Movies & TV / Columns

Stew’s Top 50 First-Time Watches In 2022 (#40 – 31)

January 19, 2023 | Posted by Rob Stewart
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD Image Credit: Sony Pictures

We are back to my covering the best 50 movies I watched for the first time ever in 2022, excluding actual 2022 new releases, which are coming out in their own top 30. Remember, I had seen 120+ movies in 2022 that were neither new releases nor movies I’d seen before, so these are all recommended watches! How many have you seen?

As a reminder, #50-#41 were:
* 50. Scary Movie
* 49. Rurouni Kenshin Part 1: Origins
* 48. Mayhem
* 47. Green Room
* 46. The Closet
* 45. Willy’s Wonderland
* 44. Highlander
* 43. Hellraiser
* 42. Dracula
* 41. Mom & Dad

With that in mind, let’s cover the next ten!

#40. Tragedy Girls

Storm and NegaSonic Teenage Warhead, what would the professor think?! Brianna Hildenbrand and Alexandra Shipp are actually stunningly marvelous in this story about two social media obsessed true crime junkies who create their own content. Their delivery is so on-target and fiery that it makes the whole damn thing enjoyable. They both come across as massive future stars here.

There is one scene in particular with Craig Robinson, which the trailer above shows portions of but nothing to really tell you much about it, that is god-damned hilarious. Best part of the flick. The whole movie’s a ride. Will they get away with it? Should we even want them to? And will one turn on the other to achieve high fame on her own? Watch it to find out!

#39. Bloody Muscle Bodybuiler In Hell

I feel like I should just put the title of this flick and the trailer for it to speak for itself. You are either already in… or you are way, way out. If it’s the latter, there’s nothing I can say that will change your mind. This is not a cleverly subversive film with a deeper meaning. It’s exactly what it looks like: so-bad-it-is-great schlock that has some real glorious low-budget heart. People made this because they loved making it, not because they had anything to say. Again, you either have a soft spot for that or you don’t.

The last 15-20 minutes of this movie REALLY shoot it up the list for me. It’s a hoot in the end.

#38. Training Day

Never got around to seeing Denzel’s Academy Award winning turn as a corrupt cop until this year, and you know what? It’s SLIGHTLY better than Bloody Muscle Bodybuilder In Hell!

I say that facetiously. Obviously a substantially better made movie, Training Day still manages to be more about Denzel’s performance than anything else going on (though Hawke is equally terrific here). Underranked Good Cop Vs Powerful Corrupt Cop is not a new genre, and it wasn’t even new when Training Day arrived. Hell, I watched Cop Land in 2021, and I’d argue that’s a better overall movie than this, and it came out four years earlier.

But still… man, the camera just LOVES Denzel here, and he is magnetizing. As far as a movie you are taking in mostly to see one actor giving their best goes? This is upper tier.

#37. The Devil’s Advocate

And then we go from the layered and potent and conflicted job Denzel did in Training Day to Al Pacino just going full-on crazypants In The Devil’s Advocate. It’s not an Oscar performance, but it is tickling to behold. Pacino is holding NOTHING back here. Someone on set told him to just play over-the-top evil, and Al grabbed the hell out of that brass ring.

The Devil’s Advocate is a sexy thriller with some undertones of horror for two acts. The whole movie is uncomfortable as you watch Keanu wriggle on a hook that is being reeled in by the malevolent John Milton, one of the least subtly named villains ever. You are constantly getting the sense that there is more than meets the eye, but you aren’t QUITE sure it’s not all solely in Keanu’s head… and then the third act just goes BONKERS with Al Pacino being revealed as actual Lucifer and Reeves as his reluctant spawn.

Everything here just wants to revel in how silly it gets at the end, and I am usually here for that.

#36. Creature From The Black Lagoon

Here is what I did not know about Creature From The Black Lagoon: 75% of this movie is the heroes trying to roofie the creature. Why does that amuse me so? I’m not even sure.

Some great characters in this one, and ever since watching The Invisible Man last year, I knew I was going to like the old Universal Horrors more when they embraced the fun aspects of what they were doing. These movies were somehow self-aware while they were creating a genre! How unexpected is that?

The underwater cinematography here is impressive even in 2022. How did the actor playing the submerged Creature not drown!? There were two actors in the role, but Rico Browning’s work as the underwater version is phenomenal. There’s such grace and menace to the gill-man!

#35. The Proposal

Two Hotter-Than-You A-List actors in a predictable romantic comedy, years after the genre was already dying. AND YET.

Bullock and Reynolds are two of my favorite actors, and they just get on SO WELL here. Who cares that you know what’s going to happen? Who cares that this is essentially every single Hallmark movie? They make you believe it, man. I was rooting for these two crazy kids to find the way out of their spite and situation and into their love!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a really easy mark sometimes.

#34. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

I watched OUaTiH. I liked OUaTiH. Marked it as “Very Good” for being what it was, and then moved on with my life. But it stuck with me, and I just kept thinking about it.

I recall watching Tarantino’s most recent outing and thinking “Well, okay, but… Why?”. The flick doesn’t really have a point. It’s just stuff happening that feels like it’s building to something and then… it kind-of, sort-of gets there. Like… it was fun, but what did it say?

And over time I lightened up on it and accepted it wasn’t really ABOUT the era. It wasn’t really ABOUT the Manson family and Sharon Tate. It was a character study on the Dalton and Booth characters. It could have been set anywhere or anywhen. The background didn’t matter; their lives did. The Manson Family stuff was just a plot point to give them something to do in YET ANOTHER movie from this chunk that has a life-giving third act. So it grew on me. And as it stands, it’s likely tied at #3 on my all-time Tarantino movie list (with Pulp Fiction).

#33. Princess Mononoke

I went through a minor spree of watching some classic anime to start the year off, and this isn’t the last movie we will see pop up from what we will call… Anu-ary? Janimery? Janume? I don’t… those are all terrible. We just won’t call it anything. I watched some anime in January! No name. Full stop.

I do need to keep going on through the Studio Ghibli stuff because even now I feel like I’m barely dipping my toe into it. I think I’m up to having seen six movies from their library so far. I’ve had Kiki’s Delivery Service on my playlist all year.
ANYWAY! Mononoke is a really fun fantasy anime about forest spirits and animal guardians and the greediness of man. Of the 6 I’ve seen, I’d put it right around the middle. It’s no Spirited Away, say, but it’s better than My Neighbor Totoro, for instance.

#32. Bride Of Frankenstein

It’s strange that so much of what we know about Frankenstein* is actually from his sequel. The whole “Fire bad, friend good!” stuff? He didn’t speak in the original movie! That’s all from this iteration!

In this follow up to the classic original, we see a repentant Dr. Frankenstein still trying to make amends for what his selfishness and madness wrought upon the world. He wants to move on with his life, but another obsessive scientist forces him to work together to once again bring life to the dead, this time a bride for the monster.

For a movie called The Bride Of Frankenstein, the titular beehive-haired monstress does not appear until THERE ARE FOUR MINUTES LEFT! Ha! I love that! She is brought to life, immediately decides she hates the monster, and destroys the lab they are in, presumably killing both. Bride Of Frankenstein is the first ever sequel to surpass its predecessor, right? Like, 40 years before The Godfather 2, we had this. And Bride is definitely better than Frankenstein.

*Also, you can call the monster Frankenstein, IT’S FINE. People get so hung up on that. But you know what? My last name is Stewart! And if I made a life (had a baby), its name would also be Stewart. So the monster is ALSO a Frankenstein. Let it go, pedants!

#31. Perfect Blue

A trippy little mind-fuck of an anime, I’ll forgive Perfect Blue for it’s scenes that now feel so archaic where one character has to explain to another what The Internet is. It was the 90’s; I get it.

PB is a mesmerizing suspense tale of an up-and-coming starlet being stalked by a creep while also facing the pressures that come with being an attractive young celebrity. Each decision she makes brings her either closer to or further from who she wants to be, and she is in danger of being eaten up by the machine… if the madman doesn’t get her first.

And it all builds to a true “What The Fuck Did I Just Watch” of an ending.


And that’s it for the first 20 of this list of 50! Tell me: Have you seen these movies? What do YOU think of them?

And join me next time as we discuss: The movie one of the movies from THIS segment was based on, an embarrassing amount of MORE romantic comedies, and the first of several movies starring Michelle Yeoh to make either this list or the 2022 one!

Until then… take care!