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2022 in Review: Entertainment and Literature

2022 in Review: Entertainment and Literature

I wonder how much longer books are going to be on this list. I’ve done a terrible job of reading since the pandemic started. It seemed like I didn’t read much again this year, and frankly I’d have liked to see more films too. Television remains strong, however… I still think we’re in the era of “Peak TV,” since there are too many good shows vying for our limited attention.

The Best Books I Read in 2022

6) Digressions of a Native Son, by Emmett Watson: I was too young to read much of Watson’s work when he was known as the curmudgeonly columnist for our local newspapers. But he remains one of the few Seattle scribes that is still mentioned in casual conversation from time to time even by people who weren’t around in his heyday. When someone mentioned this book, published four decades ago, I jumped at the chance to find a used copy. I enjoy tales from Seattle’s past. I still love my city, so it can be fun taking a fresh look at its history (something I actually know very little about). Watson’s book didn’t quite provide the look back at my hometown that I’d hoped for. Rather, it focuses mostly on random promoters, businessmen and other civic characters he came to know throughout his long career… but in many cases these people and their stories are almost too specific to paint a broader picture of “old Seattle.” I didn’t feel I really knew my city better after reading it. Nonetheless, Watson does have a way with words, so it was a fast read. The book is highlighted by his hilarious reporting of a city council meeting which debated the benefits of introducing “bloodless bullfighting” in Seattle… all written in the style of Hemingway.

5) Fairy Tale, by Stephen King: When I was younger, I read a lot more of King’s work. During my adult life I’ve mostly avoided horror stories, but I have been intrigued by some of King’s fantasy, sci fi, or dystopian stories (my most recent King reads were The Stand and Under the Dome). Fairy Tale fits the fantasy category, with a pretty familiar premise: someone from our modern day world finds access to a magical world and then has to become its hero. There’s no need to get into many details about the story, which really offers nothing new. But King is a good writer, and spins a very entertaining yarn. This was probably the most engrossing book I read this year.

4) Hell of a Book, by Jason Mott: The 2021 National Book Award winner depicts the trauma of racial strife and violence in America, but it’s told through the eyes of a narrator struggling mightily with not only his own identity, but his sanity. With all the visions, imaginary characters and conversations, it’s difficult to separate reality from fantasy, but all of the turmoil ultimately comes back to the struggles that come with being black in American society. Mott finds the right balance, injecting plenty of humor into this tale, but it doesn’t make it all that much easier to read.

3) Leviathan Falls, by James S.A. Corey: After many years, The Expanse series finally came to a close. Following a recent run in which books 5 and 6, 7 and 8 in this sci fi epic paired to form the absolutely peak of this space drama, a stand-alone Book Nine felt more subdued. But it brought about a fitting end to some beloved characters and possibly the best science fiction series I will ever read.

Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro2) The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller: I can’t say I’ve read too many works in this genre. Namely, adaptations of old myths. This book has been in the back of my mind for some time due to its generally positive reviews, but I was reluctant to try it mainly because the thought of a lengthier reading of a legend I already thought I knew didn’t sound appealing at all. In reality, my familiarity with Greek and Roman mythology doesn’t extend much beyond a second-grade education (I actually registered for a mythology class in college, but slept through it the entire quarter). So when I finally took the plunge, it was refreshing to delve into the personalities and histories of many figures I only recognized by name. The finer details in Miller’s account of Greece’s tragic hero are, of course, largely spawned from her own imagination (while she tries to keep the events surrounding the Trojan War faithful to the earliest retellings from Greek myth), but they add such depth to the tale that it made me yearn for more “enhanced mythology” (Miller also covers the story of Circe). Ultimately, The Song of Achilles is a love story (exploring his relationship with the book’s narrator, Patroclus), and this focus only adds extra gravitas and tragedy to the warrior’s untimely end.

1) Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro: There are only a couple authors off the top of my head—well, among the few examples where I’ve read multiple works from a writer—who consistently write “beautifully.” Guy Gavriel Kay, author of fantasy-tinged historical dramas, is one. Kazuo Ishiguro is the other. I first became familiar with his writing back in high school. I can’t remember if we had to read The Remains of the Day for class, or if it was a choice inspired by my newfound love for filmmaking (the Anthony Hopkins-led film was excellent), but even as a high schooler, I was extremely impressed with a story that covered seemingly-mundane subject matter. Back then, I was mainly into fantasy and a bit of sci fi, so a story about a butler and a maid should have bored me. Fast forward to this year, and we have a subtle sci fi story from Ishiguro. It tells the story of an android coping with trying to make the most of her truncated lifespan, which mostly involves becoming the best companion possible to a human… assuming you are ever chosen by an owner before the newer models in your line steal all the attention. Klara’s ability to discern and interpret the world around her comes as both a blessing and a curse. Though we can only expect her story to end all too soon, the question that haunts us is whether Klara can live a fulfilling life within its many confines.

I also read: Desert Star and The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly, The Dry by Jane Harper, Her Name Is Knight by Yasmin Angoe. Not nearly enough!


My Favorite Movies Seen in 2022

10) The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford: This was one of a few “modern classics” (a term I’m using loosely… basically, more recent, very well-received movies I never saw until now) I finally caught up on this year thanks to my extensive air travels. The pace of this 2007 film moves as slowly as I expected—one reason I’ve avoided it until now—but Roger Deakin’s spectacular cinematography also was as good as advertised. Ultimately, everything in this slow-paced drama looked and felt right, especially Casey Affleck’s performance as the fawning creep Robert Ford. In fact, the cast is filled with great talent. This delayed discovery felt like a long-awaited reward.

9) The Batman: Sure it was yet another take on a very familiar character, but it was very well done. One doesn’t have to compare Matt Reeves’s Batman to the previous version offered up by Zack Snyder (besting the “Snyderverse” is not much of an accomplishment) to appreciate the story presented here. Though it suffers from being incessantly dark, right down to the Gothic architecture sprouting all over the interior of the Wayne family home, The Batman most succeeds most in its storytelling. It’s a true mystery… a caper that highlights the Caped Crusader as a detective unraveling The Riddler’s puzzles. Perhaps because this is its primary focus, we get too little of Bruce Wayne. Though nobody asked for another origin story, Bruce’s familiar family history is important to the story, so perhaps getting to know that side of the hero’s persona might’ve helped lighten things just a bit. Though Robert Pattinson is just fine as Batman, he deserves to show off more of his chops away from the mask and cape. Though long, the film remains engrossing, highlighted by fine action (including a stellar car chase sequence) and tension throughout its 2.5+ hour runtime.

8) Little Women: This film was released in 2019, but I finally caught it on a flight this year. Nope, I’ve never read the book, but I recalled the positive reviews for Greta Gerwig’s directorial effort. The ensemble cast is universally excellent, and the family warmth and joy that pervades much of the story is felt throughout. I enjoyed it even more than expected.

7) Licorice Pizza: Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest Oscar contender left me with mixed feelings. I suppose it’s a good thing that I was thinking about it in the days following my late December ’21 viewing. It was billed as perhaps his lightest or most audience-friendly film, and I suppose that’s true. But I felt it was almost too light compared to the other PTA films I’ve seen (not all of them, by the way). Set in 1970s California, the film follows a quirky friendship between a 15 year-old boy and a 25 year-old woman. Neither seems to act their age, and perhaps that’s intentional, but the stated age divide hovers over everything and gives the story some pretty awkward romantic vibes that clash with an otherwise fun and interesting story of friendship. Pizza is filled with Anderson’s telltale long shots and offbeat dramatic sequences that keep things interesting, all while transporting us back in time to peek at a slice of life in another era. It definitely feels like a good film, but I just wish I were more engaged in the central relationship and its characters.

6) Spider-Man: No Way Home: It took us a couple weeks to finally see this film, and I was relieved that nothing was spoiled (beyond what was already speculated). There’s so much going on in this movie, and while much of it could be labeled “fan service” on the surface, it was amazing how well the story was executed. As Marvel moves into the Multiverse stage of their storytelling, the crossover events in this film actually served a real purpose, and the old characters that reappeared actually had meaning. It’s definitely the most emotionally satisfying film in the MCU canon outside of the Infinity War/Endgame saga, and probably the most touching. As someone who’s never been a huge Spider-Man fan, I was, er… marveling at how well they pulled this one off.

5) Top Gun – Maverick: Tom Cruise has had a pretty good track record as of late when it comes to big action films (I suppose that’s all thanks to the Mission: Impossible franchise). The sequel to the very popular Eighties flyboy film was originally supposed to be released two years ago, but its debut was wisely pushed back (from a business perspective, at least, it’s now raking in the dough). Truth be told, I was never a big fan of the first film… but I felt the sequel hit all the right notes. It doesn’t have a lot of depth, but ties in well enough with its predecessor’s story and characters to connect emotionally. More importantly, it’s beautifully filmed, and it’s amazing to see a movie that essentially spends 90% of its time on pilot practice being so tense and action-packed. Naturally, it ends with a combat run that amps up the tension even more, and pays off with a satisfying finish. I caught it again on a plane later in the year, and it really holds up. It’s definitely one of the more rewatchable movies from recent years.

4) The Banshees of Inisherin: Good friendships fall apart in a myriad of ways. Sometimes quite suddenly and in a one-sided way. Banshees explores the awkward and desperate position Colin Farrell’s Padraic finds himself in, after his best friend abruptly gets bored with him and cuts off all engagement. Things go from awkward to horrifying before seemingly improving… followed by another sudden regression. Padraic isn’t the sharpest fellow, so navigating these muddled waters is all the more challenging. Human relationships are complicated, and we easily get caught up in the tangled web when dealing with characters who are either too stupid or stubborn to find a proper way out of the mess. This is something of a comedy, by the way, if I haven’t made that clear. But it’s quiet, bleak, and hard to look at optimistically when it all ends.

3) The FabelmansI was fortunate to catch Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical work just before finalizing this list. Though it’s about a boy named Sammy, who moves from the east coast to Phoenix to California with his family, it may as well be called, “Spielberg, Part One.” It tells Ste– er, Sam’s story from the moment his love for movie making is kindled during a childhood viewing of The Greatest Show on Earth (the film’s chaotic and scary train crash inspires more than traumatizes young Sammy). His early cameras (owned or rented), editing equipment (rented or owned), and homemade special effects all accompany his evolution as an artist. But this movie is called The Fabelmans for a reason. Its heart lies in Sam’s relationship with his family: his sisters, his father (who can only look down at filmmaking as a “hobby”), and his loving and supportive mother. Michelle Williams’ performance as Sam’s mom—someone who set aside her dreams of being a famous concert pianist to look after her family—is outstanding. The family is far from perfect, and Sam often has trouble reconciling his love for his art and the need to please his family and try to keep it together. Ultimately, it’s a love letter to both the art of film and his mother. The film ends just before Sam’s movie career begins in earnest. It’s not something that demands a sequel, by any means, but as an origin story for one of our greatest directors, The Fabelmans is remarkable nonetheless.

2) NopeI loved Jordan Peele’s latest spooky installment when I saw it in the theater, continued to think about it the rest of the year, and loved it more watching it on a plane more recently. Focusing on an African American family of Hollywood horse wranglers and the strange happenings at their ranch, Peele brings his usual flare for horror and mixes it with subtle social commentary and brilliant, artistic filmmaking. I suppose the Avatar sequel is the default “big screen” feature of the year, but Peele’s cinematic stylings sure make Nope a worthy contender.

1) CODA: A film that came onto my radar in early 2021, but which I didn’t get around to until after 2022 Oscar nominations were announced. It was worthy of all the buzz. Centered around the lone hearing individual in a deaf family (CODA stands for Child of Deaf Adults), the film is full of teen angst, family drama, and a solid dose of humor. It almost even qualifies as a musical, with singing being a core element of the heroine’s path to independence. The personal growth that comes about from the evolution of both the teen protagonist and the family that relies on her to connect with the outside world is a pleasure to witness. CODA rightfully landed a Best Picture nomination… and won!

Other films I enjoyed: Turning Red; Prey; Confess, Fletch; Pig; The Northman; Everything, Everywhere, All at Once, The Last Duel


My Favorite Shows That I Watched in 2022

I should have probably expanded this list to a Top Fifteen. Television is the one medium I spend a consistent amount of time on, in part because there’s so much good material out there. Every year, we fail to keep up with past favorites because other shows maintain a standard of excellence while new, good content keeps showing up and grabbing our attention. I felt this year was particularly special, with the top half of this list clearly separated from the second tier… and frankly, the Top 3 are all-time shows, in my book.

11) The Expanse (Amazon Prime): I’ll make a special exception for this in the Top Ten, one of my favorite shows to air in the last decade. Based on the brilliant sci fi book series, we were both lucky to get as much good production out of this show (dropped mid-run by SyFy before being rescued by Amazon) as we did, while still getting short-changed when they halted it following a shorter sixth season. The story continued to crackle, and in general it still overachieved in many ways, but we deserved more. There’s more to tell from the final three books, and while unlikely, one can hope The Expanse will return one day to wrap things up properly.

10) House of the Dragon (HBO): The Game of Thrones prequel took the world by storm this year, and for the most part the attention was deserved. Facing off against a rival with much grander scale (Amazon’s Rings of Power), Dragon showed that it suffers a little telling a more confined story—this one focusing primarily on House Targaryen—while proving that it still does political intrigue so, so well. That really trumps all the world building we slogged through in the Tolkien fantasy. It probably helps that George R.R. Martin is more directly involved with this show (whose predecessor began to suffer when they moved past his published works). Paddy Considine shines as a troubled and ineffective ruler. Oh, and more dragons is a good thing.

9) Star Trek – Strange New Worlds (Paramount): I was hesitant to get into this show coming off the disappointing Picard, but the reviews for Strange New Worlds seemed to indicate that it was different. And sure enough, it was probably the most enjoyable Star Trek show I’ve watched since Next Generation. This is due in part to a serialized episode structure in the style of older shows, but also a great cast and mix of characters. Even if some are familiar from Trek canon (Spok, Pike, a young Uhura), it all felt refreshingly different.

8) Winning Time – The Rise of the Laker Dynasty (HBO): What a pleasant surprise. Adam McKay’s Los Angeles Lakers dramedy may have been embellished a bit, but it was a wild, fun ride. It didn’t hold back on the tawdry side of the rise of the Laker dynasty at the end of the 1970s. John C. Reilly is fantastic as new Laker owner Jerry Buss, who somehow keeps his finances afloat long enough to figure out how to build a winner. Wild hair, music, and grainy film footage give this bizarre, rollicking tale a more authentic air than it perhaps deserves, but it all works. One of the funnest shows we saw all year.

7) The Great (Hulu): Hulu’s semi-fictional Catherine the Great comedy maintains its wit in Season Two. The hilarious moments found in a messy and often bawdry court are still there, but this season seemed to have a more serious underlying tone as Catherine tries to keep control of Russia while reconciling her increasingly mixed feelings for her husband (who was vile and idiotic enough to be a proper villain in the first season). The leads are dynamite, with Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult doing marvelous work as Catherine and Peter.

6) For All Mankind (Apple): We finally started Apple’s space race drama, and though it never hooked us enough to binge, we made it through the first two-and-a-half seasons over the course of the year. The premise: What would happen if the Soviet Union was the first nation to land on the moon? The ways our known history and the show’s fictional timeline intertwine and diverge remain the most interesting part of the story (hint: the Soviets’ victory in the initial space race leads to much more action and moon violence than one ever thought possible), which begs the question whether it can carry the weight once we reach present day or spend more time in unknown territory (Mars, and beyond).

5) Andor (Disney+): There’s so much I could write about this show. First, let’s address the simple fact that it’s a Star Wars story. That’s actually something that worked against it, in many ways, and probably led to its reportedly low viewership numbers. The problem: many Star Wars fanatics couldn’t wrap their head around a story that didn’t cater to them with so many of the familiar tropes and elements they’ve grown up with… while people who aren’t fans simply dismissed it as “another Star Wars show” (on the heels of the awful Book of Boba Fett and middling Obi-wan, it’s hard to blame them).

But Andor should be judged as something separate. How does it rate as a separate story, loosely tied to the SW universe? Pretty darn well. And the first clues that this was going to be the case were available in the trailer.

I remember seeing this and gawking not at the action, drama, or space lasers… but at the cast. With each cutaway in the trailer, the hoard of acting talent they brought on board for this grows more and more impressive. It stretches from prominent names (someone like Forrest Whittaker reprising his role from a past SW film) on down to supporting parts filled by British standouts such as Fiona Shaw or Stanley Townsend (whom I remember so vividly from The Hollow Crown). I sat through this trailer thinking, “wait, he’s also in it? And her? Holy cra… that guy!” I knew there had to be something special and different about this show if they managed to attract so much powerful on-screen talent.

And guess what? Andor was different. It’s everything Star Wars should have done ages ago. One of the biggest issues with some franchises is that they have trouble breaking away and venturing outside of a particular comfort zone. Star Wars has an entire galaxy to play with, but we’d never get any stories beyond light sabers and Skywalkers. The lion’s share of the credit here goes to showrunner and lead writer Tony Gilroy for what they’ve achieved with this show, but frankly, Disney deserves some credit for having the courage to break the mold and let Gilroy run with this idea.

The story of Cassian Andor (doomed hero from Star Wars: Rogue One) is less about Andor, and more about his ties to the beginning of the rebellion against the galactic empire. Some criticize the fact that Andor himself is one of the least interesting things about the show—true, by the way—but that’s fine, because the stories being woven around him are so fascinating and fun. We finally get to see the lower level machinations of the Empire, the seeds of the Rebellion at ground level, and the effects that oppression and war have on common folks. For the first time, the Star Wars universe feels like a massive, galaxy-wide domain. It’s such a bold move for a staid franchise.

Incidentally, it doesn’t succeed without consistently excellent production. Real sets, outdoor settings, fantastic cinematography, much less reliance on CGI, a fantastic, subtle soundtrack… and the acting. This is the biggest surprise of the year.

4) Reservation Dogs (FX/Hulu): We were immersed in three different Taika Waititi projects last year (longtime fave What We Do in the Shadows, which missed my Top Ten this year, and Wellington Paranormal), and I felt that Reservation Dogs, while solid, was my least favorite of the bunch. This year, it vaulted to the top of the list. Though it continues to inject Waititi’s brand of silliness into its stories from an Oklahoma Indian Reservation, this year the show grew up. The underlying story in the first two seasons has been the connection between four teen friends following the suicide of their compatriot. Season Two delves into the fraying threads between them, and how each individual is forced to cope without their usual support system in place. Occasional episodes focusing on supporting characters are equally excellent, and manage to mesh seamlessly with the overall theme of the show. I suspect Sterlin Harjo, Waititi’s co-creator and director of several episodes, deserves the lion’s share of the credit for the improvements this year. Dogs really blossomed, and might have been at the top of my list if it didn’t happen to coincide with three all-timers…

2b) Better Call Saul (AMC): One of the most consistent shows we’ve seen in terms of execution and sheer brilliance wrapped this year. Few would have expected Saul to compete with Breaking Bad, an all-time great that it precedes (in terms of show chronology). But in some ways it may have even surpassed Walter White’s story. The final season was broken into two parts, and in many ways, I found the penultimate set of episodes more compelling than the end. The final run felt more like a coda following the violent buildup and conclusion to Saul’s cartel-related escapades. And yet, the show managed to stick the landing… something a lot of seemingly great programs fail to do with their final episode or season.

2a) Atlanta (FX): After a long hiatus, we were lucky to get two seasons of Atlanta this year, before it wrapped its short four-season run. What a show. Season Three focused on the characters’ (rapper Paper Boi, his manager Earn, Earn’s ex Van, and their friend Darius) exploits in Europe during Paper Boi’s overseas music tour.

First, kudos to the show runners for going big and filming the show overseas. It’s something I’ve longed to see from past shows that started to get stale (24‘s Jack Bauer should’ve been fighting terrorists with a Eurail Pass by his fourth season). Some criticize Atlanta for being disjointed. Different episodes will focus on the individual characters, and occasionally they’ll jump ship and tell a story of something completely different and outside of the main story line. Season Three especially seemed jumbled in this manner, but the fact is that this show is one of the most surreal examples of televised storytelling out there. And the stories they tell are sooo good. Bizarre and hilarious, of course, with many tales tied back to the theme of racism not just in the US, but abroad (it was a given there would be a “Black Pete” bit when we knew the crew was going to Holland).

There are few shows that are as consistent in their writing, direction, and balance of humor and poignant observation of pop culture ridiculousness and flawed human nature. A shout out to Hiro Murai, one of Donald Glover’s chief collaborators and director of many of Atlanta’s top episodes. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that Murai was heavily involved in the top entry on this list…

1) Station Eleven (HBO): Back in 2015 (the first year I compiled this list), Station Eleven was my book of the year. Seven years later, I remembered relatively little about it aside from the following: it’s a story about a post-pandemic world (in which a virus kills off most of the population), there’s a comic book important to the story, there’s Shakespeare… and it’s the rare dystopian story that is actually uplifting in some ways.

So when I watched the show, I couldn’t really say whether it remained very faithful to the original story (in my short book review, I mentioned it’s “not as plot-driven” as similar books, so that may have given the showrunners some leeway)… but one aspect of the show does stick to the source material: that glimmer of optimism that shines through the horror and struggles the characters undergo over a twenty year span following the pandemic. As it is, Station Eleven jumps around between past and future in scattered vignettes. Somehow, it all comes together quite beautifully. Existence, as arduous and awful as it may be under the circumstances, is bolstered and lightened by art, (new) family, and the love of community.

I still have warm feelings about the book to this day, but picture-perfect visuals in this story (even a child’s homemade pandemic costumes—constructed from cardboard—for a play are beautifully designed and rendered) and an incredible score are extra elements I didn’t even realize were necessary to take everything to another level. Station Eleven is beautiful. It’s not just another “apocalypse show” (Jenn doesn’t seem to agree with me on this, by the way). I was thankful that we slowly worked our way through it. A binge wouldn’t have allowed me to savor it nearly as much. Afterward, I felt it was the best thing I’ve seen on TV in years.

(One note: with the recent random spate of cancellations at HBO Max, it’s possible Station Eleven will disappear. And at the moment, there are no hard copies for sale. I highly recommend watching it while you can.)

Other shows I enjoyed: Reacher, Peacemaker, Murderville, Our Flag Means Death, Ms. Marvel, What We Do in the Shadows, She-Hulk, Squid Game, The Rings of Power, Barry, Slow Horses, Tokyo Vice, The Great British Baking Show, Whose Line Is It, Anyway?, Wednesday


Worst Wildlife Moments

Bonus section! Here are my worst wildlife moments from the books, movies, or shows I sat through this year (note: possible spoilers may follow!). I am absolutely picking nits, and only some of this is tongue-in-cheek:

4) Three Pines Grizzly Bear: We’re currently part-way through the Amazon detective drama Three Pines, based on a series of books based in Quebec. It’s fine, and Alfred Molina does a great job in the lead role. But I have some wildlife issues. The CGI Blue Jays are just awful, but okay, that’s a budget issue or an artistic choice. More egregious is the encounter with a grizzly bear that halts a not-exactly-high-speed car chase on a forest road. A suspect is forced to slow (he doesn’t even screech) to a halt when the massive bruin ambles into the road and just sits down to block traffic. It continues to sit there, which hints that perhaps there’s something spiritual or mystical involved. Which is also fine in the context of storytelling.

But this bear is right in front of the car… and the police then proceed to encourage the suspect’s hostage to get out of the car. She’s not being threatened by the suspect or in imminent danger, mind you. They just figure that the time when the bear is standing right there in front of her is the best time to extract her from the car. They approach the bear with pistols drawn, just in case. In reality, you just wait for the bear to leave before you get out of a car. This is true in Yellowstone, it’s true in Alaska, and I’m pretty sure it’s true in Quebec.

I did not see if the extras/cut scenes show the bear being deputized by the police, but it had to happen.

3) Nena Knight, Herpetologist: One of few books I read this year was Her Name is Knight, about accomplished assassin Nena Knight. I thought the writing was simplistic and didn’t do justice to what could have been a very interesting character. You see, Nena Knight grew up in Africa before her family fell victim to a local warlord. The book is told from alternating viewpoints, with every other chapter devoted to a third person account of her time as an assassin, and the other chapters told via her first person account of her childhood and traumatic youth in Africa (and later Europe). At one point, while speaking in her childhood voice, she uses a wildlife analogy to describe the feeling of being suffocated… something akin to being squeezed by “an Anaconda.”

As mentioned, I felt the writing was very basic, so yes, I’m going to be picky about something like this. By all means, she was a pretty smart kid, so it’s possible she was aware of anacondas as a child. But a seven year old African child is more likely to cite a python—an actual African snake—when making such a comment. This is just lazy by the author.

2) The Haywoods Bait Wildlife to Get the Shot: I loved Nope, Jordan Peele’s latest masterpiece (#2 in the film list above). The primary conflict in this story centers around a predatory alien. The Haywoods hope to strike it rich by capturing film footage of the creature, but in order to do so, our hero (OJ, played by Daniel Kaluuya) has to ride his horse out into the open. Yup, he’s bait. And by now we should all know that baiting wildlife to get the shot is a naughty, naughty thing to do. Tsk, tsk.

1) American Eagle-owl: I recently took my son to Seattle’s Pacific Science Center. This included his first visit to one of their IMAX theaters. We sat down for forty minutes to watch Into America’s Wild, a documentary that follows a few people during their exploration of some of our wild places. The film doesn’t really have a wildlife focus, and frankly I’m impressed my son was able to sit through the whole thing. However, there was one segment I have to take issue with. At one point, a couple of the folks at the heart of this hodgepodge film are wandering through a Utah aspen grove, and are fortunate to find an owl!

Of course, fortune has nothing to do with it. It’s a captive animal, which is nothing new for these types of films. How do I know? It’s a Eurasian Eagle-owl! I just saw one in Mongolia (in the wild), coincidentally.

Eurasian Eagle-owl

This owl, of course, is not native to North America! It’s also not the first time I’ve seen this species used in such a context. Maybe it’s the orange eyes, but producers and directors seem to love using this species for their commercials, shows, and movies… probably due to its size (the world’s second largest owl), long tufts, and those peepers.

But I hate seeing this inaccurate nonsense in documentaries.

Okay, rant over for this year. 🙂

More Year in Review Content

2021 Favorites in Entertainment & Literature

2020 Favorites in Entertainment & Literature

2019 Favorites in Entertainment & Literature

2018 Favorites in Entertainment & Literature

2017 Favorites in Entertainment & Literature

2016 Favorites in Entertainment & Literature

2015 Favorites in Entertainment & Literature



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