The Best Films of 2022
Well, they really put on a show.
You'll probably be pleased to know there isn't a single film starring Harry fucking Styles on this list. He's had a weird grip on films from 2022 that could've been up my street - Don't Worry Darling; My Policeman - but that just didn't quite find my home address. I don't have any kind of personal vendetta against the popstar, I think he's perfectly inoffensive, but it's far easier to ignore him when he's just crooning his way through Apple adverts than it is when he's having clumsy sex on my TV or fumbling his way through an interview that appears 900 times on my Twitter feed.
Former boybands and dramatic press tours aside, 2022 has actually had some pretty great releases. It felt somewhat like a year of reminiscence. We had a quick rush of modern thrillers evoking Alfred Hitchcock, like Steven Soderbergh's Kimi and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson's Do Revenge, alongside an enthrall of reboots and remakes, with Scream, Hellraiser, and West Side Story all making it back onto our screens.
As well as remakes, reboots, and reimaginings, 2022 also seemed to be A24's year. It marked a full decade since the production house was first founded. In one of their most lucrative years yet, they have contributed significantly to the slasher-craze that seems to be resurrected over the past year with titles like Pearl and Bodies Bodies Bodies (which I personally watched for Lee Pace, but stuck around for Rachel Sennott's superb screaming fits).
I'm super excited to see what 2023 brings for us in cinema; whether that's a resurgence of a different subgenre of horror, more unexpectedly quirky thrillers, just another bunch of A24 movies, or something totally different. Before the industry really gets into the swing of 2023, let's take a minute to rewind on the last year in film.
Save for Deftones and the odd Judas Priest or Rush album, I’m not much of a metalhead these days. It’s a Far Cry (geddit?) from my mid-teenage years, where I thought I was the most hardcore kid in my school because I owned a Metallica t-shirt and could sing the fast bits in Chop Suey! perfectly. If you’d told thirteen year old me that I’d have Taylor Swift as one of my albums of the year, they’d tell you to fuck off and listen to some proper music. Thirteen year old me would have loved Metal Lords, so maybe we’d get on better than I thought.
Metal Lords follows two teenage metalheads, Kevin (Jaeden Martell) and Hunter (Adrian Greensmith), who play in a band called Skullfucker. If I knew the characters at that age, I’d have been chomping at the bit to join Skullfucker: they’re brutally heavy, incredibly serious, and completely obnoxious. When Kevin meets Emily (Isis Hainsworth) at a party, the two become fast friends, and when he discovers that she’s a gifted cellist, he invites her to join the band.
Unfortunately, Hunter’s less excited at the idea. His objections lead to an unforgettable scene that contrasts the latent homophobia and misogyny of certain metal fans against the camp, often radical musicians. Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, and those with British Steel posters particularly shouldn’t use gay as an insult. The fact that the real Rob Halford shows up in a hilarious cameo is the cherry on top.
In cinema, it’s a rare treat when a film can make me laugh my arse off while genuinely moving me at the same time. Metal Lords is that perfect kind of film. The third act is particularly heartwarming, and felt like a balm for my inner metalhead child. If you’ve ever enjoyed metal music, then you’ll love this film. The soundtrack is a joy too, with more iconic bands than you can shake a stick at, including the most intense use of a Mastodon song I’ve ever heard. Above all, it’s a film about friendship where the most metal thing you can do is be accepting and open-minded. In short? It rocks. ~ AC
Jordan Peele looked to the skies for his third movie after socially conscious classic Get Out and creepy home invasion-with-a-twist Us. The first impressive thing Nope manages is to make UFOs scary. Flying saucer-style UFOs which I had confined to the campy sci-fi corners of Forbidden Planet and The Day the Earth Stood Still. But, Peele understands the Lovecraftian dread of seeing something impossible on that scale - and the fact no one will believe you. That’s not to mention the actual terrifying nature of the UFO abduction (no spoilers but let’s just say there’s not a man dressed in tinfoil up there).
Also, it’s beautiful - thanks to cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema and his pioneering IMAX techniques, especially for shooting day-for-night (cameras, filmmaking, and capturing the impossible are recurring themes in the movie as well, of course).
While Us’ twists and turns I thought didn’t hold up to much interrogation, I had the opposite reaction to Nope; I wasn’t the only one leaving the cinema thinking “The end was a bit silly,” or “So what was the chimp stuff all about?” - but on further examination, Nope reveals itself to be a theme-rich movie full of meaning and subtle, clever screenwriting tricks that are becoming Peele’s trademark.
Maybe too clever in places? The chimp stuff, for example, takes up such a large part of the audience’s attention only to provide thematic symmetry to a supporting character’s backstory. But, once you work out the puzzle of what it means, it’s the genius key to unlocking the movie. And the silly, action-western finale has a point too; It’s a film about spectacle. And trauma. And the intersection between both; there’s a reason why Daniel Kaluuya’s character is called OJ after all, named after someone who was famously filmed from above. And the chimp stuff? Well, trauma is like a predator: you can teach it tricks but you can’t train it to behave. ~ JC
The first Terrifier (2016) was full of lost promise. It had gnarly practical effects and David Howard Thornton's fantastic performance as new killer Art the Clown, but it was mediocre in scope and theme. By contrast, Terrifier 2 is a well-crafted movie; a delight to watch in 2022's Halloween season.
It's aesthetically tight, drawing from the lurid and maximalist aesthetics of 80s horror, but not to the point that the nostalgia replaces substance. The gore is stomach-turning and endlessly creative, the tension is constant, and there's a lot more dark comedy in this one - it feels like they're having so much more fun with it. And crucially, the young protagonists are actually likeable - you love to hate Art like all the best slashers, but you also want Sienna (Lauren LaVera) and Jonathan (Elliott Fullam) to win against him. All those aspects, to me, solidify this film as a modern classic in the genre, and make me very excited for the next movies in the franchise. ~ Mal Morgenstern
Cinema has a pretty extensive canon suggesting that hell is, in fact, a teenage girl. While Do Revenge firmly continues in the same vein, the film deftly manages to avoid cliché and venture into new territory. At first glance, it seems like Netflix is trying to capitalise on a cocktail of Millennial ‘90s nostalgia and Gen Z’s Y2K tiktok trend of yesteryear, but once you scratch beneath the highly shellacked surface, there’s a lot more to dig into.
Drea (Camila Mendes) is an ivy league-bound scholarship student at Rosehill Country Day High School, Miami. Things start to go haywire for her when her nudes are leaked. When she understandably seeks revenge for the horrible act, she winds up meeting Eleanor (Maya Hawke) who is on a mission of her own. Her lesbophobic bully from childhood is now attending Rosehill school, and she wants to get her own back. The two teen-horror actresses, with Mendes starring in Riverdale and Hawke featuring in Stranger Things, team up to seek some justice. As you might’ve guessed, things aren’t quite as straightforward as just keying their car or coating them in tar and feathers.
Admittedly, I mostly watched the film for its campy, candy-coloured aesthetics. I’m a sucker for films like Legally Blonde: a film is a treat for the eyes as much as it is for the mind or mood, and I have no shame in taking a punt on a film purely because it looks cute. However, without naming names, picking films in this way often leads to me watching loads of pretentious shit, or visually delightful films that can’t stand up to tell the story they seek out to. Thankfully though, the pastel tones, gingham outfits, and oversized hair clips are just the icing on top of an already excellent watch. ~ Toni Oisin H.C.
AC is the Head of Written Content at QSO Media. Read more of their articles here.
JC is a musician, graphic designer, and one-third of dinopunk band Nervous Rex. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter.
Mal Morgenstern is a writer, visual artist, and musician. Follow them on Twitter here.
Toni Oisin H.C. is the Head of Audio at QSO Media. Read more of his writing here.
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