Song of the Day #5,333: ‘Glass Onion’ – The Beatles

I’ve covered the horror, international and animated films of 2023, and now it’s time to tackle pretty much everything else.

As I write this I’ve seen 96 movies released in 2022, the most I’ve seen from any recent year and yet still a couple of dozen short of everything I want to see. Some of the titles I’m still waiting to catch up with include Till, The Whale, To Leslie, and a handful of foreign language and documentary releases.

In the meantime, I’m going to write a few words about the movies between #11-40 on my list, minus the titles I’ve already covered this week.

In alphabetical order…

Avatar: The Way of Water
Like many people, I was in the “Who needs another Avatar?” camp before this movie came out. Then I watched The Way of Water and remembered that James Cameron is the undisputed master of big-screen spectacle and entertainment. A couple of billion dollars later, I’ve learned to never doubt him again. This is a wonderfully immersive return to Pandora that has me excited for future installments.

An intimate character study following a veteran suffering from PTSD (a great Jennifer Lawrence) as she strikes up a friendship with a local mechanic (Oscar-nominated Brian Tyree Henry). The movie is very thin on plot, but these two make a great pair and I found myself rooting for them both separately and together. I’m so glad Henry, always excellent on Atlanta, is getting the higher profile that comes with an Oscar nod.

The Fallout
Jenna Ortega’s breakout year started with this moving story about a high school student who survives a school shooting. Ortega delivers humor and heartbreak and co-stars Maddie Ziegler and Julie Bowen make the most of their screen time.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
I’ve been anticipating Rian Johnson’s follow-up to Knives Out since the moment that excellent whodunit ended. The writer-director assembles another winning cast and crafts another clever puzzle box that amuses and delights at every turn. Daniel Craig has a ball playing the already iconic Benoit Blanc and Janelle Monae continues building on her impressive filmography in the film’s trickiest role.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
A smart, funny and sensitive look at a repressed widow enlisting a sex worker to help her locate the passion missing from her marriage. Emma Thompson is glorious in the kind of role they just don’t write for women her age, and relative newcomer Daryl McCormack more than holds his own.

An underdog sports story that works in all the ways the best ones do. Adam Sandler gives one of his finest performances, his well-known love of basketball lending credibility to his portrayal of an NBA scout. The participation of dozens of real-life basketball stars means every scene contains some fun new surprise.

Bill Nighy is heartbreaking in this stately remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru, the story of an older man who finds out he’s dying and realizes he’s never truly lived. He spends his final months making a difference in the lives of those around him, but the movie doesn’t shy away from the likelihood that he’ll still be forgotten.

The Northman
Director/co-writer Robert Eggers tackles Hamlet by way of Norse mythology, delivering a brutal and fascinating yarn that’s heavy on period-specific details. A gritty, grisly, great time.

Not Okay
Zoey Deutch is always a winning screen presence, and here she is matched with a witty script satirizing social media stardom and cancel culture.

She Said
A Me-Too movie dramatizing the investigative reporting that led to the downfall of Harvey Weinstein, She Said doesn’t reach the heights of Spotlight but makes for a compelling story in its own right. For such a seemingly non-cinematic profession, journalism has been the subject of some excellent movies.

Top Gun: Maverick
All hail Tom Cruise for saving cinema! Cruise held on to this movie through two pandemic years, refusing to release it to streaming, then delivered one of the top-grossing films of all time. It’s a supremely entertaining adventure that betters the first Top Gun in every way, though not without suffering from its own sort of clunkiness.

A strong big-screen debut for writer-director-star B.J. Novak, this movie is best when it isn’t trying too hard to be deep. It features some hilarious culture-clash moments as Novak’s New York City podcaster heads to Texas to investigate the death of a former fling. It’s overwritten in parts but nicely pulls off an unexpectedly dark conclusion.

White Noise
Writer-director Noah Baumbach does as good a job as one can hope adapting Don DeLillo’s wry, darkly comic novel about consumerism, authoritarianism and the fear of death. Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig do a fine job embodying the married couple at the movie’s center.

The Woman King
In a just world, this thrilling film would have made as much money as Top Gun: Maverick. Gina Prince-Bythewood is one of my favorite working directors, able to bring emotion and gravitas to any genre. Here, she tackles the historic war epic, delivering a rousing film that is equal parts high adventure and passionate melodrama.

Women Talking
Writer-director Sarah Polley assembles a brilliant cast to tell the tale of a group of Mennonite women who must decide how to respond to the revelation that the men of their order have been systematically raping them. The movie is structured a bit like a one-location play but the dialogue is so compelling, the acting so riveting, and Polley’s direction so assured that it feels cinematic and expansive.

Of these movies, The Woman King is the one that fell just outside my top ten, with Women Talking, Glass Onion, and Good Luck to You, Leo Grande right behind.

[Verse 1]
I told you about Strawberry Fields
You know the place where nothing is real
Well here’s another place you can go
Where everything flows

Looking through the bent back tulips
To see how the other half lives
Looking through a glass onion

[Verse 2]
I told you about the walrus and me, man
You know that we’re as close as can be, man
Well, here’s another clue for you all
The walrus was Paul

Standing on the cast iron shore, yeah
Lady Madonna trying to make ends meet, yeah
Looking through a glass onion

Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah
Looking through a glass onion

[Verse 3]
I told you about the fool on the hill
I tell you, man, he’s living there still
Well, here’s another place you can be
Listen to me

Fixing a hole in the ocean
Trying to make a dovetail joint, yeah
Looking through a glass onion

5 thoughts on “Song of the Day #5,333: ‘Glass Onion’ – The Beatles

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Maverick clunky? That movie was anything but, and sits close to my favorite movie of the year!

  2. Amy says:

    I’ve seen about half of these and those 8, with the exception of Maverick and The Woman King, fall outside my top 10, too.

    Curious what you mean when you write that Bythewood is one of your favorite working directors. Does that mean she wouldn’t land on your list of favorite directors because it is filled with retired or dead directors? 😜

    The Woman King is the film I wanted to see receive more recognition from the Academy. It is simultaneously an “old-fashioned” classic Hollywood epic and something entirely new. And the kind of film women too rarely get to direct, so Bythewood knocking it out if the park should be celebrated.

    Otherwise, I’ll second Dana that I didn’t find Maverick clunky in the slightest and give the “Amy” for Best Actress to Emma Thompson for her beautiful performance in Leo Grande.

    • Clay says:

      Yeah, “working” is the wrong modifier. What I mean is that I expect her best work is still ahead of her, while most of my favorites — those still making movies — have probably already made the films I consider their best.

  3. Peg says:

    I’ve seen 9 of these films and agree with your analysis for the most part. My favorites are Living and Leo Grande but I enjoyed them all with the exception of White Noise

  4. Maddie says:

    I’ve seen seven of these and want to catch up on the rest!

    I’ll add to The Woman King praise which I watched on an airplane and need to see again on a bigger screen. Leo Grande was another highlight from this list. Vengeance was a standout as well and Ashton Kutcher deserves more buzz for what he brought to that role.

    Of these – only Maverick sits comfy in my top 10, where it shall likely remain.

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