It’s awards time! Yay! As usual, these are my personal preferences and just for fun!
The Television Episode That Kicked the Ass of Anything in Movies Award:
One Way Out – Andor
Rix Road – Andor
2022 was an exceptional year for TV series. I believed back in late 2021 that nothing would surpass Station Eleven (which was still broadcasting in January 2022) then watched as show after show after show hit amazing new heights afterwards.
Then Andor arrived. And blew everything else out of the water.
Star Wars fandom greeted Andor with a collective yawn. Who cared about a prequel for a character from one off-shoot movie who ends up dead at the end?
What we got was a thoughtful, complex story about the difficulty and cost of both rebelling and not rebelling against creeping authoritarianism, a theme that is deeply important for this moment in time.
I’m not going to get into details about the two episodes I chose, because I don’t want to spoil the show for those who haven’t seen it yet. Also, I plan to write about it in detail in the near future.
I’ll only say now that No Way Out is about a prison break-out and Rix Road is about the moment that likely sparked the wider rebellion that eventually brought down the Galactic Empire in Return of the Jedi.
From the character development, to the acting, to the world building, to the action sequences, to the direction, to the dialogue—as well as several breathtaking monologues that people will quote for many years to come—even to the MUSIC, which is a key element in Rix Road–both episodes hit on every possible cylinder.
If you haven’t yet, stop what you’re doing and go watch Andor.
The “Eat The Rich” Double Feature Award
Last year I complained about the trend in movies lately to center around narcissistic protagonists, as in Power of the Dog and The Lost Daughter, that try to force us to empathize with garbage human beings.
This year, the narcissists were put in their rightful place as the antagonists in Glass Onion and The Menu, and the results were, well, DELICIOUS.
Glass Onion, the sequel to a previous “Eat the Rich” themed murder mystery Knives Out, ups its game even more by shredding the cultish followings around personalities who are believed to be geniuses but are really morons. The Menu takes on a different kind of cult—the ones centered around genuinely talented people whose art is co-opted by the elite and ends up so precious that all the joy is squeezed out of it.
Both feature superb ensemble casts, sharp, focused writing, and will keep you guessing as to how they will resolve right to the end.
The I’ve Never Been So Stressed—Or Rewarded—By a Show Award
The Bear has a protagonist who worked for someone like the antagonist in The Menu—one of those elite chefs who breaks down their sous chefs by demanding almost unachievable perfection. Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) leaves a job like that to go home and take over a sandwich shop that his family owns after his brother’s suicide. The first two episodes of this show are incredibly stressful to watch, and all they do is basically show what it’s really like to work in a commercial kitchen. To someone who almost had a breakdown after one shift in a fast-food kitchen, it seemed utterly accurate and totally nightmarish.
Yet The Bear is about people who love what they do—because, really, the only reasons you would do this work is if you’re slammed against the wall financially or if you love it so much you can’t imagine doing anything else. Carmy is ambitious for the shop, and hires another young, equally ambitious chef (Ayo Edebiri) to help run the kitchen. Both face opposition from the staff, including Carmy’s cousin Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), who don’t want to change.
This is one of the best workplace series to come along in a while and does a stupendous job of creating a realistic work environment as well as showing a disparate group of people trying to come together to make something that was failing into something truly special—not just a restaurant, but a found family.
The Best Girl Action Team of 2022 Award
Naru and Sarii – Prey
I had never seen a Predator film. But when I heard about the prequel film Prey dropping on Hulu I had to check it out. A sci-fi Western with a mostly Native American cast? And a young girl as protagonist?
What a fantastic film, tightly written, almost unbearably suspenseful, beautifully shot. What a great heroine, played by rising star Amber Midthunder.
But the best part is how Naru, a Comanche girl in 1719, had her faithful dog Sarii (played by Coco) at her side as she fought against the Predator. Two girls against a formidable opponent. Naru uses her wits as well as her skills in the wild to best not only the alien creature, but the encroachment of buffalo hunters threatening her tribe’s survival.
The studio put this film on streaming without a theatrical release because it had no faith in a film about a Native American girl as an action hero and found itself losing out on what should have been the sleeper box office hit of the year.
What a bunch of dumbasses.
That’s O.K., girls—you showed them.
The Imperial Season Award
I was so sure for most of this year that The Orville would capture the first category, but then Andor came along. That’s not to say The Orville did not have a spectacular season. It did. While Andor is something really special, with several off-the-chart, brilliant episodes, one thing it did not have was an “imperial season”—which is to say, every episode was close to perfection. The Orville’s third (and possibly final, though we don’t know for sure as of this writing) was its imperial season. There is not ONE bad or even mediocre episode in the entire season.
The difference between Andor and The Orville is Andor is about fighting to make a more equitable society. The Orville imagines an equitable society already existing. It makes us believe that this is achievable, that human beings can make something better than what we have now. Every episode of Season 3 centers on this theme. Some people complained the show wasn’t as funny as previous seasons, but in my opinion The Orville succeeds the most when it centers on emotional stories.
That’s what it did for the entirety of Season 3, giving us stellar conclusions to Claire and Isaac’s romance, Bortus’ family crisis, and Ed and Kelly’s evolved relationship. All the while touching on hot button topics like abortion, transgenderism, slavery, and genocide. Really a great show on all levels. I’d love many more seasons but if it ends here it went out on a very high note.
The We Need to Taco S’more About This, Paul Award
The Great British Baking Show
What happened to this once great show? Seriously?
I still love watching all the talented home baker hopefuls. Casting for this show is always great, we get terrific contestants each year and I root for them to do well.
But otherwise this show is teetering on the edge.
Let’s start with the hosts. Why did they ever replace Sue and Mel? Noel is O.K. but Matt (who has left the show ahead of the next season) did not work out at all. One can hope his replacement will be an improvement, I suppose.
Then Paul and Prue. Paul Hollywood has become increasingly arrogant and unbearable since Mary Berry left the show. I used to praise this show for giving constructive, not mean, criticism. Now they’re both channeling Michael Kors at his most bitchy during the early years of Project Runway.
Then the challenges.
Dios mío. Mexican week gave new meaning to the term “shit show.”
Tacos? TACOS? IT’S A BAKING SHOW!!
Stacked tres leches cakes?
My dad’s family was from Puerto Rico, my brother-in-law was from Venezuela, I have traveled all over Latin America, and have lived in Miami for 25 years.
Never, ever, EVER, have I seen a stacked tres leches cake.
You know why? Because it’s a SOAKED CAKE THAT WILL COLLAPSE IF YOU STACK THEM. It was clear the contestants were not given a usable dossier on how to make these. One of the contestants used buttercream on their cake.
Not content to solely trash the cuisine of our neighbors to the south, the show came after the U.S. of A. and had a s’more challenge. Only what the contestants made did not in any way, shape, or form resemble a s’more.
For Halloween week. When s’mores are a summer treat and certainly not something you throw in a trick or treat bag.
How did Canadians dodge the bullet this year? I’m surprised they didn’t make the contestants create some bizarre version of Nanaimo bars or poutine.
For the love of all that’s holy, hire consultants who are experts in the cuisine theme of the week. This is beyond embarrassing.
And get the bakers blast chillers! I’ve been begging for 13 seasons.
The Most Poignant Performance of 2022 Award
Paddy Considine – House of the Dragon
Eileen O’Higgins – Billy the Kid
I have to confess I was not madly in love with House of the Dragon, the prequel series to Game of Thrones. I didn’t dislike it but was not as captivated as I was from the first episode—heck, the first SCENE—of Game of Thrones. Nevertheless, it features one of the most memorable performances of the year, Paddy Considine as King Viserys.
The character—a man who had no business being king, he backed into it because people didn’t want a woman to rule them—is the most complex of the first season. A kind man who adores his wife, he still causes her death by ordering their child to be cut out of her womb in a bid to ensure a male heir. The boy dies, too, so he decides to name his only daughter as his heir, which eventually touches off a civil war. A civil war between people who have DRAGONS.
Suffering from a wasting disease, he becomes less interested in ruling but still tries to make certain his daughter will succeed him even as others—including his second wife—plot to supplant her with her half-brother. Considine brings dignity and depth to a character who is setting the stage for multiple massive tragedies even as he tries to keep his fractured family together.
Billy the Kid is a show that a lot more people should be watching. Seriously good (and featuring a star-making performance by Tom Blyth in the title role). It takes on the myth of the self-sufficient pioneers lured West by cries of Manifest Destiny and shows how in reality it ruined lives.
Eileen O’Higgins plays Kathleen McCarthy, the mother of the boy who grew up to become the famous outlaw known as Billy the Kid. Leaving their New York tenement, the family believes they are headed for a better life, but instead end up even worse off, dropped in the middle of nothingness and unable to make a living. Billy’s father dies and Kathleen desperately tries to keep herself and her two children alive. Courted by a man who seems wealthy, she marries him only to find out he also fell for the “West is the land of riches” hype and over-leveraged himself into poverty.
O’Higgins is heartbreaking as a woman whose life is endless drudgery and tragedy but never stops trying to make things better for her children. Her performance as Kathleen McCarthy upends the stereotype of the hearty pioneer woman and tells a truth we don’t want to hear—that many ended up dying young and miserable.
The Hey Remember When I Said I Hate Narcissistic Protagonists—Well Maybe Not Always Award
George and Bertha Russell – The Gilded Age
I adore Julian Fellowes new historical series The Gilded Age. I’m a sucker for anything historical set in New York City, to begin with, and loved how he included middle-class African American characters. (With a shout-out to scientist Lewis Latimer—I grew up near Latimer House in Flushing, Queens, and cheered when they mentioned him!)
But the best part of the series, by far, is nouveau riche power couple George and Bertha Russell (Morgan Spector and Carrie Coon) two ambitious on steroids people who appall the New York elite by building an extravagant house and assuming they can buy their way into their sphere.
The key to making them far more empathetic than usual is the supportive relationship between the two. They not only love each other, they genuinely LIKE each other. George is a “wife guy” who tells the evil maid to escort her naked self out of his bed because he’s a one-woman kind of man.
How can you possibly not love him for that? The two actors are so good at making you invested in them as a couple. Can’t wait to watch these two scheme and kiss more in Season 2.
The Unexpected Badass of the Year Award
Aunt Beru – Obi Wan Kenobi
Yeah, there was a lot of complaining about The Book of Boba Fett (I loved it) and Obi Wan Kenobi (I liked it much more than expected). No, they are not on the level of Andor but they had their moments, and my favorite, hands down, was finding out the oft-ridiculed Aunt Beru was a badass!
It was really cool that they brought back Joel Edgerton and Bonnie Piesse as the younger versions of Owen and Beru Lars, Luke Skywalker’s guardians. For decades the fandom made fun of Aunt Beru and her penchant for blue milk. But when Inquisitors were trying to capture young Luke for being Force-sensitive, Aunt Beru didn’t hesitate to defend her charge with weapons and a plan to evade them.
Yay, Aunt Beru! I will never again tolerate a joke at your expense.
This was a great year for TV and movies! Please enjoy Sleepy Skunk’s 2022 Movie Trailer Mashup:
One thought on “Debbie’s Totally Random and Completely Insignificant Pop Culture Awards of 2022”
I agree that PREY deserved a theatrical release. Excellent movie.