We are closing in on the top spot for the HeadStuff Film writers’ Best Movies of 2022. If you haven’t caught our picks from #20 to #11 check them out here. Now, let’s jump back in with our top ten.
10. Bones and All
The film works best as an allegory for love and its unstable nature. To give yourself over to someone completely isn’t as easy as it looks. And perhaps that’s why it takes a film that Armie Hammer may have wished for to tell it. The sequences of cannibalism can be brutal but rest assured that they are not the most gag inducing moment in the film. That title goes to… well… its probably best experienced visually. All this writer can say is this: Luca hand her a tissue for the love of god! My eyes! William Healy
9. An Cailin Ciúin
An Cailin Ciuin is adapted from the short story, Foster, by Irish author Claire Keegan. And like her stories, this film tells a story that’s simple and pared back – but undeniably powerful. It focuses on an introverted young girl, who is sent to spend a long summer with relatives in the Waterford countryside. Her two older relatives harbour grief just beneath the surface, and the presence of this quiet young child serves both as a balm and reminder.
The film – one of the best Irish productions in recent memory – resonates because of the quiet moments that get under your skin. Beautifully observed things like the gruff, but lovable male relative, seemingly indifferent to watchful young girl, leaving a little token of tenderness for her in the form of a Kimberly biscuit – little moments that will tug at the heartstrings of the most seasoned viewer.
The story moves at a relaxed pace, unfurling slowly and inviting you into its world. And it serves an excellent showcase for the actors who all deliver excellent performances. Special mention has to go to Carrie Crowley and Andrew Bennett, playing the two distant relatives minding the young Cait. They both deliver performances laced with tenderness and sadness, which make this simple, touching story, one of the year’s finest films. Jessie Melia
Is it fair to like a movie that much based purely on the first half? Meaning no disrespect to the off-the-wall second half of Barbarian which is a very enjoyable watch for its unexpected nature alone as well as Justin Long’s hilariously self-absorbed sitcom actor, I could honestly have watched a film centred purely on the adorable but evidently doomed meet cute between Tess and Keith (Georgina Campbell and Bill Skarsgård), who discover that their Air BnB has been double-booked in a run-down suburb of Detriot.
The casting here is genius, particularly thanks to the association many viewers will have with Skarsgård’s previous association in the horror genre, and the tension never lets off – for many reasons – as the two of them try to assess their unusual and oddly coincidental encounter. And yes, it’s certainly a situation that cannot last, no matter how much I wish it could. But any horror movie that has me rooting that hard for the protagonists’ happiness is doing something right, in my books. Sarah Cullen
7. The Northman
Director Robert Eggers has charted an unpredictable course, building out his fledgling filmography. He began with the masterful, oppressively bleak The Witch, and then took a beguiling left turn with his mercurial, blackly comic freakout The Lighthouse. And with his third film, The Northman, he has veered into epic Viking mayhem. But with the jump in scale, Eggers hasn’t tempered his more deranged proclivities – we still get Ethan Hawke barking and grunting like a primal wolf, Willem Dafoe as a deranged, feral woodland seer and many more wild moments in this Viking vengeance tale (based on the story that served as inspiration for Shakespeare’s Hamlet).
That said, the film still boasts some of the most dazzling set pieces of recent years. One particular highlight is a bravura, one shot village raid that bristles with violence and careens across the screen at unrelenting pace. The film’s lead, Alexander Skarsgard, brings a bristling, physical intensity to match the film’s, as the vengeance fueled warrior Amieth.
While it seems Eggers is poised to return to more insular works in the future, The Northman shows he can craft epic, large scale stories as good as anyone. Jessie Melia
6. The Batman
Batman has come to us in many different forms throughout the years, from being a watchful protector in the Christopher Nolan trilogy or a meta-comedic billionaire-playboy in The Lego Batman. Director Matt Reeves places the iconic DC character into a film-noir style detective story, within the same genre as Se7en or Chinatown.
Robert Pattinson proves the naysayers wrong with his brooding portrayal of Bruce Wayne/Batman. Supporting actors Zoe Kravitz’ as Selena Kyle, Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon and Paul Dano as The Riddler are standouts but it’s an unrecognisable Colin Farrell who steals the show as conniving mob boss Oswald Cobblepot.
Recent Academy Award winner Greig Fraiser gives us some breathtaking cinematography of a bleak and rainy Gotham city and Michael Giacchino has composed an outstanding score. Matt Reeves’s direction strikes a balance between reservation and intensity. All of these elements combine to deliver a bold and refreshing take on a familiar character. Seán Moriarty
5. Everything Everywhere All At Once
What do you get when you combine Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan as an ageing couple struggling to keep their launderette (and domestic lives) up and running? You get a truly extraordinary vision from The Daniels. The film is a multiverse spanning adventure where the choices we make lead to untold and hugely entertaining consequences. Positioning the fate of the world against the fate of one family unit, the film must truly be seen to be believed.
Michelle Yeoh is incredible as Evelyn, who is looking back on her life and struggling to determine whether she made the correct choices. Ke Huy Quan feels as though he never left the screen and brings as much energy as can be contained in one person. It is a remarkable film that will be sure to make its case come award season. William Healy
4. Top Gun: Maverick
Just when you thought Tom Cruise’s late middle age couldn’t accommodate any more heart-busting, jet-flying, topless saviourism, along comes a sequel like this, and the man himself, as chirpy and relentless as he ever was. Boasting a twilight tan, and rarely looking a day over 55, Cruise’s eponymous US fighter-pilot is called up for one last mission. While some military heads believe in the supremacy of drone-warfare, a few renegades know better: highly trained personnel, combining values of team-work and daring, are more reliable at high-speed, guaranteed-impunity bombing than any computerised alternative will ever be. The art of pre-emptive aerial destruction, we’re encouraged to conclude, should be left in the hands of the men and women who understand its transcendent thrills.
Relying on in-person stunts, with a minimum of CGI, the air-training and mission sequences are breath-stopping to watch, and awesome in point of sheer physical intensity. Despite, or maybe because of these adrenaline-bursting interludes, Top Gun: Maverick comes across as an oddly philosophical film, registering the reality of age and imperial decay even as it meets this prospect with a roaring charge of existential hope: America will never die, Tom Cruise will live forever. Depending on your opinion, this is either sublimely entertaining or totally grotesque. I enjoyed the experience immensely. Ciarán O’Rourke
Thanks to nightmarish imagery and some help from Lumiz, the trailer for Us set the internet alight. Then the movie came out, had a Treehouse of Horror ending, and was forgotten about in the blink of a bloodshot eye. Would Jordan Peele’s third film suffer the same fate? The answer is in the title; Nope. The movie opens with a scene from a sitcom about a white family who adopts an Asian boy and Gordy, a chimpanzee. Unfortunately, Gordy’s home isn’t suburban America as his co-stars learn after a balloon pops on set. Years later, Gordy’s only unmaimed co-star Jupe encounters a different kind of creature.
Siblings OJ and Emerald have a similar sighting and set out to capture it, not in a cage, but on film. Photographic evidence is critical to the Haywood family as their role in Hollywood is built on the legacy of their ancestor being the unknown jockey photographed in the historic Sallie Gardner images. It’s no coincidence that photographic evidence has also been vital to racial justice in America. The characters must look away from the spectacle while trying to shoot it but the imagery in Nope is so stunning that even on multiple viewings audiences won’t be able to, and trust me you’ll want to see this again. Cal Ó Muirí
2. Licorice Pizza
The sad thing about childhood is that it’s primarily experienced in past tense. You live it for 18 years and then for the rest of your life it only exists in memories. Even then for the first few years you’re unaware of what’s happening and for the last few years of adolescence you sadly want to distance yourself from your past to fast-track adulthood. Sadder still is that once that threshold is breached you long to go back and experience it again.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s beguiling Licorice Pizza takes place on both sides of this border as 15-year-old Gary longs to be an adult and 25-year-old Alana yearns to be young again. We often see them in a rush, running to or from something across California’s limitless landscape. The city’s full of stars that dazzle our oblivious protagonists but ‘the good people of the cock’ may not be as radiant as the bright lights make them seem. In a world where people posture for pay so often that their real self becomes a character, the camera takes a voyeuristic view through windows and reflections to show Hollywood for what it truly is. Cal Ó Muirí
1. The Banshees of Inisherin
Look, I don’t know, maybe I was feeling homesick or sun-drunk at the time, but Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin was the best thing I saw at the Venice Film Festival. So I’m thrilled to see it claim our top-spot. Set against the backdrop of the Irish Civil War, the film stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two lifelong pals living on the fictional island of Inisherin. When one of them abruptly ends their friendship, with alarming consequences, the small town is left reeling from the repercussions.
I’ve never been a big McDonagh fan—In Bruges was fine, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was less fine, and Seven Psychopaths was so not fine that I turned it off. With Banshees, though, McDonagh finds the perfect tonal balance. The film is sharp, thoughtful and never wears out a joke. It’s not visually astounding — after all, McDonagh is a writer above all else — but its words and performances are what draw us in. Here, we grapple with the consequences of ego and ignorance in ways both sobering and hilarious. Fingers crossed that McDonagh cleans up for Best Original Screenplay come awards season. Brian Quinn