Following on from our reviews of the worst films of the year, we move on to Part 2 of our year end review of 2022. This year I’ve seen c100 new films, mainly in cinemas but some at home – not helped by the sad demise of Edinburgh Filmhouse which was great for showing less mainstream and non-english language movies. I’ll go out on a limb and say this has been a weaker year for cinema when compared with previous years, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been some great stuff released this year. As always, we’ve compiled our list of the year’s best films, starting with our favourites from 20-11 – let us know what you think!
If you’d like to read our full reviews of any of these films, clicking on the titles will take you to them,
Set almost entirely in one room, ‘Mass‘ is a harrowing and visceral movie about a conversation that takes place between two couples; one of whom are the parents of a school shooter; the others are the parents of one of the victims. Brilliantly acted and sharply written, this is an intense, powerful and ultimately cathartic movie.
Where to watch: https://www.justwatch.com/uk/movie/mass-2021
Looking back on a childhood holiday with her father, ‘Aftersun‘ is a brilliantly shot, nostalgia soaked movie about the past, formative experiences and how specific memories can resonate so strongly so many years later.
Where to watch: https://www.justwatch.com/uk/movie/aftersun-2022
Set in Morocco, ‘The Forgiven‘ begins with a British couple accidentally killing a teenage local in a car accident, then follows the moral and ethical dilemmas about what to do next. At its heart this is a film about privilege and how it manifests, and more laterally about the nature of revenge, retribution and atonement, and I felt ‘The Forgiven’ touched on those aspects well in what was a compelling movie.
Where to watch: https://www.justwatch.com/uk/movie/the-forgiven-2021
Who would have thought a sequel to a pretty dated 80s movie would be the most talked about movie of 2022? Even more, who would have thought it would actually be really good and deserve a lot of the attention and plaudits that have come its way. ‘Top Gun: Maverick‘ is a superb (and superior in my opinion) sequel to ‘Top Gun‘, finding the perfect balance between nostalgia for the past and modernising for the time we live in today. It was held back through the pandemic to be released in cinemas, and if any film this year makes the case for watching a movie in a cinema and not at home, it’s this one.
Where to watch: https://www.justwatch.com/uk/movie/top-gun-maverick
Second McDonagh brother on my top 20 this year; this time Martin with his acidly black comedy about two lifelong friends who find themselves in conflict when one of them decides he no longer wants to spend time with the other. A break up movie if you will, but between friends and not lovers. A brilliant script and wonderful performances add to this compelling exploration of the darkest impulses of human nature, and it’s another top movie from Martin McDonagh.
Where to watch: https://www.justwatch.com/uk/movie/the-banshees-of-inisherin
Andrew Dominik’s Marilyn Monroe ‘fictionalised’ biopic wasn’t loved in all quarters, but I found it to be an unconventional and poetic take on the life of a person who was such an icon that it’s hard to separate the person from the cultural icon. Ana de Armas delivers a powerhouse performance in the leading role, and the beautiful score from Nick Cave and Warren Ellis just adds to the mysticism of an American icon who no one will ever truly understand.
Where to watch: https://www.justwatch.com/uk/movie/blonde-2022
How do you follow up one of the biggest hits of 2019, a movie that reinvigorated the Agatha Christie style murder mystery genre? Well ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ is exactly how you do it, in this thrillingly crafted sequel from Rian Johnson. Another wildly inventive murder mystery for Daniel Craig’s Detective Blanc to solve, and this was perfect entertainment in the lead up to christmas.
Where to watch: https://www.justwatch.com/uk/movie/knives-out-2
This Spanish corporate satire follows one week in the life of the owner of a factory (superbly played by Javier Bardem) who can’t help himself from getting involved in the lives of his employees. He portrays the outward impression of a man who cares about his employees, but the reality is he only does so in so much as it benefits the company and by extension himself. Wickedly funny with a top Javier Bardem performance, this is a really entertaining movie.
Where to watch: https://www.justwatch.com/uk/movie/the-good-boss
It’s not uncommon to see movies about young woman (or men) heading to Los Angeles with the hopes of being the next big star, but it is perhaps less common that the focus is on the porn industry and not Hollywood. That’s the outline for ‘Pleasure’, the feature directorial debut from Ninja Thyberg, which centres on a young, confident Swedish girl who travels to America with hopes to become a famous porn star. ‘Pleasure‘ works both as an exploration of the industry, and as the story of how one woman is faced with difficult decisions as she tries to balance her desire for success with the power dynamics that chip away at her personal agency, and this is an impressive debut with a breakout role for Swedish actress Sofia Kappel.
Where to watch: https://www.justwatch.com/uk/movie/pleasure-2021
To be fair, ‘Cyrano‘ earns its place on my list more for the soundtrack than the movie itself, which is absolutely excellent (from Matt Berninger of ‘The National’) and has dominated my Spotify Unwrapped for the year! It accompanies the well told tale of the hopeless romantic Cyrano, who uses his talent with words to help another man win the affections of Roxanne, the woman Cyrano is in love with. Joe Wright’s movie tells the tale well, but it’s the music that really brings this movie to life, stunningly so.
Where to watch: https://www.justwatch.com/uk/movie/cyrano