Give Me More: 2022 Releases in Review So Far

It’s been a good year for original releases. The last two years were, um, to be generous, lacking. Covid-19 surely played a role in this—many of this year’s films were originally meant to be 2020 or 2021 films but for various reasons were delayed in production or release until 2022. I’ve also had the flexibility, safety, and ability to see more films in theaters, which can only help positively skew some viewings. 

I’ve always wanted to do a list of my own, and this year—with several new bylines; more regular contribution to the Boston Hassle; finally getting a review published on a Rotten Tomatoes approved publication; finishing grad school; and most importantly, feeling more confident in how I think about and review movies—I now feel like a list of my own might contribute something to someone. With this in mind, I’ve tried to stick to the things I know best rather than simply replicating the same categories as most major award programs; though, this isn’t strict either.

And the frontrunners are…

Acting

Newcomer: Grace Kaufman in The Sky is Everywhere

Honorable Mentions: Shahid Kapoor in Jersey; Dakota Johnson & Vanessa Burghardt in Cha Cha Real Smooth; Adam Sandler & Juancho Hernangómez in Hustle ; Bobbi Kitten in Poser

Frontrunner: Uğur Polat in Anatolian Leopard 

From my Boston Hassle review: “Polat’s dangerously subtle performance calls for few words and fewer facial expressions. He might say a total of 20 lines in the 100 minutes of runtime. And any more would be too many. He seems familiar with the feelings of late-career reflection and evaluation that Fikret bears torment from. Polat’s performance alone is worth the price of admission.”

Production Design

Honorable Mentions: The Batman (dir. Matt Reeves; production design by James Chinlund) ; Fire Island (dir. Andrew Ahn; production design by Katie Hickman) ; The Gray Man (dir. The Russo Brothers, production design by Dennis Gassner)

Runner-Up: Nope (dir. Jordan Peele; production design by Ruth De Jong)

Frontrunner: Mad God (dir. Phil Tippett, also the production designer)

Best Streaming Service (Producer)

Runner-Up: Netflix Studios 

Frontrunner: Apple Studios

Visual Effects

Honorable Mentions: Beast (dir. Baltasar Kormákur) ; Everything Everywhere All at Once (dir. The Daniels) ; Moonfall (dir. Roland Emmerich) ; Top Gun: Maverick (dir. Joseph Kosinski)

Frontrunner: RRR (dir. S.S. Rajamouli)

“Like Ebert, Rajamouli thinks special effects have the ability to be, well, special. His entire use of digital “film”-making speaks to the dominance of the imagination in his visual vision. In an American box office dominated by the quippy Marvel-Esque, blue-beam-in-the-sky blockbuster that’s always a tad monochromatic and visually safe, his filmography eclipses the possible, and this is especially the case in his newest release, RRRRRR is special effects cinema at its finest.”

Read my full essay-form review at the Boston Hassle.

Surprise of the Year

Honorable Mentions: The Black Phone (dir. Scott Derrickson) ; Hustle (dir. Jeremiah Zagar); Thor: Love and Thunder (dir. Taika Waititi) ; Thirteen Lives (dir. Ron Howard) ; Prey (dir. Dan Trachtenberg)

Frontrunner for Not Being Complete Shit When It Should Have: Dog (dir. Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin)

Editing

Thanks for Swinging: Elvis (dir. Baz Luhrmann; editors Matt Villa and Jonathan Redmond)

Honorable Mentions: Top Gun: Maverick (dir. Joseph Kosinski; editor Eddie Hamilton) ; Prey (dir. Dan Trachtenberg; editors Claudia Castello Angela M. Catanzaro)

Frontrunner: Everything Everywhere All at Once (dir. The Daniels; editor Paul Rogers)

Best Writing

Honorable Mentions: Thirteen Lives (dir. Ron Howard; story by Don Macpherson; William Nicholson); Anatolian Leopard (dir. Emre Kayış)

Frontrunner: Everything Everywhere All at Once (dir. The Daniels; written by The Daniels)

Best Action

Honorable Mention: RRR (dir. S.S. Rajamouli) ; Top Gun: Maverick (dir. Joseph Kosinski) ; The Gray Man (dir. The Russo Brothers) ; and a movie I rather disliked, Carter (dir. Jeong Byeong-Gil)

Best of the Year of the Drone: Ambulance (dir. Michael Bay)

Frontrunner: Everything Everywhere All at Once (dir. The Daniels)

We Want More: The Most Unique Films of 2022

Honorable Mention: The Sky is Everywhere (dir. Josephine Decker) ; and, again, a movie I disliked but whose complete disregard for established cinematic language still deserves some credit, Carter (dir. Jeong Byeong-Gil)

Frontrunner: Mad God (dir. Phil Tippett)

  • Go read my editor’s interview with Tippett!

Cinematography

Honorable Mentions: Everything Everywhere All at Once (dir. The Daniels; DP Larkin Seiple) ; The Northman (dir. Robert Eggers; DP Jarin Blaschke)

Extra Honorable Mention: RRR (dir. S.S. Rajamouli; DP K.K. Senthil Kumar)

“Elsewhere, the ‘camera’ of K.K. Senthil Kumar moves in ways cameras can’t actually move—the movement is executed digitally. This is nothing revolutionary. Directors have been flirting with this technique for the past few decades or so. But it’s still an exception to the normativity of realism.”

From my review-essay for the Boston Hassle

Runner-Up: The Sky is Everywhere  (dir. Josephine Decker; DP Ava Berkofsky)

“Buddhist aesthetics, especially in its Western variations, have been widely associated with greenery, flowers, and natural life (as was St. Francis, who is referenced in the movie). The scenes of listening to music break the barrier of reality (somewhat related to dharma). In the most prominent scene, Lennie and Joe share a pair of earbuds to listen to Bach as they lay on dark green summer grass with unrealistically bright pink and blue flowers just out of focus in the background.”

From my review, available here.

Frontrunner: Top Gun: Maverick (dir. Joseph Kosinski; DP Claudio Miranda)

Best Blockbuster (over 100 million)

Runner-Up: The Gray Man (dir. The Russo Brothers)

  • From my review: “The Gray Man certainly feels like the studio’s first true blockbuster.”

Frontrunner: Top Gun: Maverick (dir. Joseph Kosinski; Editor Eddie Hamilton)

Best Micro-budget (under 5 million)

Runner-Up: Anatolian Leopard (dir. Emre Kayış)

“As a pandemic-era film, such reflection on political incompetence isn’t that great of a reach for any audience, Turkish or American alike.”

Frontrunner: The Sky is Everywhere (dir Josephine Decker)

“Her bold film grammar is innovative, in part, because Christian-Buddhism has never been taken seriously by a visual artist before.”

Best Picture

Honorable Mention: Everything Everywhere All at Once (dir. The Daniels) ; Top Gun: Maverick (dir. Joseph Kosinski); Anatolian Leopard (dir. Emre Kayış)

Runner-Up: RRR (dir. S.S. Rajamouli)

“Rajamouli has a singular eye for indefatigable, kinetic visuals.”

Frontrunner: The Sky is Everywhere (dir Josephine Decker)

From my review: “Decker isn’t just a major figure in the emergence of a new filmic-narrative grammar; there are few more complete stylists working in the English language.”

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