30 movies topped the box office over the first 50 weekends of 2022. And frankly, unless the fun and fearless “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” overperforms (which is not out of the question), I believe “Avatar: The Way of Water” will top the final two weeks of the year as well.
The first movie to be crowned weekend champ was 2021 juggernaut “Spider-Man: No Way Home”. It would return to the top spot two more times and *almost* again over Labor Day weekend with a re-release.
Though I’ve seen close to 230 new movies this year, there are still a number of films I didn’t get a chance to see. Five of them topped the box office: “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero”, “The Invitation”, “Barbarian”, “Smile” and “Halloween Ends”.
That leaves us with 24 films. Many were disappointing and flat-out awful, including “Jackass Forever”, “Uncharted”, “The Lost City”, “Morbius”, “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore”, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”, “Jurassic World: Dominion”, “Thor: Love and Thunder”, “Nope”, “Bullet Train”, “Don’t Worry Darling”, “Black Adam” and “Avatar: The Way of Water”. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” missed the mark, but it at least featured a solid Angela Bassett performance and powerful tributes to the late Chadwick Boseman.
We move onto the middle of the pack. The “Scream” reboot got the year off to a decent start with some clever, effective approaches. “The Batman” featured some impressive action and acting. DreamWorks “The Bad Guys” had a unique look, feel and flavor and a number of redeeming qualities. “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” and “DC League of Super-Pets” also had some visual and story highlights for kids and parents. And “Elvis” was a wild ride, highlighted by Austin Butler and Baz Luhrmann’s unpredictable direction. But they all were not extraordinary by any means.
If you’re keeping score at home, we’re left with four movies. These are the four weekend box office champs I enjoyed the most in 2022. I liked these first two when I saw them and my appreciation has only grown since:
“Death on the Nile” starts out a little slow and traditional, but once the murder mystery gets going, so does the momentum. Kenneth Branagh is even better as Detective Hercule Poirot — and presents more legitimate tension as a filmmaker — than in “Murder on the Orient Express”. I look forward to third chapter “A Haunting in Venice” this September.
“The Woman King” is anchored by strong performances from Viola Davis and Thuso Mbedu. This is an action drama that delivers in both of those departments, with a legitimately emotional and surprising story.
And these final two films are VERY good. My high views on them haven’t changed since I saw them in the summertime:
“Minions: The Rise of Gru” is Illumination’s best film since the original “Sing”. It’s the perfect ‘70s movie for families — and the perfect prequel to “Despicable Me” (5x better than the 2015 “Minions” movie). Steve Carell and Alan Arkin reunite with terrific voice chemistry.
And, of course, “Top Gun: Maverick”. The savior of movie theaters is an enthralling experience from start to finish. Will it win the Oscar for Best Picture? We’ll see. If awards voters are looking for the most positive, upbeat choice, “TGM” can’t be beat.