I normally like to share reviews on films one at a time, but with the holidays and a new award season rapidly approaching, I'm playing a little catch up by sharing eight recently watched 2022 films with you today, which hopefully, can help you decide if they are worth watching or gifting. I've tried to make each a no spoiler review.   

Film Review Time!

Eight 2022 films for watching and gifting

My thanks to each media outlet for sending me complimentary films for my consideration of the upcoming award season. All opinions are my own.

Celebrating one year as a Music City Film Critic Association Member!

MCFCA logo

This month marks one full year of me being a film critic for the Music City Film Critics Association and I must say, it's been an exciting year. I used to think I watched a lot of films, but this last year has changed that viewpoint. I feel behind in my viewing quite often and I'm still working on a healthy balance as we inch ever closer to award season. I hope you find these reviews helpful as you plan what to watch next. Films listed in no particular order.

1. Elvis: The Man. The Legend. The King of Rock and Roll:

Elvis film
courtesy: Letterboxd

Warner Bros Pictures/Directed by: Baz Luhrmann/Run Time:2hr 39 mins./Genre: Music: History/Rating: PG-13 


The life story of Elvis Presley (played by Austin Butler) as seen through the complicated relationship with his enigmatic manager, Colonel Tom Parker (played by Tom Hanks) over the course of their 20 year relationship. We start with a young Elvis and watch how his manager takes him from a boy who loves to sing gospel to superstardom as the King of Rock and Roll. 

My Thoughts: 

Growing up with an Elvis loving Mom the way I did, I didn't have high hopes for this film, because not just anybody could bring Elvis, The King, to life. 

I was pleasantly surprised by the talented actors and the lush sets. While Austin Butler did a respectable job in this role, it was Tom Hanks portrayal of Colonel Tom Parker that elevated this film for me. 

While this is a mostly true story, there are some moments I felt were highly dramatized for the film. I'm happy to say that his love for his family, including Priscilla and Lisa Marie were shared in an accurate manner, thanks in large part to Priscilla's involvement. 

Elvis truly was "caught in a trap" and it was sad to witness the greed of those who were supposed to love and care for him.

The Takeaway:

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars. Great film to watch and gifting.

2. Moonfall: Humanity will face the Dark Side of the Moon:

Moonfall film

Moonfall UK LLP/Directed by: Roland Emmerich/Run Time: 2h 10 min/Genre: Sci-Fi/Rating:PG-13


A mysterious force knocks the moon from its orbit around Earth and sends it hurtling on a collision course with Earth. There's only a few weeks before impact, so NASA exec Jo Fowler (played by Halle Berry) teams up with Brain Harper (played by Patrick Wilson) and a conspiracy theorist K.C. Houseman (played by John Bradley) on an impossible mission into space to save us all. 

My Thoughts:

I had high hopes for Moonfall because I love a good Sci-Fi, save the world type of film.  Unfortunately, the scenes used in the trailer were the best this film had to offer. It was boring and far-fetched with lackluster special effects. 

The storyline was full of holes and the acting? I expected better from Berry and Wilson . The one saving grace in this whole film was the stellar acting from John Bradley as conspiracy theorist K.C. Housemann. He made me believe him. It's just the rest of this film that's unbelievable.

The Takeaway:

I give this film 1.5 out of 5 stars. I don't recommend viewing or gifting this film.

3. Lamborghini: The Man Behind the Legend: 

Lamborghini film

Lionsgate/Directed by: Robert Moresco/Run Time: 97 mins/Genre:Drama-Sport/Rating:R


From the launch of Lamborghini’s career as a manufacturer of tractors, to a creator of military vehicles during World War II, to the designer of Lamborghini cars, which he launched in 1963 as the high-end sports car company Automobili Lamborghini; Lamborghini will stop at nothing to see his untested car win at the Geneva Grand Prix.

My Thoughts:

If you're expecting a fast paced film to match the Lamborghini vehicles, you will be disappointed. Lamborghini: The Man behind the Legend is more like a meandering Sunday drive through a beautiful countryside.

I'm married to a car enthusiast, so we felt it was a perfect choice for the film's promotional material to be the signature Lamborghini yellow. Casting Frank Frillo to play Ferruccio Lamborghini and Mira Sorvino as his first and only real love Annita Lamborghini in lead roles was also a perfect choice in my opinion. Unfortunately, there were just too many disjointed scenes played in such drab fashion that the film became a yawn-fest instead of the high speed thrill ride fans were expecting. 

While there are shining moments in this film, my overall views on Lamborghini have been forever changed and not for the better after watching this film.

The Takeaway:

I give this 2 out of 5 stars. Unless you are a true sports car/ Lamborghini enthusiast, I don't recommend this film for watching or gifting. 

4. Top Gun: Maverick:

Top Gun Maverick film

Skydance Media/Directed by: Joseph Kosinski/Run Time: 131 mins/Genre: Action/Adventure/Rating: PG-13 


After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell  finds himself training a detachment of TOP GUN graduates for a specialized mission. One that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those that choose to fly it.

My Thoughts:

I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed Top Gun: Maverick! Watching Maverick (played by Tom Cruise) come full circle, going back to train graduates for a special mission, while still managing to be a rebel makes you root for him. All the cool action shots will keep you entertained and engaged throughout the whole film. There is speed, lots of speed!

I also enjoyed watching the backstory being brought to life by a cast of great actors, especially those between Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell and Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw (played by Miles Teller) and old flame Penny Benjamin (played by Jennifer Connelly).

This film is being re-released in theaters in early December for good reason: it's a delight to watch.

The Takeaway:

I give this 4 out of 5 stars. I do recommend seeing this film and gifting it. 

5. Wendell & Wild:

Wendell & Wild film

Netflix/Directed by Henry Selick/Run Time:1hr 45 min/Genre:Comedy/Fantasy/Rating:PG-13


Two demon brothers face their enemy with the help of a nun, and a tough teen, Kat Elliot. Kat's been in trouble a time or two in her life and holds tremendous guilt for her parents death, so she's easily manipulated by Wendell & Wild to summon them to the Land of the Living. Kat has a demand of her own which leads to a brilliantly bizarre and comedic adventure. 

My Thoughts:

Bizarre is the appropriate term for this film. It's a mess. Like an animated brain dump. 

Wendell (played by Keegan-Michael Key) is the good demon, while his brother Wild (played Jordan Peele) is the bad demon whose antics get both demons into lots of trouble in the land of the living and the dead.

Kat Elliott (played by Lyric Ross) is angry most of the film, so any humor and other emotions are overshadowed by her attitude. 

The PG-13 rating is needed due to the subject matter, which makes me question who this film's target demographic really is, because the humor felt middle-schoolish to me. I may have laughed once during the 1 hour and 45 minute play time. 

The Takeaway:

I give this 1.5 stars out of 5. I don't recommend watching or gifting this film unless you and the recipient are diehard Jordan and Keegan fans. 

6. Thirteen Lives: One Miracle that united the World:

Thirteen Lives film

MGM/Directed by Ron Howard/Run time: 2 hr 30 mins/Genre: Drama/Survival/Rating:PG-13


Based on a true story of twelve boys and the coach of a Thai soccer team explore the Tham Luang cave when an unexpected rainstorm traps them in a chamber inside the mountain. Thirteen Lives recounts the story of the tremendous global effort to rescue all those trapped. Faced with insurmountable odds, a team of the world's most skilled divers join with Thai forces and thousands of volunteers to attempt a harrowing rescue. 

My Thoughts:

Ron Howard has done it again. Thirteen Lives draws you in and immerses you in the cave with the rescuers and the trapped group of young boys and their coach. 

Richard Stanton (played by Viggo Mortensen) and John Volanthen(played by Colin Farrell)made me believe in their expertise as cave divers. The supporting cast did outstanding jobs in this riveting retelling of how many came together to save thirteen lives.  

Even though I knew the outcome of this true story, Mr. Howard's drama/survival film drew me in and didn't let me go until the last scene.  Well worth the 2 hour and 30 minute viewing time.

The Takeaway:

I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend you watch and gift this film.

7. Jurassic World Dominion:

Jurassic World Dominion film

Universal Pictures/Directed by: Colin Trevorrow/Run Time: 2hr 26 mins/Genre:Action/Sci-Fi/Rating:PG-13


Four years after Isla Nublar was destroyed, dinosaurs now live and hunt alongside humans all over the world. In Jurassic World Dominion, the battle between humanity and the prehistoric past gets even bigger. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine once and for all whether humans will remain the apex predators on the planet. 

My Thoughts:

Jurassic World Dominion, which was touted as " the epic conclusion of the Jurassic era" was an enjoyable film that didn't feel like it was a 2 hour and 30 minute film. thanks in large part to the stellar acting of the whole cast. 

 It was nice to see the the relationships between Owen Grady (played by Chris Pratt), Claire Dearing (played by Dallas Howard), Ellie Sattler (played by Laura Dern), Alan Grant (played by Sam Neill) and Ian Malcom (played by Jeff Goldblum) evolve as they once again help humankind live with and survive history's most feared creatures, Dinosaurs.

There's lots of action and laughter in this sixth film in the Jurassic franchise, which to me, did not feel like the end of the story.

The Takeaway:

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars. I do recommend you watch and gift this film.

8. Hustle:

Hustle film

Happy Madison Productions/Directed by: Jeremiah Zagar/Run Time: 1 hr 57 mins/Genre: Sport/Drama/Rating:R


After discovering a once-in-a-lifetime player with a rocky past abroad, a down on his luck basketball scout takes it upon himself to bring the phenom to the States without his team’s approval.

My Thoughts:

I'm not a huge basketball fan, but I am an Adam Sandler fan, so I had to watch this film that was getting rave reviews and surprisingly, my husband and I really enjoyed it from beginning to end. Leave it to Adam Sandler to draw laughter, even while playing a dramatic role. 

The relationship between coach- Stanley Sugarman ( played by Adam Sandler) and player Bo Cruz ( played by Juancho Hernangomez) is believable, has depth and makes you want both of these characters to win.  

I do wish there had been more chemistry between  Stanley Sugarman and his wife Teresa Sugarman ( played by Queen Latifah). Their relationship fell flat on screen, which was surprising given that Queen Latifah is normally a high energy, charismatic actress. 

This is a fun sports film overall and you'll find yourself cheering throughout! Take the R rating seriously for language and subject matter if considering this film for younger teens.

The Takeaway:

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars. I do recommend you watch and gift this film.

That's a Wrap!

I hope you've found this film list helpful! Since I'm receiving new films for awards consideration in the mail daily, I'll do my best to review and share films one at a time moving forward.

Please share in comments: which of these eight films would you watch first?

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