2022 in (media) review

A 3x3 grid of Garfield faces, the shadows across his face mimicking a grid of phases of the moon.

Yes, yes, I do have a lot of monthly playlist music stats to share but also! I want to talk about other great media I enjoyed this year. I was tracking everything much more thoroughly as media review dumps on Patreon (this is before Comradery had locked posts) but that’s kind of boring, actually! For both me and for you. So let’s just look at the highlights – and graphs, I also have some data visuals, fun!!! That’s fun.

This is a long post! I could have split it up but I’m not going to, sorry/not sorry. I like to talk about things I like (and I like to read about things others like, so I enjoy this bit of the year).

Movies

I’ve not been the best at recording what movies I’ve watched this year. To be fair to myself I half-watched many and I try to only write down those I watched purposefully. I saw a Tumblr tag game post that was “put your favourite movie this year into tags” but I couldn’t pick just one. So here are the top handful of things watched for the first time this year, in no particular order:

  • Candyman (2021)
  • Animal Kingdom (2010)
    • We started watching TNT’s Animal Kingdom show ages back, it’s a summer beach read of a show that ends up being about generational trauma and consequences, but is on the top level about heists and family. It ended this year and we finally watched the originating film, it is much the same themes but is less indulgent. Both Ben Mendelsohn and Shawn Hatosy are perfect casts for the character of Pope, and both are some of our favourite actors.
  • Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
    • Yes, I did partake in Dracula Dailyand in reading it remembered this film, which I finally watched after kind of wanting to watch it since it came out. I love meta stories! I love the casting! What a weird wonderful tale.
  • The Northman (2022)
    • I was hesitant to watch this much the same way I was hesitant to watch Eggers’ previous film The Witch because the promotion for it didn’t sell it to me. Where The Witch is funny, actually, The Northman is in truth a weird sad revenge tale, not a bombastic war thing. Also: Björk!
  • Nope (2022)
    • We got to see this at the drive-in and it is one of those movies that feels made for me, in a way. The creature design (John Dabri interview here)! The way we interact with animals! To look at cosmic horror and be like “I don’t like that, thanks.”
  • Bedrooms and Hallways (1998)
    • Full disclosure I watched this because I was looking into the filmography of a particular actor due to TV show brainrot and it was available on Hoopla. It’s such a romp?! It’s so very a British late-’90s rom-com with a really smashing cast. And also very much about identity and love and a particular vibe of being basically thirty.
  • Cyrano (2021)
    • It’s a musical! (watch one of my fave songs here) It’s a true-to-book adaptation, which means the ending is S-A-D. The cast is fabulous and I am grateful it finally got on VOD so I could watch it, as I’d been eyeing it since an announcement in 2021.

Favourite rewatches, whether they be something I watch with regularity or those seen for the first time in a decade-plus, in no particular order:

  • Manchurian Candidate (1962)
    • Remains gorgeous and tense and sad!
  • The Langoliers (1995)
    • I don’t care if the monsters are corny I thought they were creepy then and I still do. What a concept! What is time!
  • Underwater (2020)
    • This underwater cosmic horror is almost a comfort watch at this point. I love!! Movies that are set in the confines of something in the depths of sea/space.
  • Willow (1988)
    • With the new show out, had to rewatch. Others might have been part of the Labyrinth/Legend divide of formative fantasy films but mine was Willow.
  • Velvet Goldmine (1998)
    • Another comfort watch, this one with my bff, who hadn’t seen it before. It’s such a key part of my DNA and it’s a crime it is difficult to find.
  • Cruising (1980)
    • In looking up the year for this list I have learned it was a book first, so I’ll have to look that up. This movie is heavy! I can’t remember when I first watched it but I do keep returning to it.
  • Lathe of Heaven (1980)
    • This is a really fabulous adaptation of Ursula K. LeGuin’s novel, and from public television, no less. I have a strong nostalgia for this story and it’s one of those stories that underpin a lot of thought for me, so I rewatched it with Chase this year after he finished the book so we could enjoy it together.

Books

Did you know Storygraph does gorgeous little charts FOR you?! (if you’re there I’m bzedan, as I am everywhere). According to Storygraph, I read 57 books this year, which would have been more if I hadn’t had a very specific moratorium while reading The Locked Tomb series – Chase was reading them for the first time so I more or less read each book twice while he read them because I read too fast and he was also doing a lot of school reading. But also I sped through a LOT of Animorphs (finished the series) this year, which bulked the number.

I love that Storygraph charts ~moods~ it’s such a vibe. Apparently, I read adventurous, emotional, dark and mysterious books the most. All the links for books here go to their Storygraph page, and for series, they link to informative pages.

A pie chart of "Moods" of books read. The largest slices are: Adventerous, Emotional, Dark, Mysterious, Reflective. The thinnest slices are: Relaxing and Inspiring.

This chart is very funny to me. Yes, I read one non-fiction book, it was  Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life by Lulu Miller, and it’s great, big recommend.

A pie chart of "Fiction/Nonfiction" of books read. Most of the pie is bright pink and labeled "Fiction (98%)." One very tiny slice says "Nonfiction (2%)."

Storygraph has loads of other fun charts, but we’ll have enough of those soon, so let me share my top five books this year that aren’t from The Locked Tomb series:

  • KitchenBanana Yoshimoto with Megan Backus (Translator)
    • I’m very grateful a friend recommended this to me, what a sharp and full heart of a book it is. Loss and love and what we make of the two, mixed together with care.
  • City of Broken Magic Chronicles of Amicae #1 – Mirah Bolender
    • This entire trilogy, tbh, is CRIMINALLY under-read and represented. Think, magic rat catchers in a city that is straining under the restrictions of class. Found family, a great and fresh magic system, and characters that can be kind of dicks but you love them, the third book’s ending made me CRY. And there is NOTHING on AO3 for it and I hate that I will have to make my own cake and eat it. I want several cakes.
  • The Route of Ice and Salt – José Luis Zárate with Poppy Z. Brite (Contributor), David Bowles (Translator), Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Contributor)
    • Whew, this is brutal and dark and angry and beautiful. So grateful it was translated into English. I talk about this take on Dracula a bit in this Tumblr post but here’s the tl;dr – the sea is queer and haunted and free and it’s so easy to be tempted even if you know it is your doom that tempts you.
  • A Most Wanted Man – John le Carré
    • This is a downer of a book but a good good thriller nonetheless. We then watched the film adaptation which was also very good and amazingly cast. It’s a tense spy thriller! You either dig that or you don’t, this one has some very depressing political twists to it.
  • Record of a Spaceborn Few  Wayfarers #3 – Becky Chambers
    • Basically, everything Becky Chambers writes is gold and will fill you with hope and wonder even as it breaks your heart. Of the Wayfarers series, I think this one is my fave.

I read or finished three big YA or middle-reader (I have trouble distinguishing) series this year:

  • The Circle Reforged by Tamora Pierce, which continues the Magic Circle series into the pains of teenhood.
  • Animorphs (link goes to author-approved book downloads)by K.A. Applegate, which I will recommend forever, wow it is such a dark amazing funny, weird and gross series. They’re fast reads too.
  • Making Out (now called The Islanders) which is like ’90s high school soap TV, but books. Just candy and the candy I needed at a bad brain time.

In general big recommend of reading some books you loved or missed out on as a kid, they’re so fast now to read and there is something comforting even about the sad ones.

TV

I don’t track the TV I watch as it tends to be deeply background stuff, or things watched over dinner, but there are some definite standouts. For the first three-quarters of the year, the bulk of my day job involved a lot of awareness of television and what was going on television and what would be going on television and tbh I got a bit sick of it (my job still involves TV awareness but to a far lesser degree, still a bit sick of it)

Anyway, the standouts:

Our Flag Means Death (HBO Max, 2022)

Listen, listen. This was a thrill to my heart to watch. If you follow my chatter at all across platforms then you are aware I fell into the fandom joy for this show. You may well have muted the word on Tumblr due to me. It’s a queer show! There’s a non-binary Latine character!! There is a definite feeling of a play/the theatre to it due to the folks who made it and I am a sap for that. It’s silly AND sad. It’s fun. It’s about love and identity and it’s worth checking out if you haven’t.

Kevin Can F**k Himself (AMC, 2021-2022)

I honestly can’t think of a series that so perfectly performs its story over two seasons. Yes! A lot of miniseries are a single season, but there is a definite front half and back half to this show’s run and that is part of what makes it work.

The concept, as best summarised by the creator in this great interview, “What if you have, like, a sitcom, almost like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, where the characters from Hamlet are on stage with Hamlet, and when they’re off, it’s those two talking to each other. What if it’s like that, but with a sitcom? Where, when the funny husband leaves, it’s suddenly very different, and it’s about the wife, and it looks like Breaking Bad or something?”

Yes! The main characters are grating and not perfect! I don’t give a shit. Part of the thesis of this show is you shouldn’t have to be an innocent to not be in an abusive relationship. Big CW in this show for gaslighting, btw. Handled well and whew the growth and changes of everybody’s relationships across only sixteen episodes is a doozy. If you like dark, give this a try.

Bee and PuppyCat (Netflix, 2022)

I can’t remember when I first saw Bee & Puppycat but I backed the hell out of the Kickstarter in 2014 and all of my device sounds are still the ones I got as a reward for doing so. The original run of the show was so weird and so good and so sweet and strange it rewired my DNA. I wanted more! But also I am patient, I know animation is hard and takes ages to make a thing let alone find a way to distribute and that just as it was worth waiting for the original full run to be finished it would be worth the wait for more. And it was! The sixteen “new” (some are remade versions of the original web series) episodes take a story I love and expand it, and don’t skimp on the heartbreak or the goofiness. If you have any magical girl soft spots then watch this.

Also here’s a list of shows I could go on about: Batwoman, Gordita Chronicles, FBoy Island, The 4400, Julia, Tokyo Vice, Derry Girls, Legendary, What We Do In The Shadows, Harley Quinn, Reservation Dogs, Corporate (rewatch), Rilakkuma & Karou, Gudetama, This Fool, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared.

Music

Okay now: I made a playlist every month this year as a new kind of focus method. In the first bit of the year, I made longer playlists, like 70+ songs, which is around 5-6 hours. This was nice but also it meant it was more difficult to hear the whole playlist over the workday, what with meetings. As the year went on my playlists tightened to like four hours, which is a perfect amount for me. Oh, but numbers:

A bar chart of "Number of Songs vs. Month" with the bars in shades of pink-purple. January and April show the highest numbers, with August and December the lowest.

The average is about 65 songs a playlist and the median is 64 (the mode is 61, so really my gut guess early in putting together these numbers of 60-65 was pretty spot-on). These “shorter” playlists also leave me free in the afternoon to listen to other playlists and albums, after morning focus.

My playlists consisted of 311 artists, across 468 albums and 723 songs.

A hollow-centre pie chart of bands titled "QTY." The colours are a gradient of rainbow. The top artists are: Carly Rae Jepsen (11.1%), Britney Spears (8.6%), Boy Jr. (7.5%), Santigold (6.5%), Matt Berry (5%), and Oliver Tree (5%).

Although initially, I was like “I won’t repeat songs,” I was also like immediately “but I need this song again.” Five songs ended up on three monthly playlists each and 48 songs were on two monthly playlists each.

However! Of those dupes, some were actually originals and covers (well, one is just two covers). But I think those count. Same song, different vibe. I put together a round-up playlist of songs that I had 2+ times on monthly playlists. The dupes are:

  • ‘Suspended In Gaffa’ – Kate Bush
  • ‘Suspended In Gaffa’ – deer scout
  • ‘Wuthering Heights’ – Kate Bush
  • ‘Wuthering Heights’ – The Puppini Sisters
  • ‘How Soon Is Now?’ – t.A.T.u.
  • ‘How Soon Is Now?’ – Snake River Conspiracy
  • ‘Dancing In the Dark’ – Bruce Springsteen
  • ‘Dancing In The Dark’ – Hot Chip

They ended up hanging together really well, just added in order of when they were repeated (so, a song played in January and again in March would come before a song played in January and again in April).

Link to the 2022 Monthly Playlist Faves here, and tracklist below:

  • ‘Chartreuse’ – Boy Jr.
  • ‘Warm Blood’ – Carly Rae Jepsen
  • ‘Meet Me In The Middle’ – Boy Jr.
  • ‘Coconut’ – Harry Nilsson
  • ‘Hungry Like the Wolf – 2001 Remaster’ – Duran Duran
  • ‘Mr. Brightside (Hyperpop Version)’ – Boy Jr.
  • ‘If I’m Dancing’ – Britney Spears
  • ‘Safety Dance’ – Angel Olsen
  • ‘Man On The Moon’ – Britney Spears
  • ‘These Days’ – Nico
  • ‘Gloria’ – Angel Olsen
  • ‘Private Show’ – Britney Spears
  • ‘Forever Young’ – Angel Olsen
  • ‘Boogie Feet (feat. Eagles of Death Metal)’ – Kesha
  • ‘Narcissist, Baby’ – Boy Jr.
  • ‘Time Escaping’ – Big Thief
  • ‘Jessie Don’t Dance’ – Jake Weary
  • ‘That’s Not My Name’ – The Ting Tings
  • ‘Suspended In Gaffa’ – Kate Bush
  • ‘Suspended In Gaffa’ – deer scout
  • ‘Wuthering Heights’ – Kate Bush
  • ‘Wuthering Heights’ – The Puppini Sisters
  • ‘Haunted House’ – Sir Babygirl
  • ‘Wild Siberia’ – Otyken
  • ‘Creep City’ – Jake Shears
  • ‘I Knew You’d Remember’ – Michael Yonkers
  • ‘Magic Man’ – Heart
  • ‘Never Get Ahead’ – Bobby Conn
  • ‘Do The Television’ – Jake Shears
  • ‘How Soon Is Now?’ – t.A.T.u.
  • ‘How Soon Is Now?’ – Snake River Conspiracy
  • ‘No Guilt’ – The Waitresses
  • ‘Don’t Get 2 Close (2 My Fantasy)’ – Ween
  • ‘Sister Christian’ – Night Ranger
  • ‘Kinda Outta Luck’ – Medusa
  • ‘Time of the Season’ – The Zombies
  • ‘Chango’ – Celia Cruz
  • ‘I’ve Been Waiting (w/ ILoveMakonnen & Fall Out Boy)’ – Lil Peep
  • ‘To Love Somebody’ – Bee Gees
  • ‘Good Times Roll’ – The Cars
  • ‘Facility Girls’ – Soft Cell
  • ‘Oranges and Lemons’ – Book Of Love
  • ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’ – Blue Öyster Cult
  • ‘All Night Long (All Night) – Single Version’ – Lionel Richie
  • ‘Dancing In the Dark’ – Bruce Springsteen
  • ‘Dancing In The Dark’ – Hot Chip
  • ‘Oogum Boogum Song’ – Brenton Wood
  • ‘You’re Too Late’ – Fantasy
  • ‘Lavender’ – Oneida
  • ‘Parade’ – Susumu Hirasawa
  • ‘And When I Die’ – Peter, Paul and Mary
  • ‘Hey Sorry’ – Boy Jr.
  • ‘Freak Out’ – Miya Folick
  • ‘A Hit Pop Song From 2016’ – Boy Jr.
  • ‘No One’s There’ – Anika
  • ‘So Low’ – Matt Berry

A version of this post was initially published in public Patreon and Comradery posts on December 31, 2022.

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