This short essay is part of a series called ‘Writing on Writing.’ This series takes a few different forms, and in this post, I’m featuring some of the art that fuels my creativity. Want to see content like this more often? Consider supporting me on Patreon.
Following up from the ‘best books‘ post, here are my favorite ‘movies’ that were released in 2022. The quotes are because I’ve tossed a mini-series in here, but if it counts on Letterboxd, it counts for me!
TÁR dir. by Todd Field
Cate Blanchett gives a truly transcendent performance in this film as symphony conductor and composer Lydia Tár. This is a film that requires multiple viewing because of the incredible amount of detail in every scene. I’ve seen it twice now, and with each viewing, I discover something new in the story of a problematic woman slowly losing her status. The ending is equal parts hilarious and deeply sad.
The Fabelmans dir. by Steven Spielberg
This movie managed to please me, Oscar, and both of my parents, which is a pretty impressive feat. Spielberg’s autofiction (autofilm?) is captivating. My only complaint at the end was that the film wasn’t longer. It’s about family, and growing up, and how movies are really, really amazing. If you can, go see it in a movie theater. It’s really worth it to see it on a big screen.
RRR dir. by S. S. Rajamouli
I’ll be honest, I’m not super sure that the politics of this film are something I’d normally buy in to. But, I have no context for this film and trying to look it up has been unhelpful, so we’ll just take the film at its face. With that out of the way–this is such a fun film! I don’t have a lot of experience with Bollywood films, but I’m always excited about a musical, and this thing has some excellent songs. It’s a story about two men trying to resist British colonization, and while it’s very long, there’s literally an intermission. So, if you’re in the mood for a film that’s equal parts fun and equal parts serious, this is the film for you!
Broker dir. by Hirokazu Kore-eda
I saw this in a test screening, so I technically didn’t see the final cut. That being said, this is a really gorgeous movie. It follows an odd collection of people trying to facilitate an illegal adoption and the law enforcement following them. It stars one of my absolute favorite Korean actresses, Bae Doona. The film takes a very non-moral stance, instead presenting all sides of an issue that elicits a lot of strong feelings and has no real right answer, I think. I’ll be honest, if you’re not in New York in LA, I’m not sure how you’d ever see this in a theater. But with any luck, it’ll show up on streaming somewhere, and when it does, I hope everyone watches it.
Everything Everywhere All at Once dir. by Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan
What a weird, incredibly feel good movie! Michelle Yeoh is always incredible, and Ke Huy Quan is a joy to watch. If you were to ask me exactly what the movie is about, I’d say it’s about a family trying to relate to each other, which is something I think we all have experience with. By the end, I was crying in the best possible way. Keep in mind, though, it’s weird. Like, super weird. But if you roll with it, you’ll have a blast watching this one.
Elvis dir. by Baz Luhrman
What a movie! I think it’s perhaps a smidge too long, because there’s definitely a part where it starts to drag, but I just couldn’t resist giving it 5 stars. Austin Butler’s performance is over-the-top amazing. I’ve seen it twice, and on the second viewing, there was so many little details that I picked up on. It’s sad, of course, because Elvis had a sad life towards the end, but Luhrman really outdid himself with the stylization and with the music. The updates and he twists he puts on Elvis’s music are really something.
Women Talking dir. by Sarah Polley
I am absolutely fascinated by cults, and this took a really unique take on ‘cult exploration’ media. As far as ‘based on a true story’ goes, this one definitely leans towards the more fictional side. The horrific treatment of women is all true, but everything else has been created for the film. It feels a little like a play in that it focuses on the woman of the ‘colony’ discussing how they want to respond to the revelation that they weren’t being attacked in the middle of the night by demons but by the men they live with. It takes place mostly in the hay loft of a barn, but manages to be riveting until the end. Claire Foy and Rooney Mara give stellar performances, but the real stand-outs for me were Ben Whishaw and Michelle McLeod.
Three Thousand Years of Longing dir. by George Miller
Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba. If that doesn’t sell you on a movie, I don’t know what will! The film follows a woman who accidentally stumbles on a djinn who proceeds to share his life story with her. It’s a movie about stories and telling stories, and I think that’s what makes it so beautiful. I only got to see it in theaters once because it wasn’t well received, and I’m ready for it to be streaming because it’s a film that demands multiple viewings. It’s complex and strange, but also really beautiful. I doubt it will ever be a film that gets a lot of attention, but it certainly deserves it.
Moon Knight dir. by Mohamed Diab
Now for a mini series, which I hope will have a season 2 announced and get itself off my movies list. This is easily my favorite thing that Marvel (and possible Disney in its entirety) have ever done. Oscar Isaac gives an amazing performance, and Ethan Hawke really shines as a lawful evil type villain. I think Marvel films are really suffering under the weight of what they used to be, and Moon Knight seems to exist outside of that. If superheroes are at all your thing, I highly recommend this.
Werewolf by Night dir. by Michael Giacchino
Another Marvel thing! This one is basically a short film, and I think it has such a fun vibe. The story is tight, and the aesthetics really pop. I’m also generally excited to see Gael García Bernal inn anything. Harriet Sansom Harris also pops as the matriarch of a monster hunting family. In a time when Marvel films are starting to struggle, Disney+ is consistently delivering some really excellent work (with the exception of She-Hulk, maybe). This work originally came out for Halloween, and I would agree that the best viewing involves a dark, stormy night.
Love and gratitude, friends.