Movies & TV / Columns

Stew’s Top 50 First-Time Watches In 2022 (#20 – 11)

January 21, 2023 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Starship Troopers Image Credit: Sony Pictures

How do percents work again? What is ten out of fifty?

Let’s see… that would be 20 out of 100. So 20%!

Let’s get into the next twenty percents’ worth of my favorite movies I watched for the very first time ever in 2022! Since there are two lists left, that means we are in the…

(twenty times two…)

Top fortieth percentile here!

Fun with numbers, man. That’s why you are here.

20. Neighbors 2

I saw the first Neighbors in 2021 and more or less enjoyed it. It’s not magical or anything, but it was a pretty good time. About a year or so later, I finally decided to follow up on the sequel. I’m historically very bad at watching movies when I should.

I ended up being SHOCKED by how much I enjoyed this. The first Neighbors is fun, but it relies a bit too much on cringe/awkward/uncomfortable humor. It felt kind of obnoxious at times. Neighbors 2 isn’t an enormous departure or anything, but it stands as a much purer comedy, and I’m not going to lie: I laughed throughout.

This one also seems to have a message of women’s empowerment running throughout, and it deals with parents of a toddler girl dealing with their own prejudices vis a vis what kind of world/life they want for her. I mean, yeah, all that. But mostly it’s really funny, and Chloe Grace Moretz and Beanie Feldstein are treasures.

19. The Witch

I never seemed particularly interested The Witch or The VVitch or whatever you want to call it. The name is needlessly pretentious. I missed it when it first came out, and then I thought The Lighthouse looked stupid. I finally saw an Eggers movie with The Northman in theaters last year, and I just found it to be adequate. So I went into this one with low expectations, and after a tedious first act, this movie was failing to even live up to those.

But then the flick kept going, and I became wholly engrossed in this tale of Colonial Puritanical America focusing on a troubled family and the root of their problems as they just tried to survive the New World. I was swept up in wondering whether there were mystical forces at work or if we were just seeing the natural struggles of these people… and their insistence on blaming a malevolent outside force.

By the time it all wrapped up, I was borderline mesmerized by the story. So I guess Robert Eggers is one-and-one for me. So I have to watch The Lighthouse to see where I land on him, I suppose.

18. Life of Brian

Having seen Holy Grail an ungodly amount of times–and even having seen Meaning Of Life once or twice–it seems incredibly weird that I never sat down and watched Life Of Brian from beginning to end. I think I was scared, to be frank. I was SO SURE it couldn’t be nearly as good as Holy Grail, and I did not want to be disappointed.

And you know what? I was right. It’s nowhere near as good as Holy Grail.

Which is not to say it isn’t incredibly imaginative and a lot of fun! It is! The crew is as terrific here as they always are, and I still quite enjoyed this. Even though it’s much less quotable than its sibling.

17. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

I’m so glad I waited to see this; I would have insufferably hated this when I was younger. This was absolutely a film I had to wait until I had a better appreciation of filmmaking for to see. Twenty-something me would have just thought it was stupid nonsense.

It’s just. So. Gorgeous. And the fighting is amazing to watch. It’s funny to recall all of the movies I watched in CTHD’s wake that tried to be it, but now that I’ve seen the original, I notice how pale of an imitation they are. It’s like reading a comic by a really stylized artist… like say Mike Mignola or Tim Sale. Nothing here might be realistic, but god damn is it imaginative and beautiful.

The story left me a bit confused at times as I watched it, but the story is secondary to the cinematography and choreography here, so… who cares?

16. Sicario

Sicario was an early watch for me that seemed like it was in my top ten all year until some great late entries pushed it down a smidge.

This is a hard movie to rate. I don’t necessarily think I “liked” this movie. I thought the story was relatively weak; there did not seem to be enough to it. Plot points turned without much reason and we were expected to end up caring about things we only heard about secondhand. It was hard to relate to much.

That said, MY GOD is the opening twenty minutes or so intense. And the movie has some excellent tension throughout; the kind that makes you sit upright in your seat. And the acting and directing are both top notch. Blunt and Brolin and Del Toro are all amazing here. Villenueve makes the whole thing look spectacular. The scope of everything and the little moments and the way sound is used… they are all great.

15. Seven Samurai

Seven Samurai is a three-plus hour movie that manages to not feel its length at all, and that’s an amazing feat. It remains the only Kurosawa film I’ve seen to this point, but I’m hoping to watch at least RAN this year at some point. We’ll see how it goes.

Seven Samurai has rightfully influenced a ton of other movies. There are remakes of remakes of movies that came from this! And I can see why. Kurosawa gave us a cadre of fun, larger-than-life characters and set the against jaw-dropping settings with his impeccable eye for shooting scenes.

14. Boss Level

Early in 2022, I did a spot on The Pint: A Pop Culture Podcast where John and I compared notes on all the 2021 new releases we had seen. John, I believe, had this as his #1 movie of that year! I had never seen it before, but the praise was high, so I added it to my list to watch in 2022.

I mentioned last time (#30-21) when covering Palm Springs how much I enjoy time loop movies, and I think I even mentioned this one in there. This is a front-to-back action flick that is basically a more grounded Edge Of Tomorrow. Frank Grillo is not usually a lead guy–he kind of makes me think “Almost Jon Bernthal”–but he stands out here doing what he does best: being a hardass in a fast-paced action/comedy.

Also, she’s not a huge part of this one, but this ups the high number of Michelle Yeoh movies I saw this year.

13. Hatchet 2

I really almost did not watch this. I watched the first Hatchet earlier in the year for the first time, and you know what? I really didn’t care for it. It felt a bit too self-indulgent and a bit try-hard, as it were. It wasn’t funny; it was TRYING to be funny.

But then I saw Danielle Harris replaced the lead character from the first movie, and I thought… why not. I’m really glad, I did. Hatchet 2 takes everything that felt “off” about the first and fixed it. The humor is much more effective. The kills are much more absurd and fantastical. Hatchet was the test drive; Hatchet 2 was where Adam Green really nailed his loving modern parody/homage of 80’s slashers.

Also, I have told EVERYONE this year about the “Do you like this better than Jesus?” scene. One of my favorite horror flick moments ever.

12. Starship Troopers

The BALLS of this movie!

Paul Verhoeven, took a pro-military, pro-colonialism book and turned it into a biting satire of the whole military-industrial complex and the feelings of racism and misplaced national pride that come from wars. It’s BAFFLING to me that this move came out before 9/11. If you watch it in the post War On Terror era, it’s aged like fine wine. The scene with kids out stomping on insects and decrying all Bugs is so perfectly indicative of America in the years after 9/11. And, you know, still now. And Verhoeven really went all-out in showing that war is hell, and nowhere near the flawlessly noble pursuit it gets portrayed as.

But let’s ignore all that. Ignore the message. Ignore the themes. They make the movie great, but even without them, you have a wonderful modern sci-fi genre flick about aliens and space and pew-pews. It’s not a genre I typically love, but I was all the way in here. You know what? Starship Troopers is probably a top five flick from that category for me.

11. Elvira, Mistress Of The Dark

“Oh, how’s your head?” “Never had any complaints.”

RIGHT UP THERE WITH THE “Do you like this more than Jesus?” LINE!

To me, this is at least as good as something like Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. It feels incredibly similar to that. It takes a humorous, subversive TV show character and throws them into a somewhat bigger budget, absolutely bonkers feature film scenario. Obviously Elvira has a lot more sex jokes than Pee-Wee, but their films both satisfy the same desire I have for unabashed weirdness.


And that’s that for this batch! We have just ONE MORE TO GO! Next time, we revisit the TOP TEN movies I saw for the first time in 2022. Get ready for at least one more Denis Villenueve flick, TWO from Stephen Spielberg, and at least one other classic movie that will make you say “There’s no way possible you never watched that before last year”.

Until next time… take care!