It’s time for my annual list of the best entertainment of the year, but this time I’m going to do things differently. In previous years I had dedicated three separate articles to the best games, television and movies of the year, but now I’m just highlighting everything that entertained me across all mediums in a single article. And instead of pointing out a hundred different things, I’m only going to point out a handful of stuff I personally loved the most, which is a lot more fun for me because the list will be a lot more subjective now.
Super fun murder mystery comedy series on Apple TV+ created and directed by Christopher Miller of The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street fame is great because it told the same story from the point of view of a different character in each episode to highly entertaining results that spanned multiple genres. Adding to the fun is putting together clues to see if you can find out who the murderer is. I couldn’t figure it out, but I know others who did.
Everything Everywhere All at Once
An absurdist martial arts sci-fi comedy might be the simplest way to describe this film but there’s a lot more to it than that. The directing duo of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (known collectively as Daniels) explore the multiverse in ways that are way different from Marvel, and the results are meaningful and memorable.
RRR – Eli’s favorite movie of 2022
S.S. Rajamouli’s three-hour epic about two men who form a strong friendship and team up on a heroic mission to basically fight the British Raj in 1920 India is by far my favorite film of the year. It has insane action, romance, drama, comedy and an inspiring plot about oppressed people rising up against British colonialism, but even with those heavy themes it still manages to be a fun and entertaining ride that blew me away for its entire runtime. Plus there is a dance number. How can you beat that?
Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel
I watch a lot of stand-up comedy specials every year and there were plenty of good ones this year, but the one called Rothaniel that aired on HBO was unique because it felt just as much like a personal confessional and an intimate conversation as it felt like a comedy performance, as Carmichael shares more about himself than he ever has before. And it was captivating the entire time right down to the brilliant final punchline.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Although technically a spin-off of the series Star Trek: Discovery, you do not need to watch that show to appreciate this one, and it makes the wise choice to differentiate itself by being more episodic, which reminded me of the original Star Trek. Strangely enough that is what helps this stand out from other recent Star Trek shows and it is such a well-written series that it kind of makes you wonder why they would fix what wasn’t broken in the first place. I fell off the Star Trek bandwagon a while ago but this series brought me right back on.
The Kids in the Hall
2022 was a big year for reboots with shows like Fraggle Rock, The Proud Family and Beavis and Butt-Head all making comebacks, but none had me more excited than the return of Canadian comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall. While those other reboots I mentioned did a good job matching the quality of what came before, Prime Video’s Kids in the Hall revival exceeded my expectations by being more funny than past seasons. None of the Kids have missed a beat, and they even gave other hilarious sketch shows of 2022 like A Black Lady Sketch Show, Inside Amy Schumer and Saturday Night Live a run for their money.
As someone who grew up with the Star Wars prequel trilogy, seeing Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen reunite as Obi-Wan and Anakin after the events of Revenge of the Sith was a huge deal and something I never thought I’d see. Thankfully the series serves as more than just a nostalgia trip and a bridge between two trilogies. It is also an emotionally devastating farewell between two former friends and allies that gives Obi-Wan a satisfying arc from a broken man to a man with a purpose.
The Orville: New Horizons – Eli’s favorite series of 2022
No series this year blew me away more than the third season of The Orville, moving from FOX to Hulu with the subtitle New Horizons. From the mind of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, when this show first aired in 2017 it just felt like a space comedy and a Star Trek parody, but as the series progressed it leaned more into drama and has gone surprisingly deep with its themes, tackling such subjects as suicide, gender identity and even slavery. Of course the series has also maintained a sense of humor which keeps it light and a loveable cast of characters who keep it engaging.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
Actor Jenny Slate and director Daniel Fleischer-Camp expand the concept of their 2010 short film with a mockumentary feature that is not only a brilliant technical feat of hybrid live-action and stop-motion animated filmmaking, but also a heartfelt and relatable story about finding courage and family bonds. Slate and Fleischer-Camp are so good in their roles both behind the scenes and in front of the camera that you will be convinced Marcel is real by the time the film ends, and you may even grow to love him.
This rhythm game developed by Holy Wow Studios for Microsoft Windows is like a parody of Guitar Hero while the story involving baboons is like a parody of Dark Souls, and it is probably the game that has made me laugh the hardest all year, even more than that one where Justin Roiland voices a gun. It’s hilarious enough listening to trombone versions of songs like “Also sprach Zarathustra” and “Hava Nagila” and the sheer thought of a gamer trying to hit a high score rocking out to “Old Grey Mare” in the year 2022 is enough to crack me up, but you can also add your own songs via mods, which has led to everything from Final Fantasy VII’s “One-Winged Angel” to A-ha’s “Take On Me” getting the trombone treatment. Half the fun is seeing the action taking place in the background while you play.
Return to Monkey Island
Ron Gilbert, creator of the classic Monkey Island point-and-click adventure games, returns to the series with co-writer and co-designer Dave Grossman for the first time since Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge in 1991 and he doesn’t disappoint. Terrible Toybox captures the spirit of the old games with a story that is heartfelt in addition to hilarious as it chronicles the journey of Guybrush Threepwood (Dominic Armato) who searches for the secret of Monkey Island once and for all, and the game is full of memorable surprises along the way.
Another Star Wars series that takes place between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy, this one chronicles the life of rebel hero Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) before the events of Rogue One, and it is a lot more grounded than the average Star Wars movie because there are no Jedi. The heroes of this show are regular people rising up against the whole Empire and facing impossible odds, and that makes their journey all the more compelling, especially when you know that everything that happens in this show eventually leads to the Death Star getting blown up. This is a fascinating look into the lives of the unsung heroes of the Skywalker saga.
Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared
Originally a British series of web videos beginning in 2011 and adapted into a television series for Channel 4 in 2022, this show will either disturb you or make you laugh, and I did the latter. A lot. Basically a parody of children’s shows like Sesame Street, it has all the costumed characters, puppets and musical numbers, but instead of educating you, this will just weird you out.
One of the best coming-of-age high school shows and possibly the best since Freaks and Geeks, this series developed by Clea DuVall (Happiest Season) and based on the childhoods of indie music duo Tegan and Sara stars real-life twin sisters Railey and Seazynn Gilliland as teenage girls growing up in the nineties navigating love, life and music against the backdrop of grunge culture. Absolutely nails the authenticity of the period as well as the feeling of being a teenage outcast in sensitive and universal ways.
The Paloni Show! Halloween Special!
Rick and Morty creator Justin Roiland’s animated Hulu special featuring a variety of spooky-themed shorts is a great showcase for the talents of various animators. Roiland fans will enjoy this the most because his wild sense of humor is the icing on the cake.
Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me
This Apple TV+ documentary revealing a behind-the-scenes look at the music career of singer Selena Gomez is an eye-opening and emotionally raw look at celebrity life that shows how sad, angry, nervous and anxious human beings can be while they put on a brave face for the public, although this film proves that Gomez has a lot of perseverance, intelligence and integrity too. By the time the credits rolled I became an even bigger Selena Gomez fan than I was after watching Only Murders in the Building.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
One of the biggest surprises of the year was this Funny or Die biopic of singer “Weird Al” Yankovic that wasn’t actually a biopic but a parody of a biopic. Consistently hysterical while Daniel Radcliffe as a young Yankovic plays it completely straight, the film’s offbeat sense of humor reminded me of films like Airplane!, but it was still strangely compelling because the talent behind this film is so good that even though it is essentially one long joke, you can’t help but root for Weird Al to succeed as he parodies his way to fame and fortune.
Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration
Digital Eclipse has been compiling multiple games into several collections ever since the nineties and they’ve been killing it in recent years with Mega Man Legacy Collection (2015), The Disney Afternoon Collection (2017) and Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection (2018) for Capcom, while this year they rolled out Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection and Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration. The one I played was Atari 50, which not only allowed me to play many classic games from the past but also doubled as a documentary and gave us interviews from the creators behind these iconic games. As a historian and a gamer, the experience was nirvana.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
As someone who was skeptical that a sequel to Black Panther would work without Chadwick Boseman, this film was the most pleasant surprise of the year, in addition to being one of the best and most emotionally resonant films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Shuri (Letitia Wright) has a great arc as she grieves the loss of her brother, sea mutant Namor (Tenoch Huerta) makes for a great villain, and I cried multiple times in the theater as the film paid homage to the life and legacy of T’Challa and at the same time Boseman himself. Truly a moving story about a broken Wakanda dealing with the aftermath of a huge loss.
Wordle – Eli’s favorite game of 2022
A daily word puzzle game created by Josh Wardle in 2021, the rule is that you have six turns to guess a five-letter word, and that basic premise has proved so addictive that I have played this game almost every single day this year. For people who found Elden Ring too difficult, this was definitely the game of the year.