How many have you crossed off your watchlist?
2022 has already been a great year for movies – and it’s only July. We’ve had brilliant biopics, outrageously creative action, fascinating documentaries and some really weird comedies. These are the films NME has loved the most this year so far. Will these be topped before 2023? With sequels to Black Panther, Avatar, Knives Out, plus new films from heavyweights Jordan Peele and David O. Russell to come, we’d bet on it.
Director: Matt Reeves
Matt Reeves took things really dark for his rejig of the Batman universe, and made the most enthralling Batman movie since the days of Christopher Nolan. Robert Pattinson silenced his critics with a powerful performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman, making the billionaire playboy into a brooding loner. Miserable, but in a fun way.
NME said: “Director Matt Reeves has mixed up gritty mob drama with film-noir detective thriller – and thanks to Dano’s ultra-creepy villain, some psychological horror too. Most of the time it comes off brilliantly.”
Director: Jim Archer
The kind of ramshackle comedy that only gets made in the UK, this delightful little film sees an amateur inventor (David Earl) create the world’s most rubbish robot out of old mannequin bits and a washing machine. It’s a portrait of how people overcome loneliness, as well as a charmingly bizarre buddy comedy.
NME said: “Carrying enough odd wit and subtle warmth to put the multiplex to shame, this is British indie cinema at its weird best.”
Director: Stacey Lee
In a little over a year, Olivia Rodrigo went from Disney tween star to household name pop star. This intriguing documentary gives a rare insight into what it’s like to be part of the pop machine. Rodrigo shows both the joys of fame and the worries of growing up with all eyes on you.
NME said: “Peel away the astonishing cinematography and megawatt live performances, and it’s a frank account of the artist’s rapid ascension, as she navigates the scrutiny that comes with being a young woman in the public eye.”
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic is exactly what you’d expect: mad, dazzling, and with creativity to burn. It centres on the manipulative relationship between Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), and his star. Butler gives a top-tier performance, somehow making Presley a living, breathing human, not just another cheesy impression.
NME said: “Though it plays like a glitzy musical in the mould of Bohemian Rhapsody, Elvis also works as a much-needed lesson about America’s cultural history.”
The second film from Daniels (the directing duo behind Swiss Army Man) is an explosion of imagination from beginning to end. In the best role of her long career, Michelle Yeoh is a dreary woman told she’s the only person who can save countless different universes. Marvel should be taking notes on how to make a multiverse dazzling, not confusing.
NME said: “By weaving together so much action, drama, comedy, sci-fi and general invention, Daniels repeatedly set high bars for their movie to clear. Most of the time they do so easily”
Director: Jeff Tremaine
There has always been a sweet element to the ridiculous, crotch-smashing daredevil antics of the Jackass team. They’re friends who show their love by causing each other hilarious injury. Watching the now middle-aged men go through their creative stunts, always with great concern for each other, makes this one of the most surprisingly heartwarming comedies of the decade.
NME said: “There’s a kindness and companionship – and freedom – to Jackass Forever that makes for 90 minutes of pure joy. Remember joy?”
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Paul Thomas Anderson, mostly known for beefy dramas like There Will Be Blood or Phantom Thread, is on unusually breezy form for this not-quite romcom. Cooper Hoffman (son of Philip Seymour) and Alan Haim (of Haim) play a teenager and a twenty-something who form a deep connection. It’s easy to find the pairing icky, but this is about two people finding someone who gets them, not finding love.
NME said: “It’s surprisingly easy to separate Alana Haim the rock star from Alana Haim the movie star. With newcomers like this, who needs pros?”
Director: Alex Garland
Toxic masculinity is under the microscope for the latest from Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation). The ever impressive Jessie Buckley plays a grieving woman who heads to the country for some peace but finds herself besieged by predatory men (all in the guise of Rory Kinnear). To say much more would ruin a horror quite unlike anything we’ve seen before.
NME said: “A shocking, hilarious and terrifying take on grief and masculinity at its most toxic. Thrilling stuff.”
Director: Guillermo Del Toro
You can always rely on Guillermo Del Toro for some beautiful weirdness. Bradley Cooper plays a drifter who joins a carnival community, fascinated by their odd ways. He thinks he’s onto a good thing when he learns ‘mind-reading’ tricks, but he finds himself in too deep when he makes a deal with a mysterious psychologist (Cate Blanchett). Easily one of the year’s most stylish movies.
NME said: “Just as ugly and beautiful as any classic noir, del Toro’s dark, dazzling three-ring Hollywood circus proves the old-fashioned event film still has a lot of life left.”
Director: Robert Eggers
Robert Eggers, director of weird classics The Witch and The Lighthouse, turned his attention to action in this relentlessly brutal, thrilling movie. Alexander Skarsgård is a powerhouse, in both physical and acting terms, as a Nordic prince seeking revenge for his father’s murder. And that revenge is non-stop bloody action.
NME said: “For all the weirdness, Eggers’ gruesome ode to Hamlet packs its biggest punch during the fight scenes. You’ll wince into your popcorn”
Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Part reboot, part nostalgic sequel, the fifth Scream gets the 26-year-old horror franchise back to its knife-sharp best. It manages to be both a very modern meta commentary on toxic fandom and a good ol’ fashioned jumpy horror movie. Scream 6 can’t come soon enough (it’s due March 2023).
NME said: “That Scream 5 – as we’re calling it here for the sake of clarity – not only works, but is possibly the best film in the entire series, is something of a miracle.”
Director: B.J. McDonnell
This absurd Foo Fighters comedy hits a little different since the untimely death of Taylor Hawkins. Now, this silly horror about Dave Grohl massacring his friends while possessed by a demon is weirdly a salute to the friendship and fun-loving nature of the band. It’s a film about people who just loved being ridiculous together.
NME said: “Studio 666 would sweep up the Palm D’Gore at any horror flick festival with an ounce of rock ’n’ roll in its fiend-infested soul.”
Director: Andrew Dominik
The last time Nick Cave and Andrew Dominik teamed up it was for the devastating One More Time With Feeling, which followed Cave as he completed his 16th album while coping with the loss of his son Arthur. Part documentary, part concert film, this looks for light after that unimaginable darkness, centred on some intimate, soaringly beautiful live performances.
NME said: “For the live music element alone, this film is worth any Cave fan’s time.”
Director: Taika Waititi
Marvel’s rocky fourth phase gets back on track with Taika Waititi’s second Thor movie. It mostly throws out all the usual Marvel end-of-the-world stuff to focus on a very funny, silly romantic comedy between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Jane (Natalie Portman), who is now, for daft reasons, a hammer-wielding superhero herself.
NME said: “Like Ragnarok before it, it’s tremendously entertaining.”
*All films selected based on their UK release dates
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