It has been another busy year of film and television, as the industry bounces back from the pandemic with a bang.
Blockbusting franchises returned to the big screen, we had more than one multiverse of madness, a unique restaurant experience, and even a pretty weird musical biopic.
To end the year, the team behind Backstage – the TV and film podcast from Sky News – have voted, debated, argued and settled on what they think are the best things to hit screens over the last 12 months.
The Batman (Sky and NOW)
It doesn’t seem like five minutes since we last saw our caped crusader fight off baddies in Gotham, but this year it was the turn of Robert Pattinson to step in to the Batsuit and protect his home city.
Pattinson, perhaps best known to many still as Edward Cullen in the Twilight films, plays a brooding, pained Bruce Wayne in the latest comic book adaptation, alongside Zoe Kravitz’s revengeful Catwoman, who are out to stop, and solve, a string of brutal murders.
It has some great villains in Colin Farrell’s Penguin, as well as Paul Dano’s (superb) Riddler.
Weird: The Weird Al Yankovic Story (The Roku Channel)
When this film was announced by relatively unknown streaming service Roku, no one expected it to be as big.
Everyone knows Weird Al Yankovic – the king of polka parody songs – and his film is a whistle-stop tour through his life, with some bits maybe more exaggerated than others…(I’m not sure he *actually* took down a drug ring in South America!)
Daniel Radcliffe plays the titular character in this one, alongside Evan Rachel Wood’s Madonna. We also get appearances from Rainn Wilson, Jack Black, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Will Forte.
Everything Everywhere All At Once (Prime Video)
Mark our words – this is Oscars tipped and could do the business!
After Marvel seemingly made the multiverse its latest big thing, the team at A24 decided to make the concept their own – to incredible results.
It sees Michelle Yeoh battle with multiple different versions of herself to prevent a huge disaster, all while being audited by the IRS.
Jamie Lee Curtis stars, as does Harry Shum Jr, Jenny Slate, James Hong and Stephanie Hsu. It really lives up to its critical acclaim.
Aftersun (in cinemas)
Another potential trophy winner, after sweeping at the British Independent Film Awards this year.
Paul Mescal plays a dad who takes his daughter on holiday – but both are feeling detached from each other. Mescal’s character is clearly depressed and battling emotional and financial demons – but tries to hide from his fairly observant 11-year-old (played by Frankie Corio).
It’s a beautiful film (mostly produced by the BBC), with lots of critics saying it was incredibly moving.
The Woman King (digital and DVD)
Viola Davis told Sky News this film was her magnus opus this year – and we agree.
This sensational, action-packed drama was first conceived back in 2015 and was only green-lit five years later in 2020 – it follows the Agojie, the all-female warriors that protected the West African kingdom of Dahomey during the 17th to 19th centuries.
Set in the 1820s, Davis’ character trains up the next generation of warriors, and stars alongside Lashana Lynch, John Boyega and Thuso Mbedu.
The Bear (Disney+)
This kitchen dramady has made a household name of Jeremy Allen White, who plays Carmen, a fine dining chef who has to return home to Chicago to manage the family sandwich shop under tragic circumstances.
He obviously goes about making sweeping changes to the store – but the staff resist and don’t really want him around.
This leapt on to Disney+ with little fanfare but became a hugely popular show both here and in the US – so much so that another season is already in the works.
Severance (Apple TV+)
From the mind of Ben Stiller, this is a psychological thriller about work-life balance.
Starring Adam Scott and Christopher Walken, it sees a group of workers for a mysterious company who have a chip implanted in their brain that means they don’t remember work when they’re at home, and vice-versa – they become two different people who don’t know each other.
It’s fast-paced and full of twists and turns, as well as having a HUGE cliffhanger at the end of the first season. You’ll literally scream for more.
Bluey (Disney+ and BBC iPlayer)
A bit of a gear change, but all the parents on the team said this was one of their fave shows of the year.
Bluey is an animated dog, and the show follows the ups and downs of her family (made up of mum Chilli, dad Bandit, and sister Bingo), with it being widely praised for the positive way it tackles parenting and play.
It’s often left on long after the kids have gone to bed – thanks to its inclusion of jokes for little ones, and jokes the little ones won’t understand…
Each episode is only seven minutes long – oh, and the theme tune is going to get stuck in your head for days.
The Crown (Netflix)
It’s always a big deal when a new season of The Crown is about to start, but none more so than this last season, which charts the Royal Family through the nineties – including the breakdown of Charles’ and Diana’s marriage.
History we can all remember here, and many celebs and royal commentators called on Netflix to delay the release in the wake of the Queen’s death, while others wanted the streamer to add a disclaimer making it clear the drama was in fact fictitious.
Imelda Staunton takes over as the Queen in this season, alongside Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip.
The White Lotus (Sky and NOW)
This show burst on to the scene last year, but went under the radar slightly until earlier this year, when the second season came out.
It follows the holidaymakers (who have more money than sense) and staff at the infamous White Lotus resorts, with each passing day getting a darker and more complex turn of events.
Both seasons have different casts, save for Jennifer Coolidge (who bagged an Emmy for the show) – with the latest starring Theo James, Tom Hollander, and Aubrey Plaza – who has been in so many shows and films in the last 12 months.
Stranger Things (Netflix)
After season three getting a lukewarm reception, the latest goings-on in Hawkins more than made up for it.
In these feature-length episodes, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) has to re-learn her powers, while Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Hopper (David Harbour) have to escape a Russian gulag. All that while new terror, the Vecna, is killing people about town – with the gang of teenagers trying to work out why and bring it down.
If anything – watch for the great soundtrack, which includes Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill, as well as Metallica’s Master Of Puppets.
You’ll need to put time aside for this one (the last episode alone is longer than most films) – but it’s worth it.
What should you look out for in 2023?
The Last Of Us – coming to Sky in January
This video game adaptation is risky.
It follows Joel (Pedro Padcal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsay), who team up during a global zombie outbreak to find answers about what is going on – while battling brutal monsters, and even more brutal humans.
The games are universally adored and often cited among the best ever made so there are big hopes to fulfil, but with HBO’s massive bank account at the helm, it looks like it could pay off.
The Fabelmans – out soon in cinemas
This is Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical movie about growing up into a filmmaker.
It has a starry cast in Michelle Williams, Paul Dano and Seth Rogan, as well as a number of up and comers rising through the ranks.
Spielberg is hunting for yet another Oscar – and this could help him get there. Early reviews say this film is technically, and visually, brilliant.
Cocaine Bear – out soon in cinemas
Yep. This film is about a bear that ingests A LOT of cocaine and then goes on a rampage.
While it’s unlikely to win awards, we predict people will be queueing up to see this action-comedy for this absolutely bonkers film.
It features Star Wars actor Alden Ehrenreich and the late Ray Liotta, among a comedy ensemble cast.
Barbie – out soon in cinemas
This is an odd one – because we know next to nothing about this Greta Gerwig-directed film.
All we know is the cast – Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken, as well as Will Ferrell as the head of toy company Mattel.
Other cast members include Sex Education pair Emma Mackey and Connor Swindells, as well as Michael Cera, Kate McKinnon and Nicola Coughlan.
Succession – coming to Sky next year
A huge HBO show with a massive following – Succession charts the rise of a media empire.
The latest season left proceedings on a giant cliffhanger, with fans not having to wait long to have their questions answered.
Brian Cox (the actor, not the scientist…) stars in this one, alongside Kieran Culkin, Jeremy Strong and Matthew Macfadyen.
Doctor Who – on the BBCand Disney+ next autumn
And how could we end without mentioning Doctor Who?!
A new era begins in 2023, after (SPOILER) the time lord regenerated into David Tennant’s version of the character – he’s back for three episodes, before we get our brand new doctor in Ncuti Gatwa – who you’ll know from Sex Education.
What’s more – Russell T Davies is back as the showrunner and Disney+ has put money into the production – expect big, big things from the Tardis in 2023.