2022 was the year that Korean dramas took over my life. I pretty much stopped watching anything else mid-year. I justify this new addiction by telling myself that I’ve spent years bingeing classic films so that I don’t feel too guilty.
However, in the first half of the year, I made the effort to watch some classic film series such as Maisie, Dr. Kildare and Lassie. The Lassie films were my favorites. And thanks to my discovery of the Kanopy and Film Struck streaming apps as well as Youtube, I was able to watch some harder to find classic titles. Then of course, there was my foray into Shakepeare adaptations courtesy of The Hollow Crown series. I’ve found that his plays make more sense when I see them performed rather than reading them. Altogether I watched 363 titles, including re-watches. which is much less than last year’s 500, but right on par with previous years.
Film Classics: 120 Total
My count for new classics is down from last year’s count of 194, but close to 2020’s total. Along with the previously mentioned film series, I made a deliberate choice to watch more movies starring Fredric March, Kay Francis, Jeanette McDonald and a few of Rock Hudson’s lesser known films. Less intentionally, I also found myself watching more films starring Red Skelton, Virginia O’Brien, Laraine Day and Joan Blondell. I finally made myself sit through the multiple pairings of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney which I found surprisingly enjoyable though neither is a favorite actor of mine. But Errol Flynn tops this list as my most watched star this year. I give that credit to TCM featuring him as a star of the month which allowed me to easily work my way through his filmography.
In an effort to continue working my way through the more popular or successful film titles, I watched a pair of Western classics, Red River and Ride the High Country. One of my goals was to explore Westerns more this year, but Korean entertainment completely derailed me. Maybe next year. I finally got around to viewing a friend’s favorite musical Annie Get Your Gun, which sadly I didn’t enjoy much. Thanks to all the attention put on this year’s remake I also made time to watch the noir classic Nightmare Alley, which wasn’t as gruesome as I was afraid it would be. Also rounding out this year’s list is DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth (why do I find young Charlton Heston so sexy?), the legal drama Judgment at Nuremburg, Gary Cooper’s Beau Geste and a pair of Eighties classics, The Last Emperor and The Year of Living Dangerously.
Sadly, my participation in classic film blogathons declined this year, but I still managed to participate in three. In The Umpteenth Blogathon, I discussed my long time love and loyalty for It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. I also enjoyed discussing sister bonds and costuming in the lesser known film The Toy Wife for The Bustles and Bonnets Blogathon. For the MGM Blogathon I wrote about my new favorite Eleanor Powell and six of her most fun dance numbers.
Silents: 8 Total
I had big goals for focusing more on silent films this year and started out really strong. But my good intentions only took me through the first two months of the year before falling to the wayside. This may be my lowest silent film count in years which makes me feel slightly ashamed of myself. However I feel like I made good choices in the ones I did watch including the anthology A Christmas Past and Joan Crawford’s Our Modern Maidens. My second experience with a Lubitsch silent film Three Women was a much better one than the first. I was fascinated to see Chinese star Anna May Wong in a rare starring role in Picadilly. I also enjoyed Douglas Fairbanks Sr.’s swashbuckling adventures in The Three Musketeers, Mary Pickford’s critically praised performance in Sparrows as well as seeing John Gilbert in one of his earlier films Monte Cristo. And I must not forget Little Old New York which stars one of my new favorites Marion Davies in a duel role which allows her act as her own brother.
Documentaries: 9 Total
Sadly, I can say the same thing about my documentary watching goals that I did for silent films. Oh well. I did manage to branch out a bit from documentaries featuring classic film subjects into new territory. Hidden Poland felt a bit like a Rick Steves travelogue, but surprisingly what stood out most was the focus on how relatively new Poland’s freedom is. I also really enjoyed learning more about the life of naturalist John James Audubon. The highlight for me this year was seeing Betty White’s birthday celebration in the theater with friends and fellow fans.
- That’s Entertainment II
- Betty White: A Celebration
- Captured on Film: The True Story of Marion Davies
- Luci & Desi; A Home Movie
- Hollywood; A Celebration of the American Silent Film -Star Treatment
- Hidden Poland
- Yellowface: Asian Whitewashing and Racism in Hollywood
- The True Adventures of Raoul Walsh
Foreign Films & Series: 88 Total
Thanks to my aforementioned descent into the black hole that is Korean television, my foreign film viewing was at an all time high this year. This number is even more of an accomplishment if you consider the fact that most of their series are sixteen episodes at an hour long each. I don’t know whether to be proud or embarrassed at the amount of time I’ve devoted to this kind of programming. I did manage to squeeze in one foreign classic Elena and Her Men, starring none other than Ingrid Bergman. There were a few Indian (Notebook, Khoobsarat, Sir) and Turkish (My Father’s Violin, Love Tactics, The Butterfly’s Dream) films, one from the Philippines (The Mistress), one from the Netherlands (Just Say Yes), Italy (Four to Dinner), Poland (Fierce), Spain (The Little Switzerland), Peru (Without Saying Goodbye) and France (Nothing to Declare). Of these the funniest was Nothing to Declare. The Indian films were all entertaining and I thought My Father’s Violin was rather touching.
Lest you think I play favorites when it comes to Asian entertainment, I did make the effort to watch some Japanese and Chinese series and films, but didn’t like them as much as what South Korea has to offer.
Television Series:32 Total
My television series viewing is up from last year, but down from 2020. I’ve practically abandoned American television, but I continue to keep on top of new seasons from favorite series, many of which air on PBS. I also decided to re-watch the Canadian comedy series Corner Gas which I think of as a small town version of Seinfeld, as well as the first season of my old favorite I Love Lucy. I always appreciate good laughs.
Although I watched fifteen new to me series this year, I can’t say any of them were personal favorites. That’s not saying they weren’t good, just that they didn’t really win me over. Of the lot, Monk is probably the one I enjoyed the most and yes, I know I am very late to that party.
New Releases: 14 total
After the disaster that was my last year with new releases, I actually found myself back in the theater this year. Although I am still not back to pre-pandemic levels of theater attendance. Of course, some of these premiered on the streaming networks, but hey, I’m not picky. And I’m happy to say that I enjoyed every one of these films, but I think Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is my favorite. Although I also really enjoyed the Top Gun sequel which really reminded me of a good old fashioned movie experience like the ones I remember from my childhood.
- Redeeming Love
- Being the Ricardos
- The Hating Game
- Death on the Nile
- Downton Abbey: A New Era
- Top Gun: Maverick
- Marry Me
- The Lost City
- Mr. Malcolm’s List
- Where the Crawdads Sing
- See How They Run
- Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris
- Enola Holmes 2
At the risk of being redundant, I could probably list 75 percent of the Korean shows I watched as favorites. Their programming is that good. However, I will spare you that very long list and brutally narrow it down.
- Come September – Rock Hudson proves he has great romantic chemistry with someone other than Doris Day. Gina Lollabrigida joined him in this battle of the sexes in a gorgeous European setting. I really loved seeing Hudson’s playboy constantly being blocked from his amorous attentions only to see him turn fatherly stern over the group of girls staying at his villa turned hotel. And it really is ironic how often Hudson was cast as a playboy when his reality was so very different.
- The Hollow Crown: Richard II – Stunning and genius performances by Ben Wishaw and Rory Kinnear as the titular king and his challenger who would succeed him, made this a memorable watch and the best of the Hollow Crown series, in my opinion. It honestly left me breathless.
- Khoobsarat – This may be the first time an Indian film has made it on my favorites list, but I couldn’t resist. A wealthy heir finds himself falling for his father’s free-spirited and middle class doctor. I really appreciated how the male lead did not try to change or shame the female lead, but loved her for who she was.
- Moon Over Miami – this is the only re-watch I’ve ever listed as an end of year favorite. I didn’t quite grasp the delightfulness of this romantic musical comedy starring Betty Grable and Carole Landis the first time around. This frothy tale of two sisters out to catch rich husbands was a nice escape that made me smile.
- Mad for Each Other – This dark comedy with oddball characters explored the effects of mental illnesses on relationships and trauma on everyday life. The two leads did excellent work depicting the characters inner emotions even without the dialogue. For such a serious topic, there were also some really hilarious moments too. In a nice change of pace the plot was as unpredictable as the characters.
- The Solid Gold Cadillac – You can never go wrong with a Judy Holliday film and I really loved watching her dim-witted blonde character take on the corrupt board of directors of a company in which she was a minor stock holder. Paul Douglas joined her as the former founder of the company and her love interest. Watching them fall for each other as they team up was fun. But the picture did have a serious and timely needed message about corporate greed.
- Cairo -I finally discovered Jeanette MacDonald this year and have learned I prefer her non-musical titles. The best way to describe this one is fun. She is a movie star and Robert Young plays a journalist who is her romantic interest. Both thinks the other is a spy. Neither McDonald nor Young take themselves too seriously and that’s what makes this picture such a joy. The rest of the movie is just as irreverent as it spoofs the spy genre.
- Vincenzo – If I had to pick my number one favorite this year, this mafia lawyer crime drama would win hands down. Not because it is without flaws, but because of the outstanding performances by the two leads and even the villains. As much as I loved Song Joon Ki as the title character, Jeon Yeon Been was even more fabulous as his female partner. I loved her attitude, her swagger and her fearlessness.
- Doom at Your Service – I won’t claim that this is the best drama I’ve ever seen. I especially didn’t care for the love triangle of the secondary couple. But, I adored the interactions between the lead couple, one of whom was the god of doom. It doesn’t hurt that they were played by the adorable Park Bo Young and Seo In Guk. The younger brother character was so endearing and one of my favorites of the whole year.
- Business Proposal – Such a great work place rom-com with a secondary romantic couple that almost steals the show! I also loved the focus on the two main friendships as well as the special sound and sight effects. This show embraced the tropes but did them so well. Light, quirky and fun, I will definitely watch this again at some point.
- Oh My Venus – How could I not love a show starring both So Ji Sub and Shin Min A as one of the most loving and supportive couples I’ve seen this year? They exhibit such healthy communication. I also appreciated the message that weight should not be about appearances but a person’s health. Finally, their three male roommates added great comedic value and I love the way they interacted and formed their own family.
- I Am Not a Robot – I’m not much for robots or science fiction, but this story about a man allergic to human contact who bonds with his robot helper, not knowing she is actually human was so sweet. But beyond being sweet, it also explored the ethics of robotics as well as the things that make us human. The two leads were cute together but also challenged each other in good ways. I fell completely under the spell of the leading man’s winsome smile and sparkling eyes.
- Dr. Romantic – I’m not much for medical dramas, but this one hit my sweet spot with great characters and story telling as well as the exploration of medical ethics and hospital politics and bureaucracy. An extremely talented cast really made this show exceptional.
- Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris -THIS is what a good script and talent can produce. A great, universal story of a woman discovering her purpose in helping others and learning to value herself. I love that the main character is a middle aged woman. Lesley Manville really nailed this performance and proves how older actresses bring so much value to films.
- Splash Splash Love – I’m a sucker for time travel stories and this one about a high school student who travels back a couple of centuries only to find herself considered a math genius is absolutely adorable. I found the method of time travel (through rain puddles) creative and the chemistry between the two leads, one of whom is a historic king, was easy and fun.