2022 has been an excellent year for film.
After struggling through years of COVID-related delays and box-office numbers hindered by the pandemic, 2022 marked a return to form for movie theatres everywhere, with films like Top Gun: Maverick being credited with “saving cinemas“, and Avatar: The Way of Water already raking in hundreds of millions.
To paraphrase Harry Styles’ infamous quote about Don’t Worry Darling, our favourite thing about these blockbusters? They feel like a movie. A real, you know, ‘go to the theatre’ type of movie. We just love that!
But it hasn’t just been a great year for blockbusters. Horror films shone in 2022, and films like Bodies Bodies Bodies, Barbarian, and the return of the Scream franchise had us ducking for cover all year.
As for homegrown talent, we had it in droves. Baz Luhrmann took the world by storm with Elvis, his first film since 2013, Sissy had us screaming for more, and Ticket to Paradise (which was filmed on the Gold Coast) marked the return of the romantic comedy to the silver screen.
Without further ado, here are all the films we think deserve a standing ovation this year.
Avatar: The Way of Water
Thirteen long years after the original Avatar was released, 2022 marked the release of the long awaited, much delayed Avatar: The Way of Water. Directed by James Cameron, who currently holds two of the top three global box office records for Avatar and Titanic, Avatar: The Way of Water was being tipped for Academy Award nominations before anyone had even seen the film, proving once again one should (say it with us) never bet against James Cameron.
The film is set more than a decade after the events of the first film, and tells the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids) as they flee the forest for the islands after repeated attacks from the Sky People (aka humans, who are the worst). With family at its core, Avatar: The Way of Water is all about the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure.
Now, the film is finally in cinemas, and with reviews that praise the film for surpassing the first, along with some of the best box office numbers of the year, Cameron is swimming his way to success once again.
Related: “All-Consuming”: James Cameron Might Be Getting Over Making ‘Avatar’ Sequels
Related: The 10 Highest Grossing Films of All Time, and Where to Watch Them in Australia
The Banshees of Inisherin
A poignant and very funny film about adult friendship set in an isolated village on an island off the west coast of Ireland, The Banshees of Inisherin is a must-see film of 2022. It follows Pádraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson), who have been lifelong friends up until now, when Colm decides to abruptly and unexpectedly end their friendship, to Pádraic’s shock and distress. As Pádraic tries in vain to win his friend back, things spiral and escalate, with shocking, irreversible consequences for both men.
The Banshees of Inisherin celebrated its global premiere at the 79th Venice International Film Festival back in September, where it was met with rave reviews from critics and launched into the 2023 Oscar conversation. Currently, experts are predicting that Banshees will snag nods for Best Picture, Best Director (Martin McDonagh), Best Actor (Farrell), Best Supporting Actress (Kerry Condon), Best Supporting Actor (Gleeson, Barry Keoghan), Best Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing, Production Design, and Score.
The less you know about Barbarian going into it, the better. A word-of-mouth hit, Barbarian takes viewers on a truly wild journey, with fantastic performances from Georgina Campbell, Justin Long and Bill Skarsgård. What else can we tell you about Barbarian without giving away the plot?
Well, it’s certified 92% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. People are declaring the Longaissance, for Justin Long’s return to horror, and Variety ranked it as the #2 horror film of the year, behind only horror icon David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future, which is no small feat when you consider that Barbarian is writer/director Zach Cregger’s first solo feature film. Vanity Fair has even made a case for Justin Long nabbing an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in his role as AJ. What are you waiting for? Check into the Airbnb from hell today.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a box office smash. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is heavily tipped to be nominated across several categories at the 2023 Academy Awards, and may even snag a Best Picture nod. On top of those already impressive achievements? Black Panther: Wakanda Forever managed to get Rihanna to release new music for the first time in years, with two new songs featured in the film’s credits.
Originally announced in 2019, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was delayed after the death of its star, the late Chadwick Boseman. Rather than replacing Boseman with another actor, Marvel chose to let his character rest with him, and re-worked the sequel to address both Boseman and King T’Challa’s death. The film opens a new chapter for Wakanda while also paying tribute to Boseman, whose 2020 death after a private battle with colon cancer was mourned across the world.
Bodies Bodies Bodies
There are few things more primed to go viral on social media than a neon-tinged, A24-produced comedy horror film starring Gen Z’s hottest up and coming stars, and Bodies Bodies Bodies has all of that and more. It premiered at South By Southwest in March to positive reviews, and hit Australian cinemas in September.
Starring Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Pete Davidson, Rachel Sennott, Chase Sui Wonders, Myha’la Herrold and Lee Pace, Bodies Bodies Bodies follows Bee (Bakalova), who joins her new girlfriend Sophie (Stenberg) as they attend a hurricane party at David’s (Davison) remote family mansion. As the night devolves, the film takes aim at social media, fake friends, virtue signalling, with Sennott delivering a scene-stealing, deeply memeable performance as Alice.
Related: “Every Day Was Like a Dream”: Maria Bakalova on Filming ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’
Bones and All
Hot on the heels of 2017’s Call Me By Your Name, director Luca Guadagnino and actor Timothée Chalamet have re-teamed for Bones and All, a romantic, cannibalistic, horror-slash-road-trip film, based on the novel by Camille DeAngelis. The film celebrated its global premiere at the 79th Venice International Film Festival in September, where Guadagnino was awarded the Silver Lion for Best Director.
Chalamet stars alongside Taylor Russell, as two young cannibals who find love while on a cross country road trip. Mark Rylance, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Chloë Sevigny also star in supporting roles, with Rylance being tipped by experts to pick up an Academy Award nomination for his work.
Not only did this year mark the return of the romantic comedy, there was also a big win for LGBTQ+ representation on the big screen with the release of Bros, and we think that deserves a standing ovation.
Bros stars Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane as two men who attempt a relationship despite their various commitment issues, and delivers laughs and romance in spades. Co-written by Eichner and Nicholas Stoller (best known for directing Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Stoller also directed the film and is a frequent collaborator of Judd Apatow, who also produced Bros. The film was released by Universal Pictures, which makes Bros one of the first rom-coms from a major studio, and was given a wide theatrical release after celebrating its global premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
A visually arresting spectacle, Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis premiered at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival in May, where it received a 12-minute standing ovation. Critics praised Austin Butler’s transformative performance as the late Elvis Presley, and he’s widely being considered one of the leading contenders for a Best Actor nomination at the 2023 Academy Awards.
Not only that, the film was also a box office smash, pulling in USD$286 million on an $85 million budget. In just 20 days, Elvis cracked the list of top 10 highest grossing Australian films of all time, and is Luhrmann’s fourth film to earn a spot in the top 10, alongside 2008’s Australia, which is number two on the list, 2001’s Moulin Rouge!, which is number six, and 2013’s The Great Gatsby, which is number seven. According to Billboard, it’s also the third-highest grossing musical biopic since the 1970s, behind only Bohemian Rhapsody and Straight Outta Compton.
Related: Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Elvis’ Debuts to 10-Minute Standing Ovation at Cannes Film Festival
Related: After Playing Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Elvis’, Austin Butler Is Becoming a Household Name
Everything Everywhere All At Once
Once in a blue moon, a film that is truly groundbreaking comes along, and A24’s Everything Everywhere All At Once is most certainly one of those films. A multiverse masterpiece, the film is as absurdly out there as it is grounded in human connection, and Michelle Yeoh’s stellar performance anchors the film and all of its many moving elements perfectly. It’s certainly no surprise, then, that she’s at the front of the pack when it comes to the predictions for the Best Actress race at the 2023 Academy Awards, despite the 11 month journey from the film’s Aprill 2022 release to the Oscars, which will be held on March 13th next year. The film is also widely expected to get a Best Picture nod, along with co-directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (collectively known as “Daniels”) for Best Director, and Jamie Lee Curtis for Best Supporting Actress.
Released by cult favourite distributor A24 — the company behind Moonlight, Lady Bird and Hereditary — Everything Everywhere All At Once is now the company’s biggest box office success, grossing USD $101.3 million globally.
While Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans isn’t being widely released in Australia until January 5, 2023, it’s played a number of film festivals this year, and will be holding advance screenings in Australian cinemas throughout December.
A semi-autobiographical story that’s loosely based on Spielberg’s own childhood, The Fabelmans follows Sammy Fabelman, who aspires to become a filmmaker as he reaches adolescence, but soon discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of films can help him see the truth.
The Fabelmans celebrated its global premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year, to widespread acclaim, with critics praising Spielberg’s direction and screenplay (which Spielberg co-wrote with Tony Kushner), the performances, the cinematography, production design, editing and score. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, it is currently the most highly tipped to win Best Picture at the 95th Academy Awards next March, with many speculating that this could be Michelle Williams’ year to win an Oscar, also, for her role as Mitzi Fabelman.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
After the massive success of the first Knives Out film back in 2019, writer and director Rian Johnson signed a deal with Netflix that was worth more than USD$400 million in total for two sequels. Now, the first of those two sequels is here, and by all accounts, it’s been worth the wait.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery marks the return of Daniel Craig as famed southern detective Benoit Blanc, as he heads to a yacht off the coast of Greece for his latest case. The rest of the cast is all-new, and includes Edward Norton, Kate Hudson and Janelle Monáe, who is currently being tipped to nab an Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actress for her work.
In fact, after its well-reviewed global premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, followed by its incredibly successful one-week cinema run at the end of November, the awards momentum for Glass Onion has only just begun. Aside from Monáe’s performance, experts are predicting that Glass Onion could land nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Costume Design, Film Editing, Production Design, and Score.
A stressful, black comedy thriller, The Menu skewers foodies and plates up pretentious fine dining experiences for the audience to enjoy. Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult star as new couple Margot and Tyler, who travel to a remote island to experience an immersive and lavish fine dining experience curated by celebrity chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) and his staff, who live in a dorm on the island. As you can imagine, things escalate quickly from there.
After premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, critics praised the film for its screenplay, direction, production design, and cast performances. Indeed, the humour is sharp as a knife, and the performances — particularly Fiennes, who is towering, terrific, and sometimes terrifying — shine throughout.
Mrs Harris Goes to Paris
She did that! Starring Lesley Manville as the titular Mrs Harris, this film is an absolute joy to watch from start to finish. Inspired by Paul Gallico’s 1958 novel, Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris, Mrs Harris is a 1950s English war widow and cleaning lady who dreams of one day owning a haute couture Christian Dior gown. It’s charming, heartwarming and earnest, and not the kind of film that makes a big splash at the cinemas in 2022.
Still, its effervescent charm is exactly why it deserves a standing ovation this year. Manville’s performance is enchanting and completely delightful, and the costumes are, as you’d expect from a film made in conjunction with the House of Dior, magnificent. In short, Mrs Harris Goes to Paris is the definition of a feel-good film, and while it’s treading familiar beats throughout, all of this only adds to the film’s pure, joyful escapism.
Scream returned to theatres this year with the fifth film in the franchise, marking the first Scream film since Wes Craven’s death in 2015. Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, the team behind Ready or Not and V/H/S, Scream (2022) introduced a new generation of teens to the horrors of Ghostface.
Scream takes aim at the rise of the “elevated horror movie” like Hereditary and Get Out, poking fun at the culture of legacy sequels and reboots in the process. The film delivers all the thrills and laughs that the franchise has become known for, and continues to add layers to its already extensively meta-dialogue with the horror genre at large, with gruesome kills and plenty of fan service to boot.
Now, Scream 6 is set to be released in March 2023, which marks the shortest amount of time between Scream sequels since Scream and Scream 2, which were released in 1996 and 1997. The message is clear: Ghostface is back.
Australia hit the global horror scene back in 2005 with Wolf Creek, and since then, has only cemented itself further, with films like The Loved Ones, The Babadook, and now, Sissy.
Written and directed by Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes, Sissy celebrated its global premiere at South By Southwest earlier this year, where it impressed critics and was quickly picked up by horror streaming platform Shudder.
Directly inspired by cancer conwoman Belle Gibson, Sissy takes on wellness influencers (or “mental health advocates”) and the long-lasting impacts of childhood bullying, balancing the themes with comedy and gore.
Aisha Dee anchors the film as Cecilia (don’t call her Sissy!), with a supporting cast that includes Barlow, Emily de Margheriti, Daniel Monks, Yerin Ha and Lucy Barrett, the film is a refreshingly diverse depiction of Australia in 2022, and is sure to become an Aussie horror classic in years to come.
Related: ‘Sissy’ Filmmakers on the Importance of Having “Actual Representation” on Screen
Related: Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes on How Belle Gibson Influenced Aussie Horror Flick ‘Sissy’
Technically, Tár won’t be released in Australian cinemas until 2023, but it’s played a few festivals here, so we’re including it. Tár is Todd Field’s first film since 2006’s Little Children, and boy, was it worth the wait. Cate Blanchett stars as Lydia Tár, a maestro at the top of her field. Not only is she the first ever female music director of a major German orchestra, she has an EGOT, to boot.
Tár is Blanchett at her best, and is widely considered one of the frontrunners to be nominated for — if not win — Best Actress at the 2023 Academy Awards. If she were to win, it would be Blanchett’s third Oscar, placing her alongside Meryl Streep, Frances McDormand and Ingrid Bergman, with only Katharine Hepburn’s four wins ahead of them. Meanwhile, the sleek production, from Field’s direction, to the sets to the score to the crisp lines of Lydia Tár’s suits all work together to enhance Blanchett’s meticulous, fierce and dominating performance.
Ticket to Paradise
Although the film is set in Bali, Ticket to Paradise was filmed on Queensland’s sunny Gold Coast, and created more than 1,000 jobs for Australian cast, crew and extras in the process. Starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney, as well as Kaitlyn Dever and Billie Lourd, Ticket to Paradise is perhaps the most persuasive argument for 2022 being the year of the rom-comaissance.
The romantic comedy is a genre that has been hotly debated in recent years: it is dead, and if so, what killed it? Was it an influx of mediocre scripts? The genre’s failure to keep up with social progression? Was it the early 2010’s fascination with 3D films? Was it Netflix’s meteoric rise that was killing the theatrical release model?
With Ticket to Paradise crossing the USD $100 million mark at the global box office, it would seem that whatever was going on, there’s still an appetite for romantic comedies at the cinema. Perhaps with so much going on in the world, we all just want to feel good again.
Top Gun: Maverick
The film that saved cinema. After premiering at the Cannes Film Festival in May with a dazzling display of literal fighter jets billowing red, white and blue smoke over the festival, Top Gun: Maverick received a five minute standing ovation, and that was just the beginning of the film’s successes.
After receiving rave reviews from critics and cinema-goers alike, the sequel — which came 36 years after the original Top Gun — went on to shatter all kinds of box office records, and there are even talks of it receiving Academy Award nominations in 2023, with Tom Cruise currently listed as a “strong contender” for a Best Actor nomination by Gold Derby.
In fact, the film was Cruise’s biggest opening weekend ever, an impressive achievement when you consider Cruise’s lengthy, action-packed career. Following a massive opening weekend, the film went on to enter the prestigious USD $1 billion global box office club — the first film to do so since 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Notably, while Top Gun: Maverick is a sequel, it’s also not a part of an already established franchise, a la Marvel or Star Wars, so its box office success was unexpected and, in a post-pandemic era, unprecedented.
Related: After 36 Years, Top Gun: Maverick Is Set to Inspire Once Again
Related: ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Receives Standing Ovation at Cannes Film Festival
Triangle of Sadness
After premiering at the Cannes Film Festival back in May, Variety gushed that Triangle of Sadness is “the best movie involving a boat since Titanic” — a big claim to make when you’re talking about the third highest grossing film of all time, and one that walked away with 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Still, Triangle of Sadness has been ramping up Oscar buzz of its own, with experts predicting it will score nods for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Dolly De Leon), Best Original Screenplay, and Film Editing.
The film, which was written and directed by Sweden’s Ruben Östlund (The Square) in his English-language debut, follows a fashion model celebrity couple who join an eventful cruise for the super-rich. With a stellar cast that includes Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean, Woody Harrelson, this biting satire is sure to appease fans of The White Lotus and The Menu.
The Woman King
The Woman King is a force to be reckoned with. Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, The Woman King is a historical epic that follows The Kingdom of Dahomey, one of the most powerful states of Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries, and is inspired by true events. The film celebrated its global premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, and was well-received by critics and audiences alike.
With a 94% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, and an impressive 99% audience score, it’s unsurprising, then, that The Woman King is being hotly tipped to pick up a number of Academy Award nominations. The experts and editors at Gold Derby are expecting to see The Woman King nab nominations for Best Picture and Best Director, as well as Best Actress for Viola Davis, and Best Supporting Actress for Thuso Mbedu and Lashana Lynch. It’s also in the running for Costume Design, Film Editing, Production Design and Score.
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