It’s over, it’s done…another one. Was it good for you? I thought it was meh, maybe an upgraded meh. A few high points, but a lot of standing still, working harder than I’ve ever worked and inching, just inching, forward. Since like most humans, I tend to hear the negative louder than the positive, I’ll enumerate the personal goodness of 2022…
Made 3 new bonafide friends, (yes it’s possible in your 30s), spent half the year traveling, ate very well, saw my 4 best girls, witnessed my sister get married, began to trust the process, got paid to bake, now have a (small) team of people in Hollywood rooting for me, went to Athens (and Paris, Oslo, London, Maui, Maine…), stayed in love, wrote for 4 new outlets, embraced my athleticism, made a film, did a headstand, stayed in a lot of fancy hotels, started to ask myself “why?”, accepted that I might just be striving to be the millennial Nancy Meyers…mostly the meh-ness is derived from the fact that I am not yet her or Aaron Sorkin/Greta Gerwig/PT Anderson/Richard Linklater/Kelly Reichardt. But there’s always next year.
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I like a simple, single, New Year’s resolution. For 2023, it’s self-compassion. I cringe as I type, but the truth is I’ve gotta stop talking shit to myself about myself.
In more good…here were my favorites of the past year, more or less ranked. I’ll try and be brief, but it’s not my strong suit. Skim at your leisure and find what appeals.
Let’s call it what it was, a dismal year for the cinema. I would say five of these were great, the rest just good. In a year with better options, they likely wouldn’t have made the cut. I also saw most of them in the theatre. Let’s keep doing that.
Audrey Diwan’s Happening
I saw it in January and it stuck with me all year. A perfect French film that’s about abortion, but really, much, much more. It’s one of the most masterful movies I’ve seen in the last 5 years.
Charlotte Wells’s Aftersun
A hauntingly beautiful story of a father and a daughter. If there is a movie out in the world that serves as an example of the kind I want to make, this is it.
Todd Field’s Tar
Let’s make more films about evil female megalomaniacs. Also, can I live in Tar world? Never have I coveted costumes, a set and wanted to drive a Porsche more.
Owen Kline’s Funny Pages
Remember the kid in the Squid and the Whale who wasn't Jesse Eisenberg? Well he’s a filmmaker now and he made the most specifically strange film of the year. It’s about comic books, it’s way nerdy and it’s amazing.
Cooper Raiff’s Cha Cha Real Smooth
A great example of specificity breeding universality. Who knew a film about a Bar Mitzvah hype man would be my favorite love story of the year? A case to get personal in the scripts we write and films we make.
Dean Fleischer-Camp’s Marcel the Shell with the Shoes On
If this film didn’t melt your heart it might be made of stone. My favorite line of the year was Marcel’s “Have you ever had a raspberry?”.
Mark Mylod’s The Menu
Perfectly cast, beautifully shot, this satire of the silly, tasting menu only, finest of the fine dining world, skewers it with almost 100% accuracy. There were a few lines the food writer in me might’ve changed, but I let them slide since it had the best ending of any film of the year.
Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness
Perhaps overhyped, but fun nonetheless. Who doesn’t love a good impaling of the bourgeoisie? Especially a beautiful one, well until they all barf all over each other.
Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Johnson is a master of structure. I envy it. He takes you on an elaborate curvilinear journey and manages to wrap it up in an iron clad logical bow. Was it as good as the first? Absolutely not, but it is damn good fun.
Lila Neugebauer’s Causeway
I had a soft spot for this little seen, New Orleans set, vet returning home story. I’m a sucker for a male female two-hander that isn’t a romance. Jennifer Lawrence might be becoming as good of a producer as she is an actor.
Donald Glover’s “Atlanta, Season 4 pt.2”
The Glover I fell for with season 1, came back for the latter half of the final season. It was the weirdness with purpose that only a few people can do (Waller-Bridge, OG Louie). I put this ten episode arc is the canon of greatest TV ever made.
Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s “Fleishman is in Trouble”
There is something about authors who successfully adapt their own work, it hits extra hard. Brodesser-Akner nails translating her page to TV. The characters you love to hate, the POV switching and rooted depiction of the icky Upper East Side world. As always, Claire Danes plays crazy better than anyone else. I never wanted this show to end. Also, um relatable, shiksa at the table since 12 and many days feel like I’m one degree away from being found sleeping in Central Park.
Steven Levitan’s “Reboot”
Yes, the creator of “Modern Family” made my pick for funniest show of the year. It sooo insider-y it might not work if you don’t work in the film industry, but if you do, it’s pitch perfect. Rachel Bloom and Paul Reiser as father and daughter satisfies my dreams.
Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs & Jen Statsky’s “Hacks”
Was season 2 as good as season 1? No, but I still loved every minute. Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder’s chemistry and banter makes it extra watchable.
I’ve written about it before, so I’ll skip the details, but loved being transported to the tacky 90’s Malibu opulence and the lead’s performances. They were Pam and Tommy.
Special mention to High School, Mo and As We See It. These shows showed us worlds we had never seen before, a female queer Albertan teenage hood, the Palestinian Houston and the world through the lens of being on the spectrum. Thrilled that these shows exist.
This was a slow reading year for me, maybe I was watching, listening, writing or living instead? Actually maybe eating. They aren’t all new, also Canadian women seem to be my favorite writers.
Sean Thor Conroe’s Fuccboi: A Novel
Already praised, but it makes the top of my tops. I love a good high low and a totally new voice. Yes, fuccbois can love Shelia Heti more than I do.
Marlowe Granados’s Happy Hour
Fun, reminded me of my belligerent early New York good ol’ days.
Shelia Heti’s Pure Color
Wasn’t my favorite Heti, but I loved its strangeness, the imagery and the it being about grief, but also not at all at the same time.
Jean Kyoung Frazier’s Pizza Girl
The book I couldn't put down. The best coming of age I’ve read in a long time.
Jenny Hval’s Paradise Rot
Written by a Norwegian musician who is masterful at weaving a sexual awakening with a house that is coming alive. The only magical realism I’ve ever liked. It’s dark and strange.
More Canadian fiction! Her anthology of short stories about coveting thinness, dieting and women obsessing about calories has humor, but manages to be grounded in reality. “Caribbean Therapy” gets a special mention. And Bunny, well that’s just good fun. A must for anyone who’s ever been part of/wanted to be part of a clique of bitchy girls.
Not one person will agree with me about this, but this was my favorite show of 2022. I was caught off guard by this bizzaro downtown LA installation. There was a 30 second John McEnroe video, a piece of well done toast and curtains opening and closing. I laughed, I lingered and I needed to know no more.
The best painting show I’ve seen in years. Mitchell’s a master of color and everything else.
Duh, of course it was great. No one captured America quite like Eggleston.
I stumbled into Nino Mier on Santa Monica Boulevard, not expecting too much, but falling for the work for Ferreira. I loved the scale, the color and the shadow in his depictions of domesticity. Oh that room full of custom chairs! Love to see the work of a young Canadian artist all the way in LA.
Primates, flowers and referencing Flemish still life, you’ve got me. Throw in some bright color and I want to buy them all.
Maybe it’s because I have a soft spot for anything Danish, but this late summer uptown show caught me by surprise. Viewing this old white guy’s work in a E. 79th townhouse is exactly where it needs to be.
I ate, very, very, very well this year. I cooked, I baked and ate out more than ever. Occupational hazards of food writing.
Best Meals of the Year
I’m making a case to go back to restaurants that aren’t brand spanking new, but aren’t iconic, century old classics. Now living in peak Resy alert culture, that I think we’re all over at this point, it’s good to have a local. I wrote about some of my LES neighborhood faves and one of the chef-owners, Fabián von Hauske Valtierra of Wildair, invited me in to return the favor. What a fucking treat! A custom, off menu, tasting to accommodate for my veganness. All the wine and finishing tomato brandy to accompany. The dashi was so good I drank it as was the apple granita leftover juice. I was overcome with gratitude that I didn’t know what to do with aside from invite him for dinner. It’s also the kind of place that I want to close down, sipping on Forthave amaro with the staff. Love everyone that works there. Go back to Wildair, everyone. The meal was so good, there is no photographic evidence of it.
One of my favorites in the world. I’ve had two of the most memorable meals of my life at this dream living room in Copenhagen.
My sister and I surprised my parents, who were on a 70th birthday Euro trip, in the city. After making my dad ball like a baby, we later went to dinner here. We all hadn’t sat down together in a decade. We talked about things that weren’t home renovation projects, impending deliveries or the best way to get from point A to B. A true moment for each other. The sun-dried olive studded rhubarb sorbet was one of the best things I ate all year. All the silly Scandi tropes at play. Take me back.
It’s perfect, from the ice cold side car-ed martinis to the most lavish profiterole. I love any restaurant with an actually good vegan main that’s not some risotto/pasta after thought. My current favorite celebratory restaurant and creator of my dish of the year, a charred, table side sauced, leeks vinaigrette. Bottle this green gold please.
I was pleasantly surprised by this LA newcomer. The city’s restaurants, even the most hyped… Mother Wolf and Horses, usually leave me pretty unmoved, but Camphor! The food, the service and the cocktails! This place feels distinctly not LA, in that it’s a real world class restaurant. Congrats on the Michelin star. Well deserved.
Alder in Toronto. I love a good smokey wood fired vegetable. Go here, get the spinach, the house Pearl Morisette and a big hunk of meat if you eat it. The city’s Ace Hotel is the best one I’ve been to in a long time. Is Ace cool again?
Saint Theo and Claud in New York. I had shluffed Saint Theo off as a see and be scene West Village fashion crowd spot with mid food, but that’s all changing with a new chef who is a real deal accented Italian. It’s definitely still a scene, but one with food worth ordering. The well accoladed Claud is part of the new class of wine bar that’s been taking over the city where the food is as important as the wine. It’s hard for me to eat at a wine bar, but everyone helped me out and I had a great time.
Brutus in Oslo. So unexpected, but much like the Japanese, Scandinavians are great importers of wine. They like the good stuff and have a budget. I drank a chilled German red they had on tap. It was one of the best glasses I had all year.
I cooked a lot and I forgot everything I made except for the below. Yes, I know people want recipes, but those take A LOT of time. If someone can find a way for me to monetize it without pitching it, let me know.
Wild Blueberry Tart with roadside fruit in Maine
This ultra simple dessert tasted like the world’s best blueberry jam. I credit the quality of the berries and a random Airbnb pantry that lead to its genius. I had to use Sugar in the Raw packets pocketed from a coffee shop to sweeten and leftover S’mores graham cracker in the crumble. It looks like nothing, but man was it delicious.
Chocolate Mousse in Paris
Mousse is my favorite dessert, yes there are many ways to make it vegan, but silken tofu doesn’t excite me. Cue being in Paris and finding this egg white substitute. It blows aqufaba out of the water. I made the airiest, yet most decadent mousse I’ve ever had. It doesn’t need the “butter”.
2022 was the year of the green bean in my kitchen. Blanched, roasted, sautéed, they were in rotation. Classic almondine to with crispy maitaikes to dukkah topped. I couldn’t get enough.
Caesarish Salad & Layered Salads in General
I love a comically tall pile of salad with dressing layered throughout instead of tossed in. House dressing of the year was some miso, mustardy, dash of coconut yogurt, heavily garlic-ed and punchy as hell vinaigrette.
I listened to more new music this year than I have since my teenage days, mostly thanks to introductions at my biweekly Parker Soulcycle classes. His music is blend of hot new new and weird old surprises. Love a playlist with Rosalia, the Macarena and the theme from White Lotus. I also love that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Destroyer, Kurt Vile and Phoenix, all made new music that sounded just like their old music. Reliability is an unsung virtue.
Steve Lacy’s Gemini Rights
Couldn’t get enough when this came out and I still can’t. Steve! Lacy! Hard call, but “Bad Habit” was my favorite track of the year.
Charli XCX’s Crash
My favorite pop star made my favorite workout album of 2022.
Unpopular opinion, but I loved this dance-y, classic Drake-y album. Massive and Sticky were my two most listened two songs of the year. #foreveratorontogirl
Great driving, living and writing music. It sounds exactly the same as every other album he’s ever made and that’s what I want.
Alex G’s God Save the Animals
Songs to accompany early morning or dusk walks. Runner amps me up and No Bitterness soothes any residual PTSD from teenage heartbreak I didn’t know I had. The catharsis!
A late addition. Hey, SZA make more albums. You’re great. “I wanted to be thick, now I wanna be thin/Heard Pilates is in, bash your windows out” is my lyric of the year.
Okay it just happens to be made by a dear pal, but this is my favorite flavor yet. Encapsulates my second favorite tea from the mixed pack everyone’s mom had in their pantry of Celestial Seasonings tea. It can lean savory or sweet. It zings and it’s great on its own.
Keeping it all in the family, another BFF brand shout out. Gina, I will buy everything you make, but maybe this sweatshirt more than anything else. Take all my money.
Perhaps late to the party, but I’m moving to the dark side and embracing the non-alcoholic cocktail. Maybe because they actually have become good, at some places, and I go out too much. I loved having a balanced booze free martini at Evangeline in Toronto made with Three Spirit and I like making my own spritz’s at home with Aplos. I think bartenders finally figured out mixing juice with sparkling water doesn’t make a mocktail.
Finally embraced my inner Nolita Dirtbag and bought both of these. Sure, I might look like every other Downtown Kid, but I don’t care. They are, respectively, warm as hell and the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned. Being consistently complimented by young black men on my fits makes me feel youthful. I will not add the Arc'teryx bucket hat in the closet to complete the look. A step too far.
I hate this brand and the cult that goes along with it, but jeez did switching to them cure all my running ills. Forever plagued be recurring tendonitis and ankle sprains, these babies keep me crushing 10ks all year.
The Worst Anything of the Year
Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale
What was this monstrosity? How did this happen? My jaw dropped multiple times in disbelief that NO ONE involved in the making of this film flagged the gross insensitivity, terrible performances, painfully on the nose script, the epically misplaced score and the hammer you over the head with it metaphors. I left the theatre asking if it was made with a wink. I was convinced Aaronofsky was poking fun at the whole prestige drama genre, but nope, it’s an earnest attempt at filmmaking. It now reminds me of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room was crossed with Tod Browning’s Freaks. If you disagree, please give me a call, I’d love to chat about all the ways I hate this terrible movie.
And on that note, to 2023! Writing this made me feel really lucky about my life. Thanks for reading any word of it.
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