From Jordan Peele’s subversive sci-fi Nope, to Luca Guadagnino’s gruesomely romantic Bones And All
It’s the definitive list you’ve all been waiting for. No, not Sight & Sound’s once-in-a-decade Greatest Films poll, and not Spotify’s annual ranking of the artists you’ve financially exploited over the last 12 months. Behold, it’s Dazed’s Films of 2022, taking in the best movies that had their world premiere this year, which means we’ve had to skip The Worst Person in the World (that was Cannes 2021) and Top Gun: Maverick (because we’re not military-loving weirdos). That’s right, the cinema landscape has returned to its natural pre-pandemic state: end-of-year lists comprising several films that haven’t come out in UK cinemas yet. The good news is, they will soon – so make sure to keep a note of them. First up...
20. SICK OF MYSELF (dir. Kristoffer Borgli)
An evil version of The Worst Person of the World that even has an Anders Danielsen Lie cameo, Sick of Myself is a Norwegian gross-out comedy starring Kristine Kujath Thorp (so excellent in Ninjababy) as a wannabe celebrity who poisons herself for media attention. Imagine if Judd Apatow wrote a David Cronenberg movie set in Oslo.
19. KIMI (dir. Steven Soderberg)
A rare “COVID film” that remembers to be entertaining, Kimi stars Zoë Kravitz as an agoraphobe with two missions: one is to solve a murder, the other is to brave the outside world. Adopting her character’s rigid physicality during action sequences, Kravitz is extraordinary – as is the laugh-out-loud needle drop during the climax.
18. NOPE (dir. Jordan Peele)
It’s strange to think that half of Key and Peele is now one of the biggest auteurs in the world. For now, let’s appreciate that Peele made such an odd, expensive sci-fi blockbuster – Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer as siblings attempting to photograph a UFO – and that it delivered. Unlike Us, which explained itself too much, Nope left its mysteries untold and thus will certainly provide more on future rewatches.
Read our interview with Jordan Peele here.
17. GODLAND (dir. Hlynur Pálmason)
Presumably so difficult to shoot it could use its own Burden of Dreams counterpart, Godland is an ambitious, slow-burn drama that’s so visually stunning it’s almost religious. In the 19th century, a Danish priest ventures through horrendous conditions in the hope of building a church in Iceland; on the way, he encounters stubborn locals, an erupting volcano, and – captured in a hypnotic time-lapse – a very unlucky horse.
16. CORSAGE (dir. Marie Kreutzer)
Vicky Krieps has never been better (at least since Phantom Thread) than as the Empress Elisabeth of Austria, a heroin-taking, wink-to-the-camera mischief-maker who’s at least a century ahead of her time. Austere yet playfully anachronistic, Corsage proves that period dramas can be smart, exquisite, and extremely fun.
15. PACIFICTION (dir. Albert Serra)
Three hours long, seemingly plotless, and torturously repetitive: yet Pacifiction is absolutely transfixing. Albert Serra – rumoured to be collaborating soon with Kristen Stewart – is a unique voice in cinema, often maddeningly so, here presenting a French high commissioner in Tahiti during his day-to-day activities. Beneath this paradise, though, is a darkness gradually revealed – very, very gradually.
14. WE’RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD’S FAIR (dir. Jane Schoenbrun)
The most online film of the year, Jane Schoenbrun’s Alex G-scored debut is thrillingly attuned to how young people incorporate the internet into their daily lives. Not only a body-horror and examination of loneliness, it includes the protagonist watching an ASMR YouTube video on a projector – one of my most memorable cinema experiences of the year.
13. JOYLAND (dir. Saim Sadiq)
Awarded the Queer Palm at Cannes and picked as Pakistan’s Oscar submission (though the government did temporarily ban it), Joyland follows Haider (Ali Junejo), an introverted househusband who secretly lands a job as a backing dancer for a trans performer (played by Alina Khan, a trans breakout star). Hypnotic and gorgeously shot.
12. EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE (dir. Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert)
Yes, the fans are annoying online, and its box-office success means it no longer feels like supporting an underdog. But the Daniels crafted one of the most fun cinema trips of the year: kung-fu action and time-travel shenanigans all multiply among themselves to reveal they’re visualising generational trauma and existential angst. It’s The Matrix with buttplugs.
Read our interview with Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert here.
11. MOONAGE DAYDREAM (dir. Brett Morgen)
Can we call it a documentary? A David Bowie something that eschews tired, traditional formats in favour of immersing the viewer in sound and vision, Moonage Daydream must be heard to believed. While Brett Morgen could delve deeper into the singer’s more troubling history (the Thin White Duke, his friendship with Ricky Gervais, etc), it’s more about surrendering your senses to Bowie’s headspace.
Read our interview with Brett Morgan here.
10. THE BLUE CAFTAN (dir. Maryam Touzani)
As beautifully crafted as the clothes featured onscreen, Maryam Touzani’s tender, slow-burn drama depicts a gay love story in Morocco, a country where homosexuality is illegal. Halim, a closeted tailor, is married to Mina, but his eye is turned by a younger man; with Mina demonstrating a surprising amount of empathy for her husband’s multiple affairs, the film delves into emotional territory that defies expectations.
9. BONES AND ALL (dir. Luca Guadagnino)
Combining the first-love thrill of Call Me By Your Name and the first-murder guilt of Suspiria, Luca Guadagnino’s cannibal romance is an acquired taste on purpose. Taylor Russell (a true, true star) and Timothée Chalamet embody outsiders who realise, with blood around their mouth, it’s a miracle they discovered the other. Moreover, there’s before the moment Michael Stuhlbarg says, “There’s before bones and all and there’s after,” and there’s after the moment Michael Stuhlbarg says, “There’s before bones and all and there’s after.”
Read our cover story with Taylor Russell here.
8. PETER VON KANT (dir. François Ozon)
Named by John Waters as the film of 2022 (“My God, it’s just plain Douglas Sirk perfect,” says the Prince of Puke), François Ozon’s mischievous, gender-switched, still gay remake of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bittersweet Tears of Petra Kant is pure Ozon – with a sprinkling of Waters. A monstrous male filmmaker lusts after a sexy young male actor in a tragically one-sided affair. It’s so outrageously over the top, any bittersweet tears are replaced by tears of laughter.
7. ALL THE BEAUTY AND THE BLOODSHED (dir. Laura Poitras)
It’s often asked whether artists can change the world. Photographer Nan Goldin has spent years battling the Sackler family, a group responsible for OxyContin and thus countless deaths during the opioid crisis. Laura Poitras’s documentary contextualises the real-life heartbreak that shaped Goldin’s creativity but also her activism; after surviving her own OxyContin addiction, Goldin formed P.A.I.N., an organisation whose protests (including die-ins) are inspiring and, crucially, effective.
Read our interview with Laura Poitras here.
6. EO (dir. Jerzy Skolimowski)
You wouldn’t guess that Jerzy Skolimowski is 84 years old given the youthful vitality of EO, a nearly wordless road movie starring a donkey whose blank face emits every emotion the viewer chooses to project. Or perhaps the Polish filmmaker’s radical reworking of Au Hasard Balthazar is squeezing in everything he wants to do with the medium: the fast-paced odyssey involves robots, Isabelle Huppert, and an emphatic bray against the cruelties of factory farming.
5. DECISION TO LEAVE (dir. Park Chan-wook)
A murder-mystery melodrama to be studied, rewatched, and simply adored, Decision to Leave is Park Chan-wook at his most romantic – this time, the dead bodies can be counted on a single hand. When a married, insomniac detective falls for the enigmatic, almost certainly criminal woman he’s investigating, the playful mise-en-scène reflects his obsession: mirrors upon mirrors; POV shots of a smartphone as he awaits a text response; a desperate man screaming on a desolate beach as his impossible love is swept away.
Read our interview with Park Chan-wook here.
4. AFTERSUN (dir. Charlotte Wells)
It’s fitting that Aftersun, a film about memory, lingers long in the mind after its devastating final sequence. Charlotte Wells, armed with the best and worst of 90s music, toys with flashbacks, match cuts, and filmic grammar for emotional sudoku: in the present, adult Sophie is revisiting a childhood holiday with her father, Calum (Paul Mescal), a then-30-year-old hiding his depression amidst frivolity. Mescal is magnificent, as is Frankie Coro as 11-year-old Sophie, both forming a duo so believable you forget it’s fiction.
Read our interview with Paul Mescal here.
3. SAINT OMER (dir. Alice Diop)
Characters don’t get more complex than Laurence Coly (Guslagie Malanga). An expert in Wittgenstein who’s so eloquent she stuns racist white people, Coly has also killed her 15-month-old daughter due to, she claims, witchcraft. France’s compelling Oscar submission is based on a real trial from 2016 in which Alice Diop, a then-pregnant documentarian, sat in the room, recognising parallels with the murderer: both were Senegalese mothers with white partners, battling social prejudices and childhood trauma. In Diop’s fiction debut, the director is represented by Rama (Kayije Kagame), a journalist who’s repulsed by Coly, but, like the viewer, can’t look away.
2. WHITE NOISE (dir. Noah Baumbach)
A quippy, witty comedy with Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig questioning the meaning of life could describe a number of movies by Noah Baumbach. However, White Noise, an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s supposedly unfilmable novel, has the explosions, car chases, and Mexican standoff you didn’t realise was missing from Frances Ha. Proving the book is very filmable, Baumbach operates on a grand, operatic scale, blending a big-budget action adventure with the smaller, more grounded kind of marriage story he’s known for. The end credits might be the most joyful sequence of the year.
Read our interview with Noah Baumbach here.
1. TÁR (dir. Todd Field)
Daring, delicate, and hilarious, Tár is a mastárpiece of provocation with Cate Blanchett excelling as an EGOTD-winning (the “D” stands for Dazed), baton-waving conductor named Lydia Tár. An ultra-dark comedy set in the rat-on-rat world of classical music, Todd Field’s first film in 16 years is a red herring: the poster hints it’ll be an Oscar bait-y character study about someone whose memoir was recently optioned, but Lydia Tár isn’t a real person, nor is Tár like anything you’ve seen before. Over three immaculately crafted hours, the pristine, verbose Maestro is revealed to be an abuser haunted by string-plucking demons and tell-tale metronomes, so much so it veers on psychological horror. Gradually you realise Field’s endlessly quotable script isn’t interested in cello couture, it’s examining so-called cancel culture.
That Tár is still argued about months after its Venice premiere is a sign of the thematic depth. Is its open-endedness a masterstroke or a cop-out? Is it racist? Is it racist to think it’s racist? What’s for sure is that Blanchett is compelling from the get-go, dishing out delicious one-liners (a rival is more robot-o than tempo-rubato) and dominating the screen like a first violinist who’s orchestrating the show. Very Punkt Kontra Punkt.