There were a lot of fabulous films that were released last year. Did I see everything I wanted to see? Not by a long shot. And I see a LOT of films. I was fortunate to attend three film festivals in person and two virtually. Even then, I didn’t get to go to all the screenings I’d planned to see. On my list of films from 2022 that I think I would love: “After Yang“, “Aftersun“, and “Broker”.
My favorite films of this year were watched at film festivals. Two of them are just getting limited releases now. Interestingly, all of them feature characters unmoored from regular society. They’re seeking salvation or attempting to right a wrong. Each of my favorite films feature strong female characters who aren’t afraid to seek help and are searching for fulfillment.
“Women Talking“, directed by Sarah Polly, is in theaters now and will be streaming on Amazon Prime. The film features a powerhouse crew of talented women in front of and behind the camera. Frances McDormand is a producer and has a role in the film. The film is based on a true story and the actresses so fully inhabit their characters that it almost seems that this is a documentary. A horrifying story beautifully told. These women share their rage, empathy, and horror. Each story and point of view is given honest appraisal and the reckoning it deserves. The decision they must make is heartbreaking. Will they abandon their male children, husbands and homes to start their colony anew? Or will they forgive the unforgiveable in the hopes that amends can be made? The film takes us on a remarkable journey. 5 cups of chamomile tea to calm the nerves and soothe the throat (out of 5)
“Everything Everywhere All at Once“, directed by the Daniels, can be seen on Showtime and is still playing in a few theaters. A mind-blowing experience on the big screen, the production design is nothing short of phenomenal! An incredible showcase for the talents of Michelle Yeoh, it’s a simple story of a woman trying to connect with her daughter, please her father, and keep her laundry business afloat. Yet all of that is incorporated in the kaleidoscope of the Multiverse. In the Multiverse, she’s many characters and she must use talents from all of them to save herself. Her husband (Ke Huy Quan) is also her agent of change. Her daughter (Stephanie Hsu) is also destroying the world. And her tax agent (Jamie Lee Curtis) is also her lover. Funny, fast-paced and astonishing, a wild ride but with a wonderful message about the power of love. 4 glasses of bubble tea sipped thru a crazy straw (out of 5)
Runner-up for Action-Adventure film: “The Woman King“
“Wildcat“, directed by Trevor Frost and Melissa Lesh, is a documentary streaming on Amazon Prime and in limited release in theaters now. The story is one of salvation. Two young people are in the jungle trying to save endangered ocelots. In the process, they may find their own redemption. It’s a riveting true story that draws you in and transports you. You’ll be left wondering about the fates of all the characters and their wild charges. A remarkable achievement, this is a wonderful film. 4 cups of cold, clear water (out of 5)
Runner up documentary: “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” — my Daily Planet review here.
There are two additional films that I really loved, one that premiered at Sundance a year ago, “Good Luck to you, Leo Grande” and another that I streamed after a festival recommendation, “After Love” (2020). Both films are best seen knowing nothing. The fabulous Emma Thompson stars in “Leo Grande”. My favorite comedy was the Sandra Bullock/Channing Tatum film, “The Lost City“. A favorite international film was the wonderful Belgian film, “Close“, and my favorite animated film was from the Netherlands, “Knor“
Two films that so many critics loved and could admire but didn’t enjoy: “The Decision to Leave” — I could admire the cinematography and production design but didn’t find a connection to the characters, and “Melancholia” (even though it stars one of my favorite actresses, Tilda Swinton). One that I admired the central performance but actively disliked: “Tar”. Cate Blanchett deserves all the kudos from that film, but I found it tortuous to watch. I wish we could meet at a coffee shop and discuss your favorite films. Feel free to leave me a comment with your top 5.
Hi Jill! I love your method “four cups of tea or …three glasses of whatever…did you invent it or borrow?!
I’m happy to hear you loved Women Talking (even tho you usually (right?) don’t like seeing suffering. But I immediately jumped up to check my TV and it’s not streaming on Prime video …not on my tv anyway! Looking forward to it. Jesse Buckly was on Colbert the other night —she’s quite vivacious (so Irish!).
Okay I’m gonna have to give “Everything everywhere” another shot. But whereas you avoid suffering I tend to not suspend disbelief very well. But I probably ditched it too quickly.
Loved Leo Grande but still scratching my head over the raves for “After Sun” though I do like Paul Mescal a lot.
Did you see Triangle of Sadness? I watched most of it on my flight home but seriously cannot believe it was nominated. And Babylon! I have a grudging admiration for the latter though. If shorter it could have at least made it to cult classic status! I wonder how much money was lost.
And lastly…did you watch the Globes last night? I was having fun watching but it went off at some point, was just a still shot of the host for a while, I was recording it so went to be and will have fun today watching Julia Garner, Austin Butler, and others accepting. (I think you didn’t see Ozark?) Have you see White Lotus? I find the whole Jennifer Coolidge thing so funny — she has emerged from relative obscurity to being all the rage for seemingly just being herself!
I might go see A Man Called Otto today just to get outta the house. Did you watch the Swedish version? I really liked it and the woman playing his wife in flashbacks was radiant, I had to look her up.
OK will let you go!! Hope I’m not wearing you out, you are a much busier person than this old retired person.
Kay, “Women Talking” is still in theaters. It’ll be on Prime after the theatrical run. I haven’t watched “White Lotus” though it’s on my list. I’m really bad at streaming on TV. I tend to watch entire seasons at a time and wind up exhausted. It’s not how it’s meant to be watched anyway. I’ll let you know what I think of “Aftersun” once I get around to it. Festivals can be such a crush and it’s hard to make time for some of the smaller films. 🙂