When I was putting together my “best of the year” list for 2022, I had to chuckle because at least half of the items that ended up being my favorites were either A) not even on my radar at the start of the year or B) a movie or TV series I didn’t really think I’d enjoy. However, I think it’s kind of cool how it all worked out, because I love being surprised by stories and discovering something new. It’s why I always try to give everything I watch a fair chance, even if I don’t think I’ll love it.
So, without further ado, here are my 10 favorite stories of the year. Also, I include this disclaimer every year, but these aren’t necessarily the stories that I’m advocating are the 10 best of the year – they’re simply the ones I loved the most.
1. Strange New Worlds
All right Trek fans, go ahead and give me grief: I love Star Wars more than any other franchise, but this year, the “favorite story of the year” crown goes to Strange New Worlds. I loved everything about this series, from the characters, to the format featuring a new adventure of the week, to Captain Pike’s always-perfect hair. The show felt like a blend stylistically between the Original Series and the J.J. Abrams Kelvin-verse, my two favorite corners of the Trek franchise. I can’t wait for more.
2. House of the Dragon
The relationship between HBO’s Game of Thrones and its fans is probably best described as “it’s complicated” after the final season. So needless to say, there was a decent amount of skepticism about this prequel series. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this return to Westeros, thanks to compelling storytelling and nuanced characters. Also: #TeamRhaenyra
3. Top Gun: Maverick
I was not prepared to love this movie. I saw the trailer and thought, “This is probably gonna be a flop; the film makers have way overestimated the nostalgia for the original movie.” Turns out, I was very wrong, and Top Gun: Maverick was a great time at the movies, with some jaw-dropping special effects and reflections on legacy and loss. It was definitely worth a splurge to see it in IMAX.
4. The Batman
Did we need yet another Batman movie? In this case, yes, we absolutely did. Matt Reeves’ grim, broody, noir-soaked tale about Batman’s early days is a superhero masterpiece, with a surprisingly great performance from Robert Pattinson. I loved the detective, crime-solving focus of this film, and with all the shake-ups currently going on over at Warner Bros., I desperately hope we still get a sequel to this film.
I was not expecting to love this show; I wasn’t even expecting to watch it in the first place. But I had enough people recommend it to me that I had to check it out, and I fell absolutely in love with this show and all the quirky characters. Jenna Ortega is perfect as Wednesday Addams, giving this character layers of pitch-black wit, intelligence, and determination, and some genuine emotion. Also, Thing is the best supporting character of the year, hands down (I know, I know, I couldn’t resist that one).
6. Enola Holmes 2
Millie Bobby Brown is delightful as Enola Holmes, the mystery-solving younger sister of famous literary detective Sherlock Holmes. The sequel is actually even better than its predecessor, and includes a fresh twist on famous Holmes antagonist Moriarty. Plus, Henry Cavill makes for a surprisingly great Sherlock Holmes.
7. Wakanda Forever
One of the most mature and thoughtful movies the Marvel Cinematic Universe has produced, Wakanda Forever both entertained and deeply moved me. It pays tribute to the late Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman and allows the legacy to continue in the more than capable hands of T’Challa’s younger sister, Shuri. Namor makes for a great antagonist, and I hope to see more of him in the MCU.
8. Shadow of the Sith
Lately I’ve been really getting into audiobooks, and this was one of my favorites this year. This book is written by Adam Christopher and narrated by William DeMeritt, and includes sound effects and music, which makes for a very cinematic listening experience. The story covers the gap between the Star Wars original and sequel trilogies, exploring some of the mysteries introduced in The Rise of Skywalker, such as Palpatine’s return, the Sith cultists on Exegol, and Rey’s parents.
9. Ms. Marvel
Ms. Marvel is as much a family drama as it is a superhero show, with a star-making turn from Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel. Also, what made this show feel so special is that Kamala is as much a fangirl of the Avengers as I am, and she feels realistic and relatable, despite her superpowers.
10. Bridgerton: Season 2
Bridgerton is a guilty pleasure – dubious historical accuracy and not exactly period-appropriate costumes, but like a confection plucked from the window of a bakery, it’s a frothy, sugary delight. Not my favorite show of all time but certainly one that I’ll jump to watch as soon as a new season comes out.