Time for a post mainly about the films I saw and liked in 2022. I only saw ten films the previous year; I watched a lot more in 2022. Twenty-four films altogether, but I only significantly appreciated about 15 of those. I’ll talk about them each individually roughly in ascending rank but don’t take that too seriously. The last one on the list will be my top favourite of the year.
But first, to start with, I want to mention all the films that were on my radar that I was enthusiastic about watching but didn’t have the time or funds to go see. And they are: Bros, Bodies Bodies Bodies, Moonage Daydream, RRR, The Sea Beast, Wendell and Wild, Blaze, Hatching, Fresh, You Won’t Be Alone, After Yang, Brahmastra, Pearl, Gold, Three Thousand Years of Longing, Barbarian, The Woman King and The Weird Al Yankovic Story.
I’m not counting ones like The Whale and Marcel the Shell with Shoes On because I live in Australia, and those particular ones are getting their release in 2023.
Essentially Strange World is a spiritual successor to Disney’s adventure films such as The Rescuers Down Under, Treasure Planet and Atlantis: The Lost Empire. This will probably have a similar cult status to those one day. I loved the world-building for this one, and I appreciated the dynamic of a guy being the opposite of his father, in contrast to having a child who takes more after his grandfather. It was something that I hadn’t seen before, and I think it provided some entertaining and thought-provoking conflicts that were perfect for a family movie.
I reviewed this one already, but I loved this intense film about identity, which has become deeper to me as time passes. Something that I said at the time I reviewed this film was that it would likely be the most underrated film I watch in 2022, and now that the year is over, that has remained the case. So if you want to get into Australian cinema and don’t mind violence, I recommend this director’s debut.
Belle is the latest film directed by Mamoru Hosoda and is an epic diegetic musical about V-Tubers. Yup. Just in premise, this is one of the most unique films in a while, and I applaud Hosoda for doing something so different and much more extensive than anything else he has done up until this point. However, the film suffers from a few gaps in its plot and story logic which historically tends to happen with Hosoda’s movies that he writes by himself. And I think the film needed more subtlety when it came to its retelling of Beauty and the Beast. While Hosoda is a phenomenal filmmaker, I believe when it comes to his screenplays, he needs a co-writer which he used to have, and I think had Satoko Okudera worked on Belle with him, this might have ended up being his best film. Despite that, I think this is one of the most impressively audio-visual experiences I have had this year, and also, the music, especially for the English dub, is fantastic on its own.
I also reviewed this one, and this was such a delightful comedy film that is here to remind everyone that Nicolas Cage is self-aware in the most fun way possible. And I can’t wait to see him in Renfield.
I think X is fun to watch, but I completely missed out on seeing its prequel, which is apparently far superior to this film. And its sequel, MaXXXine, supposedly has a lot to live up to now. But otherwise, I can still recommend this hilarious sex-comedy slasher.
Bullet Train, in my opinion, despite not being based on an anime, feels like one anyway, and I think any future live-action adaptations should probably take notes from this film. I’m thrilled this film managed to do well as, in my opinion, the critics were totally wrong about it.
Violent Night is a new holiday classic that is like if Die Hard was actually a Christmas movie! Yeah, that’s right, I went there. This was by the same producers of Bullet Train, but I decided to put this one ahead of Bullet Train because I was more enamoured with David Harbour than I was with Brad Pitt.
Not going to lie; this is my favourite take on Batman since Lego Batman. Many curious choices were made for this film, including the casting. All of which, I think, provided something new to the text of Batman while remaining sincere. I am looking forward to a sequel by Matt Reeves, and I hope he’ll one day consider incorporating Mr Freeze into this world who has been annoyingly removed from live-action.
Prey is the first good sequel to Predator ever. Some might say it’s arguably better than Predator. Not me, though. But I still stand by my opinion that Naru is the best protagonist of the franchise so far. And this film absolutely deserved a cinema release.
Bones and All
Okay, so this film is not for everyone. Even for me, this movie made me feel queasy at times. The makers of this film are very much trusting the audience to interpret the premise. The premise is a road trip love story about the unseen network of cannibals — specifically, people born with an uncontrollable urge to eat people whether they want it or not. I found Timothee Chalamet’s performance tantalising in this one and was reminded of Leonardo DiCaprio, funnily enough. And Taylor Russell, who leads the film while her character is a quiet soul, is still a cannibal, and I appreciated the hesitancy and confusion she conveyed with such softness.
After watching this film, I was too afraid to look up at the sky. I kept my head down when I walked home from the cinema. Many people seem to have found the monkey the most terrifying thing in the movie, but it was the cowboy hat monster for me. The more I learned about it, the more it made me feel sick from its malice and evil. I also really think that this is Jordan Peele’s best film so far. Not only is he knocking it out of the parking, he is getting better and better with each film. This is also an excellent film for analysis and generally thinking about themes. I also felt particularly vindicated because this was my first time seeing Steven Yeun in a movie, and afterward I thought he would have been a better casting choice for the “mainish” character of Bullet Train. Lastly, I appreciated its direct mentions of The Scorpion King, as that had been a childhood favourite of mine.
Yeah, I cried. This one is definitely one of the most well-crafted films of this year, and it’s crazy to think that it almost didn’t get made, even though it has always had Guillermo Del Toro attached to it. This is definitely the best Pinocchio film made since Disney’s adaptation. And honestly, old guys crying over their deceased families is something that does get me tear-jerking. It also has some pretty heavy backdrops and themes, such as Mussolini’s Italy and fascism. As such, this film is much like the second Guillermo Del Toro film I ever saw, Pan’s Labyrinth. But I wouldn’t say I liked that film if I’m being honest, as I didn’t think the combination of dark fantasy and historical Spanish Falangism worked that well. Here with Pinocchio, it’s a refined version of Pan’s Labyrinth’s ideas for sure.
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero
So don’t get me wrong, Dragon Ball Super: Broly is objectively the absolute best Dragon Ball ever looked period. Saying that I liked Super Hero more, and the CG was a brilliant choice for this one. I’m sorry, but it just looks good. Granted, I am biased as this film is connected to the story arc that got me into DBZ in the first place. And I think the Gammas are my favourite DBZ characters now.
Avatar: The Way of Water
Holy shit, I actually give a damn about Avatar now! The first Avatar, in my opinion, is OK, but I didn’t care about its story or characters to start with. None of it was particularly interesting to me. As such I did not have any high expectations for its sequel. But this film exceeded in every aspect, from looking even better than the first, which was already the most visual film even by today’s standards and had so much heart by now going forward being about family. Even the villains have become much more interesting because of this theme. I don’t know where to begin with this film, but I’d like to discuss it at length about it one day.
So I already discussed this film, but it is dishearteningly underrated. Please watch it. It’s about Vikings and other cool things.
I talked about Everything Everywhere All At Once this year, and I don’t think I came anywhere close to scratching the surface of this film. It’s such a once-in-a-lifetime creation for the screen that I would love to talk about again one day but am probably too afraid, too, as I don’t think I could talk about it ever without genuinely doing it justice. Also, every casting decision was perfect, Ke Huy Quan is the best comeback ever, and every Waymond is a version of masculinity I want to emulate. Out of all the films in 2022, if you did not see Everything Everywhere All At Once, please do.
Other things I liked in 2022: Chainsaw Man, Our Flag Means Death, Rust-Eater Bisco and Raven of the Inner Palace.