By Ryan Grant-Khailani, Third Year, History
The entertainment industry is one of those industries by which quality is not measured equally amongst their consumers. I love horror movies, for example, and this year has been great for horror movies. I love fantasy television, and this year has been a great year for fantasy television. You may not like either of those, and that is equally valid, but I must acknowledge that I would not know how your favourite genres of media have performed this year.
What I can tell you is that 2022 has produced some of my favourite films and tv series of all time, and below are a list of my top contenders.
X (Dir. Ti West)
This film is the first instalment of a slasher trilogy directed and written by Ti West. There are few words which could do justice to the extent of praise that Mia Goth deserves for her performance and contribution to the trilogy, being noted as a co-writer for Pearl (2022): part two of the X-traordinary story.
The movie is produced by A24, and in a previous review of one of their movies, Bodies, Bodies, Bodies (2022), I commented about the company’s unique selling point being a subversion of traditional horror movie formulas. In X, this manifests as the final girl and the villain being performed by the same actor: Mia Goth, who portrays both the protagonist and the antagonist.
The wider commentary behind the trilogy is about the frustration between an understanding that youth and beauty are a currency in our societies but not one which lasts the test of time. The movie was also a visual masterpiece. The settings are seductive and terrifying simultaneously, picturesque scenes which are frightening.
This movie is legendary and definitely a contender for my favourite viewing experience of the year.
Nope (Dir. Jordan Peele)
Jordan Peele returns with his spectacular filmmaking. Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya do a great job of being a brilliant on-screen sibling duo. The movie has been divisive amongst viewers; some believe that compared to previous works of Peele, Nope was not as thrilling but more psychological.
To those who disagree with the pacing of the movie, I dare question whether the movie was incorrect or if the pace at which we consume media has spoiled your potential to enjoy a healthy spell of silence.
The power of the stillness, the terrifying quiet. A brilliant cinema experience – for weeks post-viewing, friends and I attempted to wrangle out and decipher a larger meaning. That is a symptom of a powerful movie moment, one which is fondly reminisced on.
The Batman (Dir. Matt Reeves)
Perhaps the most epic movie of 2022. Matt Reeves needed to stand out from the shadow of the Nolan trilogy, and he has done just that.
Zoe Kravitz is captivating with her embodiment of a damaged heroine; her performance is perhaps stronger than that of Robert Pattinson. The costume design and set dress of the movie are outstanding, worthy of a Saturn award for Best Film Costume.
The film champions a neo-noir take on a detective-styled Batman movie. The Batman cinematic universe has a legacy of stellar pictures and regrettable productions, but this grunge without cringe style stands out amongst the more favourable iterations.
Men (Dir. Alex Garland)
As the title may suggest, this movie is a horror movie. Written and directed by Alex Garland, this film flits between unnerving symbolism and gratuitously visceral violence. Falling under the folk horror genre, the setting of the British countryside and its quiet landscapes juxtapose the grotesque horror.
Using serenity purely as a sinister device. Men uses multirole in the case of Rory Kinnear, being a brilliant visual metaphor for the ease at which patriarchal violence is reproduced. This commentary and symbolism for the rebirthing of power culminate in a truly disturbing final 10 minutes.
Never again will I look at the face of Rory Kinnear the same. Jessie Buckley deserves acknowledgement for carrying the movie with her striking performance, playing the victim of projections of masculine insecurity with nuance.
The show was an unexpected delight to end the year with. Jenna Ortega has captured the hearts and fan pages of a generation. The power of the stillness of Ortega’s Wednesday in a world of camp chaos.
A great blend of subtlety and contrast. Tim Burton does a brilliant job at creating an aesthetic marvel; that being said, there is room for much more diversity within Burtonesque cinema.
Many of the actors perform brilliantly, with special mentions to Gwendoline Christie (Larissa Weems) and Joy Sunday (Bianca Barclay). Read my intricate review below to read all about Wednesday...
House of the Dragon
Being a spin-off of Game of Thrones (2011-2019) ensured that House of the Dragon had two goals: the first, being an incredible fantasy drama, and the second, replacing the collective memory of GOT’s eight seasons.
Both of these goals were achieved. The storytelling is brilliant, but all the actors had their jobs cut out for them; practically every character suffers some torment in every episode for our entertainment.
At times, the chronology of events moves a touch too quickly, and the coherency of which characters are related, or pregnant, or dead begins to slip away. This can be forgiven since the show fulfils its promise of a detail-rich fantasy world.
House of Dragon will sit amongst the strongest television shows to come in 2022.
This is a difficult review to write. On the one hand, the second season of Euphoria was a technical marvel, outstanding in production with an incredible team. The sets, the outfits, the cinematic parallels – this pseudo-psychedelic cinema experience has enormous potential. Admittedly, the show suffered from the excellence of the previous season.
The legacy of the first season creates such a high standard for storytelling which did not materialise this season. At the same time, some of the moments are so wonderful that I will revisit them for a much longer time. The theatre and drama of Lexi’s play alone are enough to warrant some heartache for the nosediving potential of some characters.
The disappointment among the cult following of Euphoria, otherwise known as their fandom, led to much speculation about off-screen drama translating as terrible plot points. This withstanding, it remains one of the most important television moments of the year.
Stranger Things S4
Millie Bobby Brown saves the world yet again by raising her arm and screaming, and I can’t wait for her to do it again. In earnest, Stranger Things 4 was another great season.
There were some really inspiring moments from the cast at the end of the season. Sadie Sink comes to mind for being a standout in both volumes and for single-handedly reinventing Kate Bush this year.
The new antagonist is truly quite horrific; it certainly felt as though the tone explores much darker themes – not to suggest the other seasons are less frightening. I look forward to the fifth and final season concluding this sci-fi spectacular.
Featured Image: IMDB
What were your 2022 favourites?