2022 in Film: The Highs and The Lows

From the ever-expanding multiverse to Gen-Z themed horror, this is a reflection on the year that was.

Art by Eamonn Murphy

“The Universe Is So Much Bigger Than You Realise.”

– A24, Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)

After 107 days of lockdown in 2021, it really felt like cinema was back in 2022. That warm feeling of watching a film in a dark room — no interruptions, no distractions – was back. 

Of the 265 movies I’ve watched this year, these are the highs and lows. 

Let’s start with the highs.

The universally adored 

Everything Everywhere All At Once (A24)

2022 has been Michelle Yeoh’s year. Despite her plethora of past work, Everything Everywhere All At Once was the film that transformed her career.  

Everything Everywhere All At Once explores the multiverse of a woman’s life, imagining the different possibilities for how her life could have turned out if she had made different choices. It is now A24’s highest grossing film of all time, overtaking Uncut Gems and Hereditary. This movie was, quite genuinely, phenomenal. The multiverse concept is unique and well-executed. The performances are nuanced and multi-layered. The visual effects were breathtaking. 

Combine all this and you have, in my opinion, a perfect film. 

Best moment: The rock scene (iykyk). 

Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)

Made almost forty years after the original, Maverick completely transformed my perception of the Top Gun franchise. The obvious highlights are the breathtaking action sequences, and sound effects. However, there were also some touching moments of friendship and loyalty woven into the 130-minute runtime. A masterclass in classic cinema, Top Gun: Maverick, had something for everyone.  

Best moment: The canyon-run. 

The Batman (Warner Bros. Pictures, DC Comics)

The Batman followed The Dark Knight trilogy with serious flair. By veering away from the traditional superhero blockbuster genre, and more into classic crime, The Batman remade the world of Gotham City. Robert Pattinson nailed his performance as the mysterious and weird Bruce Wayne. Zoë Kravtiz’s redefining of Catwoman should also be applauded, following Anne Hathaway’s overly sexualised Catwoman of The Dark Knight Rises. However, the real highlight for me was the cinematography. That incredible upside-shot — painting the fiery aftermath of a chain-reaction car chase — was absolute perfection, and had everyone in my cinema in collective awe.  

Best moment: That aforementioned car chase sequence. 

The unexpected delights 

Fire Island (Searchlight Pictures)

Fire Island is best described as: chosen family meets romcom meets gay chaos. This film touched all the elements of the queer experience perfectly, and the camaraderie and chemistry between the ensemble cast made this viewing experience a pleasure. The bonus? Two of the characters are in a long-term relationship in real life!!

Best moment: the pride flag adorned boat, and the kiss that follows. 

X (A24)

X was the film that made me delve into the depths of horror. With an incredibly talented (and attractive) cast, this film made me question every elderly person I interacted with the week after. Gory in all the best ways, X was a horror film that had everything: creative killings, perfectly paced suspense, Jenna Ortega screaming, and… alligators. 

Best moment: Maxine stuck under the bed, whilst the elderly couple shares a (foul) intimate moment. 

Do Revenge (Netflix)

Fuck the average rating (3.6/5 on Letterboxd). I had an absolute blast with this film (and the Guardian did too — a 4/5 from them). This gave old high school film nostalgia in all the best ways, whilst serving just enough Gen Z to satiate its target demographic. Strong performances and a great soundtrack have made this an excellent addition to Netflix’s mixed-bag catalogue of originals. Whilst I was disappointed that Maya Hawke and Camila Mendes’ characters didn’t kiss, that Silk Chiffon scene certainly made up for it. 

Best moment: the twist!!! (Or Sophie Turner’s “I don’t DO cocaine!!!”)

The lesser known

The Quiet Girl (Bankside Films)

The Quiet Girl made up for its lack of dialogue with… everything else. This Irish film, based on Claire Keegan’s 2010 novel Foster and set in the 1980s, is one that constantly moves between sadness and happiness. The performances are gut-wrenching and the production design is beautiful. The film’s slow pace lends it an authenticity lacking from many other films in the coming-of-age drama genre, and leaves you reflecting on its power for days afterwards.   

Best moment: The final embrace between Cáit and Seán. 

Aftersun (A24)

This movie is incredibly emotional, and I’m so glad I saw it with my dad. It uses a child’s perspective to allow us to realise how little we understand about ourselves and the world around us, even as adults. The melancholic tone and delicate direction make this film beautiful. Its ambiguous ending delivers the final punch, as audiences are forced to contemplate what happened to the character’s father-daughter relationship. 

Best moment: “I think it’s nice that we share the same sky” — Sophie.

Cha Cha Real Smooth (Apple Studios)

Perhaps my ‘film of the year’, Cha Cha Real Smooth had me swooning for its entire runtime. Following the budding friendship between a young mum with a daughter on the spectrum and a college graduate working as a bar mitzvah party host, the highlight of this film is the chemistry between the cast. As per usual, Dakota Johnson delivers an outstanding performance. Cha Cha Real Smooth is funny, brutally honest, and oh-so watchable. 

Best moment: Lola allowing Andrew to scratch her back, while she falls asleep. 

Now, it’s time for the lows…

Why did they make this? 

Spiderhead, The Gray Man and The Adam Project — Netflix’s “indiscernible white men of Hollywood” trifecta

Chris Hemsworth, Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, and Ryan Reynolds really said, “We just need to pay our bills guys!” I truly cannot remember the differences between any of these movies. Some guy does dodgy experimental drug shit, some guy shoots some bullets, and another one time-travels. That’s all. 

Worst moment: the fact I can’t remember any moments.

Morbius (Sony Pictures, Marvel Studios)

Just including this for giggles. Too much to say, not enough time to say it.

Worst moment: Matt Smith as the villain. 

I wish I didn’t watch this 

Blonde (Netflix)

Ana De Armas was done dirty by this one. This is a shame, because she delivers a great performance, but it’s not enough to save this misrepresented, stumbling, offensive mess of a movie. The New York Times was right when they said that Blonde “exploits Marilyn Monroe for Old Times’ Sake.” This movie lacks depth, nuance, and respect. I was incredibly disappointed.

Worst moment: the interaction between Monroe and Mr. Z.

You Won’t Be Alone (Universal Pictures)

You Won’t Be Alone is a boring, lacklustre attempt at arthouse. This was Australia’s feature film entry to the 2023 Academy Awards. I would have been happier if they submitted an episode of The Block. I disliked this film for so many reasons. The main one is the completely unnecessary gratuitous sexual violence towards the lead character. This, coupled with a complete lack of purpose, direction and, dare I say it, plot, made this film one of the few times I have been tempted to walk out of a cinema. 

Worst moment: The aforementioned violence. 

The Bubble (Netflix)

I swear this movie was about ten hours long. I just checked, and it was two. I think it’s too soon to be making a COVID-centric parody, given the pandemic is still ongoing. Maybe I would disagree with myself if I enjoyed a single moment of this horrifically-directed and criminally-acted clusterfuck, but I just did not. Judd Apatow certainly once had talent, but maybe it, along with his dignity, was lost during COVID. 

Worst moment: the shockingly unfunny green screen scenes. 

But it had so much potential!

Don’t Worry Darling (Warner Bros. Pictures)

The amount of hype for this movie was unbelievable, and I was admittedly a part of it. This should have been one of the best releases of the year. Instead it was, unfortunately, a mess. Despite a valiant effort from Pugh, this film left so many questions unanswered, that the original purpose was almost completely unclear. The middle was overdrawn, and the ending over-simplified. The nail in the coffin is the fact that Harry Styles cannot act, particularly when cast against one of the best actors currently working. 

Worst moment: the earthquakes, because I still don’t understand why they needed to happen.

Thor: Love and Thunder (Marvel Studios)

If you asked me at the beginning of the year “what movie are you most excited for in 2022?”, this film would have been one of my answers. After the commercial and critical success of Thor: Ragnarok, I thought we would be in for a real treat with this next instalment. The comedy was over-concentrated, the poignant moments rushed through, and the action sequences dismal. Also, Korg suddenly had a main role for no real reason (I wonder if that had anything to do with Taika!?). Thank goodness for Tessa Thompson, because Valkyrie was the highlight of this film by a mile and a half. 

Worst moment: The entire Guardians of the Galaxy feature, which felt like a scene from another movie.

Amsterdam (20th Century Studios)

This one was painful. The script was convoluted, the timeline was confusing, and the jokes missed the mark. The cast was made up of Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Taylor Swift, Zoe Saldana, Chris Rock, Mike Myers, Robert De Niro, and Rami Malek. You could have lived under a rock for a decade, and still recognise at least three of those names. The only explanation I have for why this movie was such a letdown is that David O. Russell directed it.  

Worst moment: Taylor Swift being run over by a car in the first ten minutes. 

I’m glad that we’ve finally been able to return to the dark room of cinema, and immerse ourselves in love, tragedy, comedy and satire. For now, I’ll unpause my current movie: Antoine Fuqua’s Emancipation. Until then, whether it’s 9am on a Wednesday or 5pm on a Sunday, I’ll see you in the cinema.

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