best film: The Card Counter from Paul Schrader tops the list for 2021.
- Schrader has always been an intellectual- he wrote “Transcendental Style in Film” on Dreyer, Ozu and his main source of inspiration- Bresson. But Schrader has also always leaned into sensationalism as well and he seems to have found the right balance at this point in his career. The Card Player is largely minimalistic—but there are this ripe little opportunities for sweeps of style and visual flourishes. Isaac’s character is rich with depth and complexity. He is a savant at card playing- but he is also an ex-con and ex-soldier. Like Schrader’s Taxi Driver (Schrader wrote the script for it – and Travis Bickle is a cab driver and ex-soldier), Light Sleeper (drug dealer) and First Reformed (preacher) — The Card Counter slowly unveils the scarred mind of his protagonist through voice over narration and sort of journal writing catharsis/confession (certainly this is Diary of a Country Priest). This is a story of sacrifice (Tye Sheridan is our Jodie Foster here), paying for your sins (even a sort of flagellation), and redemption.
- In the flashbacks of the prisons sequences in Abu Ghraib, Schrader and his cinematographer Alexander Dynanuse this superwide distinctly vulgar virtual reality lens to highlight the extremeness of this world- the heightening of the senses. This is a perfect marriage of style and content.
- Schrader deftly pulls the camera back through the interiors of Gordo’s (Willem Dafoe- a smaller role together but this is fourth archiveable film with Schrader) home as the audio of the climax carries on. This is such a better choice than showing the gruesome detail of the events.
- The final frame is a hold on two fingers of glass- hope for Isaac’s character- still a shot at redemption.
most underrated: With no TSPDT consensus list yet for 2021 the underrated and overrated categories will use the composite critics top ten lists from Metacritic as their barometer. https://www.metacritic.com/feature/film-critics-pick-10-best-movies-of-2021 . A Hero from Asghar Farhadi and Nightmare Alley from Guillermo del Toro are two of the best films of the year and both are left off the top 30 from the metacritic consensus completely. Woman in the Window is not on the level of Farhadi’s film by any stretch- but it is much better than the ridiculously low 41 on Metacritic as well if one wants to look outside of the top ten of the year for this category. Farhadi’s A Hero is a sublime companion to 2011’s A Separation– both with absolutely dazzling final sequences. Farhadi’s 2021 entry deepens and enrichens his 2011 film.
most overrated: The Power of the Dog, Drive My Car, Licorice Pizza are number one, two and three on the Metacritic consensus list. All three films are worthy films but are much quieter stylistically than the best films of 2021. All three fail to land as one of the best ten films of the year (at least upon first viewing). It is Drive My Car that is the the least cinematic of the three.
trends and notables:
- The pandemic still feels like a pervading story in 2021 even if the world of cinema returned to at least some semblance of normalcy (or the new normal). Long-awaited titles like No Time to Die and Dune finally arrived (and both are just awesome) after what seems like years of wait and anticipation.
- The theatrical experience is still in jeopardy and seems to have continued to shift towards the streaming trend. HBO/Warner Brothers had a simultaneous release for 2021 and other companies flirted with similar models and manipulated the (ever-shrinking) theatrical release window.
- 2021 overall is a superior year to 2020- without a doubt- but 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, it is not.
- The Paul Schrader renaissance (or should I say “resurrection”) is real. With 2017’s First Reformed and now 2021’s The Card Counter, Schrader is riding a career peak in his 70s. Few auteurs have shifted the titanic plates of their legacy such as Schrader. George Miller with Fury Road comes to mind– Eastwood maybe.
- Denis Villeneuve’s dream project came true and Dune was a rousing artistic success. This marks Villeneuve’s fourth top ten film of the year.
- By 2022 we are now nearly a decade into the trend of shifting aspect ratios and this is not slowing down. Ida was 2013, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Mommy were 2014. But now in 2022 it feels like every film has a blank slate at which to choose from. Historically, this is just now how cinema was delivered. For the longest time there was the standard aspect ratio (also known as 1.33:1 or fullscreen) and then it went wider- but really here starting in the 2010s and beyond is the first time the vast vast majority of these choices were not dictated by the time in which the film was made, or how much budget the film had.
- Spider-Man: No Way Home was an unbridled box office success- it more than doubled the next closest film at the theater. But again, 2022 is an era where the streaming numbers tell a big part of the story now as well.
- The French Dispatch makes for the seventh (7th) top ten film of the year for Wes Anderson with no sign of slowing down or stopping.
- The influence of Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma continues to be felt years later. In 2019 Tarantino described Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood as his Roma. Here in 2021 Paolo Sorrentino claims Cuaron’s film influenced him and undoubtedly Belfast falls into the same category.
- 2021 marks the breakout year for auteur David Lowry. The best films of the year were made by familiar faces at this point: Paul Schrader, Denis Villeneuve, Wes Anderson and Barry Jenkins. Each director has multiple top ten of the year films prior to 201- the one outlier is David Lowry.
- The Underground Railroad makes three straight films for Barry Jenkins going back to Moonlight in 2016 to make the top ten of their respective year.
- Chilean auteur Pablo Larraín doubles down on his passion- making films about the wives of royalty (2016’s Jackie– about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassi) with 2021’s Spencer.
gems I want to spotlight: There are a pair of 2021 director debuts that did not quite land in the top ten that are worth making a special point to seek out. Azor is the debut film from Andreas Fontana. A private banker from Switzerland travels to Argentina to replace his partner (who is never shown during the film) during a period of political unrest. This plays out like a sort of wonderful, apocalyptic detective film. Passing marks the directorial debut for Rebecca Hall. Hall is a proven actor (Vicky Christina Barcelona, The Prestige, The Town) as well as apparently being a talented director. The film features fabulous period costume work (especially beautiful hats- BlacKkKlansman and No Sudden Move costume designer Marci Rodgers) and production detail. Bill Camp plays a sort of friend of Thompson’s character. Both Negga and Thompson lead the way as far as acting (both superb here)- but I also admire the work ethic of Bill Camp. He is good in every film he is in, and this is his tenth (10th) archiveable film in the last ten years dating back to Lincoln in 2012. Like many actors turned directors there is a generous focus on the performances here- but do not mistake Hall’s work for something as ordinary as say George Clooney’s work as a director. There is more to Hall’s ability here.
best performance male: There are three worthy mentions here in 2021 but only two actors really vying for the top slot. The top slot here is either Oscar Isaac or Timothée Chalamet. Dev Patel is the third slot- and he is tremendous in The Green Knight– but Patel does not have a second film like Isaac and Chalamet. The two single best performances of the year here in this category is Chalamet in Dune and Isaac in The Card Counter and both of them are very strong in support in two of the best films of the year as well (Chalamet in The French Dispatch and Isaac in Dune). If forced to pick just one, Isaac is the choice. Isaac plays William Tell. Isaac is magnificent in The Card Counter and after this, when you take into account Ethan Hawke’s achievement in First Reformed, I would have to imagine actors are lining up to play the protagonist in Schrader’s next work—whatever that may be. Isaac is in nearly every scene and never makes a false move. He is exacting–intense. Chalamet plays Paul Atreides’ in Dune. Chalamet proves himself a young actor more than up for the challenge of leading the way in a work as ambitious as Dune. The scene where Chalamet is getting tortured by Charlotte Ramplings’ character is just phenomenal acting.
best performance female: Spencer is also another feather in the cap for Kristen Stewart. Stewart, just over the age of thirty now, has put together a very decent resume that includes 2014’s Clouds of Sils Maria and Certain Women in 2016. Stewart has the best year for this category- but Rebecca Ferguson may give the best performance in this category on a per-minute basis in Dune and Thuso Mbedu needs some special recognition for the marathon of a performance in Jenkins’ The Underground Railroad.
- The Card Counter
- The French Dispatch
- The Green Knight
- The Underground Railroad
- A Hero
- Nightmare Alley
- The Hand of God
Archives, Directors, and Grades
|A Hero – Farhadi||HR|
|Azor – Fontana||R|
|Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar – Greenbaum||R|
|Belfast – Branagh||HR|
|Cruella – Gillespie||R|
|Don’t Look Up – McKay||R|
|Drive My Car – Hamaguchi||R|
|Judas and the Black Messiah – S. King||R|
|Licorice Pizza – P.T. Anderson||R/HR|
|Nightmare Alley – del Toro||HR|
|No Sudden Move – Soderbergh||R|
|No Time to Die- Fukunaga||R|
|Passing – Hall||R/HR|
|Pig – Sarnoski||R|
|Spencer – Larraín||HR/MS|
|The Card Counter – Schrader||MS|
|The Dig – S. Stone||R|
|The Fallout – M. Park||R|
|The French Dispatch – W. Anderson||MS|
|The Green Knight – Lowery||MS|
|The Hand of God – Sorrentino||HR|
|The Harder They Fall – Samuel||R|
|The Last Duel – R. Scott||R|
|The Lost Daughter – Gyllenhaal||R|
|The Power of the Dog – Campion||R/HR|
|The Suicide Squad – Gunn||R|
|The Tragedy of Macbeth – Coen||HR|
|The Underground Railroad – Jenkins||MS|
|The White Tiger – Bahrani||R|
|The Woman in the Window – J. Wright||R|
|tick, tick… BOOM! – Miranda||R|
|Titane – Ducournau||R|
|What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? – Koberidze||R|
|Wild Indian – Corbine Jr.||R|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-See- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives
Totally unrelated to this mighty fine page here (though I would love to see The Worst Person in the World on here which is the only 2021 film I’ve seen aside from Dune), but I wanted to ask you what you think are some of the worst titles for great films throughout the history of cinema? I think Cat People has to be one of the first to be mentioned.
@Zane- I should be able to get my hands on The Worst Person in the World soon
If you can get your hands on it, Memoria (apichatpong weerasethakul) is amazing. For me its easily the best film of the year and it really improves weerasethakuls standing
@Big chungus- Certainly one of the handful I have yet to see from 2021 that I am most excited to get to
What’ll be your next project after this???? Are we gonna get “best actresses” rankings?
@M*A*S*H- Yes, the plan is the update the acting pages- maybe do a best performance list while I’m doing this- and then after that expand the top 500 to 1000.
Best performance seems really hard to gauge and separate from the movie. Like what do you do about Liv Ulmann and Bibi Anderson in Persona? Is it fair to judge it as two separate performances? Is it the greatest performance ever or is it just Bergman doing his magic?
It’s just tough to separate the performance from the directing/cinematography for some movies. Meanwhile other actresses (looking at you Meryl Streep) seem to almost seek out roles where they won’t be as dependent on the directing (aka less ambitious films). Should this behavior/artistic choice be rewarded?
Idk acting is weird is my conclusion and good luck to you if you attempt to try this. For now I’ll be excited about the Monica Vitti posthumous redemption arc, and I am really curious what you say her best performance is (but it’s La Notte 😁).
@Drake-What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? has a page but is not bolded and hyperlinked.
@Malith- thank you- fixed
@Drake – Congrats on reaching this milestone! Although I’m still baffled by such high regard for Card Counter. Oh, well.)
Unfortunately due to war I’m wasn’t able to watch many 2021 movies (from what I’ve seen Dune is my favourite).
Hope I will be able to continue my cinematic journey soon and post some chaotic thoughts here more often.)
@MadMike- Thank you
Very interesting list as always.
Would probably have liked to have seen Bradley Cooper and Denzel Washington on the male side, with Blanchett on the female side, too, but it’s your list and, at least, you note how big of an achievement those two films are. (I’d also probably rank them both as at least HR/MS).
Anyway, interested to see how the actor lists go. Will be interesting to see if Denzel and Tom Hanks go down, after all they have very few times they are named performance of the year, for their current ranking. Michael Fassbender and Benicio del Toro have 3 each and are not currently on the list – lol!
Why do you think you are so far off from the critical consensus on Drive My Car? To be clear, I am as well, but I just don’t understand what the critics see in this movie. It is maybe the strangest phenomena in my short life of movie fandom. We have a 3-hour Japanese film getting almost universal critical acclaim despite its first 2 hours:
1) being incredibly boring/inaccessible for the casual movie watcher
2) lacking any sort of cinematic style or appeal.
And its 4rd act is an improvement but still it isn’t like Portrait of a lady on fire or anything. Just so strange.
@Matthew Moore- I should have a page for it shortly. It is a fair questions/discussion. First off, there is always the chance I just missed something. I’d like to think it doesn’t happen too often- but it certainly happens. I have only seen the film once and will revisit. But to answer this I would say the critical consensus is just putting an undue emphasis on the literary and emotional wins in Drive Me Car. The film is excellent- but (as least after one view) I am not sure the formal or cinematic artistry on display warrants serious consideration with the best films of 2021.
What are some movies that you got wrong on first viewings? You seem not to miss much so im quite curious.
@James Robbins- There are many. I really struggled with Ozu for years. I walked out of The Master with a HR or HR/MS grade the first time. I missed on Antichrist the first time. Gertrud from Dreyer– there are many more- but these are a few that come to mind right away.
Thanks for a great read over all the years of cinema, some feat. Gotta make a comment for a fellow Aussie, why no Joel Edgerton? I thought his performance in the green knight was the standout, though short. He also shows how talented he is in underground railroad.
@Jagman- You could be right about Edgerton. He has been putting in good work since Animal Kingdom in 2010 and perhaps with two films in the top five of the year it is time to sort of reward him.
No. of films ranked as Must-See (MS) or better (MP, and MS/MP)
(2)1915:2(1 MP, 1 MS)
1914-1919: 5(2 MP, 3 MS)
(1)1920: 1 MP
(2)1921: 2(1 MP, 1 MS)
(3)1922: 3(1 MP, 2 MS)
(4)1923: Nothing (Our Hospitality, HR/MS, highest rated)
(5)1924: 4(2 MP, 2 MS)
(6)1925: 4(2 MP, 2 MS)
(7)1926: 2(1 MP, 1 MS)
(8)1927: 3(2 MP, 1 MS)
(9)1928: 4(1 MP, 1 MS/MP, 2 MS)
(10)1929: Nothing (Pandora’s Box: HR/MS, highest rated)
1920-1929: 23 (11 MP, 1 MS/MP, 11 MS)
(1)1930: 3(2 MP, 1 MS)
(2)1931: 7(2 MP, 5 MS)
(3)1932: 5(1 MP, 4 MS)
(4)1933: 2(2 MS)
(5)1934: 4(2 MP, 1 MS/MP, 1 MS)
(6)1935: 3(1 MS/MP, 2 MS)
(7)1936: 4(1 MP, 3 MS)
(8)1937: 2(1 MP, 1 MS)
(9)1938: 3(1 MP, 2 MS)
(10)1939: 9(4 MP, 5 MS)
1930-1939: 42 (14 MP, 2 MS/MP, 26 MS)
(1)1940: 5(1 MP, 2 MS/MP, 2 MS)
(2)1941: 7(2 MP, 1 MS/MP, 4 MS)
(3)1942: 4(2 MP, 2 MS)
(4)1943: 4(2 MP, 2 MS)
(5)1944: 6(1 MP, 5 MS)
(6)1945: 6(1 MP, 5 MS)
(7)1946: 12(6 MP,1 MS/MP, 5 MS)
(8)1947: 3(2 MP, 1 MS)
(9)1948: 11(5 MP, 2 MS/MP, 4 MS)
(10)1949: 7(3 MP, 4 MS)
1940-1949: 65 (25 MP, 6 MS/MP, 34 MS)
(1)1950: 9(3 MP, 6 MS)
(2)1951: 5(1 MP, 1 MS/MP, 3 MS)
(3)1952: 8(6 MP, 1 MS/MP, 1 MS)
(4)1953: 10(2 MP, 8 MS)
(5)1954: 10(4 MP, 6 MS)
(6)1955: 10(2 MP, 3 MS/MP, 5 MS)
(7)1956: 5(3 MP, 2 MS)
(8)1957: 10(4 MP, 3 MS/MP, 3 MS)
(9)1958: 8(3 MP, 5 MS)
(10)1959: 12(3 MP, 3 MS/MP, 6 MS)
1950-1959: 87 (31 MP, 11 MS/MP, 45 MS)
(1)1960: 13(7 MP, 1 MS/MP, 5 MS)
(2)1961: 13(4 MP, 5 MS/MP, 4 MS)
(3)1962: 13(5 MP, 2 MS/MP, 6 MS)
(4)1963: 9(4 MP, 1 MS/MP, 4 MS)
(5)1964: 9(7 MP, 2 MS)
(6)1965: 10(4 MP, 2 MS/MP, 4 MS)
(7)1966: 7(4 MP, 1 MS/MP, 2 MS)
(8)1967: 9(5 MP, 4 MS)
(9)1968: 5(3 MP, 1 MS/MP, 1 MS)
(10)1969: 8(4 MP, 4 MS)
1960-1969: 96 (47 MP, 13 MS/MP, 36 MS)
(1)1970: 7(3 MP, 4 MS)
(2)1971: 9(5 MP,1 MS/MP, 3 MS)
(3)1972: 7(4 MP, 3 MS)
(4)1973: 11(5 MP, 1 MS/MP, 5 MS)
(5)1974: 7(5 MP, 1 MS/MP, 1 MS)
(6)1975: 8(6 MP, 1 MS/MP, 1 MS)
(7)1976: 10(1 MP, 3 MS/MP, 6 MS)
(8)1977: 3(2 MP, 1 MS/MP)
(9)1978: 7(2 MP, 5 MS)
(10)1979: 7(4 MP, 3 MS)
1979-1979: 76 (37 MP, 8 MS/MP, 31 MS)
(1)1980: 8(3 MP, 1 MS/MP, 4 MS)
(2)1981: 7(2 MP, 5 MS)
(3)1982: 7(3 MP, 2 MS/MP, 2 MS)
(4)1983: 5(2 MP, 3 MS)
(5)1984: 6(3 MP, 3 MS)
(6)1985: 8(4 MP, 1 MS/MP, 3 MS)
(7)1986: 8(3 MP, 5 MS)
(8)1987: 2(1 MP, 1 MS)
(9)1988: 7(3 MP, 1 MS/MP, 3 MS)
(10)1989: 5(3 MP, 1 MS/MP, 1 MS)
1980-1989: 63 (27 MP, 6 MS/MP, 30 MS)
(1)1990: 6(1 MP, 5 MS)
(2)1991: 8(4 MP, 4 MS)
(3)1992: 8(2 MP, 2 MS/MP, 4 MS)
(4)1993: 6(4 MP, 1 MS/MP, 1 MS)
(5)1994: 7(4 MP, 3 MS)
(6)1995: 8(2 MP, 2 MS/MP, 4 MS)
(7)1996: 5(3 MP, 1 MS/MP, 1 MS)
(8)1997: 5(1 MP, 4 MS)
(9)1998: 9(4 MP, 1 MS/MP, 4 MS)
(10)1999: 10(3 MP, 7 MS)
1990-1999: 72 (28 MP, 7 MS/MP, 37 MS)
(1)2000: 11(6 MP, 5 MS)
(2)2001: 10(5 MP, 5 MS)
(3)2002: 9(2 MP, 1 MS/MP, 6 MS)
(4)2003: 6(2 MP, 2 MS/MP, 2 MS)
(5)2004: 8(3 MP, 1 MS/MP, 4 MS)
(6)2005: 6(3 MP, 3 MS)
(7)2006: 6(2 MP, 4 MS/MP)
(8)2007: 10(6 MP, 1 MS/MP, 3 MS)
(9)2008: 2(1 MP, 1 MS/MP)
(9)2009: 11(1 MP, 1 MS/MP, 9 MS)
2000-2009: 79 (31 MP, 11 MS/MP, 37 MS)
(1)2010: 8(4 MP, 4 MS)
(2)2011: 6(3 MP, 1 MS/MP, 2 MS)
(3)2012: 6(2 MP, 4 MS)
(4)2013: 8(2 MP, 2 MS/MP, 4 MS)
(5)2014: 8(2 MP, 1 MS/MP, 5 MS)
(6)2015: 3(2 MP, 1 MS)
(7)2016: 3(1 MP, 1 MS/MP, 1 MS)
(8)2017: 7(1 MP, 3 MS/MP, 3 MS)
(9)2018: 7(4 MP, 3 MS)
(10)2019: 15(4 MP, 1 MS/MP, 10 MS)
2010-2019: 71 (25 MP, 9 MS/MP, 37 MS)
(1)2020: 1 MS
(2)2021: 5 MS
Total: 685 (278 MP, 74 MS/MP, 333 MS)
@AP- Thank you so much compiling this- fascinating to look at
Glad to see the 2021 page up. We are largely in agreement though I am surprised to see The Tragedy of Macbeth at an HR – I would think visuals like that would land it much higher. Do you have a page planned for it at any point soon?
There are a few I’m hoping to see you get to as well.
– C’mon C’mon
– Last Night in Soho
– Parallel Mothers
– The Souvenir Part II
– The Worst Person in the World
– West Side Story
Have you caught any of these and considered them unarchivable? Or are they mostly just films you haven’t seen yet?
@DeclanG- Thank you- hmm- “much higher” on The Tragedy of Macbeth? I saw it in theater and would like a home viewing and a better chance to take some notes before I put together a page for it. Since putting the page together I have had a chance to see both West Side Story and Benedetta- both are solidly in the archives but will not change the top ten. I hope to get to the rest soon. I’d add Petite Maman, Red Rocket, and Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy among a few others to that very short list.
Very much looking forward to all of those pages. Personally I consider Macbeth a masterpiece. I would be open to arguments pointing out specific flaws that I might have missed which could downgrade it slightly, but I do consider it among the most visually accomplished films of 2021, on the same level as a couple of others (The French Dispatch for example). There is barely a frame wasted on anything less than beautiful expressionism. I have put more of my thoughts on it here: https://scenebygreen.com/2022/02/13/the-tragedy-of-macbeth-2021/
@DeclanG- great- thank you for sharing
I’m really glad to see The French Dispatch was recognized as the MS film that it certainly deserves to be – maybe even a MP in my opinion. I find it really weird how some people just dismissed it as a traditional Wes Anderson film, making it sound something not special at all. I think quite on the contrary; it is one of Wes’s best and a miracle to get a movie this well-made, funny, peculiar and easy-going.
I have lots of stuff to catch up with, but going through your archives I would only add Zeros and Ones, Cry Macho and The Matrix Resurrections. Also, spot on with The Hand of God ranking, Drake!
Surprised Liquorice Pizza is so low considering how much you adore PTA. What deterred you about it?
I thought it was excellent and brilliantly shot.
@Joshua Gregory – I thought it was excellent as well- just found more to praise in the 10-11 films or so ahead of it from 2021. I certainly look forward to a second viewing.
Bit sad that my two favourite movies of the year; The Tragedy of Macbeth and Licorice Pizza couldn’t crack the top 10. Still a great list though.
Love to see The French Dispatch, The Green Knight and Nightmare Alley appreciation. Still yet to see The Card Counter so that has now vaulted up my watchlist. Surprised to see that you’re a bit apart from the critical consensus of Drive My Car. That was next on my 2021 movies to watch but now reading your take, I’m surprised what all the rave reviews are about if it’s not that “cinematic”.
Like others I’d recommended The Worst Person in the World. I currently have that as a HR
Also, considering you currently have zero MP from the last two years. That begs me to ask, how many views for you does it normally take for a film to become a Masterpiece? Or do you normally get the sense after the first viewing?
@Joel- Thanks for the commend. A second viewing for both Macbeth and Licorice Pizza are on the horizon. You should definitely see Drive My Car and see if I missed anything.
As far as The Worse Person in the World- I am very excited to get to it.
Good question on how many views it normally takes for a film to become a masterpiece. I do not keep track of that- but Id say more than half of the viewings take more than a visit. I am usually not in any rush to crown a film as a masterpiece, so more than half the time it takes at least two viewings if that makes sense.
@Drake-Haven’t you seen or even heard about the Bergman Island(2021)?
@Malith- I was able to catch Bergman Island- did not quite make the archives after one viewing
Wow. A bit surprising. It is a must-see on Metacritic
@Malith – for sure. It was not one of the consensus top 30 films of 2021 from the critics on Metacritic- but still surprising.
Good job as always, Drake. Any word on Last Night in Soho: is it not worthy of the archives or have you yet to see it?
@Haider- thank you– have not had a chance to catch Last Night in Soho yet
I went through each yearly archive page and put together a list of every film with a HR/MS or higher grade if anyone is interested. 821 films total and hopefully not inevitably missing too many.
@Harry- Amazing- really appreciate you taking the time to put this together.
@Drake – What are some of your favorite films of 2022 so far? I was a big fan of Elvis and what Baz Luhrmann did with it. I also liked the Northman, though I felt the last third of it did not match the quality of the first two thirds–I have only had one viewing so far, though.
I am hoping the best is yet to come and look forward to Andrew Dominik’s Blonde and Chazelle’s Babylon when they’re released. I guess Scorsese pushed Killers of the Flower Moon to 2023. Thanks.
@Scott- I currently have fifteen (15) films in the archives for 2022– not a bad number for August 6th. And I certainly have some work to do to catch what I need to catch. I have not had a chance to see Elvis yet unfortunately- but should remedy that shortly. The Northman is right there with at or near the top- and I would agree with you on the first half being stronger than the second (or your thirds breakdown works). The movie year is almost always backloaded with the best films of the year and I have little doubt 2022 will be the same. I’m pumped for Blonde– Babylon– and some others including Bardo from Iñárritu.
Bardo, Babylon and Blond are also my big 3. After that I would throw in Spielberg’s autobiographical film called The Fablemens. I’m of course a Spielberg admirer and it being autobiographical make me even more interested. David Lynch is also casted in it and he’s my favorite mad man
I’m at the Venice Film Festival currently and got to say that all of you might want to watch out for TAR with Cate Blanchett, directed by Todd Field. It’s absolutely explosive film-making and Cate’s performance is an absolute all-timer. One of the reviews that call it her ‘Raging Bull’ and that wouldn’t be wrong. I have to say Field has matured exponentially as a director. Excited to see the reactions to this movie which I’m guessing might be a tad divisive.
As for Bardo, I was so excited to watch it but kind of let down. Some of the stuff is magnificent but felt like the movie was too self-indulgent. Although I don’t agree with the extremely negative reviews it’s getting, does feel like AGI has made a rare misstep. Might change my thoughts on the second or third viewing though.
@Anirudh – How exciting about TAR and you being at the Venice film festival- thank you so much for sharing. I’ve been tracking this every day. I saw reviews for both as they trickled in yesterday.
As for Bardo- I was crushed to see some of the early reviews. I will say this though, many of the critics are saying the same self-indulgent or “pretentious”. Obviously I haven’t seen the film yet so I’m not defending it or him- but I just cannot think of another film I’d say that about.
Absolutely. I wager these next 4 months alone will be better than the entirety of the previous 8 (not exactly the hottest take ever I guess.)
My pleasure! Love your site! I think many of the early reviews in Venice were too hyperbolic – like I said I’m still ruminating as to where I land on this movie but I have to say that I abslutely adored some of the craftsmanship on display by Inarritu and Khondji.
As for TAR, found it to be captivating – I’m reallyy curious to see how people respond to it, especially the third act. It has become a bit divisive as evidenced by Paul Schrader’s assessment of the movie on Facebook.
Man, I’m jealous. Would love to be there. Were you able to catch Blonde?
@Matthew- Blonde hasn’t premiered over there yet, that’ll be September 8th.
@Matthew- It is an awesome time of year. Sam Mendes film Empire of Light debuts today at Telluride. Luca Guadagnino’s yesterday in Venice- tomorrow Aronofsky.
I’ll catch it soon, on the 8th!
Based on Tar and Blonde’s trailers I think that these films are trying to do a lot and they can end up being something really big or will fail, there’s nothing in between. It’s like based on the trailers of The Tree of Life and the next 3 films by Malick. They were trying to do something really big and tackling large themes and the tree of life ended up succeeding on every single level while the next 3 failed. So I’m not criticizing Tar and Blonde without even watching them, I’m just saying it can go either way. We all know Dominick is capable of something big but same can’t be said for Todd Field. I hope both of these films live up to the hype. And ofc I’m pretty certain none of those 2 will be Raging bull.
On the other hand(and i may be wrong) there’s little to nothing that’ll go wrong in Mendes’ Empire of Light. It’s him treading his familiar category. The trailer for that was gorgeous. There are establishing shots of titular theatre and Colman’s face through glass. Just by the description of the character it feels like something Emily Watson would excell in but I know Colman will be excellent as well. Deakin’s cinematography can’t be doubted either.
@M*A*S*H- Even if they do not fully land- we should all appreciate Netflix shelling out big money to seemingly artistically ambitious projects like Blonde and Bardo. It won’t last forever- so we should try to enjoy it.
@Drake- definitely, I’m just saying they can go either way. I know nothing about Brado but Tar looks like Drive My Car kind of ambitious and Blonde is going black & white, color, documentary-like which is a lot. I hope everything is balanced out perfectly in these films. On the contrary I said Empire of Light will be plain and simple gorgeously shot (1917), meticulously designed (road to predation) and brilliantly lit (skyfall) period (revolutionary rd. / predation/ 1917) drama (American beauty) from Sam Mendes and Roger Deakins.
I for sure appreciate the time we’re in and the kind of movies produced now. I’m most of all excited for Babylon.
Do you mind letting us know some of those archivable films? I’ve got 9 myself at the moment but I’m always looking for more that I might have overlooked or underrated. In no order:
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Top Gun: Maverick
Apollo 10 1/2
I haven’t been following 2022 to well. Which 2-3 of these should I prioritize (not named The Batman, The Northman and Top Gun)?
Also Nope is certainly archivable.
@Matthew- I’m with DeclanG here. Everything Everywhere All At Once would be the one to prioritize given the scenario here. I can’t say anything else (outside of that and the films you mention here) will have a serious chance to flirt with a top ten slot for 2022.
Yea that’s what I was thinking. I’ve seen Everything Everywhere All At Once getting insanely high praise. I hope it lives up to the hype for me
I haven’t seen Everything Everywhere All At once* sorry typo
@DeclanG- Sure- so I have these films minus Men and Elvis (have not had a chance to see these yet). I have a few that are right on the fringe of the archives- films like the newly arrived 13 Lives, Crimes of the Future, Cha Cha Real Smooth and a few others). My sort of sleeper of the year is Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile. It was dismissed by most critics yet has some marvelous 65mm photography
Thanks, very interesting picks. I haven’t actually heard of 13 Lives so I may check that out. Crimes of the Future is not out here but I am eagerly anticipating it, and I actually originally passed up seeing Cha Cha Real Smooth but may have to look into it now. Death on the Nile is an interesting one, the cinematography in the black-and-white opening really stunned me, there were some great flourishes in the camerawork later on, and I really enjoy a good murder mystery, but there were parts here and there that left me a little underwhelmed. Still a solid effort overall. Do you believe then it was a step up from Murder on the Orient Express from a few years ago since that wasn’t originally archived?
@DeclanG- I do think it is superior to Murder on the Orient Express. I went back and caught that one again and it’ll be in the archives with the next update. Don’t get me wrong- both films have flaws and neither film is going to make their years’ respective top 10 (or even that close)- but this one surprised me- especially those first 20 minutes. I only watched it on a sort of whim- I figured anything from Branagh deserved to be seen
Everything Everywhere All At Once is wonderful, and after that probably Elvis. I have not seen Nope yet but keen to get to it maybe within the next week or two.
I don’t blame you if you haven’t seen this because there are 5 prior seasons needed before watching this, or really 10, because the 5 seasons of Breaking Bad are very significant in the last couple episodes, but Better Call Saul season 6 (which started around May of 2022 I believe and wrapped up tonight) is absolutely archivable. Breaking Bad is among the greatest shows ever (especially in those last couple seasons where the intensity/drama in the narrative cranks up thousandfold and the creators get a little more bold visually) but as far as cinematic style and formal/structural ambition goes, Better Call Saul fully surpasses it. And really any other show I’ve seen to date. The structuring of the narrative over the last several episodes has blown my mind. Intertwining several different timelines (from both multiple parts In Breaking Bad and various parts in Better Call Saul) in completely unique ways and having them build off each other subtextually, switching off between black and white photography and color through the process. It’s formally so sound, so much recurring elements and imagery (pretty much all episodes start off with a seemingly insignificant object (that we know plays an important role because of how systematic the show is with this formula (which actually creates intrigue and mystery surrounding this object) that ends up coming full circle and being significant at the end of the episode, it gives each episode sort of bookends). It also has some of the best compositions I’ve seen on television, I’ve recently been doing a Antonioni study and there are so many Antonioni esque compositions in Better Call Saul that visually capture the detachment and alienated mood of characters. This sort of visual and structural/formal ambition is sorely missing in the TV game but Better Call Saul has given me hope that it’s out there, we just often miss it because we assume that auteurship only really manifests itself in film. I hope I can bring a little attention to this great work that I think a lot of cinephiles miss, but would think quite highly of if they gave it a shot.
I don’t watch a whole lot of television, but Better Call Saul is one I have been following. I agree that I can’t really think of any other non-auteur driven television shows that are as artistically accomplished as this – it’s just operating on a whole other level, even beyond other prestige shows like the early seasons of Game of Thrones (which had solid writing more than astounding visual flair), though it is still surpassed by a lot of films.
If you were to pin an auteur to it at all, would you say it is Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould though? Is it their visual style we are seeing, even in those episodes they don’t direct? It starts to get tricky with television shows such as these where each episode is in a different set of hands. I wonder where you should draw the line between film and TV, if you do at all.
@Matthew – well said, I am a big fan of Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad. I agree with you that both of these shows are Cinematic to a degree rarely seen on TV. Vince Gilligan grew up loving Westerns and both these shows (more so Breaking Bad) use Western Tropes.
With that said it can be difficult to it can be difficult to assess given that Gilligan does not direct every episode and instead there have been numerous people who have directed episodes over the 5 Seasons of Breaking Bad and 6 Seasons of Better Call Saul.
These two shows, which are set in the same Universe, are visually superior to any other TV show that I have ever seen. The writing and narrative are so crucial to these shows and unlike a film these shows utilized an entire team of writers throughout their respective runs. In fact, Gilligan admits he had no idea where both of these shows were going right from the start. Gilligan and his team of writers would purposely write themselves into corners as a method for maximizing their creatively. I think these factors present some challenges in trying to compare these shows to movies.
Good point about the serialised nature of these shows not having endpoints in mind. I think this is one of the biggest distinctions between film and television, cinematic style aside. A lot of television shows are designed to just keep going until they either find an endpoint or lose enough viewers that they are cancelled. Even if they have the endpoint in mind from the start, the journey there is rarely very mapped out in detail. This isn’t to insult the writing on shows like Better Call Saul or Breaking Bad at all – I absolutely agree it is some of the best on television at the moment – but I think it does distinguish the medium from film in this way.
@DeclanG – well said, difficult to compare mediums.
Another aspect of these two shows that deserves praise is the pacing, especially with the current demand for shows that people can “binge watch”
I enjoyed the Netflix show “Ozark” starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney which had 4 very solid seasons of great performances, impressive visuals, and intriguing narrative. However, the pacing in Ozark became so accerlerated that so many plot twists and problems were occuring in a single episode that it cheapens the pay off. Practically every episode was ending in a cliff hanger.
Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul were both incredibly patient in building their narratives, I mean for Breaking Bad the entire show is building toward a showdown between High School Chemistry teacher turned Meth Kingpin, Walter White, and his DEA Agent brother in law, Hank Schrader. Hank does not figure out Walts the guy he has been chasing all along until the 54th episode! Think about that, freakin 54 epsiodes of build up! At 44 min per episode that is 40 hours of build up.
That’s a fair distinction to make between the two mediums. And I think that actually makes me think even higher of Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad as both shows have so many recurring elements that occur throughout the show (even from early seasons to late seasons). It doesn’t feel like something that was ad-libbed along the way, it feels methodically planned out and from 1 consistent vision.
The main inspiration for Batter Call Saul’s cinematography are The Searchers and The Conformist.
Thanks for the link. Will check it out
Wanna see auteur tv…. Watch The Leftovers by Damon Lindelof. Daunting themes. Phenomenal writing. Astounding cinematography not only images but camera movement, symbolisms through camera placement. Carrie Coon. It’s a piritual achievement.
Also Mr. Robot 95% of it’s episodes are directed by Sam Esmail.
Yea it gets hard to answer that question because so many people have hands in directing episodes. Those are certainly-if you had to narrow it down to the most basic source- the 2 main brains behind the shows. The episodes do have a consistent visual style. Even if you take 5 episodes from Better Call Saul that were directed by different people, you would never really know that it was, it all feels similar and ultimately is (even when held up to scrutiny). So there clearly is 1 consistent stylistic vision that’s coming from somewhere/someone, it’s probably Vince. They often employ many members of the cast to direct certain episodes too, and those episodes don’t dip in quality or stray from the style former episodes have adopted, so I question how much creative liberty the fill-in directors actually have.
Also curious what James thinks.
@Mattbew – I’d love to give an answer but to be honest but given that there are exactly 25 directors for each show (links below) I would have to give a more indepth look which would require quite a lot of time. But generally speaking I would agree that I never noticed a significant shift in the visual style from episode to episode although at the same time I was so bogged down in the amazing narratives and rich characters that I probably did not as much time thinking about the visuals (especially for Breaking Bad since I watched it before the beginning of my film appreciation journey)
Breaking Bad Directors
Better Call Saul Directors
From what I can tell, film and TV do not have transposable job descriptions. On set, the TV showrunner is always the creative authority (auteur), who according to wikipedia “In United States network television are typically credited as an executive producer”. The directors are there to replicate the shows tone and look, to get the job done. A film equivalent might be George Lucas and the directors of empire and RotJ.
I’m a little late but James were you able to catch the Emmys? Better Call Saul is now 0-46 (46 nominations and 0 wins to show for it) *sigh*. I’m not entirely sure how it works but they supposedly can still win next year (show is eligible for 1 more year) so fingers crossed. It deserves many awards but I hope it can atleast bring ONE home (whether that’s best drama, best cinematography, best performance for Bob/Rhea, etc doesn’t matter to me, just something). The writing is too sharp, the performances are too great, and you just don’t come across images like this in television often (https://imgur.com/gallery/M1XTawi) for it to be empty-handed.
Also info on Gilligan’s next show if you’re interested. He’s teaming up with Rhea again which is super exciting https://deadline.com/2022/09/vince-gilligan-next-series-rhea-seehorn-star-apple-tv-plus-two-season-order-1235124488/
@Matthew – I have ranted about the Oscar’s multiply times on this site so I’ll keep it short; I have fully given up on Award Shows (although I never really followed the Emmy’s much)
They just constantly disappoint and over time I think their importance fades. How often does Driving Miss Daisy get talked about compared to Do the Right Thing? What about Art Carney’s performance as Harry Coombes (1974 best actor) compared to Jack Nicholson as J.J. “Jake” Gittes and Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in GF2 (2 monster performances that were nominated but did not win). Basically, I followed them a bit when I was younger basically during the 2000s but was disappointed frequently so gave up over time.
Regarding Better Call Saul, it is an amazing show I didn’t think it would be anywhere close to Breaking Bad in quality and am shocked that not only did they in some peoples mind equal Breaking Bad but even surpassed it. Although I am of the opinion that Breaking Bad was superior it is certainly a legimate conversation. With all that said it does surprise me somewhat given both its popularity and critical acclaim but none the less I won’t lose sleep over it.
I hope Rhea Seehorn will get some big opportunities going forward as I think Kim is almost as important to the show as Bob Odenkirk.
I’ve only really been super obsessed with film for about 3 years now so I haven’t had many opportunities for a lot of disappointment with award shows. I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point I, similar to you, just completely give up on it and don’t award it any thought whatsoever. Which sucks because I like the idea of award shows in theory, it’s nice to see these artists get recognition for their work, but when looking back, I can’t help but be frustrated with how often the Oscars/Emmy’s are completely off. I’m not 100% married to this idea but I think having the award shows 10 or so years after the movies’ release should be an idea that’s considered. I think history has shown us way more times than not that people generally have a much better read on something when looking back on it than they did in the moment. I think this could be a way to potentially improve the Oscars and make their award shows seem a little more valid. But of course moments like Carney over Pacino in 1974 are just so bad that it’s inexcusable in any context, and it almost makes me want to go full nihilist with award shows when thinking about it lol
I think it might be a 2022 film but has anyone seen The Black Phone? It’s a horror with Ethan Hawke playing the Villain. It looks interesting but wanted to see if anyone here has watched.
@James Trapp- I saw it a little over a month ago. It is not one of my 18 2022 films in the archives right now- but it is probably one of the strongest of the films that didn’t quite make the cut. Hawke is good and there are some nods to Lang’s “M”.
James, I saw a comment a couple weeks ago where you did a Gyllenhaal ranking. Could you direct me it? I forgot what page it was on
@Matthew- on the Enemy page I think http://thecinemaarchives.com/2017/10/02/enemy-2013-villeneuve/
Has anyone seen The Woman King (2022)?
Unsurprisingly, much of the talk about it so far is about its content, politics, social issues, etc.
I don’t know much about the director, Gina Prince-Bythewood, but from what I can see most of her previous films are romantic dramas while this is a historical epic. However, she did direct The Old Guard (2020) which appears to be an action/fantasy film. None the less Viola Davis is one of my favorite actresses, she never disappoints.
@James Trapp- I have not caught this one yet so hopefully others can chime in for you.
Speak no Evil is a 2022 Danish/Dutch film directed by Christian Tafdrup. Has anyone else caught this? It’s an effective Psychological horror, a slow burn thriller with some social satire, some similarities to Jordan Peele. I admit some of the social satire went a little over my head since it was apparently related to Danish and Dutch culture, of which I know little about but some of the reviews I read explained this.
@James Trapp- Have not had the chance to catch this one yet
Drake have you seen The Forgiven? It’s John Michael McDonagh’s latest film and shot by Larry Smith (Refn and Kubrick collaborator), great performances from Ralph Fienes (he really sticks out here), Jessica Chaistain and Matt Smith.
Not the most visually stunning work but has a lot of great use of background just like in Calvary and the ending is one to stick with you.
@Harry – Not yet, but this one is on my radar- figured after Calvary I should make sure I try to catch what John Michael McDonagh has to offer
I caught this one the other day and it is worth recommending. The only other one of her films I have seen is Love and Basketball which I found far from impressive, making this a significant step up. Reminds me a lot of films like Braveheart, Gladiator, or Spartacus, with some really nicely staged war set pieces, though it isn’t so much a tale of one warrior’s rise than it is of their own relationships within their tribe. You have to admire the production design, and it’s a really solid cast as well – beyond Viola Davis we’ve also got John Boyega, Thuso Mbedu, and Lashana Lynch. I don’t think it will blow minds but it’s a very solid 2 and a bit hours.
* This was in reply to James Trapp re The Woman King.
@Declan – thanks for getting back to me, this is what I kind of expected. Admittingly it does seem to scream Oscar Bait between the late year release and several of the films elements, here is one definition:
“Films seen as Oscar bait often have distinct characteristics. Lavishly produced epic-length period dramas, often set against tragic historical events, are frequently seen this way and often contend for the technical Oscars such as cinematography, makeup and hairstyling, costume design or production design”
Then again not all films with Oscar Bait traits end up being terrible. Power of the Dog (2021) would seem to fit into the definition of Oscar Bait and I think it ended up being great. I actPually watched Gladitor recently after not seeing it for at least 10 or 15 years. It was not as great as I remembered but still very entertaining and with some great performances. I probably won’t go out of my way to see The Woman King now but once its on Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. I’ll check it out
For anyone who has seen Last Night in Soho, what grade would you give it?
I would give it a R, borderline HR. The first two thirds of the movie are excellent. Well paced, nicely shot, great editing, great soundtrack, and what I think is strong acting from the two leads. All things I would expect from Wright films.
What holds the film back for me is the narratives and themes. Narrative is an aspect I value more highly than other aspects (compared to Drake), so it took a big ding. Right around the third period we all know the ending. Thematically it could have driven its message home harder, but the narrative muddied the message.
@Bullweather – thanks for the response, sounds like its worth checking out. I’m trying to get a little up to date with some of the more recents films, basically last 2-3 years. 2018 and especially 2019 were so incredible that naturally its difficult to follow that up.
@James Trapp, Yes worth checking out. There is a particular staircase shot that is breathtaking early on.
Yes, I have a lot of catching up to do on recent movies. One I’ve been waiting for is Decision to Leave by Park Chan-wook. I don’t think he’s put anything out since The Handmaiden, which blew me away (great narrative twists and turns), so that’s atop of my list.
@James – I’d give it an HR. It reminded me a fair bit of Argento who you did a recent study so I imagine you’d appreciate it. Has some great stuff and some weaker moments. Third act is not too good.
I would go with HR, or at the very least R/HR. I don’t think Edgar Wright’s scripts are as sharp as they used to be but he’s definitely improved over the years as a visual stylist. Of course the trademark editing is still there as well, and the Giallo lighting has a huge impact.
@James Trapp, Yes worth checking out. There is a particular staircase shot that is breathtaking early on.
Yes, I have a lot of catching up to do on recent movies. One I’ve been waiting for is Decision to Leave by Park Chan-wook. I don’t think he’s put anything out since The Handmaiden, which blew me away (great narrative twists and turns), so that’s atop of my list.
@Bullweather – yeah, right now its on Amazon Prime for $15, once its on sale or available to rent Im gonna check it out. Decision to Leave is great, I made a rare trip to NYC (about 1 hr 15 min away) to see it. Met up with my sister and made a night out of it. Impressive for sure, I recently completed a Park Study but already want to see Decision to Leave again, its very different watching films when I can’t pause, rewind scenes,etc.
Just watched Decision to Leave this past weekend actually. My local theater was playing fortunately enough… It reminded me a lot of Kon’s Millennium Actress the way the flashbacks were edited.
@Bullweather- Thank you for sharing this- haven’t heard the Millennium Actress comparison yet- very interesting.
I saw Decision to leave 2 days ago, and it’s been on my mind since then, like the pictures are imprinted in my mind. Need to see it again, might be my film of the year.
Has anyone seen Barbarian (2022)? That is one of the most “What the f*ck?” movies I’ve seen in awhile. I’m at a loss for words
@Matthew- Wild movie- caught it a few weeks ago and added it to the archives
“Wild” is exactly correct. Im not exactly sure just how good it is, but it’s undeniably a wild experience haha
I liked it a lot tho. It started off in a way that seemed very predictable, and then it got really interesting
I had a great time with that one. Reminded of Psycho in a lot of ways – the accomodation setting, the creepy but charming guy you’re not quite sure what to make of, the mid-narrative twist, perspective shift, and of course the over-protective “Mother” who will kill for her “children”. But it also does well to set itself apart from Hitchcock’s film as well. I love the flashback to the 80s with the wide-angle lens, bright colours, and back-of-head tracking shots – such an uneasy atmosphere that is so aesthetically distinct from the rest of the film but well earned.
I thought they were doing a Psycho with killing off the female protagonist half way through, then they hit me with the double misdirection and revealed she was still alive (in quite intense fashion). Agreed on the flashback/bright colour section
Hi Drake, have you (or anyone else on this site) caught X or Pearl from this year? It seems like an interesting series Ti West is building, but I’m on the fence about whether I should prioritise them if they’re not worth my time, especially given how much other great stuff is coming out as we head into awards season.
@DeclanG- Yes on X- I caught it a month or two ago and it is solidly in the archives. I have not had a chance to catch Pearl yet but will be all over it as soon as it starts streaming somewhere.
Has anyone seen Succession or Atlanta? I’m particularly interested in the latter after having watched this video: https://youtu.be/8rOU9wrEsoo. I am also just a fan of Glover and love his extremely experimental approach to art in general
@Matthew – I’ve seen the first two seasons of Atlanta, it’s a funny and sometimes creative show but I lost interest. Glover is someone I consider a complete hack but even he’s pretty witty here. Might check out the latest 2 seasons sometime.
Succession is the best thing on TV since Better Call Sau imo and already one of the all timers in TV. There’s a slight auteur edge with Adam McKay directing the first episode. Just one of those things where the more you watch and think about it the stronger it gets. The performances and characters will blow you away. In terms of the standards for visual art on cinema archives, copy-pasting the direction into a movie wouldn’t make a top 5 of the year one, but there’s a good consistency with close ups, hand held camera work, gorgeous establishing shots. The satire / subtle humour I really like.
Also since the Fincher page has been getting traffic today, the opening credits of Sucession are taken from Fincher, particularly The Game (1997) but flipped to fit the show.
Not a Glover fan? Haha. I don’t really blame you. If I were to focus on his lower artistic moments I would think the same things (it can get real bad) but he has had some very redeeming moments in his artistic career. And he never seems afraid to test his limits and try something new, I respect that. He, as a person, has always amused me as well, for better or worse
I started the show yesterday and I heard coming into it that Atlanta abandons being the pretty straightforward drama/comedy by the later parts of the show (particularly starting with season 3). And then gets much more conceptually and cinematically ambitious. I’m enjoying it so far, the writing has been hilarious and super sharp, but I’m really holding out for the later seasons
Succession sounds great. I’m much more interested in film than television but I will have to get to that down the road
Has anyone seen Triangle of Sadness? What are your thoughts on it?
@RujK – I have not as of yet- excited for it.
Has anyone seen RRR? I laughed it off when it came out but I recently (for really no reason) decided to click on this video: https://youtu.be/5X5i4qN6M88 and some of these shots are actually really incredible and inventive haha (which *really* caught me off guard)
I did watch it and had a fun time, but was a little underwhelmed by the filmmaking. There’s a huge reliance on CGI and an overstretched narrative, though I would still listen to arguments that it’s worth another look if there were any solid reasons put forward. It’s ballsy in parts, but the line between laughing with and at the film is pretty thin.
@Matthew – I have seen it and do have it in the archives for 2022.
Drake, have you thought about updating the yearly pages by adding the films that you archived after posting the page instead of waiting until you redo them?
@George- I have- and I’d love to update every page (director, yearly, actor) as we go- it is just more work than I can handle – at least right now.
@everyone- off an running with the critics composite top 10s for 2022 – https://www.metacritic.com/feature/film-critics-pick-10-best-movies-of-2022?ref=hp and https://criticstop10.com/best-movies-of-2022/
@Drake Any thoughts on Aftersun and Tar? They seem to be leading many lists and unfortunately I haven’t yet gotten a chance to watch them. Do you think they’re worth checking out on the big screen?
@Brian- Unfortunately I have not had a chance at either yet- theater or home. They are right up there near the top of my wish list to see- but I don’t think Aftersun played anywhere near me in theater and Tar is out on bluray in like 2 weeks so I’m just going that route here.
Glowing praise from Scorsese as well:
Gosh, I’m so excited to watch this movie!
Also caught Bardo and loved it, the critics really messed up on that one
Has anyone seen Hustle? Is it like-a real film-or an Adam Sandler movie?
@Matthew – I haven’t seen it but I believe its a straight-forward sports drama rather than a typical Sandler comedy. Probably only worth watching if you’re interesting in basketball like that
@All- for those that have been talking about this on other pages- I read this and think it is worth reading and sharing https://www.worldofreel.com/blog/2022/12/heguzc0vi0u7hz41s470ffjvxk9j0d – Jordan Ruimy at worldofreel does a great job
@All – if you read only one 2023 most anticipated preview- https://www.criterion.com/current/posts/8031-the-most-anticipated-films-of-2023?utm_source=braze&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=current-newsletter&utm_content=december-31-2022
interesting read indeed, thank you drake
Love this. Fincher, Michael Mann, Wes Anderson, Scorsese, Ari Aster, Chris Nolan, Gerwig, Ridley Scott, Villeneuve, Pawlikowski, Guadagnino, Todd Haynes, Lanthimos, Sofia Coppola, Argento, Steve McQueen. And also potentially Francis Ford Coppola and the Safdie Brothers… all in one year? Uhhh…. What?
Polanski has a new film too. But we are not allowed to talk about it. I watched Ghost Writer(2010) and An Officer and a Spy(2019) recently. Both movies are amazing. And have stunning sequences/shots. Polanski hasn’t lost it at all.
@Matthew- Looks so promising- I mean some of these will be pushed to 2024- but still. 2023 looks to be a big year- and I think cinema needs it.
@Matthew – The trailer for Zhang Yimou’s next film just came out a few days ago too, one I am looking foward to
Link? I can’t find it for some reason
@Matthew – sorry for late reply, here’s the youtube link:
Has anyone seen Cronenberg’s Crimes of Future? Is it one of the best of 2022?
@Matthew-it is in the archives. Check the year 2013 comments at the end
Hi Drake, did you come across many more 2021 films that were an HR or higher since putting together this page?
@DeclanG- I think a few HRs– but nothing that will blow your hair back. I have plans for a top films of the 2020s thus far page after I put up the 2022 page and all the HR films and above should be on that list.
Dune is a gigantic masterpiece. Best so far of the decade I think, cant wait to see part 2
https://youtu.be/zQ29UhAolHY Nice little video if anyone is interested
Drake, is Pacifiction on your radar? It topped Cahiers du Cinema top 10 of 2022. Have you seen any other movie directed by Albert Serra?
@George- I remember seeing the top 10 when it came out but that’s about it. Thanks for the heads up- not really on my radar. I’ll keep an eye out for it. And nope on Albert Serra either
Have you seen that Blonde is nominated for the worst movie of the year and Dominik for the worst director at Razzies? Wtf
I presume that’s coming from the average movie watcher who evaluates them entirely on emotional impact/offended by the content instead of the artistry on display.
@RujK and @LeBron Smith- Yes I saw this- I have seen the movie twice now. A razzie here ridiculous. If you aren’t- you should check out WorldofReel https://www.worldofreel.com/blog/2023/1/pr1j3g3002yrttlta9y0z7tp5u4q10 – one of my favorite websites- I check it often
Drake have you seen Skinamarink? I don’t have much to add… just that it’s simply a very, very unique experience that I think is worth a look
Fair warning to anyone else: this film requires godly levels of patience
Sorry for the double message, but I think it’s a pretty big win that something this experimental, low budget, and inaccessible was playing all over the nation in AMC’s
@Matthew – I have not had a chance to see Skinamarink as of yet
Drake, if a film is shown at a film festival in 2021, but it doesn’t actually release anywhere until 2022, what year would that go to for the archives?
I’m asking because I watched a film by Phil Tippett (one of the masterminds behind the ATAT Walkers in Empire Strikes back, among miniatures/puppets in Star Wars and Jurassic Park) called Mad God and it’s absolutely outrageous. It’s a passion project he’d been working on for 30 years. I’m no expert on stop-motion but this feels like it has to be among the best animation to ever come from the medium (it’s the best I’ve seen by far). Not sure if stop motion is a turn off for anyone, but this isn’t normal stop motion that’s for younger audiences, it’s extremely violent/gory and philosophical. Would recommend it as I think it’s one of the best films to release this year
@Matthew- Good question – I use the date of the premiere- so this would be 2021 in this case. The compiled critics lists will often use the day they saw the movie – so like Benediction from Terence Davies is a 2021 film and will not be on my 2022 page. Thank you for the recommendation on Mad God – have not had a chance yet to see it
Drake I have a question, assuming all seasons of a tv show are archivable, how would you archive it if there were multiple seasons over a multi-year span? Would you archive each season individually under each yearly page? I don’t have anything in mind, just curious
@Matthew- I think it depends on the show and arc. If it is a series like True Detective with different arcs, different actors, etc- I think you should look at them seperately. If it is a longer narrative arc/vision over years like Breaking Bad or something I think you just include it either the first year it came out (as sort of the premiere) maybe noting the years it spans like 2001-2004 or something like that
That’s fair. TV shows can be formulated so differently that it’s probably best to take it case by case
Want anyone to chime in here, but what do you think if the best shot of the 2020s so far?
My choice would be the 360 shot of Dev Patel tied up in The Green Knight with the seasons passing and his body decomposing, which excellently ties into the film’s themes of time.
Maybe one of the stunning oner’s in Babylon could take that spot too, but I need more viewings since there’s so much to take in there.
@Harry Great question- Going to give this one some thought.
@Harry – for this year, take your pick from these I watched this one again and it may be a MP
I love this shot from Mank (2020), it is the first picture from the link below, really cool seeing Fincher going with monochrome as much as I love his usual color palette
I love this doorway frame in Power of the Dog, first picture in link below
Excited to see Drakes 2022 page, Decision to leave and Bardo were the highlights for me.
@Oliver – me too. I’m happy with how 2022 turned out. A really solid year after the underwhelming 2020 and 2021.
Drake, have you seen EO? Is it archivable/worth seeing? Premise doesn’t really interest me, feels gimmicky, but I’ve seen a lot of critics claim it’s one of the best of the year.
@Matthew- I have not, but it is on my short list to want to get to
It is directed by Polanski’s friend for 60+ years.
Has anyone watched Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) and if so do you think it is potential MP level or near MP level?
HR for me. I think it’s a little overrated (it’s a good movie but I don’t understand the acting Oscars).
I have it as a MS. The acting is pretty great and the writing and visuals are inventive, but what makes it a great film really is the editing, which is just off the charts.
It’s one of the worst films I’ve seen
Recently had a second viewing of The Northman. Had it HR the first time, now I’m thinking of MS. The visuals are marvelous. Do you think it could be a MS grade @Drake?
@LeBron Smith- I am hoping to finalize my 2022 page soon – still waiting on 4-5 films to see. Sorry for the delay on The Northman and others. Have you seen Eggers other films as well?
@Drake – Yes. Had a R/HR leaning HR on The Witches and a HR on The Lighthouse. Had a HR on The Northman after my first viewing and strongly considering a MS after a recent second viewing but still mulling it over.
I have only seen The Northman once (gave it a HR), but MS feels very appropriate. I could go there myself with a second viewing.
I was just curious when the archive entry for 2022 would be posted? I’m excited to see your thoughts on last year!
@Matthew Jones- Thank you for visiting the website and the comment. I was hoping to post it by now- but there are a handful the most highly regarded 2022 films I have yet to see. So I’m hoping for April 1 – that’s my goal.
@Drake – Will the male actors list start after that? I noticed all the old pages are down now
@Harry- Yes, starting to work on them now
Awesome! Thanks for your response!
Schrader has actually filmed and semi-released his next film called Master Gardener(2022). And Joel Edgerton is the lucky star. Also starring Sigourney Weaver. The film has only mildly positive reviews at the moment and not widely seen.