Movies and TV Shows Variety Is Thankful for in 2022

Tom Cruise revived movie theaters with the blockbuster hit “Top Gun: Maverick,” Taylor Swift broke the internet (and Ticketmaster) with her “Midnights” album and “Eras” tour and Michelle Yeoh proved that Marvel wasn’t the only one with a multiverse up its sleeve with “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Here is what the Variety staff is thankful for in entertainment in 2022.

Wilson Webb

In a year when fabulous genre storytelling in general was everywhere on TV — “Stranger Things,” “Ms. Marvel,” “The Sandman,” “The Rings of Power,” “House of the Dragon” — I have been thankful for three sci-fi shows that have dazzled me the most. Apple TV+’s “Severance” vivisects office life through the prism of a paranoid thriller; Paramount+’s “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” captures the old magic of “Star Trek” while feeling thrilling new; and Disney+’s “Andor” transforms “Star Wars” into a platform for some of the most trenchant and humane storytelling this year — Adam B. Vary, senior entertainment writer

I’m grateful for Tom Cruise and the return of Maverick. What a cinematic experience that was — returning to the cinema and seeing audiences eat this film up was a historical moment. I’m thankful for the way we have all come together to make events, tastemakers and in-person Q&As the norm again — what a delight it is to speak to voters and really hear what they love. It’s a gift to moderate on stage and have panelists bounce off one another instead of waiting their turn to speak on Zoom! I’m thankful for the artisans who I get to celebrate and share their stories on a daily basis. Ryan Coogler! Thank you for “Wakanda Forever.” And Lady Gaga, you gave us the Chromatica Ball and I celebrated my American citizenship at Jazz and Piano. Thank you for the music and Haus Labs! — Jazz Tangcay, senior artisans editor

I give thanks for that purple beacon on my iPhone screen, Apple Podcasts. 2022 was the year I fell in love with podcasting and the unique possibilities offered by audio storytelling, especially in the multi-episode nonfiction format. It’s theater of the imagination that gives the eyes a break from staring at a screen. A few of my favorites from this year: “The Sunshine Place,” “Rachel Maddow Presents: Ultra,” “Obscene: The Dublin Scandal,” “Wolves Among Us,” “Queen of the Con,” “Project Unabom,” “Teaching Texas” and “Buffy.” Among recurring series, there’s none I look forward to more than Wondery’s “British Scandal,” and that’s entirely because of the cheeky charms of hosts Matt Forde and Alice Levine — Cynthia Littleon, co-editor-in-chief

Courtesy of FX Networks

Being a Marvel, Star Wars and “Game of Thrones” nerd finally paid off this year with “Andor,” “She-Hulk” and “House of the Dragon.” Strangely enough, a lot of this year’s best movies and shows started with the letter “B,” like “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” “Better Call Saul,” “Barbarian,” “Banshees of Inisherin,” “The Bear,” “The Batman” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Thank you to Brockhampton (another “B”) for giving us two incredibly poignant albums and being the best boy band since One Direction. Finally, thank you to the never-ending corporate drama that’s as riveting as a season of “Succession,” particularly the “Don’t Worry Darling” drama, the Warner Bros. Discovery merger and the return of the king, Bob Iger — Jordan Moreau, online news editor

I am thankful for the way “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is captivating visually and emotionally, and for what it did for me during a major time of transition in my life. It was the first film I watched since giving birth to my first child, my baby Zahra. I love the way Michelle Yeoh and Stephanie Hsu explore the beautifully complicated relationship between a mother and daughter. Watching this film as a new mom helped me realize there will be a lot of ups and downs, a lot of questions (many unanswered), but in the end, it’s all worth it because of the love and connection a mother and daughter will share — Sharareh Drury, associate features editor

I’m thankful for the great TV of 2022, which has included — in no particular order — “The White Lotus,” “Severance,” “The Bear,” “Reservation Dogs,” “Abbott Elementary,” “Only Murders in the Building,” “Stranger Things,” “The Dropout” and “What We Do in the Shadows.” I’ve also enjoyed a number of docuseries this year, including “The Way Down” (premiered last year, but I watched this year), Season 2 of “The Vow” and the messy recent season of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” (true crime done right!). I’ve also been gratified by the final seasons of “Better Call Saul,” “Ozark” (I liked it, sue me!) and “Dead to Me,” which wrapped up their stories artfully. I’ll miss them terribly — Kate Aurthur, editor-at-large

Thankful for the big year Latin music had! There’s a ton of exciting new artists and styles sprouting in communities all over the world, with many young artists being the pioneers of new genre-exploration in a post-streaming world. It’s been incredibly inspiring to witness the dedication and vulnerability of these musicians first-hand — Thania Garcia, associate music editor

Courtesy of Beyonce / Mason Poole

I hit the ground in gratitude for Beyonce’s “Renaissance.” The life-giving force of her artistry, and the bold decision to make the world dance when apocalyptic vibes have never been stronger, was a gift unlike no other. The rap bridge on “Heated” alone gave me the will to carry on to 2023. Shoutout to my boyfriend and step-dog — Matt Donnelly, senior entertainment and media writer 

Tempted as we all might be to mention Beyonce’s “Renaissance” album, which truly is the gift that keeps giving (and will give more once we get the visuals), but a couple other things I’m thankful for this year include “Abbott Elementary,” the return of in-person festivals like TIFF and San Diego Comic-Con, the national champion Georgia Bulldogs and meeting Oprah — Angelique Jackson, senior entertainment writer

First off, I am thankful for “Atlanta.” As heartbroken as I am that it is now over, that feeling of finality only gives immense clarity to the love and admiration I had for the show during its run. I’m grateful for all of the chances it took and its sincere disinterest in convention. I am thankful for my ongoing “Succession” binge (I know I’m incredibly late, but I get it now). I am thankful for Kendrick Lamar and his potent, soul-baring record. I am thankful that Drake got bullied into releasing a decent album (though I have been an ardent defender of “Honestly, Nevermind”) and the masterpiece that is “Hours In Silence.” I am thankful for “When Sparks Fly” by Vince Staples. I am thankful to “Bones” by Soccer Mommy. I am thankful that Lindsey Jordan of Snail Mail, who essentially soundtracked much of my 2022, convinced me not to sell my PS5 before our lunch interview. I am thankful that I got to see so many artists, who mean the absolute world to me, live in concert this year, including Kendrick Lamar, Kid Cudi, the Weeknd, Vince Staples, Haim, Lorde, Snail Mail, Clairo, Pi’erre Bourne and so many more. I’m most thankful for the fact that everything I’ve been able to see, listen to, experience or do this year has brought sincere joy to that inner-child version of me more than anything else — he probably thinks I’m the coolest person in the world right now. — EJ Panaligan, editorial intern

In addition to being supremely grateful for the very creative and hard-working web team that keeps Variety.com running each day of the week, I am always touched by friends recommending treasures from the past I can catch up on. Some of my favorites of yesteryear that were new to me in 2022: “Tightrope,” a sleazy Clint Eastwood slasher from 1984; UFO’s 1977 album “Lights Out,” a bombastic mixture of hard rock and big melodies; and “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” the batshit one-season wonder from 1974 which merged investigative journalism and monster movies into a network TV procedural — William Earl, editor, Variety.com

Courtesy of Gwen Capistran/A24

I’m thankful for movies like “The Good House,” a true movie for adults of the sort that rarely hits theaters anymore. With a meaty role for Sigourney Weaver as a small-town realtor who can’t quite get a handle on her drinking and an understated performance by Kevin Kline, the summer release was refreshing and full of real human emotions that arrived in a season stuffed with superheroes. I’m also thankful for movies like “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” and “Paris, District 13,” which offered clever horror, sexy older women and sexy Parisians, respectively, and for “Moonage Daydream,” an ambitious and immersive swing at capturing the genius of David Bowie — Pat Saperstein, deputy editor

I am thankful for all the out and proud queer actors, musicians, creatives and content that keeps coming out of Hollywood. I wish I had all of this representation when I was a kid struggling with my identity, but so grateful that today’s LGBTQ youth get to see themselves represented in tremendous ways. More specifically, I’m thankful for Barbra Streisand’s “Live at the Bon Soir,” Russell Tovey’s ears in “American Horror Story: NYC,” “The Inheritance” at the Geffen Playhouse, Jerrod Carmichael’s Emmys look, Hannah Waddingham, Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade, Anderson Copper’s podcast “All There Is,” working out with Luke Macfarlane, Billy Porter, Diane Keaton telling me I’m “crazy” and that “masterpiece” viral moment with Julia Fox — Marc Malkin, senior culture and events editor

Considering this is my first year as a Variety staff member, I’m just thankful to be here and contributing daily to the most read entertainment trade on the web (according to Comscore) — Zack Sharf, digital news director

I’m thankful that the world fully reopened in 2022. People are traveling again and we’re getting back together in real life. I’m also thankful that the festival circuit was back in full swing this year, especially Cannes and Venice, which held glamorous editions packed with wonderful films like “Elvis,” “The Son” and “The Whale,” which will turn up in the awards season. Yes, it’s sometimes exhausting to travel to festivals and events, but it’s the salt of what we do. Interacting with people and discovering films on the big screen is what makes this job so enjoyable and unpredictable. I’m also thankful for working with the nicest journalists in the entertainment trade business, who also happen to be the best. — Elsa Keslassy, senior international film editor

I am thankful for the return of great shows like “Ghosts” on CBS, “Cobra Kai” on Netflix, “Star Trek: Prodigy” on Paramount+ and “Barry” on HBO. I am also thankful I got to see the endings of shows like “The Last Kingdom” and “Derry Girls” on Netflix. And, given all the upheaval in the business these past few years, I am thankful that I know great content will always win out no matter what — Joe Otterson, senior TV writer

Courtesy of Fabio Lovino/HBO

I’m thankful for the talented performers who are getting a well-deserved second act. Brendan Fraser at the Oscars? Yes, please. Lindsay Lohan with the holiday movie of the season? Yep! And give me more Jennifer Coolidge (and “White Lotus”) any day of the week — Elizabeth Wagmeister, chief correspondent

I’m so thankful for the One Chicago shows that still allow me to bask in three hours of entertainment and invest in multiple characters’ storylines that have zero affect on my actual life — Emily Longeretta, senior TV features editor

I am thankful for all the bright spots of cinema that included multiple donkeys and severed fingers, cannibal teenagers, two airplane movies with Glen Powell, my childhood idols “Short Round” and “Link” mounting their career comebacks, Kate Hudson’s Birdy Jay, a newfound love of two robots on Mars, and a little shell named Marcel. Can’t forget my TV brethren that expands my inner circle, which now includes Misty, Max, Barbara Howard, Armond, NoHo Hank, Burt Goodman and Mabel Mora. And, of course, my Variety fam here and gone, I love you all — Clayton Davis, senior awards editor

This year I’m thankful for the music of Carol Ades, Medium Build, webcage, Jason Derulo and Charli XCX. I am also thankful that Twitter is not dead (yet) — Rachel Seo, social media coordinator

I’m thankful that Italy, where I live, has the Venice Film Festival, Luca Guadagnino and Måneskin to still give me hope and upbeat stories to write in a country that’s fallen into a scary right-wing spiral — Nick Vivarelli, Italy and Middle East correspondent

I’m thankful for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “Oni: Thunder God’s Tale” and so many projects this year that spotlight Asian artists. Also, I’m thankful for all the red carpets I’ve covered, especially the one where James Hong slipped on a hotdog finger glove during the middle of our interview (if you know, you know) — Michaela Zee, editorial intern


This year, I’m thankful for wonderful new music from Big Thief and the 1975, Kate Berlant’s one-woman show, Robert Glasper’s Blue Note residency, “Jackass Forever” and one of the best series debuts (“Severance”) and best series conclusions (“Better Call Saul”) in recent memory — Ethan Shanfeld, associate web editor

I am thankful for “Reboot,” which has provided some gentle laughs, “Top Chef” and “The Great British Bake-Off” for letting me unwind after busy and stressful weeks — Shali Dore, features news editor

I’m thankful for Ricky Gervais’ “After Life” on Netflix, which is even more special to me now, the second time around and with my own cancer diagnosis. It’s important to remember that laughter is the best medicine — Terry Flores, senior production editor

I’m grateful for Lizzy McAlpine’s masterful album “Five Seconds Flat,” which provided the soundtrack to my life this year — Katcy Stephan, social media editor

With each passing year, I’ve become more thankful to be able to surround myself with the folks I feel close to as we partake in the merriment of another successful Funnyvember. A happy Funnyvember to all who celebrate! — Jackson Murphy, associate editor, news

I’m grateful for Michelle Yeoh, comeback king Ke Huy Quan, The Daniels and everyone involved with “Everything Everywhere All at Once” for making me laugh and cry and giving me a Halloween costume that finally won a prize this year — Jenelle Riley, associate features editor

I’m thankful for all the micro-distributors who’ve popped up in the last few years, determined to bring quality art films to American audiences. I’m thinking of companies — some of them little more than a couple passionate souls supporting whatever tickles their whiskers — such as Array (“What We Leave Behind”), Grasshopper (“Intregalde”), Good Deed (“Charlotte”), Juno (“Earwig”), Yellow Veil (“Falcon Lake”), Dekanalog (“Anatolian Leopard”), Altered Innocence (“After Blue”) and Utopia (“Holy Spider”). At a time when folks keep predicting the death of the theatrical experience, these champs are committed to putting “small” movies on the big screen. Love ’em all, though my current favorite is Mubi, which has expanded from a meticulously well-curated streaming lineup (essentially an online film festival featuring limited-time offerings from the world’s top auteurs) to in-theater releases of oddball projects, like Lars von Trier’s “The Kingdom Exodus.” — Peter Debruge, chief film critic

My showbiz heroes: Sean Penn for everything he does with CORE to help his fellow human beings here in L.A. during COVID, across the world in Haiti and now handing his Oscar to the Ukrainians, thus reminding all of us that reel life is not real life and we all must show up for both. Tom Cruise for proving that the only way to approach turning 60 is with all engines on full throttle, whether it’s signing autographs and doing selfies for countless fans, doing your own stunts, breaking box office records or training for making a movie in a frickin’ space station. Taylor Swift for providing the current generation with what previous generations needed and enjoyed: a mega music star with a personal vision that continues the tradition of deep-well, one-of-a-kind pop artists such as Michael Jackson, Joni Mitchell, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Marvin Gaye, Patsy Cline and the Beatles. Elegance Bratton for waking everyone up to what’s possible in independent film if you’re willing to risk everything for the truth. Taylor Sheridan for proving that writers can matter, writers can change the business, writers can remind us that the U.S. includes a big ole bunch of country beyond L.A. and NYC. The Rolling Stones for rolling on, giving good boogie to fans all over the world despite the indignities of aging, the loss of Charlie Watts, the naysayers and the laws of gravity. Marianne Faithfull for being the last living goddess of beat culture. Bob Dylan for being the beacon, Donovan for being the lighthouse, Mavis Staples for being the light. Dave Chapelle for explaining Trump. Van Morrison for not suddenly becoming easy. Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Dolly Parton for keeping the last lights of country music burning in the big roadhouse called “Earth.” Variety for allowing me to wander to Kentucky in search of my “Americana Dream.” My earthly addresses: London for being home, Sardinia for being paradise.  My friends and family: You, all of you, who smile though your heart is aching — Steve Gaydos, executive vice president, global content

Thankful there are finally some Oscar contenders that can buoy the broadcast and keep the show alive — and hopeful that the Academy will no longer relegate artisan categories to second-class status. Thankful for the Taylor Swift Ticketmaster debacle because it proves that even in the era of small, private screens, live events remain a powerful force in entertainment. Thankful for the growth of ad-supported streaming because it gives us more choice and vindicates the old cable multi-channel model, which is now riding on a new technology — Peter Caranicas, managing editor, features

I’m so grateful for a year of gripping and emotionally complex stories, ranging from Luca Guadagnino’s “Bones and All” to the instant hit Apple TV+ series “Severance.” The commonality among many of the critically acclaimed films and series produced over this last year is a shared curiosity of what it means to truly be human — a question I’ve started asking myself far more often. But the most impactful piece of cinema released in 2022 is, without a doubt, “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Stellar performances from Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Stephanie Hsu paired with an addictive score from the band Son Lux make this genre-bending film a masterfully crafted work of art — Katie Reul, editorial intern

I’m thankful for “Abbott Elementary.” This authentic and hilarious show centers on teachers at a public school, dutifully including all of the goofy, heartfelt and often ridiculous scenarios. I absolutely love it. And Quinta? She’s goals — Lauren Ames, creative strategist, Variety Content Studio


As my kids get older — at ages 17 and 13, they’re now barely “kids” — I have become the cliche slighty-out-of-touch dad who isn’t always familiar with the latest meme, or the cool new video game. (OK, I never know what the cool new video game is.) But in a world of so much ever-changing pop culture, there is a constant in our worlds that my kids have adored for years, and I’ve been watching right beside them: “The Simpsons.” The animated staple has been on so long, I was watching it when I was 17. And now, to share the excitement in catching a new episode, or binging the more than 700 episodes on Disney+, is something we get to do together. I got to take them to the “Simpsons” premiere event this year at Universal Studios (thanks, Antonia!) and it is truly their happy place. Mine too. The kids may be getting older, and my time with them is sadly fleeting. But “The Simpsons” is truly forever — and will be in our lives as something we share forever too. And for that, I’m thankful. — Michael Schneider, TV editor

I am thankful for the full-scale return of a live nation… and I don’t just mean the corporation of that name. Actually, I don’t even just mean live concerts, although that’s the biggest piece of it, for me. As a movie and comedy as well as music fan, I felt the joy of re-experiencing film festivals and retrospective screenings that had taken a pause, or that I’d taken a pause from; “Netflix and chill” has nothing on experiencing full-house-and-chill. A few examples of the things that made me thrilled to resume a lifestyle of being out of the house nearly every night:

1) The plethora of great performers in their 70s and 80s, doing vigorous victory laps. I caught the opening and closing nights of Elton John’s three-night stand at Dodger Stadium, and afterward, my thought was: “Why didn’t I go for the middle, too?” But that tour finale by a 75-year-old still at the peak of his performing powers was just the capper of a concert-going year that included such other highlights as: A Who show at the Hollywood Bowl that I found unexpectedly great and moving. Capricious and delightful Bob Dylan shows in Long Beach and Santa Barbara. Mavis Staples opening for Bonnie Raitt at the Greek in a true, all-time heroines’ night out. A taping of a yet-unaired Paul Simon tribute special at the Pantages that was an occasion for appreciative tears. And, of course, Paul McCartney at SoFi Stadium, making “The End” into a misnomer yet again. Especially because of their age, many of these artists had to travel in protective bubbles to make sure they and their entourages could join us on stage each night, and we thank them for the extra effort. Can you imagine a world in which so many of us hadn’t done what we needed to do to get through the deadliest stages of the pandemic, and it lasted so many more years that we might not have been able to see these performers in their primes again?

2) Film festivals were back. For me, there’s a joyful ritual in returning annually to the Telluride Film Festival, the festival to end all festivals as a package deal of brilliant curation and fresh air. Locally, the plethora of great L.A. retrospective film gatherings makes the city its own Shangri-La, even when “Lost Horizon” isn’t on the bill. From the TCM Festival, which made a glorious comeback after a couple years off, to Noir City’s annual Hollywood gathering (at the Hollywood Legion, while the Egyptian undergoes renovations) and Alan K. Rode’s like-minded film noir festival in Palm Springs. No couch experience compares with knowing a thousand adjacent strangers are having exactly the same emotional experience as you.

3) Does anybody remember laughter? Why, yes, Robert, we do. I was one of those who participated in comedy Zooms during the course of the pandemic, and there were even benefits to exploring the different rhythms that come when standup doesn’t have a live laugh track. But it was worth the wait to be back at my favorite comedy showcase, UnCabaret, and experience the way the molecules in a room change from the reactive exhalations when great storytellers like Beth Lapides, Jamie Bridgers, Alex Edelman, Alec Mapa, Kira Soltanovich, Justin Sayre and Julia Sweeney tell the truth, with mirth and maybe a little pain. (Also, Edelman’s one-man show, “Just for Us,” was deservedly one of the theatrical sensations of the year, and the audiobook Lapides put out, “So You Need to Decide,” is a potentially life-changing treasure.)

4) Danny Elfman, back on stage as a rock ‘n’ roll guy. If you live long enough, you’re going to… well, you’re going to be eternally disappointed (that Talking Heads reunion is never happening). But you’re also going to get some hell-freezes-over moments like Elfman resuming the rocker role he left behind two and a half decades ago and doffing his shirt on a cold night at the Hollywood Bowl. We’re thankful for those, like Elfman, who can spend decades pursuing personal destinies (as he’s still doing with terrific scores like “White Noise” and “Dr. Strange”), and then come back and still give the rocker-people what they want; it’s a wonderful difference to split. — Chris Willman, senior music writer and chief music critic

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