10th I’m Jeffrey Rex Awards – 2022 – TV & Misc. Awards

With my best television shows of 2022-list having now been released, it’s time to stop delaying these awards posts. Just like the last few years, I’m splitting up my awards into two parts. This post — the first part — celebrates the best in television, superhero storytelling, gaming, and in music. The film awards will be revealed in an upcoming post, but, for now, we’ve got a lot of great stuff to get to. So, let’s do that!

Here’s the honest truth: 2022 wasn’t a huge year for me when it comes to video games. Frankly, I didn’t have a lot of time to spend with them, and I still haven’t had the chance to explore notable narrative games like God of War: Ragnarok or Horizon: Forbidden West. So, frankly, for a while, I considered dropping this award this year. But then around the end of 2022, I played The Quarry which features several notable voice performances. It’s a great horror game in the vein of Until Dawn, and Siobhan Williams is one of its highlights which also includes Ted Raimi, who was also strongly considered for this award.

But this award was always easy for me. A while back, Bloodborne really hooked me. Since then I’ve been waiting for the next Soulsborne game to sink my teeth into. Elden Ring lived up to all of my expectations. I still have a lot of hours to sink into it, but I loved the time I spent with it last year. It’s a fantastic game.

I really struggled with this category. On the one hand, I had this amazing musical sequence from one of the best foreign-language films of 2022, but, on the other hand, I had these excellent songs from established western artists, including a great song from the Eurovision Song Contest. I ended up going with the former, as it continues to be one of my favorite songs and ‘music videos’ of 2022. It’s also an excellent opportunity for me to celebrate a film that may have a harder time winning a lot in my more film-centric awards. “Naatu Naatu” is so catchy and so fun and has a really neat message at the heart of it. Check out the film, if you haven’t yet done so.

This one was never in doubt. Though Zoe Kravitz was terrific as Catwoman and Elizabeth Olsen was fun to watch in Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness, this one had to go to Angela Bassett for her powerful performance in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. She was so close to getting an Oscar for it, which I think would’ve been a nice honor that she fully deserved. It wasn’t to be, but, hey, you’ve got this, Mrs. Bassett!

To me, this category was more up for debate. I ended up going for Paul Dano’s Se7en-esque serial killer version of the Riddler in Matt Reeves’ The Batman. In my review, I wrote: “Paul Dano’s Riddler is completely divorced from the cartoonish take on the character once played by Jim Carrey in Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever. Dano’s character is terrifying, mysterious, vicious, and smart. He’s clearly modeled after the serial killers from David Fincher’s oeuvre.”

Only one superhero film from 2022 was one of the best films of that year, so this was fairly simple. This one was always going to be The Batman. As I wrote in my review: “Matt Reeves has put the ‘detective’ back into DC Comics (i.e. Detective Comics). It is a dark, grimy, and hard-hitting new beginning for the iconic Caped Crusader, who has here been returned to — and refamiliarized audiences with — his World’s Greatest Detective-nickname. […] It is an outstanding superhero thriller, even if it is a little bit too long. It’s not your typical superhero movie, it isn’t action-focused, but I haven’t been this impressed by a Batman movie since 2008.”

This one hit like a ton of bricks. Sometimes love brings the wrong things out of good people. Sometimes people can amplify each other’s intolerable qualities. Sometimes real love can break your heart. Sometimes love isn’t enough. Kim and Jimmy became the central relationship at the heart of the show, and this moment right here is the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s the final push that was needed for Saul to fully take over. It’s all played wonderfully by two of TV’s best actors — more on them later.

One of the shows that were easy to overlook last year was Apple TV+’s murder mystery comedy series The Afterparty. I thought it was absolutely hilarious and one of the first shows of that year to truly wow me. Each episode is in a different cinematic style with one of its best episodes being a musical episode from the perspective of Ben Schwartz’s character. Outside of its fun concept, Schwartz was the very best thing about that show, and his performance is one I kept going back to throughout the year.

This one was always going to go to Better Call Saul, a show which consistently had excellent work from everyone involved. Odenkirk, Seehorn, and Banks were always excellent leads, and Patrick Fabian, Tony Dalton, and Michael Mando’s appearances were always highlights, with all three of those actors delivering some of their best performances this season. And then, of course, they added Carol Burnett to the cast this season, and she was similarly terrific. What a show. What a cast.

Rhea Seehorn is a perfect example of an actress who took a smaller part and turned it into the entire show. Her chemistry and on-screen rapport with Bob Odenkirk made the series become something I’m not sure the creators of the show had foreseen. Every season, fans of the show were on the edge of their seats to find out what would happen to her character precisely because of the impact Seehorn had made on-screen. And in the show’s final season, she continued to wow viewers. There was never an actor in the show that she couldn’t perfectly match. She was always ready for whatever the show challenged her with, and she always shone like the best of them.

Just like Bryan Cranston before him, Bob Odenkirk took his comedy sensibilities and then added to them by proving himself to be one of television’s finest dramatic performers. In Better Call Saul, Odenkirk reinvented his titular character and made viewers and reviewers look closely for the moment when his Jimmy became his Saul. As the show got closer to its end, Odenkirk got to show more of the side of his character that was first seen in Breaking Bad, and his final scenes on Better Call Saul showcased perfectly how much of an outstanding actor he is. This show would not have been the same without him. This show could not exist without him. And he has been consistently excellent from minute one until the show ended in satisfying fashion. His outbursts, his schemes, and his final courtroom scene are what I will remember his work in the final season for.

Let me be honest, this award probably should go to one of the many masterpiece and near-masterpiece episodes of the final season of Better Call Saul. Those were, in actuality, the best episodes that I saw in 2022. But the fact of the matter is that I can’t pick one. It feels wrong to choose one over the other — I loved the show and the season that much. And therefore, I’ve decided that I, with this award, should instead highlight a show that hasn’t been celebrated elsewhere in this awards list. Therefore, I’ve gone with “Review” from the excellent series The Bear as the best episode of 2022 (or, you know, the best non-Better Call Saul episode of the year). Make no mistake, this episode was also damn near flawless.

“Review” is an uber-stressful single-take episode that presents cooking in real-time, as a positive review of the series’ restaurant overwhelms the kitchen and reveals the worst sides of them all as tensions boil over. A brilliant episode and a worthy winner from a series you simply must watch.

It’s easy to be let down and cynical about the state of Star Wars since toxic parts of the fanbase ruined the releases of the sequel trilogy, since the franchise has pretty much been sidelined to television by Disney, and since some shows essentially boil down to “do you remember this?” But ANDOR was exactly the shot of franchise adrenaline it needed. ANDOR wasn’t just one of the best shows of 2022, it was also exactly what the franchise needed. It is thematically rich, it isn’t afraid of being political (it embraces the politics of the franchise that have always been present since the 1970s), and tells us a lot about what time we’re living in now. Only the very best shows do that last thing, and ANDOR really is one of the very best shows out there right now. Let’s hope the second season can live up to it.

Nothing — and I mean nothing — tops Better Call Saul in 2022. Gould and Gilligan’s show went out with a season that was simply outstanding with several masterpiece and near-masterpiece episodes. This award was never in doubt. From the acting to the writing, the editing, the attention to detail, and so on, Better Call Saul stuck the landing. I really mean this, Better Call Saul is just as good as Breaking Bad, the show it spun off from. What an achievement. What a show.

I’ve never seen anything like The Rehearsal before. Even Nathan For You, which made Nathan Fielder a household name, isn’t as strange and fascinating as this HBO series is. As I wrote in my Top Ten TV of 2022-list: “It’s such a strange show to describe other than to say that it is this absolutely wild Nathan Fielder-style docu-comedy where Nathan Fielder […] blurs the line between comedy and reality as he ‘rehearses’ several human experiences including confessing to a dark secret, raising a child, and what it’s like to listen to a class you’ve already taught. It’s fascinating and mindboggling, and it’s really, really good. “

This year’s television awards list has become a complete Better Call Saul love fest, and I’m perfectly okay with that. This is a show that never got the awards it deserved at the Emmys and the Golden Globes, but it has always been the best show on television, and that is in large part thanks to this man right here. Odenkirk has proved himself to be not just a giving scene partner but also a gifted actor who was always capable of more than the comedic talents that he had made his name with. From SNL and Mr. Show all the way through Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, and what comes next, he has never disappointed. I’m grateful that we have gotten to see him show new sides of himself as his career has moved forward, and I hope he has got even more surprises up his sleeves.

– Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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