Our favourite films of 2022, from Triangle of Sadness to Everything Everywhere All at Once

From blockbusters to budget-conscious indies, these flicks are well worth a watch

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It's been another interesting year of movies.

While there's always debate over which year had the better films, or which film was the best overall, we've decided to go in a different direction. Here, we pick the flicks that we liked the most.

From surprise hit Everything Everywhere All at Once to the eagerly awaited Avatar sequel or even The Batman — a reboot of the classic movie, this time starring Robert Pattinson — there were plenty of good movies that hit cinema screens.

Here are our 11 favourite films of the year.

Brian and Charles

The film is set in beautiful rural north Wales, where our hero Brian is a somewhat lonely inventor but is well-liked by the rest of his community (except for one bully family). After creating a series of strange and mostly useless contraptions, Brian is inspired to build a robot upon discovering a mannequin’s head and sets to work using a washing machine as the torso.

Like a bizarre version of Frankenstein, Brian discovers his creation is alive during a thunderstorm. And this is when the joy really begins, as we get to know the robot Charles Petrescu — a name it has chosen for itself having read the dictionary overnight and learning to speak).

Filmed in the style of a mockumentary, it is a sweet tale of friendship. There are cliches along the way, but they’re easily overlooked by the innocent charm of the story. Highlights include Charles’s love of dance and his obsession with going to Honolulu.

Charlotte Mayhew, deputy photo editor

Darlings

What a year it's been for Alia Bhatt. With four consecutive hits in a year when Bollywood films were struggling at the box office, it's a clear indication of her unstoppable rise to superstardom. For me, it's the dark comedy Darlings, released by Netflix in August, that's classic Bhatt. In it, she plays an abused housewife, who, after suffering a personal tragedy brought on by the ill-treatment, decides to give her husband a taste of his own medicine with the help of her mother.

Bhatt is perfect as the vulnerable Badru, who will eventually find the strength to face her tormentor, while Shefali Shah, as Badru's mother and partner in crime Shamshu, is an absolute joy to watch. Darlings uses comedy to highlight a serious issue but never once makes light of its weighty subject matter. Watch it for that, and the brilliant performances all around.

David Tusing, assistant features editor

Everything Everywhere All at Once

It's not easy to explain the plot of Everything Everywhere All at Once because it simply would not get across how epic a film it is. Michelle Yeoh stars as Evelyn Wang, a Chinese-American immigrant who is being audited by the US Internal Revenue Service when she learns that a powerful being is set on destroying the multiverse and only she can stop it.

There's much more happening besides, but that's the simplest way to describe what it's about. However, it really does feel as though it is everything, everywhere ... at all once. I laughed, I cried and I've gone back and rewatched it again and again with the same mesmerising feeling of awe I had when I watched it for the first time.

Evelyn Lau, assistant features editor

All Quiet on the Western Front

This is the latest remake of the classic anti-war novel by Erich Maria Remarque, nearly 100 years old, and is perhaps the greatest war movie ever. Its battle scenes are quite stunning and put the audience right in the action, almost like a video game. Through the tragic Paul Baumer, we see how German youths were sucked into the romance of the First World War only to find its horrors inescapable. The performances of the cast including the wonderful Daniel Bruhl provide a freshness despite the glut of films about the conflict in recent years. The story also manages to deliver on the broader political and social problems that combined to make ending the war so difficult despite the obvious cost to all.

Mustafa Alrawi, assistant editor-in-chief

Fall

As far as scary movies go, ghosts, zombie apocalypses and teen slashers don't do anything for me. More often than not, the only thing frightening about the horror genre these days is the acting and scriptwriting.

For these reasons, Fall should’ve crashed to a “never-again” rating for me. However, I left the cinema recommending it to anyone who would listen. The plot follows two twenty-somethings who decide to climb all 600 metres of a rusting, out-of-service radio tower. Predictably, the ladder snaps and they become stranded — the film follows their attempts to be rescued.

Trust me when I say, it is edge-of-the-seat, heart-in-mouth visual trauma for a solid 90 minutes. Director Scott Mann’s vertigo-inducing thriller takes full advantage of the best things about the genre — turning the ridiculous into the brilliant (no spoilers, but you’ll see at the end) — and lets a great idea for a film do the rest. Yes, the script is weak. Yes, the characters are annoying. However, my weary heart was palpating quicker than a hummingbird’s and I sweated through my shirt, jacket and seat while watching through my fingers. And yes, I loved every minute.

Dean Wilkins, sub-editor

The Batman

This film divided opinion like no other this year. For me, however, The Batman is an instant classic. Robert Pattinson is both the best Batman and Bruce Wayne, completely convincing in his role as a fledgling crime fighter trying to understand what he is hoping to achieve in a bleak and gloomy Gotham City.

The supporting cast, including Zoe Kravitz (Catwoman), Paul Dano (The Riddler), Colin Farrell (The Penguin) and Jeffrey Wright (Jim Gordon), are also perfect. The plot involves real detective work and some interesting twists and turns, making for a more cerebral watch than anticipated.

Mustafa Alrawi, assistant editor-in-chief

Elizabeth: A Portrait in Part(s)

Anglophile or not, this documentary is an excellent portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II’s extraordinary reign that all can enjoy.

Cinema Akil in Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue ran a special series of screenings for it as the monarch marked her platinum jubilee in June. And, whether it was the art house’s kitsch seating pattern — akin to the front room of my Italian granny, a firm Anglophile — or the cheery stream of Brits chuckling along to the film’s spirited narrative, I felt like I was back among the rows of terraced houses in Oldham, proudly waving Union Jacks as we did for the queen's golden jubilee in 2002.

This film was artistic, fast-moving and insightful, with an occasional dose of British humour. For those exhausted by the lives of the royals being told ad nauseam via scandal in The Crown or Prince Harry and his wife Meghan versus the British press, it was a timely reminder of how one stoic woman cemented her place in all our hearts.

Dean Wilkins, sub-editor

Triangle of Sadness

Charlbi Dean and Harris Dickinson in Triangle of Sadness. Curzon

A poignant storytelling of privilege, the black comedy tells the tale of a cruise ship with wealthy passengers who get stuck on an island after their ship capsizes. Soon, the lowly Abigail (Dolly de Leon), a cleaner, begins to take charge as the only person with survival skills and her status rises as she adjusts to this new shift in power.

I'm biased to pick this film because of de Leon, a Filipina actress who is getting some buzz in the international awards circuit, including her recent nomination for a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe. The film will make you uncomfortable but it's also exactly the narrative the world needs right now.

One Carlo Diaz, lifestyle reporter

The House

Stop-motion animation anthology The House is an unsettling and creepy watch for the most part.

It tells three stories all within the same house, focusing on themes of pursuing happiness and wealth — with the latter two using the same animation style as Fantastic Mr Fox but without Wes Anderson’s quirky heartwarming style.

With the voice cast featuring Mia Goth, Helena Bonham Carter and Mark Heap, it was always going to have elements of the unusual. It's definitely one for animation buffs, but best avoided if you don’t like your films too macabre.

Charlotte Mayhew, deputy photo editor

Enola Holmes 2

Netflix adventure mystery Enola Holmes 2 is an entertaining story for the whole family.

Directed by Harry Bradbeer, the film follows Enola as she sets up her own detective agency but finds it difficult to land any clients. However, things change when a factory girl named Bessie asks Enola for help in locating her missing sister Sarah Chapman. While on the trail, Enola finds herself caught in a web of conspiracies, cover-ups and murder and seeks the help of old friends as well as her famous brother.

While the first film was based on the series by Nancy Springer, the sequel is based on the 1888 matchgirls' strike and the life of labour activist Chapman. With a star-studded cast including Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill and Helena Bonham Carter, the film’s Victorian setting, fast-paced plot and balance of humour and suspense make it one of Netflix’s most enjoyable of the year.

Maan Jalal, arts and culture reporter

Hustle

Hustle is Jerry Maguire for the 2020s. Adam Sandler plays Stanley Sugerman, an international scout for the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, who is forced to travel the world looking for the next, big phenomenon. He is the everyman we can all cheer for.

Meanwhile, Bo Cruz, played by real-life Spanish basketball player Juancho Hernangomez, is someone who both Sandler and the audience can totally give everything to for them to succeed.

The film also features a number of NBA players and coaches who portray themselves or other characters.

Mustafa Alrawi, assistant editor-in-chief

Avatar: The Way of Water

Thirteen years is too long but it was worth the wait for this epic sequel to Avatar. James Cameron is a total genius and even though this one has a runtime of more than three hours, I enjoyed every second.

Avatar fans are given a deeper look into Jake Sully’s life, years after he joined the Na’vi people. It’s no surprise that Jake’s children are just as adventurous and curious as him.

I also enjoyed how we learn more about Pandora, including the reef people and how they are so different from the forest people. And, of course, the graphics are awesome, which makes it worth watching in IMAX.

Sarwat Nasir, senior reporter

Tár

Cate Blanchett plays the title character in Tár. Photo: Focus Features

During the age of superhero films, Todd Field delivered Tár, a supervillain story set in the world of classical music. The title character Lydia Tár is played magnificently by the flawless Cate Blanchett.

Lydia is a powerful, world-class conductor who is reaching the peak of her career. But this is not a movie about her success, but rather her incredible and swift downfall.

The film's glory and success don't simply come from how gorgeous it looks, or even by how powerful the performances are, but also from the nuances of flying too high to the sun and the hard fall that follows.

Faisal Salah, social media journalist

Updated: December 28, 2022, 8:17 AM
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