Screener season is here, so I’m playing catch-up

Since I’m a member of the Columbus Film Critics Association, I have the honor of receiving—from early November through December—a slew of screeners each year. They usually come in the form of DVDs with flimsy cardboard covers, sometimes stuffed in a manila envelope with a dozen other titles and tossed on my doorstep. Other times, I’m sent online links and login information. This is not only so that I can review the movies, but can consider them for my critic group’s end-of-the-year awards. It really is the most wonderful time of the year (I’m honored to have the chance to see these movies for free, sometimes before they release in theaters), but it’s also the busiest! I have room in my head to remember these movies for award consideration, but I don’t have enough room in my calendar to write 500 words about each one. Therefore, in this post, I hope about 50 words will suffice. Anticipate a few full-length reviews of new movies in the weeks ahead, but for now I’d like to play catch up and quickly review some of the 2022 movies I know I won’t have time to fully review.

The Woman King and Viola Davis Are #1 at the Box Office | IndieWire

The Woman King

I loved this film about the real-life army of female warriors that protected the West African kingdom of Dahomey in the 19th century. The Agojie, as the women were known, inspired Stan Lee to create the Dora Milaje, the all-female guard that protected Wakanda. And personally, I don’t think “The Woman King” would have been greenlit had it not been for the success of “Black Panther.” These two movies about powerful African kingdoms, their kings, and the women who protect them have many similarities. But you can never have too much of a good thing! Viola Davis is as terrific as ever in the title role. Well, maybe not “Fences” good…but still, she makes a strong case for an Oscar nomination. And I’d let Lashana Lynch gauge out my eyeballs out with her razor-sharp fingernails any day. Honestly, this entire ensemble of Black women absolutely killed it.  7.5/10

Brian and Charles

From hardcore to nicecore, this British comedy about a Welsh inventor (David Earl) and his manmade friend is effortlessly charming. Very few films this year made me laugh harder. Sure, it could have been more concerned about exploring the depths of the main character’s loneliness, but sometimes you just want a warm-cup-of-tea sort of movie.  7/10

Armageddon Time

James Grey’s latest family drama is his most obviously personal work yet. Set in 1980 Queens, the film centers on a rebellious young boy (Banks Repeta) who befriends a Black classmate (Jaylin Webb), setting off a storm of opinions in his Jewish household. It’s a sort of platonic take on the Romeo and Juliet story. But it’s also about the different ways the insubordinate boys are treated for doing similar things. But what the movie adds up to isn’t much. It’s a coming-of-age story without much story. It’s a James Grey semi-biopic, I guess.  6.5/10

Bodies Bodies Bodies

Those calling this movie a slasher are placing upon this comedic thriller expectations that won’t be met. When somebody winds up dead during a gathering of old friends at a mansion, accusations are spat like venom. But “Bodies Bodies Bodies” doesn’t take these unlikable millennials as seriously as I fear many critics have. I’ve read takes about how unlikable and out-of-touch the characters are, but I think that’s exactly the point. If you see Rachel Sennott’s performance as anything but the pinnacle of satire, I feel bad for you.  7.5/10

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

I think, after watching the updated Disney adaptation a few months ago starring Tom Hanks, I might be Pinocchioed out. Because, while I respect the hell out of the craftsmanship that went into making this latest stop-motion animated adaptation of the classic (and oft-adapted) Italian children’s story, I couldn’t find much enjoyment in it. Maybe that also has to do with the fact that Guillermo del Toro’s version is about fascism? Who knows.  6/10


Before this year, I had always liked Billy Eichner. Well, I liked “Billy on the Street.” I thought that was very funny. But I was happy to see that he was able to turn it off when he needed to. Or, at least turn it down. It’s clear from his performance and from his constant promotion of the film that he’s proud of “Bros.” He’s happy that an R-rated queer love story got this kind of budget from a studio. So am I! But “Bros” (which Eichner also co-wrote) feels like a movie written by people who clearly thought there would never be another queer romance movie made after this. It tries to say everything, but oftentimes it sounds like word vomit. Plus, for as often as it trashes heteronormativity, this movie was clearly aimed at straight audiences. Not that that’s a bad thing, but it isn’t exactly what audiences were promised.  4/10

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

This one was a pleasant surprise. Lesley Manville turns in a career-best performance (okay, maybe that assessment is unfair given how few of her films I’ve seen) as a cleaning lady in 1950s London who feels that her woes might go away if only she could scrounge up the money for a genuine Christian Dior dress. “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” has a fairytale-like quality that I quite enjoyed.  7/10

Enola Holmes 2

Nobody is more capable of acting despicable than David Thewlis, but he’s just one of the many reasons why this Netflix sequel topped its predecessor. I thought Millie Bobbie Brown was more in her element here, in a story that’s more serious and less cheeky than before. Plus, whereas last time I complained about Henry Cavill’s tepid portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, I was much happier with his character this time. Now, I’m actually excited for a threequel.  6.5/10

See How They Run

“See How They Run” released in theaters to exactly zero fanfare. I didn’t even know about the movie—which stars Saoirse Ronan and Sam Rockwell—until the week of its release. When it silently landed on HBO Max a few weeks later, I still didn’t know anyone who had actually seen it. A whodunnit riding on the coattails of recent Agatha Christie adaptations (and maybe “Knives Out,” to a lesser extent), “See How They Run” only differentiates itself by slyly mocking the tired tropes of these murder mysteries. Unfortunately, it then proceeds to shamelessly lean into many of those tropes itself. By the end, however, it had done just enough to justify its own creation. It was fine.  5.5/10


The only thing scary about this horror movie—where a rich couple rent a mid-century home haunted by its architect—is how bad Shane West is at acting. For the unfamiliar, West was the boy in “A Walk to Remember” (where he was similarly terrible). Even Stephen Lang, who is horrifying in the “Don’t Breathe” movies, makes a laughing stock out of his villainous character.  1/10

The Princess

It turns out I kind of loved “Live-action Princess Fiona takes down the patriarchy.” It has a fairly simple premise—an unnamed princess (Joey King), who has been promised to wed a cruel leader (Dominic Cooper), tries to fight her way out of her tall tower and past an army of men—but “The Princess” capitalizes on its John Wick inspiration (all kills, all the time) and throws in a few fun one-liners for good measure.  6/10

Glass Onion

If you thought Daniel Craig was terrific in “Knives Out,” you’ll be even more pleased by its sequel, “Glass Onion.” Netflix decided to give this only a short theatrical release, which is disappointing. If “Glass Onion” isn’t better than “Knives Out,” it’s at least funnier. I had a blast. It’s certainly more bombastic, but its mysterious plot is also just as thrilling. And also, I never said it wasn’t better than “Knives Out”! It’s definitely closer than I ever thought it would be.  8/10

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery' Review: Another Clue for You All - The  New York Times

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s