Starring: Bill Nighy, Aimee Lou Wood, Alex Sharpe, Tom Burke
Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru is one of the celebrated director’s greatest films, a towering, humanistic achievement in a filmography that’s full of them. So why give yourself the tall task of remaking that film in an English context? To the credit of Living, Kurosawa’s film can be easily translated into virtually any time period or culture. And proper British society in the 1950s shares many of the work-first mentality that was reflected in the 1952 version.
Starring: Finn Wolfhard, Julianne Moore, Alisha Boe, Billy Bryk, Jay O. Sanders
Jesse Eisenberg’s first step behind the camera debuted almost exactly a year ago at the last Sundance Film Festival to an online audience after the festival went completely virtual due to the pandemic. There are films that manage to transcend the indie festival’s stereotypical quirks – films like Whiplash or Judas and the Black Messiah – and there are those that seem almost designed with the idea of airing there. Ultimately, When You Finish Saving the World feels more like the latter. It’s a decent dual character study that could have been better, more nuanced, than the final product.
Sometimes it’s refreshing to sit down for a movie and know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Watch any of the trailers for M3GAN and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what kind of film it is. A synthetic blend of Child’s Play and Ex Machina (yes, really), M3GAN will provide enough laughs and chills to get you through the doldrums of January releases but doesn’t deviate from that predetermined algorithm.
2022 was the first full year that movies came back to movie theaters. And the result was a spectacular year for big-screen popcorn entertainment. Of course, the year still had its fair share of great smaller, independent films and streaming films. I don’t know if there’s any thematic subject that ties the films of 2022 together neatly, but if anything, it’s in its cohesion to give both casual moviegoers and hardcore cinephiles enough to be excited about.
I also changed the way I’ll do my Top 10 going forward; rather than a fully ranked list of the ten best films, I’ll simply share my “Movie of the Year”, along with an unranked, alphabetical list of the remaining nine. So without further ado, here are my ten favorite films of 2022.
Starring: Sandra Drzymalska, Lorenzo Zurzolo, Mateusz Kościukiewicz, Isabelle Huppert
Robert Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar remains one of the French New Wave’s signature films, a unique achievement of storytelling and one of his best works. The film was a sort of character study, but from the perspective of a lowly donkey as it experiences its caretakers’ various quirks and dramas. While Balthazar the donkey was that film’s main character, he was simply an observer to witness human action, and as a vessel for Bresson’s statement about humanity. So why would director and co-writer (along with Ewa Piaskowska) Jerzy Skolimowski attempt to remake a classic, beloved film?
Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, Kate Winslet, Jack Champion, Jamie Flatters, Britain Dalton, Trinity Jo-Li Bliss,
Thirteen years ago, James Cameron did what he always does and redefined the modern blockbuster with Avatar, a global phenomenon that would go on to become the highest grossing movie ever made. While that film’s story was never much to brag about – it was almost beat for beat the plot of Pocahontas in space – the visuals and the experience from Cameron’s pioneering 3D technology is mostly what got butts in the seats. Cameron has made some of the greatest sequels of all-time (Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Aliens), so how will he tackle the first of many planned sequels for his passion project?
Starring: Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig, Raffey Cassidy, Andre Benjamin, Jodie Turner-Smith, Don Cheadle, Lars Eidinger
Many films have been made throughout the years about the American Dream, but what about the American Nightmare? Noah Baumbach’s latest, White Noise, is a film that’s obsessed with impending doom at nearly every minute, filtered through the lens of the American condition. It’s the first time he’s working from previously-available material, adapted from Don DeLillo’s novel – long thought to be unadaptable – and it’s Baumbach’s most ambitious project to date. It’s also a thrilling, often messy film that exists on its own wavelength, and is liable to lose casual viewers because of it, but is no less enticing.
Every year has its share of flops and misfires, but 2022’s worst films were less misguided pieces of auteur filmmaking (though there were certainly instances of that) and more studio algorithms passing as entertainment. It’s not that big budget filmmaking hit a new low this year – Top Gun: Maverick and Everything Everywhere All at Once and others reinvigorated the theater experience week after week! – but too many felt hollow and formulaic. Plenty of films passed muster as being merely forgettable, but nevertheless, here are the five worst films I saw in 2022.
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Joseph Mydell, Carly-Sophia Davies
Joanna Hogg made an international splash with her two semi-autobiographical Souvenir films, as she reevaluated her days in film school and a formative romantic relationship. Those films felt like a faithful collection of memories, not unlike this year’s cinematic memoirs from auteurs like James Gray and Steven Spielberg. Hogg’s latest, The Eternal Daughter, similarly pulls from her own experiences, but takes a much more experimental route. While the results may not be as groundbreaking or profound as her previous works, the film continues to establish Hogg as a creative force that knows how to craft an engaging story.
Starring: Daniel Craig, Kate Hudson, Edward Norton, Dave Bautista, Janelle Monáe, Leslie Odom, Jr., Kathryn Hahn, Madelyn Cline
Rian Johnson knows you’ve done your homework. He knows you’re familiar with the murder-mystery genre and he knows what you will and will not be expecting. He also knows you’ve seen his last film, Knives Out, and knows that you’ll be keyed into what tricks he has up his sleeves for its sequel, Glass Onion. But rather than change the game entirely and do something bigger and more outlandish, he mostly hews closer to what worked so well the first time around. You can only reinvent the wheel once, after all.