Best Everything (Except Movies) Of 2022

In the nomenclature of sports, I’ve been putting up numbers this year. Keep your pants on, ladies; as of this writing, I’ve seen 376 movies, watched 21 TV shows, read (listened to) over 75 books, and listened to an untold number of podcasts.

But first, I’m gonna give a little bit of love to the music I’ve been enjoying the most this year, in no particular order.

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Best Music Of The Year

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Taylor Swift’s Midnights

The big 2022 release was, of course, Taylor Swift’s 10th studio album, Midnights. One of the major standouts from that album, for many other folks and me, was Anti-Hero, with the viral TikTok chorus line, “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me.” Lyrical poetry it’s not. Other ‘gems’ from that song include, “Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby.” All I can picture is a baby going, “Goo goo, gaa gaa” while doing the Blue Steel face from Zoolander. Do better, Tay Tay.

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Big Thief

Big Thief was a band I had gotten turned onto through Phoebe Bridgers/Lucy Dacus radio playlists on Spotify this year. The band’s lead singer/guitarist Adrianne Lenker has a voice like an angelic porcelain tea cup that will seemingly shatter with just a bit too much pressure applied in just the wrong places but is buoyed by a dense, forceful foundation. Some of the best new folk/indie rock out there.

Favorite tracks: Not, Paul, Velvet Ring

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Snail Mail

A female led indie/alternative solo project that I’ve very much dug this year was Snail Mail. The lead singer/guitarist, Lindsey Jordan, gives Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth vibes vocally, with a sparse, guitar-driven lo-fi sound playing behind her. If you like Sonic Youth, The Strokes, and My Bloody Valentine, give Snail Mail a shot.

Favorite tracks: Pristine, Heat Wave, Glory

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Other musical artists that were on heavy rotation this year were; Phoebe Bridgers (of course), Lucy Dacus, Sharon Van Etten, The Mountain Goats, Angel Olsen, Andrew Bird, and AURORA. If you’re not a fan of indie/folk/alternative rock unfortunately you’re SOL.

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Best Podcasts Of The Year

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For the most part, I’ve been sticking with the standards, your Last Podcast On The Lefts, your 99% Invisibles, your Waypoints. But nestled within those standards, I did branch out and seek other podcasts in similar genres that I am comfortably familiar with; media criticism, interview shows, and investigative journalism.

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A More Civilized Age

Hosted by current and former alums of The Waypoint Radio Podcast, Rob Zacny, Austin Walker, Natalie Watson, and Ali Acampora, AMCA is a podcast about all things Star Wars, filtered through a lens of socioeconomic, political, and militaristic discussions. The show has been around for a few years, but I hopped on when Andor came out, knowing that the sheer richness of the politics, culture, and economics being examined within the show itself would lead to deeply fascinating discussions on the podcast.

If you’ve ever felt like there were more interesting ideas bubbling just beneath the surface of Star Wars lore beyond just Light Side Vs Dark, then this podcast is for you.

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The Ringer-Verse

One of my favorite podcast series ever was Binge Mode, specifically the MCU-focused season. It was a masterclass in taking on a series with, at the time, 24 films, equally 70 some-odd hours of content, but the hosts, Ringer nerd-experts Mallory Rubin and Jason Consepción did an incredible job of presenting a gargantuan amount of information in a very digestible manner.

Jason would go on to work with the Pod Save America company Crooked Media and start his own podcast, X-Ray. Mallory, however, would stay with The Ringer and help develop a new podcast, what is described in every intro as ‘The Ringers podcast nexus for all things nerdom.’

Whether it’s the latest and newest MCU project, the Game Of Thrones spin-off House Of The Dragon, or the best Star Wars content in 40 years, Andor, Mallory Rubin, with her spunky co-host Joanna Robinson, breaks down any and all nerd-related content. They do it all with their specific brand of high energy, deeply knowledgeable, and, sometimes overly so, consistently positive takes on the stuff they love.

I’d be remiss if I failed to mention the other hosts of Ringer-Verse episodes, Van Latham, Charles Holmes, and Jomie Adenrian, collectively known as… THE MIDNIGHT BOYS, PEW PEW! Some of the highest energy pods and spiciest takes in and about nerdom are delivered from these guys. Fantastic chemistry, I highly recommend checking them out in addition to Mal and Jo.

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No Dogs In Space

In January 2020, Marcus Parks, the co-founder and narrator of the Last Podcast On The Left, created a new show based around deep dives into seminal rock bands of yore.

Where bands get their specific sound from has always been something I’ve been deeply interested in. No Dogs delivers just that, starting their exploration of each band years, sometimes decades, before the formation of said bands.

The Ramones pulled their sound from early surf rock, The Velvet Underground gleaned their sound from Marvin Gaye and The Kingsman, and Joy Division got their influences from the Doors, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Kraftwerk, and… Velvet Underground. It all comes back around.

The show is co-hosted by Marcus’ wife, Carolina Hidalgo, who is, contrary to popular belief, the driving force behind the creative and research elements of the show. Her and her husband’s natural chemistry, along with some of the most well-researched episodes in all of podcasting, makes this a show that I hit play on the second it’s available.

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Other podcasts of note from this year: The Big Picture, The Rewatchables, The Watch (really any The Ringer entertainment-based podcast).

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Best Books Of The Year

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The last half of 2022, book-wise, was, for me, to put it mildly, a slog. If you want an in-depth rundown of the best books from this year, you’ll want to check out my mid-year, best-of-books so far blog post here.

While the vast majority of the audiobooks I listened to didn’t thrill me, Patrick Rothfuss, Brando Sando, and N. K. Jemisin, I’m looking at you, the last half of the year did produce some diamonds in the rough.

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The Anthropocene Reviewed

By John Green

A collection of 44 non-fiction essays, The Anthropocene Reviewed started as a podcast of the same name in 2018, written and hosted by John Green. The title of the book comes from the geological epoch The Anthropocene, an epoch being a measurement of time that is the second smallest, set between a period and an age. This epoch is notable for the fact that humans, for the first time, are the most influential beings on the planet, given the sheer size and scope of the human race.

Don’t let the academic words scare you off; this book is much more personal and relatable than the title let’s on. From Halley’s Comet to Dr. Pepper, velociraptor’s to the Indy 500, and the game of Monopoly to the band The Mountain Goats, Green explores these seemingly everyday topics in a way that only he can. John’s innate and genuine curiosity for the origins, intended purpose, and how we engage with modern marvels, like the Lascaux Cave Paintings in Dordogne, France, radiates off of every page.

The Anthropocene Reviewed is a treasure for anyone who looks at the world with a sense of wonder, and anyone who has had an empathic, nostalgic relationship with the environment around them.

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Children Of Time

By Adrian Tchaikovsky

If the Three-Body Problem, also known as The Remembrance Of Earth’s Past trilogy, is the gold standard, the Wayne Gretzky of modern sci-fi, then the Children Of Time series is LeBron James. Ok, I’ll stop with the sports metaphors.

Adrian Tchaikovsky, author of several series of different genres but always working in parallel with sci-fi, has crafted one of the most large-scale and mammoth-scoped sci-fi novels with Children Of Time in 2015, Children Of Ruin in 2019, and Children Of Memory coming in January of 2023.

‘Time’ starts with a team of scientists in a lab in a space station in rotation above a terraformed planet. The team, led by Dr. Avrana Kern, is tasked with sending down a pod of monkeys traveling with a cocktail of serums that, when taken, will exponentially increase the speed of their evolution.

The mission is sabotaged, the pod burns up and explodes on re-entry, and the monkeys die. However, the serum remains intact, not in possession of monkeys but Portia Labiatae, more commonly known as Jumping Spiders.


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Tomorrow And Tomorrow And Tomorrow

By Gabrielle Zevin

I know I said at the start of this post that these picks aren’t in any particular order, but Tomorrow… is my favorite book of this year, and maybe the best audiobook I’ve listened to since I started listening on a regular basis in 2018.

Gabrielle Zevin’s latest follows two video game developers, Sadie and Sam, from their first meeting, bonding over an SNES game they played together while in a hospital stay, to developing a game in college that would go on to be a massive success, to all the trial and tribulations that come with celebrity in the 21st century.

It’s a book about game development, but oh so much more; it examines personal identity, how a person with disabilities moves about spaces that are very much not designed with their needs in mind, the way deeply compromising your morals can break you in many different ways, and how attaining every wish you’ve had since childhood can be a gift, and also a curse.

If you only read one book this year, make it this one. Absolutely beautiful, joyful, sad, infuriating, and lovely.

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Best TV Shows Of The Year

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Technically, the best tv show I watched that finished up in calendar year 2022 was Station Eleven. But, since I wrote about it in length here I’ll leave it off this list.

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The Dropout

I had heard something about the story of Elizabeth Holmes and her con of a company, Theranos, in the background noise during the con of the 2016 presidential election cycle. From the outset, Holmes’ story seems like yet another sham of a company, a shell company that doesn’t actually do anything other than launder dirty money for the ruling class. What made Holmes’ story different is that she thought she could make a difference with her fraudulent machine, that it could tell a person that used it if they had a severe medical condition that needed immediate attention.

Even though the story’s outcome was fairly well documented, the show’s draw is the immaculate performance Amanda Seyfried gives, fully realizing and accurately portraying the sociopathy that Homles was known for. The show is buoyed by a stellar supporting cast, Naveen Andrews as Holmes’ romantic interest Sunny Balwani, William H. Macy as the crotchety curmudgeon Dr. Richard Fuisz, stage actress and Rosanne alum Laurie Metcalf as Dr. Phyllis Gardner, and Stephen Fry as Ian Gibbons.

The long-lasting impact that Elizabeth Holmes’ charade will have on the scientific and business community is that it will be that much harder for women and other marginalized folks to be taken seriously when they have a real breakthrough in tech, health care, or both.

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The Boys

The two dominant cultural forces in 2022, Superheros and deep cynicism about late-stage capitalism collided in The Boys’ season 3. Yet another thrilling season dissecting how would folks with actual powers be seen, used and how they would behave in our real world. For me, no other superhero property has more accurately portrayed what that would look like. From theme parks to TV shows and movies to corporations trying their damndest to contain and control said superheroes, the world of The Boys is everything we fear would happen would superheroes exist here.

The Boys’ portrayal of deeply grey characters comes only second to another show I’ll discuss next. In season 2, Homelander, who, up until this moment, is without a doubt the “bad guy” of the show. We then meet Stormfront, whose white supremacist views are received by Homelander to be…not reprehensible but simply confusing. Homelander views himself as above everyone else, not because of the color of his skin but because he is just better. And so, for Stormfront to think they’re better than other races isn’t wrong for the sake of the vileness of the thought itself, but because it complicates Homelanders’ simplistic worldview.

The fascinating moral greyness of The Boys extends to Billy and his ragtag group of ne’er-do-wells. This season, we see Billy using his enemy’s weapon, Compound V, narrowing even further the already paper-thin line between the “good” guys and the “bad”. If the only thing separating the two groups was that one used Compound V, what exactly distinguishes them now? Finding an answer to that question isn’t nearly as interesting as simply allowing for it to remain unanswered.

Bring on 2023 and season 4.

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By a country mile, the most well-written, most well-performed, and the show most worthy of hours and hours of nuanced, thoughtful, and insightful commentary was Andor. This, again, may seem, on its surface, to be a premise that is easily dismissed. It’s a show that is itself a prequel of a prequel, of an established IP, that, in many folks’ eyes, has very much run its course.

Enter… Tony Gilroy. Screenwriter of some of the most acclaimed film scripts of the last 20 years; The Bourne Trilogy, Micheal freaking Clayton, and of course, Rouge One. He’s stated in several interviews that he’s never been a massive Star Wars fan, and maybe the better for it. What happens when a person idolizes a person, a property, or a universe is that they have difficulty identifying its shortcomings. One of Star Wars’ main weaknesses over the years has been its writing, specifically the way it portrays its main characters as either being deeply entrenched within a clearly defined Light Side or Dark Side.

What Tony Gilroy and Andor posit is that most folks in Star Wars are likely infinitely more complicated than ‘do I follow the Light side or the Dark’? People in this world, as in our own, are motivated not by a single ideology but by the current circumstances of their life. So what drives the Rebel Alliance to do what they do? Do they steal the plans to the Death Star because ‘Empire bad’ and ‘Luke good’? Of course not. They do what they do because the Empire, in this case, the ISB, the intelligence branch of The Empire, have made life so insufferable, so oppressive, so unbearable that they are left with no other choice but to push back against that oppression in ways that they previously thought impossible.

Great writing, though, only takes you so far. If you don’t have stellar actors to deliver those exceptional lines, then it was all for naught. Thankfully, they do have stellar actors providing superb performances. First and foremost, of course, is Diego Luna as the titular Cassian Andor, who takes the simplistic template of the roguish scoundrel originated by folks like Han Solo, and expands and deepens every facet of him. He also takes the framework of the hero’s journey and builds upon it as well, the motivation being more than just ‘it’s my calling, I must go’. Many times, when a character begins their journey, they’re leaving home because there’s nothing keeping them there. In A New Hope, Luke’s Aunt and Uncle are killed and their home is burned, leaving Luke to seek out his adventure in the stars.

In contrast, when Andor leaves Ferrix, his mother and their home is very much intact. He leaves because Stellan Skarsgård’s Luthen Rael says to him, “You’re right about one thing. The Empire had you fighting each other, which should make you hate them all the more, and you do. I said I know you. I know the outside. I know what people tell me when I ask. The rest, I imagine. I imagine your hate. I imagine that no matter what you tell me or tell yourself, you’ll ultimately die fighting these b*stards. Wouldn’t you rather give it all at once to something real than carve off useless pieces till there’s nothing left?”

That’s just one of a dozen examples of the writing and dialogue that Tony Gilroy employs to tell an incredibly compelling story. If you haven’t watched it already, what the fuck are you doing?

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Honorable Mentions: Severance, Pachinko, and The Bear

Stay tuned for my Best Movies Of The Year list in the next few days…



I watch too many things. And I write about them. Inquires here | My podcast Can I Say Something on Spotify

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Damian Sherman

I watch too many things. And I write about them. Inquires here | My podcast Can I Say Something on Spotify