The year 2022: I have made some wrong predictions, such as being 0-3 for the Oscar-nominated short films and how Harry Styles’ performances will get him a seat at the Actors’ Roundtable. But mark my words: this year was one of the best years for films. There were a lot that became instant favorites placed in the rewatch queue — so much so that I was able to form some resemblance of a ranking this year (though truthfully, #1 and #2 are ties, #3-6 are ties, and #7-10 are ties, so this resembles more of a tiered wedding cake than a delineated list). I chose films that I positively reacted to, even if some might not be technical masterpieces. This isn’t meant to be the list of a disruptor — though I don’t think I’ll ever find the motivation to watch Avatar 2 — but of a person who watches the Gossip Girl remake on Friday nights and thrives on seeing cool things on screen (well, I guess I should watch Avatar 2, then).
Personally, one of my favorite things about this year was seeing some movies that I’ve been meaning to see for a while, which was inspired by some of the releases this year. After Björk’s return to the screen, I willed myself to watch Dancer in the Dark, which was a beautiful cup of espresso depresso. Decision to Leave convinced me to see Park Hae-il in Memories of Murder, where it now seems pertinent for Park to drop his GRWM routine for soft hands (if it includes wearing chainmail gloves, catch me jingling on these dry winter streets). When I saw Han Ohki’s Silence of Love, I felt a sort of resurrection of love for a certain grainy aesthetic in films, which was cemented by finally seeing and falling in love with Charles Burnett’s fantastic Killer of Sheep.
Regrettably, I haven’t seen a lot of documentaries (though Fire of Love‘s radiance cannot be ignored), animations, or the small indie films that avoided the spotlight, good or bad. I also haven’t seen Pearl or Mad God, which sound like movies of a different class. This year, I’m inspired to explore marathons, participate in monthly themes, and leaving the house more. But that’s talk for 2023, and I still have 2022 to get through.
Lastly, in an attempt to clear any possible clickbait-air, Babylon isn’t really mentioned anywhere here. I recently watched it and still cannot figure out if I loved it or hated it. For what it’s worth, I haven’t been on the fence about a movie in a long while.
10. BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER (dir. Ryan Coogler)
A Marvel movie? On my list? I was tempted to leave this as an honorable mention, especially since I’m in the minority about it being as good as the first one. Yes, Rihanna’s double-song comeback didn’t approach to the magnitude of “All the Stars,” I don’t totally understand Okoye’s storyline in this one (or I do and don’t agree with it), and — like a few other releases — it did not find the justification for being close to three hours. However, Tenoch Huerta’s portrayal of Namor was probably one of the most magnetic presences in the MCU (just when I thought Christian Bale took the throne) and there are a few scenes that truly took my breath away (without spoiling much, the frame of Queen Ramonda underwater is one of the most stunning visuals this year). Chadwick Boseman’s passing was an emotional challenge, but Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole faced it head-on with vulnerability and grit. All things considered, I could write love sonnets for the characters’ set ups and send-offs.
9. BONES AND ALL (dir. Luca Guadagnino)
I was a bit lukewarm when I finished the movie, perhaps because I was expecting something that I didn’t get and got too much of something that I didn’t want. But when I was describing this movie to someone and mentioned that Guadagnino was behind the Suspiria remake and Call Me by Your Name, I realized that Bones and All is the kind of movie directed by someone who was behind the Suspiria remake and Call Me by Your Name. Guadagnino’s proclivities for gore and sentimentality might seem mismatched, but I ended up growing a fondness for the quiet companionship in undesirable situations. It speaks romance in the language that I remembered Wristcutters: A Love Story does, where I still don’t have the right words for it. Alexa, play “I Ate Him Right the Fuck Up (Kentucky)” by Sufjan Stevens.
8. THE AFRICAN DESPERATE (dir. Martine Syms)
It was a casual curiosity that pushed me off the couch and see a movie that I knew little about, but I’m so happy that I did. It’s the unexpected wonders in cinema that make a big impact me and this stoner comedy about a student on the last day of her MFA program is the perfect cinch. The way that Diamond Stingily’s Palace navigates and exists in this world feels like I can either A) stop caring about other people or B) partake in pearl-clutching drug cocktails and stop caring about other people. We’ll be seeing more of Martine Syms’ name in the future, whether it will be in the film world or in forms of media.
7. DO REVENGE (dir. Jennifer Kaytin Robinson)
A Netflix original teen comedy? On
my anyone’s list? It’s one of those movies where I can probably read fifty negative reviews about it but hear one compliment about the movie and have it bounce in my head with my one brain cell. There’s nothing inherently deep or skillful about the movie — just girls doing revenge! — that will persuade a disinterested person into watching it. However, there is a dearth of teen movies where the script was thought all the way through, and there is something cool about having a cast that is in the periphery of Gen-Z stardom (sure, your grandparents may recognize Florence Pugh in Dune 2, but Sophie Turner’s meltdown and Talia Ryder’s queer fits were the moments to behold). If you are a sucker for queen-bee quips, Clueless-inspired fabric patterns, and/or a “Praise You” needle drop in an admittedly unfitting scene, then please watch it.
6. DECISION TO LEAVE (dir. Park Chan-wook)
When I replay a scene from this movie in my head, I can feel my heart staring out the window and sighing.
5. TÁR (dir. Todd Field)
On the first watch, I was taken aback by the near-laughable parody of a powerful egomaniac’s downfall. On the second watch, I had a riot. Must I laugh in order to enjoy a movie? That might be a problematic thing down the line, but at least it’s not Lydia Tár-problematic. Even when I was looking over movie stills, I kept thinking, “God, what nonsense was she saying here?”
4. THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN (dir. Martin McDonagh)
I was surprised to find how relatable Banshees is as there is literally next to nothing that resembles my life in this small Irish town. I identified with Colm in friendship breakups, which is good in the sense that it puts my avoidant personality on blast. I also identified with Pádraic in the sense that I don’t have any thought to our impermanence in this world. When needed, I might start off a relationship cleansing by a double feature: RRR for my real friends, Banshees for my sham friends.
3. EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE (dir. Daniels)
Nothing more to add, but I saw a Twitter thread of favorite quotes from this year and had a whiplash reaction between laughing at the silly-goose Abbott Elementary scenes and getting a lump in my throat when Waymond came up. Even when it’s easier to remember this year as frolicking in Sennott snark or Demie-lition, the inclusion of EEAAO speaks to how kindness can still surpass all.
Okay, fine, here it is:
When I choose to see the good side of things, I’m not being naïve. It is strategic and necessary. It’s how I learned to survive through everything…I know you see yourself as a fighter. Well, I see myself as one, too. This is how I fight.
2. NOPE (dir. Jordan Peele)
Jordan Peele has the makings of creating a classic movie for the ages and Nope — a sci-fi, a horror, a western, a vehicle for great performances from Kaluuya and Palmer — has that gravitas. I know that the Spielberg comparisons have already been done, but there is something to be said when I saw The Fabelmans last week and felt honest-to-god apprehensive when Michelle Williams’ monkey appeared on screen. Spielberg to Peele: “What have we done to each other? What will we do?”
1. THE NORTHMAN (dir. Robert Eggers)
I’d like to imagine my immigrant parents talking to their fellow refugee friends about raising their children — attempting to learn Vietnamese in an American school system, forcing them to eat the pork blood in their bun bo hue — and coming to a hushed silence when it’s their turn to talk about me. “Anna?” they might start slowly. “She likes…medieval swords.” There is no photographic or physical evidence of this obsession from my childhood, but reflecting upon The Green Knight and The Tragedy of Macbeth as being my favorites last year, maybe I have a sort of thing for this genre. Even so, I can’t really lump The Northman as a swordie film. This is a weird movie (Ethan Hawke giving his all in that pretend-wolf ritual scene and Nicole Kidman giving it her all as Nicole Kidman) that looks as epic as a $90 million Robert Eggers movie should look, but it’s also so fucking funny. Skarsgård was a Goliath in this (I mean, he is tall but this man bulked up) — who would ever believe that he would be enslaved by sheep farmers? Why did that punk-ass boy run into that death-lacrosse game? Why did that punk-ass adult throw the slaves to the ground in anguish? The thing is that there are perfectly reasonable answers for these questions and still, I cannot get over it. Just sacrifice me to Draugr and leave me with my last dying laughs at the Gates of Hel.
WINNERS OF MY HEART IN DIFFERENT WAYS
Most Athletic: Janelle Monae running in Gucci Valentino sandals (Glass Onion), N.T Rama Rao Jr and Ram Charan doing everything and anything (RRR)
Most Likely to Succeed: Alice’s podcast (Bodies Bodies Bodies)
Most Quotable: Petra’s “No, Lydia” (TÁR)
Performances where they ate: Daniel Radcliffe (Weird: The Al Yankovic Story), Ke Huy Quan (EEAAO), Keke Palmer (Alice, Nope), Regina Hall (Honk for Jesus)
Performances where they ate: Mark Rylance (Bones and All), Jean Jacket (Nope)
Queen shit: Amber Midthunder’s “This is as far as you’ll go” speech at the end (Prey)
Uncategorized but important in some way: Top Gun: Maverick, The Woman King, You Won’t Be Alone