THE BEST MOVIES OF 2022

2022 is the first year that I’ve surpassed watching one-hundred movies which were released either limitedly or widely in America from the same annual timespan. As a result, there was no way I wouldn’t be making a celebratory list for 2022 of the best of the best, and I’m excited to share another twenty movies that blew all their year-round contenders out of the water. Before I begin listing my favorites though — in no particular order — here are some…

Honorable Mentions:

…and now I present to you THE BEST MOVIES OF 2022:

The Worst Person in the World (Joachim Trier)

What I think The Worst Person in the World has working at its advantage is how it relates us to that familiar, existential navigation of the “in between” state we constantly find ourselves questioning, where life seemingly never starts yet seemingly has all the time in the world to never end, and how both of those instinctive presumptions are a lie retrospectively despite our permanent refusal to accept it. Most of our yearns for life to start are just accumulating in the process of it rather ending, and we can’t help but refuse to challenge the notion that nothing of value worth holding onto happens during these time frames, and that the development of new time frames is in order to spark some sort of euphoric discovery before any eventual “parenthood phase” occurs — something so culturally set in stone as what continues predominantly from there on till the end, a cliché of consistency despite that being exactly what we want, except, through a more ideological lens that can somehow turn these young adult coming of age days into an otherworldly meaning to cherish onward. But everything is a byproduct of leading ourselves to new generations, and the fear to let it happen will always be there despite us rarely caring to pinpoint what’s even making our current motions worth experimenting with, as if they weren’t perfectly okay to begin with.

Compartment No. 6 (Juho Kuosmanen)

A film that falls for its familiar premise’s — “the unlikely friendship’s” — dramatic conventions maybe far too frequently, but one that at least feels personal enough in its presentation of them to humanize the narrative and therefore relate its audience. Juho Kuosmanen fabricates quite the effective sense of abandonment in this. Naturally, he also communicates to us how brief moments of loneliness can punish us as if we were experiencing an eternity, and how that fattens our intimacy towards strangers. We often seek people not because we’re aware of who they are in their entirety, but rather for their time and the nostalgic memories we can make of them simplistically. The charm of or, perhaps even more so, the attraction towards people can certainly stem from their unconventional ambitions, whether we understand why they exist or not; we just know they must for a reason, and that’s what brings us back down to earth: noticing there are others who merely want to share that “time” caused uniquely by them; we live for dedication to another and their dedication to ourselves. There’s no doubt that the intentionally chosen ambiguities of the two main leads in Compartment No. 6 have helped communicate this across the board, as well as their persuasive performers. 

Everything Everywhere All at Once (Daniels)

The Daniels bite off a little more than they can chew, but by God is there so much to chew to really get that upset at them for it. If anything, for what they did do, that alone is already lightyears more commendable than what you could say about a majority of filmmaking efforts today. In hindsight, what ends up divulging the impressiveness of Everything Everywhere All at Once the most is really its surface technicalities: the insanely hyper-specific camerawork and blocking, intricately jumbo-footage-assembled match-cut editing, and unusual variety of special effect styles and pop culture references; the sheer amount of effort here is something impossible to not find admiration in even if they don’t all perfectly translate the story’s desired emotional resonance, which howbeit, again, feels inevitable given something that crams this much content into its runtime. And, the amalgamation between comedy and action here is just sublime: the duo truly take the rules of their universe to each’s fullest, absurdist potential in the funniest, slap-stickiest, and blissfully immature-ist (like that attempted spelling) possible ways, never holding an ounce of expression back. If this movie proved anything, it’s that The Daniels are worthy of becoming the hard-working modern-day Chaplins and Wachowskis for this meme-led generation.

The Northman (Robert Eggers)

In all 137 minutes of brooding, virtually heartless, and testosterone-wedged human malice, Robert Eggers only offers his audience but a brief glimpse of mercy that wanes away though so forthwith that your attempt to catch a breath is ominously meant to disorient you even more so for the rest which ensues. Bearing in mind that this is a contemporary big studio production, I am quite shocked by how much is supposedly not held back — because it seems as if nothing is. Manifesting the hunger of a carnivore, socializing the captured to rape, massacring children for your own future; the hardcore yet truthful nature of what’s shown here is excruciating. Thus, get this through your head right now: every character in The Northman was forged from the depths of hell. Like Eggers himself once said: “You can’t be judgmental of the characters and the time period. You can’t rewrite history to conform to the zeitgeist.” The Northman doesn’t flow seamlessly in every respect, but every isolated moment of Anglo-Saxon theater performance or calculated violence is so hypnotically accomplished on their own rights that it’s difficult to not be in a trance with them, at least individually, similar to how Eggers’ previous efforts operated. If anything, they connect well enough regardless because of this expected dream logic chronology that has always been a trademark of the director’s unparalleled aesthetic. Sincerely to general blockbuster audiences reading this, prepare yourselves for some serious culture shock… and gore.

Memoria (Apichatpong Weerasethakul) *MY 3RD FAVORITE MOVIE OF 2022*

Memoria, not to that much of a shock, is about someone uncovering the mystery behind her memory, brought to life when a mysterious, canorous thumping noise begins occupying the ears. She initially presumes that this noise is happening at random, appearing in jump-scare-like magnitudes of shock that catch both her and likely us viewers off-guard during their first couple appearances, but incident by incident do the noises begin to appear only more as if they’ve been orchestrating her into seemingly destined situations. Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s latest contribution to gentle and cryptic cinema is another kind of homage to one of life’s greatest mysteries: the tragic unreliability yet adventurous bliss within memory as a form of believed reality and dependable guidance, exhorting divisively both our distrusts towards the present time and our innocence from its lack of objectivity.

Crimes of the Future (David Cronenberg)

“Crimes of the Future” is a title that nearly every one of David Cronenberg’s socially-minded body outputs thus far could’ve slipped themselves into – one in fact even did near the very beginning of the auteur’s illustrious career – but perhaps this now recently adapted 20-year-old script, initially scrapped right before his career began mutating into strict drama narratives, is the most earned of the name as an irony of it. See, these are quote on quote “crimes” of the future, but they are also meant to speak for quite literally the crimes of forever, the cumulative crimes built from all humanity. The film is disguised to be about a beginning in an end, and then confesses to really be about a fragment of a prolonged beginning never reaching an end. Essentially, there is no future here as the favored word has been glorified to insinuate, just a future in its verbatim of wanting one; if there is a crime of the future, it’s that it has no greater future, just a genetic habit that only helps obscure it: to control our own evolution but not OUR evolution. The dependable world-building that Cronenberg uses to depict this alone feels like something he’s been dying to make his entire career, but one not ready for such until the longer observed aging of his body could feed him the information he needed to get this story right. In doing so, the face-value crime of what we see in his sci-fi is not necessarily sworn as one to him, but more so as something he’s accepted as fact. There’s barely a cautionary thesis to this like his previous body-horror endeavors. If anything, the thesis is “let it be”. It’s as if he’s decided to drop the “horror” and leave the “body”. 

Mad God (Phil Tippett)

A movie like Mad God longs for your interpretation. It is a vulnerable cinematic excavation of the content of its creator’s nightmares, a practice in artistically materializing one’s déjà-rêvé, perhaps acting as a sort of therapy for Phil Tippett in doing so. The Old Testament-inspired fantasy realm that he has – for the past thirty years now – reconcocted with a doyen’s level of care humorously toys with our corporal circle of life by adjusted conditions that stretch the reality which we know of, just as dreams often do. A faceless figure giving a traveler the pouty eyes yet with no actual visible eyes, the voice of an infant spewing cryptic demands or for all we know whatever on an intercom broadcasted though importantly to the ears of thousands of disposable idols, a World War Hell filled with unsystematic clock ticks that subjectively bend time; what do they remind you of? What could they possibly be trying to tell you?

RRR (S. S. Rajamouli)

Ever wanted to see a blockbuster maximize every minute drop of logos, ethos, pathos it has into gloriously exaggerated segments, inserting as many plot conveniences necessary so you can witness two lead characters persistently commit some of the most badass physics-defying instances in cinema whether they be from dance-offs, a posey of carnivorous animals, etc.? Well, RRR is your more than obvious answer. A movie this carefully engineered to be a nonstop crowd pleaser of wickedly amplified tropes really has no reasonable excuse at this point not to be populated into all American theaters and furthermore sought out by its inhabiters.

Nope (Jordan Peele)

The allegorical atmosphere that Peele creates from this picture as a whole, for the most part, succeeds as a haunting impression of a socially deceased one, a graveyard population looking away from truth to lie in peace. For me, every Jordan Peele movie thus far has had concepts worthy of building towards a masterpiece. The man is clearly operating on a higher level creatively than most Hollywood artists out there and has about a hundred more personal thoughts to share than them as well, even if most of it boils down to simply pointing out his facts and letting us then independently chew on them. An artist this deserving finally getting the chance to direct a near hundred-million-dollar project, one furthermore devoted to something this ambitious that you can watch worldwide in an IMAX theater of anything, is really just a sight to behold in terms of today’s cinematic landscape.

Bodies Bodies Bodies (Halina Reijn)

As someone born around the very dawn of the 21st century, I can attest that it’s very easy for our generation to feel as if the world is working against us. We’ve become conditioned to treat every social interaction, online debate, etc. as transactions set in a hostile, constantly judgmental environment. In doing so, we cover-up behind stereotypes that the world has deemed most popularly the “correct” ways to be and think, and throw ignominious new ones out to those whose ideologies clash with them. But why do we do it? Because it’s easier to act like the victim, to not take the blame, to, if the time comes, have the advantage via your current resume that understands the “formula of the year” best based on what’s been broadcasted over the media and spread between peers who want you to only agree with them and literally nothing else. We rather have weapons up our sleeves at all times than a voice that comes from the heart given how competitive America has become, even if it means other people’s livelihood, whether truly guilty or not, will drop in the process. Bodies Bodies Bodies allegorizes this through both horror and satire. It’s John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) for Gen-Z, but it doesn’t have to pretend like it’s so directly related because the filmmakers are clearly confident enough in their own re-envisioning as opposed to so many big-shot Hollywood writers today. 

Moonage Daydream (Brett Morgen)

David Bowie is the greatest musician of the 20th century who got to live long in the limelight. There is something about the film industry’s recent agenda for live-action classic rock biopics, from the falsified Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) to the sensationalized Elvis (2022), that lack a psyche into their respected artists. While the documentary Moonage Daydream falls in line with having eager leverage of musical nostalgia which chiefly produced those two movies’ draw, it is, however, also prioritized in sampling Bowie’s philosophical ethos, the partner core towards his sonic innovation for which made him a legend in the field. In fact, it’s the sole voice the film actually allows to speak aside from a few captured fan interviews. Many want to uncover the mystery left of him, sure, but we should moreover let the pieces that could solve such speak for themselves in defining the character which he had created from the recorded self instead of forcing it all to come together at the sacrifice of truth. Perhaps simply sharing the amount of direct information we do have is the most courteous method for what should be tapped into with the case of fallen artists.

Triangle of Sadness (Ruben Östlund)

Winning the Palme d’Or is always infuriatingly tricky because, for one, it sets up distended expectations for a film among a hundred equally worthy choices that won’t come with the burden of its prerequisites, and two, it’s easy to demonize the ones that aren’t saying the most profound things ever said in cinema, and if the controversial reaction to Ruben Östlund’s first win with The Square (2017) proves anything it’s that Triangle of Sadness is bound to receive a similar treatment again. Perhaps beyond what’s most obvious about Ruben Östlund’s sixth feature-length, aside from its mock of life’s “greatest” financial extravaganzas, is its premise of a lab rat experiment that neutralizes them into the impossible equilibrium that its lucrative characters are made fun of for believing in, harkening all the way back to material like Luis Buñuel’s 1962 bourgeoise-critique classic The Exterminating Angel (1962). When at the mercy of living, rich or poor, always comes the necessity of the animal.

Tár (Todd Field) *MY FAVORITE MOVIE OF 2022*

The conspiracy of evil: despotism, identity, certitude, the means surrounding such and not necessarily means that are pure in “evil”. Yet, as a byproduct of her reckless career suicide, legendary composer Lydia Tár is quickly learning what it’s like to live in a generation that wants to believe they are. What’s so interesting about Todd Field’s constantly labeled “cancel culture movie” beyond the culture that comes together to cancel one, is how he overviews why the target of them — a conductor whose entire work is built on controlling the time of others — made it her own doing for neglecting the time in which controls her, to tyrannically curtail the welfare of her human-centric foundation of power, to not stoop low for the perhaps flawed mainstream criteria that glorifies “the conspiracy of evil”, and to pick and choose what present reality modernities she would however kneel for because what good are they otherwise if they do not cater to her personal ethos? By the end though, Tár humbles herself by abstaining from this perspective and adapting more to the new world’s heart even if her own heart somewhat has it out for the old.

Decision to Leave (Park Chan-wook)

As you can imagine, Park Chan-wook going soft doesn’t exactly equate to a particularly happy-go-lucky narrative given what he’s known for. Sure, there aren’t people being bludgeoned to death with a hammer or even just steadily tortured with a paper cutter in Decisions to Leave, but the heartache that Chan-wook’s characters frequently accumulate to certainly simmers beneath every perverted act sparked between insomniac Detective Hae-joon and suspect Seo-rae. In classic noir fashion, Chan-wook follows our curious lead as he labors to decrypt the femme fatale, and in classic Chan-wook fashion, he engulfs our attention with eager visual splendor to support his unusual romantic affairs.

The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh)

The island of Inisherin is as bothered of a place as is its simpleton residents who perfectly elapse the time drinking pints at their one pub, herding their farm animals across every homogeneous neighbor abode, and conversing within the topical confinement of this intrinsically regimented cycle over and over again — say from the occasional war that can be sought just across the ocean. Not soon after though does this “simpleton” world quickly become fable: in the matter of just a beeline request, one man tells another that he no longer wants his company, as simpleton at long last can do no more for this sole Inisherin. The told man, on the other hand, is conned rather enlisted out of simpleton because of this ex-best-friend’s erratic maneuver. It gets him to finally see that the daily papers he reads are full of unforgettably bilateral tales in the making exclusively happening on foreign soil, Inisherin’s window into outside affairs corrupting the peace of its simpleton environment. The two (like the generals across seas) want to believe that good is no longer measured by “kindness”, but by “immortality”, and in other words by “consequence”. In spite, sometimes kindness still can’t be helped.

Bones and All (Luca Guadagnino)

The *admittedly gnarly asf* vampire shenanigans are constantly employed as brash coming-of-age metaphors, but Bones and All is nonetheless tastefully grim in regards to its ground-level familial drama, and hilariously melodramatic in classic YA fashion for the better especially towards its climax. Ergo, this is unapologetically accentuated and of its genres, which shouldn’t be too much of a shock for Luca Guadagnino since it succeeds his Suspiria (2018) remake. Love it when a director lets their actors drool too, snot and all.

Aftersun (Charlotte Wells) *MY 2ND FAVORITE MOVIE OF 2022*

Aftersun is so in the moment that it doesn’t even need plot deviations for you to get why this should hurt so much to consume; every revelation is already insinuated at the gecko and from there on forward gradually built upon. It trusts the audience in that regard to let the piled-on little glimpses tell you everything you need to know about what this means to the video-watcher and reminiscer herself, someone whose finite knowledge is shared with us. The spoon-feeding therefore becomes relatively repressed, at least more so than the status quo like a real memory. Even when the obligatory feel-good, emotional heightener of a track eventually finds its way in, it doesn’t seem overdone; if anything, the film knows it’s damn well earned it whereas most would tack it at the coda as a sticking final blow to make up for a weak job, which is far from the case here. Nonetheless, it’s mostly meek memory dumping up until then that naturally haunts from its incessant absence of closure. Through in throughout though, it triumphs on that simplicity and the easy control of it with an anchor on lived-in performances and transitions that keep everything mobile, and it’s frankly heart poison to ride. 

Vortex (Gaspar Noé)

The very conclusion to institutional love exhibited in excruciating real-time, but it’s not without a fight. Like God, three individual perspectives linger (sometimes simultaneously) over three individuals of a family trying to hold it together at the end of their rope: a mother with dementia, a father with a secret, and a son with a hitch. Gaspar Noé evidently holds back on how many times he usually has to hit us over the head to get a painful reaction from the crowd, and yet, his new methodology still manages to sting like hell by the end not too far from the degree as say his 2002 masterpiece Irreversible. Thus, Vortex is certainly no light chore to endure especially given its runtime — but don’t worry, it’s all for the better.

Playground (Laura Wandel)

The first learning lesson in life that if you’re treated like a loser, people will perceive you as one. The first learning lesson in life that social status is an innate ticket for controlling your crowd. The first learning lesson in life that your respect for each other is never bigger than your respect for the world. The first learning lesson in life that those who make the first move to challenge authority are the ones targeted for outcast. The first learning lesson in life that you either eat like you were told to eat or be eaten. The greatest part about school is that it teaches you how society functions in sometimes the roughest ways possible, exposing you to the freedom of deciding how to enact upon its rules.

All the Beauty and All the Bloodshed (Laura Poitras)

Of the many others will have, I’ll give you two good reasons why you should watch this: 1) the slideshows of Nan Goldin’s transcendent photography work — which is interwoven throughout the film like graceful little intermissions. 2) being exposed to the Sackler family situation is a solid entry point into how you should begin perceiving the rest of what is marketed to us by our country for widespread consumption. It’s easy to project this situation onto other private owned companies that hold jurisdiction over so many people’s wallets. Addicts make business; never forget it.

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