As in 2021, this year comprised two distinct halves, Whereas the best of the best in 2021 popped up in the first half, in 2022 the reverse happened. What that meant in practice is that there was a slight downturn in viewing pleasure for a whole year from the middle of 2021. Looking back, I sensed that slump and had begun to attribute it to the mooted “end of the golden age of streaming content,” only to then be delighted by a slew of stellar series or films. The Top 10 contains two thrillers, two science fiction movies, a comedy, and five more general dramas. Whilst I viewed a number of fine documentaries, none of them made this year’s apex list. To give an indication of the flood of superlative releases in the second half of 2023, seven of the Top 10 were accorded the maximum rating of 10 out of 10 (by contrast, 2021 had only one 10-er). (Links below are to my reviews.)
The second (and final) season (10/10) of Patriot is, like the first season, a mesmerizing delight. Not a scene or a shot is wasted, every word shimmers with intelligence, Funny, tense, sad, often all together … 2022’s standout.
The crowning movie was Mike Mills’s C’mon C’mon (10/10), which I’ve seen three times. Two outstanding acting performances and an engrossing, human, existential tale. A masterpiece.
Another perfect show: Station Eleven (10/10) based on the wonderfully plotted and peopled novel by Emily St. John Mandel. It’s a patient ten-parter that should be lovingly embraced not binged.
The Bear (10/10), a scintillating show of eight snappy episodes, about a Michelin chef who inherits his brother’s ramshackle cafe/restaurant in Chicago, never lets up. Jammed with human insight.
Released with full fanfare but also highly individualistic was Belfast (10/10), a stunning tale of The Troubles written and directed by Kenneth Branagh. An ode to a city, a coming-of-age drama, and much more.
Everything Everywhere All at Once (10/10) is so wild conceptually that even for sci-fans, it should not work. But it does. Awe inspiring and, by the end, emotionally rich.
As funny as the first season of Only Murders in the Building was, the second season (10/10) is even more hilarious. Martin Short and Steve Martin reign.
Capturing with perfect panache Len Deighton’s 60s spy-thriller style, the six episodes of The Ipcress File (9/10) make for exhilarating viewing.
Colm Bairead’s The Quiet Girl (9/10) moves purposefully through a simple tale to break your heart.
People in politics, the terrain of the powerful second season (9/10) of Total Control … this was the year’s best Australian show bar none.