Everything Everywhere All at Once

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Believe it or not, the plan was to start this year’s poll off with this question just for pure data. A by-the-numbers, binary snapshot of where people are at. As such endeavors do, things shifted a bit with the responses. I have kept the responses to this question anonymous because it seems appropriate — though my grand summary is that people who do mask are angry at the unsustainability of empathy, and people who don’t mask are angry at the mutability of the situation.

The Top 20 of 2022

1. Everything Everywhere All at Once

2. RRR

3. Aftersun

4. Tár

5. The Banshees of Inisherin

6. Decision to Leave

7. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

8. The Fabelmans

9. Crimes of the Future

10. EO

11. Nope

12. Benediction

13. Barbarian

14. X / Pearl

15. Women Talking

16. Bones and All

17. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair

18. Top Gun: Maverick

19. Marcel the Shell With Shoes On

20. Jackass Forever


Sean Abley, Jason Adams, Siddhant Adlakha, James Adomian, Kevin Allen, Ken Arnold, Sean Atkins, René Baharmast, Brooke Bernard, Billy Ray Brewton, Sean Burns, Dylan Carver, Erica Ciccarone, C.K. Cosner, Jacob Davison, Chris Dortch II, Alonso Duralde, Ben Empey, Steve Erickson, Celina Faur, Dom Fisher, Dr. Gangrene, Zack Hall, Cody Lee Hardin, Sheronica Hayes, Odie Henderson, Josh Hurtado, Sam Inglis, Allison Inman, David Irwin, Michael Jay, Brennan Klein, Rob Kotecki, John Lichman, Craig D. Lindsey, Brian Lonano, William Mahaffey, Matt McGuire, Thashana McQuiston, Richie Millennium, T. Minton, Noel Murray, Brian Owens, Matt Prigge, D. Patrick Rodgers, Mercy Sandberg-Wright, Witney Seibold, Jason Shawhan, Michael Sicinski, Graham Skipper, Nadine Smith, Sam Smith, James Spence, Scout Tafoya, Kyle Turner, Dave White, Lisa Ellen Williams, Cory Woodroof, Tony Youngblood

Decision to Leave

Decision to Leave


Do you still wear masks in movie theaters? 

On the occasions when I’m watching a movie with a sizable crowd, which was pretty rare in 2022.  

Never. Honestly, I’m not worried (quintuple vaxxed), and I just can’t enjoy a movie when I’m wearing a mask.

Yes, but I’ve become less OCD about the need. Now, do I want to tie that to getting incredibly sick recently when I didn’t wear one to see a film? No. Now excuse me as I eat more humble pie.

I did up until the summer, at least until I found my seat. Once I felt comfortable, I quit wearing them altogether. However, hand sanitizer is still a must.

Oh yeah. I still (mostly) wear masks when indoors in public anyway, even if I’m the odd man out and even though they make my otherwise unremarkable ears look funny. But I’m not only concerned about ’rona. A lot of the theaters I go to are old institutions, housing decades of obscure diseases. I used to get some mystery illness four or five or even six times a year. Now I almost never get sick. Masks rule!

I do not, but I have been tempted. It really just depends on the situation.

Sometimes. I still avoid big crowds and move around the theater to find a spot away from others.

I’ve only been back about five times, but I’ve masked in most of them. Often I’m one of the only people in the theater, so it doesn’t matter that much.

I will if I have to, but I hate it. There’s only one cinema around me that still requires it, and I’ve skipped at least a dozen screenings there this year because I hate being tapped on the shoulder and reminded to put my mask back up between bites of popcorn or sips of my drink. According to all the medical professionals in my family, if you’re not wearing a KN95 mask this is all just performative theater. But that’s probably the whole point anyway. Certain audiences enjoy being congratulated for caring more than others. It’s become a selling point.

Yes! Always. But I do pull up the bottom every so often for straw/Twizzlers insertion. (Note: This is called Zoidberging.)

Yes. Everytime I go to the movies, I always bring a mask. It’s always good to be prepared.

I stopped wearing a mask in theaters this past summer, although I will ALWAYS be respectful of those who do and will most definitely put one on if asked.

Yes, when it’s going to be a full house, which is more than I ever anticipate, happily.

I do not, though I’m vaccinated and have gotten every booster that has been made available to the public and will continue to get them the minute they’re available to the public.

I haven’t been to the cinema since February 2020. I realize it’s not the same out there now, but I’m immunosuppressed, and even prior to the pandemic I was starting to struggle with anxiety around my health and germs. I miss it for the scale, but honestly I don’t feel I miss out too much, and I have little nostalgia for audiences.

My dirty confession is that I have mostly stopped wearing masks unless I’m directly next to people. Failure of policy and messaging notwithstanding, it’s a dumb and lazy decision on my part. 

Always, and it drives me crazy that nearly no one else does.

There is still a pandemic happening so yes, obviously. People who don’t — well, to paraphrase Aunt Em in The Wizard of Oz, as a Christian Woman I can’t say it.

Only when they’re crowded.

I do. All this time, I have continued to mask in public spaces. I haven’t gotten COVID, the flu or even a common cold. I did, however, get cat scratch fever, but not at the movies.

If I go on a crowded opening night (which I almost never do), absolutely. But I think I did that twice all year — for the Downton Abbey movie because my in-laws were in town, and for Black Panther because my wife’s college bought out the house. My multiplex habits these days are more inclined toward weekday matinees on week three of release, where I’m in a 200-seat theater with maybe six other people. I confess that I did not wear a mask when I saw Barbarian that way — which is probably for the best, because I was already holding my breath through most of that picture.

No. I usually sit all the way in the back and don’t wear a mask.

Yes and no. It depends on how many people there are inside and how far away I am from others.

The Banshees of Inisherin

The Banshees of Inisherin

It’s time for bold statements.

Some of the most entertaining movies I saw all year — Prey, Orphan: First Kill and Confess, Fletch all leap to mind — either never got a theatrical run or got such a small, low-key release that they didn’t reach their intended audience. Given that I live in a smallish city in Arkansas, I appreciate the convenience of being able to watch the most buzzed-about movies at home at the same time as everyone else. But even I have to admit: It’s time to go back to longer and firmer release windows. Put good movies in theaters. Send them around the country. Let them play long enough to reach all the people willing to pay for them. And then — preferably many months later — make them available to stream, for a fee. And then — preferably many months after that — license them out to a subscription service. Let these films generate actual revenue. Treat them like they’re worth something. It’s no coincidence that on any given day, about a third of the most-watched films on Netflix are ones that played in theaters five or even 10 years ago. Netflix subscribers clearly consider those to be “real” movies, and therefore worthy of their attention. Imagine if the companies who owned the rights to those pictures felt the same way. —Noel Murray

Netflix used Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’s one-week theatrical release as a marketing ploy to drive viewership of the film on their service, but I think Netflix will start showing more of their original films in more theaters despite what they’ve publicly said about having no interest in the theatrical business. —Sean Atkins

The constant frame-rate switching in Avatar 2 was a travesty and ruined the viewing experience, and the fact that so many people are just OK with it is mind-blowing.  —William Mahaffey

The two funniest comedies of the year: Official Competition and Triangle of Sadness. The two best mindfucks: Last and First Men and Mad God. Last and First Men shouldn’t be called the best film of recent years, but rather one of the most fascinating movies of all time, loudly whispering analogous warnings and exaltations for our own special crises, as we behold the fiction unfolded, verbally recounted as if during a sacred bonfire ritual with Tilda Swinton’s calm voiceover describing an impossible and terrifying expanse of 2 billion years. The jaw drops at the scope of the narrative audacity, and the perfection of the artistic execution at all levels, from the first to the last frame. Official Competition is a hilarious movie-within-a-movie satire of the film industry, artists and genius itself. From start to finish, the mad rivalry of their characters dances into a very funny series of clashes and disasters. In particular, Oscar Martínez steals the show with a surgical skewering of a wounded artist’s false performance of integrity and humility, in a virtuoso comedic performance reminiscent of Michael Caine in his prime. —James Adomian

Maverick was TRASH. —Matt McGuire

I’m sick of directors using Black people to exorcise their own racist demons in their movies. I’m looking at you, James Gray, and you, Sam Mendes. At least Mendes’ cinematographer allowed us to see the Black person he was doing dirty, unlike Gray’s. While I’m showing my butt: The Whale is a vile piece of trash and I hope Brendan Fraser loses that Oscar. —Odie Henderson 

Marvel will die sooner than we think. —Witney Seibold

It was an incredible year for documentaries. Not financially — there weren’t any breakout hits. But Fire of Love, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Eternal Spring and so many more proved that the documentary form is as formidable as ever. Also — I’m getting real tired of mainstream critics not including docs on their end-of-the-year appraisals. I’m sorry — I enjoyed Elvis as much as the next person, but I can name 10 docs offhand that deserve more recognition than it. —Billy Ray Brewton

I think the theaters deserve to die. Not all of them, but AMC and Regal for sure, though. So many times I have gone to the theater this year and had the picture on the curtains, sound bleeding from the room next door, chairs that were broken, and I don’t know why none of them have working restroom sinks. The quality is typically better from my own home than in a chain theater. I think if the cinematic climate switched to the theaters as more of a niche thing, only screening in independent theaters and film festivals might be the best way to go in the future. —Ken Arnold

I know this is not a new phenomenon, but in the age of the irony-poisoned internet, especially after lockdown, rep screenings in New York have gotten so much weirder. Audiences, and they tend to be younger and “hip,” feel the need to play this imaginary competition in who can condescend to the movie the loudest. In screenings of Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, The Ice Storm, Cruising, Eyes Wide Shut, Klute, Leave Her to Heaven and others I can’t recall, audiences have laughed uproariously throughout. Look, I know an audience is going to audience, but so much of it feels fake, performed, smug, obnoxious and attention-seeking. I just want to watch a movie. I just want to engage with a movie on its own terms instead of either signaling that I’m better than it or that I recognize some meme. Leave me alone. —Kyle Turner

I don’t know how bold this is, but if we don’t support the theater-going experience by going in person rather than waiting for a film to hit streaming services, it’s going to slowly die. We have to get out and be social again. —Dom Fisher

There’s an irritating fatalism to movie marketing/publicity efforts at play right now. The entire industry has bent over backward to make marketing easier — star biopics, bestsellers, endless sequels and increasingly wall-to-wall stars. And yet they can’t even establish when or where a movie is opening near us. There’s a tone in marketing copy that implies they’re slightly embarrassed to be working in movies and that they know people have far cooler options. And of course, when a movie flops, it’s always explained away that the audience just wasn’t excited enough to see it, when their goddamn job is to generate precisely that kind of excitement. How many times do we read that it was obvious this or that indie was destined to fail given its subject matter or lack of superheroes? Bring back the carnival barkers who took pride in willing a hit into existence. Bring back the swagger that takes a look at the likes of EO and says, “I’m getting every grandma and vegan in the country to show up to this.” That’s how this industry thrives again, artistically and financially. —Rob Kotecki

This is the bleakest time for American cinema and everything to do with it (i.e., criticism, film school, etc.) since it began. As the field of opportunity continues to narrow, things will only get worse. Hilariously, I think it’s probably more likely Ben Shapiro’s production company will produce something interesting that’s also profitable, which may provide a lane for medium-budget films to start being made again. It’s a copycat league. —René Baharmast

Way too much pop culture is centered around fucked-up wealthy individuals right now. Clearly we’re in the midst of a post-Trump “eat the rich” cash-grab. It’s a disappointingly slight coping mechanism that essentially has us repeating the mantra that extreme wealth begets extreme shittiness without offering any guillotines (literal or metaphorical) to get us out of this rut. Instead we’re forced into this awful company and made to spend hours on end hate-watching them interact with one another and waiting for them to get their inevitable comeuppance. It’s not productive and just continues to put a spotlight on the people ruining our world and give our schadenfreude an unhealthy workout. I’m looking at you, Triangle of Sadness, Succession, White Lotus, Violent Night, The Menu, Tár, Bodies Bodies Bodies, Glass Onion, et al. Entertainment conglomerates seem to be having their cake and eating it too quite a bit these days. Kind of like how Andor’s tale of violent revolution against an evil, soulless empire makes us forget for a moment about Disney’s iron-fisted IP dominance. —Zack Hall

Sad but true — I’ll never see another movie again in a regular theater. —Mercy Sandberg-Wright

Ti West is a genius. Damien Leone is an evil genius. —Celina Faur

Anyone complaining about how Halloween Ends ruined the franchise seems to have forgotten or never seen Halloween H20 or especially Halloween: Resurrection. (And I swear I’m not hating on them — they’re fun and little time capsules in their own right.) What stands out about the Halloween franchise is its ability to consistently repulse its loyal audience while also building a new following. This won’t be the final iteration of Michael Myers; he will endure and so will our own personal romanticized notions of the franchise. (Also, what the heck was he doing in that pipe? I’d like a movie about the pipe years.) Also, best double feature of 2022 (nope, not X and Pearl): Deadstream and Dashcam, followed by a listen to Annie Hardy’s rendition of “Jesus Loves Me” and/or Giant Drag’s Hearts and Unicorns. —Lisa Ellen Williams

An unintentional thread I’ve found in my favorite films of the year is how we’re given the daunting idea we’re forced into the threads we’ve posted and weaved for years. Whether it’s The Shape’s toxic effect on Haddonfield or Lydia Tár grooming a generation before her downfall at the hands of a digital media ghost’s receipts. In We’re All Going to the World’s Fair, Anna Cobb’s Tracey breaks herself to learn she can always not conform despite the alluring threat of being in on the meme or having “fans.” Progression is a similar point in Emily the Criminal, Dos Estaciones and Strawberry Mansion, where there is a preset path laid for people and to walk away means an idea of failure or being unable to handle a “normal life.” But if the “normal life” isn’t there because of pestilence, economy or an old woman who points you in a different direction, what choice do you have? Yule Log shows how insane pre-established norms can be and still (d)evolve, The Tsugua Diaries plays with narrative expectations during one of the strangest periods the world has been through, and Decision to Leave ties everything up with the simple reminder not to fuck with Tang Wei. As local festivals shutter or lay off programming staff to “best evaluate [their] next moves,” the rise of the branded film festival will take off and the Penske-SXSW festivals will roam state by state, town by town, like something out of Robot Carnival until our culture lies in ruin and unused drink tickets. —John Lichman

I’m afraid to try to defend Blonde, given director Andrew Dominik’s problematic public statements and the insistence that the myth of Marilyn Monroe should be held untouched on a pedestal unexplored in a way that, say, Gus Van Sant did with Kurt Cobain in Last Days. But it can’t be denied that this film creates the rare Lynchian effect of a simulated nightmare, with Ana de Armas giving all of herself to a piece that imagines how trauma can leave one lost in a labyrinth for life. It’s got stunning full-frame camera work by Lemonade’s Chayse Irvin and a Badalamentian score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis — I’ll take a bold work like this over the annual handful of mundane biopics any year. —Sam Smith

I like that RRR is enjoying unprecedented Western success for an Indian film, but despite my hopes, it doesn’t seem like too many people who watched it are using it as a starting point to explore more Indian cinema. Hopefully time will prove me wrong. —Siddhant Adlakha

Are you located within 20 miles/32 kilometers of a venue that can still exhibit 35 mm film?

Yes: 91 percent

No: 9 percent



Disney now shunts theatrically viable films directly to Hulu so they don’t have to share them with HBO Max, HBO Max has been disappearing completed works from any kind of availability for tax write-offs, and every streaming service seems to want to rebrand, restructure or completely remake itself. What do you see the endgame as being? Are we just headed for a single data singularity for all audiovisual media?

With Discovery taking Warner Bros., I think the HBO content might not be in the best hands. The CEO of Discovery said his favorite type of show is House Flippers because it’s cheap to make and makes a lot of money. I think the streaming wars will lead to a high demand for content that is cheap to make and thus low-risk. Side note: Fuck Warner #FreePeoplesJoker —Ken Arnold

Two things: First, while I don’t think there will be a single data singularity, I do think many of these studios and streamers will join forces to combine their libraries. Companies like Paramount and Netflix would make for the perfect pairing. If people thought Yellowstone was popular enough on cable, can you imagine the numbers it would pull in if it were available on Netflix? It would be as big as Stranger Things, Squid Game and Wednesday. Second, every streamer has wanted to pull content for years to cut costs if certain products are not pulling in viewership that justifies keeping it on the service, but didn’t want to be the first to do it. But now that Warner Bros./Discovery started removing content, you’re starting to see other streamers do it too, like Netflix, who just removed some of their original programs, including Hemlock Grove. This trend is only getting started and will get worse over time, which is why physical media is now more important than ever. If you own it, no one can take it away from you. —Sean Atkins

If I knew the answer to that question, I would be rich. Or clinically depressed. —Tony Youngblood

I don’t think there’s an endgame. Much of the world is held together by Scotch Tape and bubble gum, and as with many decisions from those in authority, these are all shortsighted solutions to increase wealth now, with no eye on the future. Streaming may just continue being a game of musical chairs, with “content” shuffling from one service to another, forever. Or maybe it’ll all collapse and there will be a tiny amount of available films and TV, just like in the pre-streaming days. All I do know is no one knows what they’re doing. —Matt Prigge 

The logical endpoint is for the big media conglomerates to abandon the idea that they all need to have their own streaming services and instead go back to licensing their wares to any outlet that can pay the fee. In the brick-and-mortar days, whether you managed a Blockbuster or a mom-and-pop, you could rent Jurassic Park to your customers so long as you could buy a copy. That’s how it should be with streaming. If Hulu, Netflix and Amazon all want to carry the Marvel movies, and they can pay what Disney is charging, they should be allowed to do it. I doubt this will ever happen, because everyone’s convinced that the streaming space is the most valuable space to be in. But I think if production companies and distributors went back to thinking of the things they make and own as having a real, quantifiable value — as opposed to being just an interchangeable part of a larger package — they wouldn’t be so quick to treat those movies as disposable. —Noel Murray

I’m old so the endgame to me is whoever builds the best single hub and convinces enough companies to abandon stand-alone sites and migrate directly to their platform as in-app purchases. The downside for Amazon and Apple in both of these scenarios is their search capabilities are terrible, and every day we learn some random thing has been on Tubi for three years. So before we get there someone needs to design better search functionality. Then we’ll see some fireworks. —John Lichman

It’s specifically an indictment of the current Warner Discovery regime, because it’s poisoning the studio’s name. I don’t see how any actual artist is going to want to work with a company that has actively demonstrated their mercenary attitude toward collaborative works of art. I imagine that the real innovations and disruptions in the marketplace are going to come from contract lawyers who are even now developing codicils to address this very situation. —Jason Shawhan


Not a singularity, but mergers are certainly on the horizon, and the product will most assuredly get worse. —René Baharmast

I don’t see people turning back on some version of direct-to-consumer companies or libraries, so I see movie theaters continuing to struggle and every little studio having to launch its own little streaming service. I don’t want to be a pessimist, but it’s hard to be optimistic about these things. —Kyle Turner

Sadly, the “every movie will be available in digital form always and forever” hope fell victim to capitalism. I’m sure the bean counters will tell us it doesn’t make financial sense to keep filmed entertainment on a server somewhere if only a few film nerds are watching it in any one year. I see more mergers, less choice and AppleTV/iTunes coming out the winner with their à la carte, buy-it-and-watch-it business model. People will start cutting the cord with streamers like they did with cable a few years ago. —Sean Abley

I still prefer Blu-rays to streaming; the audio quality is better. —Michael Jay

It’s very hard to see what the endgame is now, but whatever it is I don’t think it bodes well for film as an art. —William Mahaffey

Curious about this myself. I think the people who’ve been keeping hard drives full of pirated movies were the ones with the most foresight, because there’s increasingly little guarantee that the streamers are going to meet us halfway, which puts the burden on boutique labels to continue to restore rare movies and get them to us (for reasonable but still high prices). Which means the money that streaming once promised is gone, as is the promise of unlimited potential for library building. As anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of American market history could have told you, the streaming revolution was over whenever there were more than five apps. Studios continued to buy up space and withhold their titles so that everyone would go to them specifically to watch whatever they’re producing. The trouble here is about eightfold. What happens when no one subscribes? What happens to the movies you gambled on thinking you’d be taking in the same kinds of returns you used to for similarly pitched movies? Suddenly, producers have carte blanche to blame bottoming-out numbers of underperforming movies and genres and directors. Instead of giving people Content on Demand, we’ve given studio heads Firing Power on Demand. Now every mini mogul out there gets to cluck his tongue and say, “Well, looks like this show isn’t doing well, time to give it the old heave-ho” and feel like Louis B. Mayer or whatever, while absolutely nothing changes about the movies they’re buying because risk is no longer incentivized. In short: A fake nest egg streamers all promised they had for artists was revealed to be the fake money it always was. Companies are going bankrupt, and so it’s become a game of who can deduct the most from their taxes to seem like the most shrewd of all the players in the game. Meanwhile, the only reason people renew any of their subscriptions? They forget that they renew automatically. Studios and streamers have taken for granted that people’s viewing habits are ruled by laziness and consistency. Ask your parents or your siblings, film fans, what they’re watching. My guess is the answer is: whatever’s on. Because that’s easy, and in the rush to make this pretend luxury item (the movies in your own home!!!), they’ve flooded the market with garbage, made picking anything impossible, and accidentally made people remember why they like going to the movies. Jackass Forever —$80 million. Halloween Ends, a day-and-date release — $105 million. Smile — $216 million. Nope — $171 million! Elvis — $287 million! Avatar back in theaters. Death on the Nile — $137 million for some reason. RRR — $145 million! X and Pearl both made 10 times their money back. If we could stop making superhero movies and slough off the cancerousness direct-to-Netflix Ryan Reynolds market, this might resemble a real cinema again! So yes, I despair for people with remotes, everything will get worse there, but for once I’m optimistic about theatergoing, and I’ll take that over knowing what boneheaded new low the streamers and the used-car salesmen who run them are willing to sink to prove they don’t know the first goddamn thing about movies. The Rock and his terrible movies are finally losing money! The end of the tunnel is in sight! —Scout Tafoya

The industry is learning the hard way that playing both producer and distributor isn’t as fun or profitable as they thought. Streaming platforms cost real money to build and maintain, and Netflix’s pricing model broke the connection between what we pay and what we expect to get. Behind all the balance sheet shenanigans over at Warner Bros./ Discovery is the realization that they’d make more money licensing films and TV shows for others to stream, as soon as they crawl out from under the debt incurred from decades of corporate mismanagement. Ten years from now, streamers will look a lot more like traditional networks. We’ll have a “big three” of streamers that charge a premium rate to subscribers. Most studios will refocus on producing content they can sell to those big three. Disney will likely be the exception, unless the Marvel and Star Wars brands continue to rust, which might lead to them selling off their Fox entities, allowing an independent 20th Century studio to be reborn. —Rob Kotecki

I think the miracle of streaming gets tarnished by the fact that it was never an economic model that was going to survive, and I can only hope there are still movie theaters in business when that happens. —Alonso Duralde

Surely competition rules mean that we’ll never get to the point of a single content platform. That said, I don’t think it’s sustainable to have things as fragmented as they’ve become. There’s loyalty to Disney as a brand, but does ANYONE particularly love Universal, as a company? That’s why I don’t see much of a future in studios owning platforms. Genre, I think, is a more logical way forward. Shudder shows the proof of concept for horror, Mubi and Criterion for “arthouse.” I imagine other services targeted that way could follow and be successful. —Sam Inglis

What we’re seeing is business shortsightedness, with some companies in debt from acquisitions, so in the churn to get out of the hole, everyone gets covered in dirt. There’s neurosis everywhere. An endgame is hard to come by when most of the studios in question can’t even think that far ahead. What I see is a very bumpy 2023. More than anything, certain of these events highlight the importance of physical media. —James Spence

Since those things used to be called video stores, I wouldn’t mind going back to that. —Craig D. Lindsey

To quote Akira: “The future doesn’t necessarily proceed along a single course. There ought to be a future we can choose. It’s up to us to find it.” Which is to say, the future of distribution and streaming is more uncertain than ever. But I am hopeful that a system will come to pass that will be fair to movies and television and allow for a wide range of stories to be told to a wide audience without fear of being erased entirely. And I also hope a focus will come back to theatrical releases. —Jacob Davison

Maybe I’m an optimist, but I see studio execs realizing they need a clean theatrical run in order for their bloated budgets to see any sort of return. —Brooke Bernard

I’m not convinced the near future is a total collapse into the Black Mirror of singularity. But then again, I’m an optimist and not an economist. —T. Minton

I don’t know, but we are certainly headed for a monolithic control of media “content” not seen since the Soviet Union. Communism tells you that you have no choices, but it’s good for you. Late-global-fast-venture capitalism shrinks our memories and imaginations, until whatever crumbs they throw us will be misperceived as “choice.” —Michael Sicinski

I see studios opening up their own theaters that play their own films exclusively. I see a theatrical landscape that is mostly blockbusters. I see a bleak period where a lot of films are not going to be made available to the public. I see pirates taking to the high seas to get art to the masses. —Witney Seibold

What’s your favorite cinematic mollusk of 2022?

A. The Mimic Octopus, Wendell & Wild: 15 percent

B. The Marshmallow Octopus Sentries, Strange World: 3 percent

C) The Tiny Bioluminescent Squids, Avatar: The Way of Water: 19 percent

D) “Gargantos” (let’s be real, it’s Shuma-Gorath), Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: 21 percent

E) Other:

  • Marcel the Shell, Marcel the Shell With Shoes On: 36 percent
  • The snails, Deep Water: 3 percent
  • Nana Connie, Marcel the Shell With Shoes On: 3 percent

Despite what it says on the internet, we maintain that Marcel and Nana Connie are not mollusks. They are shells, they are not organisms that live in shells. Fight it out amongst yourselves.




What’s the musical moment of the year?

Going against the RRR grain, I’m gonna have to say the “Dance Ka Bhoot” sequence from Brahmastra: Part One — Shiva. While RRR as a whole is the better Indian cinema experience of the year by a country mile, “Dance Ka Bhoot” is an irresistible expression of pure joy featuring what feels like thousands of dancers, bolstered by Ranbir Kapoor’s skill at expressing his bottomless charisma through movement. —Brennan Klein

A toss-up between the dance-off from RRR and Bowie singing “Rock ’n’ Roll With Me” live from Moonage Daydream. —Craig D. Lindsey

Besides “Naatu Naatu,” I was kind of stunned that one of Spirited’s best musical moments was “Ripple,” the song they clearly cut for pacing purposes and just shoved into the closing credits. Oh, and the very end of White Noise, of course. —Alonso Duralde

The opening dance sequence of After Yang where we see every person we’re about to meet in the film doing DANCE! DANCE! REVOLUTION! style movements. Just a pure explosion of joy in a film that goes down some very sad corridors. It sets you up nicely. —Billy Ray Brewton

59 minutes into Tár when it cuts from her playing Mahler on the piano to her conducting a rehearsal and the music just blasts. It’s my favorite moment of the year.— Brian Lonano

Props must also be given to the Frankie Valli dance party in Tsugua Diaries, but the king is “Naatu Naatu.” A little somethin’... for the fellas. —Scout Tafoya

Pearl’s dance audition in Pearl. —D. Patrick Rodgers

Given how established and overused “Under Pressure” is, and given how much David Bowie’s music was used in films this year, it’s truly amazing what Charlotte Wells was able to do with that song in Aftersun, a film that left me unable to stand up. —Sam Smith

The broken and brokenhearted use of “Glide,” originally from All About Lily Chou Chou, but as used in Kogonada’s After Yang. As it plays at a concert in the deep recesses of Yang’s memories (Real? Fabricated? Some mix of the two?), the song, covered by Mitski, is cut off on the word “loved.” Fractured and fragile, “Glide” contains all the searching for safety and home in its repeated phrase: “I wanna be.” —Kyle Turner

Pretty much the entire soundtrack of One Piece: Film Red by the artist Ado, but the sequence for “Tot Musica” was a wonderful blend of nightmare imagery and haunting lyrics.—Jacob Davison

The end credits of White Noise, where everyone dances to “New Body Rhumba” by LCD Soundsystem. —Michael Jay

1. When Lee looks at Maren in Bones and All and says, “I sang to my girl in that truck.” 2. The “Be My Baby” needle-drop in Barbarian. Honorable mention to the ’68 Comeback Special portion of Elvis. —Thashana McQuiston

Hats off to Bros for giving proper respect to Joan Armatrading’s “Love and Affection.” I dig the way the new trend is Bowie a cappellas in the club, with both Aftersun and Bardo making excellent use of the idea, and also the way Moonage Daydream kicks off with the Pet Shop Boys remix of “Hallo Spaceboy.” There are five or six absolutely killer moments in Aline. After Yang’s opening credits, and RRR’s end credits pageant to “Etthara Jenda.” The way The Girl and the Spider is tied to “Voyage Voyage” both as a song and in its score. “Love Song,” both the Lesley Duncan and Elton John incarnations, in Men. Whenever Katey Sagal gets to sing in Torn Hearts. Jazmine Sullivan’s “Put It Down” in its two appearances in Cha-Cha Real Smooth. “Biden” in The Inside Outtakes. The bit in Elvis when it turns into “Toxic” for a bit. When “212” gets busted out in Bodies Bodies Bodies as a golden oldie. “Maniac” in Orphan: First Kill. Des’ree’s “Life” as a signifier for banal decadence in Triangle of Sadness. All the menacing MOR hits in Trenque Lauquen. “Daydream Believer” in Women Talking. —Jason Shawhan

“Under Pressure” in Aftersun. My jaw dropped during that scene. —Allison Inman

The opening credits of After Yang and the closing credits of White Noise. —Jason Adams

Two Words: “Naatu Naatu”! (However, I have some affection for Antonio Banderas singing, “Who is your favorite fearless hero?” in Puss in Boots: Fun Cash Grab.) —Odie Henderson

RRR’s “Naatu Naatu” scene. I love the idea of defeating white supremacy, colonialism and hegemonic masculinity with a combative dance-off. —T. Minton

Everyone is going to say “Naatu Naatu” in RRR for obvious reasons, so I’ll also shout out the impeccable Corey Hart needle-drop in Nope. —Cory Woodroof

One of my favorite songs in the world is the effervescent child of David Bowie and Queen, “Under Pressure.” Aftersun was a difficult movie for me to watch. Like the main character, I spent much of my childhood trying to understand a mentally ill parent. There were moments in the film when I felt like my skin was being scraped off and had to close my eyes. (The film is also No. 5 on my top 10 list, which says something about me.) I am still processing this tender and devastating film. I played the song a lot in the early days of the pandemic because there is something desperate in it that makes me feel close to the people I love. In this film, writer-director Charlotte Wells uses it to show us that love and pain can be the same thing. I didn’t think a song that I already knew so well could leave me awestruck. —Erica Ciccarone

From RRR, Bheem  performing  “Komuram Bheemedo”  while being tortured. Take that, The Passion of The Christ! —Steve Erickson

Aside from “Naatu Naatu” from RRR, the remix of “Sunglasses at Night” by Corey Hart in Nope. Hearing one of the best songs from the ’80s chopped, screwed and slowed down into something ominous and demonic produced an innate awe from me during one of the best scenes of the year. —Kevin Allen


Cate Blanchett in TÁR

Who would win in a fight: Lydia Tár or Pearl?

I’ve not seen Tár yet, but … does she have an ax?—Sam Inglis

If it’s a musical contest, Lydia Tár. But if it’s an ax fight, I think Pearl has the advantage. —Jacob Davison

Tár in round one once she realizes Pearl isn’t putting out, but mainly because she can’t hold a note and that’s the breaking point. —John Lichman

Pearl with the candlestick in the library —Matt McGuire

Lydia would simply condescend to Pearl until she crumpled into a fetal position. —Siddhant Adlakha

Lydia is a mess; Pearl would have her head cracked open before the second stanza —Jason Adams

Tár. —Brian Lonano

I didn’t see Pearl, but I will say Kristen Stewart in Crimes of the Future would fuck them both up. —Matt Prigge

Pearl, since she’s, you know, a homicidal maniac. —Craig D. Lindsey

Lydia would seduce Pearl and leave her behind. —Witney Seibold

Lydia Tár, undefeated. —Sean Burns

Pearl (mainly because I unfortunately haven’t seen Tár yet). —William Mahaffey

It would be like the Sacha Baron Cohen/Ken Davitian fight at the end of Brüno. They’d be fucking by the end. —Michael Sicinski

Lydia Tár. Hands down. She’d outsmart Pearl in a heartbeat … maybe after they had some hot, steamy barnyard sex. —Billy Ray Brewton

Lydia Tár, easily. She would be too quick for Pearl to handle. —Sean Atkins

Pearl. —Brooke Bernard

All Lydia Tár has is a baton and too much praise. Chop her pretentious ass up, Pearl! —Odie Henderson

Pearl, easily. Lydia would use cunning and subterfuge. Pearl would just slam an ax into Lydia’s face. —Tony Youngblood

Oh Pearl, no question. She’s completely unhinged and isn’t opposed to using anything sharp around her as a deadly weapon. She would without hesitation do whatever she could to be in Lydia’s spotlight. —Dom Fisher

Pearl —Michael Jay

Some may say Pearl has a “homegrown homicidal” advantage, yet I think Lydia Tár would pummel her with the worst insults of her life, and be able to get the job done physically. —James Spence

Pearl might not be able to hack it in showbiz, but she’s pretty handy with farm tools. Lydia doesn’t stand a chance. —Zack Hall

The basement mom in Barbarian would devour both of them at the same time. —Dave White

Pearl. Don’t ever bet against the will of a backcountry girl. —Rob Kotecki

Pearl, easily. Pearl is practically a playable character on Mortal Kombat. —Cory Woodroof

Lydia Tár has the verbal barbs, but Pearl proved that she isn’t afraid to chop someone to bits. As soon as Pearl puts her hands on an ax, it’s over. —Kevin Allen

Pearl; do you think she will let the infrastructure of hermetic institutions stand in her way? —Kyle Turner

I know it would be Tár, because anyone who plants a seed of terror in the mind of a child by saying “I will get you” is a psychopath playing the long game. —T. Minton

The thought of this alone is cracking me up, but let’s be honest: It would probably be Pearl. But Lydia would put up a fight, no doubt. —Thashana McQuiston

Florence Pugh. —Alonso Duralde

If it’s a fistfight, it’s easily Lydia Tár. She has a regular exercise routine that includes boxing. Pearl can cut a body with one swing of an ax, but we never saw her throwing hands. I think it’s not even close. Lydia Tár will probably throw a few good licks in and Pearl will be kissing the floor. —Ken Arnold

I picture Tár and Pearl meeting up after the Monster Hunter concert to go on a killing spree. —Steve Erickson

Pearl would have an ax in the middle of Lydia’s head in less than 10 seconds. —David Irwin

Why, the viewers, of course! —Scout Tafoya

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