Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Top 10 Favorite New Discoveries of 2022

According to: Selina

[Note: These are the best films that we reviewed on Trust the Dice in >year< that were released in previous years.]
10 – Above the Shadows (2019)

Reviewed on: September 21
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 51min
Selina’s Rating: 4.5
Cat’s Rating: 3.5
IMDb Blurb: A young woman who has faded to the point of becoming invisible must find her way back with the help of the one man who can see her.
Above the Shadows made it to our schedule because I saw a clip of it on TikTok. It looked a little campy, but like it had a unique premise. I was not prepared for what it actually was, though.
Without the twist affecting the main character, it could have been just about any sport romance film out there. Boxer loses his way, falls in love and it inspires him to win. Basic, right? But Above the Shadows shows the story from the view point of the love interest, who just so happens to be invisible to everyone else in the world.
That’s not something I’ve seen before.
On top of that, there’s a depth to Above the Shadows. It touches on grief and what happens when we lose ourselves in it.
It’s a better film than I could have hoped, and worth a lot more word of mouth than it’s had.
9 – Shadow in the Cloud (2020) 

Reviewed on: June 6
Genre: Action, Horror, War
Rated: R
Length: 1h 23min
Selina’s Rating: 4
Cat’s Rating: 4
IMDb Blurb: A female WWII pilot traveling with top secret documents on a B-17 Flying Fortress encounters an evil presence on board the flight.
I always wanted to see Shadow in the Cloud, but I was distinctly aware of all the hate it was getting from audiences.
Anyone that’s followed the blog for any amount of time knows that I tend to go with the audience, rather than the critics, when there’s a huge discrepancy in how a film is received. Shadow in the Cloud is sitting at a 77% with critics, but only a 32% with audiences. I’m ashamed to admit that I let that influence me enough that I delayed watching it.
This is the kind of movie that really shows that you can use reviews and scores as a guide, but to always judge for yourself.
Shadow in the Cloud was engaging, it had a couple of great twists, and was incredibly suspenseful. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the screen, even if the creatures did look a little goofy.
8 – Cold Skin (2017)

Reviewed on: July 11
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Horror
Rated: TV-14
Length: 1h 48min
Selina’s Rating: 4
Cat’s Rating: 4
IMDb Blurb: A young man arrives at a remote island to take a post of weather observer only to find himself defending the watchtower from deadly creatures which live in the island shores.
Cold Skin was recommended to us, and I was eager to add it to the schedule. I love when we get recommendations. Especially when I’ve never heard of the film to begin with.
It touched on all the ‘humans are the worst’ lessons that I tend to love in a good fantasy movie, while also being an exceptionally tense watch. It’s a dark, somewhat bleak, movie… so it’s not for everyone, but we took an instant liking to it.
7 – Sing 2 (2021)

Reviewed on: March 30
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: PG
Length: 1h 50min
Selina’s Rating: 4
Cat’s Rating: 5
IMDb Blurb: Buster Moon and his friends must persuade reclusive rock star Clay Calloway to join them for the opening of a new show.
I enjoyed the first Sing (2016). It was cute and the soundtrack was hard to ignore. It also had a lot more heart than I expected.
When the sequel was announced, I couldn’t imagine where it could go that wouldn’t feel like a complete rehash of the first. I teetered back and forth on whether or not I even wanted to waste time watching it. We had an opening in March and both of us were looking for something a little more light-hearted. I figured it couldn’t hurt.
Sing 2 wound up being an even better film than the first. There was a more in-depth plot, and the show that the troupe put on was even catchier. There was a bit of a ‘rehash’ feel in it, but not enough to detract from the quality.
6 – Jungle Cruise (2021) 

Reviewed on: January 21
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: PG-13
Length: 2h 7min
Selina’s Rating: 4.5
Cat’s Rating: 4.5
IMDb Blurb: Based on Disneyland's theme park ride where a small riverboat takes a group of travelers through a jungle filled with dangerous animals and reptiles but with a supernatural element.
I know. You see Dwayne Johnson’s (Black Adam, Red Notice, Jumanji: The Next Level) name involved in a film and you figure it’ll be funny, but kind of crap. Although I like him, I can acknowledge that he’s not the most amazing actor in the world. That said, if he’s involved in a film that requires all the puns and banter that he’s known for, he can still elevate it.
That’s what Jungle Cruise was.
It had a decent plot, and a couple of interesting twists, but it was really all about the giggles and banter between Johnson and Emily Blunt (Wild Mountain Thyme, A Quiet Place, Mary Popping Returns). It just worked.
It was a turn-your-brain off popcorn flick that was meant to lighten the mood. And it did its job spectacularly.
5 – The Matrix Resurrections (2021) 

Reviewed on: January 14
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Rated: R
Length: 2h 28min
Selina’s Rating: 4.5
Cat’s Rating: 5
IMDb Blurb: Return to a world of two realities: one, everyday life; the other, what lies behind it. To find out if his reality is a construct, to truly know himself, Mr. Anderson will have to choose to follow the white rabbit once more.
There are a lot of people who would disagree with this entry. I will disagree with them to my last breath, though.
The Matrix Resurrections was a deep dive into nostalgia, but it also had a meta ‘fuck you’ to authorities in Hollywood. I loved that. There’s something about the private joking at the expense of people who deserve to be joked about that just speaks to me. Especially when the writers let me in on it.
Lana Wachowski (Sense8, Cloud Atlas, V for Vendetta) was forced to do a nostalgia sequel to The Matrix (1999) and she maliciously complied.
I love it.
4 – Prospect (2018) 

Reviewed on: January 19
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Rated: R
Length: 1h 40min
Selina’s Rating: 4.5
Cat’s Rating: 4
IMDb Blurb: A teenage girl and her father travel to a remote alien moon, aiming to strike it rich. They've secured a contract to harvest a large deposit of the elusive gems hidden in the depths of the moon's toxic forest. But there are others roving the wilderness and the job quickly devolves into a fight to survive. Forced to contend not only with the forest's other ruthless inhabitants, but with her own father's greed-addled judgment, the girl finds she must carve her own path to escape.
We came across Prospect by complete accident.
January is a rough month for new films, so we rely on stuff from previous years to fill out the schedule. Most of the time we get those from rolling dice on a list we’ve compiled from all the streaming services we have access to. That’s how we came to Prospect.
Neither of us had heard of it before, but the inclusion of Pedro Pascal (The Bubble, The Book of Boba Fett, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent) felt promising.
In the end, as good as he was in this film, he wasn’t even remotely the best part.
The settings were grungy and gorgeous, everything seemed to be created with practical effects, Sophie Thatcher (Blink, Yellowjackets, The Tomorrow Man) owned her character completely. It was amazing to watch, especially as the twists rolled in.
3 – The King’s Man (2021)

Reviewed on: March 28
Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 2h 11min
Selina’s Rating: 5
Cat’s Rating: 5
IMDb Blurb: In the early years of the 20th century, the Kingsman agency is formed to stand against a cabal plotting a war to wipe out millions.
I’m on the side of audiences where The King’s Man is concerned. Critics may be spitting all over it, but the audience knew they got exactly what they should have expected from a film in the Kingsmen series.
I read one review from a critic that called it, “a feature length film of Drunk History where everyone was high on cocaine,” as if that were a bad thing.
He wasn’t wrong, it was outstandingly ridiculous. My question is, why would you expect anything else from a Kingsmen film? They’re all ridiculous. They harken back to a time when the Bond series was more camp and corn than actual action. That’s literally what they set out to be.
Even with that, there were times in The King’s Man where I sat up and said – out loud – “oh shit!” It’s not often that a movie surprises me on that level.
It’s a great addition to the rest of the series, and has all the glamorous fight choreography you could want. Critics be damned.
2 – Free Guy (2021)

Reviewed on: May 4
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 55min
Selina’s Rating: 5
Cat’s Rating: 5
IMDb Blurb: A bank teller discovers that he's actually an NPC inside a brutal, open world video game.
We followed Ryan Reynolds (Spirited, Red Notice, Deadpool) to Free Guy and it was one of the best choices we made the whole year. It gave us all the glorious banter we could want alongside a great plot and some extremely unexpected philosophical questions.
That’s what threw me off the most. The philosophical questions. When I watch a Ryan Reynolds comedy, the last thing I’m expecting is to wind up questioning my entire existence. It was wild.
1 – Encanto (2021) 

Reviewed on: January 12
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family
Rated: PG
Length: 1h 42min
Selina’s Rating: 5
Cat’s Rating: 5
IMDb Blurb: A Colombian teenage girl has to face the frustration of being the only member of her family without magical powers.
How could anything else possibly have been number 1? We saw Encanto this year and the soundtrack has been a constant addition to my household since then. My 4-year-old is in love with it, and I love watching it with her.
Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, In the Heights, Mary Poppins Returns) is unbeatable and giving him Encanto was the best choice Disney has ever made.

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