Best films of 2022
The Fopp Report
The votes are in, the numbers have been crunched and the films have been obsessed over. Here, in no particular order, is our comprehensive list of the best films of 2022. The physical booklet of our top albums & films of the year is available in store for free!
What did we get wrong? What did we miss? What is your favourite record from 2022? Let us know in the comments, or tweet us @foppofficial.
Drive My Car
Rightly chosen as our Film of the Year, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s sensational new piece of cinema has already won legions of fans acrossthe globe and walked away with an Oscar for Best International Feature Film earlier this year. Still reeling from his wife’s death two years prior, a theatre director gets a new job offer in Hiroshima and is assigned a new chauffeur in the form of Misaki, a young woman who through their daily routine and chats, helps him confront his wife’s passing and his regrets. A slow-burn that begs repeated viewings, Hamagughi’s engaging, engrossing film about connection, loss, and redemption, is a magical, soaring success that’s full of wonder, mystery and magic.
The cinema world always feels slightly poorer when Paul Verhoeven isn’t around making us gasp, wince and howl in ways only the Dutch filmmaker can, so it came as refreshing and exciting news that he had returned with another controversial and provocative film. Partly biographical, partly based on a book from 1986, the film tells of novice 17th century nun Benedetta Carlini (Virginie Efira) who joins a convent and begins a lustful affair with fellow nun Bartolomea (Daphné Patakia). Delivering all the bold, provoking filmmaking we know and love, Verhoeven again delivers, this time with a stirring, erotic film that questions faith, sexuality, freedom, and love.
Wowing audiences when it made its original bow at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, director Ninja Thyberg’s debut feature is a fearless, timely, and spectacular film that’s one of the year’s very best. Based in and around the all-encompassing world of the American porn industry, Pleasure follows Bella (an astonishing debut performance by Sofia Kappel) a teenage girl from Sweden who wants to follow her own “American dream” by becoming the next adult movie star. Upon arriving in Los Angeles, she quickly realises just how the insular world works and what it demands of its performers, something she wasn’t at all prepared for. Unflinching, uncompromising but wholly compelling, Thyberg’s refreshing look at male and female gazes and the power of pornography is a must-see.
Following her sensational films Girlhood and Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, French filmmaker Céline Sciamma once again showcases her unique and breathtaking abilities to tell truthful, meaningful and real stories from a female perspective with a story about childhood, friendship and motherhood. A young girl (Josephine Sanz) ventures into the woods one day and meets another girl (Gabrielle Sanz) and the two immediately become fast friends but are maybe connected in other ways they never thought possible. Sumptuous and engaging, touching and brilliantly funny, delicate and wonderful, Petite Maman is another staggering achievement for its revered filmmaker and feels like a fairytale you never want to end.
Haunting outing from Icelandic filmmaker Valdimar Jóhannsson and poet/screenwriter Sjón (who also co-wrote The Northman), Lamb became one of the most successful Icelandic films of all time in the US after its theatrical run. Steeped in folklore and horror, the film revolves around the mysterious birth of a human/sheep hybrid – whose body resembles that of a human with a lamb’s head and arm/leg. The couple (Noomi Rapace and Hilmir Snær Guðnason) that find it decide to raise it as their own. Described by critics as the most touching and beautiful nightmare you’ve ever had, Lamb has already gained cult status around the world for its risk-taking, and outlandish but ultimately redemptive story of family and parenthood.
Leos Carax has quickly become one of cinema’s most unique and unequivocally eccentric voices in the last decade, and his latest is another triumph in his weird and wild filmography. Teaming here with the quirky Sparks brothers Russell and Ron Mael, who conceived the story and provided the music. Annette is a flamboyant, strange, effervescent “rock opera” about the trials and tribulations of both celebrity and parenting worlds, following the love affair between a controversial stand-up comic (Adam Driver) and renowned opera singer (Marion Cotillard) and their firstborn child, Annette. It’s challenging, boundary-pushing cinema at its best with brilliant turns from Driver, Cotillard, and Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory).
After his stellar look at Jackie Kennedy’s life in Jackie, director Pablo Larrain delves into one of the most treasured lives of the past few decades with a part -fiction, part-fact look at a weekend in the life of Princess Diana. This might be a microcosm of her grand, tortured existence, but it pulls us in more than any other version we have yet seen, propelled by Kristen Stewart’s spellbinding central turn. Every nuance, mannerism, and voice inflection is extraordinary, not just embodying Diana but transcending her. A stunning, intoxicating vision.
The worst person in the world
With the third of Danish-born Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s self-proclaimed “Oslo Trilogy” the filmmaker brings us arguably his greatest accomplishment yet. Trier’s sumptuous, wonderful rom-com/coming-of-age dramedy is one of the best of the decade. Renate Reinsve stars as Julie, a medical student residing in Oslo who is struggling to navigate her career and her love life, both of which are topsy-turvy and impulsive, and all of which leads her to begin to understand her true self and the pathways she wants to follow. Brimming with sarcasm, warmth, emotion, and thoughtfulness thanks to Trier and co-writer Eskil Vogt’s piercing screenplay along with the former’s splendid, luscious direction, it’s easily one of 2022’s most unforgettable experiences, one that’s only amplified by Reinsve’s magnificent performance at its core.
Don’t worry darling
After her sensational debut with 2019’s Booksmart, director Olivia Wilde’s sophomore effort certainly had much anticipation upon its release and the resulting film is a puzzle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a riddle. Young couple Alice and Jack (Florence Pugh and Harry Styles) live in a picturesque, 1950s-fused town named Victory. Life seems perfect but soon some strange goings on lead Alice and the women in the town to begin questioning their surroundings and the mysterious work their husbands undertake under the watchful eye of big-boss Frank (Chris Pine). With echoes of The Stepford Wives and The Truman Show, Don’t Worry Darling is a psychologically rich and uniquely textured thriller.
Pedro Almodóvar is undoubtedly one of cinema’s most enigmatic and consistently brilliant filmmakers, who for the last four decades has enthralled us with his distinct, effervescent, and colourful films that examine all facets of life, the experiences we have and the people we have them with. His latest is no different and tells of two expectant mothers who meet at a maternity ward the day they are both due to give birth: Janis (Penélope Cruz), a middle-aged woman, and Ana (Milena Smit), an adolescent who is completely terrified of having her first child. Soon, the two mothers-to-be bond over their unique shared experience and become friends whose lives become intertwined in ways neither could have imagined in this poignant, stirring, and touching ode to both motherhood and friendship.
Often cited as one of literature’s most unfilmable novels, it seemed only a filmmaker of the brilliance and vision of Denis Villeneuve (director of Blade Runner 2049 and Sicario) would be brave/mad enough to try to accomplish it. Even David Lynch tried his luck back in 1984 and, for various reasons, made the case for leaving it well alone even stronger. Thankfully, with the help of modern CGI and his work on those aforementioned films, Villeneuve – along with Timothee Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya and a plethora of other talent – has succeeded incredibly, creating a vast, expansive sci-fi thriller about the war for the desert planet Arrakis and its valuable “spice”, also known as Dune, that has much to say about modern day conflicts as much as anything else. Buckle up: part two arrives in November next year.
The Green Knight
Bathed in beautiful surroundings and gorgeous cinematography, David Lowery’s exquisite film is one of the uncovered gems of the last few years. Adapted from the 14th century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the film follows King Arthur’s headstrong nephew Gawain (Dev Patel) as he heads off on a dark, daring quest to battle the mysterious Green Knight, who has already appeared in Camelot threatening its peace. Thrilling, thoughtful and completely intoxicating, this is a stunning film fuelled by Patel’s deft, powerful central turn that is perhaps the best thing he has done in his short career thus far.
If you don’t know the name Robert Eggers yet, you soon will. With just two films – 2016’s The Witch and 2019’s The Lighthouse – The American filmmaker has cemented himself as one of the finest and most gifted working today. His latest, and largest, effort yet is The Northman, a Nordic action/horror/drama that’s as brutal as it is wondrous. Hamlet is his basis, here, the tale of young prince Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) who seeks revenge after seeing his father (Ethan Hawke) slain and his mother (Nicole Kidman) kidnapped, decades later, now a strong, violent Viking he also hopes to free enslaved witch-come-sorceress Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy) who he has fallen for. Beguiling, magical, thunderous, and raw, Eggers’ third film is one of the year’s finest.
Guillermo del Toro
Somewhat cruelly lost in the vortex that was the pandemic and the plethora of films released this time last year, Guillermo del Toro’s ravishing, sumptuous 1940s set mystery is begging for discovery. Set in New York, we follow Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) as he hunts fortune and fame while working at a carnival where he discovers the power of mentalism, which he plans to use to trick his way into the elite, utilising the help of a well-respected psychologist (Cate Blanchett) who herself might not be all that she seems. Brimming with del Toro’s natural flair as well as its wondrous settings, this unnerving, fiendish noir about power, corruption, and class, is an absolute treat that features superb support from the ever-brilliant Rooney Mara, Toni Collette, Richard Jenkins, and Willem Dafoe.
“Another Batman film with the guy from Twilight?!” yelled many people when news broke that Robert Pattinson was taking over the mantle of the Caped Crusader in a brand-new adventure, but within minutes of Matt Reeves’ grimy, gritty, dirty take on the much-beloved character, all fears were allayed. Forgoing another origin story, Reeves’ Dark Knight is a year or two into his crusade to cleanse his beloved Gotham from the anarchy that ensconces it, when a sadistic serial killer known as The Riddler (a sublime Paul Dano) begins to pick off targets whilst Batman and Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) struggle to keep up with him. Throw in Zoe Kravitz’s sleek Catwoman and an unrecognisable Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot for good measure and you have a blistering, beautiful, unique take on the eight-decades-old crime fighter.
West Side Story
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: West Side Story is much, much better than its box office performance last Christmas. Like many others, it fell foul of post-pandemic saturation but trust us when we say this is as good as it gets. Some would say remaking a classic is a fool’s errand but Spielberg is a master of his craft and is clear with his vision here: to intertwine the original, the stage show, and his own style into one wholly fantastical event that’s as magical as it was back in 1961. Uniquely enchanting, charismatic, and vivacious that true Spielbergian, the legendary filmmaker makes the oldbecome new spectacularly, fuelled by star-making turns from Rachel Zegler, Mike Faist, and Oscar-winner Ariana DeBose, simply sensational as Anita.
Met with huge acclaim from its first screenings, Brett Morgen’s outstanding documentary about David Bowie is one of the greatest of modern times, and a must-see for music aficionados the world over. This isn’t your standard doc, however: part life story, part magical mystery tour, Moonage Daydream enjoyed the luxury of delving into Bowie’s archives – which Morgen alone was granted access – to utilise unseen performances, audio and television interviews, his artwork and musings on life to bring us a sprawling, lucid, all-encompassing kaleidoscope of the great man’s phenomenal life and experiences, all punctured by that wonderful back catalogue of engrossing, thoughtful music and lyrics.
Baz Luhrmann movies can always be relied upon to deliver kaleidoscopic, whirlwind style visuals, a perfect fit then to portray Elvis Presley. And he goes full throttle here from the opening scenes of Presley’s youth to his prime 1968 comeback special, every inch of the screen is bathed in Luhrmann’s signature direction. Enhanced by Austin Butler’s spectacular turn as the Memphis’ boy wonder, a gargantuan undertaking for anyone but thanks to his bravura and panache, he pulls it off beautifully. Let’s just say this: you won’t see anything else like Elvis this year.
Good Luck to you, leo grande
Is there anything Emma Thompson can’t do? Winning Oscars, Shakespeare, Harry Potter, starring alongside the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Will Ferrell, playing P.L. Travers, she’s done it all, but here she treks down unchartered waters in the best possible way. She plays Nancy Stokes, a widower who hires a sex worker (Daryl McCormack) in a quest to experience her first orgasm but what starts as a business transaction soon becomes much deeper and more profound than either was anticipating. Fuelled by two fearless lead performances, Katy Brand’s sharp, raw, honest screenplay tackles intimacy, relationships, and human dynamics, alongside Sophie Hyde’s beautiful direction, Leo Grande is a stunning, timely story that’s as beautiful as it is resonant.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
When he first burst onto the scene in the early 1980s, no-one could have foreseen the career and impact that Nicolas Cage would have on both the film industry as a whole and the acting community. As enigmatic as he is mysterious, he has taken on a plethora of outlandish, mesmeric, baffling roles that, in some strange way, lead to this moment: playing himself. Kind of. Merging real life, the movie world and the things in between, Kevin Gormican and Kevin Etten’s brilliantly manic, satirical comedy is one of a kind, with “Nic Cage” invited to attend the birthday party of uber-fan Javi (Pedro Pascal), who has offered him a lucrative deal while he struggles for work in Hollywood, unaware of the crazy backdrop he will soon be dropped into.
One of British cinema’s most wonderful purveyors, Terence Davies, returns with another exquisite film thatfollows acclaimed war poet Siegfried Sassoon’s life through the early 1900s. Played by both Jack Lowden and Peter Capaldi at different stages of his life, the film tells of Sassoon’s time as a soldier during the First World War, his life, loves, being surrounded by the high fliers of aristocracy, and how his pacifist stance during the war saw him committed to a psychiatric facility before his conversion to Catholicism. A profound, rousing, and beautiful drama with a sensational turn from Lowden, cementing his place among the contenders to be the potential new 007.
the Black Phone
After all the problems and setbacks cinemas have had post-pandemic, one constant has been that of the still-thriving horror genre that, if done well and surprises audiences, can really thrive. One such film to receive a warm reception was Scott Derrickson’s spooky, unexpected thriller that has a lot more going for it than other standard generic horror fare released this year. Yes, it has all the jumps and supernatural elements you could yearn for but this 1970s set film is also a coming-of-age tale as young siblings Finney (Mason Thames) and Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) try to outsmart a psychotic child abductor known as The Grabber (Ethan Hawke).
As feel-good as feel-good movies go, Kenneth Branagh’s critically-acclaimed drama went down equally well with audiences and major awards ceremonies, winning Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Set in Belfast circa 1969, the film is Branagh’s most personal and profound to date, telling his coming-of-age story (newcomer Jude Hill plays the “young Kenneth”) as growing animosity between Protestants and Catholics engulfs the city’s residential streets. The escalating tension forces the adults in his family (Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe, Judi Dench, and Ciaran Hinds) to wrestle with the turmoil the situation brings to their daily lives. At turns uplifting, topical, and whimsical, it’s easy to see why this one has found a special place in people’s hearts.
After his acclaimed collaborations with Danny Boyle on 28 Days Later and Sunshine, writer Alex Garland has found his own success as a filmmaker with Ex_Machina and Annihilation. Jessie Buckley (Beast, Women Talking) stars as Harper, a young woman still reeling from the apparent suicide of her husband. She decides to take a holiday by herself in the small village of Cotson. Once there, however, she notices all the men in residence look oddly similar and are all seemingly becoming obsessed with her until she realises that maybe something far more sinister has awoken in the local woodlands. A timely tale of toxic masculinity, control, and guilt, Garland has created another visually stirring thriller that has more to say than meets the eye.
In many people’s books – ours included – there isn’t anything Tilda Swinton can’t do. Throughout her illustrious career, she’s done big studio, independent, and strange avant-garde art films all of which have seen the British actor consistently shine. Simply put, there’s no-one like her. In Memoria, from acclaimed filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Cemetery of Splendour), Swinton plays a former Scottish expatriate travelling the vast, dense jungles of Colombia when she hears a tremendously loud noise that it seems only she has heard, after speaking to friends and experts about her experience she soon discovers something unexplainable happening around her. Lyrical, splendid, and intoxicating, Memoria is a true hidden treasure ripe for discovery.
Jordan Peele established himself as one of the premium purveyors of horror with the phenomenal debut Get Out back in 2017 for which he won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar. Many will know him from his comedy series alongside Keegan-Michael Key but Peele has grown since then and has been able to utilise the genre to explore stories about modern society, economical and social concerns, race, class and so much more and with Nope, he goes for the jugular. Exploring spectacle, Hollywood, monsters and aliens, it is Peele’s most ambitious but arguably greatest film yet, following OJ and Emerald (Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer as siblings) and their close encounters on their vast ranch in California after the shocking death of their father.
Last night in soho
Originally pitched as a “dark valentine” to London and Soho, Edgar Wright’s tense, visceral and scary ode to his life in one of the city’s most vibrant surroundings is still in keeping with the filmmaker’s wholly unique visions. Young wannabe fashion designer Ellie (Thomasin McKenzie) arrives from Cornwall to study only to find the bedsit she rents from the strange Ms. Collins (the late Diana Rigg) begins to plague her dreams transporting her back to 1960s London. She also encounters Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), an aspiring singer and their lives soon begin to blur as the echoes of the past send Ellie into a dark meltdown.
Horror maestro Ti West’s X plants us in the 1970s and the humid, sweaty Texas deserts, familiar surroundings to the peak of 70s horror circa The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. A group of adult film entertainers (Mia Goth, Jenny Ortega, Brittany Snow, Kid Cudi and more) pile into their own oven-like van on the way to what they hope is the first day of the rest of their lives but “home” for the next few days may not be all that it seems. A visceral, intriguing but ultimately frightening new horror which is both an ode to the past and another glimpse into the ever-so bright future of the genre.
Wrath of Man
Going slightly under the radar in early 2021 due to you-know-what, Guy Ritchie’s bruising thriller is one of the underrated gems of the last year and one that’s perfect for a Friday night-in over the festive period. Reuniting with Jason Statham for the fourth time, Wrath Of Man isloosely based on a 2004 French film and sees Statham play the mysterious, enigmatic “H” who has begun workingin the high-risk world of a money-moving company but hisskills are more than a match for anyone who seeks to robhim and his colleagues. Soon, however, his true intentionsbecome clear, it isn’t new employment he’s been chasing after all: it’s revenge. An action thriller in every sense of the word, the duo’s latest collaboration is as exciting as it is fast moving and features supporting turns from Holt McCallany (Mindhunter), Josh Hartnett (The Faculty), and Niamh Algar (Censor).
Paul Thomas Anderson
There’s always a buzz of excitement when Paul Thomas Anderson returns with his latest innovative cinematic effort and Licorice Pizza, perhaps his most personal film to date, can proudly take its place amongst his other transcendent endeavours. Set in California’s San Fernando Valley in the early 1970s, it follows the blossoming if wholly unique love story between photographer Alana Kane (Alana Haim) and actor Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman) as they navigate waterbeds, mayoral elections, an oil crisis, Hollywood auditions – including a very famous film producer, played in madcap mode by Bradley Cooper – and the art of pinball. Mixing themes of human connection, growing pains and young love, Anderson’s intoxicating film is as hilarious as it is profound, featuring two astounding, star-making central turns from its young leads.
Loosely based on a 1756 French fairy tale Belle is the latest epic masterpiece from animation studio Studio Chizu and was spectacularly received at last year’s Cannes Film Festival with an astonishing 14-minute standing ovation. It follows high-school student Suzu (Belle) who, upon entering a virtual reality world where anything is seemingly possible, becomes a pop star sensation but soon finds her life intertwined with a mysterious, shadowy beast who is trying to outrun numerous vigilante assailants. Mamoru Hosada’s sweeping romance and wondrous animation make repeated viewings a must.