The year is 2022. Year 1 of Post-Covid. But since we live in the timeline Marty McFly fucked up, the world continues to be a depressing satire that you laugh-cry at. Events included Putin seeing himself as Sauron and gifting 8 rings, Andrew Tate getting arrested by tipping the police that he was in Romania with a pizza box, and me getting fired, unfired, and laid off 5 days before Christmas. But I digress.
Here are my top ten movies of 2022:
Geppeto takes down a pine tree in a drunken rage, builds a wooden doll out of its hacked trunk, and falls asleep. A fairy decides to bring the doll to life, but not before making a deal with a self-absorbed cricket who has claimed its source material as his home. Fear not, this isn’t a live-action version to turn a kid’s movie into an “edgy” horror for adults. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is a mature and inventive stop-motion movie about misguided parental expectations and accepting people for who they are.
9. RRR (Rise, Roar, Revolt)
This Indian Telugu-language epic drama has everything you expect from a cliched yet ambitious action B-movie – heroes with infinite health, ridiculous action scenes, and clunky CGI. But it also has an anti-imperialist story, nuanced characterization, period-accurate costumes, and an electrifying musical score, all executed with panache. RRR requires a lot of suspension in disbelief but its over-the-top antics, like releasing a bunch of wild animals at a party of imperialists, are equally hilarious and entertaining.
Pay no mind to troglodytes who complain about a 110lb girl in a franchise about aliens. Prey is a well-executed back-to-basics western/sci-fi/slasher/thriller that offers plenty of action without skimping on character development. In this prequel, the hunter does not become the hunted in a testosterone-fueled display of machismo. Naru survives not because she’s stronger than the men in her tribe. It’s because there’s no one else who knows more about the predator than its prey.
Under 88 minutes, Saloum manages to deliver a jampacked plot – it’s an action movie about bad men doing good things, a revenge tale about an outlaw, and a horror about a curse that serves as an allegory for systemic ills. The movie accomplishes all this with narrative turns that deftly flow into each other, culminating in an unpredictable and innovative African film.
6. After Yang
After Yang deviates from the grimy, doom-and-gloom, or sterile visions of the future for something gentle and introspective. In a quest to save his robotic child, Jake gets access to Yang’s memory bank. Jake discovers that the robot lived a full life before he purchased it from a reseller. In the process, After Yang examines loss, our reliance on technology, and how the human capacity to care can forge transcendental connections.
5. Woman King
Woman King is not historically accurate and you can even say it’s a Hollywoodized depiction of the Agojie, yet this historical action movie remains an exhilarating epic worthy of a trip to the cinema. It’s a battle-heavy blockbuster with intense fight choreography, Hollywood-sized set pieces, beautiful visuals, and amazing performances that will make you cheer for its heroines.
4. Decision to Leave
Decision to Leave is confounding and needlessly complicated, but isn’t that what adults are? This South Korean romantic mystery/crime thriller revolves around two people who test their boundaries and never cross them. With deft camerawork, engaging performances, and an intriguing script, Decision to Leave is a genre-bending tale of love, deceit, obsession, and regret.
In 2020, which feels like 10 years ago now, I was captivated by Never Rarely Sometimes Always, a quietly devastating film about abortion. Happening is also a quietly devastating film, but rather than a build-up to a gut punch, it offers a fly-on-the-wall look at the desperate attempts of a promising student to get an abortion in 1963 France. Propelled by a great performance by Anamaria Vartolomei, Happening is an effective thriller that tells you childbirth is not just about one life, but two lives that can end up getting destroyed.
2. Banshees of Inisherin
Colm doesn’t want to talk to Padraic anymore. He wants to make music and leave a legacy, which means he has no time for dull aimless chats at the pub. In an isolated village where a lone old woman that everyone avoids is an omen of what they will all eventually become, a broken friendship is devastating. Padraic persists despite an ultimatum, leading to an escalating series of events. Banshees of Inisherin has a comedic yet tragic examination of loneliness that makes it simple yet compelling. Cinematography and an ensemble cast of talented actors complete this masterpiece.
1. Everything Everywhere All at Once
Everything Everywhere All at Once is a breath of fresh air in a superhero-saturated cinema. But the true power of EEAO does not lie in its wildly inventive visuals, balls-to-the-wall creativity, Michelle Yeoh at her finest, and multiverse of madness. EEAO has a heartfelt story at its center. While life can be a pointless and hopeless struggle the people you love – despite the unfulfilled dreams, the mundane grind of existence, and infinite possibilities – make it worth fighting for.