2022 is come and gone now, and I wanted to take some time as I usually do to go over the best (and worst) of what I read and watched. All told, I made my goal of 52 books for the year. I watched 27 television shows in their entirety, and I watched 103 movies. I gave books an average rating of 7.74 and movies and television an average of 7.59, indicating I generally stop reading things I don’t like more than I stop watching stuff I don’t like. Those averages are honestly a bit on the high side, though at the same time, I generally only watch and read things that look like they’ll appeal to me, so maybe that makes a bit more sense.
With that stated, here are the highlights:
I gave 6 books a perfect 10/10:
- Eye of the World: I know The Wheel of Time isn’t for everyone, but it is very much for me. I’ve reread this book more times than I can remember, and I still love it. I still remember seeing it for the first time on the library shelf, and how hooked I was as I started reading it. I waited for this series to be finished for years and years. So happy it ended well.
- The Gathering Storm: Brandon’s first Wheel of Time book was such a breath of fresh air. He managed to do what seemed impossible: seamlessly edge his way into a long standing series successfully. And for a series that had seemed for a long time to be wandering somewhat, he gave a real sense that this was going to have an end, and it was going to be a good one.
- Memory of Light: The final book of Wheel of Time. Absolutely fantastic. Big pay offs left and right for fans of the series, and a conclusion that felt right.
- The Princess Bride: Another reread, this time with Daniela. The book is fantastic. Right up my alley.
- A Prayer for Owen Meany: My second time through this one as well, meaning up until October, I hadn’t had a single new 10/10. Still, this is a lovely book. So well written, with such vivid characters. My friend Sue pointed me toward it back in college, and it still is wonderful.
- Lonesome Dove: The last book I read last year was a real doozy. Talk about a tour de force. I don’t care if you don’t like westerns, if you like literature, I have a hard time thinking you wouldn’t like this book. Great plot. Great characters. Great prose. Well worth your time.
I only gave one book a 9.5/10. Lord of Chaos, another Wheel of Time book. Go figure.
I gave 6 books a 9/10
- Fires of Heaven: Wheel of Time strikes again. It was a fun way to start the year off, let’s just say.
- Harriet the Spy: Finally got around to reading this one, and it was such a pleasant surprise. I knew nothing about it going in. I just assumed it would be about a young girl who’s a spy. I was wrong. 🙂
- Fifteen Lives of Henry August: This was a great surprise. A fantastic premise, and well-executed.
- The Godfather: It’s clear why it had such an influence on movies. Not a complicated read, but very visceral.
- Gwendy’s Button Box: Really more of a novella, but I still counted it. I’m always a sucker for Stephen King.
- Slade House: A very fun, creepy book. This was a fast read for me. I read it in a day.
What were the worst books I read? I usually hold back from naming them, but I’ll actually go public with one this time. Crossroads of Twilight got a 4/10 from me, despite being a Wheel of Time book. It seemed like an experiment to me: could Robert Jordan write a whole book that only tracks a few days in the lives of his characters? Yes, he could. No, it wasn’t interesting. It felt like a one-off TV episode. Blarg. Other than that, I gave two books a 5/10. One was the third book of a series that started off great, by an author I really enjoy, but it just couldn’t sustain itself. The other was a classic science fiction novel that I had a very hard time connecting with.
Only two shows got a perfect score from me this year. Both fantastic.
- The U.S. and the Holocaust: There are few TV shows that I would recommend to watch just to become a better person. This is one.
- The English: Fantastic. Beautiful and brutal to watch. So well acted. I loved the whole thing.
I gave no seasons a 9.5/10.
I gave 7 seasons a 9/10:
- Gilded Age 1: Historical drama in time period that’s often overlooked, and just so happened to be in a time period close to one I’ve researched for writing. Very well done. American Downton Abbey, though more adult.
- Peacemaker 1: Over the top ridiculous. I watched it while I had COVID, and it made COVID that much more bearable. Definitely not for everyone, but I thought it was very funny. The opening sequence each episode was perfect.
- Severance 1: Great premise, lots of great mysteries, and a fair number of them explained in the first season instead of being kicked off for later seasons. I’m looking forward to the next season.
- Stranger Things 4: Did just what I wanted it to. I love this show.
- House of the Dragon 1: Does a great job extending the Game of Thrones universe while dialing way down on the fantasy elements.
- The Devil’s Hour 1: Intricately plotted, with a premise that only makes more sense the more you find out about it. Very worthwhile.
- Wednesday 1: I just blogged about this.
Five movies got a perfect score. Only one of them was a first time watch.
- Return of the King: Still a fantastic movie. The end.
- Groundhog Day: Yes, this will appear on my list every year. Kind of appropriate, and self-explanatory.
- Shawshank Redemption: Again, I don’t feel like this needs an explanation.
- Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes: I watched it twice within a week. The second time wasn’t as amazing as the first, but I was still wowed by how they pulled off an entire plot around the ability to see two minutes into the future.
- Back to the Future: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is a perfect movie. Perfect cast. Perfect plot. Perfect soundtrack. Chef’s kiss.
I gave 2 movies a 9.5/10:
- Encanto: Delightful, and the soundtrack only got better with time.
- West Side Story: Spielberg’s new version was amazing. Different than the original, but in a very good way. It felt less like a musical, and more like a movie, if that makes sense.
I gave 17 movies a 9/10:
- The Two Towers: No explanation needed.
- The Party: This Peter Sellers movie is hilarious, but I have a hard time recommending it to people, because he does brownface the whole time, playing the role of an Indian for comedic effect. I would argue that he uses it to show a person who feels completely out of place, but it could have been done without the ethnicity change, and that’s disappointing.
- Free Guy: This had no right being as good as it was. It felt like it should have been a throw away video game movie, but it ended up being smart and tons of fun.
- Turning Red: A fun movie that got more people upset than I would expect, showing people will get upset about lots of things that are surprising these days. (I’m probably included in that statement, though this movie did not upset me.)
- Moneyball: Fun look at baseball, statistics, and human nature.
- The Breakfast Club: Not perfect, but still a great slice of life of high school, and still relevant today, even if there are pieces of it that haven’t aged well.
- Joe vs. the Volcano: My personal favorite Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan pairing.
- RRR: Jaw dropping action scenes. Musical numbers. Crazy plot. This one was a real experience.
- Fitzwilly: Dick Van Dyke as a thieving butler trying to make enough money to fund his boss’s charitable work? How can you not watch this?
- A Beautiful Mind: Yup. Still great.
- The Wedding Singer: It’s not highbrow cinema, but it’s still fun.
- The Map of Tiny Perfect Things: Time loop romantic-comedy? How can it go wrong with me?
- Everything Everywhere All at Once: I think this one suffered from being too hyped up before I watched it. I still really enjoyed it, but I wasn’t left amazed. But definitely should be watched.
- Shop Around the Corner: Classic.
- Dunkirk: I liked it more the second time than I did the first, when the timey-wimey didn’t completely make sense to me.
- The Hudsucker Proxy: I love the Coen Bros. This is an oft-forgotten gem.
- Glass Onion: People keep comparing it to Knives Out, saying it’s worse. I really enjoyed it, and I liked it even more once I realized that the entire answer to the mystery really had been on screen the whole time. No sneaky cuts to not show things. If you’d been paying attention all along, there was no mystery at all.
How about the worst things I watched?
- On Stranger Tides got a 5/10. It was a Pirate’s movie too far.
- Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows also got a 5/10. A Sherlock movie too far.
- Wayne’s World got a 5/10. Not nearly as good as I remembered
- Christmas Story Christmas was another 5/10. Should have been better. Wasn’t.
- The King’s Man got a 4/10. Unnecessary and stupid prequel to an action series, though it had a few good sequences.
- Mortal Kombat (the new one) was another 4/10. Just plain stupid, even if it had some good effects.
- Obi Wan Kenobi 1 got a 4/10. It was the chosen one. It was said that it would destroy the doubters, not encourage them. Bring balance to the force, not leave it in darkness. Lies. All lies.
- Alone 8 was a 4/10. I’ve never seen the struggle to survive seem so boring.
- The Eagle got a 3/10. Historical action movie about Roman soldiers. Avoid.
- The live action Pinocchio got a 3/10. Waste of time.
- Under the Banner of Heaven got a 1/10. Awful awful awful, and worse because they kept trying to insist it was an accurate portrayal of what happened.
All told, it was a good year. I like looking back and seeing the highlights like this. Anything stand out to you (good or bad) from what you read or watched last year?
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