The 10 most under-appreciated movies of 2022
So, 2022 is pretty much in the books from the movie point of view. Avatar: The Way of Water is almost certainly the last big release of the year, so it's time to look back and spotlight some of the under-appreciated movies you might have missed.
It has been a big year for off-kilter comedy on both sides of the Atlantic, while there have also been a handful of fascinating horror movies with plenty to say about a world that is online literally all of the time. There was also that time Daniel Radcliffe played a gun-toting version of an otherwise wholesome parody singer. Yup, quite the year for movies.
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Here are some of the most under-appreciated movies of 2022...
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
Daniel Radcliffe is a weird, brilliant actor who makes weird, brilliant choices. So it was only natural that he'd eventually play a guy with at least one of those words in his name. Structured as an overwrought parody of musical biopics, this is a definitely-not-biopic of Canadian accordion enthusiast Weird Al Yankovic, who is perhaps the world's leading purveyor of ludicrous, often food-based song parodies.
The film imagines Yankovic's life as an onslaught of sex, drugs, rock n roll and drug cartels, with Evan Rachel Wood entering the fray as a seductive spin on Madonna.
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For an artist who, in real life, couldn't be more wholesome, it's quite the shift, and Radcliffe plays it perfectly. Hidden away on Roku, the movie did not get the love it deserved.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is streaming in the UK on the Roku Channel.
A Love Song
Released quietly into a few British cinemas a week before Avatar: The Way of Water, the contemplative romantic drama A Love Song is unlikely to make much of an impact. And given the sheer strength of the movie, that's an enormous shame. Written and directed by feature debutant Max Walker-Silverman, it's the poignant and understated story of widow Faye (Dale Dickey), who arranges to spend an evening with childhood friend Lito (Wes Studi).
Romantic and affectionate without ever making it explicit, this is a movie about intimacy over sex. Both lead performances are naturalistic and gently underplayed, while the vast emptiness of Colorado only serves to focus us more on these two people enjoying each other's company. Simple, but devastatingly effective.
A Love Song is in limited UK cinemas now.
There almost certainly hasn't been a film released this year that is as exquisitely uncomfortable as Not Okay, which proudly explains in its opening screen that it "contains flashing lights, themes of trauma, and an unlikable female protagonist". The film follows aspiring writer Danni (Zoey Deutch) who lies that she is heading to a writer's retreat in Paris. When a terrorist attack happens in the city, she doubles down on her deceit and claims to be a survivor of the bombing.
Writer-director Quinn Shephard's film is a queasy watch, marrying broad comedy with vicious commentary about the world of social media. It's a skin-crawling take on how a lie can spread and how quickly the machinery of the internet can create both heroes and villains, with the finest of lines between those two groups.
Not Okay is available to stream on Disney+ UK.
This movie very much came and went earlier this year, but it's an Avengers-level event for fans of musical theatre as it teams megastars Ramin Karimloo and Samantha Barks. Karimloo is a West End and Broadway stalwart currently starring alongside Lea Michele in Funny Girl, while Barks is a Les Mis veteran who has spent the last few years originating the role of Elsa in the West End version of Frozen.
Tomorrow Morning is an amiable romantic musical following a couple on two fateful days — the lead-up to the wedding and the day of their divorce hearing a decade later. The musical numbers are well-observed and emotionally raw, with a fun supporting performance by Fleur East and a dance sequence choreographed and performed by Karen Hauer of Strictly Come Dancing fame. It's a joy.
Tomorrow Morning is available to stream in the UK via Amazon Freevee.
Mr Malcolm's List
Emma Holly Jones made her directorial debut with this Regency era romcom, in which Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù plays the titular eligible bachelor with a very restrictive list of requirements his future wife must meet. Zawe Ashton portrays a society woman Malcolm rejects, who subsequently recruits friend Freida Pinto to fulfil all of Malcolm's requirements in order to humiliate him.
In a post-Bridgerton world of period drama revival, it's surprising that there wasn't more love for Mr Malcolm's List — a very sharp and emotionally rich tale powered by a selection of terrific performances by the best of British acting talent.
Mr Malcolm's List is available to rent/buy on digital platforms in the UK, or on DVD/Blu-ray.
Brian and Charles
Comedian David Earl brings a version of his long-term Brian Gittins character to the big screen as one half of British cinema's most delightful odd couple of the year. The other half of this unusual friendship is Chris Hayward as Charles Petrescu — a robot with a mannequin head and a washing machine as a body. Brian is a pretty terrible inventor who suddenly has to act in loco parentis for his latest creation — and loco is very much the right word.
Brian and Charles is utterly charming from start to finish, zeroing in on a deeply bizarre comedic tone that might be off-putting to some, but will perfectly tickle the funny bone of others. It's strangely affecting in its depiction of friendship, as well as the desire to break free of suffocating, small communities.
Brian and Charles is available to rent/buy on digital platforms in the UK, or on DVD/Blu-ray.
Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers
This one fits squarely into the "absolutely no right to be this good" category. On the face of it, it's a cash-in on an old property — Disney's likeable chipmunk duo. But then you note that the director is Akiva Schaffer, who is a member of The Lonely Island and counts the hilarious Popstar Never Stop Never Stopping as his last effort behind the camera. This is no ordinary reboot, imagining Chip n Dale as estranged stars who are forced together years after their show was cancelled when their co-stars start disappearing.
This is one of the funniest movies of the year, with technical innovations from the Roger Rabbit school as well as a deeply witty, self-referential script by Dan Gregor and Doug Mand. It would be a crime to spoil some of the surprises on show, but it's fair to say that — whatever your expectations — this film is a lot better than you expect it to be.
Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers is available to stream on Disney+ UK.
Writer-director Riley Stearns channels the deadpan oddity of Yorgos Lanthimos in this high-concept sci-fi about a terminally ill woman played by Karen Gillan. On learning of her imminent death, she authorises the creation of an exact double to take her place, in order to save her family and partner from the grief. However, when she enters remission, she discovers that she will have to fight the clone to the death in order to resume her old life.
As with many of the films on this list, the self-conscious weirdness of Dual won't be for everyone. But it's a darkly comic and surprisingly deep examination of what it means to be alive, which manages to transcend the easy comparisons with a Black Mirror episode.
Dual is available to stream in the UK on Sky Cinema and NOW.
Rob Savage was one of the big filmmaking winners of the pandemic, with his Zoom-set horror movie Host becoming a phenomenon and securing him a deal with Blumhouse. His follow-up to that film widens the landscape a little and certainly ups the mayhem, following a live-stream musician broadcasting via her vehicle dashcam. She is offered loads of money to transport an old woman to an address, but it turns out to be the opening salvo of a descent into supernatural carnage.
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The film is an utterly intense nightmare, told through the prism of a deeply unpleasant central character — Annie Hardy as a semi-fictionalised version of herself, who is a MAGA-loving COVID denier. Savage knows his way around close-quarters horror and delivers some unforgettable images, while finding intelligent ways to find extra scares and jokes via the apparatus of the live stream.
Dashcam is available to rent/buy on digital platforms in the UK.
We're All Going to the World's Fair
Another screen-focused horror, this one follows teenager Casey (Anna Cobb) as she attempts a social media challenge. She has to repeat the movie's title three times, smear blood on to her screen and then watch a video of strobing lights. The rest of the film follows her increasingly unsettling video diary, as well as her interactions with another participant in the game.
Read more: The best horror movies of 2022
Jane Schoenbrun's film is a fascinating depiction of the myriad ways in which the lines of internet "irony" become blurry when everyone is online all the time. It's never clear whether these people are in on the joke or if there's genuinely something sinister going on, and that's as thrilling as it is disturbing.
We're All Going to the World's Fair is available to stream in the UK on Shudder. Watch a trailer below.