All people’s eyes are on the film slate as 2022 embodies the first year since the pandemic lockdown which saw theatres back at full capacity. The year began with Scream in January and spring saw a litany of critical hits, such as the dark crime epic on The Batman, the spirited Young Adult comedy Turning Red from Pixar as well as two from A24: some retro horror with X – as well as Everything Everywhere All At Once – which would turn out to be A24’s major box office hit, outstripping Hereditary.
Without a doubt no story about the status of movies in 2022 is complete without a full mention of Top Gun: Maverick. With afterburners activated, the crowd-pleasing blockbuster put in place records across the board, including a very easy landing on the coveted billion-dollar movie hall of fame.
More headline-grabbing films include another great Adam Sandler dramatic turn in Netflix’s Hustle, the surprise Predator return-to-form prequel Prey, the latest from auteurs Jordan Peele and Robert Eggers (Nope and The Northman, respectively), and Jujutsu Kaisen 0, which sees anime continuing to make inroads with critics and at the box office.
No Pixar film had been solo directed by a woman filmmaker until Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Domee Shi came with this phenomenally cute creature feature film about a 13-year-old girl who morphs into a red panda when large emotions arrive. It’s based on her own childhood and comes freighted with the authentic growing pains of adolescence.
The Eternal Daughter
In The Eternal Daughter, Tilda Swinton takes on a dual role as an ageing mother and her daughter, who are both going back to a gothic mansion that holds many family memories. Half ghost story and half meditative drama, The Eternal Daughter is a very personal work for director Joanna Hogg. You truly feel the film’s depth in its devastating final moments. In addition, Swinton gives so much life to both of her characters that you genuinely often forgot she was playing both roles.
Ambulance follows the story of two brothers who steal an ambulance after a failed bank job and steer the Los Angeles Police Department on a high-speed chase all over the city, all with a number of accidental hostages in the back. The thieves – who should have rather claimed an online casino sign up bonus to win big – are played by Yahya Abdul Mateen II, who brings about sympathetic presence to the high-stakes chase, and Jake Gyllenhaal at his best. However it’s action director genius Michael Bay who is the real star of the show.
The Woman King
In The Woman King the images that Prince-Bythewood and her cast bring feel unquestionably radical however the narrative hits the enticing beats of Braveheart and Gladiator – wrapping together real-life history, anticipated factual superfluities, and just the right level of melodrama into the type of sword-swinging blockbuster that is rarely made today.
Viola Davis is daunting as General Nanisca, the plentiful energy of Lashana Lynch has her warrior Izogie who steals scenes, and almost newcomer Thuso Mbedu carries the narrative weight effortless as Nawi, the young girl finding her way into the Agojie ranks. The action is crunchy and powerful, the storytelling is engrossing, and the passion for telling it is unmistakable.