2022: Reviewing a year in film


Art by Nicole Armstrong. Canva by Emma Dela Cruz.

Joey Harinsky, Former Deputy Culture Editor

This previously ran in our April 2023 print issue.

On the evening of Sunday March 12, the 95th Academy Awards – also known as the Oscars – were held in the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles California. 

The event was attended by hundreds of notable figures in Hollywood; a cavalcade of predators, criminals, and a few decent people lined the red carpet in lavish outfits worth more than most peoples’ mortgages. The event also marks the end of this year’s awards season, which consists of a series of smaller award shows that build over time and eventually culminate in the Oscars. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic causing the shutdown of most film productions, the previous two years have produced a pretty lackluster catalog of movies. 2022 has been the first time in a long time where every week or two there’s a brand new and high quality film, the blockbuster has returned in great form, and even independent films are getting much deserved love. 

By far the most awarded film of this year has been Everything Everywhere All At Once, a film that broke both records and boundaries. An indie film from the production house A24, Everything Everywhere All At Once won 264 major awards this season – a new record, it walked away with seven Oscars including Best Picture. More notably, however, is that the film features a primarily Asian cast. Michelle Yeoh became the first Asian woman, and the second ever woman of color, to win the Best Actress Academy Award. 

Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water have begun the return of big spectale blockbusters, outside of the comic book movies from Marvel and DC that we have been used to for the past decade. While both were nominated for multiple awards, including Best Picture, Maverick only won Best Sound at the Oscars, while Avatar walked away with Best Visual Effects. 

By far the biggest disappointment at the Oscars was The Banshees of Inisherin, a truly terrific film about the breaking of friendships. Banshees had done very well leading up to the Oscars, critically it was a big hit. The film ultimately left the Oscars empty-handed, with many online arguing that Colin Ferrell should’ve won Best Actor for his role. 

Other notable films from 2022 included The Whale, a return to acting for Brendan Fraser who would win the Best Actor Oscar for his performance. The Fabelmans, a semi-autobiographical film by Steven Spielberg about growing up and the love of cinema. The Batman, a three-hour long noir detective film starring Robert Pattinson was universally praised and a massive success, being nominated for multiple Oscars yet winning none. And Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the follow up to the multi Oscar-winning original film. Wakanda Forever won Best Costume Design, an award that the first Black Panther film also managed to do. 

Many 2022 films that were highly anticipated received negative reviews from both critics and moviegoers alike. Out of the three Marvel films to release in 2022, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was the only one to seem genuinely well liked by audiences. On the other hand Thor: Love and Thunder and Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness both received mixed reviews, while Love and Thunder had a smaller box office performance compared to its predecessor, Thor: Ragnarok. 

Babylon was perhaps the biggest flop of the year. Directed by Damien Chazelle – who previously directed films such as Whiplash and more notably La La Land. Starring Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, the film received very mixed reviews and lost over $100 million at the box office. The film was nominated for multiple Oscars, and while it definitely should have won Best Original Score, it walked away empty handed. 

All in all, 2022 was a massive step up for films as a whole from 2020 and 2021, two years that were filled with rushed and sloppily made movies that did not draw many people into a theater to see them. 

2023 has already had a few knockouts and with the lineup for the rest of the year, things seem like they can only get better.