As 2022 draws its red curtains, we gather together a winning squad of cinema-lovers to look back and select their favourite films. Yes, it’s another massive list.
5. The Whale
Emotional, brutal, backed by solid performances.
4. The Fox
Adrian Goiginger’s heartbreaking story about friendship and love, with all the things that these entail. It feels authentic all the way, even amidst the most convoluted of dynamics.
Saim Sadiq’s beautifully crafted queer dramedy deserves wide praise, especially considering the troubled socio-cultural context in which it was shot.
2. World War III
Houman Seyedi’s tragicomic parable of a human being about to explode.
1. The Blue Caftan
Maryam Touzani’s sophomore feature is a brave film made with love and simplicity. It prompts important questions about what love is, how it can be expressed and why it is the driving force of our very existence.
5. We Might As Well Be Dead
One of the most striking films I had the pleasure of viewing at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh. We Might As Well Be Dead definitely lives up to its strikingly pitch black title! It is a remarkable social commentary similar to films like Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster. The film plays on our own potential to succumb to paranoia, the vulnerability of free will while still leaving you trapped wondering what is really happening…
4. Everything Everywhere All At Once
One of the most explosive and creative films of the year. Underneath the jam-packed and convoluted scenes is a touching story of love and acceptance between a family during a transitional time. Michelle Yeoh shines in this role.
Grab your tissues for this one because it will leave you devastated despite the sunny aesthetic. Idealism and realism come head to head through young Sophie’s recollection of a summer holiday she took with her estranged father. Presented almost as a diary, fragments of images pass by leaving Sophie to contemplate the father that she knew with a man that she didn’t know at all. Absolutely heart-breaking but an important film and remarkable debut by Charlotte Wells.
2. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
There is seemingly a non-stop murder mystery boom going on with films and shows like See How They Run, White Lotus, Death On the Nile all recently released. However, Glass Onion and the Knives Out franchise are taking the trophy! Rian Johnson has done it once again. While a hard task to live up to the first Knives Out, Glass Onion is as fresh and puzzling. The film is packed with comic performances, dazzling cameos (RIP Angela Lansbury) and commentary on the mystery genre itself. Johnson’s enigmatic sleuth, Benoit Blanc, is one of the most exciting characters to grace the big screen in years and I’m extremely excited to see more.
- The Banshees of Inisherin
A masterful story that is hard-hitting, haunting and truly comical. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson give hypnotic performances as Pádraic and Colm, an absurd and off kilter pair, as they lug their way through life as they deal with alienation, dissolving friendships and life’s absurdities – all during a time of civil unrest. The film perfectly balances comedy and tragedy like no other. The Banshees of Inisherin is unquestionably one of the best films of 2022.
And finally – the Turkey…
Where the Crawdad Sings
It’s terrible because it is just terrible. It drags on and on.
5. Flux Gourmet
A brilliantly ironic take on artistic competitiveness and when visual installations go badly. Really badly. A group of performance artists fail to understand the meaning of boundaries and take part in a stomach-churning visual rendition of ‘you are what you eat’. Flux Gourmet makes the Bush Tucker eating trial (I’m a Celebrity) look like they have just served up a platter of dainty ‘amuse bouche’. Approach with caution and rubber gloves.
4. An Cailín Ciúin
Absolutely beautiful in every single way. Not one scene is out of place. Thanks to a brilliant and mesmerising performance from Catherine Clinch in the title role of Cait, An Cailin Ciuin romps home as the tear-jerker of the year.
3. Everything Everywhere All At Once
Buckle up and brace yourselves because Everything Everywhere All At Once does exactly what it says on the tin. A hilarious story of what happens when a sliding door into a parallel universe presents us with a very whacky alternative to life as we know it. Witty and stylish, Everything Everywhere is non-stop and literally doesn’t quit.
2. Jaws – 3D
Jaws should be in everyone’s top 5 movies not just for 2022 but for every single year since 1975. It is a tale of two halves – the first being a stylised cosy-off-kilter family film, and the second being the sea-faring equivalent of a road movie with three utterly wonderful actors in Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider, and Richard Dreyfuss. Shaw, however, holds the triumvirate together in the final scenes of the film and shows an astonishing level of commitment to the role. He really should have won an Oscar.
1. The Good Boss (El Buen Patrón)
A starkly entertaining nod to the wisdom of quitting while you’re ahead or in ‘Dublin parlance’ to simply ‘leave it out’, The Good Boss is a reminder that no good can come of meddling with other people’s lives. It recalls the dictum that one should never work with children or animals. Maybe add Javier Bardem onto that list because his role as Julio Blanco, the interfering boss of the film title, is one hot mess.
The Banshees of Inisherin
It feels like the whole country has seen this film by now. Many loved it. A few didn’t. I personally found it to be a deliciously macabre drama boasting four terrific performances. Colin Farrell has been underrated for quite some time and it’s fitting to see him garner such praise. Great to see the endlessly talented Kerry Condon receive such well-earned plaudits too.
An Cailín Ciúin
I’m delighted to be able to include another Irish entry on this list and not for sentimental reasons either. An Cailín Ciúin is an immaculately acted Drama with pitch perfect direction from Colm Bairéad. As Ireland’s entry for Best International Feature Film at the upcoming Oscars, let’s hope it secures a final nomination because it would be more than deserved.
Brian and Charles
This is a delightfully quirky story about a lonely man who builds a robot out of random washing machine parts. It really shouldn’t work but for some reason it just does. Watching Charles the robot come to life and develop his own personality not to mention his own human-like flaws is great fun to watch.
Rain and misery are two words that could be ideally used to describe the Batman. I’m sure it wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea but this grim take on the dark knight appealed to me and the running time of nearly three hours flew by. Amongst other things, I liked how the character of batman was very visible to the Gotham public whereas Bruce Wayne was more of a figure in the shadows.
Anchored by superb performances from Paul Mescal and young Frankie Corio (her first time acting no less), Aftersun is a quite remarkable feature debut from Charlotte Wells. On the surface this is a simple tale of a father daughter holiday in a Turkish resort during the late 90s. Bold directorial choices and imaginative storytelling elevate it to something far greater though and even in scenes where not much seems to be happening, Wells allows us to see that everything is in fact happening for the two lead characters.
Turkey of the Year – Amsterdam
It has to be Amsterdam. What a disappointment. So flat and unexciting. The stakes for the characters on screen were high but the drama of the film never rose at all. The whole thing just plodded dully along with A-Lister after A-Lister appearing, all of them badly served by the needlessly fancy dialogue. Christian Bale did his best but not even he could save it. If David O Russell was aiming for a dry witty satire then he failed. A snoozefest.
2022 was another incredible year for cinema and to enjoy films your way – enjoy the cinematic magic of being a fly on the wall in a drama, feel the goosebumps on your skin from a horror, escape into another world with a fantasy or a sci-fi. Love films your way like nobody’s watching because your relationship with a film is all that matters!
Everything Everywhere All at Once
An emotional rollercoaster through a multiverse of madness and humanity (and sausage fingers and existential rocks). Incredibly visual creative storytelling and has such much heart and depth as it explores the complexities of mental health and relationships sprinkled with the wonderful cinematic seasoning from an everything bagel.
An Cailín Ciúin
A beautifully stunning portrait of love and grief as Gaeilge! Loved every second and cried tears that come from the soul!! Can’t wait to see what Irish director Colm Bairead does next!
X & Pearl
They were shot at the same time so I am giving them both the space they deserve!!! Exquisite horrors from Ti West, that explore the horrors of the beauty industry and desire to be an “it girl” but also a look at how we as a society treat the elderly and discard them as having no “beauty” left! Can’t wait for the third installment of MaXXXine.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
This was a wonderful cinematic romp of friendship, action and Nicolas Cage on Nicolas Cage action!! The Buddy film we didn’t know we needed but we got anyway and I am eternally grateful for it!!
The Worst Person in the World
I didn’t know Joachim Trier was researching my life and going to make a film on me??? This is how I felt when I watched, laughed, LIVED and bawled at the character of Julie, a woman in her 30s who navigates love, life and her career. I connected so much with her and was a blubbering mess by the end of the film! That is the power of film!
Then there is only one delish cinematic piece of poultry I want to mention……..and it goes by the name of Blackbird, an Irish cult film flapped onto our screens this year and shall last through the ages!! Can’t wait for what 2023 brings….especially looking forward to Lee Cronin’s Evil Dead Rise for some blood-curdling, groovy fun!!
5. Spin Me Round
As someone who spent a good chunk of my adult life working in retail, this hilarious and relatively dark offering spoke to me on a deeply emotional level. It’s surprising it has been so under-appreciated by critics and punters alike. This well observed comedy is penned by director Jeff Baena and star Alison Brie, and features a wonderful ensemble cast of some of the top comedic talent the twenties have to offer. Managers of a suspiciously Olive Garden-esque chain restaurant are all sent to a franchise retreat in Italy, but something is off, and it’s not just the roaming boar, silver fish or skeezy team lead Craig (Ben Sinclair). Naive manager Amber (Brie) is swept off her feet by charming and troubled CEO Nick Martucci (Alessandro Nivola).
4. Hit the Road
Hit the Road is a powerful, heartfelt Iranian road comedy-drama. During their long journey, the discussions of this chaotic family turn to bickering over car mechanics, or to the importance of fairness in sport, however, there’s a weight hanging unaddressed in the air. These loving parents (Pantea Panahiha and Hasan Majun) are to say goodbye to their eldest son Farid (Amin Simia) as they drive to smuggle him across the Turkish border. A well crafted offering from director Panah Panahi.
3. She Said
In the vein of All the President’s Men and Spotlight, this fast moving true story turns the camera to the brave pair of New York Times journalists, Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, who broke the Harvey Weinstein case. This film marries all the classic matter-of-fact procedural elements we’d come to expect from the genre, and hits quite the emotional wallop in the retelling of the raw harrowing stories of the women assaulted. Although we’re mostly familiar with the details, when presented like this they prove even more shocking; in a recent interview, writer Lenkiewicz estimates about 95 percent of the story is true-to-life.
2. An Cailín Ciúin
Colm Bairéad’s debut feature has sprung quite loudly out the gate. It’s no secret that this beautiful, slow paced film has made its mark internationally, and is now on track for a well deserved Oscar nomination. Set in the 80s, this film follows Cáit, a vulnerable young girl from a dysfunctional family who is sent to help out on a relative’s farm. Living with the middle-aged foster family, she starts to learn exactly what she’s been missing.
1. Everything Everywhere All at Once
Fast-paced and emotionally astute, Everything Everywhere All at Once tells the story of a middle aged Chinese immigrant couple trying to stay above water during a tax audit, until a deeply strange turn of events introduces Evalyn to the multiverse. Much as the title promises, this film has it all: family conflicts, martial arts, special effects, and is a brilliant visual representation of ADHD doubled with the fallout of intergenerational trauma – but in a hilarious way. Tense, stylish filmmaking, laced with humour, and a whopping soundtrack, this film is brilliant, beautiful and utterly bizarre.
5. The Banshees of Inisherin
A distinctly Irish fairytale that grows increasingly twisted as the film goes on. Barry Keoghan is the ultimate island weirdo.
I’ve never seen any of the other ‘Predator’ films, but I really enjoyed this. A fairly straightforward but action-packed story, elevated by a great central performance from Amber Midwinter.
A beautiful examination of a father-daughter relationship and how our perception of our memories changes over time. Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio work so well together, and the film uses Queen’s ‘Under Pressure’ to great effect.
2. The Menu
A very fun time. Like a darker version of ‘Ratatouille’. Ralph Fiennes was made to play an eccentric celebrity chef.
1. An Cailín Ciúin
The only film that had me crying in the cinema this year (and I was not the only one sniffling at the end). So much care given to a simple yet heart-wrenching story. We love to see an Irish film winning!
Are these the best movies to come out this year? Almost certainly not, but were they exactly what I needed to watch when they came out? Well, that might be putting it a bit strongly. But heck, here were movies I watched that made me feel better about stuff for a while (or as you will, sometimes worse).
Unflinching and observant supernatural drama Eskil Vog’s film explores what could happen (or indeed, what is already happening) when children are endowed with more power, and hence more responsibilities, than we would like to imagine. However, far from the descent into a quasi-Lord of the Flies knock-off I was anticipating, The Innocents proves to be an even-handed and sympathetic examination of childhood with outsized burdens. These characters are nuanced and aware without losing their childish attributes, a testament to the strong script and the astonishing young cast.
Three-and-a-half bombastic hours of action, dance, and heart-felt storytelling that never relented: no wonder RRR had audiences around the world out of their seats. S. S. Rajamouli’s magical retelling of two Indian revolutionaries sticking it to the Brits was willing to go the extra mile in its action sequences and had the confidence to let its camera follow every moment in meticulous detail. I would almost say I wish Marvel would pay attention but honestly it’s probably better if they stay well away.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
Daniel Radcliffe as Weird Al being best friends with three supportive himbos was the cinematic set-up I never knew I needed until this 80s biopic rolled around. I was having a ball for the fun, tongue-in-cheek re-imagining of Yankovic’s life it was – that is, until it struck me that Weird Al, who has build a career working on parodies, has now recreated the story of his life by parodying so many cinematic genres. And reader, it blew my mind.
It’s official: the Scream franchise cannot disappoint (I say, while sweeping the tv show under the rug). Well, okay, maybe the sixth instalment will, if they go ahead without Neve Campbell, that doesn’t seem like a good idea. Still, with number five I was happy as Larry. I correctly guessed some twists, I was pleasantly surprised by others. It managed to do that very Scream thing of telling you exactly what was happening and still being an unexpected reveal. It was a good day.
This Taiwanese zombie horror, in which infected individuals turn to violently attacking, assaulting and killing the people they previously loved, left me feeling deeply uncomfortable, uneasy about its central thesis, supremely creeped out and not at all sure what to make about it. Is that the sign of a very good movie? I’m not entirely sure, but I kept thinking about it long enough that it made it onto this list. Happy holidays!
Worst Person In The World
I saw this at the start of 2022 and nothing has topped it in terms of emotional impact all year. It’s a film that fires on all cylinders with Oscar worthy performances and deeply affects millennial audiences.
Everything Everywhere All At Once
A technical masterpiece with a touching, funny and genius script.
I was surprised how much I loved this film. Pattinson gave us such an unhinged, messy portrayal of a well worn character and I just wanted more and more.
Speak No Evil
A little under the radar suspenseful horror drama that was awkward and relatable and then tense until it was devastating.
BJ Novak’s voice couldn’t be clearer or sharper in this satirical podcast thriller about America.
A fresh and hilarious big budget queer comedy that got a tough time for a poor box office performance, but let’s be fair, nobody really goes to the cinema for comedies any more so this will absolutely find its audience on streaming.
If you look back at my contributions to these lists over the years, the highest praise seems to invariably go to films that upset me the most deeply. And why break the Christmas tradition this year! Despite the set up on paper sounding like a twee Nordic attempt at Xmen Babies, this is by no means a fun affair. Creepy, unsettling and containing some of the most tense sequences of any film this year while involving little more than a distracted child and a busy road. Even aside from the child endangerment, the film posits thoroughly disquieting questions about morality and children. Namely; do they have any or do we just tell them not to be psychopaths and hope it sticks and that they won’t murder us on a whim.Probably the most exhausted and unnerved I’ve felt all year leaving the cinema. Top marks.
In some ways *see above* but Aftersun is its own brand of upsetting. Taking a very Lynne Ramsay approach to memory, trauma and tension building, the film paints a (maybe unreliable /maybe rose tinted/maybe demystifying-before-our-eyes-in-real-time) picture of a holiday our protagonist went on with her father as a child. There’s an intangible and suffocating sadness that permeates the runtime to say nothing of the undefinable sense of “something bad happened” that makes the cumulative experience akin to waiting two hours for a jumpscare that never arrives. Flawless performances from the two leads and masterful understanding of her craft from the writer-director.
If Peter Strickland releases a film, it is very likely to make my top 5 that year. So take this as the very biased opinion of someone who is an easy mark for his particular brand of whatever it is he does. Probably less horror-tinged and more overtly comedic than his equally fabulous In Fabric but no less strange and functionally impossible to summarise. As much a love letter to the importance of good foley work in the medium as it is a flatulent middle finger to self important artistes everywhere; it is truly a perfect film if you enjoy seeing Asa Butterfield harassed for his egg based sexual awakening and subsequent fetish.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Arguably a bit more bloated and somehow even more self indulgent than the first; the sequel still manages to make the deeply satisfying whodunit lightning strike twice. The all-in approach to pandemic references may have already begun to date it but its firm hatred of Elon Musk has aged like a fine wine in the time between shooting and release. Craig’s accent is still a shocking assault on the ears and an absolute delight all at once.
We’re All Going To The World’s Fair
Another difficult to summarise one but as a viewing experience it’s impressively creepy, unnerving and ambiguously threatening. A really interesting exploration of coming of age in the alienated modern world of online subcultures and a more appropriate version of what any film daring to explore something like the tragic and disquieting real life effect of situations akin to the Slenderman one should look like. All that in a film with a shoestring budget, an incredible first time performance from a young lead and from a director who’d only made a documentary before this. Eight Grade’s dark reflection.
Turkey: despite the first half of Black Adam feeling like you were watching the fake film you’d see in the background of a film where the Rock is playing himself; the “Jared Leto hubris power hour” that was Morbius remains the most I’ve wanted to demand my money back after a film this year…and I didn’t even pay to see it. (That dreadful new Netflix Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a close runner up)
A dark, witty and almost slap-stick horror/thriller-comedy from Mark Mylod, a relative newcomer to the big screen yet has paved his way in television with shows such as Succession, Game of Thrones and Shameless. I would recommend not watching the trailer for this film and urge you to just go see it. It is quite violent in places, with some shocking turn of events, but it is still very watchable and is more drama/comedy than horror for the majority of its 107 min run time.
From writer/director David O. Russell, known for Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, this film is heartwarming, tragic and funny with a slight Wes Andersony vibe to it that’s hard to pinpoint yet I would describe it as more artistic than stylised.
The Adam Project
Produced by Netflix and released back in March, The Adam Project is a family sci-fi action film that brings a time-travelling fighter pilot (Ryan Reynolds) crash-landing into his past. Now I love a time-wimey sci-fi, especially one that acknowledges the science yet doesn’t take itself too seriously, and this one doesn’t disappoint. It’s full of action, humour and heart. I’d recommend this for a cosy Saturday evening watch for either the grownups or the whole family.
No Time To Die
Ok, so I know Daniel Craig’s final Bond instalment was released last year and featured heavily in everyone’s 2021 lists, but considering my cinema going last year was minimal at best, I didn’t get to see this til earlier this year and my god it was worth the wait! I’ve been a huge fan of Craig’s Bond and thought this was an excellent close to his rendition of 007. Check out Film Ireland’s list from last year to see numerous reviews and accounts if you want to know more, no point repeating the same thoughts a year later but if you’ve haven’t seen it yet I would highly recommend it. On par with Skyfall in my opinion.
As a huge lifelong Batman fan I was a little apprehensive when this latest version was announced, considering Nolan’s previous success with the Dark Knight trilogy and DC’s subsequent Batman V Superman miss, yet I had no reason to worry. Matt Reeve’s take on the caped crusader is as refreshing and dark as Nolan’s was once considered, yet is a different approach entirely. A true detective noir film, Pattinson plays a Batman caught in the beginnings of his revenge tale, before he has figured out his corresponding Bruce Wayne persona, complete with emo-aesthetic and the long sought after black eye-makeup that puts the scowl in his antihero’s cowl. The Batman is moody, gritty and violent with a killer soundtrack. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no The Dark Knight but I think that’s a good thing; Reeve’s has shaken it up and presented an alternative version of Batman’s odyssey and I’m very excited to see what he and Pattinson bring to the table next. Also, how did the make-up team not get an Oscar for their mind blowing transformation of Colin Farrell as Penguin?? Insane stuff, here’s hoping Farrell also makes a return for the next instalment.
Turkey of the Year:
Thor: Love and Thunder
I really wanted to like this film, especially since I loved Thor: Ragnarok, which was also directed by Taika Waititi, but unfortunately it just didn’t hit the right spot for me. I feel we didn’t get enough time with Jane becoming The Mighty Thor and though there were some good action and comedy moments, overall a lot of it felt silly. Which is a pity considering Christian Bale brought it all to the table as usual.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s love letter to his teen days in California. Not a licorice pizza in sight.
Black Panther sequel that shows the girls can kick ass just as good as the boys. Emotional too if you’re soft like me.
Ti West’s homage to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and meditation on pornography. All sorts of creepy to enjoy. Prequel on the way.
Anniversary rerelease. Still the best thing Spielberg ever made and better than many films that came out this year.
Guillermo del Toro brings his sensibilities to the puppet with mobility issues. Wonky but left of centre in a way we don’t see enough of these days. Sort of Pan’s Labyrinth with a happier ending.
Not the best of 2022. Just some that stayed with me.
5. The Banshees of Inisherin
Set in the backdrop of the Irish Civil War, The Banshees of Inisherin follows the relationship between two men who were once friends. Doesn’t sound like the most exciting of premises, but it’s Martin McDonagh, so of course it’s better than it sounds. McDonagh brings his signature Black humour to the dialogue. The cinematography is an ode to the beauty of the Irish landscape, and the relationship between Colin Farell and Brendan Gleeson’s characters was analogous to the Civil War unfurling on the mainland. This was a masterclass in acting, and definitely worthy of the awards it has been nominated for.
4. Don’t Worry Darling
A perplexing and often tense watch, Don’t worry darling keeps the audience guessing right to the very end. A definite must-see, but you’ll never look at your significant other the same way after it!
3. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Shadowed by the death of its leading man, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a story mainly about grief. This is when Marvel is at its best, when it pays more attention to the emotion behind the story, rather than throwing thousands of visual effects to fill the plot. While the movie still contains the VFX that Marvel is well-known for, it felt respectful to the loss of Chadwick Boseman, and paid homage to him in a way that was deserved. The fact that this movie was led by a strong female cast, was an added bonus.
2. Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
Hollywood has a habit of glamourising sex, of festishising the woman’s body for the pleasure of the male gaze, meaning women’s sexuality takes a back seat. Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is a refreshing take on sex on screen. While there are complications with the premise, given that it is about someone being hired for sex, the story itself is honest about women’s sexuality and the life of a sex worker; and it doesn’t shy away from its own complications.
In 2013, The Great Gatsby was released, and then cinema was deprived of the genius of Baz Luhrmann until 2022, with the release of his latest film, Elvis. I would argue that Baz Luhrmann is one of the best directors of our time: his films are not just films, they are works of art.
Decision to Leave
A dreamy puzzle of desire, misdirection and intrigue. All orchestrated to perfection by Park Chan-wook’s masterful direction. Every moment of the film is a gloriously constructed cinematic trick that has you spellbound and yearning for more.
Is there a better filmmaker currently working in British cinema? Peter Strickland serves up a dazzling buffet of absurd theatrical performances and auditory digestion. Food has never sounded so good.
Audrey Diwan’s film is an upsetting, depressing, and enraging tale of Anna, a woman seeking an abortion in 1960s France when the procedure was illegal. The measured direction and controlled narrative, alongside a mesmerising lead performance from Anamaria Vartolomei, drive the film’s building tension as Anna battles to pursue her choice. Frightening that this is still happening.
An Cailín Ciúin
There is so much going on behind the surface in Colm Bairéad’s tale of a childhood summer. Expertly paced and pieced together, the slow-burning narrative has a magic lantern quality to it with its undercurrent of ghosts and angels appearing along the way. The bursting flames of that final scene will burn long in your heart.
Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes
Steeped in the European gothic horror of the 1970s, Kevin Kopacka’s mind-boggling debut feature is a total cinematic trip. A sensory overload bubbles up in a witches’ cauldron and concocts a kaleidoscopic potion of striking images, sonic soundscapes, dazzling design and luscious lighting oozing with sumptuous colours and dark shadows. It’s also completely bananas.
Charlotte Wells creates a masterpiece with this quiet debut. At points warm and hopeful, at others unbearably tragic – never does it dip into melodrama. It seems unconcerned with telegraphing its emotional gut punches, to the point that the inattentive viewer might completely miss them. The film is all the better for it.
After the smash success of Get Out and the middling Us, Peele lays out a parable about cinema history, creative hubris and voyeurism that powers through its runtime without a dull moment.
Top Gun: Maverick
A technical marvel, with every screw tightened to the point of bursting. You won’t find a more blisteringly fun action film this year.
An Cailín Ciúin
Immaculately shot and intimately felt, this Irish film opens a new path for Irish cinema. Its success at the Irish box office shows it was on to something.
Frank Berry crafts a thoughtful, respectful portrait of Direct Provision in Ireland. Unflinching in its condemnation of a broken system.
This film devastated me. Charlotte Wells astonishingly conducts your emotions to reach a peak in innovative and poignantly beautiful moments. Powerful performances too from Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio in a film with a terrific 90s inflected soundtrack. I burst out in tears as the credits began to roll and I cannot wait to see how Charlotte Wells devastates me again in the future. Aftersun is pure cinema.
This was a bizarre aural-focused piece of visual media which has not escaped my thoughts. The viewer is confusingly intrigued as to what the industrial thumping noise Tilda Swinton’s Jessica regularly hears and you’re left to wonder if it is simply tinnitus or something more disconcerting. You need to just believe in Tilda Swinton’s acting prowess, which is always an easy task, and follow Jessica’s journey.
An Cailín Ciúin
Colm Bairéad’s trailblazing Irish language masterpiece is exciting for the ever-flourishing Irish cinema landscape. It is a mesmerising film that is charged with subtle powerful drama. For me, Carrie Crowley’s performance as Eibhlín is beyond remarkable and a 2022 standout. Here’s hoping for more Irish language box office hits in 2023 and beyond. Go n-éirí leo!
The Worst Person in the World
Renate Reinsve offers one of 2022’s best performances for me as Julie; a character that felt representative of that divide between innocence and experience as you grow older. It was a cathartic experience for me watching Julie attempting to figure out what she wants to do in her life whilst her social circles are ticking off archetypal societal milestones. Joachim Trier creates a vivid sense of realism, albeit with some creative flourishes, and this is a film to assure all the Julies out there that life’s path will become clearer in its own time.
The Souvenir: Part II
Joanna Hogg returned with a sequel to The Souvenir that is, in my opinion, far superior to its predecessor. Honor Swinton Byrne captivates as Julie in a role that sees her struggling to adapt with pure agency in her decisions, and in her work as a director, with an absence in her life that previously supported, inspired and also controlled. Of course, Richard Ayoade steals every scene he fleetingly appears in, as per The Souvenir.
Paul Thomas Anderson is the master, what more is there really to say, Licorice Pizza is food for the soul. The film’s depiction of first love in the 1970’s between a teenage actor Gary Valentine and older girl Alana, is filled with a warmth and nostalgia that’s nothing short of magical.
Top Gun: Maverick
Tom Cruise’s reprisal of his legendary character Maverick was everything a blockbuster should be and more. It’s a majestic cinematic triumph of the sheer will of Tom Cruise. This is a film that soars to the heavens because its action scenes are driven by the richness of its characters and its solidly plotted storyline.
The Banshees Of Inisherin
This is arguably the finest Irish film ever made. Martin McDonagh has painted an endearing blackly comic portrait of how Irish people deal with loss that has the power to transcend generations.
Bones and All
Luca Guidchinos southern love story is everything and more, part coming of age, love story, part horror film. This bewildering drama defies expectations and entrances audiences with its unfiltered compassion for its characters.
Spielberg’s genius has inspired generations, and with the Fablemans he pulls back the curtain and lets the audience inside his world for the very first time, and it’s a celebration of human spirit and creativity.
A thrilling horror film that is legitimately terrifying. The story takes a very unique turn after the midpoint which leaves the audience with a lot to think about afterwards. The sound design is fantastic and perfectly evokes feelings of dread. Has one of the most creative and memorable creature designs in recent memory. This is one of the few horror films that are actually scary and has an utterly electric second.
4. Decision to Leave
Park Chan-wook returns with a more audience-friendly film by his standards. It’s loaded with dozens of ideas that shouldn’t work on paper, but in practice they are pulled off expertly. It’s almost head-spinning with how experimental the editing is and how unique many of the camera placements are. There’s a lot to take in with this film, but it always leaves the audience with something to chew on. Just like the avant-garde presentation, the story is just as creative and challenging.
3. Everything Everywhere All at Once
Lightning in a bottle. Could be viewed as this generation’s version of The Matrix. An incomprehensibly gigantic and ambitious film full of impressive technical feats and absurdist ideas. It’s a full-blown maximalist, postmodern journey that will make you feel as though you lived several lifetimes by the end.
2. The Northman
A wild ride from start to finish, and all without director Robert Eggers losing his style. Every creative decision seems to be the best. It presents an immersive world full of beautiful cinematography, brutal violence and mind-warping fantasy. It’s a big, hairy, psychedelic action-fantasy film that delivers on what it promises.
1. The Banshees of Inisherin
A film that is shrouded in an unshakeable melancholy with a story that feels almost ageless. Outstanding performances across the board and breath-taking cinematography. The story takes many unexpected, heart wrenching and ever disturbing directions. It’s a film that leaves a lot to think about, both thematically and emotionally.
After two hard years of pandemic era cinema with delays and streaming dumps 2022 has felt like nature healing, albeit solely for the big screen. Sorry but the planet is still dying! At least we have had some incredibly good films to tide us over on our way out. Without further adieu, my top five!
Paul Verhoeven has always been a provocateur, so this sacrilegious and sexy lesbian nun movie was a perfect use of his talents. Great performances, stunning and bizarre imagery and a truly wicked mix of fun and misery makes for a triumphant return for Robocop’s papa.
4. Red Rocket
The Florida Project was a personal favourite from the previous decade so Red Rocket had a lot of pressure to live up to those expectations. However Sean Baker’s portrait of the world’s worst man (an incredible Simon Rex) as he attempts to woo a much, much younger girl into joining the porn industry is sleazy, hilarious and depressing. Not one for the whole family this Christmas!
3. The Northman
Robert Eggers went full blockbuster mode in the only way he could – using his love of intricate period detail and mythical storytelling to tell a blistering Viking tale of revenge. With Willem Dafoe’s farts, brutal nose removals and very uncomfortable mommy issues, The Northman may be the least-crowd pleasing blockbuster of the year. So naturally I adored it!
2. Top Gun: Maverick
Which naturally transitions to the most crowd-pleasing blockbuster of the year! Maverick came at a time when my faith in blockbusters had been crushed under the deluge of superhero nonsense that threatened to ruin any sense of wonder and joy at the movies. How did a belated sequel to a middling 80s relic end up being so good? The answer: Tom Cruise is a very insane man. Bringing star power as both star and producer, the incredibly aerial vehicle work was exhilarating. The plot may basically be the third act of Star Wars stretched out into a whole film and the military propaganda concerns are valid but there couldn’t be a better time at the movies this year. Or could there?
1. Decision to Leave
A policeman falls in love with a beautiful crook: a classic noir set-up and one with which director Park Chan-wook concocts a beautifully twisted and exciting thriller. Not only is it romantic and exciting but it’s the funniest film of the year, full to the brim with incredible film making techniques and tricks that are so brilliantly pulled off they feel like magic tricks. This film is not only the best of the year in my opinion but also the best of Park Chan-wook’s career to date: no small feat.
One of the best action films I’ve seen in a long time. This visually stunning film from India features more slow motion than a John Woo film, an amazing dance sequence and evil Brits to boot. I haven’t come away from a film this excited in a long time.
I thought this was going to be an “It Follows” rip off, but it had its own thing going on and the jump scares were really inventive.
This is a great antidote to the A24 style horror. Good old blood and gore 80s style with a nice retro synth sound track and some incredible prosthetic effects. I can see why this film that cost 250,000 made over 10 million at the US box office.
Definitely the sickest film of the year and one that made even me uncomfortable at times. For that it deserves a spot on my top five list.
This film showed once again how effective horror can be with a few people in a single location. Along with some very funny moments and inventive story telling, this definitely stands out as one of the better horror films made in recent times.
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Bones and All
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
The Banshees of Inisherin
My favourite film of this year has to be The Banshees of Inisherin. I think a film that is truly great is one that makes you want to watch it again straight away or a film that starts a conversation or debate and this film certainly does both! Amazing script, acting, themes and of course dialogue! A great year for Irish cinema!
Everything Everywhere All At Once
This film depicts one of the wildest ways to tell a story that essentially is about family dynamics. The best way I believe to describe this film is just to go watch it! A genre bending experience, this film is both obscure and wacky throughout, you will either love it or hate it. Amazing acting and storytelling a definite must see.
A truly refreshing take on the predator franchise, Prey’s female protagonist, Naru, must fight not only the monster that threatens her but also the prejudiced sentiments that females cannot be hunters within her tribe. A well paced and thought out science fiction prequel.
Empire of Light
Empire of Light is a film that has a lot of heart at its core. For anyone who has worked in a cinema or just spends most of their time off there, this film is especially for you. A film with an exceptional performance from Olivia Coleman, as per usual of course, that really carries this film along.
An Cailín Ciúin
And to round up the year with my other favourite film of the year…..because yes you can have two! An Cailín Ciúin is a masterclass in gentle storytelling. The storyline slowly unravels to reveal how many layers the characters truly have and at the same time this film tugs heavily at your heartstrings. Beautiful cinematography, stellar performances and isn’t it just great to see an Irish language film! I couldn’t recommend this film more.
Everything Everywhere All At Once
X & Pearl
It’s surreal to think that both these movies came out in the same year! Sex, dirt, sweat, barns, lipstick, pitchforks, and camp reign in these Tia West and Mia Goth soon-to-be classics. Horror is having a renaissance (in large part due to A24, the studio that also released these films) and I couldn’t be more excited for MaXXXine (the third film in the series/installment set to be released next year) to see what happens the next time someone tries to tell one of Goth’s many incarnations that they are not a star!
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
I’ve read interesting critiques of Marvel films and their alleged work in reinforcing the status quo. Some say main characters like Captain America and Iron Man are nothing more than glorified cops (despite the rift in their philosophies explored in Civil War) while actual changemakers (everyone from Thanos to Killmonger, who start with reasonable grievances) always devolve into obsolete, psychopathic killers—leaving their concerns unaddressed. (I’d argue the only meaningful exploration of said justified rage was Magneto’s in X Men: First Class). But this may be the film, and the hopefully soon-to-be-main-character (Namor), that opens doors for more complicated perspectives, and a new type of world-building.
The Good Nurse
This movie made my list for two reasons: the subject matter and the performances/casting. This is the first film I’ve seen that directly addresses the fallout of medical industry greed from the perspective of what liability means to the United States legal system and its public relations machines. The 2022 film She Said seemed dated to me as we’ve all lived 136 lifetimes since the Weinstein case broke, but The Good Nurse felt like a much needed and timely follow-up to the wonderful Dopesick, especially post-pandemic. The movie’s cinematography brings the audience to the faded-grey place that invisible night shift workers, barely scraping by, inhabit. And Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastain both give pitch-perfect portrayals of the desperation born out of the cruelty of the United States medical industry. The only thing is, I now need Redmayne and Chastain to play opposite each other in every movie from here on out.
Banshees of Inisherin
I hardly need justification for including this gem on my list (but if you need justification you can find it here). The humor, the absurdity, the pacing, the cinematography (although the sun got entirely too much screentime for a film set and filmed in Ireland)—everything felt crazy, heartfelt, and inevitable at the same time.
Top Gun: Maverick
Gen-Xer here, and there was no way this wasn’t making my list! This sequel might have had an even more impossible mission (see what I did there) than Wakanda Forever, as it needed to honor one of the most iconic films of the past 40 years. Cruise is no spring chicken and pro-American sentiment isn’t exactly what it was in the 1980’s, so this film’s success was as unlikely as it was pleasurable to watch. Maverick paid proper homage to the magnetism and star power of Cruise and Val Kilmer (Iceman), while delicately handling what it means to be mortal.
3. Great Freedom
1. Small Body