2022 in Film: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

On EastMojo, we have covered tons of films and television series this year. But in the process, we have missed out on many cultural touchstones (and duds) that I’d like to look back on and discuss here.

They are web series, theatrically released movies, and movies on OTT, as well as anime. They are easily accessible to watch. A happy New Year to our readers! 

  1. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (dir. Rian Johnson)

Cast: Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kate Hudson, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Dave Bautista

A fabulous, flashy sequel to 2020’s Knives Out, this movie proceeds at a quick speed, and leaves us with lots of side-splitting one-liners, an exciting star-studded cast and some great performances (Kate Hudson is a total riot).

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  1. Badhaai Do (dir. Harshavardhan Kulkarni)

Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Bhumi Pednekar, Sheeba Chaddha, Chum Darang

Badhaai Do has to be one of the best LBTQ+ representation in Bollywood cinema. It is heartwarming, beautifully acted and entertaining, all at the same breath. And the comedy is chef’s kiss.

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  1. The Banshees of Inisherin (dir. Martin McDonagh)

Cast: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan

Stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson last worked together in McDonagh’s In Bruges. Inisherin is a dark comedy that observes many things: life during the Irish Troubles, modernity, rural society, depression, mortality and the ineffectiveness of religion in times of distress. And although bleak, the film never loses its sense of humour. My only gripe with it is what McDonagh does with Barry Keoghan’s character. The performances are immaculate (especially Farrell as a harmless fool). There is heavy symbolism in the old woman (the supposed “banshee” of the story), and in the dog and donkey. Plus, there’s good ol’ Irish cursing. 

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  1. Darlings (dir. Jasmeet K. Reen)

Cast: Alia Bhatt, Shefali Shah, Vijay Sharma, Roshan Mathew

Nothing can prepare you for how dark this revenge comedy gets. For that, we have screenwriters Parveez Sheikh and Jasmeet K. Reen to thank. Alia Bhatt shines as the dove-like Badru who finally snaps. And Shefali Shah is not far behind as Bhatt’s onscreen mommy dearest Shamshu, a woman with secrets of her own to hide.

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  1. Enola Holmes 2 (dir. Harry Bradbeer)

Cast: Millie Bobby Brown, Louis Partridge, Henry Cavill, David Thewlis, Helena Bonham Carter

From the makers of 2020’s Enola Holmes comes an energetic sequel that’s heavy on the big-budget action and chase sequences. Although not at all bad, it is not on the same level of freshness and delight as the first installment. We crave the focus on mystery, scenes of quiet musings and conversations taking place within the confines of a room, because the sequel is more concerned with explosions and lots of running. Still, it’s great for family entertainment and children.

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  1. Heartbreak High (dir. Otto, Sharma, Murfet, Oldfield)

Cast: Ayesha Madon, James Majoos, Chloe Hayden, Asher Yasbincek, Thomas Weatherall, Joshua Heuston, Will McDonald, Bryn Chapman-Parish

This Netflix-produced teen comedy is easily the best high school-set show this year, and possibly in recent years. Its charm lies in its authentic Australian humour and mannerisms of the characters, as well as a cast that is irresistibly attractive and talented. Every episode, and choice of music, pulls us into the lives of these messy teens. We hope for many more seasons to come.

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  1. Romantic Killer (dir. Kazuya Ichikawa)

Cast: Rie Takahashi, Mikako Komatsu, Yūichirō Umehara, Gakuto Kajiwara

Hoshino is a reclusive teen who’s obsessed with chocolates, games and her cat. One day, she is selected by a magical game character to live a real life dating game, and must select someone from a group of attractive men to be her boyfriend.

The plot of this anime had me absolutely hooked (notwithstanding that a game company is literally blackmailing a minor into finding a partner – with the hopes of seeing her give birth somewhere down the line – just to increase the country’s population).

Is Romantic Killer another attempt by the Japanese government to revive the slumping Japanese population? By using the soft power of anime to influence the lonely otakus? Or is this anime just a satire about such attempts?

Romantic Killer is laugh-out-loud funny, as well as having emotional depth, which gets more apparent as the plot advances and the stakes get higher. It’s not difficult to like or even admire the main characters. I can’t wait for the second season. I hope it gets greenlit for 14 outings. That would be so funny.

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  1. Ghosts – Series 4 (dir. Simon Hynd)

Cast: Charlotte Ritchie, Kiell Smith-Bynoe, Ben Willbond, Martha Howe-Douglas, Jim Howick, Mathew Baynton, Lolly Adefope, Simon Farnaby

The BBC-produced show proves to stand far above the American reboot hanks to its mesmerising cast of talented and hilarious, theatre and film actors. Every situation is absolutely hilarious. If it was available on Netflix, the Indian audience would be all over this comedy about a couple who move into a haunted house and become friendly with many  ghosts, all of whom are from different periods of history.

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  1. The Crown – Season 5 (dir. Hobbs, Gabassi, el-Toukhy, Schwochow, Strand)

Cast: Imelda Staunton, Jonathan Pryce, Lesley Manville, Elizabeth Debicki, Dominic West

The cheating scandal. The media gung-ho. The notorious legal battles. And a conspiracy to bring down the queen. This was supposed to be the most explosive season of The Crown. But it is bland; the directors show a disinterest in the royal subjects based on how needlessly slow and unenergized the episodes are. At times, I felt as though the writers were refusing to go deeper into the stories, choosing to only depict what we already knew of the messy family.

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  1. Blonde (dir. Andrew Dominik)

Cast: Ana de Armas, Bobby Cannavale, Adrien Brody, Xavier Samuel

This “fictional biopic” of Marilyn Monroe is undignified, among many things. Director Andrew Dominik seems to not know the subject at all, or even actively hates the woman in the centre of it. Because this is not a depiction of Marilyn as a real human being, but a misogynistic tragic-comedy about a woman if the woman was a mash-up of all the ‘dumb blondes’ Monroe played onscreen.

Still, the spectacular cinematography is unavoidable. It has the beauty of a perfume ad and a handsome cast. Adrien Brody in black and white, bending down to pick up the photo of his first love, and uttering “My Magda” is admittedly romantic. 

However, in spite of all its sparkle, it is a rotten apple at the core. Blonde is an exercise in torture porn as it attempts to appease a Marilyn hater’s darkest, most misogynistic fantasies.

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  1. Shabaash Mithu (dir. Srijit Mukherji)

Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Mumtaz Sorcar, Vijay Raaz

The sports biopic opens with an exciting scene where a girl challenges some boys with a game of cricket. This gives us a show-stealing performance by child actor Kasturi Jagnam as Noorie, Mithu’s childhood friend. But the film never again reaches this level of entertainment, and Noorie’s presence is missed throughout the film. It is unsettling that such a brilliantly energetic sequence with her leads to a film that is devoid of energy, and focused on a completely different character, that of the titular Mithu (Taapsee Pannu). Another scene to be lauded is when Mithu tries to get along with the hostile seniors of her cricket team, and we learn of the rough backgrounds these women came from. It’s a pity that the rest of the movie is so uninspired and almost unwatchable.

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  1. Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey (dir. Rachel Dretzin, Grace McNally)

The documentary uncovers the gruesome and horrifying goingsoon in the private lives of a community of fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The doc tries to mock polygamy by constantly giving us a barrage of photos of men thronged by fifty to seventy wives.. But it feels more like a cruel joke, and it’s traumatic to witness. The most shocking revelation regarding their leader comes towards the end when the show is about to wrap up. Till then, it’s quite slow.

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  1. The Next 365 Days (dir. Tomasz Mandes, Barbara Białowąs)

Cast: Anna-Maria Sieklucka, Michele Morrone, Simone Susinna, Magdalena Lamparska

This third installment is perhaps the R-rated of all three films. And it turns out we are getting a fourth film next year. It is just as commercially-driven, lacking in art and braindead as the films before it. Kindly skip it.

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Also read | BTS 2022 recap: Top moments that left ARMY in awe

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