As we plow forward in our new calendar year, we'll be sharing top ten lists from various members of the MKE Film staff throughout January! Kicking us off is Kpolly, counting down his fourteen faves of 2022.
Kpolly's Top 14 of 2022!
I didn’t see as many films as I usually do this year. After careful reflection, I think there was an unconscious attempt to avoid films that would make me cry my eyes out. Mission: failed. (Thanks, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever!)
But, luckily I still find myself at the end of the year struggling to narrow the list to 10. Then Tom said I didn’t have to do that. But, I said, “No, Tom! I must be disciplined and strong.” After realizing I’m neither of those things, here I am to present my Top 14 films of 2022!
In alphabetical order:
ALL THE BEAUTY AND THE BLOODSHED - dir. Laura Poitras
Years ago we showed a film about Nan Goldin at the festival and I was introduced to this impressive artist and her world. This film, from Oscar-winning director Laura Poitras, tells us even more about Goldin while also following her activist efforts to call out a prominent family who is largely responsible for the opioid epidemic. The film seamlessly flows back and forth between the art and the activism of this icon.
BANSHEES OF INISHERIN - dir. Martin McDonagh
A smarter person might say this is akin to Waiting for Godot. Or they may not. I wouldn’t know, because I’m not as smart as them, and I’ve not read that play. So, instead, I’ll say this film has the elements that always delight me in a film. A simple premise that gets increasingly absurd. Humor, both low and high brow. And an underlying sadness. Also, I’ll watch anything Brendan Gleason is in and he’s always wonderful. The whole cast was impressive. Favorite of the year!
BARBARIAN - dir. Zach Cregger
I keep saying I’m not a big horror movie fan, but then I always find a surprising one that I can’t help but recognize. Definitely scary. And with the kind of surprises you don’t always get with a standard scary movie.
BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER - dir. Ryan Coogler
I cried at the beginning. I cried in the middle. I cried at the end. In between there was some great action, costumes, humor, and a cast that has become cherished by the whole world. Now that I’m married it has become clear that it will not work out with Lupita and myself, though I wish her the best. I would also like to extend an invitation to Winston Duke to please be my best friend. That is all.
FLUX GOURMET - dir. Peter Strickland
This film about culinary performance art and the power struggles within… is obviously super duper weird and god bless it. The filmmaker behind In Fabric and Berberian Sound Studio has become someone whose films I will always look forward to. Twisted and funny and imaginative.
FREDERICK DOUGLASS: IN FIVE SPEECHES - dir. Julia Marchesi
Esteemed actors read/perform five of Douglass’ speeches from different moments in his life. And we also hear from scholars about the historical context of those speeches and learn a lot about this electric thinker and speaker and the times he lived in and helped change. Everyone from Jonathan Majors and Colman Domingo to Henry Louis Gates, Jr and Bisa Butler lends their talents and thoughts to this impressive documentary.
HIT THE ROAD - dir. Panah Panahi
My other top favorite of the year. This family road trip film from Iran has a great combination of humor, heart, and absurdity. I’ve said it a thousand times, the little kid in this film (Rayan Sarlak) should be in every movie. Just work him in somewhere. He’s hilarious and steals every scene!
MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON - dir. Dean Fleischer-Camp
I was so excited that this was our Super Secret Screening last year. Ever since Jenny Slate posted her shorts, as Marcel, online I was hooked. Adorable and very funny. And then, surprisingly touching. It’s an animated shell with shoes! How did it make people cry? Amazing!
THE MENU - dir. Mark Mylod
How many dark comedies about food can you take in one year? Two is the answer, turns out. This may be a controversial statement, but this is maybe my favorite Comedy of the year. I’m not sure if that’s considered the “main” genre of this film, but there was an impressive combination of funny-ha-ha and funny-interesting and I was into it!
NOPE - dir. Jordan Peele
Jordan Peele has done such a good job of keeping everyone in such anticipation for his next project. And he doesn’t disappoint. Nope was another hit. Great story with vibrant characters and surprises all over the place. But, if Mr. Peele is reading this, (I assume he is) I would love to see him in front of the camera again. He’s so funny and I miss him.
OUR FATHER, THE DEVIL - dir. Ellie Foumbi
One of the best thrillers I’ve seen in a long time. Not only does the story keep you guessing until the end, but you get so invested in Marie’s (Babetida Sadjo) character right away. She’s a real talent.
THE OUTFIT - dir. Graham Moore
I saw this at the beginning of 2022 and I knew immediately this would be one of my favorites. I love a film that takes place all in one space. Especially one space that everyone in the film KEEPS trying to leave. It’s a great mystery/thriller and Mark Rylance is always impressive.
TAR - dir. Todd Field
A beautifully made film of a character with a lot of depth. It’s not subtle to have Cate Blanchett play a maestro. Because, of course. Of course she is. And, as usual, she plays the character with complexity. I thought about Uncut Gems a little while watching it. It’s one of those films that keeps escalating and the tension builds. Loved it!
THE WOMAN KING - dir. Gina Prince-Blythewood
I didn’t realize how much I was missing a film like this until I was sitting in the theater watching it. A big, historic, epic spectacle of a movie. Viola Davis leads an elite unit of warriors who protect their kingdom from encroaching enemies. The style, story, and excitement of this film was a welcome change.
(Honorable mention to Everything, Everywhere, All at Once; Good Night, Oppy; Butterfly in the Sky; Weird: The Al Yankovic Story; Matilda: the Musical; and Glass Onion.)