A few favourites from 2022, brought to you by the UCFS Execs.
What a year for cinema! From Everything, Everywhere All at Once to TAR to Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, so many amazing films came out of 2022. For me however, it is Aftersun directed by Charlotte Wells and starring Frankie Corio and Paul Mescal which truly takes the cake as the best film of 2022. Aftersun is a memory of the final holiday Sophie took with her dreamy, yet deeply troubled, single father Callum in the late 90s. While contemplating one's past is a common trope in storytelling, Wells adds layers of tension to this process by depicting this reflection as also a reconciliation between Sophie's memories, imagined experiences, and 'objective' visual media artifacts. And I think that it is this struggle which makes the film's exploration of memory, family, and mental health so unique, honest and extremely wise.
Many people have said that they have connected very deeply to this film, and while there are many reasons why, I believe that one is that the tension between memory and media really speaks to our times where it is so common to record any and every aspect of our lives.
Max (VP Programming)
Favourite: Aftersun. It's probably recency bias but Aftersun might be my favourite film released after 2012 (I adore a number of films from that year). It tells the story of Sophie who is trying to piece together home video footage of a childhood vacation to understand her father. It is a story that could only be told as a film, and it has my highest recommendation. It is beautifully restrained and brutally honest.
Honourable Mentions: Puss in Boots and Ice Merchants were a win for animation. Puss in Boots was brilliantly paced, heartfelt and so very expressive in both the score and animation. It has its roots in the spaghetti westerns of the 60s and it shows. Ice Merchants tells a story without words. The animation and sound design is piercing. Its free to watch on The New Yorker and is only 14 minutes long.
Edward Berger’s All Quiet on the Western Front (2022) is unlike other war movies I’d seen before. Despite not being the most explicitly violent or gruesome film, somehow it still manages to be more vicious than many other movies of the same genre. While most other War Dramas I’ve seen try to tell hopeful tales about acts of heroism and persevering even through the worst of situations, All Quiet on the Western Front tells a tragic story about how soldiers can also be victims of the wars they fight in.
The beautifully shot, peaceful moments between Paul (Felix Kammerer) and his fellow soldiers in contrast with the hectic and unforgiving battle scenes paint a heartbreaking picture of what War is like for these young men. Their patriotism and enthusiasm for battle don’t even make it past the first act of the movie, instead replaced with a constant sense of dread and longing for the fighting to stop. Instead of heroes, the film frames its protagonists as possible cannon fodder, as all they can do is hope that they make it out alive for the next fight. Moreover, through its harrowing finale, which effectively mirrors the film’s opening sequence, All Quiet on the Western Front conveys how war diminished these men into nothing but uniforms and dog tags, stripping them away from their humanity. Also, since the story focuses on the German side of WWI, I appreciate how this movie brings a different view from the one-sided portrayal that is generally shown in most other western media, which in my opinion further aids the idea of soldiers as victims of war, showcasing only people following orders that exceed them.
Overall, I found that All Quiet on the Western Front was deeply impactful and engaging, and I thoroughly enjoyed the film’s approach to the war drama. With stunning visuals, strong themes and subject matter, plus a well-executed story, I consider this a film that most people should watch.
Emma (Crash/Cut Editor)
Joyland by Saim Sadiq is something special. An ensemble drama at its finest, Sadiq’s feature film directorial debut addresses questions of finding one’s way under the overwhelming weight of established conventions and social constraints. The film is set in Lahore, Pakistan, where a traditional family navigates desire, longing, and love in relation to gender norms and class alienation. Joyland articulates a rich spectrum of emotions—it is at once tender, melancholic, and joyous. It is made with so much care and empathy, reflecting on the complex themes of autonomy, identity, and repression shared by many.
Actual People by Kit Zauhar deserves an honourable mention. Okay, so this film was technically made in 2021, but it officially released in 2022. Let me have this! Actual People is a fantastic mumblecore that speaks to anxieties of graduation, family, and love—and the aimlessness of those in-between moments. Zauhar’s debut is perceptive, witty, and sharp. The uncomfortable conversations feel completely organic. This film has something to offer to anybody at a stage in their life where they feel uncertain about both the present and the future.
Jenna (VP Financials)
Despite being a more recent watch compared to other films throughout the year, Charlotte Wells’ film Aftersun is my favourite film of 2022. Charlotte Wells’ crafts Aftersun as an immensely personal film, which creates an opportunity for introspection within our own lives. In short, the film implicitly explores aspects of familial dynamics and depression through presenting the experience of a woman reflecting on a past trip to the tropics with her father. It prevails as a tender, melancholic meditation on our understanding of our parents’ mental health. I would absolutely recommend this film to anyone interested, as it has made a profound impact on aspects of my perspective. However, be warned! It is quite a devastating film and you may never listen to “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie in the same way.