I remember last year when I was writing my Best and Worst film lists, I lost heart talking about the best films as they were few and far between from the bad ones I had seen that year. This year the difference is vast and the films I enjoyed felt far away from the ones mentioned here. With that being said I think it’s impossible to discuss good films without looking at bad ones so with that in mind, here are a few that were a little better than the 10 worst. Much like with my prior lists, each selection is only out of the films released in the UK during 2022 so if you don’t see any films you think belong here, that might be the reason.
A late addition to the release schedule and promptly dumped into UK cinema screens in early December to fill the gap between Black Panther and Avatar, Nocebo is a mesh of tried and tired themes in a horror that plays more like an awkward family drama with muted performances by Eva Green and Mark Strong and one of the years worst child performances. Uninspired and slow, Nocebo lives up to its title by proclaiming to have a psychological effect while actually doing absolutely nothing.
Jurassic World: Dominion
Not only was Dominion advertised as the end of a new trilogy of Jurassic films, it also proclaimed itself to be the conclusion of all six movies, reuniting the original cast with Jurassic World’s array of characters and while everyone here is trying their hardest to make the film entertaining, its just far too much of the same in a film that wants to be far apart from its counterparts. While Fallen Kingdom opened up the mythology, Dominion closes it off by reminding you that these films only really work in a bubble and you can only watch the same film so many times before it just becomes a mesh of bland colours and slightly iffy CGI creatures.
The first big release of 2022, a love child of director Simon Kinberg and actress Jessica Chastain seemed like a concept with legs. After all the spy genre is a painfully stale and male dominated one and all you have to do is look at this years The Grey Man to see why a shift in direction was necessary. However this Chastain led action feature suffers from a weak plot, a miscast Penelope Cruz and a series of repetitive action sequences that lack any kind of flair. It isn’t that The 355 is generic, it takes a few bold steps in the right direction but its just painfully dull.
The next 10 films however are a mesh of choices that just don’t work and stories that don’t justify the price of a ticket or in this day and age, a subscription.
The 10 Worst Films of 2022
10. A Journal For Jordan
Denzel Washington’s adaptation of this true story is heartfelt sure but in the same way a Lifetime movie is. There isn’t a moment in this overly shmaltzy biopic that doesn’t feel heightened for effect instead of told with an honesty the story deserves. While Michael B Jordan if a reliable lead he is supported by a starkly forced performance by Chanté Adams that scuppers the film. The whole endeavour feels like a fever dream of sentimentality, a tick list of emotional manipulation that tells its story in no particular rush, with no real drama and very little to entertain in a love story that never really feels like one.
It’s been a few months since I saw Amsterdam and if you asked me to describe a memorable scene, theme or performance I would draw a complete blank because David O Russell’s latest commits the cardinal sin of storytelling. It never tells a story. Russell has meshed together a group of characters to babble pointlessly accelerated dialogue in a supposed murder mystery while mixing true events with utterly fabricated hogwash. The true shock is how he managed to convince a cast of this calibre to star in a film with no beginning, middle or end and why it was one of 2022’s most anticipated films until it wasn’t, for obvious reasons.
Martin Campbell’s story of a fading hitman, suffering from dementia while trying to carry out one last job is a fitting analogy for both Campbell and star Liam Neeson’s careers as Neeson is suffering through yet another action dud that show that his Taken days are behind him and Campbell is well past his Goldeneye days, here instead trying to speak to the messiness of aging but in a film that has very little to say on the matter. Not only does it handle dementia as some kind or rapidly spreading virus, with Neeson’s character going from forgetful to utterly void in the space of about 3 days, it has a strange kind of fluctuating morality that seems to ebb and flow with what the characters need to be doing at that specific moment. Mostly it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Every year there is a film that seems to be close to a critical darling or at least enjoyed by an array of other writers that just doesn’t resonated. Be it 2018’s Leave No Trace or 2019’s The Irishman, some films just feel like exercises in futility that you want to find meaning in but just can’t. True Things is such a film, one that plays on the same awkward note for its entire run and somehow manages to make a 100 minute feature feel close to three hours. Ruth Wilson is committed to a story that feels like a short that has been extended without adding any more substance. Director Harry Wootliff’s film feels like the antithesis of this years Ali & Ava, a film all about being stripped of any sense of self by someone and yet by the end I found myself wondering because of the script if there was any sense of character here to begin with.
6.Save The Cinema
This Samantha Morton led biopic about a woman trying to save her small town cinema from demolition is well intentioned, has a cast of high quality character actors and a sense of purpose. However the overall product is so painfully mawkish. Every character is a perfect human being, never putting a foot out of place as they fight for the good of mankind it feels like. Never for a moment are any of these people real. It also has one of the worst performances of the year in Tom Felton who gets stuck trying to perfect the Welsh accent he forgets to play a character. It’s admirable in its efforts to tell an interesting story it just never gets even remotely close to achieving it.
Released in January on Netflix, Brazen was the streamers attempt at mild titillation without ever really showing anything. Framed as a murder mystery film, this Alyssa Milano fronted film is really a poorly structured romance with delusions of mystery. Despite a plot that includes whips, chains and dominatrices, Brazen is shockingly light in its subject matter, never actually telling its dark story to the best of its ability. Tonally it jumps from light fluffy romance into tacky suspense. Ultimately the film never sells its premise because it doesn’t know what kind of genre it belongs to, or it doesn’t care. By the end, the latter seems more likely.
Advertised as the final chapter in David Gordon Green’s trilogy, one that would finally close out Laurie Strode’s nightmare and bring the story of Michael Myers to a end. That is why it was so surprising that Halloween Ends isn’t about Michael. He might be in it like a looming presence watching the town he has haunted but Ends tells a completely ostracised story, one about a monster made by the town itself. It’s a bold swing but it ends up being a laughable take on a conclusion. The action is banal, the tension is non existent and the script strangely plays for comedy more than it should. It all culminates in a final brawl that feels tacked on for the sake of die hard fans, one that could have ruined a decent story of a towns self destruction. That is if Ends didn’t intentionally try to tell an incoherent story by constantly moving against the tale it was telling just to be contrarian.
Although vampires are pretty prevalent in modern television, with this year seeing Netflix’s take on Romeo and Juliet in First Kill and the return of Lestat in a TV adaptation of Interview with the Vampire, the modern day movie vampire has gone with way of the Dodo. The Invitation wants desperately to make the night dwelling creature scary again, a manipulative force hiding in the shadows. However somewhere in the endless build-up, The Invitation loses its tone, constantly flicking from B movie horror tropes to confusing romance sub-plots. The fact that the real plot of the film doesn’t emerge until the final 15 minutes is the real nail in the coffin as there is only so much tiptoeing around that someone can take before something needs to happen, only it never really does.
Every year there is a low budget action movie that inexplicably gets more mainstream attention than it should. Usually a film made for a streaming platform to plug a gap in their much needed ‘content’ quota. This years was the Elsa Pataky starring Interceptor. Framed like an uninspired Panic Room rip-off, refocused as a jingoistic American action film, Interceptor is cheap, not just in the cost of production but in every other choice it makes. The script is dire, the cast phone it in from the start and most of the action is hidden behind shoddy editing designed to make it seem frenetic while hiding the simplistic direction. Interceptor is just pure unfiltered ‘content’, never making the jump up to something I would ever call a film.
The Retaliators is the purest definition of a marmite film. You are either going to love it or hate it. Unfortunately i was firmly in the 2nd camp. Not only does it intentionally play as a 90s slasher film but it uses the grainy film style of such films to make the blood and gore feel that much more outlandish. Despite opening on a moment of genuine terror and emotion, it builds up to a constantly changing tone that never really fits with the body horror it wants to be. Not only that but for a film so interested in spraying blood this way and that way it never really wants to show the real gore it seems to be alluding to. While its all well and good throwing a few comic moments into a slasher, The Retaliators feels like a comedy and while that might make this feature seem like a rollicking good time to some, to me it just ruined a film too frightened to lean into the slasher it really wanted to be.
Although these films didn’t make 2022 seem like a decent year, hopefully the next parts in this series will point you in the direction of some films that deserve to be watched into next year and beyond.