pThe new year is only a few days old, and already you’re behind on seemingly everything. Work is overwhelming, and those pesky resolutions are still waiting to be followed through on. Worse yet, your streaming queues are just getting longer, and that 2022 backlog is only going to get more crowded with newer, fresher content showing up.
It can be a hassle to decide which movies and TV shows are worth your time, so here’s a brief list of some that are worth checking out. From a surprisingly deep docuseries about one of the world’s most famous acting couples to a detective movie that barely got released, these hidden gems from 2022 are fit for discovery in 2023 — or any year you can find the time to enjoy them.
Bad Sisters is a show tailor-made to watch with a glass of wine or, if you don’t drink, a strong ginger ale. A wicked comedy/drama set in present-day Ireland, the Apple TV+ series focuses on the five Garvey sisters as they deal with a litany of problems: failing marriages, annoying kids, missing body parts, etc. The biggest problem, by far, is John Paul Williams, the husband to sister Grace and a thorn in everyone’s side. He’s a loathsome man, so it’s not a surprise to learn in the first five minutes of the show’s premiere episode that he’s died and not by natural causes.
Who did it? And why? And just how many shots of the beautiful coasts of Ireland can one show have? All of these questions are asked and answered throughout the show’s entertaining 10 episodes, which alternate between showing John Paul’s past indiscretions and the current investigation into his death. The show never takes itself too seriously, and its excellent female-led cast makes Bad Sisters an oddly comforting watch even though it can deal with tough issues like mental abuse and depression. The show’s already been renewed for a second season, so now’s the time to catch up before the next installment premieres.
Season 1 of Bad Sisters is now streaming on Apple TV+.
The epitome of what is normally deemed “a stylish thriller,” The Outfit was released in theaters last March and quickly disappeared. It’s a shame, because it’s a movie that’s quiet, intelligent, and entertaining. Set in 1950s Chicago, The Outfit stars Mark Rylance as docile English tailor Leonard Burling, whose store is used by the mob as a stash house to hide dirty money. Complications ensue and lots of blood is spilled as a money exchange turns fatal and Leonard’s store becomes ground zero for a war between rival mob gangs.
The first-time director, Graham Moore, relishes setting up the byzantine plot, and takes pleasure in focusing on details like Leonard’s methodical tailoring tasks or how a small pool of blood grows alarmingly larger near the bottom of a trunk. As the movie progresses, the suspense slowly and expertly increases, but it never compromises the careful character development Moore establishes throughout. In a rare leading role, Rylance, one of our very best actors, sells the movie from start to finish, and makes you wish for more entries in The Outfit Cinematic Universe. (Editor’s note: that’s not a real thing.)
The Outfit is streaming on Prime Video.
One of 2022’s most pleasant surprises was Ethan Hawke’s rich docuseries about the careers and marriage of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, The Last Movie Stars. In six hourlong episodes, Hawke tracks the Hollywood careers of Newman and Woodward, as well as their storybook union, which, like all marriages, has its ups and downs throughout the years. The series featiures expert commentary from the couple’s children, friends, and contemporaries, as well as modern fans like George Clooney (as Newman, reading the actor’s past interviews and letters), Laura Linney (as Woodward), Sally Field, Oscar Isaac, Mark Ruffalo, Billy Crudup, Martin Scorsese, and more. The series also uses clips from the couple’s famous films (The Hustler, The Three Faces of Eve, Butch Cassidy, etc.) to showcase the evolution of their partnership. as well as cinema itself.
There’s nothing more boring than actors praising other actors, but Hawke largely avoids this by making the series more than just a simple hagiography. Created during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Last Movie Stars is about many things: how people deal with loneliness; how artists are affected by their peers’ work; how a parent can be successful with one child and fail with another; and most of all, how a marriage doesn’t have to be nearly perfect to be successful or lasting. Combined with an outstanding use of archival footage and music (Hawke’s use of Hamilton Leithauser’s cover of Dolphin over footage of the couple’s forgotten 1969 movie Winning says more about the state of their marriage than any narration ever could), The Last Movie Stars is not only worth a watch, but demands multiple viewings for you to get all of what it has to offer. Keep this one in the queue for a while.
The Last Movie Stars is currently streaming on HBO Max.
This show is for anyone who grew up in the ’90s. The Midnight Club is a straight shot of nostalgia for all things grunge, black combat boots, and faded plaid shirts. That it’s also an excellent show full of spooky stories and the blissful agony of adolescence is just icing on the cake. The show, set in a hospice for young adults in woodsy Oregon, is based on the book of the same name by Christopher Pike and is overseen by Mike Flanagan, who wrote, directed, and co-created the excellent Netflix shows The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and Midnight Mass.
If you’re expecting creaky old houses, ghostly apparitions, and an increasingly strange plot, you won’t be disappointed. Yet, The Midnight Club is satisfying on a more basic and fundamental level: it’s fun just to watch and hear these kids tell ghost stories to each other. That these stories are mini-adaptations of Pike’s other novels like The Eternal Enemy and Witch is a bonus for anyone who grew up reading him or other young adult horror authors like Lois Duncan and R.L. Stine. The diverse cast of young newcomers only adds to the richness of the tale Flanagan weaves in adapting Pike’s oeuvre. The series was just canceled, so forgive the rushed cliffhanger in the finale and enjoy a show that is both scary and touching at the same time.
The Midnight Club is streaming on Netflix.
I included this movie on my best of 2022 list, but it deserves as much exposure as it can get. Confess, Fletch stars Jon Hamm as Gregory McDonald’s famous detective I.M. Fletcher, who stumbles on a dead body while visiting his girlfriend’s house in Boston. Unfairly targeted as a suspect, Fletch must solve the murder to clear his name.
There’s more to the movie than that simple plot though. Throw in some stolen paintings, a horny Italian countess, and an accident-prone ditzy neighbor with a perpetually peeing pooch, and what you get is one of 2022’s best comedies. Directed by Superbad‘s Gregory Mottola, the film give Hamm the cinematic showcase he deserves, and his reunion with Mad Men co-star John Slattery (as Fletch’s ornery former newspaper boss) is such a pleasure, you want more Fletch movies just to hear them insult each other some more. Perhaps most importantly, Confess, Fletch is just a blast to watch, and who doesn’t want a movie you can vibe with for just under two hours?
Confess, Fletch is currently streaming on Showtime.