Welcome to that time of the year to feel guilty! Guilty? Why yes, because I have not seen nearly enough of those artsy fartsy arthouse films that are supposed to be good, and not nearly enough of those subtle sensitive human drama films. I haven’t seen last year’s every Midlife Crisis Movie, and not every Old People Trying to Date Movie. Instead, I’ve stuffed my face full of M&Ms while watching superhero crap. So who am I to make a top 10 list if I don’t watch all that highbrow Kino? Just a random movie goer, like everyone else.
Interesting Films That Came Out in 2021 But Appeared in 2022 Where I’m At, And Didn’t Make The List But Still Deserve A Mention
The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (2021). Cumberbatch plays an eccentric goofball artist who paints cats, and struggles mightily and clumsily against English stiff-upper-lip culture and class hysteria to woo Claire Foy. It is a quality film, lifted up by production value, talent and artistry. The story gets more unconventional and uncomfortable towards the end, dives deep into mental health problems and ultimately is much more touching than I expected.
Nightmare Alley (2021). Guillermo del Toro’s new movie is a beautifully realised piece of art. Bradley Cooper’s acting is smooth and natural as a mentalist at a carnival who tries to make it on his own. Del Toro’s style of course fits perfectly with that most colourful and grotesque environment of a carnival. The film is a pleasure to watch simply for the quality on display in every facet of filmmaking, from the sets to the shots and acting. The conclusion could have been stronger, though.
Licorice Pizza (2021). A new Paul Thomas Anderson film is always a must for every film lover. Anderson makes unconventional movies, about unconventional people, and Licorice Pizza is about an unconventional relationship/partnership/association between a young guy and a little bit older girl where you never really know what it is between them, but it sure is fun to watch. The unfamiliar actors do great work and show oddball chemistry that made this film very enjoyable. Cute and atmospheric.
Red Rocket (2021). This film is both a bit of a masterpiece and disgusting. It follows some 45 year old ex-pornstar who moves back to Bumfuck Texas to hustle his way back into his ex’s life. Then he meets a 17 year old girl and starts… grooming her for the porn industry. Director Sean Baker (Florida Project) is making a name for himself by filming the poor underbelly of America who live in the most depressing places, and adds real-life people to his film next to the actors. Baker found the perfect location for this film where every horizon shows some dirty oil refinery constantly in the background, like a symbol of exploitation. The film lures you in with its smooth-talking actor who really seems like he is trying to fix his life and he even seems kinda charming, but before soon you realise that he corrupts every situation he is in while leeching off other people. It’s a very immersive film, like watching a train wreck in slow motion.
The Power of the Dog (2021). Nominated for 12 oscars. Is it really that good? No. But it is a decent western with a slow story that only becomes clear near the end in a very strong ending. All the acting is strong and subtle and there is an uncomfortable tension throughout the movie. What makes this western feel modern is that the background tension in the film is directly in line with the perspective of Dunst, the widow. It is her anxiety we feel. And when we are ultimately released from that, how do we feel? That is for every viewer to decide for themselves.
Films From 2022 That I Haven’t Watched Yet But Might Be Good, Even Good Enough To Appear In My List. I Apologise.
- Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
- Decision to Leave
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022). An action-comedy starring Nicolas Cage as Nick Cage, as an ironic meta-commentary on his career. He plays himself as an ageing, failing actor who finds that there is no script for being a good dad. Then he suddenly finds himself in the midst of a CIA mission. On the one hand, most of the jokes are references to his earlier movies, which is a bit lazy. On the other hand, if you’re a film buff and like Cage, this will be entertaining. The film keeps evolving from genre to genre, drama, bromance, action, and the second half is quite good with many fun moments, leaving you well satisfied.
Bullet Train (2022). Is a fantastic funny action comedy, of the type that has assassins galore, witty dialogue, flashy action scenes and weird twists of fate. A whole bunch of assassins find themselves on a Japanese bullet train and their fortunes intersect in many ways as they try to fulfil their missions. The film rests so much on coincidences and plotlines coming together that the writers simply made ‘fate’ the main theme of the story. I highly recommend it. It a smart, funny film that stays entertaining all the way through.
Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022). The newest film by George Miller. The story concerns an academic played by Tilda Swinton who buys an old bottle that surprisingly houses a djinn (Idris Elba). Swinton however is a narratologist and refuses to believe he is real and first thinks her imagination is playing tricks on her and secondly, is well aware of all the fairy tales in which magical wishes go wrong. The djinn tells her stories of myth, of Sheba and Solomon and many others, gorgeously shot, which Swinton of course doesn’t believe. Each story is about longing in some way. It’s a film about stories and about love, and falling in love with stories. I greatly enjoyed it, conceptually, but as a love story it didn’t do much for me.
Avatar: The Way of Water (2022). This film offers a visual spectacle of the likes I have never seen before. It looks real. It also offers a story so bland that I have no interest in seeing it again. So it only has value as a theater experience, really. But for those three hours, you get a full immersion in an alien world, as close as it gets. That must count for something I suppose. As a former biologist, travel enthusiast and sci-fi nut, I’m predisposed to loving this, but since I’m also a movie lover, I can do no more than merely liking it. If a part 3 comes out, I’ll still be watching.
The Fabelmans (2022). Spielberg’s film about his own childhood learning how to make movies, including how to shine bright lights in your face. It takes an hour of mildly interesting family scenes before anything of spice starts to happen, and after that the movie doesn’t exactly take flight, but all in all it is a well-made film with some touching moments. It has some drama, some comedy, but the story didn’t amount to much in my opinion.
Nope (2022). A movie that at first reminded me very much of Signs (2002), but with some interesting twists, a little bit of comedy added, and a different subtext about the taming of wild animals and the use of them in showbiz. The film looks great, the imagery and cinematography is great. The story is restricted to a couple of locations and a small cast of characters and that works wonderfully for a sense of isolation and for a memorable tone and mood for the film. There are some fantastically creepy moments, and the tension is ramped up with scenes full of ingenuity. I really liked it, and I think it will reward repeated viewings to discover all the thematic linkages.
Bones and All (2022). A roadtrip movie about a romance and with a supernatural twist. Honestly one of the best films I’ve seen all year. It’s full of tense scenes, surprising moments and unsettling shots. The supernatural aspect feels very grounded in a believable, realistic world. Timothee Chalamet is a bit too present, to the effect that he threatened to take the attention away from the main character, Taylor Russell, and is getting typecast as the romantic loner. But the acting is great all around. Fascinating from start to finish.
Top 10 of 2022
- Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022). Del Toro steps over the Disney interpretation and reinvents the Pinocchio tale by adding in themes that have captivated Del Toro throughout his career: themes of death and of fascism. And they make for a very good fit, since Del Toro blended it all marvellously. This is a great interpretation, looks fantastic, and I think this one will stick around for a while in pop culture.
- The Batman (2022). A class act. The film perfectly radiates that gothic noir atmosphere. Excellent visual style – dark yes but it suits the material. Feels like beautiful darkly painted comic with excellent use of muted colours and compositions. This batman is a good one, not slightly absurd as Christian Bale’s version. And this version of the Riddler has much in common with John Doe in David Fincher’s Seven, as does the rest of the film. This is a more personal batman too. While Nolan’s films were so focused on the villains, Bale’s batman didn’t have much personality, but this new film is more balanced in that regard. Catwoman was a great addition this time, as she adds an emotional layer to the story. Yes, I liked this film very much.
- Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (2022). Al Yankovic’s biopic, couldn’t miss that one after Elton John, Elvis and others, BUT since the script is written by Al himself, he made it a parody! Yankovic wipes the floor with all the biopic cliches by exaggerating them, and Daniel Radcliffe, he goes for it. It all depends on whether you enjoy his sense of humor. The film is like a series of comedic sketches, like his old UHF material. It’s consistently funny all the way through and I loved it.
- Top Gun: Maverick (2022). A pretty good sequel. I was never a huge fan of the original Top Gun, but this sequel like Maverick himself flies through an obstacle-course of Hollywood-pitfalls and emerges unscathed at the other end. The superficial emotional beats of the old film, like his relationship and his tragedy with his wingman, are taken up again and are given more depth. The film wins you over by being respectful to the old film and to the audience both.
- Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (2021). I have no words for how adorable this film is. It’s a fake documentary about a walking, talking shell, and it made me tear up. Marcel has a life story, and fears and pizzazz, and lives with his grandma shell in the corners of an Airbnb home. The voice work is fantastic. The little life lessons are touching, and the film not as twee as you might expect. The whole family can enjoy it. It’s a little long for the kind of artistic project that it is, but it’s one of my favourites of the year. I loved it.
- The Northman (2022). While watching, my couch grew wings and we set course for Valhalla. This is a cinematic masterpiece. Like a visual interpretation of grimdark, this brutal and realistic depiction of a Viking revenge tale grips you by the guts and doesn’t let go. Good pacing, a fantastic soundtrack and first-class cinematography kept me in thrall, while Robert Eggers’s little arthouse additions lifted the film up further so that in rewatches you can admire the short metaphorical scenes, the interplay of the natural and supernatural, the play with colour against dour backgrounds and the stylised, slightly poetic and alienating human interactions. It isn’t meant to be a slick blockbuster. The film expresses its own truth and doesn’t bow to the lowest common denominators.
- The Banshees of Inisherin (2022). From director McDonagh (In Bruges, Three Billboards…). On a little Irish island, Colm (Brendan Gleeson) and Padraic (Colin Farrell) used to be friends. Problem is, Padraic. He’s dull. Now Colm doesn’t want to be friends no more. That’s it, that’s the story and it is funny, but also deals with some existential questions about legacy. Farrell should get an Oscar. I love how the location and cast are very contained and you slowly get familiar with the figures and the village. The location works perfectly with the themes of emptiness and legacy, like an external representation of despair.
- Triangle of Sadness (2022). A perfectly written, very well directed satire of cuddled and clueless rich folk. Some vapid instagram models and Russian oligarchs are on a luxury cruise. Once the ship breaks down, things go from bad to worse. Director Ostlund’s films take their time to get to the point, and when they do, they’re more uncomfortable than hilarious. Very uncomfortable. Ostlund’s films are full of awkward relationships and people who don’t want to lose face. Ostlund writes and directs like a social psychologist, and shows what dumb creatures we are. The film changes shape a few times. Like the three sides of a triangle. One of the best interpretations I’ve seen is that the characters and events in the film represent the history of the 20th century. One of the best of the year, if a bit long.
- The Menu (2022). A unique thriller that is a masterclass in tension building and one that constantly keeps you on your toes. It plays with the dynamic between artists, critics and the common people, and the rich and poor. It satirises the foodie culture. The whole film feels like a sustained act, a play, which the victims fail to participate in. It has a rhythm of tension and comedic release that works wonderfully, and Fiennes and Taylor-Joy are mesmerising. I loved it.
- Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022). It is pretty amazing how much emotion this film could wring out of me while also being a crazy crazy rollercoaster of sci-fi craziness. This film engages in a pretty abstract sci-fi concept about people swapping bodies while traveling from universe to universe and this generates many scenes that are not easy to interpret if you are not paying attention. (Again with the multiverses, I know, but this is a good one.)The film becomes a kaleidoscope of genres as Michelle Yeoh has to act different versions of herself, which she does brilliantly. And because the main cast of characters are all well-written, quirky and funny people, there is an emotional core to the story that made me tear up with happy feelings towards the end. Besides all that, this film is hilarious and very imaginative. I was glued to the screen for two hours. I laughed, I cried, and so did everyone else in the theatre. It has the acting and absurdity of a wacky art-house film combined with innovative special effects and a complexity of script and film that you hardly ever see in the theatre. I expect this film to be my favourite of the year.
Thanks, that’s what I needed! I’ve seen some great shows in 2022, but remarkably few movies. I love The Maverick, All Quiet On the Western Front is probably my favourite movie that premiered in 2022… several films from your list were already on my list, I added some more, I want to watch more this year 🙂
I also started a special challenge, we have a calendar at home bought in Venice that has a different poster of classic Italian movie for each month. We aim to watch each of these while its month lasts 🙂
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That’s a cool challenge! I’d love to hear your thoughts on them, but the Re-enchantment blog doesn’t do movies, right? At least not old Italian ones.
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Good idea, I might do one post with some short reviews, near year’s end. We diversify, my next review will likely by a WWII novel 😉
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Glad you enjoyed so many movies 🙂
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Thanks! I love them.
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Great post! As to your line here: “So who am I to make a top 10 list if I don’t watch all that highbrow Kino?” I think ony “professional” film critics have time to watch *all* the “highbrow” or indie films that come out in a year. I like your taste in films and books, so I come here for YOUR Top 10s! I always find good recommendations here and discover films I may have missed. Thank You.
By the way, just to mention one of the films you wrote about. Bullet Train was probably the biggest surprise for me this year. After watching the trailer, I was kind of dismissing it. I watched it on streaming the other day and had an absolute blast! So much fun! Clever, exciting, stylish with some great writing and performances. Sure it’s half bonkers but so entertaining! It isn’t my favourite film of 2022 but it’s probably the most enjoyable one for me. And I really want to watch it again.
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Thank you Wakizashi! Yeah Bullet Train was a lot of fun wasn’t it? The writers channeled a bit of Guy Ritchie and Tarantino, and while that’s starting to get a bit cliché, it’s still heaps of fun.
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Thanks for this, writing a few of these titles down…
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Glad to be of service!
No guilt, Jeroen! Most of the artsy movies are usually somewhat of a letdown for me 😉 while my expectations regarding blockbusters are more often met than not 😉
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The thing is that I am usually tired at the end of the day, and starting a movie feels like too much of a commitment. Let alone some complex drama film.
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I’ve seen many of the ones you mentioned, some more, some less than you. Bullet Train I enjoyed while it played, however, was like watching a cinnamon roller (empty calories, or style of substance). I enjoyed Louis Wain, The Batman to a lesser degree than you (a bit too long), Weird Al (fun), Top Gun: Maverick (third act saved it, though the plot reminded me some of Star Wars), Licorice Pizza (interesting, but I’m not in that age group, and a bit rambling, an okay watch), The Power of the Dog, I enjoyed, The Northman, I enjoyed. I added some per your reviews.
Though not brand new-ish films, I enjoyed Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old, The Browning Version (1951), The Magnificent Ambersons, The Courier, Aniara, Kes, The Father, News of the World, The Last Duel, The Lost Daughter, Possessor, The Black Phone, Werewolf by Night, Censor, Saint Maud, and a few others I’m probably forgetting.