Texas has a Mo’-Ment in 2022 in movies and on TV

Mohamed Amer in the Netflix series “Mo.”

Photo: Netflix/Courtesy of NETFLIX

America and the world got to see a good chunk of Texas on their screens in 2022 — and it wasn’t just because of politics or weather disasters. Numerous Texas-related film and television projects have been released this year, and while none rival “Top Gun: Maverick” or “The White Lotus” in terms of widespread appeal or viral hotness, they nonetheless brought Texas stories to the world stage. . If you haven’t seen them, and you took some time off on vacation, they are all worth seeing.

1 ‘mo’

Houston comedian Mo Aamer has long made his life in the bayou city part of his personal development as a stand-up. He even has two Netflix specials, “Mo Amer: The Vagabond” and “Mohammed in Texas” to show. But it wasn’t until he managed to put the narrative body to the bones of his story of the strife and hustle and bustle of H-Town and turn it into an eight-episode Netflix fantasy series, did his unique point of view really come alive. With the help of a strong, multicultural cast – including rapper/singer Toby Noegui as his best friend – and a sense of Houston venue that few other shows have attempted, Moe brought the region’s diversity to the world stage. The world responded. The series won TV Show of the Year at the AFI Awards and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. It’s a 100 percent rare on Rotten Tomatoes among critics and an 89 percent rare among viewers. Netflix has yet to announce if there will be a second season but they have to renew it, right? Curious for life!

Streaming on Netflix

Novak as Ben Manalovich and Boyd Holbrook as Tai Shaw in Vengeance, written and directed by BJ Novak.

Photo: Patty Perrett/Focus Features/Patty Perrett/Focus Features

2 – revenge

Director and writer B.J. Novak, by his own admission, had little experience with Texas before he made “Revenge,” his thriller set in West Texas that was theatrically released in July. But, rather than being a hindrance, his outsider status proved key to the film’s comedic appeal. Novak plays an aspiring New York podcaster who believes there is a true crime story in the murder of a West Texas woman he hooked up with in Manhattan. He’s become a floating fish on the high plains out of water, and he soon realizes that his brief brushes with the Lone Star State in the past—featured primarily on boards at South by Southwest—didn’t adequately prepare him for the reality of life somewhere near Lubbock. While Novak enjoys all of the characters, himself included, he never does Make Fun of them and that’s just one reason why the movie is so likable. And then there’s this surprisingly impressive turn by Ashton Kutcher that, in a perfect world, would snag even a Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. The only downside: It was filmed in New Mexico. Bou Hamsis.

Streaming on different platforms.

This image released by Netflix shows the character Stan, voiced by Milo Cowie, in the animated film Apollo 10 1/2: A Childhood in the Space Age.

Photo: Associated Press

3 ‘Apollo 10 1/2: A Childhood in the Space Age’

Netflix sure did it right by Houston in 2022. In addition to “Mo,” the streamer also released “Apollo 10 1/2, A Space Age Childhood,” Richard Linklater’s loving reflection on his childhood in Houston. Set in the summer of 1969 around the time of the moon landing, the animated film depicts a specific time and place — one rarely seen in national media — but also makes it wonderfully universal. As with “Mo”, the film was well received and has a rating of 91% among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 86% among viewers. But it was the subject of controversy as the animation committee at the Academy Awards in October initially refused the film from consideration for an Academy Award due to the use of live-action footage used in Linklater’s rotoscope operation. In November, the committee backtracked and said the film could qualify.

Streaming on Netflix.

OMB Bloodbath in Houston at Ghost Song

Photo: GoGoGo Movies

4. “The Ghost Song”

French director Nicolas Bedouzi came to Houston and was so fascinated by everything about it—the creeps, the heat, the humidity, the violence, the oil and gas, the hip-hop—that he decided to make a movie about it. It’s a witty, voyeuristic semi-documentary starring local rapper OMB Bloodbath that doesn’t really say anything about Houston that locals don’t already know – it’s big and racially/economically divided – but it’s still interesting from an outsider. -Scenery. The film has been selected for Nice Media’s Shortlisted Independent Film Series.

Streaming on YouTube

Houston Astros vs. Chicago Cubs Nolan Ryan #34 of the Houston Astros on the mound prepares to throw a pitch during an Eastern League Major League Baseball game against the Chicago Cubs on May 29, 1988 in Wrigley Field, Chicago.

Photo: Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Allspur/Getty Images

5- Confronting Nolan

Houston director Bradley Jackson’s documentary about legendary pitcher Nolan Ryan—who played for the Astros and Rangers as well as the Angels and Mets—is less about Texas or Houston as a place than it is about a Houstonian who made a huge impact on the world, or at least the world of sports. As I wrote after seeing the film at South by Southwest this year, “It’s a compelling character sketch of an Alvin kid who really wanted to be a vet — but who also had an amazing arm.”

Streaming on Netflix, Amazon Video, and iTunes.

Protesters, including Mayra Guillen (center), march for justice for Vanessa Guillen on Netflix’s “I Am Vanessa Guillen.”

Image: Netflix

6. “I’m Vanessa Guillen”

This documentary explores the darker side of Texas. Christy Wegener’s “I Am Vanessa Guillén” uses the murder of a young private first class from Houston at Fort Hood to highlight the aftermath of her murder: a movement led by her family members to change the way the US armed forces deal with sexual harassment and violence within their ranks. It ends up being as much a story about hope as it is about death. Also of note is the Netflix series “Crime Scene: The Texas Killing Fields,” which delves into a series of murders that haunted the League City area in the 1980s and 1990s.

Streaming on Netflix.

cary.darling@houstonchronicle.com




  • Carrie Darling

    Cary Darling joined the Houston Chronicle in 2017 where he writes about arts, entertainment, and pop culture, with a focus on film and media. Originally from Los Angeles and a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, he was a reporter or editor for the Orange County Register, Miami Herald, and Fort Worth Star-Telegram. In addition, he has freelanced for a number of publications including the Los Angeles Times and Dallas Morning News.

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