This section of the list goes from musicals to murder mysteries to a horror film that bucks conventions. Each is on here for the way it expounds upon its genre to add something new. This includes a romance that builds upon the novel it is based on by making a romance more about social issues and beauty. Also included is a comedy that feels more like a biting critique of today’s rich, one that pulls no punches when it points out the morally bankrupt values of those in search of money. So without further ado, here is numbers 20-11.
The Best Films of 2022 – No 20-11
20. Mrs Harris Goes To Paris
From the trailer for this Lesley Manville starring story based on the book of the same name, Mrs Harris Goes To Paris seemed like a conventional working-class British comedy. An idealistic look at a woman courageously stepping out of her station to grasp what she wants for a change. What surprises however is how delicate and well-formed every shot is and how nuanced a drama it ends up being. While it is a story of optimism, there is a real sense of realism here grounding the story and the world these characters live in. A film all about the hidden passions of people that are misunderstood or ignored in a world that only wants people to be one thing and one thing only and that is useful and quiet. This is a film for the quiet dreamers no longer content to be in the background and the community this kind of hope fosters. Elegantly designed by cinematographer Felix Wiedemann, Mrs Harris Goes To Paris is a thing of beauty much like the dresses on display here.
19. Girls Girls Girls
This Finnish coming-of-age story surprised me in all the best ways by not only telling a simple story but it manages to make the story of three young women finding their way in the world so compelling by not making it about their gender. In fact, it ignores any sense of gender, instead choosing to tell stories of moving past other people’s expectations or learning to come to terms with your own sexuality. It might be the first film that really looks at asexuality in the modern world in any real sense and it does so in a film that is delightfully dry-witted and painfully real about how we process trauma.
Colourful, romantic and starkly tragic, Cyrano is an old-fashioned musical for a modern audience that uses the Sicilian countryside to bring this 18th-century story to life. Not only is Peter Dinklage excellent as the titular poet but Hayley Bennett makes the usually thankless role of Roxanne the heart of the film. Featuring some memorable music and some elaborate but never distracting choreography that only adds to the elegance of this simple story. Director Joe Wright’s grasp of the story and how the colour palette changes to match the tone makes for a perfect blend of tone and pace that makes this one of the year’s best musicals.
17. The Woman King
One of this year’s most anticipated releases outside of Marvel movies and big-budget action adventures, The Woman King was a story that used elements of real-life African tribal history to tell an entirely original tale. What director Gina Prince-Bythewood creates here however is a nuanced story of family and sisterhood that also packs a punch with some of 2022’s best action moments. Not only are Lashana Lynch and Thuso Mbedu excellent here but the story and world that writer Dana Stevens has constructed here make for a dreary but consuming drama.
Fran Kranz’ feature debut is a bold piece of cinema in that it sits in the pain and silence of its subject matter instead of being flashy in its construction. Telling the story of a meeting between two couples of parents whose children were involved in a school shooting years earlier, Mass never feels crass or tawdry, respecting its tale but using the limited design of the room the film is set in to elevate the drama. Even the placement of the table and the presence of tissues are important, a conscious choice that makes every little thing on-screen feel important. Each of the four performers are terrific, and the sharp transitions from moments of bleak comedy to much-deserved catharsis make this not just a terrific debut for Kranz but one of 2022’s best dramas.
15. Triangle Of Sadness
Part of the London Film Festival’s showings, Triangle of Sadness is a scathing rebuke of influencers and the affluent and how money has given people a false idea of power. Awarded the Palme d’Or at Cannes, Ruben Östlund’s latest goes from a story of dim-witted people, showing their self-entitled true natures to a struggle for survival after a night of hellishly hilarious consequences. Charlbi Dean is excellent in what unfortunately became her final screen role and the entire second act is a masterclass in cringe comedy, one that builds and builds to an explosive (in more ways than one) end.
14. Death on The Nile
While it was a film plagued with the bad press of its star and a myriad of issues in its production, Death on The Nile is a taught thriller masked as a murder mystery and Kenneth Branagh is clearly having fun with his new iteration of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, both playing him and directing. He is supported by the terrific Emma Mackey and Annette Benning and despite spending most of its runtime building up to the murder its mystery is based on, most of the fun of the picture is the build-up as the ensemble builds around the Egyptian landscape and locales that Poirot and co call home.
13. Pompo The Cinephile
This Japanese anime seems like an odd choice for a place on this list but it shines because of how it hides themes behind simple emotions in a story that feels welcoming in all the best ways. Telling the story of a young director who gets taken under the wing of the titular Pompo, a youthful producer who spots talent and fosters it. While it might seem that a film about filmmaking would be the sweet spot for me but Pompo is less about the actual act than the feeling of doing what you love brings. Its a warm hug of a film with a bright look and a smart script.
Released in late September and promptly forgotten about by most, Juniper was a film all about fighting for what you want in life and the spirit that one inherits from family, whoever they might be. Featuring yet another excellent turn by Charlotte Rampling, writer/director Matthew J Saville firmly wraps his story of familial bonding in a story full of alcoholism, teenage rebellion and attempted suicide. It’s a tough watch but one that provides a look at just how we find our way in our youth. It also features a picture perfect ending thanks to the beauty of the New Zealand countryside and a story not afraid to tackle tough topics to tell a real and layered story.
11. The Menu
Mark Mylod’s The Menu surprised everyone upon release by not being the predictable horror film its trailer highlighted it as. Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy lead an all star cast in a film with weaves through its plot elegantly, framed around an exquisitely structured fine dining event that turns into a bizarre Pagen-esque ritual or cult gathering. Joy as the fish out of watch is lumbered with keeping the ship on course but Fiennes takes great pleasure in the shame and gravitas of his character. Despite being set in one place, The Menu is adventurous, bold and even a little bit fruity. It was delicious.
There are numbers 20-11, with nothing but the top 10 to come. In the next part, expect one final murder mystery, a survival film that pulled off one of 2022’s best twists and a couple of action spectacles thrown in there for good measure.