Jillian’s Top Ten Films of 2022

Many are calling the film year 2022 “the soul sister of 1999” because of its fantastic year of storytelling and I would have to agree with this statement. Now three years since the start of the pandemic, it seems that the anxieties on if the theatrical experience would survive have lessened as filmmakers displayed a newfound imagination and energy to bring to audiences this year.

The slate of 2022 brought varied experiences to the screen leaving us with iconic characters and new all-time favorites. One of the most remarkable aspects of this year is how the gap between international and domestic film continues to close as international films have never been more accessible and English-speaking audiences are overcoming the boundaries of subtitles. My official top ten films change every day, but my final list is a curation of impactful, emotional stories that transcend the screen.

10. Babylon (Dir. Damien Chazelle)

The promising young director gave us the last film of existence, Babylon. Since its announcement two years ago, this was my most anticipated film of 2022. On my first watch, the film left me confused, but six watches later, it quickly moved up to my top ten of the year. There is something so unique in how the sound is engineered in this tragic tale of the entertainment industry. On each watch, there is so much sound to be explored, whether it is a background conversation or the original score; each watch holds a new layer to this film. Chazelle took an ambitious risk in his exploration of how audiences perceive films and their impact on culture, and it worked for me.

9. Saint Omer (Dir. Alice Diop)

One of my favorite film trends of 2022 is directors taking classic film tropes and reinventing them, and that is exactly what Alice Diop does in Saint Omer. At its foundations, Saint Omer is a legal drama, but Diop removes the clichés and over-dramatizations normally attached to anything that takes place in a courtroom and delivers an empathetic, philosophical journey of the human psyche. Guslagie Malanga gives a performance that actors could only achieve after decades in the business.

8. Puss In Boots: The Last Wish (Dir. Joel Crawford)

Talk about the surprise of the century! I think everyone was genuinely confused when the trailer for this film started popping in theaters due to the Shrek universe ending on a disappointing note. Why would anyone want a sequel to the 2011 film starring Antonio Banderas as the titular character? Well after ten years, this sequel was well worth the wait, and it is the comeback Dreamworks needed to put them back on the map. This film changes up the animation that perfectly encapsulates the destruction of a character like Puss in Boots while also showing audiences that animation can get a little dark. The entire premise revolves around our relationship with death and confronting our fears to live life to the fullest. This is easily one of the best films of 2022, and Antonio Banderas should get an Oscar for being the pinnacle of perfect voice casting.

7. She Said (Dir. Maria Schrader)

I think everyone (including myself) was hesitant when this film was announced. It could be another chance for Hollywood to rewrite history and applaud itself on the back, but this film does the opposite of that. It is a story for the survivors of the disgraced Hollywood producer’s crimes. Their stories are handled with such care through fantastic acting, writing, and directing. It transports you back to the crucial period of 2017 when women decided enough with this treatment, it is time to take a stand.

6. After Yang (Dir. Kogonada)

After Yang has been in my top ten since January, and I stand by this being the superior Colin Farrell performance of 2022. Since taking a science fiction course at my university, I have been fascinated with the genre’s use of AI or technology to examine humanity. Kogonada takes that idea into his subtle, melancholic film that is truly stunning to watch with a mesmerizing opening credit sequence.

5. Fire of Love (Dir. Sara Dosa)

Another film I saw back in January has not left my top five. Fire of Love is a film that was made for the theatrical experience as hot, gooey red lava flows on the biggest screen. It may also be one of the most romantic films of the year as you follow two scientists who chase volcanoes for a living and meet their demise doing the thing they loved the most. I am in awe at Sara Dosa for her ability to take archival footage and make it into a humanistic, emotional film about love.

4. The Eternal Daughter (Dir. Joanna Hogg)

I am very shocked that there is not a lot of conversation around Tilda Swinton playing two roles opposite of each other in Joanna Hogg’s version of a ghost story. This film is like watching a painting move. It is a haunting story about the idea that we don’t know who are parents are beyond when we initially meet them. They know our whole lives, but there is so much to them that sometimes is never uncovered. This film is purely hypnotic in its use of sound and foggy visuals with a big reveal that will make you gasp.

3. Bones and All (Dir. Luca Guadagnino)

This film has the best sound in 2022 hands-down; the sounds of chewing and slurping has not left my mind since seeing this. Luca Guadagnino’s specialty is creating films about the human experience, and even though this film is about two cannibals in love, it feels so grounded in its exploration of finding the possible in the impossible. It is so intimate and beautiful as Taylor Russell commands the screen. Guadagnino handles his subjects with tender care, never trying to villainize them but understanding them for who they are.

2. Joyland (Dir. Saim Sadiq)

I am shocked that this is not the frontrunner for the Best International Film and Best Cinematography categories. I added this to my AFI schedule with no knowledge of the film and walked out completely floored with emotion. It is the perfect balance of tragedy and magic as it uses a family to explore sexuality and identity. Joyland does not hold back in addressing daring topics in the location of a conservative Pakistan, which makes its queer love story even more affecting.

1. TÁR (Dir. Todd Field)

If Todd Field doesn’t win an Oscar for writing and directing one of the most perfectly crafted films of the year, I will riot as I am the resident TÁRfluencer. On its description of being an exploration of power set in the classical music world, this film seems pretty simple but there is so much more to it. It is a ghost story that perfectly mixes elements of the supernatural with the grounded reality of Lydia Tár. This film is a visual treasure as it requires more than one watch to dig into the lived-in world Field has conjured up in his imagination. Lydia Tár herself has become an icon by generating online memes and parody accounts. It has one of the best film endings of all time. Give me a sequel.

Jillian Chilingerian
she/her @JillianChili
Lives in LA
Favorite Director: David Fincher
Sign: Leo

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