Double Features: Top 12 of 2022 (& 12 More)
Here are the 12 best movies I saw in 2022, each one paired with a brilliant non-2022 film that I saw for the first time last year. Some double features make all the sense in the world; others exist with more tenuous connections. These are ranked by my passion for the 2022 release in each pairing, from 12 to 1.
12. You Won't Be Alone and Cure...
11. Crimes of the Future and Audition...
...aka "bodies: good or bad?"
Audition’s most horrifying moments come with the creative bodily extremes used to inflict pain. Crimes of the Future’s sexiest moments come with the creative bodily extremes used to relieve pain.
The same could be said of the terrifying and life-affirming moments of Cure and You Won’t Be Alone, two films that animate the idea of the body as a vessel toward opposite destinations.
These corporeal pairings may use matching paints, but their canvases look nothing alike once their credits roll. Cronenberg’s late-period return to his grimier ways reaches out a delicate hand toward humanity, while Takashi Miike’s early breakout shrivels a gnarled finger around depravity. And where Goran Stelevski’s feature debut enriches its soul with a hint of Malickian awe, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s film infests its bodies with a rotted heart.
Verdict? Bodies: good and bad.
10. After Yang and Lost Highway...
...aka "who are we?"
Two films about what makes us us and whether superficial changes can dictate an internal morphosis. David Lynch and Kogonada are operating on entirely different wavelengths, but both require you to plug into their particular vibe to fully experience their respective interrogations into identity and the blurry nature of the self.
9. Bones and All and The Celebration...
…aka “we eat our own"
Bones and All and The Celebration aggressively punch through the façade of respectability – in Reagan’s America and the Danish upper crust, respectively. Both ultimately show the power of family: how the ones we choose can help us transcend while the ones we're stuck with can drag us down.
8. TÁR and The Lady Eve...
...aka "nom de con"
These women cannot be denied. Jean Harrington and Linda Tarr will go to any and all lengths – including and especially shapeshifting into whatever form required – to achieve success. Jean becomes the Lady Eve; Linda turns into Lydia Tár. Barbara Stanwyck and Cate Blanchett give mirrored performances as little more than con women – in the truest sense of the term, full of unbridled confidence – who adopt a veneer of propriety just long enough for everyone to believe they’re the real thing.
7. The Banshees of Inisherin and Z...
Politics rest in the background of Banshees of Inisherin and the foreground of Z, but they play a key role in understanding both. Banshees’ central relationship-as-metaphor gives both its personal and its national stories more power, while Z’s direct attack on corruption in the Greek junta – bolstered by innovative, elliptical editing and searing performances – renders it as close to an act of revolution as cinema can get.
6. Top Gun: Maverick and Only Angels Have Wings...
Please, yes, but more importantly: men and women who define themselves by their ability and willingness to do the damn job, no matter the cost. Perennial occupation-as-comradery proponent Howard Hawks (director of Only Angels Have Wings) would be proud of Joseph Kosinski’s work in the Top Gun sequel. And despite over 80 years of advancements in technology, nobody had topped the former’s opening flight sequence for pure visceral brilliance until Cruise and his cohorts came along in 2022. That’s movie magic, baby.
5. The Fabelmans and Bringing Up Baby...
One is a raucous, end-to-end bonkers comedy that features arguably the greatest on-screen duo, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, at their peak. The other is a penetrative glance back at how putting a camera between yourself and the world can have a tremendous effect on the people around you, but at great cost to your own life. Both transcend the trappings of their zeitgeist-y sub-genres – screwball comedy and movie magic – by diving far deeper into the perverse end of the pool than you might expect. And both use the unexpected presence of a wild animal to emphasize just how batshit we humans really are.
4. Nope and Jurassic Park...
...aka "behold thy spectacle"
Better to just leave well enough alone. Please, I beg of you: we don’t need the spectacle.
But boy, nobody does spectacle quite like Jordan Peele and Steven Spielberg. They castigate us for our curiosity even as they demand it. Nope and Jurassic Park both explore the fallout from humanity’s inherent weaknesses, even as they successfully prey on the base instincts of moviegoers.
3. Babylon and Park Row...
...aka "we love you, we hate you, we love you"
What’s that? You’re interested in media industries built on the backs of exploitation? You want to see it when it’s at its best, and it works, and the people care about the medium? But you also want to see it at its worst, with the conniving, cynical, craven monsters who will do anything for a dollar? Newspapers or films, look no further. Park Row and Babylon make the perfect double feature.
2. Decision to Leave and The Shop Around the Corner...
...aka "missed connections"
What do we do when we can’t show the ones we love that we love them? These films are wildly different in tone, formal invention, and even their basic plots, but they share something in common at a fundamental level: the way our passions tend to leak out any which way they can when the usual channels have been blocked (for whatever reason).
1. Aftersun and Landscape in the Mist...
Aftersun works like a faded memory. Director Charlotte Wells uncovers bits and pieces slowly, one at a time, until the film’s gut-punch of a final 10 minutes leaves you gasping for air without even realizing how you got there. It’s a force of elliptical filmmaking, and one that – like Landscape in the Mist – only grows with time and rewatches. In both films, the fog is the point. If we could see clear ahead to our destination, life and film would be desaturated. The fog forces us to turn off the road, to wander aimlessly with purpose, to stop and feel both the sorrow and the elation in each moment without knowing or worrying when it will end, or what will come next. These films remind us of everything cinema can do.