It's November. Does that statement make you shudder? Personally is dredges up all my existential anxiety, but I'll save that as an entry into my journal. As we edge toward the ass end of 2022, like writing in our diaries it's important we reflect, take stock, reassess – pick one. One way of doing this is through the movies we saw. Hollywood was practically throwing up all those delayed pandemic productions, from the much anticipated Elvis to the unexpectedly profound Everything Everywhere All At Once. Below we're rejigging your memory and reminiscing on the best movies of 2022 so far, in no particular order.
"I’m not afraid to admit it," Elyssa Kostopoulos declares, "I love Adam Sandler and I love Adam Sandler movies." The RUSSH content director says, "50 First Dates, The Wedding Singer, Happy Gilmore; I want them all. The only other thing I love more than Adam Sandler is Rocky, so when I found out about Hustle – which, is basically like Rocky but with Adam Sandler and with a focus on basketball – I was all in. I laughed, I cried, I yelled (but only in my head because my boyfriend was asleep next to me). Basically, it was an emotional rollercoaster and if you’re looking for a feel-good, underdog story with a great cast of real-life NBA players that I wouldn’t be able to recognise if they walked down the street, then this is for you. I’m not a sports fan but I do love a movie with heart!"
2. Bodies Bodies Bodies
Bodies Bodies Bodies was not at all what I thought it would be. Which made its ending all the more flabbergasting. Ignore its trailer, which comes across as more Gen Z caricature than anything else, the film brilliantly captures the anxieties, discourse and general feeling of the TikTok generation. And like Pete Davidson wielding a machete, the A24 film with its star-spangled lineup, slices through to reveal the absurdity (and utter exhaustion) of it all.
3. Catherine, Called Birdy
Lena Dunham's cultural comeback is a quiet one, which in itself feels like a positive shift. For her return to directing (which also includes the promise of another lesser received title Sharp Stick), Dunham adapts the YA novel Catherine, Called Birdy. If you haven't read the book, that's truly great as it allows the dynamic between Games of Thrones alumnae Bella Ramsey and her father, Fleabag's Andrew Scott, wash over you with its chaos, humour and if you'll believe it, deep love. The casting is truly delicious while the gags are characteristically Dunham. A reminder that she's a master at sketching the teenage girl experience.
4. Everything Everywhere All At Once
"It’s rare that a film stops you in your tracks and makes you rethink your entire life and perspective, but Everything Everywhere All At Once managed to do just that," RUSSH creative studio and campaigns manager, Olivia Repaci says. "This is not a new take on this film, and I think that everyone who has watched it can agree that it is utterly unique, extremely thought provoking and both too real and too extraordinary to handle. Taking on the trope of the multiverse that we are used to seeing only in the realm of superhero movies, this film tackles key existential themes in the most fantastical and visually interesting way possible. It excites me when filmmakers are able to produce something completely unique and unprecedented while retaining narrative integrity and not succumbing to spectacle, and that is exactly what Everything Everywhere All At Once has achieved."
5. This Much I Know To Be True
Of the two Andrew Dominik films this year, This Much I Know To Be True is our pick. Although, as Cave himself has noted the gentleman prefers Blonde. The longtime collaborators joined forces once more to document Nick Cave and Warren Ellis preparing songs from Ghosteen and Carnage ahead of a 2021 tour. The songs are parabolic; the images they conjure up cinematic in their own right. A different tone to Cave's 2016 documentary created following his son Arthur's tragic death as he pieced together Skeleton Tree. This time it captures Cave turning a new leaf, focusing on his familiar relationships and newfound joy in pottery (his work was recently displayed alongside Brad Pitt's in Finland).
This gaudy, long-winded spectacle is trademark Baz Luhrmann. But to all the critics I ask but one question: how else do you capture not the fact-checked biography of Elvis Aaron Presley, but the cult of the hip-shaking, rhinestone-wearing, King of Rock, Elvis? Luhrmann's biopic may not be what the doctor ordered but maybe something the plastic surgeon would. It's filled with enhancements and exaggerations, probably due to it being from Colonel Parker's perspective, which is clever move to allow Luhrmann to lean into legend and forget about the rest. Catherine Martin does much of the heavy lifting.
I was drawn to Murina by the vague sense that it was created by a Croatian director and this would somehow pull me closer to my roots. I was wrong. What I found would bring me closer in proximity to the moon or some other transitory place, the question mark between youth and adulthood. The Dalmatian coastline resembles not the summer destination it's renown for, but something alien and barren. Martin Scorsese oversaw the film as executive producer, and it won the the Caméra d’Or for Best First Film at Cannes in 2021. Meanwhile, it shares the same cinematographer (Helene Louvart) as Maggie Gyllenhaal's The Lost Daughter, which explains the pace and the tension ever lapping at our toes.
Love aliens? A simp for Jordan Peele? Lend your eyes to his latest masterpiece. Unlike Get Out or Us, this one draws on the supernatural, specifically UFOs and malevolent forces born from the sky. Some critics have likened the summer horror to Jaws, with the film taking inspiration from Spielberg's famous shots. Keke Palmer, Daniel Kaluuya, Steven Yeun, need I say more?
9. Good Luck To You, Leo Grande
Our digital operations manager, Megan Nolan writes, "I saw this film on a whim earlier in the year purely because I missed going to see movies on the big screen. My friend and I were possibly the youngest people in the cinema which made me question my choices, but the hoards of middle aged women laughing hysterically throughout the length of the film honestly made it that much better. A feel good film that is worth re-watching, Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, tells the story of a retired school teacher who hires a charismatic, twenty-something sex worker to fulfil her fantasies. With Emma Thompson as the lead you know it’s going to have both dry humour and emotional depth. Pair that with the hunk that is Daryl McCormack and you can’t go wrong. A refreshing new take on the easy-to-watch, feel good genre Good Luck To You, Leo Grande is my pick of 2022."
A personal essay that rings high above the rest. This is Rebeca Huntt on 16mm film, unfiltered yet satisfyingly polished. Huntt brings the audience with her, to the jungles of Venezuela where she feels most free, to the late night conversations spent mirroring the biases back at her neo-liberal friends. We witness her interrogate the internalised racism of her Venezuelan mother, and confront her father, a Black man born on a Dominican sugar-cane plantation, about his decision to stack his three children into a one-bedroom apartment in Central Park West. In these moments she comes across harsh, bullying even, but Huntt spares no one, not even herself, the floodlight of her own lens.
11. Fire Of Love
A love story that went up in flames – quite literally. Fire of Love follows French couple Katia and Maurice Krafft, whose love for each other was only eclipsed by their shared love for volcanoes. Together the two travelled the world, "chasing eruptions and documenting their discoveries", until their tragic death after in a pyroclastic flow on Mount Unzen in 1991.
12. Moonage Daydream
Since David Bowie's passing, Iman has made it clear that there would be no Bowie biopic like Bohemian Rhapsody or I Wanna Dance With Somebody, saying that her husband would have never wanted it. But when the supermodel authorised a film-documentary hybrid helmed by Brett Morgen, we knew we were in for a treat. Psychedelic, moving, you'll be stuck down a Bowie rabbithole for weeks, that we promise you.
It's a ballsy move adapting any Jane Austen novel – especially the author's last. Readers are fiercely protective of her legacy and characters; especially the independent, intelligent heroines peppered throughout each novel. So, now that Carrie Cracknell's Persuasion has landed on Netflix, it appears some are surprised that the film is less BBC and more Fleabag. If you take it at face value – Netflix does Austen – you'll notice the entertainment spike. If you're seeking historical accuracy, then I'm sorry to say you'll be sorely disappointed.
"Photography's like a flash of euphoria," Nan Goldin tells the camera, "and it gave me a voice". This new documentary from Laura Poitras meets the photographer, now 69, during her battle against the Sackler family. And while much of All the Beauty and the Bloodshed focuses on the protests Goldin spearheads against the Sacklers – a family responsible for Oxycontin, their name praised across the Met, the Guggenheim and the Louvre – a huge chunk of it acts as biography, documenting Goldin's life, both her rise as an artist and the circumstances around her ascent.
As we see romantic comedies return to the zeitgeist, one film leading the charge is Nicholas Stoller's Bros. Billy Eichner leads the film as Bobby, a neurotic podcaster who happens to fall in love with a beefy gym bro. Billed as "the first romantic comedy from a major studio about two gay men" the movie's release has been sort of suffocated by expectation, which it turns out is unfair, as everything from the comedy to the more heartfelt moments truly hit the mark.
16. The Territory
As a child you learn about the Amazon rainforest, with its anacondas and thick humidity. But nothing tops seeing it in the opening scene of The Territory. Ants hoist leaves three times their size above their bodies, while a shot cuts to two Indigenous children chasing each other through the lush undergrowth. What you're seeing is Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau territory. A young tribal leader Bitaté sends a drone into the sky, and as it hovers above the canopy, it reveals that this part of the rainforest, almost 7000 square miles nestled deep in Brazil's Rondônia, is sandwiched between flattened scrub and ranches. From this height the earth looks sick.
Directed by Alex Pritz and produced by and with permission from the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau people, The Territory tracks the ancestral owners, a community of less than 200 people, as they defend the land against illegal deforestation and landgrabbers. Shot across three years, beginning with the devastating election of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, the film depicts the life-or-death stakes and offers unprecedented footage of the Amazon. Read our interview with executive producer on the film, the 25-year-old Indigenous climate activist Txai Suruí, here.
17. The Woman King
A huge, cinematic spectacle to rival others of its genre (see: 300 or Gladiator). This one is grounded in truth, finding its foundation in the West African kingdom of Dahomey and zeroing in on the nation's fiercest soldiers, an all-female army known as the Agojie which persisted from the 1600s until the early 1900s. Comprising of a predominately Black female cast, lead by Viola Davis, it's a formidable bit of storytelling, one of the most thrilling watches to come out of 2022.
18. Girl Picture
Personally, I doubt I'll ever tire of films that explore girlhood. Finnish director and writer Alli Haapasalo offers up a convincing entry into the canon. Girl Picture follows dedicated skater Emma and her two best friends, Rönkkö and Mimmi across three consecutive Fridays. All the usual themes are present – love, sex, ambition, desire – yet for something so commonly explored, Haapasalo's comedy brings bursts of surprising freshness.
Paul Mescal somehow imbues each role with endless texture and colour. In Aftersun, which screened at Cannes and premiered at Melbourne International Film Festival, the actor tackles the figure of Callum Paterson, a 31-year old Scottish father, with the same depth he brought to Normal People or say, The Lost Daughter. We can joke and call him daddy, but really the truth is whenever Mescal is involved we simply cannot look away.
20. Women Talking
What do we do with the perpetrators of sexual violence? Is the answer in rehabilitation, forgiveness, retribution? In the wake of Me Too, it's this question that we continue to grapple with, both inside and away from the culture. From Promising Young Woman to Michaela Coel's I May Destroy You, many have attempted to provide an answer. But it's in Sarah Polley's adaptation of Women Talking, the 2018 novel by Miriam Toews, that we see this conversation take place. Each possible solution is reasoned and played out as several women gather to discuss a pattern of sexual abuse committed by the men in the small Mennonite community against its female citizens. We witness Frances McDormand, Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy, Michelle McLeod and Judith Ivey spearheading this discussion – the formidable casting should be a talking point in itself.
21. She Said
For many of us, the most anticipated film of the year is not Don't Worry Darling or Elvis. No, we've been holding out for one that's been in the pipeline since 2017. That something else is Universal Pictures' adaptation of She Said, the best-selling non-fiction book that detailed the investigation led by The New York Times journalists Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor into Harvey Weinstein. It was their reporting that opened the lifted the lid on decades-long abuse in Hollywood and ignited the #MeToo movement. So yes, you could say we've been waiting a long time to watch it. November 17 is so close we can taste it.
22. Bones & All
I had carbonara after previewing Bone and All, and let me just say, that was a mistake. All the fleshy, blood-soaked scenes put me off my guanciale. Taylor Russell is Maren, Timothée Chalamet is Lee, two runaways who enjoy ripping into human flesh often enough for it to be a problem. Their scenes together are so tender, and the presence of other 'eaters' (the name for cannibals) carried a frenzied almost feral energy. Set in Reagan's America, the characters exist on the desolate fringes of society, their proclivity for human flesh something that could not be hidden in this tech-heavy world. Mark Rylance delivers a chilling performance, meanwhile Michael Stuhlbarg's monologue about eating a person, bones and all, is such a satisfying image. With a soundtrack that includes plenty of New Wave and Kiss, and delicious costuming – soft cotton underwear, floral dresses and combat boots for Maren, a enivable badge collection and three-piece tailoring for Sully – it's Guadagnino at his best. Bring on November 24!