The 50 best films of 2022

From Iranian runaways to Indian revolutionaries, Tom Cruise’s flyer to Brazilian gasolinheiras – the 50 best films that more than 90 of our critics saw in cinemas, at festivals and online in 2022.

19 December 2022

Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio in Aftersun, one of our best films of 2022
Sight and Sound

What did the cinema of 2022 bring us? A little bit of everything.

In our top 50 list below, voted for by 93 Sight and Sound contributors (both UK and international), are bombastic, big-budget action movies, formally audacious genre films and arthouse provocations. Fiction, documentary, live action and animation are all present, as are films from every continent. Debut filmmakers have made immediate impressions, and masters of the craft have cemented their status. With some films already available to watch and others fresh from festivals, there’s plenty to discover straight away, and yet more to look forward to.

See all the individual ballots: The best films of 2022 – all the votes

The best films of 2022

50. The Worst Person in the World

Joachim Trier, Norway / France / Sweden / Denmark

The Worst Person in the World (2021)
The Worst Person in the World (2021)

Renate Reinsve gives an effervescent performance as the bright but floundering Julie in Joachim Trier’s melodic rom-com.

We said: “The film is sunsets and cigarettes and sunrises and Julie’s carelessly elegant habit of wearing her long hair tucked inside her collar. It skips by. But the sum total of all these glinting, silvery moments cannot but be a little evanescent, especially to anyone outside Julie’s precise generational and lifestage cohort.” (Jessica Kiang, S&S April 2022)

Where to see it: On Mubi and other streaming services

49. A Room of My Own (Chemi otakhi)

Ioseb ‘Soso’ Bliadze, Georgia

A Room of My Own (2022)

Bliadze’s second feature sketches an emotional and political awakening between two mismatched young women forced to flat-share in patriarchal, pandemic-era Georgia.

We said: “A Room of My Own was shot during the pandemic with no budget and a small crew of friends and family in the flatshare the two leads were living in. Mumladze plays Tina, a small-town girl who was stabbed by her then-husband and shunned by her family after a perceived transgression. She rents a room in Tbilisi from the more worldly party girl Megi (Khundadze), who is waiting on a visa to go to New York. Their mutual scepticism thaws into a friendship that crosses into sexual territory, as Tina gains a sense of control over her own life.” (Carmen Gray, S&S online)

Read the full report: Georgia on Our Mind

Where to see it: On Klassiki from 29 December

48. No Bears

Jafar Panahi, Iran

No Bears (2022)

Jafar Panahi’s latest film about lines both blurred (between truth and fiction, between spying and filmmaking) and fixed (between countries) travelled to Venice in the early weeks of the director’s six-year jail sentence for dissidence.

We said: “As in his other films, Panahi portrays himself as a stumbling avuncular figure who inadvertently causes harm. His artistic mission has consequences that ripple outwards, disrupting the lives of others as well as his own. Given Panahi’s own real-life suffering and repression, it is a testament to his integrity as an artist that he looks so critically at himself and so empathetically at those who are indifferent to, or might even support, his imprisonment.” (John Bleasdale, S&S December 2022)

Where to see it: In UK cinemas (released 11 November)

47. Moonage Daydream

Brett Morgen, Germany / US

Moonage Daydream (2022)

Brett Morgen’s gloriously crammed collage doc opens up the chameleonic pop star’s archives and sets its tribute to cosmic.

We said: “As an extended free-association, a riff in the key of Bowie, Moonage Daydream proceeds chronologically, but Morgen is never tied down to dry narrative, not least because almost nothing is footnoted: dates are sparse, captions and citations absent, except where offered by Bowie himself, as in his comically offhand explanation of the Ziggy Stardust persona (just something he knocked together out of Japanese kabuki and fringe New York rock ’n’ roll, like anyone would have done).” (Sam Davies, S&S Summer 2022)

Where to see it: On streaming services

46. The Innocents

Eskil Vogt, Norway / Sweden / Denmark / Finland / France / UK

The Innocents (2021)

Eskil Vogt’s bracing drama explores empathy, malevolence and lost innocence through the eyes of a quartet of lonely children with diverse superpowers.

We said: “In following these four children as they play and fight, sometimes together, sometimes apart, over a long eventful summer, writer-director Eskil Vogt offers, with honesty and not a little discomfort, a cinematic sandpit in which the moral development (or otherwise) of young children can be staged. Vogt is in no way wide-eyed when it comes to children’s capacity for sadism and malice, and here he amplifies the impact of these otherwise realist rites of passage with a supernatural element.” (Anton Bitel, S&S Summer 2022)

Where to see it: BFI Player and other streaming services

45. Enys Men

Mark Jenkin, UK

Enys Men (2022)

Mark Jenkin’s follow-up to Bait is a transformative folk-horror that puts a naturalist studying remote flowers under nature’s oblique gaze.

We said: “Enys Men shares with folk horror its concern with what lies deep in the land, with buried archaic connections between humans and natural forces, which still exert an influence over the living… There is a playful element of eco-horror, nodding to The Day of the Triffids (1962), in the flowers with their weird red pistils, and the lichen that is infused with a life of its own. But the lichen also has a central thematic resonance, and the film draws on the real strangeness of this plant-like life form that is not a plant.” (Virginie Sélavy, S&S online)

Where to see it: In UK cinemas from 13 January 2023

44. Dry Ground Burning

Adirley Queirós and Joana Pimenta, Brazil / Portugal

Dry Ground Burning (2022)

A group of women in Brazil strike crude oil and start turning it into gasoline for sale in Adirley Queirós and Joana Pimenta’s politically incendiary ‘ethnographic sci-fi’.

We said: “In Dry Ground Burning, the future isn’t just female: it is Black, lesbian, profoundly matriarchal. This community is carefully organised, and is supremely conscious not only of its marginalised position, outside most conservative networks of working- and middle-class families, but also of its power as a potential mass movement and significant electoral force.” (Ela Bittencourt, S&S October 2022)

Where to see it: UK streaming or disc release not yet announced

43. Both Sides of the Blade

Claire Denis, France

Both Sides of the Blade (2022)

Though it won Claire Denis the Silver Bear in Berlin earlier this year, this film is as frustrating as it is vivid, vibrant and well-acted.

We said: “[The] performances can’t stop Both Sides of the Blade from being a puzzling, frustrating work, one that promises more than it delivers, or delivers something too subtle to fully grasp: ‘a fragment of something’, as Sara puts it; a piece of an unseen whole. But perhaps the Berlin jury’s verdict reflected the notion that even minor Denis is better than most contemporary filmmaking.” (Catherine Wheatley, S&S Summer 2022)

Where to see it: Curzon on Demand, BFI Player and other streaming services

42. Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood

Richard Linklater, USA

Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood (2022)
Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood (2022)

Linklater’s animated feature takes a child’s eye view of the Space Age Fever surrounding the 1969 moon landing.

We said: “Several fine features about the mission itself were released around its half-century anniversary… Apollo 10½ shows us the cultural context, and the effects of an extraordinary event on ordinary lives… While the film isn’t purely autobiographical, it teems with the idiosyncratic details of remembered experience… The care and affection with which the milieu is evoked give the film charm.” (Alex Dudok de Wit, May 2022)

Where to see it: On Netflix

41. Vortex

Gaspar Noé, France / Belgium / Monaco

Vortex (2021)

The unflagging showman-auteur wields a split screen to track Dario Argento and Françoise Lebrun’s fading couple as they approach oblivion. But is this unsparing scrutiny tendresse or artsploitation?

We said: “Every enfant terrible eventually lives to confront their own mortality, and after the cathartic rave-up of Climax (2018) – a movie about youth as a reckless fugue state – Noé has made his version of an old man’s movie… Noé is out to suture us into a waking nightmare whose terror lies not in the presence of the fantastic or the uncanny, but rather its existential abjection: body horror shorn of spectacle or metaphor.” (Adam Nayman, S&S June 2022)

Where to see it: On Mubi, BFI Player and other streaming services

40. Unrest (Unrueh)

Cyril Schäublin, Switzerland

Unrest (Unrueh, 2022)

Time in a 19th-century Swiss watchmaking town – from the clockwork labours of the female workforce to the spiralling contest of capitalism and anarchism in the air, Schäublin’s period piece is poised, intricate and offbeat.

Where to see it: UK release date yet to be announced

39. Trenque Lauquen

Laura Citarella, Germany / Argentina

Trenque Lauquen (2022)

Citarella’s labyrinthine 12-part double feature spins out stories within stories from its initial investigation of a woman’s disappearance. 

Where to see it: UK release date yet to be announced

38. Top Gun: Maverick

Joseph Kosinski, USA

Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

The grin still wins as Cruise’s ageless wonder returns to the skies in a barely straight reprise of the Reaganite air-combat smash hit.

We said: “Cruise’s apparent agelessness is on display in shirtless beach football and many a scene where Maverick displays skills and stamina to put much younger fliers to shame, though the script is also replete with disapproving superiors and top-of-their-game callow kids joshing him for being old. Cruise shrugs it off, having entered a phase of his star career when acting ambitions (pipped out of an Oscar for the anti-Maverick of Born on the Fourth of July) are superseded by a fitness regime.” (Kim Newman, S&S online)

Where to see it: On streaming services

37. The Novelist’s Film

Hong Sangsoo, South Korea

Kim Minhee, Park Miso, Seo Younghwa, Ki Joobong, Lee Hyeyoung in The Novelist's Film (2022)
The Novelist's Film (2022)

The Korean filmmaker eschews neat plotting and narrative arcs with another gorgeous, meandering film that’s rich with imperfect musings on life and art.

We said: “Working in unusually high-contrast black and white, the film is a springy, slight treat that wryly comments on the filmmaking world, and even includes a sudden pop of colour. But really, the ongoing revelation of Hong’s filmography is that he can so often revisit themes and recycle scenes and recast from the same small pool of regular collaborators, yet every one of his films feels dipped in newness and a breezy spontaneity that feels like a gulp of fresh air.” (Jessica Kiang, S&S online)

Where to see it: UK release date yet to be announced

36. Men

Alex Garland, UK / USA

Men (2022)

Creepy males multiply around Buckley’s widow-in-peril after a horrific marriage severance in Alex Garland’s primal foray into gender and folk horror.

We said: “Like Garland’s Ex Machina and Annihilation, this uses genre to ponder gender. Garland has previously stuck to science fiction, but here ventures very effectively into horror. This is a lady-in-peril home-invasion movie, with Buckley (excellent in the reactive role) wielding a kitchen knife against progressively more startling, violent males who trespass on her (rented) territory.” (Kim Newman, Summer 2022) 

Where to see it: On download stores

35. Memoria

Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand / Colombia / France / Germany / Mexico / UK / Hong Kong / China / Taiwan / USA / Qatar / Switzerland / Japan / The Netherlands

Memoria (2021)

Tilda Swinton wanders the streets of Bogota while striving to understand the strange noise repeatedly sounding in her head, in the Thai master’s latest enigmatic revelation of ambiguous mental states.

We said: “The film’s sound design possesses such extraordinary intricacy that it functions like an invitation to the viewer to listen and feel along with its protagonist in a way that’s still so rare in cinema, her attempts to tune into the foreign setting and the many distinct meanings it holds mirroring those of the director himself in turn. Weerasethakul’s films have always exuded a profound, often deeply moving empathy for his characters and their feelings, but never has he elevated empathy to a narrative principle.” (James Lattimer, S&S Winter 2021-22)

Where to see it: On BFI Player and other streaming services

34. Happening (L’Evenement)

Audrey Diwan, France

Sandrine Bonnaire and Anamaria Vartolomei in Happening (2021)
Happening (2021)

Audrey Diwan adapts Annie Ernaux’s deeply personal book about the experience of falling pregnant in France, 1963, before the legalisation of abortion.

We said: “The spectre of the Resistance looms: the women who help Anne are a new army of shadows, operating under cover of darkness, with code words and covert assignations. Yet there is a timelessness to Anne’s ordeal. One unusual distance shot (from Anne’s point of view) of Anna Mouglalis’s gravel-voiced abortionist, poised at work between Anne’s open legs, grave in her task, has a painterliness that recalls Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, in which a character undergoes a similarly risky procedure.” (Catherine Wheatley, S&S May 2022)

Where to see it: On BFI Player and other streaming services

33. Cette maison

Miryam Charles, Canada

Cette Maison (2022)

The first feature by Haitian Canadian filmmaker Miryam Charles attempts to wring catharsis from the unresolved death of Charles’s teenage cousin, and does so in a poignant and formally intriguing fashion.

We said: “Cette maison visualises a speculative outcome for Tessa that shuttles us into the domain of the ghost story. Amid the jumbled layers of imagined scenarios and fading memories, the actress Schelby Jean-Baptiste brings Tessa to life with a muted, haunting performance that is largely delivered directly to camera or in emotive voiceover. ‘Anything is possible here’ becomes a mantra, or an invocation, in the film – one that allows for magic-realist leaps that leave the film untethered from reality.” (Sophia Satchell-Baeza, S&S December 2022)

Where to see it: Available for rental now on Curzon Home Cinema and also directly via the T A P E website.

32. All That Breathes

Shaunak Sen, India

All That Breathes (2022)

Shaunak Sen’s deft documentary about two Muslim brothers who run a bird surgery in Delhi is a graceful piece of work, layering urban ecology, spiritual philosophy and politics into its weft.

We said: “In the dingy environs of a concrete workshop on a tumbledown street in north-east Delhi – in the smoggy skies above and the waste grounds below – Shaunak Sen’s deft, visionary documentary finds the modern city teeming with life, which is to say a crucible of struggle, ferment, resilience and reinvention. ‘Evolution favours experimentation,’ we’re told in this fraught fable of two brothers aiding Delhi’s black kites as they fall out of the sky. The film suggests a spiral dance between the possibility and the necessity of adaptation.” (Nick Bradshaw, S&S November 2022)

Where to see it: In UK cinemas (released 14 October)

31. Parallel Mothers

Pedro Almodóvar, Spain

Parallel Mothers (2021)

Pedro Almodóvar’s saga of side-by-side mothers reflects on the many deportments and dimensions of motherhood, especially as shadowed by Spain’s dark history of mass-buried forebears. 

We said: “Along with narrative twists and turns comes a slow attention to the beauty of the everyday – a plate of food, a photo frame. José Luis Alcaine’s cinematography sizzles with the colours and flavours of Madrid. Domestic space bears the burden of the characters. Maternal absence and presence weigh on every room.” (Clara Bradbury-Rance, S&S March 2022)

Where to see it: On Mubi and download stores

30. Living

Oliver Hermanus, UK / Japan / Sweden

Living (2022)

Working from a screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro, Oliver Hermanus’s remake of one of Kurosawa Akira’s most beloved films transposes the story from Tokyo to London, to great success.

We said: “Ishiguro’s script closely shadows the shape and tone of Kurosawa’s original, neatly transposing post-war Tokyo to post-war London. Shooting in County Hall, where the LCC was actually located, boosts the production’s authenticity. As Williams, Nighy perfectly captures the stoic melancholy of the functionary’s drab, routine existence, gradually leavened by a glint of animation as he starts to see new possibilities.” (Philip Kemp, S&S December 2022)

Where to see it: In UK cinemas (released 4 November)

29. Kimi

Steven Soderbergh, USA

Kimi (2022)

Steven Soderbergh’s lo-fi lockdown update on the paranoid conspiracy thriller has Zoë Kravitz’s agoraphobic tech worker overhearing an apparent murder while spying on software users.

We said: “Soderbergh draws attention to the lens’s presence, and in turn to Angela’s fear of being observed or, worse, approached… It’s an airtight thriller, which capitalises on its limited spaces with a relentless momentum. Soderbergh has produced a rare kind of Covid movie, one that moves beyond self-isolation as a gimmick to tap into something much darker.” (Kambole Campbell, S&S May 2022)

Where to see it: On Sky Cinema / Now TV, and download stores

28. Hit the Road

Panah Panahi, Iran

Hit the Road (2021)

Panah Panahi’s debut feature is a stunningly assured road movie which balances emotional nuance with a bubbling undercurrent of political critique.

We said: “That Panahi Jr is able to weave together slice-of-life realism with a 2001: A Space Odyssey-inspired, floating-among-the-stars fantasy sequence is testament to not just his range of influences (the delicate humanism of his father is highly evident) but his ambition… Criticism of his country’s authoritarian regime and the psychological toll it takes on ordinary people is implicit in every stage of the journey but achieved with the lightest of touches.” (Leigh Singer, Summer 2022)

Where to see it: On Mubi and BFI Player

27. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Guillermo del Toro, USA / Mexico / France

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022)

Replete with visual masterstrokes, rich characterisation and witty music, this latest take on the much-adapted 1883 children’s classic is a soaring success.

We said: “Humanity may be made of crooked timber, but in Guillermo del Toro’s take on Carlo Collodi’s 1883 children’s classic, it’s the attempt to force us straight that does the damage… Where other characters in the film see a potential model Italian youth, or a ticket to riches, or even a surrogate son, del Toro gives us a puckish innocent driven by curiosity and affection, whose need to become ‘real’ is an embrace of love, loss and mortality.” (Nick Bradshaw, S&S Winter 2022/23)

Where to see it: On Netflix

26. Flux Gourmet

Peter Strickland, UK / Hungary / USA

Flux Gourmet (2022)

Peter Strickland’s story of a radical ‘culinary’ art and sound collective is deeply, enjoyably bizarre, but labours too heavily on the repetition of certain ideas that don’t always resonate.

We said: “Flux Gourmet is very much not the sort of film that British directors are ‘supposed’ to make. It’s highly formal, built around repetitions: a series of performances; a series of mimes depicting supermarket trips; recurrent waking-up scenes in which the musicians pull back their bedsheets in perfect sync… The film is conceptual, in that both visual and verbal content is generated by a set of ideas: the culinary, the sonic, the gastric. And it’s very European, while playing up a comically heightened Englishness.” (Jonathan Romney, S&S November 2022)

Where to see it: On BFI Player and other streaming services

25. The Plains

David Easteal, Australia

The Plains (2022)

Filmed across 12 months from the backseat of a car, Easteal’s richly minimalist experiment shows us the world in a Melbourne commuter ride: midlife as a Groundhog Day road movie.

Where to see it: UK release date yet to be announced

24. Funny Pages

Owen Klein, USA

Funny Pages (2022)

Owen Kline’s mordant debut, about the grimy life and mind of a budding underground comic-book artist, feels largely true to its milieu, but not all of its characters convince.

We said: “There’s no splendour (American or otherwise) in Funny Pages. With the help of cinematographer Sean Price Williams, by now a virtuoso at conjuring up everyday ugliness, Kline has styled his feature debut as a throbbing, bloodshot eyesore.” (Adam Nayman, S&S October 2022)

Read the full review: Funny Pages: sadly drawn boys

Where to see it: On BFI Player and other streaming services

23. De Humani Corporis Fabrica

Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel, France

De Humani Corporis Fabrica (2022)

The Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab duo (Leviathan) probe the inner spaces of the human body (and the French medical system that tends it) in unblinking, visceral detail in their latest documentary voyage of discovery.

Where to see it: UK release date yet to be announced

22. The Quiet Girl (An Cailín Ciúin)

Colm Bairéad, Ireland

The Quiet Girl (2021)

Colm Bairéad’s Irish-language adaptation of Claire Keegan’s novel Foster tracks 12-year-old Cat from domestic terror to adopted succour.

We said: “Through a shimmering near-montage of moments – onion-chopping, hair-brushing, trips to a spring well, slow-mo runs through an arch of trees – we watch Cáit move organically from awkward interloper to daughter figure. At times, the crisp shots and liquidy use of light can feel close to a Kerrygold ad, but the film’s sharp emotional intelligence stops it tipping into the realm of commercial sentimentality.” (Katie McCabe, S&S June 2022)

Where to see it: On Curzon on Demand, BFI Player and other streaming services

21. Godland (Vanskabte Land / Volaða Land)

Hlynur Pálmason, Denmark / Iceland / France / Sweden

Godland (Vanskabte Land / Volaða Land, 2022)

Hlynur Pálmason’s breathtaking portrait of blind faith and evangelism in a remote outpost of late 19th-century Iceland is a film of sturdy and stunning beauty, taking inspiration from both nature and period photography.

We said: “Godland is immediately striking for the economy and delicacy of its aesthetic. Its opening tableau, in which Lucas seeks guidance for his forthcoming trip, is decorated sparsely; bleak daylight illuminates a table with a frugal dinner on it, at which an older priest cracks a boiled egg on his plate while dispensing advice. Over and over, Pálmason performs the minor miracle of making these sorts of everyday occurrence seem breathtakingly beautiful: in gorgeously tinctured, boxy images that mimic early photography, the director transfigures reality.” (Caspar Salmon, S&S online)

Where to see it: In UK cinemas from 2023

20. The Fabelmans

Steven Spielberg, USA

The Fabelmans (2022)

Spielberg’s self-portrait of the budding artist as an inspired cinephile and heartbroken son, sublimating family strife and grief through his rising accomplishments as a movie myth-maker.

Where to see it: In UK cinemas from 27 January 2023

19. Fire of Love

Sara Dosa, USA

Fire of Love (2022)

Sara Dosa’s archival documentary channelling the life work of volcanologist couple Katia and Maurice Krafft is an eye-popping passion play about love and the potent, unstable planet we stand on.

We said: “Fire of Love leans back into the sweet, curious story of the Alsatian volcanologist couple Katia and Maurice Krafft, which it frames as a ménage à trois with the world’s volcanoes they devoted their lives to (and filmed so beautifully), a devotion that led to their deaths in 1991; with Miranda July’s tentative voiceover and Nicolas Godin’s throwback soundtrack, it’s an exquisitely stylish archival pop collage, but there’s no doubting the ferocious undertow beneath its trippy images.” (Nick Bradshaw, CPH:DOX report, S&S June 2022)

Where to see it: On Disney+

18. Everything Everywhere All at Once

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, USA

Ke Huy Quan as Waymond Wang in Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)
Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)

Michelle Yeoh channels multidimensional skills to grapple with her family’s exploding identities in the Daniels’ hyper-inventive, goofily radical pop fantasia.

We said: “The great pleasures of Everything Everywhere come from the dazzlingly bizarre imagination with which the Daniels bring their set-up to life… It’s a wild tonal ride, from cartoonish ultraviolence to plaintive whimsy: think James Cameron at Dunder Mifflin, Tex Avery on TikTok or Gaspar Noé in Ann Summers, with dashes of Wachowski, Kubrick, Pixar, Wong Kar-Wai and Charlie Kaufman too.” (Ben Walters, S&S Summer 2022)

Where to see it: On streaming services

17. Elvis

Baz Luhrmann, USA / Australia

Elvis (2022)

Baz Luhrmann’s sixth film never quite gets to the heart of its eponymous character, despite a swaggering yet sensitive performance by Austin Butler.

We said: “Telling the story of Presley from the perspective of the man who ‘made’ him allows Luhrmann to frame his subject as both commercial product and cultural phenomenon… Presley’s relationship to Black music is presented as earnest, but also passive; it’s framed as a spiritual connection, rather than something he makes an informed intellectual or political choice about.” (Simran Hans, S&S September 2022)

Where to see it: On streaming services

16. Triangle of Sadness

Ruben Östlund, Sweden/Germany/France/UK

Triangle of Sadness (2022)

A cleaning lady can be queen as a super-yacht’s worth of the super-rich capsize in Östlund’s dark but uproarious provocation.

We said: “It’s like a class-war version of Gilligan’s Island, with a good deal more gross-out humour and human cruelty than that show ever supplied. Each character is broadly symbolic of a different symptom of late capitalism, but the film has a rich enough eye for human behaviour that it never lapses into stereotypes.” (Christina Newland, S&S December 2022)

Where to see it: In UK cinemas (released 28 October) and on BFI Player

15. The Eternal Daughter

Joanna Hogg, UK / USA

The Eternal Daughter (2022)

Starring Tilda Swinton in a dual role that transcends gimmickry and achieves powerful resonance, this spectral Gothic tale is a blackly funny exploration of identity.

We said: “As in the Souvenir films, Hogg has knitted into her structure questions about what making art about intimate relationships does to the way we embody them. This is a film about a mother and a daughter and memory and space; it is Hogg using the voluptuous form of a ghost story to, once again, explore the issues that afflict her restless artistic soul.” (Sophie Monks Kaufman, S&S online)

Where to see it: UK release date yet to be announced

14. Crimes of the Future

David Cronenberg, Canada / Greece / UK

Crimes of the Future (2022)

The cyber-flesh visionary renews his compulsions, keeping tongue in cheek as Viggo Mortensen and Léa Seydoux’s body cut-up artists embrace the new thrills of microplastic assimilation.

We said: “In Crimes of the Future’s retro-futuristic vision of society – as homogenous as the world of Crash, except drab and earthy where its predecessor was shiny and metallic – characters speak with the same narcotised, breathily suggestive affect and, in lieu of car crashes, it’s surgery that gets their juices flowing… Scientific progress has thwarted the death drive but, of course, satisfaction remains beyond reach. And so they seek further.” (Giovanni Marchini Camia, S&S online)

Where to see it: On BFI Player and other streaming services

13. Showing Up

Kelly Reichardt, USA

Showing Up (2022)

This subtle, carefully observed feature – Reichardt’s sixth to be set in Oregon – charts the travails of a Portland-based artist while never resorting to quirky stereotypes.

We said: “While the film zeroes in on the particular experience of a practising artist, there’s also something democratic and empathetic in Reichardt’s understanding of the process of life and art… It’s a fondly funny film without the dismissive gestures coded into many portrayals of art-making, and it’s a view from the inside in every sense.” (Nicolas Rapold, S&S online)

Where to see it: UK release date yet to be announced

12. Pacifiction

Albert Serra, France / Spain / Germany / Portugal

Pacifiction (2022)

Benoît Magimel’s suave but washed-up French high commissioner in Tahiti drifts through a miasma of colonial enervation and suspicion in Albert Serra’s latest extended wander, his first set in the present.

Where to see it: UK release date yet to be announced

11. Corsage

Marie Kreutzer, Austria / Luxembourg / Germany / France

Corsage (2022)

Marie Kreutzer’s canny, creative rewriting of the life of Empress Elisabeth of Austria is a thoroughly modernist vision – and features a superb performance by Vicky Krieps.

We said: “Whether or not Kreutzer’s film presents us with the ‘real’ Sissi, eons after the death of anyone who could testify either way, is moot; the point is that this Empress, as tartly, cannily played by Vicky Krieps, at least feels like she could be real, possessed as she is of perverse intelligence, petulant independence and a palpable libido.” (Guy Lodge, S&S Winter 2022-23)

Where to see it: In UK cinemas from 26 December 2022

10. TÁR

Todd Field, USA

TÁR (2022)

Cate Blanchett is mesmerising as a monstrous orchestra conductor in Todd Field’s latest masterpiece, one of the most grippingly brilliant films of the year.

We said: “Field imbues TÁR with horror and thriller textures, abetted not just by an exceptional cast but by Florian Hoffmeister’s superbly muted photography and an unobtrusively uneasy score from Hildur Guðnadóttir. But most of the film’s subtly queasy mood comes direct from Blanchett, who is in every scene and uses every aspect of her physicality – her costuming, her gestures, the styling of her hair – to embody the crescendos and diminuendos of this acerbic cautionary tale of genius and cruelty and towering, monstrous ego.” (Jessica Kiang, S&S online)

Read the full review: TÁR: a sly, scabrous symphony

Where to see it: In UK cinemas from 13 January 2023

9. RRR (Rise Roar Revolt)

S.S. Rajamouli, India

RRR (2022)

Rajamouli’s whip-paced, delirious historical action-adventure fantasia makes fictional bromance from two real-life revolutionaries in a 1920s India under the yoke of colonial British despotism.

We said: “As with Rajamouli’s two-film ancient-India saga Bahubali (2015/2017), RRR – ‘Rise! Roar! Revolt!’ – is a spectacle aimed at big rooms, a money-on-the-screen CGI-enabled action fantasy whose hyperreal violence is reminiscent of role-playing video games or the ‘heroic bloodshed’ mode of John Woo… In place of the grinding self-seriousness of the western superhero picture, RRR boasts a kind of Olympian exuberance running through both its action and its musical sequences.” (Sam Wigley, S&S online)

Where to see it: On Netflix

8. EO

Jerzy Skolimowski, Poland / Italy

EO (2022)

The veteran Polish firebrand scopes modern Europe through the eyes of a donkey, with a nod to Robert Bresson’s classic Au Hasard Balthasar but a woozy rage all Skolimowski’s own.

We said: “From lonely country roads to city streets, football pitches to the Italian countryside, EO’s long journey across Europe reveals the rotten heart of its modernity, contrasted with the tender innocence of this animal.” (Christina Newland, S&S online)

Where to see it: In UK cinemas from 3 February 2023

7. One Fine Morning (Un beau matin)

Mia Hansen-Løve, France / Germany

One Fine Morning (Un beau matin, 2022)

Juggling care duties for her daughter and stricken father, Seydoux’s single mother gains a rush of new love in Hansen-Løve’s typically stealthy, sublime portrait of life’s sea changes.

We said: “One Fine Morning is more talky than a lot of MHL’s work, for a long time precluding the quiet lulls that would enable its emotional themes to land. When those lulls do finally appear, then, as reliably happens with her films, everything that has taken place before stealthy culminates in a moment of sublime emotional synthesis.” (Sophie Monks Kaufman, S&S online)

Where to see it: UK release date yet to be announced

6. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

Laura Poitras, USA

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (2022)

Winner of the Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival, Laura Poitras’s illuminating film charts the life of the photographer Nan Goldin and her efforts to hold the Sackler family to account for their role in the US opioid epidemic.

We said: “It’s not every day when an artist of Goldin’s stature puts herself on the line against such a powerful foe, but [her activist campaign group] PAIN is only one strand in All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, a beautifully constructed film that shuttles through multiple narratives and histories… Poitras doesn’t press the point, but there’s a sense that Goldin made art in portraying the love and angst and pain around her, while the Sacklers’ drugs made money off pain and annihilated personhood in the process.” (Nicolas Rapold, S&S online)

Where to see it: In UK cinemas from 27 January 2023

5. Nope

Jordan Peele, USA

Nope (2022)

Jordan Peele’s follow-up to Get Out and Us is another timely satirical drama of Black existential jeopardy, with the new owners of a heritage western filmmaking ranch finding themselves under the gaze of an all-preying alien eye in the sky.

We said: “Peele uses genre in bold, distinctive attempts to trouble America’s idea of itself… [he’s] interested in the power dynamics of the urge to see and be seen, how central this queasy spectacularity might be to America itself, and whether it should be understood as a kind of death wish.” (Ben Walters, S&S October 2022)

Read the full review: Nope: the horrors of being seen

Where to see it: On streaming services

4. The Banshees of Inisherin

Martin McDonagh, Ireland / UK / USA

The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

Martin McDonagh reaches a new career high with this reflective, compassionate, disquieting tale of two friends who violently fall out with each other in a small Irish coastal village.

We said: “What makes McDonagh such a potent writer is his leavening of existential woe with mordant, absurdist humour… There’s a coherent, holistic feel to Banshees that simply isn’t evident in McDonagh’s two flashier ‘American’ films, and an understated confidence maybe even lacking in his debut.” (Leigh Singer, S&S November 2022)

Where to see it: In UK cinemas (released 21 October)

3. Decision to Leave

Park Chanwook, South Korea

Decision to Leave (2022)

From its slam-bang opening scenes to its tragic finale, Park Chanwook’s latest film, a romantic crime procedural, seamlessly strings together complex yet high-impact images, its ultra-charismatic leads entwined in a rhapsody of uncertainties.

We said: “The tale of an insomniac, married cop falling hard for a seeming femme fatale is not so much told in a narrative sense as elaborated through a lengthy suite of quick-fire scenes and artfully designed imagery; precise meanings and significations remain deliberately elusive until the tragic ending… This is new territory for Park, widely known for strongly motivated, vengeful characters, although there are teasing hints that something like the cat-and-mouse games of The Handmaiden may be going on here too.” (Tony Rayns, S&S online)

Where to see it: In UK cinemas (released 21 October) and on Mubi

2. Saint Omer

Alice Diop, France

Saint Omer (2022)

Alice Diop’s fiction feature debut, based loosely on a real-life infanticide court case, examines the monstrous potential within all mothers with startling insight and empathy.

We said: “Saint Omer, like Coly herself, does not have answers, and Diop steers away from most of the usual courtroom drama conventions that culminate in confident judgments. With each testimony’s contradictions taking us farther and farther from any knowable truth, the story of Laurence Coly becomes all the more impactful. Rama and Laurence leave us haunted, unable to move beyond this nightmare or ignore the monstrous potential – be it the capacity for infanticide or simply careless cruelty – that lurks within all mothers.” (Leila Latif, S&S online)

Where to see it: In UK cinemas from 3 February 2023

1. Aftersun

Charlotte Wells, UK / USA

Aftersun (2022)

Charlotte Wells’s dazzling feature debut shades the joy of an 11-year-old’s resort holiday with her father through the prism of her attempts as an adult to piece together his pain.

We said: “Wells somehow merges elliptical, near-abstract impressions of an unresolved father-daughter bond with sharp social-realist observation of Brits abroad… She deliberately keeps things open to interpretation, even the exact timeframe of Sophie and Calum’s holiday. By holding her mysteries close, she draws us in closer still.” (Leigh Singer, S&S December 2022)

Where to see it: In UK cinemas (released 18 November)

And the winner is… Aftersun

Charlotte Wells reflects on winning the Sight and Sound Best Films of 2022 poll with her debut feature, and the importance of naivety to her process.

By Charlotte Wells

And the winner is… Aftersun