Here Are the Four Things Exclaim! Gave a 10/10 in 2022

Two albums, a TV series and a film got perfect scores this year

Photo: Chris Colohan

BY Alex HudsonPublished Dec 30, 2022

There's no such thing as perfect art. No album is flawless (even Sgt. Pepper's has "Good Morning Good Morning"), so awarding a 10/10 score doesn't necessarily mean it's exemplary in every way. Rather, a 10/10 signifies a transcendent, paradigm-shifting work — something that reframes perspectives, breaks down walls, captures a moment, and influences those who come after.

This is, of course, incredibly difficult to judge in real-time. Without the benefit of hindsight, how are we supposed to know if a piece of art will resonate with those who come after?

That's why we award a 10/10 so rarely. Among the many albums, films and shows Exclaim! reviewed in 2022, we only gave out four perfect scores. While we can't yet know how these will shape generations to come, they cemented legacies, reimagined genres and embodied the concerns of our current moment.

Ironically, none of these ended up topping our year-end lists of the best albums, films and shows of 2022, although they all appeared high up on those lists. Below, see the four works Exclaim! gave a 10/10 in 2022.

Created by Dan Erickson

Date of review: February 7, 2022

In 2021–2022, workers quit en masse as part of the Great Resignation, responding to wages that weren't rising to match the rate of inflation, increased workplace risks due to COVID-19, and a general dissatisfaction with life within a decaying capitalist system. Apple TV+ series Severance captured those issues masterfully, channelling the mysteriousness of Lost and the comical drudgery of Office Space in a workplace thriller about a futuristic company where employees have their consciousness "severed" between their workplace selves and their at-home selves. As well as being a canny look at work-life balance, the eye-grabbing sets and cryptic mysteries connected on a visceral level. Let's get Season 2 before the melon bloat sets in.

The Sadies
Colder Streams
Date of review: July 20, 2022

In a tongue-in-cheek bio for the Sadies' latest album, Dallas Good wrote, "Colder Streams is, by far, the best record that has ever been made by anyone. Ever." Tragically, Good died at the age of 48 before the album came out — but once it did, it revealed that his hyperbolic bio wasn't all that far from the truth. Colder Streams is the glorious culmination of a decades-long career, its alt-country anthems capturing both the technical mastery and the cosmos-searching soulfulness the Sadies have devoted their lives to. Good's final album with the Sadies is an impeccable document of what he gave listeners during his lifetime.

Date of review: August 1, 2022

We all expected the pandemic to end with a cathartic sense of finality. Instead, it's been more of a slow fade — new waves of infections, mandates that come and go, and a general sense that we've been left to fend for ourselves. There's not going to be a clearcut moment when everything snaps back to "normal." Instead, Beyoncé's RENAISSANCE is about the closest we'll ever get to COVID's version of V-E Day: a life-affirming dance party in which we all march down to the club to release the stress, release the love, forget the rest and fuck up the night.

All Quiet on the Western Front
Directed by Edward Berger
Date of review: October 13, 2022

Nearly a century since Erich Maria Remarque's novel Im Westen nichts Neues, his story of WWI trench warfare has been brought to life in harrowing detail. Director Edward Berger chronicles the flip from naïve nationalism to the trauma of war, showing how idealistic teenagers were callously used by political leaders. In a year in which war returned to Europe and world superpowers seemed increasingly unstable, All Quiet on the Western Front was a necessary reminder of the horrors of battle. It's hard to think of another movie that so convincingly tears down myths about the glory of warfare, making for a compelling entry to the canon of all-time great war films.

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