A lot can happen in just six months, and indeed, the shape of the movie landscape has been forced to adjust to a few strange occurrences, with some being more surprising than others.
The one that still remains sore on the face of the Hollywood elite is the Will Smith slap which occurred at this year’s Academy Awards at the end of March. Taking to the stage after Chris Rock said a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, the actor slapped the presenter across the face to the shock of viewers across the world and is yet to appear on our screens since the event.
In addition to this, the Oscars saw the small indie drama CODA pick up the award for Best Picture whilst Ruben Ostlund gained his second Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his new movie Triangle of Sadness. With Cannes movies yet to reach general release and CODA being the product of the previous year’s awards season, neither will feature on our list of the greatest movies of 2022 so far.
The 10 best movies of 2022 so far:
10. Men (Alex Garland)
Bridging the gap between ancient folklore and modern drama, this domestic tragedy from director Alex Garland is articulated by the oppressive folk horror tale, itself one pronged with vivid, primitive imagery that reigns exceedingly relevant in a modern setting.
Such doesn’t make for easy viewing, with the visceral terror of modern masterpiece following a young woman (Jessie Buckley) who travels to a remote holiday house to get over the suicide of her ex (Paapa Essiedu) only to be stalked by a strange pack of men. It is Garland’s entangled obsession with the complicated constructs of gender that make this film so essential, speaking to a horror that has long festered in the sheer fabric of mankind.
9. Nitram (Justin Kurzel)
Where true-crime dramas can delve too much into the morbidly curious details of a killer’s most infamous moment, Justin Kurzel has demonstrated for the second time, following the release of his 2011 film Snowtown, how such stories should be told. Dark, brooding, grim and totally devoid of flashy Hollywood style, Nitram is a difficult piece of filmmaking to get through, but one that remains increasingly urgent.
The story delves into the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, a painful chapter in Australian history that prompted several urgent gun laws to be passed across the country.
8. RRR (S. S. Rajamouli)
The Indian movie that is taking the western world of cinema by storm, RRR by S. S. Rajamouli tells the fictitious historical tale about two legendary revolutionaries and their journey away from home before they started fighting for their country in the 1920s. Featuring such names as N.T. Rama Rao Jr, Ram Charan, Ajay Devgn and Alia Bhatt, the new action drama is a wild ride, competing with the very best Hollywood movies of the year.
Beautifully put together, RRR is a gleeful ride of vibrant colour and bombastic action that enchants from start to finish.
7. Top Gun: Maverick (Joseph Kosinski)
Few people were truly expecting Top Gun: Maverick to be quite as great as it is, proving a worthy successor to Tony Scott’s iconic action movie of the 1980s. The sequel sees the return of Pete Mitchell (Tom Cruise) who is coming back to train pilots after more than thirty years of service, as he continues his maverick approach to aviation education, teaching the likes of Rooster (Miles Teller), Payback (Jay Ellis) and Phoenix (Monica Barbaro).
Shot largely without the presence of CGI, the sheer power of Joseph Kosinski’s high-powered action romp can be felt in the cinema seat, creating a film that rivals the 1986 original, and might even better it.
6. X (Ti West)
Simply titled X, Ti West’s latest horror film takes place in 1979 and once again pays homage to the history of cinema, this time looking at the adult movie industry that gained momentum at the end of the 20th century. Picked up by A24, the new film follows a group of young filmmakers who set out to make a porn film in rural Texas, only for some strange locals to treat their presence with peculiar hostility.
Attempting to decode the relationship between sex and violence that has long been sewn into the very fabric of the genre, West creates a valuable piece of horror history that bridges the gap between the censorship of the slasher age and the freedom of the contemporary craft.
5. Mad God (Phil Tippett)
Created across the course of 30 years, Phil Tippett’s insane stop-motion horror, Mad God, contains the kind of gut-churning imagery that one would see emblazoned on a heavy-metal band T-shirt, showing fleshy satanic beasts dripping in gore and mucus. Though, unlike viewing such merchandise, Tippett’s vision is a thoroughly enjoyable watch, showing the true imagination of a special effects maestro flexing his dexterous fingers.
Boasting a trip into the mind of a truly talented creative, Mad God offers something that few films can, showing off incredible monstrous landscapes conjured from our darkest and most terrifying nightmares, brought to life with fleshy authenticity.
4. Everything Everywhere All at Once (Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert)
Where such blockbusters as Jurassic World: Dominion and Thor: Love and Thunder failed to rouse modern audiences, it was left to the frenetic A24 flick Everything Everywhere All at Once to satisfy audience tastes. Telling the story of an ageing Chinese immigrant who is swept up in an insane multiversal adventure, the Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert flick stars Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis, James Hong and Stephanie Hsu.
Captured with a wild pace and an energy that bubbles with childish enthusiasm, Everything Everywhere All at Once is an utter joy to take in.
3. Ali and Ava (Clio Barnard)
Set in the cultural hotpot of Bradford in the North of England, Clio Barnard’s kind-hearted story emanates from the vibrant streets where Ali (Adeel Akhtar), a former DJ turned landlord, meets Ava (Claire Rushbrook), a teaching assistant who works closely with his young family friend. As their fragile lives are deconstructed piece by piece, the two souls grow ever closer, becoming catalysts for change in each other’s tumultuous lives.
Urgently compassionate, Ali and Ava is a unique, careful and nuanced, providing a refreshing view of the female gaze in its translation of love in contemporary Britain.
2. The Northman (Robert Eggers)
Based on the legend of Amleth, which was later appropriated for Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Robert Eggers’ brutal Viking tale is one of deceit, revenge and treachery that stems after the murder of a young boy’s father, the king of a mythical land. Narrowly escaping the clutches of his persecutors, the young boy, Amleth, sails across the stormy seas screaming to the gods as he promises to avenge his father’s death and save his mother from harm.
Stained with blood and grime, Eggers’ Northman feels like the product of its environment, creating an authentic blockbuster that draws from long-established, fantastical legend whilst rooting the tale in a convincing, brutal reality.
1. This Much I Know to be True (Andrew Dominik)
Whilst many films might vie for the top spot, there’s no film better so far in 2022 than Andrew Dominik’s music documentary This Much I Know to be True which explores the creative relationship between artists Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. Focusing specifically on the duo’s last two albums, Ghosteen and Carnage, the film provides a wondrous, meditative insight into the work of two modern icons.
Matching the creativity of both artists, director Andrew Dominik uses dramatic lighting and ingeniously simple cinematography to bring this musical exploration to life.