2022 is over and I’ve caught up with the last few films I’ve missed, so I think it’s time for EoM to unveil its Seventh Annual Sticky List!
If you’re unfamiliar with the Sticky List, these are the films which made me want to watch, rewatch, discuss, and share. While certainly several films on my favorites list meet this criteria, chances are you’ve heard about those ad nauseam from the countless other “Best Of” lists that drop starting at the beginning of December. What this list focuses on are films that either you’ve never heard of or may have forgotten were released at all.
Click here to check our previous Sticky Lists.
If you’re interested in checking out my full list of favorite films from this year, I kept a running list on Letterboxd all year and it has my full list of favorite films from 2022.
- Something in the Dirt
- The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic
- Framing Agnes
- 32 Sounds
- The Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks
- Pompo: The Cinéphile
- Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off
Reviews for each film this list are available at EoM. If you’d rather listen to my thoughts on each one, check out The Cine-Men, Episode 79 where podcast co-host Darryl Mansel and I discuss our favorite films of 2022.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, The Sky is Everywhere, The Cave of Adullam, Women Talking, Resurrection, Cont;nue, Turning Red, The Roundup, The Killer, Confess, Fletch, Blood Relatives, Bad City, Jujutsu Kaisen 0
Sticky List 2022
Cast: Colin Farrel, Jodie Turner-Smith, Justin H. Min, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, Haley Lu Richardson, Ritchie Coster, Sarita Choudhury, Clifton Collins Jr.
Grief takes all kinds of forms, just like loss. It can be sudden or prepared for. It can be for someone you knew or never met. It can come from someone excising themselves from your life or nature taking course. However it finds you, there’s no wrong way to explore or consider it as you eventually face it. For all the melancholy, After Yang is cathartic, offering a chance to examine your own sense of loss without going through the act of actually losing something or someone. Rather, I found myself thinking of the moments I treasure and considering how often I was present in them. I found myself wondering if the ones in my life understood their value. Most of all, I wondered if they understood the beauty they contributed to my world. Whatever becomes of Yang in the aftermath, just as his family will come to terms with what’s next, so are we, the audience, encouraged to do the same with our own lives. Once more, Kogonada doesn’t just provide a story to experience, but to get lost in and come out with a different perspective.
Director: Choi Dong-hoon
Cast: Ryu Jun-yeol, Kim Woo-bin, Kim Tae-ri
Whether it lands with the general public or not, there’s nothing like a big swing in art, something that extends itself perhaps farther than it should go, never quite breaking its own rules as it bites off more than it can chew. These big swings have become underdogs in cinema because, more often than not, to attempt such a thing is to invite derision at best, utter failure at worst. Writer/director Choi Dong-hoon’s (Assassination) latest project, Alienoid, is one such project as it’s not only a science-fiction fantasy adventure of the present, but an action comedy of the past, requiring two seemingly disparate narratives to play out, jumping from one to the other, until the audience discovers the connection. To pull this off, Choi must spend a great deal of time setting up characters and concepts, something which modern audience have little patience for, especially when a film requires more than two hours as Alienoid does. But for those willing to take a chance, Alienoid delivers on its promise of compelling action, interesting characters, and concepts that push what we’ve seen of period/modern action in creative ways.
Director: Kevin Smith
Cast: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Trevor Fehrman, Austin Zajur, Jason Mewes, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Smith
In an effort to preserve Clerks III, it’s difficult to discuss specific elements without giving away anything which may influence one’s cinematic experience. What can be stated plainly is what audiences have come to expect from Smith: his friends, his humor, and all the people and places that have come along for the ride since 1994. But rather than throw it all into a blender and have some fun like Reboot could be accused of, Smith offers his most sweet and tender film since Jersey Girl (2004), a film I feel is unfairly maligned. If his private persona is anything like his public one, Smith wears his heart on his sleeve, appearing a sobbing mess after quite a many film he offers his thoughts on, and, unashamedly, here I, too, am a mess after Clerks III. Even now, having had time to marinate on and process Smith’s narrative, his direction, his editing, and overall approach, I find myself in tears, so beautifully did he execute his vision. It’s puerile and blasphemous, but in that innocent way in which a donkey show inspires an honest expression of affection and personal truth. But as “Welcome to the Black Parade” begins with a mournful start, it, too, turns into an uplifting mantra that “… So paint it black and take it back … Let’s shout it loud and clear… Defiant to the end, we hear the call… to carry on, we’ll carry on …”.
Emily the Criminal
Director: John Patton Ford
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Theo Rossi, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Gina Gershon
As a feature film debut, Emily the Criminal is quite the calling card. It centers a complex female lead, offers twists and turns throughout, eschews familiar tropes to uplift the natural and examine the philosophically complex, and constantly builds to a most satisfying conclusion. It’s no wonder that Plaza herself produced the film via her Evil Hag Productions company, seeing the absolute potential in what Ford planned to do. Emily the Criminal is less the morality story one might presume and, because of that, makes it memorable; decrying the subjugation of self to be a cog in a machine constantly trying to grind us all down. Steel yourself so, like Emily, you can steal yourself.
Gatlopp: Hell of a Game
Director: Alberto Belli
Cast: Jim Mahoney, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Jon Bass, Sarunas J. Jackson, Shelley Hennig, John Ales, Amy Davidson
This may very well be an instance of the reviewer putting too much of themselves into the film, but, based on another comment by Mahoney in the production notes, “In the end, my goal was always for people watching to see a little slice of themselves in these misshapen characters, luxuriate in their own nostalgia, and maybe enjoy an adult beverage as they do so…”. Now, I haven’t had a drink in years (no reason, really), but I, personally, couldn’t help but think of my three friends from high school: Glen, Liz, and Ashley. Liz I knew from kindergarten, Glen I met in first grade, and Ashley joined our school in seventh grade. For all intents and purposes, Ashley was our Samantha: take no shit, smart as hell, and she’ll always go to bat for her friends. I moved states just before my senior year and we didn’t stay as close as I would’ve liked (they did, but I’m a shitty communicator). We tried to see each other as we could with distance, marriage, and kids, for some, making it hard, but since Ashley passed suddenly at the start of 2020, the remaining three try to stay connected. Watching Gatlopp I couldn’t help but see my friends, different though our circumstances are, which means, if nothing else, Mahoney achieved his intended goal. Gatlopp is a lot of fun and its cast is fully game for what the narrative throws at them, but the script nails that bittersweetness of reconnection and the cast embodied the lasting affection that I feel for my old friends. In this regard, I encourage you not to watch Gatlopp: Hell of a Game alone. If you feel comfortable gathering in a group, find your core friends and put this on. Take a few drinks, if you should feel so inclined. Go on this adventure with Samantha, Paul, Cliff, and Travis together.
Director: Rebekah McKendry
Cast: Ryan Kwanten and J.K. Simmons
There have been many films conceived, shot, and released since COVID-19 quarantines more or less stopped the world. Some of them put the virus front-and-center (The End of Us), while others used the period as an opportunity to tell a more character-driven story (How It Ends). Glorious is more like the latter, using the isolation as a means of creative exploration to devise a story (in this case by Headless’s Todd Rigney) that’s as much an insular bottle tale with two central protagonists as it is a battle for existence. To accomplish this, and to do it successfully, you need more than an intriguing premise that melds genres into an uncanny concoction that toes the line between the sacred and the profane, jumping back and forth with almost every line of dialogue, every new revelation. Sure, that alone sounds like plenty, but you need total execution that sells the entire preposterous circumstance as real from go. Director Rebekah McKendry (All the Creatures Were Stirring) positively does this by putting out front that Glorious is going to be a wild, brain-melting ride, but doesn’t do it in a way that feels as though the abyss is laughing at you, rather that it’s come with a caring embrace that just so happens to include a ritual sacrifice. You know…like you do.
Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, Will Patton, Rohan Campbell, Kyle Richards
So is Ends the end? There’s little doubt that audiences haven’t seen the end of Michael Myers in some form or another. But for Green, this is the last film in *his* series and, the rights for Halloween are reverting from Blumhouse back to the family of original producer Malek Akkad. So it’s likely not the end for Myers in the same way that Freddy or Jason never stay down for long, but this seems to be the final ride for Curtis and it’s an extraordinary final performance for the character. She really gives it her all and the actor brings forth all the versions of Laurie that we’ve seen across these four films: the fear and the strength, as well as the wisdom that comes with age. In fact, for all the legacy characters and new ones, Green’s Halloween films serve as an exquisite conclusion to Hill and Carpenter’s original creation, each offered a chance to shine at some point along the way as Strode and Myers give their final goodbyes. Most impressively, what started in 2018 as a means of exploring Laurie’s specific grief wrapped in a slasher covering revealing itself, with the dermis layer removed, to be a powerful and profound tale of breaking the chains of one’s trauma through the active participation of self. You can’t lock yourself away for the pain to heal, you have to open yourself up, sometimes in ways you can’t possibly imagine, if you want to restore yourself in some form or another. Much like evil, good, too, can change its shape. We just have to remain vigilant to the possibilities.
Director: Masaaki Yuasa
Cast: Avu-chan and Mirai Moriyama
One of the oldest storytelling conveyances is the oral tradition. Before we could write or read, we spoke and the sounds we made transfixed audiences, transporting them to times before their present. With the advent of the written-word, one might think that stories would become more accessible, when, in actuality, classism-instilled gatekeeping prevented common folk from learning to read while the wealthy could. More damning and problematic than this, whomever did the printing held the power to decide which stories were immortalized in word and which stories were not. We may never know the voices and ideas that have been lost via this choice, the people and communities lost to someone’s egotistical decision. Sometimes these lost stories can be found through research and luck, other times, as imagined in director Masaaki Yuasa’s (The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl) new film Inu-Oh, they can be found by listening to the spirits around you who’ve been waiting for their tales to be told. Imaginative, bold, and infectious, Yuasa’s Inu-Oh is an anachronistic multi-genre music fusion opera set in 14th-century Japan during the Muromachi period that’s as much a painful tale of greed and destruction as it is a celebration of artistic freedom and personal identity. Having its Quebec premiere during Fantasia International Film Festival, the story of Inu-Oh will have your toes tapping before your tears flow.
Leonor Will Never Die
Director: Martika Ramirez Escobar
Cast: Sheila Francisco, Bong Cabrera, Rocky Salumbides, Anthony Falcon, Rea Molina, Alan Bautista, Tami Monsod, Dido Dela Paz, John Paulo Rodriguez
Movies are magic. They can transport you to a different place and time, can help you process emotions you didn’t realize you had, or can just be a salve for what ails you. Even the most wild films, the ones that with time and distance from their release make you forget their deeper meaning (Godzilla (1954); Hausu (1977)), the ones that break conventions (Last Action Hero (1993); One Cut of the Dead (2017)), can be just as impactful as the more straight-forward artistic tales. Enter feature film directorial debut of Martika Ramirez Escobar with Leonor Will Never Die, which had its world premiere at Sundance 2022 and is a combination of art and imagination, culminating in the kind of exuberant chaos that only movies can offer.
The Long Walk
Director: Mattie Do
Cast: Yannawoutthi Chanthalungsy, Vilouna Phetmany, Por Silatsa, Noutnapha Soydara, Chanthamone Inoudome, Vithaya Sombath
The Long Walk is deceptive in how deep a film it is with such a simple premise. It doesn’t spend time bemoaning modernity in favor of a specific era. In fact, the tale takes place in an undetermined period of time that is futuristic or alternative, yet plausible. It doesn’t place answers in front of you, but gives you enough from beginning to end in order to deduce a holistic one through which you can look back on the film and understand. The film isn’t merely made up of staggering performances or twisty moments. Larsen’s script is a patiently constructed optical illusion that you can only truly understand when you’re far enough back from it to see The Long Walk completely, to understand what the long walk is, who is taking it, and why. We are the culmination of every choice we make before the next one. How chilling a thought that can be when you can see every positive and negative decision in the past realized in your present. I assure you, terrifying as it is, it won’t deter you from revisiting this tale again and again.
Director: BJ McDonnell
Cast: Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear, Chris Shiflett, Rami Jaffee, Whitney Cummings, Leslie Grossman, Will Forte, Jenna Ortega, Jeff Garlin
If there’s a recent release that immediately comes to mind as a perfect pairing with Studio 666, it’s the Nic Cage-led Willy’s Wonderland. Also primarily set in a single location dealing with demon possession amid exaggerated circumstances, there’s a grounded reality that makes everything that happens between *and to* characters that just makes sense in the greater context of the reality before us. One could certainly divine a deeper meaning about the state of rock ‘n roll music, the ways in which fame comes at great cost, and how we all become caricatures of ourselves in pursuit of maintaining the ethereal orrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr we can just go for a blood-soaked ride.
Take the ride.
Director: Alberto Vázquez
Cast: Jon Goiri, Ramón Barea, Maribel Legarreta, Itxaso Quintana, Manu Heras, Jaione Insausti, Kepa Cueto
Born out of his 2013 short film Sangre de unicornio (Unicorn Blood), writer/director Alberto Vázquez (Birdboy: The Forgotten Children) is his latest feature film, Unicorn Wars, a sugar-wrapped allegory for the perils of faith and the destruction of nature. It’s gruesome, horrible, and will leave you with a sinking pit in the center of your stomach, not because of the violence committed on screen by the innocent-looking Care Bear-esque teddy bears subjected to Full Metal Jacket-like (1987) situations, but for the truth that courses throughout the entire production. Beautiful and hypnotic, horrifying and nightmare-inducing, Unicorn Wars is a cautionary tale all should listen to before it’s too late.
We Are The Thousand
Director: Anita Rivaroli
Cast: Fabio Zaffagnini, I Mille, Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters
Maybe this is intentional as some of the most moving stories come from the members of The Thousand, whether it’s laying out how it became a family affair between a father and his two kids or how an older man (occupation: sea captain) had been recently diagnosed with a medical condition and used this event as an opportunity to buy himself a guitar and play in public. He notes later as some of his fellow Thousand recognize him and yell for him, as he is going to the Foo Fighters concert, that they are like his adopted children. These stories of found family, of shared experience, more than make up for any short-comings one might find. I don’t think it matters that history tells us that the Foo Fighters come to Cesena any more than the trailer doing so because the real story here isn’t about whether Fabio gets the Foo Fighters to come. In truth, We Are The Thousand captures for the record a story of what happens when strangers come together with a shared goal born out of positivity and love.