The Best TV Episodes of 2022

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I’m a Chocoholic (CREDIT: FX/Screenshot)

When so many modern TV shows feel like amorphous blobs, I cherish those programs that know how to craft well-oiled episodes more than ever. Here’s a mighty fine selection that I might just want to keep watching over and over.

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‘Living’ Review: Is It a…?

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Bill Nighy the Living Guy (CREDIT: Sony Pictures Classics/Screenshot)

Starring: Bill Nighy, Aime Lou Wood, Alex Sharp, Tom Burke

Director: Oliver Hermanus

Running Time: 102 Minutes

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: December 23, 2022 (Limited)

Before I saw Living, I’d never before ordered anything from the cafe at the Angelika Film Center in SoHo, NYC. But since you can take the cafe food into the theaters and I’m not a huge fan of traditional concession stand options, it was a no-brainer to finally change that! As for what I actually ordered – a piece of peanut butter cake – it sat a little heavy in my stomach. And that didn’t really pair well with the movie on screen. In general, that’s the case with an overly quenched appetite, but especially so this time, as Living is meant to be light on its feet as Bill Nighy tries to go off and have a laugh at life. Of course, in contrast the cancer diagnosis hangs heavy. So does this movie make me go “It’s a living!”? No, but in retrospect, maybe it should have.

Grade: 3 Shocked Reactions at a New Hat

Best TV Shows of 2022 by Network

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CREDIT (Clockwise from Top Left): AMC/Screenshot; ABC/Screenshot; Paramount+/Screenshot; Hulu/Screenshot)

To demonstrate how great TV can be found pretty much everywhere these days, I’ve decided to pick the best show on each network and streaming service on which I regularly watched at least one show that aired in 2022. However you’re getting your fill of TV nowadays, you’re bound to find something enjoyable. If you and your remote ever find yourself hopelessly adrift, I can vouch that the following are all great places to find your way back to safety.

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‘Missing’ Delivers Yet Another Screenlife Winner

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Not Pictured: The People Who Are Missing (CREDIT: Screen Gems)

Starring: Storm Reid, Nia Long, Ken Leung, Joaquim de Almeida, Amy Landecker, Daniel Henney, Tim Griffin, Megan Suri

Directors: Nick Johnson and Will Merrick

Running Time: 111 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Over-the-Top Ragers and Implied Disturbing Violence

Release Date: January 20, 2022 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: 18-year-old June Allen (Storm Reid) sure is ready to make her way to college so that she doesn’t have to keep constantly rolling her eyes at her mom Grace (Nia Long). She’ll get to preview that independence for about a week as Mom goes on vacation to Colombia with her new boyfriend Kevin (Ken Leung, aka Miles from Lost). She proceeds to throw a nonstop, knockout rager but ultimately manages to schlep it over to LAX just in time to pick up Grace and Kevin upon their return back to the States. But then they’re nowhere to be found!

So to track them down, June enlists the help of an FBI agent (Daniel Henney), her mom’s lawyer (Amy Landecker), and a random guy on the ground in Colombia (Joaquim de Almeida). Over the course of the investigation, some rather surprising tidbits about Grace and Kevin’s pasts begin to emerge, and we see this all unfold on laptops, cell phones, and other modern Internet-connected screen devices.

What Made an Impression?: Is screenlife the best genre ever?!!! It’s a fairly young cinematic style, but it’s been producing hit after hit after hit. Unfriended was excellent! Unfriended: Dark Web took the scares to another level! Searching delivered the thrills in spades! And now we’ve got Missing serving as a standalone sequel to Searching, with a fresh story that maintains the same investigative approach and also the same gerund titling strategy. Neither Missing nor Searching has a plot that absolutely demands confining its action to screens, but that approach nevertheless keeps everything focused. And I think that’s a huge reason (perhaps even the hugest reason) why this subgenre has delivered so consistently. There are some cheats here and there in which the action spreads beyond the computer, but for the most part, the creative restraints fuel creative triumphs.

The undeniable fun of Missing is derived from its series of status quo-altering revelations, each one more gobsmacking than the rest. Pretty much everyone connected to the disappearance has their devastating secrets, and each one is calibrated for maximum audience satisfaction. I wonder if everything would still hang together on a repeat viewing, but even if the strings do start to show, that doesn’t change how effective the initial delivery is. This is a fine-tuned, well-oiled puzzle. You might be able to see greasy residue on some of the pieces, but that’s only evidence of all the essential attention to detail.

Missing is Recommended If You Like: Searching, Cable true crime docs, Online how-to guides

Grade: 4 out of 5 Windows

 

‘Corsage’ Had Me Feeling Tied Up

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Corsage is as Corsage does (CREDIT: Felix Vratny/IFC Films)

Starring: Vicky Krieps, Florian Teichtmeister, Katharina Lorenz, Jeanne Werner

Director: Marie Kreutzer

Running Time: 112 Minutes

Rating: Unrated

Release Date: December 23, 2022 (Theaters)

Vicky gives me the Krieps! I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist, as it’s always the truth. But in this case, The Krieps aren’t quite synonymous with The Creeps; instead, they’re more of an engine to generate empathy. Empress Elisabeth of Austria sure didn’t seem to fit in with anything that was expected of her. She tries to have her fun and to spread her joy to her kids, but then by the end of Corsage, she’s shooting up heroin more often than anything else. Weird movie to be eating chicken tenders and French fries during.

Grade: More Heroin Than I Was Prepared For

‘Skinamarink’ Makes You Think

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(CREDIT: IFC Midnight)

Starring: Lucas Paul, Dalie Rose Tetreault, Ross Paul, Jaime Hill

Director: Kyle Edward Ball

Running Time: 100 Minutes

Rating: Unrated

Release Date: January 13, 2022 (Theaters)

You know those thoughts you have on the edge of dreams and reality when you’re nodding off? That’s what the entirety of Skinamarink feels like. An experimental grainy montage that captures the experience of being a 4-year-old in a dark house with weird noises, this flick lulled me into a very off-kilter state of consciousness. Usually when I nod off in a movie theater, it’s abundantly clear that those liminal thoughts are not part of the film. But in the case of Skinamarink, I’m genuinely not sure what was just in my brain and what was on the screen!

Grade: Skinamarinky-Yes!

That’s Auntertaiment Mini-Episode: Aunt Beth Tells Jeff to Listen to ‘Waiting for the Sun’

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It’s January, but on That’s Auntertainment, it’s always the right to listen to the sunny SoCal psychedelia of The Doors.

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 1/13/23

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Netflix, anyone?

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
Skinamarink (Theaters) – Here’s the premise: “Two children, Kevin and Kaylee, wake up in the middle of the night to find that their father has disappeared, along with all the windows and doors in the house.”

TV
Break Point Series Premiere (January 13 on Netflix) – Tennis docuseries.
-Critics Choice Awards (January 15 on The CW)
Night Court Reboot Series Premiere (January 17 on NBC) – Melissa Rauch takes the gavel.
That ’90s Show Series Premiere (January 19 on Netflix)

Sports
-Australian Open (January 16-29 on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN+) – American TV coverage will actually begin on the night of the 15th, because it will already be the 16th in Australia then.

Should You Press (Kid ‘N) Play on This Year’s ‘House Party’?

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thank you brond james (CREDIT: Warner Bros. Pictures/Screenshot)

Starring: Jacob Latimore, Tosin Cole, DC Young Fly, Karen Obilom, Andrew Santino, Melvin Gregg, Rotimi, Allen Maldonado, Kid Cudi, LeBron James, Mýa

Director: Calmatic

Running Time: 110 Minutes

Rating: R for Party Vices and a Shockingly Violent Turn in the Final Act

Release Date: January 13, 2022 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: Kevin (Jacob Latimore) and Damon (Tosin Cole) – that’s duh-MON, not DAY-muhn – have just found out they’re about to be fired from their house cleaning job after getting busted for toking up on the job. But they’ve got a side hustle as party promoters, so they decide to go all in on that venture when they find out that the last house they’re cleaning belongs to none other than LeBron James. The NBA great is away on a mindfulness retreat, so they take over his crib for one wild night in the hopes of clearing their debts and launching themselves into the social stratosphere. Naturally enough, though, chaos ensues. A championship ring is stolen, a koala turns violent, and the Illuminati are contacted. And of course, there’s the whole business about the two friends falling apart but then ultimately becoming closer than ever.

What Made an Impression?: If you weren’t around 30 years ago, you might have missed that 2023’s House Party is a remake of the 1990 flick of the same name that starred hip-hop duo Kid ‘n Play and spawned a couple of sequels. That connection feels rather beside the point, though, as it’s not like the original House Party owns a copyright on any and all depictions of cinematic house parties. If you want to make a movie about a party at someone’s house, it’s not like you need Kid ‘n Play’s permission. Although I suppose the brand name recognition helps, and Kid and Play do in fact stop by for a quick cameo.

In that vein, much of the 2023 edition feels like a time capsule from the 90s or at least the early 2000s. In addition to Kid ‘n Play’s pop-in, Bill Bellamy, Lil Wayne, Juvenile, and Snoop Dogg all stop by for some cameos. (Although I guess we can recognize Snoop as eternal at this point.) Plus, there’s a running thread in which Damon tries to book Mýa for the party, and I’m thinking, “Mýa? I haven’t heard from her since ‘Lady Marmalade’!” She still looks great, though!

Anyway, does this 21st century House Party deliver the requisite laughs and welcoming hangout vibes? It’s definitely a little too sleepy at first, as the opening act mostly consists of Kevin and Damon by themselves in a very big house, and there’s just none of the cacophony necessary to fill all that air. When the party eventually starts poppin’, it’s still not exactly a nonstop laugh riot, though there are enough bizarre digressions to at least hold my attention. And Lena Waithe shows up for a scene or two to deliver some chuckle-worthy stoner thoughts. So ultimately, Kevin and Damon string us along on a journey that starts out at Dreadful and ends up at Not Too Bad.

House Party is Recommended If You Like: Movies That Are Surreal But Not Quite Surreal Enough

Grade: 2 out of 5 Koalas

‘Plane’ Keeps It Plain and Simple by Gerard Butler Standards

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Not Pictured: The Plane (PHOTO CREDIT: Kenneth Rexach)

Starring: Gerard Butler, Mike Colter, Yoson An, Tony Goldwyn, Daniella Pinda, Kelly Gale, Rami Adeleke, Haleigh Hekking, Lily Krug, Joey Slotnick, Oliver Trevena, Paul Ben-Victor, Quinn McPherson

Director: Jean-François Richet

Running Time: 107 Minutes

Rating: R for Guns and Machetes

Release Date: January 13, 2022 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: I don’t work in the airline industry, but I’m pretty sure the flight in Plane never should have been cleared for takeoff. (Although to be fair, that is the conclusion that the majority of the airline workers in this movie arrive at.) Anyway, widowed Captain Brodie Torrance (Gerard Butler) just wants to get through this one last flight before he’s able to visit his daughter Daniela (Haleigh Hekking). But instead, his titular aircraft is struck by lightning, and he’s forced to make an emergency landing in a remote jungle in the Philippines. He sticks the landing, but now he’s got to deal with a bunch of thirsty, irritable passengers, one of whom is a prisoner (Mike Colter) charged with homicide who for some reason is being extradited on a commercial flight. And an even bigger headache arrives when they discover that they’re in an essentially lawless area that’s run by a militia that may just be interested in holding them for ransom.

What Made an Impression?: I’ve never really been a fan of the Gerard Butler Brand of Action Thrillers, which tend to posit that the world is a sick, violent place, and someone has to stand up if anybody is going to survive. Sure, kidnappings and coups do happen in the real world, but that doesn’t mean that movies about them have to be so joyless. But while it’s not my cup of cinematic tea, there appears to be a loyal audience for this type of genre flick. So for those of you in the market, you’ll be pleased to know that Plane has a clear premise, clearly established stakes, and cleanly shot action. I at least appreciated that the beachside setting allowed for plenty of sunny cinematography. I’m still not a Butler convert, but I respect him for committing to what works for him.

Plane is Recommended If You Like: Olympus/London/Angel Has Fallen, Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal’s Complete Filmographies

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Planes

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