I realized that I dropped off my media diaries midway through last year and want to pick them up again for 2022! So here we go, everything I watched in January:
Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts
How delightful it is to catch up with the stars of perhaps the single most defining piece of culture from my childhood, 20 years after we first saw the magical halls of Hogwarts. Recent years have made my deep love for Harry Potter more complicated, as I, along with countless other fans, have tried to grapple with its creator's narrow-minded views on transgender women, and it's made me reconsider some of the more problematic points of the source material, but I will not deny how important this series, both the books and films, were and continue to be for me. Hearing fun behind-the-scenes stories, watching the cast members reunite with one another, it was all extremely nostalgic in the best way possible—and without a single person bringing up the series' creator, it filled me with that uncomplicated love I had long ago.
This is already a series to beat in 2022. Just phenomenal, beautiful, painful, hopeful storytelling that left me charmed, emotionally fulfilled, and hopeful—and that's a lot, considering Station Eleven takes place in the immediate aftermath and up to twenty years following an extremely deadly pandemic. Yes, I've been on the record that I have little patience for pandemic stories given our present moment, and that's why it took me a few weeks to start watching Station Eleven, but if you can bear the first episode (which most resembles that March 2020 feeling) I promise you will find it a thing of beauty.
Everyone's favorite (haha jk) Avenger gets his own Christmas special mini-series. I thought it was fun! Plus, Hailee Steinfeld is a great addition to the Marvel world.
Search Party Season 5
Every year I wonder how Search Party can possibly up the ante (the series is known to genre switch each season) and every year I am blown away by where the story goes. For the final season, Dory & Co. go to truly their most insane extremes yet, with an ending so bonkers yet so perfectly fitting for these Brooklyn millennial narcissists. I won't say any more than that.
The Expanse Season 6*
With just 6 episodes to its final season, I wasn't sure if The Expanse would find a way to wrap the story up in a satisfying manner, but I think they succeeded! I'll miss this show and its many cool characters, but with season 6 laying just enough breadcrumbs for a possible spinoff, I'm hopeful Amazon will find a way to continue the story (I mean, they have the money).
The Righteous Gemstones Season 2*
"Succession but make it Southern televangelists" is back! I know Danny McBride isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I think he's hilarious, and even if he's not your favorite, I do think Gemstones has done a great job of building up a true ensemble that lets the full cast, not just McBride, shine. I mean, this is also a cast that includes John Goodman, Walton Goggins, and the delightfully insane Edi Patterson as Judy Gemstone, so there is plenty of talent to go around.
And Just Like That...*
Is this Sex and the City sequel series good? No. Do any of the character decisions make sense? No. Does it feature all the hallmarks of vintage SATC with a 2020s approach? Not really. Am I absolutely loving every minute of this trainwreck? Absolutely!
Yellowjackets Season 1
This show is wild...I kind of wish it was just a season-long mini-series but only because I want all the answers NOW! Also, give whoever cast the young versions of all these iconic 90s actresses a raise.
The Woman In The House Across The Street From The Girl In The Window
The Vampire Diaries Season 8
My months-long journey into the world of The Vampire Diaries has concluded (except now I'm onto The Originals and eventually Legacies). I understand why so many people loved this series and really enjoyed the ride! The last two seasons weren't my favorites, but I thought the conclusion was pretty satisfying.
* Watched week-to-week
The 355 (2022, dir. Simon Kinberg)
A quintessential January release that has a stellar cast that it doesn't quite know how to serve. I'm not sure if this movie made any money, but it's one of those that is clearly set up for a sequel that I doubt will ever come, and it wastes a lot of time getting to that point. I know everything is IP now, but I wish people would be okay with standalone movies once again. That might have made this international team-up more enjoyable.
Sing 2 (2021, dir. Garth Jennings)
I never saw the first Sing but I thought this was super cute and it did make me tear up at one point.
Phantom Thread (2017, dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)
I cannot believe I had not seen this movie until now, but it was great. Fashion! Tiny cars! Mushrooms! The cutest little rom-com about the most deranged couple you'll ever see.
The King's Daughter (2022, dir. Sean McNamara)
Yeah, it's bleak in January movie-going but whatever. All you need to know about this movie is that it was filmed in 2014 and is just seeing the light of day now. To put that into perspective, star Kaya Scodelario met co-star Benjamin Walker on this set, fell in love with him, married him, and had not one but two children with him, all before this movie was actually released in January of 2022. I'm glad for Scodelario and Walker that one good thing came of this movie, at least.
Moonfall (2022, dir. Roland Emmerich)
Who doesn't love a good disaster movie? If we're comparing this to other recent movies about scientists trying to warn Earth against a giant space rock hitting and destroying the planet and finding a way to save the day then yeah, this is way more enjoyable than Don't Look Up. I'm not afraid to say it. And John Bradley (who you probably know as Sam from Game of Thrones) steals the show.