(This article is part of our Best of 2022 series.)
2022 had a bit of a sluggish start for me. But as the year progressed I watched more and more films that I feel deserve to be on this list. As we are limiting ourselves to five picks, quite a few missed out.
Honorable mentions go to the cinematic spectacles of Top Gun: Maverick and The Northman, along with an excellent range of world cinema releases. From the bombastic RRR to the emotionally complex The Worst Person in the World, there was some great variety. I was also surprised to enjoy some new additions to a couple of my favorite franchises, in Prey and the new Scream movie. The fact I can pick five movies better than those I’ve already mentioned tells me I had a great movie-watching year. So please read in for my top films released in the UK, in 2022.
I’m not ranking my picks, but if I was, Athena would take the number one spot. A marvel of direction and cinematography, it completely blew me away. I still have no idea how they actually filmed some scenes. Gripping from start to finish, I couldn’t take my eyes off the spectacular action and mesmerizing performances, and I’m shocked it hasn’t got more attention. It’s not exactly hard to find, as it’s available on Netflix. The film is set in a rundown Paris suburb, as social unrest against the police reaches boiling point. Plotwise, that’s all you need to know. It’s brutal and tense, but also quite moving in parts. Please watch this movie if you haven’t already.
I went into Aftersun not really knowing what to expect. It’s a film that has really lingered with me. I find myself just thinking about it randomly, days and weeks after watching it. It follows a single father and his 11-year-old daughter during a holiday in the sun, in the 1990s. Paul Mescal plays the father and he is sensational, with young Frankie Corio standing toe to toe with him every step of the way. The story is told in such a delicate way. You are aware that Mescal’s character is dealing with some serious issues, but director Charlotte Wells indicates this so subtly that you are almost subconsciously picking up on his struggles. It’s a very emotional watch, thanks to the performers, storytelling, and also a perfectly fitting soundtrack. Some of the scenes (Under Pressure) will stay with me for a long, long time.
Decision to Leave
Being my favorite director of all time, Park Chan-wook’s latest release was my most anticipated movie of 2022. Thankfully it did not disappoint. It has a different feel to it than most of his other releases. At its heart, it feels like a Hitchcock murder mystery. With the expected amount of twists and turns scattered throughout. It’s not a film you should watch casually. I had to go back and rewatch a few scenes just to fully grasp the happenings and character motivations. But it was worth putting in the little bit of extra effort needed. It’s a beautifully shot film, and it will keep you on tenterhooks the entire way through, trying to guess where the plot will swerve to next. It’s also the first film of female lead Tang Hei that I’ve seen. I’ll be sure to hunt down her other works as she is brilliant in this.
Everything Everywhere All At Once
For outright originality, EEAAO deserves to be on this list. It’s a crazy story about multiverses, full of insane action and wacky gags. But the thing that elevates it above other movies of its ilk, is that it’s also a touching family drama that most people will be able to relate to, one way or another. Strangely, when I first saw this in the cinema I wasn’t blown away. I think it was just a bit too crazy and I had no idea what to expect next. I thought it warranted a second viewing as everyone was praising it to high heaven. With a rewatch from the comfort of my own home, everything just clicked. I think having an idea of where things were headed really helped me just relax and enjoy the spectacle. So if you weren’t sold on EEAAO the first time around, it’s worth giving it another shot.
The Banshees Of Inisheeran
I am a big fan of the Martin McDonagh, Colin Farrell, and Brendan Gleeson holy trinity. So I went into this film expecting another delightfully dark comedy in the vein of In Bruges. And for the first hour or so that’s what I got. But as the film goes on, things start to take a really dark turn. It becomes difficult to watch at points, yet still manages to keep things varied with some laugh-out-loud moments. The main plot revolves around the falling out between two long-term friends, on a small island off the coast of Ireland. There are plenty of twists and turns and when I look at The Banshees of Inisherin as an allegory for the Irish Civil war, it all really falls into place. And for anyone who’s watched it I’m sure you’ll agree, Jenny is clearly the MVP.
What do you think of my favorite films from the past year? Anything you would add?