Essay List/Ranking

The B.A.D.S. by The Goods, 2022

Tired of the Academy Awards discourse? Me too! So I’m here to present you with my own award show selections: The Better Awards by Dan Stalcup. A.K.A — The B.A.D.S., presented by The Goods.

I’ve already ranked my favorite movies of 2022; in fact I’ve ranked all of them that I’ve seen. Today, I’ll be nominating my five top choices (ordering random/meaningless) and immediately selecting a winner for various awards-style honors. I have most of the Oscar categories, minus a couple, plus a couple. Enjoy, and please use the comments to tell me all the stuff I got wrong.

Caveats: Only including films I’ve seen and only including films that debuted in 2022 (i.e., the year on IMDb or Letterboxd as opposed to its Oscar eligibility year). The latter rule because it’s so much easier for me to track.

(Pictured: The Fabelmans)

Best Film Title

A good film title should be catchy, unique, and memorable. It should tell you something about the tone and the content of the film. There were a lot of good ones that immediately made me want to see the film, including a clever sequel title in Disenchanted, but there’s only one all-timer in the bunch: A remarkable moniker for a remarkable movie that movie fans will be debating for years to come after it (probably) wins (the other) Best Picture.

Winner: Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best Editing

2022 featured a lot of showy, ambitious editing. Elvis and Babylon did some tremendous montage work, and Tar had a unique and effective editing cadence that grew choppier as the film went along and Lydia Tar’s world spiraled. Decision to Leave invented some insane, continuity-defying cross-cutting. But no movie’s editing blew my socks off like the hit multiverse epic, which bounced between a dozen realities at just the right moment, sometimes in flickers as short as a few frames.

Winner: Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best Debut Director

The most blowout category of 2022. I’ll absolutely watch the next films by any of these group — Kline’s acerbic, grimy humor tickled me; Ford and Okuno crafted terrific suspense; Shi brought a personal touch to tentpole animation. Come on, though. One debut towered above the rest as one of the best of the year, the intimate yet restrained father-daughter tribute Aftersun.

Winner: Charlotte Wells – Aftersun

Best Ensemble

Amsterdam seemed a lock for this award at the start of the year; too bad it sucks. But there were some stacked and well-used casts this year. Babylon had a new scene-stealer every five minutes (hey Tobey Maguire) and Glass Onion delivered a retinue of memorable suspects, but the big three are Banshees, EEAAO, and Fabelmans. It’s a close call between all three, but I give the edge to Fabelmans for having five or six awards-worthy turns.

Winner: The Fabelmans

Best Song/Musical Number*

(*Eligibility note: I’m permitting original songs plus numbers from adaptations of musicals. Other existing songs, even performed fresh, are excluded, because my brain started to hurt on what I could and couldn’t pick for stuff like Elvis.)

What a stacked set of numbers. Only one can win, so I’m eliminating the head-banging closer to Metal Lords, and the tearjerker from Pinocchio, and the lightning-bolt opener to Puss in Boots 2.

The instinctive choice is “Naatu Naatu” as the centerpiece of perhaps the biggest-spectacle film of 2022. The dark horse is “Revolting Children,” the soaring pop-disco closer with some unreal large-scale choreography. “Naatu Naatu” might hit harder, but “Revolting Children” hits plenty hard itself and I’ve been humming it for weeks.

Winner: “Revolting Children”– Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical

Best Original Score

Another great slate where I had to leave off some gems. The Babylon score is something special. Justin Hurwitz remains the treasured soul of Damien Chazelle’s filmography, here offering a swinging ’20s tour de force. Don’t Worry Darling’s fractured motifs and All Quiet’s thumping three-note electronica added flavor to movies I wasn’t wild about. Abels provides a charming Ennio Morricone pastiche for Nope.

But as soon as I saw The Batman, this award was pretty much locked in. Its thudding four-note motif, like a beating heart, swells and grows and gets buoyed by surging counter-melodies. It’s just a masterpiece. The soundtrack closes with a sublime 12-minute piece called “Sonata in Darkness” that’s entered my all-time favorite film compositions.

Winner: Michael Giacchino – The Batman

Best Scene
  • Editing the camping footage – The Fabelmans
  • Confession to “Howard” – Pearl
  • The jittery-knee lecture – Tar
  • The audition and meltdown – Pearl
  • Farewell at the airport – Aftersun

Sammy learning the truth of his mother’s heart while watching her camping footage is one of Spielberg’s best images in a career filled with great ones. Tar’s single-shot lecture plays like a thriller and tells us 50 things about Lydia Tar’s character. And Aftersun had the best final shot of any film in 2022 with a circular pan that’s simultaneously routine and apocalyptic.

But it’s gotta be one of the Pearl scenes (I couldn’t decide which Pearl scene to include, so I included both. Sorry to about a million other great scenes in different movies.) The audition is spectacular and hilarious as a payoff on an hour of daydreaming. And yet the best scene of 2022 has to be the nearly-single-shot-monologue-plus-single-shot-axe-murder near the film’s climax. If only I could stretch that out another few minutes and include the other best final shot of 2022.

Winner: Confession to “Howard” – Pearl

Best Screenplay

I love the nasty quippiness in Do Revenge, the nostalgic but restrained Aftersun, and the twisty story to Decision to Leave. But two movies this year were special pieces of writing: The Banshees of Inisherin’s exasperated cynicism and Tar’s ingenious character study. I’ll tilt towards Banshees, even though it took me the better part of the first act to really get drawn in. The second half is just so damn good and funny and bleak.

Winner: Martin McDonagh – The Banshees of Inisherin

Best Streaming-Only Feature

I included this category almost specifically to talk about how much I like Do Revenge, Look Both Ways, and Moonshot, the Riverdale alum-led trifecta of solid streaming teen comedies, but when I looked into what was actually streaming-only, the pool was larger and deeper than I realized. I’m still giving the crown to Do Revenge, a decadently fun and trashy teen comedy.

Winner: Do Revenge

Best Documentary Feature
Best International Feature

I’m marking these as incomplete because I’ve been grossly negligent in viewing international films (other than a few of the buzzy titles) and documentaries (other than… none… I’ve seen no 2022 documentaries).

Best Animated Feature

(Note: animation in particular got hit with a lot of movies I categorize as 2021 but other places categorize as 2022, and thus I exclude: Mad God, Junk Head, Inu-Oh, and more)

This was a top-heavy year for animation, with GDT’s Pinocchio and Puss in Boots 2 legitimately great and The House not far behind them. Then we have a glut of good-not-great films. The winner is a runaway, though: the ridiculously enjoyable Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, which features an amazing villain and a probing undercurrent of mortality.

Winner: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Best Cinematography

Strong field this year; I can’t believe I couldn’t find space for Babylon. I’m wild about Three Thousand Years of Longing’s radically digital cinematography. It’s like if Robert Rodriguez was making art films instead of Spy Kids movies. Empire of Light’s only aspect of note is yet another world-class outing by Deakins. Elvis is rapturous, and Decision to Leave looks outrageously good. When I zoom out, it’s Blaschke’s pairing with Robert Eggers that’s the current peak of cinematic visual art for three films running, even if I was ambivalent about the movie’s revenge story. It’s organ-churning, fire-spitting, battle-fury stuff.

Winner: Jarin Blaschke – The Northman

Best Visual Effects

I could just as well mark this one as an incomplete given that I haven’t seen Avatar, which would immediately bump All Quiet out just because its color grading pissed me off, and probably take the trophy. But that’s no shade on RRR and Northman, which each have shattering, convincing effects in different genres and settings. RRR is only slightly diminished by the obvious fakeness of many of its central features — like the animal battle scene — but that’s part of the fun. EEAAO has extremely moving use of effects, but it feels more in the spirit of direction that SFX. Thankfully, I still have a worthy winner: Top Gun: Maverick, whose practical plane stunts are so good my brain could feel the rattling G-forces.

Winner: Top Gun: Maverick*

*Until I see Avatar 2

Best Sound

Sound is obviously an essential ingredient in great movies, but it remains a bit of a foreign art to me. I just know I like it when I hear it, and I thought all of these ones sounded great in one way or another. Elvis has some really innovative mixing, isolating and calling out specific soundtrack elements. Babylon always feels busy but rich. The Northman sucks you into its setting with its sound. EEAAO goes full maximalism. But Nope was only the movie to make me think “oooh, this is using sound design to tell a deeper story” with how it defines its monster’s relationship to the world. (Dear God, the sound of disembodied screaming churned to blood.)

Winner: Nope

Best Voice Actor

It was a great year for unforgettable non-protagonist voice acting in animation. Sohn’s SOX was the comedic highlight of Lightyear, Harris exuded danger in The Sea Beast, Bradley added emotional intensity to Pinocchio, and Arkin made a great anti-hero in the remarkably serviceable Minions 2. When I think back on great animated characters and voice performances, though, a whistle fills my brain — that of Moura’s wolfen reaper.

Winner: Wagner Moura (Death) – Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Best Actor in a Leading Role

The crop of great lead actor performances seemed thin this year. Hanks is the obvious stretch of my selections — it might not be one of his 20 best performances (not even his best of the year), and it’s in a conventional indie. But I’m not sure any movie was better served by a performance, as Hanks perfects a role that requires surgical control. Butler is completely subsumed into Elvis, one of those hardcore method transformations. Park carries a great and complex story. Farrell anchors his tragicomedy with unbelievably great deliveries and the funniest eyebrows of all time. And Calva turns the gawking reaction shot into high art. Tough call for me between Farrell and Butler, but I’ll go with Farrell for the sheer life he brought to the screen.

Winner: Colin Farrell – The Banshees of Inisherin

Best Actress in a Leading Role

If the Best Actor slot is a bit starved this year, Best Actress is a gluttonous feast. I could easily expand this field to 10 and feel better about any of them than a couple of my Best Actor nominees. So apologies to Margot Robbie (Babylon) and Leslie Manville (Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris) and Andrea Riseborough (To Leslie) and a few others.

Come on, though, look at this slate: Corio is the whole reason Aftersun works. Tang Wei is the best femme fatale in a generation. Yeoh holds EEAAO together across six different genres. Blanchett brings intensity and precision to the title role of Tar, a performance sure to appear on best-of-the-decade lists.

Yet I have no hesitation giving this award to Goth. It’s my favorite performance of the year, a wicked and silly wonder: monologuing, melting down, murdering, etc.

Winner: Mia Goth – Pearl

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Nobody runs away with the race for me here. We have a ton of outstanding work elevating their films: Keoghan is heartbreaking as the local loser in Banshees, Matthew Maher provides an ferocious presence in Funny Pages’ pivot to Safdie-esque anxiety, and Dano is an amazing geeky loser dad in Fabelmans. My top two are Henry in a masterful understated turn in Causeway and Hanks’ Satanic fat suit possession. Razzies be damned: Hanks it is.

Winner: Tom Hanks – Elvis

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Consider these nominations as more of a sampler platter of “supporting performances I loved” than, like, the five best. But I do think two stand above the rest: Williams in The Fabelmans as Sammy’s quixotic mother and Hsu as the daughter/supervillain of EEAAO. Johnson, Fisk, and Cravalho are all adorable yet complex romantic interests that made my heart flutter. What can I say? That’s the kind of performance I remember.

Winner: Michelle Williams – The Fabelmans

Best Director

Here we have a true murderers’ row of visual and storytelling achievement. Do I honor Daniels for the relentless and sprawling multiverse execution? Spielberg for overcoming his slightly ragged script into genuinely stirring imagery? Eggers for rattling my spleen? Park for the most effortless virtuoso cinematic constructions of the year? Luhrmann for transmuting America’s excesses and contradictions onto celluloid? Tough call; all are deserving. But Park’s astounding noir takes the virtual trophy.

Winner: Park Chan-wook – Decision to Leave

Best Picture


  • I recently declared Decision to Leave the #1 film of the year. But I’ve been second-guessing that. These five are all in pretty much the same tier and could have been in any order.
  • And yet, is “#1 of the year” even the same as “Best Picture”? It could be that one film is a more memorable and a better “crown jewel” for the year than another, but the latter is “better” in a strict sense. Am I overthinking this? Of course.
  • I feel like Puss in Boots is the movie I’ll rewatch the most over the next decade.
  • But EEAAO really feels like the movie that defined 2022: The most compelling and ambitious and provocative. I just wish its overwrought humor didn’t bug me as I think back on it.
  • Pearl, though… damn. It has my favorite performance of the year, and of the past few years, with Mia Goth. It has the scenes and images I think of most often and the lines I quote most frequently. (“No! I’m a star!” and “What did I do wrong?” and “I thought you liked me!”)
  • Tar, though, is the closest ideal to a classical “best picture”: A profound and insightful drama of tremendous technical achievement and an incredible screenplay.

Winner: Decision to Leave

…no wait…

Winner: Tar

…hmm… actually…

Winner: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

…eh, I mean it’s gotta be…

Winner: Everything Everywhere All at Once

…I’ll probably roll my eyes at this pick in five years. But 2022’s biggest theme was us reckoning with movies “coming back” and all our weird feelings about that, so it makes sense my pick should be one of those. And if I’m being honest about what movie my heart really wants me to run to the mountaintops and sing praises about, I guess it’s gotta be…

Winner: Pearl

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6 replies on “The B.A.D.S. by The Goods, 2022”

OK, I’ll watch Pearl. I want to, but West really turned me off of X and Pearl by releasing them in the same year. Also everyone keeps saying it looks like three-strip Technicolor and I keep thinking “not from what I’ve seen it doesn’t, and also it takes place in the 1910s, right?” but I guess it’s an Oz thing.

It’s odd that our biggest overlap was editing, though I still think Tar is too guided by its screenplay to be particularly in awe of guy-that-edited-Tar. But if I’m very honest I don’t have the firmest grasp of what editors do these days, given the automation and digitization of the process, other than being like an assistant rather than a decisionmaker in their own right.

“It could be that one film is a more memorable and a better “crown jewel” for the year than another, but the latter is “better” in a strict sense. Am I overthinking this? Of course.” I understand what you mean, but yes.

I had forgotten best song was even a category. But, not that you’re following the Oscars strictly, it’s gratifying (sort of) that you forgot makeup/hairstyling too!

I do wish they’d pull the trigger on Best Ensemble as an Oscar category. It’s the least they could do given the somewhat narrow range of roles a Best Actor/Best Actress dyad is going to award. (Other suggestion: opening up the gendered acting categories to ten–I daresay a better use of space than ten best pictures–and giving two awards. Hazy on how to handle nonbinary performers given the “here’s your award for having a job, I guess” problem the smallness of the demographic presently poses, so flipping a coin or actor choice seems the best solution if chromosomal sex–this being the current solution, e.g. House of the Dragon–is noncongenial. Ideally, it’d just be some arbitary not-too-large number of Best Actors competing for one or two awards, irrespective of anything, but I’m not blind to the obvious problems that would attend that. Oops, didn’t mean to write a white paper.)

It’s okay, I’m fully braced for you to like Pearl significantly less than I do. (Almost everyone does.) The promo shots don’t really capture the film’s colors, and it’s really only like 5 scenes that make use of it. A lot of the movie is set in a house that’s shabby and gray (at least partially for thematic reasons). And, yeah, the 1910’s setting clashing with Technicolor’s decades-later peak is not addressed and makes little sense. It doesn’t feel wrong to me, but maybe that’s, like you said, because Wizard of Oz makes this era seem OK in saturated colors.

The fine line between editing, directing, and writing is certainly one that I’m not an expert in teasing out and is definitely blurry. In some ways, more technically accomplished editing of action is best if it goes unnoticed because it keeps everything coherent and intuitive. (e.g. Top Gun Maverick)

Yeah, I’d guess it’s less than 10 years until the Oscars has to confront the gendered acting categories issue with some great performance not on the binary. I wonder if they’ll go the route of combining into some mega multi-honoree gender-neutral category.

Besides ensemble, I also wonder if three acting tiers with Best Bit Player would be better, insofar as Best Supporting apparently encompasses everything from basically-leads like Ke Huy Kwan all the way down to one-scene performances like that lady in Network or Judd Hirsch.

So I ended up watching the Oscars cast (in rerun without ads and skipping some of the musical numbers and segments I was disinterested in — less than two hours long this way!). I definitely got choked up a few times, especially Quan’s and Yeoh’s wins.

But I think you’re right that having a third tier of acting could separate the nearly-leads from the walk-off cameos like Hirsch and Lynch in Fabelmans. I already have a hard enough time remembering worthy supporting performances. If I’m going to start doing this every year, I should probably keep a spreadsheet as the year goes.

Starting to prepare my 2023 list, and a solid 15% of my nominations and selections are already head-scratchers to me less than one year later. I guess inevitably hating your own past opinions (and formation thereof) is the rite of passage of any consistent writer.

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