Happy New Year to all! I’m taking a little break from the Ealing Comedies Blog Series because, as the year 2022 recently ended, it’s time for me to do a recap of my favourite films watched that year! So, for the occasion, I’ve decided to go with a top 20. I’ve spent long periods not watching movies, especially this summer. Still, my total of new-to-me films in 2022 was 77 (including feature films and short films). There were also a lot of re-watches.
Since I spent long periods between film viewings, there are some of them I remember loving but had completely forgotten I watched them that year. Consequently, there are a bit far in my head. Except for the general feeling of likeness, I might have difficulty remembering exactly why I loved them. With that being said, there’s an order to the list, but don’t take it too much into consideration, except maybe for the top 5. I might re-watch one of those films I had seen long ago and rank it differently. But there are those that marked me, and the top 5 or even 10 should be a good representation of that.
Some films I really liked are not on the list, so there will be an honourable mention section at the end. Some of these films are essential pieces of film history.
Before going further with the top, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1- Although I saw some excellent ones, I haven’t included any short films. However, most of them were seen during the FNC Festival and have already been included in a previous top list that you can find here.
2- This is 100 % subjective. My favourite might not be your favourite, and it’s ok like that. Just respect my personal choices. Thank you! Obviously, with a total of 77 new films seen, I can’t include everything.
3- I won’t write a fully detailed paragraph for each film explaining why I loved it because that would make a way-too-long article. I’d rather briefly tell you something from that film that particularly impressed me, an aspect that makes it a good reason to be included on the list. Not sure if that makes sense, but I think you’ll get the idea as you go into the list.
4- Although this blog’s main objective is to promote classic films, I realized there were a lot of “modern” films (21st century), but it’s just a coincidence. Anyway, although I’m 100 % for the promotion of classic films/old films, I’m always annoyed by people who only want to watch those and snub recent films. You’re missing so much! There’s garbage and treasures in all eras.
Without further ado, here we go!
Philadelphia (Jonathan Demme, 1993)
Tom Hanks won his first of two Oscars with that film, and I totally understand why. I don’t necessarily think he’s excellent in everything. Still, that film reminded me why I consider him a favourite. Also, that was only my second Denzel Washington film. I know, I know. Another solid actor whose work I definitely need to explore more.
Les cinq diables (The Five Devils, Léa Mysius, 2022)
That was the closing film at the Festival du nouveau cinéma (New Cinema Festival) for which I worked. It’s a creative story told with breathtaking cinematography that certainly won’t leave you indifferent.
Mississippi Burning (Alan Parker, 1988)
Well, I totally dig young Willem Dafoe. I also saw Platoon (Oliver Stone, 1986) this year. I wouldn’t say I liked it enough to include it on the list, but Dafoe was the best thing about it. And well, Gene Hackman is Gene Hackman. Difficult not to like him. But aside from the actors, it’s a film to see to witness a difficult part of American history. We’ve come a long way since, but the sad part is that there’s still a lot that needs improvement…
Norbourg (Maxime Giroux, 2022)
For those unfamiliar with Quebec criminal history, this film revolves around the case of Vincent Lacroix (played by François Arnaud) and the biggest financial crime in Quebec history. Needless to say that it’s a particularly thrilling film that certainly keeps you at the edge of your aeroplane seat (because I watched it while on my way to Portugal!). Little life story: Actor Vincent Guillaume-Otis who plays Éric Asselin, the inspector overseeing Lacroix’s activity, won an Iris Award for his interpretation. I was working for that award ceremony, and he came to ask me a question at some point on the red carpet. And he was SOOO nice and polite. Anyway, one of the highlights of my day.
The People Vs. Larry Flynt (Milos Forman, 1996)
I’m not sure why I initially decided to watch that film because I don’t remember anybody recommending it or seeing people mentioning it on social media. The fact that Milos Forman directed it and that Edward Norton (one of my very favourite contemporary actors) played in it probably influenced my decision. Anyway, it was a good surprise (and what a story). I’ve noticed that my list includes a few courtroom dramas or criminal cases. Guess I was in a mood.
Kite Zo A (Leave the Bones, Kaveh Nabatian, 2022)
Here, we enter the documentary world with a beautiful film that makes you discover the artistic scene of Haiti. Oh, and the music! A real fest.
El Doraro (Howard Hawks, 1966)
That film was an agreeable surprise! It stars then-screen legends John Wayne and Robert Mitchum and a young James Caan who was clearly on the right path to also becoming an icon. I’m usually not the biggest John Wayne fan, but I thought he was alright in this. Overall, it’s a pretty entertaining western that firmly stands on its own. It was Howard Hawks’s last film, if not mistaken.
Billy Liar (John Schlesinger, 1963)
I can’t recall EVERYTHING about that film. Still, I remember the originality of its proposition and some unique moments like the illustrated imagination of Billy (Tom Courtenay) and the ending that sticks with you. Among the few kitchen sink dramas I’ve seen so far, this is undoubtedly among my favourites. And can we talk about Julie Christie? Her character and her performance are the definition of cool and free spirit. Tom Courtenay in the leading role is brilliant too. John Schlesinger also directed Darling (1965), another film with Julie Christie that I immensely enjoyed. He’s perhaps better known for marking the New Hollywood era with Midnight Cowboy (1969) and Marathon Man (1976). And weirdly enough, his last film was The Next Best Thing (2000), an average romantic comedy with Madonna and Rupert Everett. It’s weird to think that the same guy made all those distinctive films!
Broadway (Christos Massalas, 2022)
I didn’t expect to love that film so much. Many aspects reminded me of Almodovar films: the characters, the music, the colours, the themes, and the overall aesthetic. That’s probably why it went with my tastes. I saw that film at the FNC, and I have no idea if it will be released internationally. If not, I’m glad I had the chance to see it.
Targets (Peter Bogdanovich, 1968)
That was Bogdanovich’s first film and a strong start, although not necessarily remembered as his most famous film. I probably watched it after he passed away as my tribute to him. It’s such a disturbing film, but it deserves to be seen. I especially liked the interactions between Bogdanovich and Boris Karloff. That was one of Karloff’s last films, and I believe he was pretty sick when he made it. However, like Edward G. Robinson in Soylent Green (Richard Fleischer, 1973), he stayed a solid performer until the end.
Jurassic Park (Steven Spielberg, 1993)
Yes, yes, I know, I know. I indeed did watch Jurassic Park for the first time this year. Hey! Better late than never! Although I love Spielberg, dinosaur stuff never really attracted me. However, after often hearing people talk about it in a great film podcast (that unfortunately doesn’t exist anymore), I’ve decided it was about time to try it. And yes, yes, it’s excellent. It’s not without reason that Spielberg is nicknamed the Kind of Entertainment. Interesting to think that his next film, released the same year, was Schindler’s List. A drastic change in style.
Avant qu’on explose (Before We Explode, Rémi St-Michel, 2019)
I knew this film existed since its release as I worked in a movie theatre where it was screened. But, for some reason, it was left under my radar until last year. At that podcast mentioned earlier, the screenwriter, Eric K. Boulianne, was a guest. Another guest also talked about it and perfectly sold it. Anyway, it made me want to see it. It’s a crazy coming-of-age film taking place during a fictional nuclear war.
Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)
Like many people, what I especially enjoyed about this film was its overall vibe. It doesn’t try too much and just stays cool. There are also some hilarious, touching moments and beautiful chemistry between Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray. Anyway, it combines many ingredients for a remarkable result. Plus, Johansson is definitely becoming a favourite of mine.
I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)
Well, one thing is sure, Craig Gillespie knows how to choose crowd-pleasing music in his films. But aside from that, it’s a great film about a pan of sports history that I was honestly unaware of: figure skater Tonya Harding and the whole Nancy Kerrigan scandal. Margot Robbie received a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Best Actress. I admittedly watched that triple axel scene more than once.
Kind Hearts and Coronets (Robert Hamer, 1949)
My next article on this blog will be about this film. So, I’ll have plenty of text to explain why this is such a masterpiece. It’s British dark humour at its best and simply, simply brilliant.
Très belle journée (Very Nice Day, Patrice Laliberté, 2022)
This film premiered at one of the festivals for which I worked. However, I didn’t have the occasion to see it then due to being too busy with work. I saw it later in a neighbourhood theatre not far from where I live after hearing a lot of interesting stuff about it that piqued my curiosity. I was honestly mesmerized and didn’t want it to end. It has the particularity to have been entirely shot with a cellphone (and it doesn’t show- in the good sense). Overall, there are just so many interesting stories about its production. Loved the music too. Patrice Laliberté also directed the first Canadian film produced by Netflix, Jusqu’au déclin (which I still have to see).
Something Wild (Jonathan Demme, 1986)
Congrats to Jonathan Demme for being twice on this list! With films such as this one, Silence of the Lambs, Stop Making Sense, Philadelphia, he showed what a versatile movie director he was. Something Wild deserves its title because it’s indeed wild. It’s the first film I saw with Melanie Griffith (she’s a lot of fun). Young Jeff Daniels is endearing, and Ray Liotta plays an unforgettable villain. It’s a bit of a neo-screwball comedy (my favourite genre) and, just like What’s Up Doc? (Peter Bogdanovich, 1972), some aspects of it reminded me a bit of Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938). But it remains unique in its own way.
Before I Change my Mind (Trevor Anderson, 2022)
This first feature film by Canadian director Trevor Anderson is an absolute delight! It was, once again, one of those films I didn’t want for it to end. As it was seen at a festival, I saw it on the big screen, which was probably the best way to do so. It’s a coming-of-age film with strong young actors, and I just loved the whole 80s aesthetic.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Aaron Sorkin, 2020)
I told you I had a thing for courtroom dramas last year! Anyway, this is a film I watched out of personal curiosity. I saw it on Netflix, but it wasn’t recommended to me before that. As I wanted (want) to see more Joseph Gordon-Levitt films, his presence was a big bonus. I loved it, and it kept me at the edge of my seat from beginning to end.
Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)
Although I told you my ranking of these films might change, I’m 100 % sure of my top 1, Promising Young Woman. Thanks AGAIN to that podcast for making me want to see it. What a film! It’s shocking but so necessary. Everybody should watch it to understand the importance of consent once and for all. It’s a masterpiece that certainly won’t leave you indifferent. I think that’s my favourite film of the 2020s (for now, because there are still a few years left in that decade).
And I have a few honourable mentions. These are films that, for some reasons, didn’t make my list but I believe still deserve to be mentioned.
– Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet, 1975). Don’t get me wrong, that’s an excellent film, and it could have been on the list. The only reason I didn’t include it is that I lost a bit of the focus towards the end, so it didn’t make it 100% for me.
– Hangover Square (John Brahm, 1945. Another great film with a disturbing ending, but at some point, you’ve gotta make choices.
– Moonage Daydream (Brett Morgen, 2022). Of course, as a David Bowie fan, it’s always a pleasure to see lots of him on the big screen. It was overall great and spellbinding, but I don’t feel it’s the kind of film I would go back to many times.
– Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019). Another poignant film and another reason why Johansson is becoming a favourite, but I wouldn’t say I liked it as much as the ones in my top 20.
– Les enfants du paradis (Marcel Carné, 1945). Certainly a historical film, and I couldn’t not mention it. I had the chance to see it on the big screen.
– A Weekend with Lulu (John Paddy Carstairs, 1961). Not a masterpiece, but an entertaining film in the Carry On style. And so quotable! RIP, Leslie Philipps.
Ok, I know you might be scandalized that some of these honourable mentions are not on the list. What can I tell you? That’s life and it’s certainly not because I didn’t like them!
Making that list was a challenge, and I hope you enjoyed exploring it! Hopefully, it made you want to see or re-watch some of these films. Don’t hesitate to tell me in the comments what were your best film discoveries of 2022!