If you’re reading this, congratulations: You have made it through 2022.
It’s been a rough year, to say the least, from war in Europe and climate catastrophes to Uvalde and inflation. Kanye went full Amon Goeth, while Johnny and Tory stans reached new depths of misogyny and celebrity worship. And our favorite online corner to vent’s been recast as the grievance mill of a redpilled multibillionaire.
The cinema gave us a chance to escape — and laugh. So, with all due to respect to Jennifer “These gays… they’re trying to murder me!” Coolidge, these are the year’s movie moments that made us lose our shit.
Bodies Bodies Bodies: “Your parents are upper… middle… class.”
Rachel Sennott proved her breakout turn in Shiva Baby was no accident with one of the most hands-down hilarious movie performances of the year as Alice, a ditzy “woke” white girl who brings random dudes she meets on dating apps to weekend getaways with her pals and hosts a podcast that her friends hate-listen to. Every line delivery by Sennott is pure genius — especially when her frenemy Jordan (Myha’la Herrold) confronts Alice about her lame pod, and she tries to turn the tables as best she can:
Alice: “Your parents are upper… middle… class.”
Jordan: “No they’re not.”
Alice: “Jordan… they are. They teach at a university.”
Jordan: “It’s… public.”
Barbarian: “Oh boy…”
Justin Long, the underrated scream king, has never been better than he is as AJ Gilbride, a vainglorious sitcom actor who’s been implicated in a #MeToo scandal. He also runs an Airbnb in a sketchy neighborhood on the outskirts of Detroit, and upon discovering a bloodstained dungeon underneath, does the unthinkable: giddily busts out a tape measure to assess the new square footage of his pad so he can charge renters more.
Avatar: The Way of Water: “It’s too painful…”
Sadly, I could not procure a clip of this scene — though like all things Avatar, it’s not worth watching at home anyway. Lo’ak, the rebellious second son of Na’vi warriors Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), bonds with Payakan, a tulkun (whale-like creature imbued with spiritual powers) who’s been cast out. When Lo’ak asks Payakan why he’s tulkun non grata, the animal replies, “It’s too painful.” Yes, tulkuns can talk! And reader, I laughed out loud.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent: “Paddington 2 is incredible.”
I’m still more than a little surprised that this pleasing meta-comedy starring Nicolas Cage as himself didn’t do better box office numbers (blame the marketing). Much of its success hinges on the chemistry between Cage and Pedro Pascal’s Javi, an uber-rich crime lord (and Cage superfan) who pays $1 million for Cage to cameo at his birthday party. The two eventually bond over their shared love of, well, Nic Cage, leading him to ask Javi what his third favorite movie of all time is. When he tells him it’s Paddington 2, Cage — a film snob — screams, “WHAT?!” Then he sees it for himself.
RRR: “Naatu Naatu”
Set in the 1920s, this Indian historical epic from S.S. Rajamouli conquered the odds to become the breakout action hit of the year. It centers on a Gond tribal leader (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.) and an Indian Imperial Police officer (Ram Charan) who form an unlikely friendship. When the duo are mocked by the hoity-toity British revelers at a party for not knowing any Western moves, they break out into the “naatu” dance. The crowd is left speechless, and so are we.
The Menu: “I’m sorry. You’re dying.”
Filmmaker Mark Mylod is no stranger to eat-the-rich satire, having directed more episodes of Succession than anyone else, and this pitch-black comedy about a celebrity chef named Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) who invites a group of wealthy narcissists to a remote island restaurant — only to torture them — is one hell of a time. When Felicity (Aimee Carrero), the assistant/girlfriend to a sell-out actor (John Leguizamo), questions why she’s there, Fiennes’ Slowik reads her for filth:
Julian: “What school did you go to?”
Julian: “Student Loans?”
Julian: “I’m sorry. You’re dying.”
Elvis: “He’s white?!”
Everything about Tom Hanks’ performance as Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley’s scummy manager, in Elvis is a head-scratcher, from the prosthetic noise and fat suit to that bizarre Dutch (I think?) accent. But the moment he discovers that Elvis is not Black, inexplicably dipping into a Southern drawl to utter the line, “He’s white?!,” will have you in stitches.
The Banshees of Inisherin: “If it’s the same fecking bread van, I’ll kill ‘em!”
The team from In Bruges — filmmaker Martin McDonagh and stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson — reunited for this dark comedy about a pair of lifelong friends on an Irish isle in 1923 who engage in a battle of wits when one of them, Colm (Gleeson), dumps the simpleton Padraic (Farrell) so he can dedicate his twilight years to composing music. To retaliate, Padraic tells Colm’s music protégé, Declan, he’s just received a telegram from his auntie saying he must return home to Lisdoonvarna because his father’s been struck by a bread van and is on the verge of death. Declan is beside himself:
Declan: “This is impossible.”
Padraic: “It’s not impossible. Bread vans crash into people all the time.”
Declan: “I know! That’s how me mammy died… If it’s the same fecking bread van, I’ll kill ‘em!”
Do Revenge: “I don’t DO COCAINE!”
Who knew Sophie Turner (aka Sansa Stark) had such comedic chops? As far as line deliveries go, it doesn’t get much better than Turner’s go-for-broke reaction when security guards catch her with cocaine — that’s been planted by her nemesis, Drea (Camila Mendes). Also, do yourself a favor and check out Do Revenge, a deliciously cheeky love letter to ‘90s teen movies.
Jackass Forever: “Welcome to hell.”
The hardest I laughed at the movies this year was during a screening of Jackass Forever. And the funniest sequence of the film involved a prank where director Jeff Tremaine and star Johnny Knoxville convince the rest of the fellas they’re trapped in a room with a poisonous rattlesnake — with the lights out. As we see the dudes freak out one by one, the camera catches Chris Pontius doing the Silence of the Lambs-Buffalo Bill dance with his penis tucked between his legs. All hail Johnny Knoxville, American hero.