THE BEST OF 2022

OUR TOP FIVE FILMS OF THE YEAR

YEAR IN REVIEW
By Charlie David Page
26th December 2019

It has> been a big year for film lovers. With perhaps the first normal year in cinemas since the pandemic first gripped us, we've been treated to some spectacular and unusual outings - and so, the members of SWITCH have compiled their top five films - with plenty of diverse choices from the year.

The only rules: it can only be five films, and it has to have been released in Australian cinemas in 2022. Take a look for yourself and let us know what you think!

JUMP TO...
Jess Daniel Chris Ashley Jake Connor

Daniel
DANIEL LAMMIN
5
'THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN'
One thing that links these five films is their humanity, and this was something I wasn’t expecting from Martin McDonagh. Even at his best, he wields storytelling with bluntness and cruelty, but there is something so spritely and delicate about this shockingly gorgeous film. Each character (and subsequently, each performance) is perfectly constructed, and the narrative gives each the space to breathe, develop and enthral. I could have sat within its warm, wicked cosiness all day.
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4
'FLEE'
Of the four films on this list, 'Flee' was the most overwhelming. With each passing minute, I felt my heart gripped in a vice, my face stinging with tears, the tension building in my body. It connected it two worlds with such grace, and the collision of documentary and artificiality only amplified its impact. The animation is extraordinary in its rough, impressionistic simplicity, a means to marry the external and the internal world of this man’s experiences, but it is the emotional catharsis that it offers that really broke me. A beautiful, miraculous film.
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3
'SPENCER'
My expectations for this film were absurdly high, not just off the back of what a masterpiece 'Jackie' was but in how intriguing the premise was for Pablo Larraín’s latest examination of an iconic cultural female figure. 'Spencer' didn’t so much surpass those expectations as completely side-swipe me with the unexpected. Rather than a portrait of an icon in the process of its self-construction, we see an icon rebelling against its own status as an icon, trapped inside a haunted labyrinth of tradition, expectation and inhumanity. It is melodrama at its highest, but with an understanding of what melodrama is capable of, ripping away the bandage to reveal the infection underneath.
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2
'EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE'
A breathless, startling rollercoaster, where all of the senses cinema is capable of engaging are assaulted with great irreverence and great humanity. Part of me wishes I could wipe my mind and experience it for the first time all over again, feel the shock and joy of surprise and invention, and how satisfying the final emotional catharsis can be. Even in rewatch though, I still marvel at it. It is exactly what its title says, an enormous statement on the totality of what it is to be human, in all its mess and chaos.
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1
'DRIVE MY CAR'
You know a film is special when, almost a year after seeing it, the effect of it hasn’t subsided. With meticulous care, this incredible poem of a film unlocks the fundamental beauty and sadness of human interaction, against the backdrop of the work of one of the greatest playwrights ever to capture that beauty and sadness. Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s patient, open direction and the film’s many miraculous performances make it one for the ages. That final performance scene left me sobbing with joy.
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Jess
JESS FENTON
5
'RED ROCKET'
I love being surprised by a film, be it the story, the twist, the casting choice or a director exceeding expectations. I’m this case it was the casting of Simon Rex. Look, when searching for someone to play an adult film star, who better than a former adult film star? More than anything about 'Red Rocket', I admired filmmaker Sean Baker taking a punt on Rex, backing him 100%, Rex in turn backing himself and it paying off with one hell of a film. Baker was rewarded with a Palme d’Or nomination and Rex with an Independent Spirit Award win. This was a real-world underdog story with a bonus film that rocks! What more could you want!?
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4
'THE MENU'
I’m an unabashed foodie. I’ve eaten at "Hawthorne", many times, I felt targeted in ‘The Menu’ and I savoured every second of it. Satire, when done well, is terrific. ‘The Menu’ is brilliant. Ralph Fiennes was an inspired casting choice and the surrounding ensemble rose to the occasion of this OTT gastronomical majesty. *a single loud clap*
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3
'GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE'
Two magnificent actors, one room and bring to a sexy boil. I laughed, I cried, I got horny, I fell in love with Daryl McCormack and I listened to ‘Always Alright’ by Alabama Shakes on repeat. This is acting. This is chemistry. And this is a masterful film by Sophie Hyde. Yes, women can be sexy at any age, desire desire and men can be vulnerable. What revelations! 'Good Luck to You, Leo Grande' is what happens when you put bullshit prejudices and unconscious bias aside and tell simple yet deeply nuanced human stories. Beauty in all its glory.
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2
'JACKASS FOREVER'
This. Just, this. It’s been a loooooong three years and I - we - needed this so very very bad. We needed the laughs. The pure joy. And watching people being carted off to hospital, not because of COVID but because they did something highly stupid yet highly entertaining for the masses. I’m tearing up just thinking about it. Those Jackass boys do god’s work.
1
'TOP GUN: MAVERICK'
In a world full of sequels, 'Maverick' taught us that it’s never too late and that taking your time (in this case 36 years) is not just okay, it’s even better! It gives the story time to grow, marinate and become more organic. The critical and box-office success proves that what Tom Cruise and Co. have done here is the winning formula. From the very first second, when that gong sounds, every hair on my body stood to attention and never let up. ‘Maverick’ shook my nerve and rattled my brain. Brilliant and well worth the wait doesn’t even come close to describing this most brilliant feather in the Cruise cap.
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Chris
CHRIS DOS SANTOS
5
'BROS'
It took a long time but for gay rom-com from a major studio to be as funny as it is, it's a success all round. It’s instantly quotable and sure to be a staple of the genre for years to come.
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4
'NOPE'
Three for three: Jordan Peele has given us three unique takes on the horror genre. 'Nope' feels like Peele’s most polished, with his idea of spectacle hitting for months after viewing.
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3
'STRANGE WORLD'
Disney's return to adventure film is a roaring success... with an actually queer character that felt so new and loving. It's a sweeping epic and a beautiful message about generational family love.
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2
'TOP GUN: MAVERICK'
One, if the last films to be released from pandemic delays, and easily one of the most anticipated, it’s no surprise that people were excited. What was a delightful surprise was just how much of a success this was. Making a sequel any more than 5 years after the first is a hard feat, but with over 30 years between 'Top Gun' and 'Maverick', it’s so impressive how well this turned out. It’s a reminder of why we go to the cinema - to be thrilled, to be entertained. It is the greatest blockbuster of all time.
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1
'EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE'
The multiverse is a concept Marvel would like you to think they are tapping into, but only film this actually went there. The way it dissects and discusses humans and how we process emotion and relationships is so incredibly moving. You’ve already heard all the praise this movie has received; you just have to experience it for yourself.
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Ashley
ASHLEY TERESA
5
'EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE'
'Everything Everywhere All At Once' is the kind of indie success story every director dreams of, but few achieve; it’s an audacious, heartfelt, unapologetically loud passion project that has captured the hearts of audiences and critics alike. Not only that, but its box office numbers and front position in the Best Picture Race at the Oscars have made it the biggest cinematic success story of 2022. In recent weeks, the online discourse surrounding the film has become exhausting (internet opinions only exist in extremes, remember?), the final ingredient 'Everything Everywhere All At Once' needed to ensure it’s not going anywhere culturally any time soon. Thankfully, it’s a wonderful film worthy of all the fuss.
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4
'NOPE'
Director Jordan Peele futher cements his status as one of the most exciting directors of our time with his third feature 'Nope', a science-fiction/horror/drama that is both his best and weirdest work to date. On its surface, it’s a UFO tale that would make Spielberg proud, but looming just under is a gripping exploration of the exploitative, performative nature of lenses – both the ones we know about and the hidden ones watching our every move. This is also the second Jordan Peele film which Daniel Kaluuya has starred in after 'Get Out', and their partnership is quickly becoming one of my favourites in Hollywood. It’s best to go into 'Nope' knowing as little as possible, but as with every Peele project, rest assured you’re in for a hell of a time (and if it ever plays at IMAX Melbourne again, drop everything to go and see it).
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3
'RRR'
I don’t think it is hyperbole to call 'RRR' the best action movie of the 2020s so far. With a budget of ₹5.5 billion (roughly AU$99 million), it is the most expensive Indian film of all time – and from CGI tigers to musical numbers, this 3-hour epic doesn’t waste a single cent. It’s an eye-watering spectacle that had me cheering from its opening moments, all the way until the credits rolled. As it starts to gain traction across the awards circuit (particularly for the original song 'Naatu Naatu', a show-stopping number with choreography that has to be seen to be believed), do yourself a favour and check this out as soon as you can.
2
'DECISION TO LEAVE'
I’m a complete sucker for a twisty-turny thriller, and there are moments in Park Chan-wook's 'Decision to Leave' that genuinely felt custom built to match my taste. It is an impeccably crafted, delectable web of murder, romance, and suspicion that is as funny as it is suspenseful. The race for Best Actress appears to be locked up by Cate Blanchett’s career-redefining work in 'Tár' but in a just world, Tang Wei's performance in this film would be the category’s dark horse. Her turn as Seo-rae, a femme fatale who bewitches the detective investigating her husband’s death, has so far won Tang 9 of her 12 acting nominations, and rightfully so. I was lucky enough to catch it early during the Melbourne International Film Festival, and in the 2 months leading up to its official theatrical release I couldn’t stop thinking about seeing it again.
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1
'THE SOUVENIR: PART II'
2022 was the year of the sequel outdoing its predecessor. From the soaring heights of 'Top Gun: Maverick' (a film that regrettably missed this list by a hair) to the intoxicating lore-extending of 'Avatar: The Way of Water', the once-tired sequel subgenre is now an event to be excited for again. 'The Souvenir: Part II' arguably had the hardest job of any sequel I’ve seen this year; not only did it have to re-contextualise the first instalment through an entirely new, post-traumatic event scope, but it also needed to intimately invite audiences back into the story, in a way the first film did not have to nor need to. I wrote at length back in February on why this film is so special to me, and 10 months later I have fallen even more in love with it. It’s a tender, memorable masterwork that not only stands as an incredible film in its own right, but helped me retroactively come to appreciate the first instalment so much more. 2022 cinemagoing peaked early for me.
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Jake
JAKE WATT
5
'BARBARIAN'
I became a first-time parent myself in 2022, so maybe that’s why my top five films for the year all seem to focus on parenthood and childhood, and the myriad of terrors and sweet rewards that accompany them. For instance, I really enjoyed writer/director Zach Cregger's horror flick 'Barbarian'. It is a hard film to discuss without giving the third act away. The basic set-up: three strangers (a trio of impressive performances by Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård and Justin Long) in two different timelines spend the night in a remote house located in a rundown Detroit neighbourhood. It isn’t spoiling things to say that there are harrowingly clumsy scenes of bottle/breastfeeding, a character who only knows of parenthood thanks to a worn-out VHS tape, themes of generational trauma and explorations of people as products of their environment.
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4
'THE INNOCENTS'
Following a bunch of supernaturally powered children during a bright Nordic summer at a housing estate, Eskil Vogt's 'The Innocents' plays out a bit like 'The Florida Project' (the parents are either absent, neglectful or simply unable to comprehend the epic nature of the small battles taking place under their noses) by way of Michael Haneke's 'The White Ribbon' with a big dollop of Katsuhiro Otomo's 'Akira' on top. It questions the inherent nature of kids - could they be evil if given the power to do so, or is the whole concept of good and bad taught by adults? What Vogt has in common with frequent collaborator Joachim Trier is the sensitive way he handles his tiny actors and the economic way he lays out his intense story.
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3
'THE NORTHMAN'
Robert Eggers dips into the same source Shakespeare used - the legend of Amleth from 'The History of the Danes' by medieval historian Saxo Grammaticus - for 'The Northman', a revenge film that echoes 'Hamlet' without being an adaptation of it. It sees Prince Amleth (played as an adult by Alexander Skarsgård) go on a brutal rampage in pursuit of his uncle Fjölnir (Claes Bang) for killing his father King Aurvandil (Ethan Hawke) and kidnapping and marrying his mother, Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman). To further complicate the messy family dynamics of 'Hamlet', Eggers also gives Amleth the option of escaping with his pregnant wife for the promise of a new family or fulfilling his sworn oath by rendering bloody vengeance against the man who usurped his dad. Plus, you have to give Eggers props for (a) including a Björk cameo and (b) taking his arthouse A24 film nerd cred and making a movie that, according to a Thrillist interview, has "several deliberate nods ... and also many accidental ones" to the 1982 Arnold Schwarzenegger film 'Conan the Barbarian',"“just because I watched it so much when I was a kid."
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2
'PETITE MAMAN'
Writer/director Céline Sciamma cited Hayao Miyazaki as a key influence on ‘Petite Maman’, a magical realist tale that follows a little girl named Nelly (Joséphine Sanz) who joins her father (Stéphane Varupenne) and devastated mother (Nina Meurisse) at her grandmother’s house following her death. While her parents sadly pack up the woman’s belongings, Nelly sees a girl her age who looks exactly like her playing in the woods (the girl, Marion, is played by Sanz’s identical twin sister, Gabrielle). Gently spoken, the film dives into some deep concepts, like aging and death, showing the audience snippets of womanhood, motherhood, and sisterhood. Adults don't expect children to understand these complex ideas, and we often blur reality in an attempt to protect them. However, 'Petite Maman' suggests that children, with their honesty and purity, are a lot better equipped to process such things than we give them credit for.
1
'THE QUIET GIRL'
Based on the short story 'Foster' by Claire Keegan, Colm Bairéad's feature debut 'The Quiet Girl' tells a deceptively simple tale of Cáit (powerfully played by Catherine Clinch), a 9-year-old girl who is sent away by her jerk father and overworked mum to live with distant relatives for the summer of 1981 in Waterford, along the southern coast of Ireland. The relationships she forms with her new guardians - Eibhlín (Carrie Crowley), who is quick to fall in love with her, and Seán (Andrew Bennett), who is more reserved, for reasons that are gradually unveiled - will make you cry ugly, I guarantee you. I dunno, perhaps I'm just a big, soft mark for this kind of material (see: my review of Andrew Ahn's 'Driveways'), but I think that 'The Quiet Girl' is so good that it relegates future Academy Award-winner 'The Banshees of Inisherin' into second place as the best film out of Ireland in 2022.

Connor
CONNOR DALTON
Connor currently has COVID so couldn’t make it to his computer, but he wants you to know his five favourites are...

5 - Avatar: The Way of Water
4 - Elvis
3 - Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
2 - The Batman
1 - Red Rocket

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