Before composing my annual list of adored movies from the past year, I gave serious thought to continuing the presentation I initiated in the first year of COVID, with write-ups on 20 favorites from 2020 followed by 21 favorites from 2021. Certainly, there were 22 winners from 2022 to emphatically celebrate, yes? Well … yes and no.

Over the course of three hours and nine minutes, there's one sensationally effective, entertaining, and even educational sequence in Damien Chazelle's Babylon even if, like everything else in this wildly indulgent and obnoxious old-Hollywood saga, it, too, eventually gets royally effed up.

Fans of such animated masterpieces as Castle in the Sky, Kiki's Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle, and the Oscar-winning Spirited Away will be in for a day of delights when the Rock Island Public Library's downtown branch hosts January 4's Studio Ghibli Film Fest, a day of screenings, snacks, and activities such as creating Totoro cutouts and learning the art of writing Japanese characters.

You know a movie about terminal illness is in trouble when it asks you to spend more time feeling sorry for the dying person's caregiver than it does for the person who's doing the dying. That, I'm afraid, was my chief hindrance in enjoying Spoiler Alert, director Michael Showalter's friendly, irritating dramedy about long-term life partners that keeps putting the emotional emphasis on the wrong partner.

Before discussing the very, very Bad Santa at the heart of director Tommy Wirkola's Violent Night, I want to address this grisly action comedy's other heroic perpetrator of bloody mayhem. Because despite the commitment that David Harbour lends to his portrayal of a jolly old elf by way of The Northman, seven-year-old Trudy Lightstone (endearingly enacted by Leah Brady) is easily the film's more interesting figure, largely for being the only movie character I can think of to truly call out the insidious irresponsibility in that holiday “classic” Home Alone.

As you may recall from 2019's comedic whodunit Knives Out, the soon-to-be-deceased Harlan Thrombey and his soon-to-be-accused caregiver Marta Cabrera ended every evening with a friendly round of the board game Go. I mention this because, after seeing Rian Johnson's continuation Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, I've realized that reviews of this burgeoning franchise for Daniel Craig's Southern-dandy detective Benoit Blanc have been completely superfluous. The only critical analysis these films really require is a simple directive: “Go.”

I remember co-star Seth Roben recently saying that Spielberg was in tears for nearly the entirety of his shoot with him. I'm sure he was. That doesn't mean the rest of us were crying – except, possibly, at the sadly wasted opportunity of it all.

Ingenious, unsettling, and oftentimes riotously funny, director Mark Mylod's The Menu has been prepared exactly the way I most enjoy my satire: blackened to a crisp. While its thematic and presentational inspirations are unhidden and encompass everything from Hell's Kitchen to Midsommar to Fantasy Island, what this savage comedy chiefly reminded me of was Don't Look Up, last year's end-of-days spoof that ended on the bleakest of all possible notes.

A co-presentation of the Figge Art Museum, the Project of the Quad Cities, and the New York-based non-profit Visual AIDS, the Davenport venue's December 1 screening of Being & Belonging will acknowledge the 2022 Day With(out) Art in a program of seven short videos, all of them highlighting under-told or even untold stories of HIV and AIDS from the perspective of artists living with HIV across the world.