A year that brought me back to movie theatres and festivals (in person, anyway), 2022 churned out some outstanding films. In hindsight, it might be one of my favourite years for film in modern memory, though that might be because the preceding couple of years were dampened by the pandemic of it all. Still, it felt like many of my prior and future favourite filmmakers were waiting for the dark wave of COVID to recede, just a little bit, in order to deliver some of their best work. And deliver they did.
I’ve already written about a lot of my favourites, both here and elsewhere; A Wounded Fawn, X, Fresh, Everything Everywhere All At Once, Moonage Daydream, The Fabelmans, The People’s Joker, Give Me Pity, and Something In the Dirt at the top of a list of the best of them. So with this list I’d like to shine a spotlight on some other movies on which I didn’t get a chance to heap praise this year.
The Menu (Mark Mylod)
Hitting late in the year but becoming one of my favourites almost instantly, The Menu brought together a fantastic ensemble cast led by Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Fiennes and sets up a horrific, hilarious bottle story that skewers food and foodie culture, the outrageously wealthy, and the perception and abuse of the service industry. It’s a stunning, out of nowhere pleasure that contains some of the most beautiful food photography and cinematography in general. Other than Everything Everywhere All At Once and Barbarian, I don’t think there’s another movie that had me breathless from laughter as much as The Menu.
Triangle of Sadness (Ruben Ostlund)
A movie that goes nowhere you’d expect, Ruben Ostlund’s cruise ship-set black comedy emerged as an unlikely favourite of 2022, not just for me, but by the awards gatekeepers at Cannes who awarded the film the Palme D’Or. While it’s hard to pin down in terms of genre since it goes in so many directions at once, Triangle of Sadness’ pitch-black humour and meme-worthy visuals of some of the least-likable characters onscreen this year vomiting and shitting all over themselves produce the year’s best encapsulation of class warfare. Woody Harrelson as the Marx-quoting leftist captain is a pure delight, and Dolly de Leon became one of the year’s best surprises as well.
Broker (Hirokazu Kore-eda)
Hirokazu Kore-eda, in most of his critically-acclaimed body of work like Nobody Knows (2004), Like Father, Like Son (2013), and Shoplifters (2018), has a knack for exploring non-traditional and chosen families. In this year’s Broker he manages to wring a beautiful, funny, and surprisingly heartwarming story from a group of human-traffickers and a young mother living with the regret of abandoning her child in a “baby box”. It’s a movie that is so disarming that I found myself stunned by it, and features yet another stunner of a performance by Song Kang-Ho, who has become perhaps my favourite working actor today.
Tár (Todd Field)
I’d been recommended this one so many times and so vehemently by a few trusted people, and not only did it not disappoint but it left me awestruck. By Cate Blanchett’s literally commanding performance, by the best sound design in a movie this year, and by a meticulously-researched and purposeful story that, while not a true one, feels, for all the world, authentic. It blows apart the insular and opaque world of high-level classical music and the symphony, while telling a relatable story about power dynamics and the downfall of an elite talent. Tár demonstrates perfectly how an obsessive love and talent for art at its highest level can become toxic, and forces you to sit in horror as it destroys everything around its main character. Perfection.
Bones and All (Luca Guadagnino)
If you’ve been reading my stuff at BBP for a while, or have found your way into my group chats, you’ll know that I’m a mark for the rhythm of Luca Guadagnino’s films. From Call Me By Your Name to his version of Suspiria, they hit with me like few other filmmakers’ works do. Bones and All is a tender but elegantly-violent story of two cannibals learning to make their way in the world, and is one of the most striking narratives I saw this year. It also happens to feature one of my favourite Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross scores of the many great ones they’ve produced so far. Taylor Russell and Timothee Chalamet, along with an outstanding supporting cast that includes the always-great Mark Rylance, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Chloe Sevigny, deliver some of the most riveting, heartbreaking performances of the year, set against a backdrop of the 1980s American landscape. It’s a remarkable piece that I can’t wait to revisit.
As of this writing, there are still a couple of movies I haven’t yet seen that may (and probably will) ultimately end up on my Best Of list. Darren Aronofsky’s divisive The Whale, Nikyatu Jusu’s Nanny, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinnochio would all probably be here if I had a chance to catch them. It’s also a testament to the quality of the films I was lucky to see this year that stellar outings like Jordan Peele’s NOPE, Ti West’s Pearl, Park Chan-Wook’s Decision To Leave, Daniel Goldhaber’s How To Blow Up A Pipeline, Zach Cregger’s Barbarian, and scores of others didn’t quite make the cut for this list, but still occupy a place in my heart for 2022. It’s been a great one on-screen, my friends, and it’s been a pleasure sharing so many of them with you.