Directed by Andrew Dominik — Screenplay by Andrew Dominik.
One of the most controversial films of 2022, Andrew Dominik’s Blonde is based on the Joyce Carol Oates’ biographical fiction novel of the same name about the life of American actress and icon Norma Jeane, better known as Marilyn Monroe (played by Ana de Armas). Dominik’s film follows her from a troubled childhood to her suicide after years of stardom, mood disorders, and public relationships.
It’s that time of the year again, folks. 2022 came to an end almost a full month ago, but there are still a couple of things that have to happen before we can all fully switch focus to 2023 in the world of cinema. One of these things is the upcoming 95th Academy Awards. The ceremony is on the 12th of March, but, first, we have the nominations to go through. In just a couple of days, on the 24th of January, AMPAS will announce its list of nominees, and so now is the time for me to reveal my list of predictions. There are many like them, but these are mine. Just like every year, the film that I’ve placed at the top of each category is the one that I feel the most confident about getting a nomination, and the film at the bottom of each category is the one that I am the most uncertain about. Finally, in most categories, I’ll also note a film that is ‘next in line,’ which means that these films are the ones that I think could sneak in on nomination morning instead of the ones that I’ve predicted. Without further ado, let’s get to it.
Directed by S. S. Rajamouli — Screenplay by S. S. Rajamouli — Story by V. Vijayendra Prasad.
Excuse me as I begin my review with a bit of a story. For months, I’ve wanted to watch the widely successful RRR, the Indian epic that has taken Hollywood and the world by storm, but I have also been deeply frustrated by the fact that it isn’t really in theaters and it isn’t on streaming services. Or was it? You see, for a while now I’ve noted that Netflix allowed me to put the film on my watchlist but not actually watch it. JustWatch, the primary online streaming guide I use to track the arrival of new releases, even insisted that it was on Netflix in Denmark. I didn’t know what to believe. Well, this frustration went on for quite some time. That is, until last week, when I read a Danish review of the film, which specified that to watch the film in Denmark, you simply needed to change your language to English on Netflix. Et voilà. It actually was on the Danish Netflix this whole time, but for some reason, it was locked away behind simple language settings. Anyway, I digress. Let’s talk about the hottest movie of 2022, which I’m so glad that I finally saw, S. S. Rajamouli’s RRR.
Directed by Anders Refn — Screenplay by Anders Refn and Flemming Quist Møller.
When I wrote up and released my brief thoughts on part one of Anders Refn’s De Forbandede År (int. title: Into the Darkness), a film about a family of Danes during the German occupation of Denmark, I was rather underwhelmed. World War II films tend to find an audience over here, and, as a bit of a history buff, I wanted this hugely ambitious project to land with more than just a thud. “Hopefully, its sequel will be better,” I wrote, though I must admit that I wasn’t optimistic.
The first film was powerful in moments because of how it highlighted a family in conflict because of the occupation. Some decided to become resistance fighters and rebel, while others decided to cooperate with the occupiers in an attempt to keep food on the table and keep some sense of normalcy, I suppose. I noted that the historical drama about the first half of the German occupation of Denmark held my interest and was interesting and ambitious, but, ultimately, it was a disappointment, and it felt both incomplete and rushed. Anders Refn is still at the helm for the second part of the Skov story, and, frankly, the end result is mostly the same. Jesper Christensen is the highlight, but the film is messy and overlong.
Directed by Santiago Mitre — Screenplay by Santiago Mitre and Mariano Llinás.
Santiago Mitre’s Argentina, 1985 is a historical courtroom drama about the true story of the Trial of the Juntas, which sought to bring to justice the ringleaders of the military junta that committed murder, kidnappings, and torture under Argentina’s right-wing dictatorship in the late-1970s and early-1980s. The film primarily follows Julio César Strassera (played by Ricardo Darín), the chief prosecutor, as he, along with a team of inexperienced lawyers, gathered evidence and testimonies that could possibly convince the court.
Directed by Scott Cooper (Hostiles) — Screenplay by Scott Cooper.
Netflix’s first major film release of 2023 is Scott Cooper’s (very late entry into the 2022 movie year) The Pale Blue Eye. The film, which is based on a historical fiction novel of the same name from author Louis Bayard, features an incredibly well-known author, Edgar Allan Poe, as a character that is integral to the narrative, and it should go without saying that the film does not come close to becoming even a little bit as notable as the author the creatives have built a fictional mystery around. That would be a tough ask, to be honest. Still, though, this is a pretty decent crime thriller, even if it won’t end up on many best of 2022 lists.
Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu — Screenplay by Alejandro González Iñárritu and Nicolás Giacobone.
Taking inspiration, whether conceptually or visually, from a lot of different filmmakers including Fellini and Malick, Alejandro González Iñárritu has gone out and made a visually eye-opening self-insert introspective dream narrative that is possibly going to be quite puzzling for most people (if, indeed, they ever choose to watch it and sit through it on Netflix). It follows a Mexican journalist and documentarian filmmaker who is trying to make sense of his dual identity during an existential crisis. That is a really short and simple way of summing up a film that tries to be so much more and which has an overwhelming runtime, but it perhaps doesn’t get to the kind of jaw-dropping visual ideas that the director throws out there. It goes places that can be tough to wrap your head around (e.g. a baby is pushed back into her mother moments after it was born), and these ambitious hallucinatory sequences may be the best thing about the film, even though it, along with the runtime, may be the very thing that discourages viewers from pressing play.
As the year is coming to an end, it makes a lot of sense to me to look back on the year that is coming to a close. Although it isn’t yet time for me to announce my 2022 year-end lists and awards winners (they’ll be released in January and February 2023), this is the right time to take a look at the ten most-read articles and reviews that I wrote this year. Let’s have a look at what caught your eye this last year.
A lot has happened since November 2020, when, two years ago, Netflix released the fourth season of their wildly successful historical drama, The Crown. Britain has had three different prime ministers — Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, and, current PM, Rishi Sunak — and, most importantly, Queen Elizabeth II, the subject of this series, has died. The United Kingdom now has a new monarch in King Charles III, who, as the series has moved forward, has moved closer and closer to the focal point of the series. Indeed, one might argue that these latest two seasons are the most critical of the former Prince of Wales.
Kogonada’s After Yang is a science-fiction drama about a family that has lost someone. After competing in a dance competition as a family, their second-hand robotic son, Yang (played by Justin H. Min), malfunctions. Hoping to get him fixed, the family father, Jake (played by Colin Farrell), sets out to find a way to fix him, even though they are advised to simply replace him with another unit. As Jake gets access to Yang’s memory bank, he gains a new understanding of who Yang actually was.