In front of me are thousands upon thousands of blu-ray discs and DVDs, the result of years of collecting. I must admit that my obsession with owning movies has diminished over the years, mostly because I feel I’ve seen everything there is to see and I’m not sure where to go anymore to get that cinematic kick. Books and writing have also taken over my life, and as I’m growing older I’ve developed a deep interest in just doing nothing. I guess that’s life? One thing I’ve always tried to do at the end of each year is to do a list of my favorite movies from those last twelve months. Your attention is drawn to the use of the word “favorite” and the lack of expressions like “the best movies of the year” or any other kind of personal delusions. Because the best can be someone’s worst, and therefore I prefer to use favorite as it only reflects my own state of mind at the very moment I watched — or rewatched — a specific movie. So maybe personal taste by itself is a a form of personal delusion?
The kick is what I’m after, the kick of joy at the moment of watching — and that means even what would be considered the worst movies in the consensus reality could be the best for me. Anyways, let’s delete best and worst and all that crap from our minds. What gave you the most/what meant the most to you etc etc is the way to go, at least in my humble opinion. I also have a tendency to add movies that were not necessarily released during the last year, but had a limited release the year before — on film festivals etc, and got a wider release the next year. Not gonna be a gatekeeper of what movies that are considered current or even more current. As long as they give me some kind of pleasure.
One of the first genre movies to give me a wonderful endorphin boost in 2022 was Matt Bettinelli-Olpin andTyler Gillett’s Scream — also known as Scream 5. I admit it took me a few moments to fully embrace this follow-up to Wes Craven’s magnificent series of self-aware slashers, especially after the criminally underrated (but oddly color processed) Scream 4. At times it managed to live up to Craven’s attention to tension, and together with a nice cast of both veterans and newbies it really turned out to be one of the best in the series. The departure of one of the most beloved characters felt extra difficult to cope with and it might have had a tear or two in my eyes. Well done. Can’t wait for Scream 6.
It’s always a disappointment when a movie I really want to own as a physical copy only is released on streaming and that’s what happened with David Blue Garcia’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a quite biting satire over gentrification and the shallowness (though unfair, because it’s not true — but hey, it fits the series!) of city people. A lot of gore, a nice set-up and overall a great looking sequel to the original movie. I still feel the Sally Hardesty character is wasted, a bit of an anticlimax to be honest, but the massacre at the party bus made me forgive that flaw in the screenplay.
I know, I know… but something with Roland Emmerich stupid-o-geddon Moonfall made me so happy. Our German friend has never been a favorite of mine, even if I remember to enjoy both Independence Day and 2012 during the initial cinema experiences — but ultimately, on second and third viewings, they bored me to death. Moonfall on the other hand is so simple in its setup, has evenly sprinkled scenes of silliness and destruction and a ridiculous premise which actually makes it his best movie so far. It’s just not boring — and it’s so evident it was shot during the pandemic, the distance between characters and cold, simplistic direction and so on, it turns out more stylish and easier to watch than what normally happens with these kinds of movies.
Everything Everywhere All at Once (Dan Kwan & Daniel Scheinert) is by far my favorite movie of 2022, and that says a lot. Never been fond of actually recommending one single movie for you to watch, but this is the one. This is the movie that made me cry not once, but twice, and it’s still on my mind until this very day. Love the action, the drama, the acting — it just triggers all the good things in me, the compassion I have somewhere (very) deep inside of me for humanity. It’s one of those movies where the idea of “kill your darlings” seemingly didn’t exist, and that makes it one of a kind.
Few directors have been so unfairly bashed as Dario Argento, with an army of less intelligent fanboys just expecting him to do another Deep Red or Suspiria even if it’s pretty clear he left all of those movies behind him a long time ago. So imagine when Dark Glasses comes out and it turns out to be pretty great! Not perfect, there’s stuff in it where I’m still scratching my head because of why?”, but that’s something you’ll find in all Argento flicks to be fair. Dark Glasses is such a fucking stylish thriller, almost dreamlike and with perfectly composed shots, some brutal violence and a fantastic score. The acting is the finest in one of his movies in a long, long time, which says a lot. “Welcome back, Maestro”, some might say — but we who know, we know he’s never been gone.
Jordan Peele’s Nope caused a bit of division among the fans, but in my eyes it’s another perfect movie. Maybe not as hard hitting as Us (still his best if you ask me), but an adorable, quite radical take on science fiction, social satire, black movie history and of course ufology. One thing I always appreciate is when characters are introduced and are given — at first — a lot of importance, we get to know them and care for them — and then are pulled away from us. It’s powerful imho. It’s like real life, because outside the world of cinema that happens all the time. We’re constantly taking care of smaller and bigger wounds created by people who enter our lives and then disappear (and sometimes eaten alive by enormous flying monsters). Peele knows this and loves to trigger our emotions.
David Gordon Green has delivered a sometimes weird rollercoaster of emotions, gore and nostalgia with his recent Halloween trilogy, and Halloween Ends perfectly ends the saga by seemingly deliberately provoking the fans into both pure hate and a lot of love. If you ask me, and it is on my list favorites as you can see, Halloween Ends is a pure beauty. Like several of the other movies in the franchise it takes some bold turns, focuses more on the evil-by-proxy syndrome that’s been lurking since the start of John Carpenter and Debra Hill’s Halloween, and it feels very fresh and different — and gives both Laurie Strode and Michael Myers the end they deserve. Like Tarantino did with the Manson family in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, this movie effectively pulls the rug from under the feet of serial killer-apologists. Myers is crap, he’s not a hero or an anti-hero. He’s evil, nothing else, and therefore deserves nothing.
One movie that struck hard was Chema García Ibarra’s The Sacred Spirit, which might be one of the most powerful productions of the last year. Oddly calm and almost sedative in its storytelling, but painful and awkward and terribly important in a world of humans that are very, very lost. It deals with new age and ufology and the specific mix of it, which might be hard for some to take in — but there’s a lot of truth in this drama. Easily one of those films I would recommend if anyone dared to ask me.
Scandinavia has had a pretty good year when it comes to genre movies. I adored Roar Uthaug’s Norwegian Netflix blockbuster Troll and Johannes Persson’s Feed might be the first quite successful slasher in Sweden ever, but the movie that captured my heart was Victor Danell’s and Crazy Pictures’ UFO Sweden. Inspired by UFO-Sverige and Archives for the Unexplained, this is a film that manages to be both very spectacular (the vehicle chases are topnotch!) and have a heart. An Amblin-esque sci-fi movie set during the 90’s, where a bunch of misfits together try to solve the mystery of a lost father, UFO-sightings and some kind of weather-related conspiracy in the background. Like the two above mentioned Troll and Feed, it’s also packed with beautiful, moody nature and genuine love for the genre.
Zach Cregger’s Barbarian blew me away. What an insane, shameless horror ride. Just the way I want it. On the surface I’m sure some critics expected what they call elevated horror (a silly expression by the way, as you know. Horror is horror, and that’s how it is!), but instead got a sleazy, disgusting and pretty extreme gruesome adventure with a dash of Airbnb and #metoo satire, but never on the nose. This is still damn smart without forgetting its roots in classic, old-school gruesome horror. Never shouted at a TV-screen as much as with this one.
On the morning of december 23 I woke up and decided to watch Gaspar Noé’s Vortex, starring Françoise Lebrun and Dario Argento as an elderly couple during their last days in this existence, where Françoise is getting deeper into her dementia and Dario is full of himself, coping with his wife’s transformation from a brilliant psychiatrist to a confused old woman. And wow. This might be Gaspar Noé’s best so far. A touching, haunting chamber play about aging and death and the end of it all, and it’s not fun. Shot entirely in split screen, obviously with a lot of improvising and long takes. A french arthouse dream come true, but also one that feels real and emotional without being arty for the sake of being arty.
There’s more movies I enjoyed of course, from Rian Johnson’s campy and silly Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, the utterly depressing Tár by Todd Field, David Cronenberg’s wonderful Crimes of the Future, Robert Eggers deconstruction of masculinity, The Northman, Matt Reeves The Batman and even Michael Bay’s ultra shallow excuse for crashing cars, Ambulance. Tom Gormican’s The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, because Nic Cage always delivers. I like them all a lot. Documentaries there’s been a few, from James C. Fox’s Moment of Contact and Randall Nickerson’s Ariel Phenomenon to the horrifying Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story and the beautiful Fire of Love. Oh, and a special shout out to the super cozy Out There Halloween Mega Tape by Chris LaMartina. All good, all worth watching.
But as life is short and I would love to do other things than write about movies, this is what you get. Use 2023 well, behave and show compassion. Cheers.
Fred Andersson is a Swedish story producer, researcher and writer with over twenty years of experience in commercial television and the author of three books. He lives in Märsta, outside Stockholm, with his photographer husband Grzegorz and two overly active cats. Join him on Twitter and Instagram.
Fred Andersson is a Swedish story producer, researcher and writer with over twenty years of experience in commercial television and the author of three books. He lives in Märsta, outside Stockholm, with his photographer husband Grzegorz and two overly active cats.