Well, we’re now closing in on December, which means that the year in movies is coming to a close. Since the prehistoric days of January, we’ve been compiling and periodically adding to our list of the Best Movies of 2022 (So Far). In this latest installment, we’ve added new titles that we here at Esquire believe are not only worth checking out, but will also still hang around in the pop-culture conversation by the very last days of December, when year-end Top 10 lists are trotted out.
As you’ll see, our countdown’s most recent entries include a sci-fi horror film, a certain buzzy psychological thriller, and, of course, a romantic comedy to round things out. Hell, if you scroll down far enough, you might even see (gasp!) an Adam Sandler flick. Here are the 27 best movies of 2022, plus where to watch them.
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Jordan Peele has yet to disappoint me. And for that, I am grateful. His third film, Nope—starring Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya—dove into the mysterious and terrifying world of aliens. As with all of Peele’s films, Nope was ripe with metaphors, jump-scares, witty dialogue, and hell, even commentary on humans’ relationship to animals. But where Nope truly shines is in its pacing. Clocking in at two hours and ten minutes, the film does an exceptional job of drawing you in without giving anything away. What begins as a slow-paced mystery, quickly turns into a gruesome nightmare. How could we ever forget the chimpanzee scene?!—Bria McNeal
Sure, Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling was a bit overhyped, but luckily, it turned out to be incredibly entertaining. The film follows Jack (Harry Styles) and Alice (Florence Pugh), a young couple who live in an idyllic ’50s suburb called Victory. Every day, the men in town leave their wives to work on a mysterious project, while the women spend their days drinking, gossiping, shopping, and tending to the house. For Alice, it’s the perfect setup… until a tragic event makes her wonder what the “Victory Project” really is. Though Don’t Worry Darling did include a few plot holes (what happened to the airplane?) Pugh’s stunning performance vaults the film on this list.—B.M.
WEIRD: The Al Yankovic Story
WEIRD: The Al Yankovic Story delivered on the weird. The biopic subject himself, Weird Al Yankovic, co-wrote the film with the first-time feature firector Eric Appel, turning a Funny or Die sketch from a decade ago into a wild and wacky joyride. Daniel Radcliffe takes on the titular role, and although Mr. Potter may seem like an odd choice, it works. Radcliffe takes on the role with panache, rocking Weird Al’s curly hair and stache, fighting off Pablo Escobar, making out with Madonna, and coming up with “Eat It” before Michael Jackson. The events in the film may or may not be even close to reality, but they’ll absolutely make you laugh—and maybe even touch your heart.—Sirena He
You probably heard that The Gray Man wasn’t very good. How do I know? Because the Internet was absolutely buzzing with takedowns of the expensive action thriller from the Russo Brothers in July. It was inescapable and, guess what, the posts weren’t even true. Is the plot a touch thin? Sure. The backstory of the main characters a bit under-developed? Okay, you’ve got me there. Is the villain—a mustached Captain America—flat in his all-out evilness? Jesus! Yes, get off my back. The Gray Man isn’t going to win an Oscar but I’d bet my career that Ryan Gosling knew that when he signed on the dotted line. What it will do, however, is entertain you for all two hours and two minutes of its two hours and two minute runtime. There are big stars. Big biceps. Quips. Things that go boom. Don’t overthink this. —Madison Vain
Over the course of films such as Videodrome and The Fly, Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg built up a cult audience that appreciates his insistence to make movies that are hard to watch. Crimes of the Future, his first theatrical release in eight years, is no exception. He builds a future wherein humans no longer feel pain and are growing new organs. A performance artist (Viggo Mortensen) views his new internal functions as little sculptures, and he puts on live shows in which his partner (Léa Seydoux) performs surgery on him to reveal his latest “creation.” It’s a bizarre film for sure, but Crimes proves that after 50 years, Cronenberg still has some of the best new ideas in sci-fi—even if they’re freaky, twisted, and downright gut-wrenching ideas. —Josh Rosenberg
You may be wondering if the prequel to 2009’s Orphan is worth the hype. Or even really needed a follow-up, 13 years later. Well, guess what? Director William Brent Bell’s stab at an origin story for the precocious Esther might just be better than the original. Orphan: First Kill finally gives us a look into how Esther came to be in the adoption system, when she’s actually a 30-something-year-old mental institution escapee. Horror movie logic! Never gets old. This prequel takes the wild concept of the original and spins it in an entirely new direction. We don’t want to spoil anything for you, but there are quite a few unhinged scenes that’ll have you cheering for an unexpected hero.—Sirena He
Updating Jane Austen is never easy, but in Fire Island, Joel Kim Booster sure makes it look that way. In this moving modern romcom, Pride and Prejudice is transplanted to the Fire Island Pines, where groups of gay men descend on the island in search of a legendary summer adventure. Booster reimagines the Bennet sisters as a tight-knit group of friends vacationing together, casting himself as the proud and principled Noah opposite Conrad Ricamora’s aloof, romance-averse Will. Bowen Yang shines as the Jane Bennet analogue, mapping poignant themes of loneliness and queer desire onto Austen’s familiar tale. Funny, heartfelt, and often vulnerable, Fire Island proves that there are still new shades to discover in Austen.—Adrienne Westenfeld
BWUUUUM. BWUUUUM. BWUUUUM! Look behind you. See him? Yeah, that’s Robert Pattinson in the goddamn Batsuit, and he wants to kill you. Or at least rough you up a little. Listen, I was skeptical about Matt Reeves’s The Batman—even after I saw it. It’s jarring to see a capes and costumes flick like The Batman dare to experiment with cinematography! Music! But after a rewatch at home, my that was pretty good! response to The Batman turned into a do I like this better than Christopher Nolan’s Batfilms? I’ve gotta say: I’d take Pattinson over Bale any day. The Batman dared to be vibe-y, heavy on detective work. That’s not even mentioning the nuclear amount of prosthetics that turned an unhinged Colin Farrell into one of my favorite movie villains of all time. Let’s just hope Reeves makes the sequel just as special.—Brady Langmann
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Where the Crawdads Sing
In recent years Reese Witherspoon has taken a deviation from acting, instead putting time and resources into creating beautiful cinematic adaptations of incredible books. She’s given us Little Fires Everywhere, Big Little Lies, and now, Where The Crawdads Sing. For the latter, we really must thank her for taking us through the heartbreaking journey of Kya Clark, (Daisy Edgar Jones), an abandoned young girl who raises herself in the Marshlands of North Carolina. Having been an outcast from her society for much of her life, she now becomes the lead suspect in the murder of her town’s golden boy. As the case unfolds, the story becomes not just a gut wrenching tale of a girl with all odds stacked against her, it unravels into something much greater: a thoughtful commentary on society’s treatment of its rejects. —Ammal Hassan
Look, you’re either a fan of the sadistic cinema of Johnny Knoxville and his band of merry pranksters or you’re not. There’s really daylight in between the two poles. But if you’re willing to submit to sheer dumbass joy of their nut-cracking pranks and daredevil stunts, you may find yourself discovering something else along the way: A bunch of aging Evel Knievels who underneath their dim-bulb machismo actually care about one another deeply. Their onscreen camaraderie is as undeniable as it is infectious–and, yes, even kinda touching. If you’ve seen any of the previous Jackass outings then you know what you’re in for. But after two years of soul-grinding political- and pandemic-related heaviosity, watching these jackasses’ exploits feels like a healing balm of idiocy.
No doubt you heard about this Ben Affleck-Ana de Armas erotic thriller when it first released on Hulu in April. And let me guess, you’ve either heard that’s absolute steaming garbage or that it’s absolute steaming garbage that’s amazing, right? I personally not believe in the idea of “guilty pleasures.” If something brings you joy then why should you feel any remorse? That said, I can see why people would call Deep Water one. It tap-dances on the fine line between cheese and fromage. I’m not ashamed to say that I enjoyed the hell out of it. Based on a kinky Patricia Highsmith story, director Adrian Lyne’s return to his ‘80s erotic-thriller pinnacle (9 ½ Weeks, Fatal Attraction) stars Affleck as a filthy rich dude who made his fortune dealing death as a designer of military drones who now spends his early retirement riding his mountain bike, tending to his collection of snails, and fuming with jealousy while his wife (de Armas) flirts and has affairs with a string of young men in plain sight. Lyne is a maestro of this kind of softcore skinemax stuff, and he ratchets up the heat like the old horndog that he is, but it’s the two stars who turn Deep Water into such naughty fun. Is Affleck behind the disappearances and deaths of his wife’s stud lovers? Is de Armas bedding these guys just because it gets a rise out of him? And what exactly is with the snails? Watch Deep Water and come to your own conclusions. Just don’t let anyone give you any shit about it.
If you’re looking to double down on horror, this creepy Hulu offering makes a solid bottom half on a double-bill with X. Although not quite as clever as that film, Mimi Cave, making her promising feature directing debut, delivers the fright-night goods and them some, especially if your sweet tooth in the genre runs toward Eli Roth’s Hostel films. Fresh is far less misogynistic than Roth’s oeuvre, but gender studies majors and dating-app junkies will still have plenty to discuss after the end credits roll. Normal People’s Daisy Edgar-Jones plays a young single woman tired of the artifice and theater of modern dating. That is, until she meets Sebastian Stan’s Steve—a handsome, funny surgeon who seems too good to be true. And wouldn’t you know it, he is! It would be churlish to spill too much about the film’s gruesome plot (I didn’t know anything about it going in, and I’m glad I didn’t), so I’ll just say this: Steve takes surgery very seriously (especially in his chic home’s designer dungeon basement) and Edgar-Jones isn’t the first woman to fall for his sadistic ruse. Warning: Not for vegans.
After graduating from college in the ‘90s and sorely in need of cash, I sold all of my beloved records—about 500 in all—to raise money for my New York City rent. I still kick myself about this short-sighted transaction almost every day. Not because I can’t listen to any of those albums anymore. I can. Most are streamable on Spotify (although the service really needs to carry Basehead’s Play with Toys, stat!). But I miss the tactile experience of holding a 12×12 record sleeve in my hands and Talmudically dissecting the art and liner notes. I miss the serendipitous treasure hunt of finding obscure, out-of-print albums in used-record stores. I miss the warmth, the hisses, the pops…hell, even the scratches and skips. If this sentiment rings any bells with you, then you should check out Kevin Smokler and Christopher Boone’s nostalgic love letter to the 33 1/3 LP, Vinyl Nation. The documentary is not exceedingly well-made, but it’s got so much heart it’s impossible for any music junkie to quibble. The film is set on Record Store Day, an annual lifeline for mom-and-pop vinyl retailers, and intersperses video of collectors going on album-buying sprees with the luddite craftsman who still press vinyl and interviews with diehard vinyl lovers about what the dying format means to their lives as well as the Proustian memories it evokes. When it was over, I looked at the wall of equally-outdated compact discs in my office, shook my head, and said out loud: “No one will ever love you the way they love their vinyl.”
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers
Even as a dad of insatiable eight-year-old twins—and therefore regularly required to watch kiddie movies like a reluctant hostage being force-fed a steady diet of political agit-prop—I was completely charmed by Disney’s post-modern spin on these long-in-the-tooth, chaos-courting cartoon chipmunks. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the duo is voiced by Andy Samberg and John Mulaney, who are a hell of a lot funnier than you’d expect if they were just in it for a fat paycheck. This is not some low-brow, low-intensity, phoned-in effort by a long shot. In fact, it’s pretty ambitious, which is why it works as well (if not better) for parents than their antsy, pint-sized spawn. Winkingly directed by Samberg’s Lonely Island partner, Akiva Schaffer, this meta-mystery is closer in tone and sensibility to Who Framed Roger Rabbit than your typical ‘toon, seamlessly mixing animation and live-action without making a big deal of it. The cheekily clever plot revolves around Chip (Mulaney at his most deadpan) and Dale (Samberg as manic and excitable as a tyke hopped up on Pixie Stix) years after their Hollywood careers have come to an end. Turns out, they went their own ways a while back over creative differences and haven’t spoken since. Chip is now a 9-to-5 desk jockey and Dale clings to his long-faded showbiz fame and they are reunited when an old animated pal of theirs, Monterey Jack (Eric Bana), is kidnapped and they have to reluctantly (and hilariously) band together to crack the case. Chip and Dale—sorry, Chip n’ Dale—are hardly what even generous nostalgists would call A-list characters, but thanks to Mulaney and Samberg, it’s their fringe obscurity that makes them ripe for reinvention. Doubters are gonna doubt, but this one won me over. It will win you over too.
Five years ago, Kogonada, the Korean-born director of hypnotically insightful video essays for the Criterion Collection and Sight & Sound magazine, made his feature debut with the poignant indie Columbus (if you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor). Now his follow-up, After Yang, has arrived and while it’s a stranger and more ambitious film, it’s just as intimate and lovely. Colin Farrell, no stranger to working with off-beat, idiosyncratic filmmakers (see Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster), plays as a husband, father, and struggling tea-shop owner in some nameless, placeless future who, along with his wife (Jodie Turner-Smith), has bought a second-hand synthetic human named Yang (Justin H. Min) to serve as a surrogate sibling to their adopted Chinese daughter (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja). Yang is both a loving companion and a connection to the tyke’s Asian heritage. But then one day Yang goes on the fritz, leaving each member of the household with a void they don’t quite know how to fill. As with Columbus, each frame in After Yang could be paused and hung in a museum—Kogonada is undoubtedly an artist with a capital A. But he’s also a first-rate storyteller who seems to have made a mysterious puzzle box of a movie that feels a bit like Blade Runner as directed by late-period Terrence Malick. After Yang is a lyrical meditation on both what it means to be human and how our connections with technology can seem more real than those we have with other humans.
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God bless Steven Soderbergh for rethinking that whole retirement thing. I can’t say I’ve sparked to many of his movies since his “comeback,” but after five movies in three years, he’s finally come up with a real winner that’s all too easy to overlook on the busy HBO Max homepage. With Kimi, the master of modern malaise channels Hitchcock for the age of Siri and Alexa…or, in this case, Kimi–a cone-shaped personal assistant that emits a soothing pink light as it responds to your at-home cues. Not only does Zoë Kravitz’s Angela Childs have a Kimi device in her spacious Seattle loft, she also works for the about-to-go-public company listening to audio streams that have been flagged for recognition errors. It’s mindless monkey work, but it’s also a good fit for her since she’s a shut-in with major OCD. Then one day she hears a muffled audio file that seems to reveal a sexual assault, possibly even a murder, and she attempts to alert her superiors only to be given the brush-off because of the impending IPO. But Angela won’t let it go. Like Coppola’s The Conversation and De Palma’s Blow Out, Kimi is a tense and paranoia-drenched conspiracy thriller updated for right now. Rear Window is a probably the biggest influence on Soderberg here right down the melodramatic score, but even though some of his themes may be on layaway, it also feels spot-on for a moment when we invite digital devices into our homes without considering how much they know about us.
I’ll confess that I’m no fan of French enfant terrible Gaspar Noe’s films. In fact, I don’t think I’ve remotely liked any of the art house provocateur’s previous films. To me, they always feel like naked attempts to shock the audience. He’s like a child saying dirty words trying to get a rise out of his parents. But something has happened to the director since his last feature, Climax. I think he’s finally grown up. Vortex isn’t a pleasant film to sit through. In fact, it’s heavy and downright heartbreaking. But his penchant for style has been put to good use in this intimate story about an elderly husband (Italian horror director Dario Argento) and wife (Francoise Lebrun) going about their daily lives as she slips deeper and more irrevocably into dementia. The film is mostly set in their cluttered Parisian apartment, but in it we discover a vast world of emotion that Noe emphasizes by splitting the screen into two squares that show us the world from each of their points of view. Occasionally they overlap, but the technique is a brilliant way of showing is what it feels like to be a loving caregiver and what it feels like to be the one who needs love and care. Vortex may not be a film for everyone, but its power and maturity convinced me that Noe has finally found something he’s never shown before: empathy.
As a purely financial decision, I can’t wrap my head around why a little indie like Focus Features would hand $70 million to the director of The Witch and The Lighthouse to make a mud-and-blood-soaked Viking epic that does basically everything it can to avoid being a crowd-pleaser. But I’m certainly glad that they did. Robert Eggers is a visionary, plain and simple. And it’s thrilling to see him painting on such an oversized canvas. Set in the 10th century, this uncompromising grasp for massiveness stars a very good Alexander Skarsgard as a Viking warrior hungry for revenge after his father and king (Ethan Hawke) is murdered. The Northman has a primal power (and beauty) and a star-studded cast that you get the sense would follow the visionary Eggers just about anywhere—Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Willem Dafoe. Eggers’s maniacal attention to period detail is dazzling, and haunting each shot looks like it could be framed and hung on a wall at Norway’s Lofotr Viking Museum. The Northman is a dark-as-heavy-metal trip back in time. Conan the Barbarian it is not.
Nine times out of ten, Adam Sandler flicks have the dashed-off quality of a guy who simply can’t be bothered to give a shit. But every once in a while, he’ll dig deep and deliver a Punch-Drunk Love or an Uncut Gems and knock film critics back on their heels. You can now add his latest, Hustle, to the list of Sandler surprises. The comedian gives a touchingly un-comic performance as Stanley Sugerman, a longtime scout for the Sixers who has reached a dead end in his career. Then, while in Mallorca, he stumbles upon a raw, tattooed street-ball player (the Utah Jazz’s Juancho Hernangomez) who has what he thinks it takes to make it onto the big stage under bright lights of the NBA. Does the kid really have the goods or is the desperate Sugerman just seeing what he wants to see—a seven-foot mirage? Like Jerry Maguire (although with far less emotional manipulation), Sandler stakes his reputation and the stability of his family (Queen Latifah is a low-key revelation as his devoted wife) on the kid. As Many folks already know, Sandler is a life-long hoops fanatic off-screen and a better-than-you’d-expect pick-up player, to boot. And that passion for hoops (not just its glamor, but its dream-slaying dark side) saturates every frame of Hustle and allows Sandler to give one of his too-frequent note-perfect performances that don’t feel like acting at all.
Daniel Roher’s documentary about the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny couldn’t be more timely—or more tragic. The outspoken critic of Putin who is currently in prison for daring to speak truth to power is like a character straight out of Kafka. But this isn’t fiction, it’s fact…and it’s both harrowing and comical and comically harrowing. The movie recounts how Navalny was poisoned during a trip to Siberia (there was little question whose fingerprints were on the attempt on his life), airlifted to a hospital in Germany where he was treated, and returned to Russia only to be promptly arrested on arrival. Navalny’s courage is never in question, but the competence of his state-sponsored enemies and tormenters is. They’re like a cross between the Keystone Cops and that Saturday-morning cartoon duo Boris and Natasha. Their incompetence is staggering. One of the final scenes in the movie shows us Navalny in jail, looking worse for the wear but not defeated. It’s a shame that this film will never see the light of day in the one country that needs to see it most.
Israeli director Nadav Lapid has made three must-see imports over the past eight years—2014’s The Kindergarten Teacher, 2019’s Synonyms, and now this caustic meditation on the limits of artistic freedom in his homeland. The jaw-droppingly good actor Avshalom Pollak plays a filmmaker from the Tel Aviv who travels out to a remote desert village to present his latest movie. He’s greeted there by an unlikely censor—a friendly young woman (Nur Fibak) who works for the Ministry of Culture who says she cannot pay him until he signs a routine form. But the form isn’t exactly routine. It’s a promise to steer clear from talking about anything potentially controversial. The director takes a stand that’s not just defiant, it’s emotionally sadistic. Ahed’s Knee is a rant, but it never feels didactic or one-note. Lapid is too sly for that. Let’s call it a very entertaining act of protest.
Over the past five or six years, the boutique studio A24 has become the coolest kid on the Hollywood block, cranking out a combo platter of challenging indies and horror flicks that don’t insult your intelligence. Its latest, X, actually manages to be both simultaneously. A tip of the cap to Tobe Hooper’s 1974 meatlover’s masterpiece, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, X is set in the Lone Star state in the ‘70s and you can almost feel the dust and sweat and pheromones coming off the screen. The small cast and crew of a Debbie Does Dallas-style porno rent a barn from a creepy old coot where they plan to shoot their latest skin-flick opus. But they quickly learn that the grizzled old farmer and his wife aren’t exactly gracious hosts—or film lovers. Directed by next-gen horror maestro Ti West (The House of the Devil), X takes a pretty standard exploitation formula and it elevates it into a bone-chilling, anxiety-inducing freakout. X is an artful horror film that doesn’t bludgeon you with its artiness. It just serves up maximum joy-buzzer mayhem.
Pixar has been the gold standard for animation for so long it’s hard to remember what we watched with our kids BTS (Before Toy Story). The studio’s latest, Domee Shi’s Turning Red, is as delightful and deep as anything it’s cranked out in the past five years. Adorably dorky Chinese-Canadian 13-year-old Meilin Lee (voiced by Rosalie Chang) is a model student and has a tight group of girlfriends. But she’s also getting to that awkward age when she’s crushing on boys and bristling at her helicopter mom’s stern authority. She’s a teen pressure cooker and something’s gotta give. Acne? Panic attacks? Nope. Instead, she transforms into a giant red panda whenever emotions run too high. That’s right, it’s an innocuous movie metaphor for puberty! Teen Wolf already did that, you say? Well, you’re not wrong. Pixar certainly deserves some credit for embracing a non-blonde, non-blue-eyed heroine at a time when representation is so lacking on the big screen. But it deserves a lot more credit for making Meilin’s situation feel so universal.
Top Gun: Maverick (in theaters)
I’ll just come out and admit it: I was skeptical. I was 16 when the original Top Gun hit theaters in the midst of the Reagan era, and while I submitted to every second of its flashy, need-for-speed appeal at the time, as I’ve grown older, its rah-rah red-meat jingoism and shiny military hardware fetishism has tarnished in my eyes. So the prospect of returning to Miramar with a 59-year-old Tom Cruise made me feel more than a little sad. For him. For me. For Hollywood. But it turns out that Top Gun: Maverick is exactly the sort of blockbuster that most of us are looking for during the dog days of summer. No small feat in a season where virtually every big-ticket tentpole has been a disappointment (yes, I’m looking at you Doctor Strange, Jurassic World Dominion, Lightyear, and Elvis). The news here isn’t that Cruise still has it (fans of the Mission: Impossible movies have known that for a while now), it’s that Top Gun as an idea still flies in 2022. Once you strip away the all of the red-white-and-blue hooey, the movie is a thrilling and poignant meditation on aging out of relevance for both Cruise and those of us who caught the film at the multiplex the first time around. I’m not saying that Top Gun: Maverick is deep exactly. But beneath its shoot-the-works dogfight daredevilry and its labored introduction of a handful of next-gen heroes lays more than anyone is conditioned to expect these days for the ten-dollar price of a ticket. It’s capital-E Entertainment.
If Hollywood were to produce a historical epic about the evils of 20th-century colonialism in India, chances are it would be slow, stately, and so slathered in Western guilt (however appropriately) that it would look something like, well, Gandhi. S.S. Rajamouli’s Telugu-language barrage on the senses, RRR, takes the opposite approach. It’s as slow and stately as a speedball. It makes Baz Luhrmann look like David Lean. I’ll confess that I came to this one late. It wasn’t until a couple of friends told me that I had to see it that I finally popped it on. And reader, the sheer energy and invention of the film blew my fucking socks off. Set in the 1920s, before India’s independence from Britain, this swing-for-the-fences import stars N.T. Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan as a pair of allies coming at injustice from different ends. Early on there’s a sequence where the two first join together to save a child from a burning river that involves the most insane cinematic stunts since Mad Max traveled down Fury Road. I don’t think I blinked for the next hour. This is a long sit of a movie (187 minutes) and the plot is fairly dense and thickety, but the wild, balls-out bravado of Rajamouli’s filmmaking is undeniable. If you’re not convinced that this one is for you, just give it 30 minutes. I promise, at that point, resistance will be futile.
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Buckle your seatbelt and get ready for the trippiest and most delirious film of the spring—and also one of the season’s most under-the-radar success stories. Directed by “the Daniels”—that would be Swiss Army Man’s Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert—Everything Everywhere All at Once picks up the gauntlet that was dropped a decade ago by Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry, those meta merry pranksters who snuck cerebral, hand-crafted surrealism into the Hollywood mainstream. It’s also the far better of the two “multiverse”-themed movies currently playing in theaters (sorry, goateed Benedict Cumberbatch). The always-wonderful Michelle Yeoh stars as a put-upon Chinese-American immigrant teetering on the edge of an existential crisis (she’s suffering through an IRS tax audit, attempting to throw a Chinese New Year party to impress her father, and dealing with family troubles on a number of fronts). Then the movie takes a daffy sci-fi detour as Yeoh’s Evelyn is warped into a series of alternate realities that offer her the hope and skills she needs to triumph over her hum-drum obstacles. The Daniels pulls this low-percentage, high-wire act off beautifully, dazzling you with their creativity and sheer audacity. In an age of been-there-seen-that movie formulas, Everything Everywhere All at Once is the rare movie that serves up something you’ve never seen before…and quite likely will never see again.
The Worst Person in the World
Granted, it was only February when I saw this, but director Joaquim Trier’s wonderfully humane Norwegian import and nominee for last year’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar is still, hands-down, the best film of 2022. I’ve blown hot and cold on some of Trier’s earlier films, but this one is an instant classic in large part due to Renate Reinsve’s luminous performance as Julie—an aimless Oslo woman on the cusp of 30 who’s trying to figure herself out in ways that are so funny, sad, and realistically messy that it feels like we’re spying on someone we’ve known for years. The title might give you the impression that Julie is trouble, leaving chaos and broken hearts in her wake. But the title actually isn’t about her. Plus, she’s far more complex than that implies anyway. Told in 12 chapters plus a prologue and an epilogue, The Worst Person in the World is anything but neat and orderly. Like life, it’s complicated, unpredictable, bittersweet and indecisive. It’s also brimming with so much empathy for Trier’s female lead that you can’t help but fall in love with her even when you know she’s making mistakes. After all, who are we to judge? Trier tracks Julie’s relationships with men, but it’s far more interested in getting inside of her
head and figuring out what makes her
tick, which is a rarity in Hollywood films. We’ll see if anything in the coming months can match Trier and Reinsve’s masterpiece, but they’ve set an incredibly high bar.
Chris Nashawaty is a writer, editor, critic, and author of books about Roger Corman & Caddyshack.
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