Two Years in Films: Best of 2021 & 2022
Close (c) A24
2022 was the first full year of film reviews for this website, as I try to watch as wide a swath films as I can: from big budget studio films as well as small indies, some of which are celebrated at various film festivals before quietly debuting on streaming and hoping not to get lost in the avalanche of online media.
Like last year, I will only list my favorite twenty films of 2022, in alphabetical order and not actually list them in order of my top ten favorites until the end of 2023, after a year of reflection and catching up on films I may have missed. In fact, at the time of this article, I have not seen “Avatar: The Way of Water” or “Triangle of Sadness” yet.
And as a result, my final Top Ten of films of 2021 is below. I am also pointing out some performances that haven’t gotten the recognition they deserve from award groups so far.
So, enjoy my wrap up of 2022 and I hope you have a safe and cinematically rich 2023.
Fire Island (c) Hulu
TIB’s Top 20 Favorite Movies of 2022
* As of Dec 31, 2022, possible candidates for No. 1
After Yang – Kogonada*
The Banshees of Inisherin – Martin McDonagh
Benediction – Terence Davies*
Catherine Called Birdy – Lena Dunham
Causeway – Lila Neugebauer
Cha Cha Real Smooth – Cooper Raiff
Close – Lukas Dhont
Decision to Leave – Park Chan-wook*
Everything Everywhere All at Once - Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert*
The Fabelmans – Steven Spielberg
Fire Island – Andrew Ahn
Great Freedom – Sebastian Meise
Living - Oliver Hermanus
A Man Called Otto – Marc Foster
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On – Dean Fleischer-Camp
No Bears – Jafar Panahi
She Said – Maria Schrader
White Noise – Noah Baumbach
The Woman King - Gina Prince-Bythewood
Women Talking – Sarah Polley
Final rankings announced at the end of 2023.
11 Best Performances of 2022
(that have not gotten much film award recognition)
After Yang (c) A24
After Yang – Justin H. MinThe heart and soul of “After Yang” is the titled techno-sapien play by Min. Quite a feat for playing a character who is technically turned off for most of the film.
Empire of Light (c) Searchlight Films
Empire of Light – Toby JonesAs much as I love Olivia Coleman and her bold performance as an even more grouchy character than Tom Hanks’ “Otto,” I do wish writer-director Sam Mendes had focused more on Jones’ projectionist whose equally sad life is balanced by his love of film. Jones has rarely been so subtle and introverted and yet make such a great impression.
EO (c) Janus Films
EO – Isabelle HuppertHuppert, who also made the most of her supporting performance as the snooty Christian Dior character in “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,” had a memorable cameo in the donkey drama “EO” as the eccentric mother at the end of the film.
God's Country (c) IFC Films
God’s Country – Thandiwe NewtonNewton spends a lot of the time alone as the lead to Julian Higgins’ psychological drama as a single black woman in a rural Montana community dominated by white men, including two who continually trespass her property. Newton is able to covey sympathy, anger and righteousness all in her face and body language as she’s alone in her house, running with her dog or chopping wood, which is quite impressive.
The Good House (c) Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions
The Good House – Sigourney WeaverFor a movie that felt so ordinary in its topic of an alcoholic career woman who doesn’t think she has a problem, it is made more humane, more surprising and infinitely more interesting in the person of Weaver, who successfully “Fleabags” her way throughout.
A Man Called Otto (c) Sony Pictures
A Man Called Otto – Manuel Garcia-RulfoWhile Tom Hanks and especially Mariana Treviño really sell the story of an unlikely friendship between a newly moved-in family into the neighborhood of a grouchy curmudgeon, I was also impressed by the subtle and gently generous performance of Garcia-Rulfo as the patriarch of the new family.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (c) A24
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On – Isabella RosselliniNana Connie is a Super-shell-star! That’s all.
The Menu (c) Searchlight Pictures
The Menu – Hong ChauWhile Chau is getting well-deserved mentions for her performance in “The Whale,” she was also a menacing (and severely funny) presence in “The Menu” as Ralph Fiennes’ second-in-command of his restaurant empire.
The Pale Blue Eye (c) Netflix
The Pale Blue Eye – Henry MellingToby Jones is also very good in “The Pale Blue Eye,” but it’s really Melling who steals the movie. At the start, Melling seems strange and stilted as he was in “The Ballad of Buster Skruggs,” but he actually turns out to be the emotional center of the film as, of all people, Edgar Allen Poe. Quite the feat.
She Said (c) Universal Pictures
She Said – Samantha MortonAnger is the right reaction to the whole Harvey Weinstein sexual assault investigation, but then there’s Morton’s performance as Zelda Perkins which ramps it up to the stratosphere in her one scene.
Women Talking (c) United Artists Releasing
Women Talking – Judith IveyThis veteran stage actress has done small roles in film, but her maternal and no-nonsense Agata stood out, which is hard to do with this extraordinary ensemble for Sarah Polley’s film.
The French Dispatch (c) Searchlight Pictures
And finally, after a year of catching up on movies I missed and re-evaluating the ones I did see, here is the final list of my favorite 2021 films.
TIB’s Top Ten Films of 2021
10. The Card Counter – Paul Schrader
9. The Map of Tiny Perfect Things - Ian Samuels
8. Drive My Car – Ryusuke Hamaguchi
7. Dune – Denis Villeneuve
6. Days – Tsai Ming-liang
5. The Power of the Dog – Jane Campion
4. Memoria - Apichatpong Weerasethakul
3. Luca – Enrico Casarosa
2. tick, tick…Boom! – Lin-Manuel Miranda
1. The French Dispatch – Wes Anderson
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