casting him in her film Don’t Worry Darling, claiming to have fired Shia LaBeouf from the role for the sake of star Florence Pugh, with Shia then presenting evidence that he quit despite Olivia’s attempts to keep him on board, while Florence refused to promote the movie and Jason served child custody court papers to Olivia when she was presenting the film at a convention, and then Olivia and Harry broke up, and now our brain hurts.

- The Bennifer love story came full circle as the reunited Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez finally tied the knot, nearly two decades after their first engagement and subsequent breakup. We can only hope that their wedding vows included the promise to not make another Gigli.

- The Fantastic Beasts franchise stumbled on despite the repeated cancellation of J. K. Rowling.

- The circle jerk that is the Hollywood award season reached new lows when Will Smith shot himself in the foot by slapping Chris Rock in the face at the Academy Awards. Upset over a joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith, Will demonstrated ugly behaviour that no one would have expected from someone as beloved as The Fresh Prince, and was subsequently banned from attending all Academy functions for ten years.

Had we not been distracted by the whole Smith-Rock fiasco, we would’ve totally had a field day making fun of the extended episode of Glee that is CODA winning the Best Picture award. Like, if you had any doubt that the Oscars are meaningless … the CODA win settles it then!

- Oh and actor Chris Evans was named People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive, which, I mean sure, but timeshare salesman Armie Hammer is right ther… wait, he did what?! Ok, never mind then.



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