Welcome to Episode #178 of The Swampflix Podcast. For this episode, Brandon, James, Britnee, and Hanna continue our discussion of the Top Films of 2022 with some honorable mentions, starting with the Jerrod Carmichael suicide comedy On the Count of Three.
1. Everything Everywhere All at Once — Maybe we’re living in the worst possible timeline, but maybe we’re just living in the one where Michel Gondry directed The Matrix. It’s nice here. The absurdism, creativity, and all-out maximalism of Everything Everywhere has made it the most talked-about movie of the year, and with good reason. Films about intergenerational trauma and poor parental relationships often come across as schmaltzy and reductive, but this one is complex in ways that you can’t predict or imagine. You’ll even find yourself empathizing with a googly-eyed rock.
2. Marcel the Shell With Shoes On — In the tradition of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, the Borrowers books, and the half-remembered TV show The Littles, Marcel the Shell shrinks itself down to the level of a tiny being to view the world from their perspective. Like the original stop-motion YouTube shorts, it’s a rapid-fire joke delivery system where every punchline is “So small!” It also has a big heart, though, acting as an emotional defibrillator to shock us back into the great wide world of familial & communal joy after a few years of intense isolation.
3. Mad God — Both a for-its-own sake immersion in scatological mayhem and an oddly touching reflection on the creative process, the indifference of time, and the cruelty of everything. Phil Tippet’s stop-motion descent into Hell is meticulously designed to either delight or irritate, so count us among the awed freaks who never wanted the nightmare to end.
4. RRR — An anti-colonialist epic about the power of friendship (and the power of bullets, and the power of wolves, and the power of grenades, and the power of dynamite, and the power of tigers, and the power of bears, oh my). A real skull-cracker of a good time.
5. Neptune Frost — A post-gender Afrofuturist musical that triangulates unlikely holy ground between Space is the Place, Black Orpheus, and Hackers. This movie is gorgeous, even if it takes more than one viewing to piece together a thorough understanding of its plot, since it phrases its protests against colonialism & strip-mining in the language of dreams & poetry.
6. Men — If it weren’t for the tabloidization of Don’t Worry Darling, this would easily be the most over-complained about movie of 2022. The Discourse was not kind to Alex Garland’s shift from chilly sci-fi to atmospheric folk horror, but the spectacular MPreg climax & Rory Kinnear’s terrifying face will haunt us forever anyway.
7. Triangle of Sadness— A delightfully cruel, unsettling comedy that invites you to laugh at the grotesquely rich as they slide around in their own piss, shit, and vomit on a swaying luxury cruise ship. It’s incredibly satisfying—and maybe even Östlund’s best—as long as you prefer catharsis & entertainment over subtlety & nuance.
8. Funny Pages — Proudly wears its 2000s indie nostalgia as a grimy badge of dishonor, questioning why Ghost World and The Safdies can’t share the same marquee. You might wonder where its alt-comics slackerdom fits in the modern world, but any dipshit suburbanite poser who’s ever romanticized suffering an “authentic” life as a starving artist in The City should be able to relate.
9. Nope— After examining the horror of suburbia and neoliberalism in Get Out (our #1 film of 2017) and the horror of self and manifest destiny in Us (our #7 film of 2019), Jordan Peele’s latest is an oddly laidback, immensely scaled sci-fi thriller about a brother & sister’s fight to understand, outsmart, document, and monetize an extraterrestrial being beyond our comprehension. Consider it a Signs of the times.
10. Hatching — A great entry in the Puberty as Monstrous Transformation canon, alongside titles like Ginger Snaps, Jennifer’s Body, Teeth, and Carrie. Hatching stands out in that crowd by adding an extra layer about mothers living through their daughters in unhealthy ways. In fact, we recommend all mothers and daughters watch this twisted Finnish fairy tale together; it’s gross-out fun for the whole family.
Read Alli’s list here. Read Boomer’s list here. Read Brandon’s list here. Read Britnee’s list here. See Hanna’s list here. Hear James’s list here.
1. Barbarian– This is the ultimate midnight movie of 2022, which is exactly what makes it the best movie of 2022. I tried my best to guess the next big plot twist over and over again, and I was wrong every single time. Nothing could have prepared me for what happens. It brought back the same feelings that I had when I first got into B-movies in my pre-teen years, but more importantly, it gave me faith that the art of trashy, ridiculous big-budget horror films is not dead. I rate this 5 full baby bottles.
2. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris – I adore charming, feel-good British movies, so it’s no surprise that Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is ranked so high on my personal list. I laughed, I cried, I cheered, and I even screamed from pure joy. Mrs. Harris has become my role model, and I strive to be more like her every day.
3. After Blue (Dirty Paradise) – Bertrand Mandico has a knack for creating some of the most beautiful atmospheres in modern film. More movies should be set in a sandy, post-apocalyptic paradise full of glitter, phallic plants, and hairy lesbians. I loved every second, even the 5,000+ times the characters said “Kate Bush”.
4. Hatching– All mothers and daughters need to watch this twisted Finnish fairy tale. Its story is engaging, its body horror is haunting, and the practical puppeteering of the main monster completely blew me away. Everything about it is wonderfully unsettling.
5. The Northman – Watching a bunch of tall, ripped Viking men commit brutal acts of violence for 2+ hours made me feel like such a pervert. Robert Eggers somehow managed to turn a Viking revenge film with a lot of heart and a couple of farts into a cinematic masterpiece.
6. Triangle of Sadness– Rich people getting flung around a luxury cruise ship while covered in their own shit, piss, and vomit for a solid 20 minutes was the most satisfying thing I’ve seen all year.
7. The Eternal Daughter – A wonderful Gothic ghost tale that I strangely connected with on a personal level. The film has a very small cast (half of it portrayed by Tilda Swinton) and takes place in a cozy, spooky English manor with not much going on, but it’s somehow riveting.
8. Mad God – This is a pure nightmare that explores the depths of Hell within Hell through the best stop-motion animation I’ve ever seen. It’s so disturbing and even made me physically ill from time to time. How metal is that?
9. Fresh – This starts off as a cute romcom but turns into something sinister while still maintaining its dark humor. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before, but I hope it starts a trend, because I really enjoyed it.
10. Resurrection– Rebecca Hall gives the best performance that I’ve seen all year in a gut-wrenching monologue that’s about 10 minutes long. It’s also the best MPreg movie of 2022.
11. Aline – This was such a goofy, heartfelt film that made me truly appreciate the legendary Celine Dion. I still don’t quite understand how or why it was made and got so much recognition, but I love that this weird little movie about a counterfeit “Celine Dion” made its way into my life.
12. Crimes of the Future – The king of body horror does it again. I honestly was a little bored with the plot, but I was so mesmerized by all of the grotesque spectacle that I didn’t care.
13. Men – Rory Kinnear’s face will forever terrify me. This maintains an eerie atmosphere from beginning to end (very A24) that kept me engaged and creeped out throughout. Also, it’s the second best MPreg film of 2022.
14. Nope– I’m not really a big fan of horror that crosses into the sci-fi realm, so I didn’t make watching Nope a priority. I’m ashamed I didn’t watch it sooner. This is such a badass movie that completely freaked me out in every way possible.
15. Deadstream– I was not expecting this found footage horror to be equally terrifying and hilarious. It’s a blast, with loads of fun jump scares and unexpected turns.
I have loved Marcel since my husband showed me the first stop-motion short on YouTube a decade ago. It sparked a love for Jenny Slate that makes me excited to watch anything she’s in. When this movie was first announced, I was squealing in excitement throughout my house, so I was pretty hyped up. Despite going in with extremely high expectations, I absolutely loved it.
Marcel is as charming as ever, rolling around in his tennis ball “rover” and showing off his “breadroom”. Isabella Rossellini is amazing as Grandma Connie, dispensing tough love and working in her little garden with her little bug friends. All the wonderful tiny details are just beautiful. And that’s part of what this movie is about: appreciating the small day-to-day details and the processes we use to get through life, not taking anything for granted, and keeping your head up through the tough times. It’s also a look at what family and community truly mean.
I’ve mentioned it on the podcast, but my grandma died this past year. We were far apart at the end of her life, but I was very close and lived with her off and on as a child. Watching Marcel’s relationship with Connie was really nice and beautiful. I cried so hard, but there’s so much hope and warmth to this movie that it doesn’t leave you sad. You keep your head up and appreciate what you’ve got, because the world can be a nice place.
There was no world in which I wouldn’t love this documentary.
#1. I am absolutely fascinated with volcanoes! (Brandon and I actually met in a geology class that spent a good amount of time on volcanoes! He borrowed my notes! Look at us now!)
#2. I love love, and this movie is absolutely a love story.
With captivating narration by Miranda July, this documentary tells the story of Katia and Maurice Krafft: two vulcanologists who fell in love, got married, and lived & died by the volcanoes they also loved. They filmed countless hours of footage of volcanoes and themselves studying them and not just in straightforward ways. The videos they made were purposeful, cinematic art. Their obsession with these destructive and creative forces is contagious, even as you learn that they lost their lives to it in to the eruption of Mount Unzen in 1991. They took risks, lived passionately, and loved each other, flaws and all.
Once again, I cried even knowing the ending was coming.
The absurdism, the creativity, and the all-out maximalism of this movie blows my mind. Who hasn’t pondered in recent years the multiverse and whether we’re living in “the worst timeline?” (To me, the answer is no, but we’re not living in the best one either.) Where are the best or weirdest versions of ourselves? Maybe these questions aren’t directly answered in this film, but they’re seriously considered.
Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan are both incredible. I also love Jamie Lee Curtis looking like a regular person! The choreography of the fight scenes is fantastic. Hot dog fingers! Googly eyes! EVERYTHING bagel! This movie has it all and a heart of gold.
A psychedelic, non-linear, romantic Afrofuturism musical that questions gender, colonialism, capitalism, technology, and the intersections thereof. This movie is a beautiful experience, and there’s nothing like it. Go in with an open mind and enjoy the ride.
I’m the #basiccinemabitch of Swampflix in that I pretty much love everything del Toro has ever done. I’m not fanatical enough to seek out something just because his name is on it, but everything I see with his name on it is something I at least appreciate. Despite that, I still went into this movie skeptical. There are Disney remakes and “live action” adaptations of Pinocchio coming out practically every hour, so did we really need another one? Well, when the moral of the story is to be yourself even if that means being an annoying agent of chaos, then yes, we did need another.
Yes, this is del Toro, so of course there’s fascism afoot. No, not all of the songs are good. Yes, it has the familiar del Toro motives and goth sensibilities. No, you will not appreciate it if you never liked his shtick or are over it.
The stop-motion animation is absolutely gorgeous. Every character design is just so good. The story, despite being familiar, is also wonderful. I love that this movie manages to capture how hyper and wild kids can be, and that it celebrates those qualities. Plus, there’s biblically accurate angels, mockery of the crucifix, and a song about poop sung directly to Mussolini. Who cares about being a real boy? Become ungovernable.
Hello, all; it’s that time of year again! As always, I must begin with my apologia and my explanations. First, as I’ve said before, I personally feel like any movie released during the last two weeks of December should technically be counted for the year following. I’m not a person who can be counted on to go and see something with a December 29th release date in time to compose my end of the year list (which I’m doing right now on only the second day of 2023); it’s an arbitrary rule, but it is mine. Some of you out there might think that I’m already laying the groundwork to includeHot Twink Spider-Man: Too Many Spider-Twinks on this list because of its December 27th, 2021 release date, but that leads me to my second introductory note for the year. Although this may surprise many long-term readers, there are no comic book movies on this list. To tell you the truth, the MCU ended for me a couple of years ago withEndgame. That movie served to conclude all of the things that I had come to care about within that franchise and put a nice little cap on it. I’ll still stick around for Spider-Men and occasionally check out one of the shows if it piques my interest (in this house we watch anything with Tatiana Maslany in it), but I can hardly work myself up to care about the big flicks anymore. I didn’t even see the new Thor, and the only MCU movie I did see was Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which was 95% because of Sam Raimi directing and 5% Patrick Stewart cameo, which leaves 0% in the tank for the ongoing Marvel long term plan. I did also see The Batman, which would have been a great crime thriller were it not for the fact that it’s a Batman movie, and also Morbius because I hate myself. Finally, although a year is a long time, it’s still not enough to see everything. Brandon’s list just went up and there were nearly a dozen movies on it that I had never even heard of, but the assignment is due and it’s time to turn in what I’ve got even if I didn’t finish all of the homework. For what it’s worth, based on synopsis and marketing material alone, I think the films most likely to appear on this list if only there were world enough and time were After Yang and Triangle of Sadness.
The House– The first two of the three segments that comprise this anthology are phenomenal, and either one of them could have ended up in the top three of this list if they were features. The third short, however, simply disrupted my viewing experience in a way that I’ve still not managed to get over. You see, the third short is too happy, or at the very least, too optimistic. The most important thing that a film can do is create an emotional rapport with you, and The House does this with the opening segment about a man whose obsession with a fine house draws him into a Faustian bargain that becomes a nightmare for his child, and that spirit of dread and discomfort plays out through the second segment, which is about a contractor who is unable to flip the house into which he has invested everything, and his inability to drive out parasites and pests. The third segment simply changes the feel of the movie in a way that moves it out of the top tier of consideration for me, as much as I like two initial vignettes.
Licorice Pizza– I loved this one, and it’s funny to me that I can’t technically put it on this list, since I saw it in theaters as late as March (a full two months after seeing 5cream at the drive-in). But it technically had its wide release in November of 2021, so I can’t even grandfather it in with my arbitrary two-week rule noted above. Everything about this movie felt like magic to me, like a story of a 1970s Pippi Longstocking who seems to be able to do just about anything he wants through the power of sheer gumption and never questioning himself, and the way that maturity looks differently on different people.
Hatching – Leaving this one here because although I really did love it, I fought with myself about whether number 12 below should count as a movie or only be considered for Honorable Mention status, and the truth is that the experience that made it onto the list below just deserves it more. But if it weren’t for that, Hatching would have made it to the number 15 spot.
Without further ado:
15. Bros – I can’t say much more about it than I already did; read my review here.
14. Do Revenge – Hitchcock by way of Heathers, a twisty bubblegum potboiler that’s more fun than it has any right to be. Read my review here.
13. Don’t Worry Darling – I’ve already done my apologia for why this one was better than anyone gave it credit for and was more than the sum of its inspirations, and I stand by them. Check it out here.
12. Everything is Terrible: Kidz Klub – Everything is Terrible is one of the few social media outlets that is run by people you can truly respect. They create new films out of hundreds of old VHS tapes, and you can hear more about one of their earlier ventures on the Lagniappe episode found here, in which we discussed their film The Great Satan. Kidz Klub likewise cribs largely from propaganda distributed in churches as well as secular material, with this film being about a child asking “Goddad” about life, the universe, and everything. I know EIT content is normally more digestible for the public in web-hosted chunks, but this one is well worth tracking down if you don’t get headaches from their material.
11. Neptune Frost – An Afrofuturist fable about colonialism, strip-mining, and the concept of a unified people in the form of a musical, this movie is gorgeous, even if it will probably take more than one viewing to begin parsing together a thorough understanding of what its plot is. The message is clearer than the narrative, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Listen to us discuss it on the Lagniappe episode here.
10. 5creamaka Scream aka Scream 5 – The latest feature in my personal favorite horror series, this one suffers from too little Sidney Prescott, but it’s still worth watching. Read my review here.
9. Barbarian – Identified by Alli as the Castle Freak of AirBnBs, Barbarian is about men and their barbarity, and all of the ways both subtle and obvious they walk through the world. A harrowing movie about the anxieties of existing as a person who is historically disenfranchised within a world controlled by others which also contains a scene in which Justin Long struggles hilariously with a tape measure. Read my review here.
8. Prey – The colonial era Predator prequel that everyone’s dad probably thought was really cool until they went to their favorite YouTube channel that’s focused around The Discourse and learned that they were supposed to hate it because the main character is a Mary Sue and this new film is woke SJW bullshit. You know, unlike the first film in this series, which they somehow believe was an apolitical move about Vietnam. Listen to us discuss this one on the Lagniappe episode here.
7. Glass Onion – A worthy sequel to Knives Out. It’s absurd to call a film so tightly constructed “sloppy,” but there is something that’s a little less sharp and fine-tuned about this one than its predecessor, but some of the new zaniness therein helps balance this one out. Read my review here.
6. Fire Island – It is a truth universally acknowledged that most romcoms derive the core basics of their plots from Jane Austen novels, even though they rarely wear their inspiration on their sleeve so openly and honestly as Fire Island does. Joel Kim Booster is our Elizabeth Bennett, who initially has friction with the seemingly humorous but ultimately passionate Will, who stands in for Mr. Darcy. It could just be recency bias that’s making me rank this one so high, but I watched the whole thing with rapt attention and a big smile on my face, and sometimes, that’s really all you need. Read my review here.
5. Men – Possibly a spicy take here, but I loved Men when I saw it and even though I know that there was discourse, it passed me by completely and I still love this as much as I did when I first saw it. You can read Brandon’s review here.
4. Three Thousand Years of Longing – An absolute delight of a movie. A stodgy academic meets a handsome djinn and, determined to use her wish wisely, listens to the stories of the djinn’s life and the loves he has has lost along the way. A love story that crosses time and distance in a truly magnificent and magical way. You can read Brandon’s review here.
3. Nope – Another absolute home run for modern horror maestro Jordan Peele. After examining the horror of suburbia and neoliberalism in Get Out and the horror of the self and manifest destiny in Us, Nope is about a brother and sister whose experiences with extra terrestrial life require them to stop trying to outsmart the entity which has taken up residence near their ranch, but to realize that it’s impossible to reason with an intelligence so alien. Read my review here.
2. Everything Everywhere All At Once – This has easily been the most talked-about movie of the year, so what more do you need to hear from me about it? I love Michelle Yeoh, and although she’s no stranger to the complex role, it was nice to get to see her play a character who considered themselves to be a good person but whose actions are often selfish at best. So often, a film that is about intergenerational trauma and poor parental relationships comes across as schmaltzy and reductive, but this one is complex in ways that you can’t predict or imagine. You’ll find yourself empathizing with a rock more than you ever have before. You can read Brandon’s review here.
1. Marcel the Shellwith Shoes On– I fell in love with Marcel the moment I saw a trailer for this movie. I love anything that gets down to the eye level of a little being and sees the world from their perspective. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, the Borrowers books, the half-remembered TV show The Littles, and even Ant-Man: it’s an immediate win for me. Marcel has more than that alone going for it, though, with an earnest depiction of a relationship between a child and his grandmother that found me where I live and pressed on my emotion button. I laughed and then I cried and then I laughed some more. Long live Marcel the Shell with Shoes on.
1. Neptune Frost – A post-gender Afrofuturist musical that triangulates unlikely holy ground betweenBlack Orpheus,Bacurau, and Hackers. At its best, cinema is honest artifice. At its best, cinema is openly provocative & political; it’s a shared dream; it’s poetry. This is cinema at its best.
2. Inu-Oh – An anime fable about the glories & follies of rock n’ roll fame, illustrating how it can only elevate the marginalized so high before fascists at the top take notice and shut them down. Personally, it’s the best genderfucked feudal Japan glam rock opera I’ve ever seen, but I can’t speak for everyone.
3. Mad God – Both a for-its-own-sake immersion in scatological mayhem & an oddly touching reflection on the creative process, the indifference of time, and the cruelty of everything. It’s meticulously designed to either delight or irritate, so count me among the awed freaks who never wanted this stop-motion nightmare to end.
5. RRR – An anti-colonialist action epic about the power of friendship (and the power of bullets, and the power of wolves, and the power of grenades, and the power of tigers, and the power of dynamite, and the power of bears, oh my). A real skull-cracker of a good time.
6. Jackass Forever – Rewatching the first Jackass movie recently had me thinking about the series as a Reality TV update to Pink Flamingos, but I don’t know that Pink Flamingos ever reached this wide or otherwise unadventurous of an audience. I also don’t know that I’ve ever found a John Waters film to be this heartfelt & sentimental. For all of the Jackass series’ boneheaded commitment to gross-out gags, it’s also now a beautiful decades-long story about friendship (a friendship that just happens to be illustrated with feces & genital mutilation).
7. Deadstream– A found footage horror comedy about an obnoxious social media influencer getting his cosmic comeuppance while livestreaming his overnight tour of a haunted house. It’s a constantly surprising delight, getting huge laughs out of supernaturally torturing a YouTuber smartass with a sub-Ryan Reynolds sense of humor. It effectively does for The Blair Witch Project what Host did for Unfriended, borrowing its basic outline to stage a chaotic assemblage of over-the-top, technically impressive scare gags.
8. Please Baby Please – Ponders the question “What is a man, anyway?” through lofty academic discussions of how masculinity is socially engineered and through kinky 1950s kitsch. Andrea Riseborough gives THE performance of the year, approximating what it would be like if an especially rabid Jerri Blank had a Marlon Brando drag-king impersonation act. Queer menace, artifice, and excellence on a community theatre budget.
9. After Blue (Dirty Paradise)– A sci-fi acid Western that languidly fills the frame with the most mesmerizing, glitter-slathered nightmare imagery I saw all year. Its lesbian orgy planet that cowers in fear of a demonic, almighty Kate Bush reads like someone fed “James Bidgood’s Dune movie” into one of those AI art generators, and the results are intoxicating.
10. Strawberry Mansion – Look, I grew up in a time when Michel Gondry was a golden god to artsy teens everywhere and not a aughts-era fad everyone seems embarrassed to admit they were super into. So, of course I’m happy to see his arts & crafts aesthetic is back in vogue and prominently represented in this twee fantasy epic about dream-hopping lovers dodging pop-up ads in a near-future dystopia. Maybe I should be rolling my eyes at its analog whimsy but I’m happy to swoon instead.
11. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On – Expected to enjoy this no matter what, since I’m in the exact Millennial target demographic that would be nostalgic for the titular stop-motion cutie’s original YouTube clips. Even so, I was super impressed by it, both as a rapidfire joke delivery system (where every punchline is “so small!”) and as an emotional defibrillator, shocking me back into the great wide world of communal joy after a few years of intense isolation.
12. Funny Pages – Proudly wears its 2000s indie nostalgia as a grimy badge of dishonor, questioning why Ghost World and The Safdies can’t share the same marquee. You might want to question where its alt-comics slackerdom fits in the modern world, but you also can’t deny that it’s nice to see Real People on the screen again. I say that with full sincerity and full awareness that it makes me sound like the exact kind of dipshit suburbanite poser the movie is brutally satirizing.
13. Flux Gourmet – Cronenberg wasn’t the only fetishist director who reconfigured his early works into a new fantasy world overrun by grotesque performance art last year. Crimes of the Future found an unlikely sister film in Peter Strickland’s latest, which brings the vague outline of Berberian Sound Studio up to speed with the more free-flowing absurdism the pervert auteur has achieved in the years since. The result is not quite as silly as In Fabric nor as sensual as The Duke of Burgundy, but it hits a nice sweet spot in-between.
14. Lux Æterna – In which Gaspar Noé deploys the same disorienting split screen technique he plays with in the much more subdued Vortex to actively attempt to melt his audience’s minds. The most authentically “psychotronic” movie I’ve seen in a while, one that balances out its seething hatred of backstage film set squabbling with a love for witchcraft, strobe lights, leather jackets, and wearing sunglasses indoors. A truly stunning experience; consult your doctor before subjecting your brain.
15. Belle– Pretends to be a sci-fi anime update of Beauty and the Beast, but it’s more a virtual reality teen fantasy drama about the merits & limitations of seeking community online. Weird coincidence that both this & Inu-oh happen to feature whale-themed light shows in their stadium concert fantasy sequences, as if they’re both anime illustrations of The Decemberists performing “The Mariner’s Revenge Song”.
16. We Met in Virtual Reality – Billed as “the first feature-length documentary filmed entirely in VR,” this is basically Belle except for “real” and without all those pesky trips back to the physical world. Most remarkable as a bizarre descent into the niche nerd-culture subdungeons that the internet was built for but rarely makes room for anymore. Happy to see that documented before the Metaverse turns it all into a digital Target.
17. EO– Jerzy Skolimowski’s noble donkey tale only occasionally plays like a colorized TV edit of Au Hasard Balthasar. More often, it takes wild detours into an energetic, dreamlike approximation of what it might look like if Gaspar Noé directed Homeward Bound. It’s incredible that a film this vibrant & playful was made by a long-respected octogenarian, not a fresh-outta-film-school prankster with something to prove.
18. You Won’t Be Alone – A post-VVitch coming-of-age folktale about shapeshifting, bodyhopping witchcraft. If it’s to be dealt with as a horror film, it’s Imposter Syndrome Horror (or maybe just a nightmare scenario where Freddy Krueger is your adoptive mother). Mostly, though, it’s a supernatural drama about all the various ways life can be miserable unless you luck into a well-nurtured youth.
19. Hatching – A great entry in the Puberty as Monstrous Transformation canon, along with titles like Ginger Snaps, Jennifer’s Body, Teeth, and Carrie. Stands out in that crowd by adding an extra layer about mothers living vicariously through their daughters in unhealthy ways. Also achieves a lot on what appears to be a limited budget, leaning into its cheapness to create the kind of plastic world you’d expect to find in a music box.
20. Men– There’s been a lot of pushback against the idea that A24 has a house style, but I’m pretty sure I would’ve guessed the studio that produced this before I would’ve guessed the director. Alex Garland is usually reliable for chilly sci-fi, not atmospheric folk horror with a blatant 1:1 metaphor driving all of its grotesque imagery. Kind of a useless distinction, though, since I’m a fan of both. If it weren’t for the tabloidification of Don’t Worry Darling, this would easily be the most over-complained about movie of 2022.
Swampflix’s official coverage of the best films of 2022 won’t start until January 2023, but listmaking season is already in full swing elsewhere. General consensus on the best films of the year is starting to take shape as regional film critic associations are publishing their collective Best of the Year lists, and I’m proud to say I was able to take a small part in that ritual this year. I voted in the Southeastern Film Critics Association poll for the best films of 2022, representing a consensus opinion among 84 critics across nine states in the American South. Winners were announced this morning, and it’s a pretty great list! At the very least, it’s incredibly cool to see the skull-cracking action flick RRR rank so highly among the winners (including a win for Best Foreign Language Film) and to see something as bizarre as Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic recognized as “the film that best evokes the spirit of the South” (SEFCA’s Gene Wyatt Award). At Swampflix, we’re always pushing for vibrant, over-the-top genre filmmaking to be recognized alongside more typically prestigious Awards Season fare, and this year’s SEFCA winners include a healthy balance of both.
Speaking of which, the biggest story of this year’s list is the total dominance of the Daniels’ big-hearted sci-fi comedy Everything Everywhere All at Once. Not only was it honored as our #1 film of the year, but it also pretty much swept all major categories, including awards for Best Actress (Michelle Yeoh), Best Supporting Actor (Ke Huy Quan), Best Director(s) (Daniels), and Best Original Screenplay (Daniels). Online discussion of Everything Everywhere‘s faults & merits has gotten shockingly hyperbolic since it hit theaters way back in March, but it’s undeniably cool that a movie that playful & adventurous is earning so much genuine grassroots praise as a serious contender for Movie of the Year. To quote SEFCA President Matt Goldberg in today’s press release, “As film critics, one of the best things we can do is celebrate films that push the boundaries of narrative and genre. We hope that our voice can pull in viewers who may not normally check out a film where two women with hot dog fingers figure out their relationship. As strange as the film can be, its core message of embracing the richness of our relationships in the face of nihilistic apathy will endure far beyond this year’s award season.” Right on.