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  • Writer's picturePerrin Faerch

My 100 Favourite Films of 2022 (75-51)

Updated: Apr 7, 2023

And we're back...just a little reminder from the first post (you can find that here) of what went into doing this list:

So once again, here we are. As per usual, I watched a shit-ton of movies last year, with 367 of them ticking off the boxes in terms of qualifying for my 2022 list based on specific release criteria. So naturally, I had my work cut out for me once more. The eventual, final shortlist came down to 147 films, all of which I enjoyed thoroughly. But here are the films I resonated with the most...The Top order.

So, what were the criteria for qualifying for this list? Some of these films debuted in 2021 and 2020, but only at film festivals that were barely accessible to the wider public. So everything on here made their debuts outside of that bubble through wider theatrical runs, streaming premieres, virtual screenings, etc. in countries like the USA, UK and South Africa.

Remember, this is all my subjective opinion, in no way am I saying which film is better than the other. These are films that just resonated with me the most, some more than others. It eventually boils down to what I enjoyed the most and connected with that adheres to my taste and who I am.

So once again, this is all like, just my opinion, man.

Let's get back into it...

75. Girl Picture

Director: Alli Haapasalo

Genre/s: Drama/Romance/LGBTQIA+ Length: 1 Hour 40 Minutes Languages: Finnish/French Country: Finland

Cast: Aamu Milonoff, Linnea Leino, Eleonoora Kauhanen

Synopsis: Three young women living in Helsinki experience and explore their burgeoning womanhood as they fall in love, search for pleasure, and ultimately, form lasting bonds that will shape their identity for years to come.

My Take: Girl Picture could easily have turned into a run-of-the-mill teen sex comedy. And although sex, or pleasure at least, is key to certain elements of the plot as well as the themes found within, it doesn’t prioritize it to the point of it being another tasteless perspective of the youth from the POV of adults. Writers Daniela Hakulinen, Ilona Ahti and director Alli Haapasalo create an honest depiction of three different young women coming to terms with who they are and the experiences that are slowly shaping them for the foreseeable future. It’s got the odd embarrassing, humorous scenario, but as mentioned before, Girl Picture focuses on them first and foremost, allowing Girl Picture to be an accurate representation of its title from both a narrative and thematic point of view - delivered with sincerity and genuine love for the characters by the three leading ladies in Aamu Milonoff, Eleonoora Kauhanen and Linnea Leino who are all stars in the making.

Where you can watch it: BFI Player (UK), Most VOD Platforms (USA, UK).

74. Hit the Road

Director: Panah Panahi

Genre/s: Comedy/Drama Length: 1 Hour 33 Minutes Country: Iran Languages: Farsi/English

Cast: Pantea Panahiha, Hassan Majooni, Bahram Ark, Rayan Sarlak

Synopsis: A family go on a road trip across the Iranian countryside as they bond over their past, an uncertain future and their sickly dog

My Take: Another winner from Iran, this time, from debut filmmaker Panah Panahi (son of the brilliant Jafar Panahi). Wholesome, frustrated, sad, angry, hilarious and truthful, Hit the Road is a road trip movie that perfectly accentuates the social and political climate happening within Iran. Iranian filmmakers have found a way to critique their government through beautifully poignant and truthful portraits of Iranian people, as they try to make sense of the constantly shifting landscape of their lives. It’s a clever piece of allegorical filmmaking that places our family in the claustrophobia of a car as they drive through an everchanging Iranian landscape, bringing them closer together before ultimately having to say goodbye - a goodbye filled with hope and sadness as they’re broken up for the betterment of their future. One of the best ensembles of the year, Hit the Road is both incredibly funny and decisively somber as it searches for a future in need of leaving home for.

Where you can watch it: Showtime (USA), MUBI (UK), Most VOD Platforms (Australia).

73. Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

Director: Sophie Hyde

Genre/s: Comedy/Drama Length: 1 Hour 37 Minutes Language: English Country: UK

Cast: Emma Thompson, Daryl McCormack, Isabella Laughland

Synopsis: A retired school teacher (Emma Thompson) looks to catch up on the greater pleasures she missed out on in life, so she looks to a young sex worker (Daryl McCormack) to help her achieve that.

My Take: Sweet, charming and touching, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is an intimate comedy-drama set in the confines of a bedroom through a series of encounters between retired teacher Nancy (Emma Thompson) and young sex worker Leo (Daryl McCormack). Thompson and McCormack churn out some of the best performances of 2022 (thankfully the BAFTA’s acknowledged this), working with an excellent script from Katy Brand that is wholesome, funny and most importantly, truthful, as we see ourselves in a pair of unlikely sources: people just looking to make the most of their lives as they try to understand each other and themselves for the better. It may have an expected outcome of championing body and sex positivity, but its eventual conclusions to not only those, but the complete understanding and unconditional loving of oneself is entirely organic; unfolding through incisive conversations and activities that are at their most truthful when stripped down to their most vulnerable state. One of the great feel-good movies of the year.

Where you can watch it: Hulu (USA), Prime Video (UK), Most VOD Platforms (UK, SA, Australia).

72. The Stranger

Director: Thomas M. Wright

Genre/s: Crime/Thriller/Drama Length: 1 Hour 57 Minutes Language: English Country: Australia

Cast: Joel Edgerton, Sean Harris, Steve Mouzakis, Jada Alberts, Matthew Sunderland

Synopsis: Based on a true story, The Stranger follows undercover cop, Mark Frame (Joel Edgerton) and the operation to catch murder suspect Henry Peter Teague (Sean Harris) and his confession pertaining to the murder of a boy years prior.

My Take: Dark, mysterious and strangely cosmic, The Stranger is a tightly-wound slow-burning psychological thriller that lurches along the path, subverting usual expectations of the undercover cop procedural with both Joel Edgerton and Sean Harris at the top of their respective games. With a clever, non-linear structure, The Stranger is an unsettling, paranoia-fueled character study of two men on opposite ends of the spectrum, one trying to crawl away from the darkness, while the other finds himself completely enveloped by it. A hidden gem lurking on Netflix with one of the best original scores of 2022 reminiscent of dark ambient artist The Haxan Cloak.

Where you can watch it: Netflix (Worldwide).

71. Corsage

Director: Marie Kreutzer

Genre: Drama Length: 1 Hour 54 Minutes Languages: German/French/English/Hungarian/Italian Countries: Austria/Luxembourg/Germany/France

Cast: Vicky Krieps, Florian Teichmeister, Katharina Lorenz, Jeanne Werner, Alma Hasyn, Finnegan Oldfield, Manuel Rubey

Synopsis: A fictional account of Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Vicky Krieps), taking place over a year surrounding her turning 40 as she looks to maintain her public image and leave a lasting legacy behind.

My Take: Vicky Krieps absolutely owned 2022, delivering incredible performances in Hold Me Tight and of course this, Corsage. Although it has the appearance of a traditional historical biopic, Corsage is anything but – twisting and subverting the expectations we have come to expect from period dramas. It’s a feminist drumline of a movie that is somehow both quiet and loud, allowing for Krieps to interpret the figure in new and interesting ways that highlights the rebellious side of her - coming to terms with what her lasting legacy may end up becoming. Writer/director Marie Kreutzer slyly injects elements from our modern world that completely upends the historical accuracies of the film (staff using vacuum cleaners, neon exit signs, electric bedside lamps, etc.), creating a cheeky interpretation of events that fits perfectly in line with Empress Sisi’s disruptive personality that remains timeless and relatable. It opens the door for Vicky Krieps to do what she does best and embrace this mentality, making the iconic figure a character entirely her own in one of 2022’s finest performances that proves she is one of the very best actors working today.

Where you can watch it: AMC+ (USA), MUBI (UK), Most VOD Platforms (USA, UK).

70. Fire of Love

Director: Sara Dosa

Genre: Documentary Length: 1 Hour 38 Minutes Languages: French/English Countries: USA/Canada

Synopsis: An archival film that documents the work and romance of scientists Katia and Maurice Krafft as they study and capture explosive imagery of volcanoes.

My Take: Oddly enough, there were two films released in 2022 about iconic volcanologist couple Maurice and Katia Krafft. This one earned an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature and rightly so. Narrated by actor/filmmaker Miranda July, Fire of Love is a loving tribute to the love between these two titans of their field. Using only archival footage, director Sara Dosa chronicles the romance that bloomed between them as they shared their love for the volcanoes they studied. It’s one of the best, most unconventional romance films of the year – allowing for the gorgeous imagery and Miranda July’s gentle narration to paint a love story for the ages as well as define the importance of their work. See it on the biggest, most colourful screen possible.

Where you can watch it: Disney+ (USA, UK, Australia), Most VOD Platforms (SA).

69. Living

Director: Oliver Hermanus

Genre: Drama Length: 1 Hour 42 Minutes Language: English Countries: UK/Japan/Sweden

Cast: Bill Nighy, Aimee Lou Wood, Tom Burke, Alex Sharp, Zoe Boyle, Lia Williams, Adrian Rawlins

Synopsis: Based upon the Akira Kurosawa classic Ikiru, which in turn is based on Leo Tolstoy’s novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich, follows a civil servant (Bill Nighy) who, after learning he has life-threatening cancer, learns how to live again.

My Take: South African director Oliver Hermanus follows his impressive queer war film Moffie (no. 22 in my top 100 of 2020) with the Kazuo Ishiguro penned script adapted from Kurosawa’s classic Ikiru (1952). Unlike Ikiru, which was a loose adaptation of Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich set in contemporary Japan, Living is a period drama set in1950s London that follows the same plot of a government bureaucrat coming to terms with his life when he realizes he’s at death’s door. Ikiru is still the better film, of course, but Living is still special in that it can differentiate and separate itself as being a singular experience. Like Ikiru, it forces us to reflect on our lives in terms of where we are now. Have we lived? Have we done enough to warrant a life of living to the full and giving back? It’s sumptuously shot and adapted with both love and intrigue by the great Ishiguro who doesn’t lose sight of what made the original film so powerful, making him the ideal candidate to bridge the gap between the Japanese cultural and societal observations of Ikiru to that of Britain. But it’s Bill Nighy who guides this film and its themes so effortlessly, completely enveloping himself within the skin and life of Mr. Williams. Nighy often plays charming, humorous characters, but here, he shows just how much range he has always possessed, shifting from entirely closed off to opening up just a little so he can regain perspective on not just his life, but all life. It’s a touching and more than worthy remake, or interpretation even, of the classic Ikiru which with Living, shows it still has plenty to give viewers the world over.

Where you can watch it: Most VOD Platforms (USA, UK), In Theatres (Australia).

68. Dying to Divorce

Director: Chloe Fairweather

Genre: Documentary Length: 1 Hour 22 Minutes Languages: Turkish/English Countries: UK/Norway

Synopsis: Domestic violence and femicides are constantly rising in Turkey, Dying to Divorce follows the efforts of activist and lawyer Opek Bozkurt’s battle with a violent, misogynistic system with the hopes of bringing abusers to justice.

My Take: Although an incredibly difficult viewing experience fraught with stories of emotional and physical abuse, Dying to Divorce still manages to climb through the hell its subjects find themselves in and offers a film that is vital in showcasing the strength and resilience of its survivors and fighters against a system built on maddening social and cultural traditions. The film doesn’t defeat the femicide and domestic abuse showcased and discussed within once and for all, but makes for a compelling document that looks to bring these injustices to light, fueling a constantly growing rally cry the world over as it shouts “no more”. It may be an emotionally exhaustive watch, but Dying to Divorce is as vital as a film can get in 2022.

Where you can watch it: Most VOD Platforms (USA), Now TV (UK).

67. Compartment No. 6

Director: Juho Kuosmanen

Genre/s: Drama/Romance Length: 1 Hour 47 Minutes Languages: Russian/Finnish/English Countries: Finland/Russia/Estonia/Germany

Cast: Seidi Haarla, Yuriy Borisov

Synopsis: Two strangers form the unlikeliest relationship as they are forced to share a compartment on a train together on a ride up to the arctic circle.

My Take: Taking a few pages out of Linklater’s Before trilogy as well as Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation (2003), Compartment No. 6 unfolds as naturalistically as possible, pitting two strangers who are completely different from one another in personality, cultural and social identity, eventually breaking down barriers to let each other in. That may sound hammy, but thankfully it isn’t. Juho Kuosmanen’s strong direction and the chemistry of his leads allow for the nuanced text to translate and develop with the natural elegance its themes require of them. It’s a dreamy exploration of love overcoming otherness set in a constantly shifting backdrop as these characters draw closer and further apart once the final destination arrives.

Where you can watch it: Most VOD Platforms (USA, UK, Australia).

66. Dinner in America

Director: Adam Rehmeier

Genre/s: Comedy/Romance Length: 1 Hour 46 Minutes Language: English Country: USA

Cast: Kyle Gallner, Emily Skeggs, Griffin Gluck, Lea Thompson, Hannah Mark

Synopsis: An on-the-run punk (Kyle Gallner) forms an unexpected partnership with a loner 9Emily Skeggs) obsessed with his band, completely unaware that he is in fact, the singer.

My Take: One of the big surprises of last year for me, Dinner in America nearly had me shutting it off within the first 15 minutes as I found myself hating it - annoyed by the same old tropes and archetypes that I have seen dozens of times before: An angry punk (Kyle Gallner as Simon) who hates the world, a ditsy, unassuming girl bullied by everyone around her (Emily Skeggs as Patty), etc. blah blah blah...I have seen variations of it over and over again. But thank goodness I stuck with it because Dinner in America wants you to expect more of the same. It tricks you into judging these characters based on the tropes and clichés that writer/director Adam Rehmeier has dressed them in before finally shedding those heavy coats and give us characters that are densely layered through motivation and backstory, pushing them toward each other in unexpected ways that are enduring and incredibly sweet. Featuring two of some of my very favourite scenes of the year and sporting an absolute banger of an original song, Dinner In America is destined to become a cult classic that’ll place itself comfortably next to off-kilter comedies a la Harold and Maude (dir. Hal Ashby, 1971), Heathers (dir. Michael Lehmann, 1988), SLC Punk! (dir. James Merendino, 1998), etc. A serious diamond in the rough worth seeking out.

Where you can watch it: Hulu (USA), ARROW (UK), Most VOD Platforms (USA, UK, Australia).

65. Retrograde

Director: Matthew Heineman

Genre/s: Documentary/War Length: 1 Hour 34 Minutes Languages: Arabic/English Country: USA

Synopsis: Taking place over nine months, A young Afghan general is tasked with having to defend their homeland against the Taliban as the US prepares to end its 20-year involvement in the war in Afghanistan.

My Take: Retrograde is an impending tragedy that unfolds before our very eyes, from the disappointment in US special forces being forced to leave up until the Taliban’s eventual seizing of the country. Afghan army General Sami Sadat is tasked with this seemingly impossible task of taking control of the country’s forces in order to best defend itself against the inevitable Taliban arrival. It’s not a “hoorah ‘Murica” movie by any means, but shows the damage left behind as their meddling, and eventual lack-there-of, has left the country in a weakened state unable to protect itself effectively from the Taliban. It’s a depressing movie for sure, but an important document that captures the tragic consequences made from political and social missteps that continues the never-ending cycle of misery in the war-torn corners of the Middle-East. An ideal companion film to the terrifying Escape From Kabul (2022).

Where you can watch it: Disney+ (Worldwide).

64. Catherine Called Birdy

Director: Lena Dunham

Genre/s: Comedy Length: 1 Hour 48 Minutes Language: English Countries: UK

Cast: Bella Ramsey, Andrew Scott, Joe Alwyn, Paul Kaye, Sophie Okonedo, Dean-Charles Chapman, Billie Piper, Lesley Sharp, Isis Hainsworth, David Bradley

Synopsis: Based on the 1994 novel of the same name and set in medieval England, Lady Catherine (Bella Ramsey), daughter of a cash-strapped lord (Andrew Scott), is forced to marry one of many potential suitors in a bid to pull the family out of impending poverty. Catherine’s love and relationship with her family is tested as she continues to defy and refuse what is expected of her.

My Take: Bella Ramsey is on top of the world right now, gaining rightful acclaim for her incredible performance as Ellie in HBO’s adaptation of The Last of Us. So it’s great to see just how much range she actually has when watching something like Catherine Called Birdy, a delightful little movie that is fun, sweet and incredibly thoughtful in how it approaches serious topics. Ramsey plays the protagonist and narrator in Catherine, a young lady on the verge of womanhood, one that is being forced upon her by her father in a bid to marry her off in order to save his estate from bankruptcy. Conforming to gender roles is a key theme within the film, and although it is set in medieval England, Catherine Called Birdy is relevant and relatable regardless of setting, class, or even gender – communicating its ideas through humorous observations made by its protagonist, as well as dealing with serious instances of emotional, psychological and physical abuse in a tasteful manner all while still keeping that charm intact. Ramsey is no stranger to playing rebellious characters subverting the expectations placed upon them as Ellie in The Last of Us and Lady Mormont in Game of Thrones, and with Catherine Called Birdy, they offer yet another fascinating character that is sharp, funny, loveable and most importantly, relatable without ever feeling forced – creating a natural progression of rebellion you have no choice but to route for as they defy the outdated expectations placed upon them. Another hidden gem that didn’t get enough attention.

Where you can watch it: Prime Video (Worldwide).

63. Futura

Directors: Francesco Munzi, Pietro Marcello & Alice Rohrwacher

Genre: Documentary Length: 1 Hour 45 Minutes Language: Italian Country: Italy

Synopsis: A snapshot of Italy’s present and potential future, told through interviews of teenagers voicing their dreams, fears and hopes for their lives that have yet to be fully determined.

My Take: Told through a series of interviews with teenagers and young adults across Italy, Futura is a fascinating piece of insight into what will always be the most confusing and possibly uncertain time in our lives. We have no idea where things are going, but we would often be confident and certain enough to know where we don’t want to be. I had so many ideas for my future: the friends I was certain I’d hold onto, the career path I was sure I wanted to follow and you know what? Things didn’t turn out the way I expected, for better and for worse. That is what Futura is: a candid collage of youth found in both revolt and conformity, a kaleidoscope of different backgrounds, personalities, beliefs, class and identities that eventually merge to form an insightful vision of Italy’s future economically and socially. It may be a time capsule of Italian youth in the now, but its subjects’ views of an undetermined future still ring true as we see ourselves in them, grappling with the despondent naivety of our adolescence.

Where you can watch it: MUBI (USA, UK).

62. Mariner of the Mountains

Director: Karim Aïnouz

Genre/s: Documentary Length: 1 Hour 35 Minutes Languages: Portuguese, French, Arabic, Tamashek Countries: Brazil/France/Algeria/Germany

Synopsis: Brazilian filmmaker Karim Aïnouz visits Algeria in a bid to understand not only his father’s homeland, but to better understand his own history as he ventures from the coast to the mountains.

My Take: Born to a Brazilian mother and Algerian father, filmmaker Karim Aïnouz embarks on his first trip to Algeria, documenting his journey every step of the way as he makes his way up the country, learning not only about his father’s past but also his heritage in a country whose identity lays in disarray, still reeling from its bloody colonial past. It’s a gorgeous aesthetic account of his trip as well as being a profoundly moving and life-affirming personal odyssey - eventually allowing him to truly converse and discover his own ancestral and cultural identity that has been waiting to meet him all his life. It’s mysterious, curious and most importantly, deeply introspective. Few films get as personal as this.

Where you can watch it: MUBI (Worldwide).

61. X

Director: Ti West

Genre: Horror Length: 1 Hour 45 Minutes Language: English Countries: USA/Canada

Cast: Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Owen Campbell, Martin Henderson, Brittany Snow, Scott Mescudi, Stephen Ure, James Gaylyn

Synopsis: Set in Texas, 1979, X follows an amateur film crew shooting a porno, but they soon find themselves fighting for their lives once the old couple hosting them in their barn catches wind of what they are doing.

My Take: Another big surprise for me this year is X, a brilliant genre film that may not be entirely ground-breaking or as delicately nuanced as its horror siblings under the A24 umbrella, but it’s a truly excellent, effective, and refreshing slasher from the slow-burning horrors I tend to find myself more enamored with. It’s hilarious, clever, fun, gruesome, terrifying, and surprisingly unpredictable - delivering twists that are made all the more satisfying once you read between the broad lines of each scare in its battle between sexual oppression and sexual liberation. Admittedly, I’ve never been a fan of Ti West, but it’s this film (and its Prequel in Pearl) that finally worked its magic on me, drawing me in closer before biting my head off and leaving me in the reeds. Bring on the trilogy closer Maxxxine in 2024. You can read my extended thoughts on X over here.

Where you can watch it: Showtime (USA), Prime Video (UK, SA, Australia), Binge (Australia), Most VOD Platforms (Worldwide).

60. Paris, 13th District

Director: Jacques Audiard

Genre/s: Drama/Romance Length: 1 Hour 45 Minutes Languages: French/Mandarin/English Country: France

Cast: Noémie Merlant, Lucie Zhang, Makita Samba, Jehnny Beth

Synopsis: Four Parisians’ lives intersect as they try to make sense of their own loves and ambitions, hoping to better understand where their futures, or lack thereof, lie.

My Take: Co-penned by my favourite filmmaker in Céline Sciamma (both Petite Maman and Portrait of a Lady on Fire were my favourite films of their respective years) and directed by the ever-brilliant Jacques Audiard (A Prophet and The Beat That My Heart Skipped are easily among the very best films of the 2000s). Paris, 13th District is, although shot in gorgeous black and white by Paul Guilhaume, a film bursting with colourful life. Loosely adapted from three different comic strips by the wonderful Adrian Tomine, 13th District cleverly interweaves them all together – creating a candid, cruel but completely endearing collage of friendship, love, jealousy, breakups and the curiosity that leads to all of them. It’s as much a coming-of-age story as it is an exploration of love and desire, making Paris, 13th District one of the most compelling watches of the year. It also features one of the great performances of 2022 from Lucie Zhang in what is, as of now, her first screen appearance.

Where you can watch it: Hulu, AMC+ (USA), MUBI (UK).

59. The Princess

Director: Ed Perkins

Genre: Documentary Length: 1 Hour 49 Minutes Language: English Countries: UK/Germany

Synopsis: Told entirely through archival footage, this documentary creates an intimate narrative of Princess Diana’s life and death, showcasing both the evolving and regressive public view of the royal family.

My Take: 2021’s Spencer was a beautifully strange interpretation of a key point in Princess Diana’s life, giving us a claustrophobic psychological drama that was not only one of the best of that year (number 10 in my 2021 list), but one of the most unique insights into the life of the beloved icon. But the public hasn’t always romanticized and received her with the warmest of receptions. We forget that, and with The Princess, comprised entirely of archival footage and audio, we get the most thorough documentation of her life as seen through the media and public’s relentless coverage of her. It’s a fascinating relic of celebrity obsession fueled by both adoration and condemnation from both the public and the media. It may not offer talking head interviews telling us this and that about her deepest, darkest secrets, but what it does more effectively, and in the same surreal manner as Amy (2015), Senna (2010), and Diego Maradona (2019) (all directed by Asif Kapadia), is that it gives us an unfiltered (I get the irony of this as media coverage is often filtered in some way) perspective into her life as seen from the outside - studying her ticks and quirks as she looks to get through just one more day under and away from the unblinking public eye.

Where you can watch it: HBO Max (USA), Now TV (UK), Stan (Australia), Most VOD Platforms (Australia).

58. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Genre/s: Animation/Adventure/Fantasy/Musical Length: 1 Hour 57 Minutes Language: English Countries: USA/Mexico/France

Cast: Gregory Mann, David Bradley, Ewan McGregor, Ron Perlman, Cate Blanchett, FinnWolfhard, Tilda Swinton, Burn Gorman, Christoph Waltz, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, Tom Kenny

Synopsis: A grieving carpenter’s puppet comes to life, giving him a second chance at raising a child that was taken away from him.

My Take: Gorgeous stop motion animation, an impressive ensemble and del Toro’s wild imagination combine to make a worthy winner of this year’s Best Animated Film at the Academy Awards. Reimagined with his gothic-leaning sensibilities and set in fascist Italy during WWII, del Toro’s voice and vision give the familiar fairy tale a fresh coat of varnish teeming with new ideas. By setting it during a raging war in a country oppressed by fascism, del Toro’s Pinocchio is not only much grimmer than what we have seen before, but converses with its characters and their ideals in interesting new ways that I have yet to see in a Pinocchio adaptation - forcing our hero to come to terms with his immortality and mortality as he learns to do the right thing in a world shrouded in moral ambiguity.

Where you can watch it: Netflix (Worldwide).

57. Broker

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda

Genre: Drama Length: 2 Hours 9 Minutes Language: Korean Country: South Korea

Cast: Kang ho Song, Lee Ji-eun, Gang Dong-Won, Bae Doona, Lee Joo-Young

Synopsis: So-young (Lee Ji-eun) looks to give up her newborn son. With the help of Ha Sang-hyeon (Kang ho Song) and Dong-soo (Gang Dong-Won), they travel across the country in hopes of finding a buyer with rogue detective Soo-jin (Bae Doona) and her partner Detective Lee hot on their trail.

My Take: Kore-eda is one of my favourite filmmakers, and although Broker may not be my favourite of his, it’s still pretty damn special. In what is his consecutive film not in his native Japanese language (2019’s The Truth was in French), Kore-eda once again is able to cross cultural and linguistic barriers with the universally relevant themes and ideas of his films. A frequent theme he likes to touch on is family, and with Broker, he combines that with difficult moral questions for its characters, as well as engaging in conversation with the audience: trying to help us best understand multiple sides to the already difficult discussion of abortion and child adoption. People forget that just because a character or two may feel one way, doesn’t mean it’s the definitive stance of its author, and that’s what Kore-eda has always done so very well: he creates layered, real worlds full of complex characters coming to terms with complex choices stirred by their complex identities. Few artists are able to catch the sheer intricacies of humanity quite like him and with Broker, he pulls it off once more.

Where you can watch it: Most VOD Platforms (USA), In Theatres (UK), In Theatres (Australia).

56. Navalny

Director: Daniel Roher

Genre: Documentary Length: 1 Hour 39 Minutes Languages: Russian/English/German Country: USA

Synopsis: Focusing primarily on the 2020 assassination attempt on Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, this film documents his recovery after the attempt on his life and the investigation that followed in trying to find the culprits behind the operation.

My Take: Winner of this year’s Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, Navalny is a topically resonant middle-finger to Putin, an urgent political thriller centered around Putin’s public enemy number 1 in Alexei Navalny. He may not be perfect, with Daniel Roher probing and providing political context to his subject, but Navalny is an undeniably entertaining and insightful documentary detailing the dangers and added importance of needing to stand up against opressive leaders like Putin. Its taught storytelling and effective message at its center makes Navalny one of the year’s most thrilling viewing experiences. It also happens to feature one of the greatest sting operations ever caught on film that is worth the price of admission alone.

Where you can watch it: HBO MAX (USA), Most VOD Platforms (UK, Australia), DocPlay (Australia).

55. Murina

Director: Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic

Genre: Drama Length: 1 Hour 36 Minutes Languages: Croatian/English/Spanish Country: Croatia

Cast: Gracija Filipović, Danica Curcic, Leon Lučev, Marina Redžepović, Cliff Curtis

Synopsis: Julija (Gracija Filipović) looks to defy and replace her controlling father (Leon Lučev) with that of a wealthy family friend in Javier (Cliff Curtis).

My Take: Murina is a film where every living thing is desperately fighting to break free. It’s one of those rare films that offer effective perspectives from across the board, and although the film unravels via the perspective of the protagonist Julija (Gracija Filipović in one of the year’s best performances), we can see ourselves in each of the other characters as they look to hold onto the hopes and fears that have gone on to shape their identities. Each one of them are going through internal and external battles, and with an early metaphor of an eel biting itself to break free from a fishing trap (Julija and her father go on routine fishing trips, much to her dismay), it makes for Murina to be an increasingly tense domestic drama that not only wants its main character to escape before its too late, but for the rest of her family to bite off a piece of themselves as well in order to finally be free of the traps they have stubbornly placed themselves in.

Where you can watch it: Showtime (USA), Most VOD Platforms (USA, UK, Australia).

54. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Director: Tom Gormican

Genre/s: Comedy/Action Length: 1 Hour 47 Minutes Languages: English/Spanish Country: USA

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Lily Mo Sheen, Sharon Horgan, Alessandra Mastronardi, Ike Barinholtz, Tiffany Haddish, Paco León, Neil Patrick Harris

Synopsis: Nicolas Cage is finding his career at the end of its rope. Forced to accept $1 Million to attend the birthday party of superfan Javi (Pedro Pascal), he soon finds himself caught in the crosshairs of a sting operation by the CIA as they drive a wedge between him and his blossoming friendship with Javi.

My Take: A buddy meta-comedy that makes fun of, has fun with, and celebrates the enigmatic genius that is Nicolas Cage. On paper, Unbearable Weight could’ve outstayed its welcome by overplaying its hand as a cheap cash-in thanks to the rampant popularity of Nicolas Cage through the internet and meme culture. And although the film pulls back on the potentially wild weirdness of having Nicolas Cage playing himself and opt for an often-times generic plot and structure, it still remains a fun as hell, self-aware and surprisingly, sweet movie driven by his growing friendship with superfan Javi (Pedro Pascal). Their chemistry allows for Unbearable Weight to really work, combining a real-life Nicolas Cage with a real-life superfan in Pascal to make something that is as wholesome as it is funny. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent may have Nicolas Cage as the headline act, but it’s Pedro Pascal who steals the show, once again proving that it’s his world and we’re just living in it.

Where you can watch it: Starz (USA), Prime Video (UK), Binge, (Australia), Most VOD Platforms (Worldwide).

53. The Fire Within: A Requiem for Katia and Maurice Krafft

Director: Werner Herzog

Genre: Documentary Length: 1 Hour 24 Minutes Languages: English/French Countries: UK/Switzerland/France/USA

Synopsis: Yet another documentary about power volcano couple Maurice and Katia Krafft, this time told through the observations of Werner Herzog, focusing on the love and visual splendour they created and captured which would eventually lead to their demise at the foot of a Volcano in Japan.

My Take: Another documentary about Maurice and Katia Krafft (Fire of Love is the other one), and although the Sara Dosa film got way more attention through its distribution and an Oscar nomination, the Werner Herzog doccie is the one I loved more. Like Fire of Love, The Fire Within is a love story. But here, Herzog’s uniquely doom-laden worldview adds fine brush strokes to the enigma that is the Kraffts, focusing attention on them as filmmakers and storytellers on top of their shared love for one another and the volcanoes they studied. But like Herzog’s documentary Grizzly Man, he ushers us towards the inevitable doom that will engulf them – a fitting love letter to the legacy of their work and the romantic mysticism of their undying love.

Where you can watch it: History Channel Vault (USA), DocPlay (Australia), Most VOD Platforms (USA, Australia).

52. The Eternal Daughter

Director: Joanna Hogg

Genre/s: Drama/Mystery Length: 1 Hour 36 Minutes Language: English Countries: UK, USA

Cast: Tilda Swinton, Joseph Mydell, Carly-Sophia Davies

Synopsis: A woman and her aging mother (both played by Tilda Swinton) stay at a hotel in the countryside to celebrate her birthday, while also confronting long-buried secrets from their past as they look to grow closer together.

My Take: Featuring a powerhouse dual performance by Tilda Swinton, Joanna Hogg returns a year (or two depending on how you look at release schedules) after her semi-autobiographical masterpiece The Souvenir Part II (no. 4 on my top 100 of 2021), with gothic mystery drama The Eternal Daughter. Tilda Swinton plays Julie, a filmmaker who, on a small holiday with her aging mother Rosalind (played by Swinton as well), looks to make a movie about her. The Eternal Daughter works as a spiritual sequel and possible trilogy closer to Joanna Hogg’s last two semi-autobiographical movies about making movies in The Souvenir (seeing as both characters share the same names and careers as the protagonist and her mother). The Souvenir, particularly that of Part II, showed how important the process of creating through art allows for people to grieve, accept and move on from heartache and trauma. It spoke to me on so many levels, hitting home hard in particular to the anxiety of creating. The Eternal Daughter prolongs those themes, focusing once again on loss and memory as our protagonists come to terms with their relationships and the past in order to grow and get through times of personal grief. Like The Souvenir Part II, Hogg puts her characters through writer’s block, mirroring her own creative process as she looks to uncover the secrets and truths that will provide closure so she can unlock her own story. Interestingly enough, Hogg’s mother died while The Eternal Daughter was in post-production, making the film even more powerful and truthful in its intention. Be sure to watch this as a companion piece to the near-perfect Souvenir films for the full effect.

Where you can watch it: Most VOD Platforms (USA).

51. Zero Fucks Given

Directors: Julie Lecoustre & Emmanuel Marre

Genre: Drama Length: 1 Hour 55 Minutes Languages: English/French/Romanian Countries: France/Belgium

Cast: Adèle Exarchopoulos, Mara Taquin, Arthur Egloff, Tamara Al Saadi, Jean-Benoît Ugeux

Synopsis: Flight attendant Cassandre (Adèle Exarchopoulos) drifts through life without any divine purpose at a low-cost airline, but soon finds herself needing to unstick herself from a career and life of stagnant mediocrity in order to move on from a recent tragedy.

My Take: A career coming-of-age story, Zero Fucks Given has Adèle Exarchopoulos at the height of her powers as an air hostess devoid of ambition and enthusiasm. We’re seeing a welcome trend in coming-of-age films set in a person’s late twenties as they look to unstick themselves from the mediocrity and uncertainty they have unfortunately normalized within their lives, making Zero Fucks Given such a nuanced and accurate portrayal of settling down and the psychological and emotional damage that is tied to it. It’s stories like this that sound an urgent call to action within my own life, forcing me to shed the weight of past grievances and trauma in order to make new steps in the right direction toward a brighter, more fulfilling future.

Where you can watch it: MUBI (USA, UK, Australia), most VOD Platforms (USA, UK, Australia).

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