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The “Long Year” Comes to an End: Diana's Picks for 2022




Diana’s Favorite Films from 2022



I watched so many films during 2021 that I allowed myself to write a “Top 20” list and then some. For 2022, I decided to reign it in a bit and go back to a “Top 10” format…with a couple of very special series honorable mentions. The year 2022 had a fantastic wealth of entertaining films and there are several more that would be included if I extended this list, but here are ten of my personal favorite films from the past year that I adamantly recommend watching if you have not done so already. Enjoy.



Honorable Mentions:



Heartstopper (Available on Netflix)


After watching Heartstopper, I couldn’t help but think about how if there had only been something like it available to read or watch when I was a teenager just how much better things might have felt. Showing teenagers - gay, straight, lesbian, bi, trans - all able to interact, find love, and be loved, is huge. The characters do not immediately figure everything out about themselves or their sexuality, they struggle with it, but at the same time, the show allows for hope. It allows for joy. It’s fucking fantastic to watch. It makes me think back to how little Queer content I was exposed to when I was the same age as the show’s characters (15-16) and how confusing and terrifying everything was at the time. Knowing that something like Heartstopper exists for people to watch today is amazing.




Reservation Dogs - Season 2 (Available on FX / Hulu)


I loved the first season of Reservation Dogs and with each episode of Season Two, the show just gets BETTER AND BETTER. I don’t think there is another show like this on television right now. I recommend it to anyone and everyone I know that hasn’t seen it yet because I firmly believe that there is something for everyone on this show, no matter your background or interests. The show’s lead cast of four friends - Elora Danan, Bear, Cheese, and Willie Jack - as well as some of the adults, are further fleshed out with standalone episodes this season (shoutouts to Sarah Podemski as Bear’s mom, Rita, and Zahn McClarnon as Big) and there are plenty of new guests. Sterlin Harjo’s show displays the culture of living on the rez but isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself at the same time. It also deals with grief realistically, showing that it takes a long time to mourn, as well as depicting a common desire to leave home and come back both at the same time.


 


10) Benediction


Director Terence Davies examines the life of British poet Siegfried Sassoon and how he was affected by WWI, tragedy, and some destructive personal relationships, shaping him to become both a prolific poet and an outspoken pacifist. Sassoon was homosexual during a time when it was still illegal; he is played by Scottish actor Jack Lowden (Slow Horses, Dunkirk). Lowden’s thoughtful, anguished yet charismatic portrayal of Siegfried is what makes Benediction something truly special to watch. It is understated, yet one of the more heartbreaking performances I watched this past year. For more on this film, check out my full review here.




9) After Yang


While Colin Farrell was fantastic in The Banshees of Inisherin it was his melancholy and introspective performance as Jake in 2022’s After Yang that stayed with me for much longer. Justin H. Min is already a fan favorite from The Umbrella Academy but seeing him portray Yang, an A.I. with more humanity than most of his human peers was at times devastating. Haley Lu Richardson is wonderful as the only one who views Yang as a “real person.” When Yang mysteriously stops working one day, his little “sister” Mika is understandably inconsolable, but as the film progresses, we realize how many other characters Yang’s existence has affected. P.S., it has one of the best opening title sequences of any film I have ever seen.




8) RRR


RRR was unbelievable. I loved it. It was a ridiculous spectacle with amazing charisma between its two leads. I usually do not love musicals, but the music and dancing scenes were just as engaging as the film’s epic action sequences. I wish I could have seen this in a packed theater instead of at home, but that’s my only complaint.




7) Hit the Road


I didn’t know much about Hit the Road beforehand, only that it was less benign than the simple premise of a family road trip. Writer/Director Panah Panahi’s film centers around a family (mom, dad, and two brothers) driving across the desert outside Tehran for an unknown purpose. Twenty-something big brother (Amin Simiar) drives with his fretting mother (Pantea Panahiha) up front, while six-year-old little brother (Rayan Sarlak) rides in the back with his deadpan father (Mohammad Hassan Madjooni) and their sick dog, Jessy. The parents make up various stories for their young son about where and why his big brother is leaving the country in such a hurry. The reality of the story is distressing, but Panahi evokes humor and pathos throughout, right up until the film’s surprising climax. The entire cast is fantastic but the little brother steals the show.




6) Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio


The stop-motion animation of GDT’s Pinocchio is amazing. The film feels like a del Toro film through and through with its commentary on organized religion, fascism, and “being different.” I sobbed during the final act. Then Mike Burdge immediately rewound it and I sobbed harder as we watched the last 15 minutes of the movie again. Ciao Papa.




5) Barbarian


Barbarian was a wild ride. It was nothing like I expected and I am not normally a lover of the horror genre. It is hilarious and extremely compelling, but at the same time, it is disturbing and extremely gross. I loved it. The less you know going into watching it the better.




4) Top Gun: Maverick


This was one of the best theater-going experiences I had in 2022. At one point while watching, I turned around to see mostly middle-aged “kids” with their dads hooting and hollering, fist-pumping, and cheering. It was sensational. Grown-ass men were crying. It was glorious. The action doesn’t disappoint. The age-appropriate romance does not disappoint. Tom Cruise does not disappoint. See it on as big a screen as possible.




3) Decision to Leave


Park Chan-wook’s latest movie is a gorgeous noir mood piece. It is beautiful. I didn’t want it to end. Park Hae-il plays a detective investigating the death of an affluent climbing enthusiast who “fell” to his demise. Tang Wei is excellent as the woman suspected of murdering her husband. In the second half of the film, the detective is forced to rethink every decision he made in the first half, but more importantly, he must consider whether or not he even cares if the suspect is guilty.




2) Everything Everywhere All At Once


This movie made me laugh so hard in the theater, and yet by the end, I was just sitting quietly, totally emotionally spent in the best way possible. It has been just as good (if not better) upon each rewatch. Stephanie Hsu will break your heart and Ke Huy Quan mends it and fills it back up with love. Jamie Lee Curtis and Michelle Yeoh are a couple for the ages. Also, I need a feature-length “Raccacoonie” film starring Harry Shum Jr. immediately. Get on it, Daniels.




1) Aftersun


This is the big one. The slow burn. But boy does it burn. Charlotte Wells creates a time capsule of a film where 11-year-old Sophie (Frankie Corio) and her young dad Calum (Paul Mescal) are on vacation in Turkey in the late 1990s. We eventually get flashes of Sophie years later when she is about the same age as her dad was during that trip. The use of video camcorder recordings throughout the film help capture how both Sophie and Calum view the world around them and each other. I don’t want to give anything else away if you haven't yet seen this spectacular film, but watching Mescal dance gave me major Call Me By Your Name déjà vu. I didn’t think the film would wreck me so much upon a second watch but it did (and then some).




 


Diana DiMuro

Associate Editor

Besides watching TV and movies, Diana likes plants, the great outdoors, drawing and reading comics, and just generally rocking out. She has a BA in English Literature and is an art school dropout. You can follow her on Instagram @dldimuro and Twitter @DianaDiMuro


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