From an epic Tollywood blockbuster to a modest Iranian road movie, Cate Blanchett misbehaving to Michelle Yeoh saving the multiverse – these were the movies that made our year
Nobody could blamed for believing that the movies—the capital-M medium—were in the midst of an existential crisis in 2022. The theatrical experience seemed constantly hanging by a thread, threatening to become a thing of the past. (Although a hearty thank you you, Mr. Tom Cruise, for saving it for at least one more year.) Streaming services kept signing up new projects for canon-worthy directors, then undermining those same movies by throwing them to the algorithm wolves and turning them into just another bit of “content .” Superhero films continued to dominate multiplex screens, and IP franchises continued to proliferate and/or become multiversal at the expense of a variety of other options. (If we’re going to suffer another “Marty or Marvel?” argument on Film Twitter … just kidding. RIP Twitter.) If a movie flopped and a pop star wasn’t accused of spitting on a co-star while did it promote it, did it even make a sound? The term “casual moviegoer” remained on the verge of becoming an oxy-moron. The sky is falling!, shouts the chorus of little chicken movie people, before returning to the Criterion Channel to drown out yesterday’s arthouse heroes.
Yes, the big picture of big pictures seemed terrible at times. But once again the movies delivered. Sometimes it was a matter of knowing where to look for them and keeping faith that something life-changing, if not game-changing, was just around the corner. At other times, there seemed to be an incredible amount of cinema, running from lyrical documentaries to genre exercises to left-wing blockbusters that came in waves. Movies like Tar could still inspire It was a good 12 months of being a cinema omnivore. We expanded the list to 22 films this year – because 2022! Yes, we really are shameless! — but even then, there were a number of extraordinary films that kept pushing their way into the idea of a “best of” lineup. The movies are not dead. They are not even the past.
(A quick shout out to some honorable mentions: All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Armageddon Time, Barbarian, Bones and All, Catherine Called Birdy, Corsage, Donbass, The Eternal Daughter, God’s Country, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Men, Montana Story, Moonage Daydream, The Northman, Peter von Kant, Playground , The silent twins, Top Gun: Maverickand The wonder. There was also quite a bit of debate about e.g Little Mama and The worst person in the world in this year’s best-of, as their 2021 qualifying run meant they appeared on a number of lists last year. We’re saving these two for our best of the decade list.)