The Best Films of 2022, According to Deeper Into Movies

Stop-motion nightmares, "Top Gun: Maverick" and Cronenberg's return - 2022 had a lot to offer.
Nope. Photo: Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
All the good shit you should be watching, as curated by the East London film club Deeper Into Movies.

It wasn’t until we started compiling this list that we realised what a truly great year it's been for cinema. This list should by no means be taken as the only good films of 2022 – rather, these are some personally curated choices of some movies you might have missed, as well as our take on some that it was hard to avoid. It's heartening to see so many of our greatest living filmmakers continuing to put out stellar work, alongside new voices like Charlotte Wells and Jane Schoenbraun making such assured debuts. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that the highest-grossing film of the year, Top Gun: Maverick, a legacy sequel to a coked-out MTV-style military recruitment ad, ended up being one of our favourites. What a time to be alive.


For more end of year essays and analysis on VICE, check out 2022 in Review. 

- Deeper into Movies

“Aftersun”, dir. Charlotte Wells

In the early nineties, a young father played by Paul Mescal takes his 11-year-old daughter Sophie (Frankie Corio) on a holiday to Turkey that he clearly can’t afford. Many years later, this trip takes on a new significance, as a now-adult Sophie reflects on their time together, more sensitive to her father’s thinly-concealed pain. The film uses an elliptical structure and home-video footage to create a sense of memories both vague and distinct, where nostalgia and regret coalesce. Intensely moving, but never manipulative, Wells’ feature debut is a revelation. 

“In Front of Your Face”, dir. Hong Sang-soo

A former actress returns to Seoul to stay with her sister and contemplates a potential comeback initiated by a young director she has arranged to meet. As she wanders through the city, she reflects on the decisions that brought her to this point. A plot as superficially slight as this is typical of Hong Sang-soo, whose understated style has earned him comparisons to everyone from Eric Rohmer to Woody Allen and Robert Bresson. Captured with Hong’s favoured unadorned aesthetic, In Front of Your Face is a melancholy exploration of the passage of time, and is as effortlessly funny as the director’s best work. 


“Stars at Noon”, dir Claire Denis

Margaret Qualley plays a young American journalist stranded in Nicaragua. Having burned any remaining bridges with the publication sponsoring her stay, owing to a reckless article critiquing a recent spate of political executions, she is living off survival sex work, and stealing utilities from the hotels whose bars she frequents. During a typically heavy drinking session, she meets a mysterious Englishman (a marble-white Joe Alwyn), and the two begin a passionate, but doomed affair.

Based on a novel by Denis Johnson, Stars at Noon is classic Denis, fixating on the human body and carnal desire within the precarious post-colonial setting. Benny Safdie steals the show as a sinister CIA agent who appears midway through the film.

“A Hero”, dir Asghar Farhadi

During a two-day release from debtor’s prison, Rahim (Ahir Jadidi) is given a miraculous chance to pay off his debts, using a handbag containing several gold coins found by his lover. Instead, Rahim turns the bag in to the authorities, becoming a national celebrity due to his perceived virtue. However, as more scrutiny is applied to his case, bad decisions pile up in an attempt to maintain control of the narrative.

Directed by Asghar Farhadi, the film is filled with interesting documentary details about the debtor’s prison system, and offers a cogent critique of the accelerated praise-backlash trajectory facilitated by viral culture. Jadidi’s lead performance is astounding, bringing a Chaplin-esque sweetness to the role without ever seeming anything but natural. As tense and thrilling as Uncut Gems.


“Mad God”, dir. Phil Tippett

Mad God is the magnum opus from practical effects maestro Phil Tippett. Having cut his teeth on the original Star Wars trilogy, Jurassic Park, and Robocop, the feature-length, stop-motion Mad God is the culmination of 30 years of work. Set in a hellish, post-apocalyptic wasteland, the film follows a figure referred to in the credits as “The Assassin” (Mad God is, for the most part, a silent film) as he wanders through a range of horrifying scenarios. A remarkable accomplishment, and a feat of human endurance, Mad God is the manifestation of three decades of nightmares.

“Nope”, dir. Jordan Peele

What exactly is Nope? The marketing campaign emphasised the UFO angle, but you might be thrown by the full breadth of Peele’s vision. Ostensibly a sci-fi horror, be prepared for unsettling evocations of high-profile animal attacks, and a fascinating interwoven thread of how the history of structural racism is obfuscated by pop culture. Peele takes cues from populist GOATs Steven Spielberg and M. Night Shyamalan, while never losing track of his own voice. Nope is at once his most complex and technically assured film to date.

“Crimes of the Future”, dir. David Cronenberg

He’s back! Canada’s greatest export has come out of retirement with a film that sees the septuagenarian icon return to the genre he’s best known for. In the future, indeterminate environmental factors have numbed human sensitivity to pain and all but eliminated infectious diseases. Surgery and body modifications happen anywhere, anytime - on the street, or in front of a gallery audience. Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) and Caprice (Léa Seydoux) play a couple, stars of the performance art scene - Tenser’s body is constantly producing new organs, and Caprice removes them onstage. Shot in what feels like half-rendered videogame maps, and filled with philosophical discussions about the body, technology, and sex, Crimes is a welcome return from one of the best to ever do it.


“Jackass Forever”, dir Jeff Tremaine

The slow march of time is impossible to resist, and nowhere is this more apparent than the latest entry in the Jackass franchise. Ryan Dunn is sadly no longer with us, and any reference to the fired Bam Margera is excised. The aged faces of the remaining cast are contrasted with the new recruits who provide cannon fodder for the stunts the veterans legitimately might not survive.

Nevertheless, Jackass Forever is a surprisingly jubilant affair and the enduring fraternity of Knoxville, Pontius, Steve-O, and co is genuinely special. Shifting the focus away from the kind of setpieces that ended up pulverising Knoxville’s genitals in years past, Forever combines whacky Rube Goldberg-style contraptions with premises as simple as “what if we covered Dave England in pig cum?” There are still plenty of jaw-droppingly dangerous stunts, including a nerve-shredding bullring sequence.

“The Banshees of Inisherin”, dir. Martin McDonagh

One day, seemingly out of nowhere, folk musician Colm (Brendan Gleeson) declares he is no longer associating with his best friend, a farmer named Pádraic (Colin Farrell), terminating a longstanding relationship seemingly on a whim. Set on the fictional island of Inisherin during the Irish Civil War, director Martin McDonagh gradually escalates Banshees from its comedic premise into a heartbreaking study of isolation and despair. There’s a primal power in the premise, playing on all of our anxieties around rejection and loneliness. Phenomenal performances across the board, particularly from the scene-stealing animals.


“Top Gun: Maverick”, dir. Joseph Kosinski

Tom Cruise is back and doing what he does best - being a big Hollywood movie star appearing in blockbusters - this time revisiting his iconic role as fighter pilot Maverick from Tony Scott’s Top Gun (1986). After a thirty-year hiatus Cruise is called to train a group of graduates for a specialised military mission. The film manages to keep all the gems of the so-eighties-it-hurts original: aviator sunglasses, bomber jackets, power ballads, Val Kilmer, glorious sunsets and ripped topless dudes, mixed with new spectacular action sequences in the sky making it a near perfect sequel. 

“Earwig”, dir. Lucile Hadzihalilovic

I first saw Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s debut, Innocence, back in 2004 and the opening image has stayed with me ever since - a private school for girls where the new students arrive in coffins.

Her new coming-of-age film Earwig confirms her visionary status and another image has stayed with me - a girl with ice cubes for teeth. This is Lucile's first movie in seven years, a dark and haunted fantasy set in a fogbound corner of mid-century Europe. The film tells the story of Albert, played by the fantastic Paul Hilton, a man employed as guardian to Mia (Romane Hemelaers) and her constantly melting teeth until the day Albert is instructed that he must prepare the child to leave.


Part gothic fairytale, part body horror - this is both visually stunning and truly bizarre. 

“All Light, Everywhere”, dir. Theo Anthony

Theo Anthony’s fascinating 2021 essay film All Light, Everywhere is a kaleidoscopic documentary that delves deep into the history of the birth of the camera to today's use of surveillance. Following the Adam Curtis style of documentary, Anthony connects the dots by looking at the earliest film recordings, to police body cams used today. It slowly exposes the uneasy relationship that has emerged between technology, surveillance, and recording. All Light Everywhere leaves you with plenty of food for thought, and a lot of troubling Orwellian feelings.

“We’re All Going to the World’s Fair”, dir. Jane Schoenbrun

To the dark corners of the internet we go with Jane Schoenbrun’s creepy Sundance hit We’re All Going to the World’s Fair. A teen girl named Casey (Anna Cobb) becomes transfixed with a popular online creepypasta challenge called “The World’s Fair Challenge” which is rumoured to supposedly change you into something horrific. What sets this apart from so many “the internet is a dark and scary place” horror movies is this feels like it was made by someone who grew up within internet culture and anonymous message boards, and knows first hand the true horror here is how the web both connects and isolates us. 

“Alone Together”, dir. Bradley Bell

During lockdown, while most of us were learning how to use Zoom and bake bread, pop genius and workaholic Charli XCX gave herself the towering challenge of 40 days to write and record a full album from scratch Alone Together is a diary of Charli’s journey - refreshingly raw and totally unfiltered. 


The film is entirely self-recorded via cameras, phones and video, showing the entire songwriting process and her own mental health struggles in the stillness of lockdown.

“Vortex”, dir. Gaspar Noé

Gaspar Noé has been disrupting cinema and polarising opinion since his 1998 debut I Stand Alone. His divisiveness-to-come signposted by the warning card in that  film’s climax which read “CAUTION YOU HAVE 30 SECONDS TO LEAVE THE CINEMA” – followed by a 30-second countdown. Today the shock comes from just how still and tender Vortex is; a slow and sombre portrait of old age, in which a retired psychiatrist with dementia (an incredible performance from Italian horror legend Dario Argento) and his wife live out their final days together in an apartment reflecting on their life.

Vortex, like all Noé movies, is a heavy watch, but also a sobering look at companionship and old age made with heart and compassion from a director who continues to surprise.  

“Benediction”, dir. Terence Davies

Terence Davies, the British filmmaking master, returns with the elegant and haunting biopic Benediction, portraying the tragic life of poet and soldier Siegfried Sassoon who is best remembered for his angry and tender-hearted poems about the First World War (in which he served). Siegfried is brought to life (twice), first by Jack Lowden and then by Peter Capaldi, playing young and older Sassoon respectively. Lowden is especially great, haunted by the war and wrestling with his sexuality. 


“Red Rocket”, dir. Sean Baker

Sean Baker follows up his break-out hit The Florida Project (2017) with the absolutely wild Red Rocket. Simon Rex stars as a lying, cheating, and hugely charming washed-up pornstar who returns to his small hometown penniless and ready to hustle. Like all of Baker's movies it’s a great portrait of American hard living - but what could be a miserable watch is a knockout tragicomic joy ride thanks to Rex's trainwreck homecoming. How the hell Sean Baker made a movie so sleazy and questionable yet so charming and funny is a hustle itself. 

“The Worst Person in the World”, dir. Joachim Trier

When a film like The Worst Person in The World comes along with such acclaim, hype and adoration you can't help but to be cynical and wonder “does it live up to the hype?” - it does! Director Joachim Trier has pulled off the remarkable feat of taking romantic comedy somewhere new, uncomfortable, and even if we hate to admit it - utterly relatable. Worst Person follows four years in the life of Julie, a young woman living in Oslo as she explores her options for romantic relationships, her career, and generally decides what kind of life she wants to live.

Trier is sensitive to the struggles of ordinary people and the film confronts everything from grief to drug-induced embarrassment with real grace. A rare film about millennial life that is neither patronising nor cynical.