By Niamh Daly, Third Year, English and French
As 2022 draws to a close and a long-awaited break is in sight, now is the perfect time to reflect on all of the fantastic viewing material that has been offered to us over the year- because nothing hits quite like a guilt-free Netflix binge, unburdened by looming deadlines (for the most part). From interdimensional talking rocks to the viral phenomenon affectionately dubbed ‘female rage’, this year has been nothing short of varied, and I’m sure you’ll all agree with me when I say that we have been spoiled for choice as far as film and TV goes.
With that being said, please read on to hear my meticulously chosen top choices from the past year- and no, this was not an easy feat by any means!
This Is Going to Hurt
By its very nature as an adaptation, the TV representation of Adam Kay’s autobiographical This is going to hurt had big shoes to fill. The original memoir recounts the gory day-to-day of junior doctor Adam Kay, who delivers compelling stories of his emotionally taxing job, often in a dry tone, whilst still managing to create a narrative voice that is incredibly moving.
Thankfully, BBC’s ‘This is going to hurt’ succeeds in finding the perfect balance between witty comedy and sombre sincerity. It sheds a harsh light on the troubling reality faced by medical workers by following the lives of two struggling doctors, Adam and Shruti, and convincingly portrays the impossibility of the responsibilities that lie before them.
This is going to hurt is, in a phrase, very much ‘of its time’. In a world still reeling from the setbacks of the pandemic, we are starting to forget that it is the NHS workers that are facing the brunt of it more than anyone. A show well worth watching to remind ourselves of the people who have kept our year safe and enjoyable.
Next on my list is a six-part superhero miniseries from Disney+. Honestly, I’m not incredibly familiarised with the world of Marvel, so my decision to start this show was a rather rogue move. However, I am so glad to have ignored my reservations, as I found Moon Knight to be potentially one of the most accessible Marvel productions I have ever watched.
Promising storylines from previous shows and films have regularly become obfuscated by the immense presence of the ever-expanding MCU, which tends to dominate even stand-alone productions, yet Moon Knight succeeds in portraying a digestible, intriguing, and awe-inspiring storyline that gripped me until its finale, without me needing extensive previous knowledge to enjoy it.
An artful amalgamation of characteristic Marvel brilliance and intriguing ancient Egyptian motifs is only enhanced by lead star Oscar Isaac’s excellent mastery of his role. A multiple-personality protagonist is an objectively hard task to execute well, but Isaac embodies the role of both Steven Grant (inoffensive, mild-mannered Egyptologist with a sensitive side and a warbling British accent) and Marc Spector (textbook bada** American merc with the powers of an ancient god) with expert accuracy. Isaac’s ability to create hilarious banter all by himself makes for a very entertaining watch.
It’s unsure if Moon Knight, as we now know it, will return to our screens, but even if it doesn’t, I highly recommend this series for a short binge of easy, fun superhero content.
X // Pearl
I know it’s unfair to lump these two together, but I couldn’t resist. It’d be entirely wrong to rank Pearl on its own, given its purpose as a prequel, and the gory wonder of X is only amplified when you’re aware of the antagonist’s tragic backstories. Thus, it’s only fitting that these raunchy horrors share the spotlight- this is not to say, though, that they are not both stars in their own right.
The cultural ripples affected by X’s release in early 2022 can still be felt months on, and rightfully so. A gaudy slasher horror starring A24’s terror-sweetheart Mia Goth, this award-winner is sufficiently stuffed with beautifully composed shots, a showstopping soundtrack, and of course, lots and lots of blood. With a killer cast (Jenna Ortega and Kid Cudi, to name a few), X has been regarded as a newfound paragon for the romanticised country bumpkin-esque subculture aesthetic that has swept the internet.
Like a sinister twin, Pearl fills all the gaps left by X, released just late enough in the year to sustain the hype cultivated by her predecessor. We witness the tragic backstory of X’s villain, Pearl, her anguished desperation for stardom, and the manic violence that ensues. Pearl’s delusions of grandeur and unstoppable aspiration to leave behind her banal farmyard way of life make for an enthralling story that, gory as it may be, you can’t help but watch.
With the incredible Mia Goth reappearing to dominate the film’s screentime, Pearl’s fate as a modern classic is sealed with Goth’s fantastic one-shot eight-minute monologue at the film's climatic conclusion- a devastatingly captivating speech which seems to flawlessly capture universal female anguish.
Only just missing out on my top pick for best film and TV of the year is the stellar dark horse that is Ben Stiller’s Severance, a sardonic dystopian thriller that just skirted the mainstream due to its release on Apple TV. It follows four office workers who have all undergone a mindwipe procedure known as “severance”, which aims to biologically separate their work lives from their personal lives.
With an amazing cast of stars, including the likes of Adam Scott and Christopher Walken- and yes, Zoolander’s Ben Stiller is behind the camera for this one- Severance blew me away with its sinister storyline and near-perfect cinematographic execution.
Every moment of this 9-part rollercoaster feels deliberately crafted to illicit the most stomach-sinking feeling of thrilling devastation- and yet, each episode left me wanting more and more.
Its tantalising delivery raises fantastic questions about autonomy, memory, and the plight of the common worker, which all culminate in an incredible heart-stopping finale that faultlessly masters the art of suspense, leaving its audience on an excruciating cliffhanger. Months on, I still return to this series to feel its exhilarating rush.
We can expect to see the highly anticipated second season in early 2024, but until then, Severance claims my number two spot for 2022’s very best of film and TV.
Everything, Everywhere, All at Once
A24 truly pulled out all the stops this year. Despite its relatively small corpus in comparison to monoliths like Disney, it did pretty well at the box office with films such as Don’t Worry Darling (2022) and Bones and All (2022). However, it was Everything, Everywhere All at Once that proved to be a very serious candidate for my spot at number one this year, and for those of you that have watched it, I’m sure you’re not surprised.
Everything, Everywhere All at Once follows a day in the lives of first-generation immigrant parents Evelyn and Waymond, who are played by cinema sensations Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, respectively, and their teen daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu). Almost the entirety of the film takes place in an IRS building as the couple struggle against an audit on their family laundromat, only to be derailed by the slight complication of the complete destruction of the conceivable multiverse.
Amidst the ridiculous hilarity of the carnage that ensues- who’s ever thought of a dimension where everyone has hotdogs for fingers?- there lies a touching message about intergenerational trauma and the mother-daughter dynamic, particularly pertaining to the lived experience of POC and WOC living in the contemporary West.
I’ve never laughed or cried as much in a sticky cinema seat as I did whilst watching this masterclass of writing, acting, sound design, and of course, the editing, a feat achieved by just five people over Zoom during the pandemic. With Son Lux and Mitski on the soundtrack, there’s really nothing left to say other than, please watch this film, and prepare the tissues for THAT rock scene.
Featured Image: A24 on IMDB
What were some of your 2022 film & TV highlights?