Film Rankings And Awards 2022

Here we are again. Let’s get right down to NFB’s favourite films of the year, and some awards.

10. All Quiet On The Western Front

While it deviates in many ways from the novel, 2022’s All Quiet On The Western Front remains that well-worn, but still very affecting, story of youthful idealism destroyed by the reality of industrial warfare. There is nothing especially surprising or stunning by what All Quiet… showcases but this reminder of the terrible truth of war is one that it probably does us all some good to experience every now and then. Felix Kammerer gives a pitch perfect performance of teenage verve turning to deadened acceptance of misery, with one of the main through lines of the film an examination of Paul’s mood towards the end of the conflict: from that acceptance that there is no way out, to hope that an escape is near, right back to a hopeless acceptance of there being no world beyond the trenches, not one that Paul can live in any way. This sweet, amiable boy who doesn’t know how to talk to women gets turned into an animalistic killer, and the transformation is a terrible one to behold.

This is a film that brilliantly portrays the war machine that so categorised that industrial conflict that was taking place on the Western Front. The opening sequence is utterly amazing: another German soldier dies in brutal circumstances, his trench shovel embedded in a French adversary, and we follow the route of his blood-stained jacket through removal, transport, cleaning, re-sowing (where the machines sound uncannily like machine guns) and eventually as it is handed to Paul. This is the story of a generation – referred to as Germany’s “greatest” in a potent bit of wordplay presumably meant to evoke feelings of comparability in western audiences – being ground to mulch in an uncaring system. The German nature of the production in its background, creative team and story offers a very interesting viewpoint for those largely brought up on stories of heroic Allies triumphing through adversity: here are soldiers fighting a hopeless battle, in a war for a country that will be condemned for (allegedly) starting it. There’s no glory, even of a fleeting kind, to be found, no reward for bravery: just the next trench to assault, and the next counter-attack to withstand.

All Quiet… perhaps takes too much time to tell the story that it wants to tell, and one could make a case for it being a form of misery porn that, in overegging its main theme across an elongated running time, loses something very important. But it’s more than possible to get past these issues. Kammerer gives an outstanding performance in the lead role, the film looks simply spectacular and its narrative is one that I feel does an excellent job at bringing to life the message of the seminal novel. It’s an odd coincidence that this review went up on Armistice Day: war should never be the answer, and while it is important not to always apply a moral equiveillance to both sides in any particular conflict, All Quiet… reminds us that the price of conflict goes beyond lives, but in lives destroyed. 

Paul (Felix Kammerer) in All Quiet On The Western Front.

9. See How They Run

The combination of Kenneth Branagh’s Murder On The Orient Express and Rian Johnson’s Knives Out appears to have prompted something of a mini-renaissance in this genre, the classic-style of whodunit murder mystery, and Tom George’s See How They Run is a worthy addition to the canon of such stories. Working as both a sort of satire and love letter to the works of Agatha Christie, with a healthy dollop of Wes Anderson in various production details, it lacks the seriousness of Poirot and the sense of sublime detail of Blanc, but is still a very enjoyable look at some stock characters getting tangled up in a mystery with a lot of clues and a lot of potential killers. It’s a film to remind you that there is a lot of fun to be mined from this kind of premise, and a great opportunity to showcase various cast members.

It’s hard to walk the line between pisstake and reverential, but See How They Run manages to do it. A whodunnit about making whodunnit’s, it’s not a laugh riot by any means, but is fully aware of the clichés at play in the Christie murder mystery, and are perfectly willing to call them out as ridiculous as they go. The clash between American Hollywood and British conservatism in art is showcased hilariously while at the same time there is an obvious respect for the murder mystery, and for Christie in particular in terms of how those stories tend to fascinate and how they are among the timeless of tales. The intricacy of Knives Out is not present, but there are enough twists and turns, false trails and incorrect assumptions of suspiciousness, that you are bound to be kept guessing, but not in a frustrated way. We see lots of interesting characters thrown into a veritable pressure cooker, and watching how they deal with it is entertaining in itself.

It’s the cast that really sells it of course. The big names and capable hands come and go in a flash, all seemingly delighted to be in this kind of production, and if there is a film this year that really demonstrates the power of a well-casted ensemble, this is it. Rockwell excels as Stoppard, a Detective barely able to muster the enthusiasm to hide his alcoholism and dire personal life, and matches ably with Ronan, whose Stalker is able to merge the needed comedic beats of a slightly-too-enthusiastic newcomer to the streets with the somewhat more dramatic stuff (indeed, it is probably long past time that we acknowledged Ronan’s comedic chops, with this far from the first time that she has displayed them). This is one to enjoy, and while it might not be the best murder mystery out there at the moment, it’s still a welcome continuation on current trends.

Detective Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) in See How They Run.

8. Prey

This is a franchise that has existed for 35 years at this point, and before Prey comprised seven separate films. It’s a cultural touchstone in terms of this overall genre, but for all that it surprises me somewhat to see that my own opinion – that Prey is the best Predator movie since the very first one – is actually pretty common. At the very heart of it is Naru and Amber Midthunder. Plug your ears about all of the predictable discussion about her gender in the context of the franchise and instead enjoy one of the best performances in a sci-fi action thriller in some time, from a woman who is tasked with both carrying the load of the Arnie-esque hero, and being a representation for a very specific historical era and people. The setting, and the Comanches, are a perfect fit for this franchise, a people storied as hunters and explorers of great untamed wildernesses, who you can imagine going toe-to-toe with the kind of hunter and explorer that a Predator is. Midthunder, who effectively blends in themes of blurred gender roles into the story being told, is truly excellent, far from the kind of heedless bad-ass such roles are so easily turned into, but showcasing an appropriate vulnerability, recklessness and determination that makes the character compelling. This is a story about a woman getting back up every time that she falls and fulfilling her ambitions, and all in a drawn out single combat where she must grow in to the challenge: watching that journey unfold is a really mesmerising experience.

The film captures the wildness and vastness of the Great Plains in a by-gone era, whether it is in the enormous wide-open spaces, or in the claustrophobic woods where lots of deadly perils lurk. Much has been made of the efforts to make sure that Prey is an historically accurate representation of the Comanche at the time, and this helps to give the film a really important visual sense of authenticity in clothing, language and customs, one that may be alien to modern society in some ways, but is still imminently graspable. And not enough can be said in praise of the design of the Predator itself, a sort of regress of the 1987 model. This one is armed with bolts instead of lasers, a shield instead of armour and some manner of bone helm instead of a scary helmet, but the effect is not to lessen the threat of the Predator, but to increase it: in Prey, it really does feel and look like a very primal threat, an otherworld monster whose ability to eviscerate you is never in doubt.

Prey is long past due. Predator is a film that can rightfully be dubbed as the apex of that particular time, place and genre: the perfect example of that masculine bravado focused sci-fi concept, which operated at the bleeding edge of effects and told a story that was simple but compelling. They’ve been trying for over 30 years to get back to that point, or anywhere near it. Prey finally succeeds. It does this through an adherence to the idea of a simple but compelling story – right down to a nostalgia-fuelled repeat of a famous line – but also by turning the paradigm on its head a little with its focus on a gender role swap in a very different culture than what most of the audience will be used to, with plenty of anti-colonial sentiment. Backed by that strong central performance from Midthunder and some well executed action, Prey breathes new life into a franchise that was veering close to setting off the self-destruct. For once, sequel set-up didn’t rankle with me, because I’ll buy tickets for #2 in advance.

Naru (Amber Midthunder) in Prey.

7. Turning Red

The overt symbolism of this piece is not exactly hard to spot, enough that when I was first made aware of the film I admit I guffawed rather sarcastically at the title. Getting beyond this hint of sledgehammer allegory, Turning Red is a really good exploration of the beginnings of female puberty, that goes beyond what is a fairly heavy-handed substitution for menstruation in the manner that Mei changes into a anger-fueled red panda whose powers are tied to a monthly cycle. That’s only a jumping off point for a film that wants to do for the early stages of puberty in women what Inside Out did for mental health in young girls, or what Soul did for people a bit too obsessed with their dreams: to offer recognition, validation and a fairy-tale method of exploring a very difficult topic.

To wit: the perfect daughter in terms of following her mother’s likes suddenly changes. It’s not just the panda thing, Mei is just generally different: more argumentative, more inclined to form her own social circles outside of her family, more willing to be upfront about her own unique likes and dislikes and more drawn to the opposite sex. These points are alongside or pre-date the panda transformation, not caused by it: Mei is more than happy to casually flirt with boys in school in one scene for example, in a moment that indicates this is not new behavior. Turning Red follows us through this state of affairs with tact and grace, allowing its more extreme symbolic plot point to be an addition that focuses more on the fringe elements of this transformation: the mood changes, the anger with parents and a refusal to be be what the world expects her to be.

Pixar continues to demonstrate its A-tier ability with computer generated imagery in Turning Red, with enough here to make clear their continuing efforts to innovate and excel. Mei’s panda form looks amazing: one wonders how much work has gone into the creation of fur so realistic looking you’ll want to reach out and give it a squeeze. But Turning Red goes beyond that, in creating a digital entity that might be an especially larger red panda on the surface, but which moves, emotes and feels like something closer to a physical form than a lot of code. It also demonstrates a brilliant understanding of the mix of comedy and drama. There’s very little to dislike here, and about the worst that I can say is that Turning Red is not a film for straight white men like me: it’s for others, and I suspect can be considered a brilliant production for those people.

Abby (Hyein Park), Miriam (Ava Morse), Priya (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) and Mei (Rosalie Chiang) in Turning Red.

6. Death On The Nile

I mean, in a way it is hard to go wrong here. This is A-Tier Christie, with an exciting murder mystery in an interesting time and an interesting place, where the cast of characters are multi-faceted and complex in their motivations. Kenneth Branagh adds a few things here and there in regards exact personalities and a few alterations as the case unfolds, but Christie has already done most of the work narrative-wise. And of course Branagh is right there in the middle of it, with another top-class turn as the moustached detective (and the facial hair even gets an origin story here).

Branagh is, of course, excellent in the lead role, but has assembled another glorious cavalcade of a cast to play around with otherwise, with the script patiently giving them every chance that they need to give us a three dimensional portrait of their characters. Everyone embodies their parts so fully that Death On The Nile feels like a proper lived-in experience: in combination with the strength of the material, it makes the whole production a difficult one to fault. This is a film that radiates a classic sense of Hollywood cool, much as Murder On The Orient Express did: how could it not with its exotic Egyptian landscapes, beautiful clothing on beautiful people and the jazz/blues soundtrack. Yet it is also eerie: the real Egypt is a place viewed from out a window carrying with it an odd sense of threat in its distant figures, the passengers onboard are ready to turn on each other in a mere instant and even the musicians singing the music have their pasts and their grudges. Branagh is able to really get that sense of threat across, where beyond the cool vistas and classy clientele, there is never a feeling of safety for any of these characters.

Branagh deftly draws a line between the idea of love, and lust, being synonymous with manic, crazed behaviour: while Linnet quotes Anthony And Cleopatra in her seduction of Simon, your mind might be drawn more to Romeo & Juliet: “These violent delights have violent ends”. The film opens with a club scene where characters are just a thin layer of material from flat-out making love on the dance floor, and it only gets more sexy as we go on. At several points Branagh depicts local wildlife devouring each other, ahead of a breakdown of civility onboard the steamer that leaves the guests at each others throats: the symbolism isn’t hard to spot, and if Death On The Nile has any major message to impart it may just be that people are capable of eating each other with the motivation only of love and sex. Death On The Nile might have taken a very long time to come out, and in one of its main attractions might leave studios and marketing people feeling a bit awkward. But you can move beyond all of that. What Branagh has done, again, is bring the stories of Christie to life in a manner that is hugely entertaining in its performances and style, engaging in its efforts to replicate the mystery and makes me want to see him do it all over again.

The suspects in Death On The Nile.

5. Escape From Mogadishu

Loosely based on a true story Escape From Mogadishu is always bound to draw the eye with its premise. The first concern any viewer is bound to have is that they will be experiencing a propaganda piece. It would be an easy trap to fall into it. But Escape From Mogadishu doesn’t go that way. Its depictions of the events in question showcases a real “There but for the grace of God” sentiment, with the North Koreans merely the beneficiaries of bad luck the South Koreans just about managed to avoid: with the film at pains to emphasise the parallels (ha) between the two sides, it’s less about one set of protagonists aiding a helpless enemy and just a group of peoples realising that the designations of “North” and “South” aren’t going to mean much if they get gunned down by an AK-wielding child soldier who thinks they’re all Chinese.

While a tad on the long side, Escape From Mogadishu tells a very engaging story, and succeeds admirably through its characterisation of what could be dour stereotypes. Han starts off as almost a comedy character, the Ambassador in the arse-end of nowhere given an impossible job, with a slapstick assistant described as “more bureaucrat than man”. His North Korean counterparty initially appears to be some kind of Bond villain with his grey uniform, sneer of contempt and menacing underling (an excellent Koo Kyo-hwan), their much lengthier presence in Africa giving them every advantage in this calculated political game. In different hands this material could have been comedy gold. But then disaster strikes and things become a bit different. Han turns out to be a very bent down diplomatic veteran realising that all of his dreams are going up in smoke, and wondering if he will ever even see his daughter again; Rin has to weigh political, familial, and personal matters. The two come to realise that the pressures of this diplomatic game make them more similar than different.

The two are only one part of a film that succeeds through its depiction of the terrible chaos that engulfed the titular city at the time, the work of its extended cast and the skill that is showcased in the visual and auditory elements (the latter especially impressive). This is no bland addendum to Black Hawk Down, it is its own story, excellently told, with strong work from cast and from the production crew. At a time when warfare has again become a part of the daily news cycle, and distrust, misinformation and fear appear to be the dominant part of the public discourse, it is as good a film as any to act as both a riposte, and as a demonstration of the depth of humanity possible in the most extreme of circumstances. We could all do with more of that.

The South and North Korean diplomatic staff and their families in Escape From Mogadishu.

4. Boiling Point

Based on a short film from director Philip Barantini, Boiling Point is a film that has no pretensions about showcasing the sheer anxiety, stress and awfulness of this particular working environment, but of course it isn’t just this working environment: the way that it gets you is how it will remind of somewhere you worked, or somewhere you do work. There are no easy answers to some problems, no happy endings for a lot of people, no light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a very potent kind of misery on screen. But, it is a very good, very timely, and very important film, for a whole lot of reasons.

So important is the deeper message and allegory that I think Boiling Point is trying to portray that in some ways it is frustrating that the most many people want to talk about when it comes to the film is the manner in which it is shot. The one take format is of course interesting, and the way that there is no let-down in performance during the course of it is to be admired. But in Boiling Point, while it aids the establishment of a frenetic feeling, it honestly is a bit of a gimmick, that makes you think the writers and crew didn’t have as much faith in the material as they ought to have had, and it doesn’t really add to the experience as much as you think that it would. If there’s one thing to take away from Boiling Point, it’s that we are all facing our own stresses and malfunctions, even if some of us are hiding them better than others. It’s remarkable how the film, despite its limited running time, is able to show that as a simple reality, and then put it against the perception that some people have of others. Boiling Point is an actor’s showcase and there are no bad performances. Graham is something else. This is his baby, from the moment his Andy arrives in the door apologising to his ex-wife on the phone for missing a major event in his son’s life all the way through to the moment when he disintegrates entirely. He captures a wide range of emotions throughout the 90 minutes, from furious anger to meek surrender

There are a few elements of Boiling Point that didn’t land for me, but it is in everything else that really excels. This is a searing exploration of workplace stress in the modern age, filled with great performances, writing and mood-setting. It’s the kind of film that is such a pitch perfect roasting of employment practises nowadays that I am tempted to say it should be required viewing for anyone that has ever, or has pretensions to, run their own business or manage another person. If it does absolutely nothing else, Boiling Point is a stern reminder of the humanity that exists in every service industry position, who deserve more than they frequently get: be good to your service staff folks.

Andy Jones (Stephen Graham) in Boiling Point

3. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

I don’t know how I can really get across just how good the plot of this film is. Johnson somehow manages to introduce a murder mystery that is as deep as they come, deep in characters, plot points, McGuffins, motivations and opportunities, and yet the film never feels overloaded or overstuffed. Everything means something, even Miles’ ridiculous malapropisms when it comes right down it it, every Chekov’s Gun gets to fire. Part of the joy of this film, and Knives Out, is in experiencing how a master storyteller is able to introduce this enormous amount of individual pieces, and then craft a complete jigsaw right before our eyes. I won’t spend too much time on this point other than to say that Glass Onion is a film of complicated story, but also readily accessible.

Only Johnson could plant what seems to be a 45-minute flashback in the middle of his near 2.5 hours mystery film, and have it not only not be a total disaster for the film’s pacing, but a flat-out triumph. The pacing generally is just excellent, and the more said in praise of the opening the better, a split-screen lesson in effective “show, don’t tell” characterisation as Miles’ “Disruptors” attempt to solve an intricate puzzle box that Miles has sent them. The cast here is simply wonderful, but you didn’t really need me to tell you that of course. Craig so obviously adores playing this man, part genius detective, part social idiot, that remains very far away from what we have become used to with him.  Johnson’s obvious disdain for the super-rich is obvious again, and the idea that access to unlimited riches will poison the soul is only underlined after much the same point was made in Knives OutGlass Onion doesn’t say that we should eat the rich exactly, but they are most definitely an opponent of progress and moral righteousness, and that throughline allows us to fully enjoy the fire-filled finale of Glass Onion, where the concept of “Burn it down” has rarely been so enjoyable to imagine. 

Glass Onion is a film I suspect I will watch again and again, and find something new to bowl me over every time. It’s the kind of film where the trust in the audience to grasp the complex mystery plot along with the character driven comedy is really wonderful to experience. The cast is absolutely fantastic, the larger production is seamless. This is a franchise that can keep going from now until the end of time as far as I am concerned, and I doubt I will ever get bored. Netflix has at least one more to go, and I’ll be right there in line, expecting to see this director knocking it out of the ark for the threepeat.

The murder mystery party of Miles (Edward Norton) in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.

2. Everything Everywhere All At Once

But there is no doubt that this is the most unique, freshest and inventive film of the year. Once the promise of the premise kicks in Everything Everywhere All At Once unveils itself as a mind-bending absurdist comedy, mixed with a drama about existentialism and nihilism. That’s the simplest way to describe a film that deals with such heavy matter as someone so weighed under by the reality of a multiverse that they want to bring an end to the whole thing, that is put part-and-parcel alongside fight sequences where people gain martial arts powers by inserting objects up their anus (seriously). Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert walk a tight line between seriousness and ridiculousness, as Evelyn and her family bounce around an IRS building under siege, jumping from universe to universe in a bid to stop an otherworldly figure that has a deeper connection to Evelyn than she might realise. At the centre of it all seems to be a pretty simple hypothetical: if you could be anyone you wanted to be anywhere you wanted to be, who and where would you choose? And do you think those choices would make you happy?

This could all get very silly if the script went just a little bit of a different way, but Everything Everywhere All At Once avoids this. Instead it anchors itself with a very well-written and presented collection of human dramas, that amount to Evelyn attempting to repair the many relationships in her life, and not always succeeding, even while various shades of madness erupt all around her. The hilarious nature of the film matches with its cinematography: the nature of this premise means that the word of the day when it comes to the look of the thing has to be invention, and that is exactly what the Daniels bring. Individual scenes look like they have been in the mind for years, so full of details and colour as they are, and the more said in praise of the fight chorography the better.

Ambition can feel like something that can often feel absent from cinema nowadays, where attention spans are limited, most of the money is made with well-worn franchises and the willingness to take risks sometimes appears to be gone altogether. Well, Everything Everywhere All At Once takes a hell of a risk, and the payoff is enormous. It is enough to say that I consider it the most ambitious movie I have seen in years, in how it attempts to mix the absurd with the serious, the action-heavy with the philosophically weighty, and with the long running time with a story that requires the audience to engage their brain every step of the way. Its cast is doing amazing work, it looks spectacular and it is a film that, once seen, seems bound to draw the viewer back again so that they can find something new and wonderful to see within it. In essence, this is a film that you are unlikely to ever forget once you do see it because there has never really been anything quite like it.

Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) in Everything Everywhere All At Once

1. Belfast

Emotional, gripping and managing a dichotomy of short length with vital details, Kenneth Branagh is back to his very best with the semi-autobiographical Belfast. This is clearly a film that Branagh has been thinking about for a while, and that sense of care, devotion and importance to the storyteller radiates out of every scene and line of dialogue. The story, such as it is, is basic enough, but powerful in its way. It comes down to whether this family is going to weather the sectarian storm of the nascent Troubles or seek opportunities elsewhere, but it is the associated details that make Belfast. I talk of Buddy’s crush on a Catholic schoolmate that propels him to excel academically so he can sit next to her, anytime Hinds or Dench is on the screen as his loving, but inherently roguish grandparents (a scene where an ailing Hinds promises Buddy that he will never “be anywhere you can’t find me” will have you giving the proverbial “something in my eye” excuse) or nostalgic memories of youthful adventures fighting dragons, playing football, stealing from the local shop and taking in the likes of High Noon and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on the local cinema.

Belfast is an acting tour de force, with nary a bad showing from anyone, even the minor players. Where I feel Branagh struggled hugely in getting a good performance from child actors in Artemis Fowl he succeeds admirably here, with Hill’s portrayal of this quasi-depiction of the director perfectly pitched in every innocent utterance and wild-eyed tantrum. Around him are a host of younger stars – Dornan and Balfe excel as Buddy’s perpetually stressed and on-the-edge parents who retain an obvious passion for each other, and Morgan’s menace is tangible in every scene – and older veterans – Hinds and Dench are the beating heart of the film and interact wonderfully – who really embody the material fully and make you believe that you are just a fly on the wall of this Belfast street. Visually, Branagh chooses to use black-and-white, save for those moments when he is in a cinema or a theatre (where a line is drawn between Pa’s singular refusal to aid the loyalist cause with “cash or commitment” and Gary Cooper’s lone stand in High Noon), or in brief openings and codas that give a look at present day Belfast. The effect obviously lends age to the story being told, and of course also imbues in it that sense of youth nostalgia: many shots are from a low level looking up, especially as it comes to Pa. Some may say the effect goes too far, and makes Belfast seem more like an idealistic dream of a childhood lost, but I wouldn’t go that far: while I wouldn’t say it really adds an enormous amount to the experience, I think it does still ground Belfast in 1969, and in the lack of colour emphasises the penury of the moment, both financially in the case of the struggling family, and in the moral decay that permits instances of loyalist violence depicted to go largely without significant challenge from the authorities.

It may be a very particular type of nostalgia-bait in its own way, but when nostalgia-bait is as well-acted, well-written and as well-shot as this, it is difficult to complain. Kenneth Branagh has a new masterpiece. And it is the best film of 2022.

Ma (Caitriona Balfa), Pa (Jamie Dornan), Granny (Judi Dench) and Buddy (Jude Hill) in Belfast

Honourable mentions for films this year include the surprisingly good party game-turned film Werewolves Within; Robert Harris adaptation Munich – The Edge Of War, which served as a good adaptation and as a warning from history; Irish one-shotter Nightride; Adam Sandler’s Hustle, an unexpected delight; and Netflix action fest The Gray Man.

Dishonourable mentions, I have a few. White Hot: The Rise Of Abercrombie And Fitch was a nothing documentary. Senior Year was a comedic non-entity. The Man From Toronto was a mess. Thor: Love And Thunder was a low-point for the MCU. Disney’s Pinocchio was the definition of “did not have to be made”. Amsterdam was a tonally inconsistent disaster. But the worst of the film simply has to be Michael Flatley’s Blackbird, an ego trip taken to an extreme, that simply has to be seen to be believed.

And so, the awards.

Best Actor

Awarded to the actor who has impressed the most throughout the year in leading roles.

Jude Hill (Belfast)

I might not ever give this award to someone so young again, but Hill makes Belfast what it is. He encapsulates perfectly what it is to be a child in such surrounds, in his idealism, naivety, romanticism and emotional connections the people and places in his life.

Honourable mentions: George McKay (Munich: The Edge Of War), Felix Kammerer (All Quiet On The Western Front), Stephen Graham (Boiling Point), Kim Yoon-seok (Escape From Mogadishu), Kenneth Branagh (Death On The Nile)

Best Supporting Actor

Awarded to the actor who has impressed the most throughout the year in roles other than the lead.

Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

What a stunning return to the big screen this was, for a man best known for hanging on Harrison Ford’s trousers decades ago. We’ve missed a hell of a talent in Quan, who gives an incredible film its beating heart.

Honourable Mentions: Ciaran Hinds (Belfast), Jannis Niewöhner (Munich: The Edge Of War), Chris Evans (The Gray Man), Edward Norton (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery), Albrecht Schuch (All Quiet On The Western Front)

Best Actress

Awarded to the actress who has impressed the most throughout the year in leading roles.

Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

This role was either an actors dream or an actors nightmare, with Yeoh called upon to essentially play dozens of different versions of the same character. Whichever it was, Yeoh nails it so spectacularly that her performance is one of the key reasons that this mind-bending trip through the multiverse succeeds as well as it does.

Honourable Mentions: Rosalie Chiang (Turning Red), Millie Bobby Brown (Enola Holmes 2), Amber Midthunder (Prey), Saoirse Ronan (See How They Run), Alison Janey (Lou)

Best Supporting Actress

Awarded to the actress who has most impressed throughout the year in roles other than the lead.

Judi Dench (Belfast)

Dench’s impressive filmography has so many great films and performances contained within, but her role as Granny in Belfast showed she is still capable of adding to that list. In such a short, sweet tale of growing up in troubling circumstances, her elderly matriarch perfectly captures the joy and sorrow that can be found in such surrounds.

Honourable Mentions: Janelle Monae (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery), Milana Vayntrub (Werewolves Within), Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All At Once), Sandra Oh (Turning Red), Emma Mackey (Death On The Nile)

Best Ensemble

Awarded to the best cast, generally, of any film during the year.

Boiling Point

There were a number of likely candidates for this award this year, but in going for Boiling Point I feel I am making an adequate recognition of this particular ensemble, who from head chef to dishwasher give a complete picture of what a stress employment at such a level actually is.

Honourable Mentions: Belfast, See How They Run, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Everything Everywhere All At Once, Death On The Nile

Best Director

Awarded to the best director of the year.

Kenneth Branagh (Belfast, Death On The Nile)

Two movies in the top ten is unprecedented for these awards, but the COVID-impacted schedule allowed it in this instance. Very different films, but Branagh succeeded brilliantly behind the camera in both instances.

Honourable Mentions: Sam Raimi (Dr Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness), Rian Johnson (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery), Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Everything Everywhere All At Once), Ryoo Seung-wan (Escape From Mogadishu), Dan Trachtenberg (Prey)

Best Production

Awarded to the film that has the best production values of the year, in terms of sets, props and other associated elements.

Death On The Nile

Branagh’s film brings it big time in terms of re-creating that classic sense of Hollywood cool and luxury on the Nile.

Honourable Mentions: Uncharted, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Everything Everywhere All At Once, The Northman, Prey

Best CGI

Awarded to the film with the best use of computer-generated imagery and graphics.

Turning Red

The film manages to create photo-realistic fur over the course of a full 90 minutes. There’s nothing else to be said.

Honourable Mentions: Prey, Sing 2, Dr Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, Uncharted, The House,

Best Score

Awarded to the composer/ film with the best instrumental (non-lyrical) music of the year.

Belfast (Van Morrison)

That is a winner I would not have expected at the start of the year, but Van Morrison’s mix of electric guitar and saxophone was just the perfect accompaniment to Kenneth Branagh’s film.

Honourable Mentions: Downton Abbey: A New Era (John Lunn), Turning Red (Ludwig Göransson), Uncharted (Ramin Djawadi), Escape From Mogadishu (Bang Jun-seok), Persuasion (Stuart Earl)

Best Soundtrack

Awarded to the film with the best songs, generally, of the year.

Death On The Nile

Yes, most of it comes from the lips of one woman, Sophie Okonedo, but when Branagh needed soulful, meaningful and impactful jazz as an accompaniment and enhancer of his story, he hit the jackpot.

Honourable Mentions: Belfast, Sing 2, Turning Red, The Bob’s Burgers Movie, Disenchanted

Best Original Song

Awarded to the best song created for a film of the year.

“Quietly Yours” – Birdy (Persuasion)

It might be the best part of an otherwise forgettable Austen adaptation, but Birdy’s contribution to a captivating score was very memorable, and perfectly pitched too.

Honourable Mentions: “No Mind” – MILKBLOOD (Uncharted), “This House Is…” – Jarvis Cocker (The House), “Nobody Like U” – 4*TOWN (Turning Red), “Lucky Ducks – Various (The Bob’s Burgers Movie), “It’s All About The Balance” – Le Carousel (Nightride)

Best Adapted Script

Awarded to the best script adapted from another source of the year.

Death On The Nile (Michael Green)

An eclectic mix of options this year, but Green’s script for Agatha Christie’s novel wins out, bringing to life wonderfully a very old story.

Honourable Mentions: Munich: The Edge Of War (Ben Power), Werewolves Within (Mishna Wolff), Uncharted (Rafe Lee Judkins, Arf Marcum, Matt Holloway), Black Crab (Adam Berg, Pelle Radstrom), Enola Homes 2 (Jack Thorne)

Best Original Script

Awarded to the best original script of the year.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Rian Johnson)

If there’s a better man for making every offhand reference in his script have an enormous amount of meaning than Rian Johnson, I haven’t read him yet.

Honourable Mentions: Belfast (Kenneth Branagh), Escape From Mogadishu (Ryoo Seung-wan & Lee Gi-cheol), Everything Everywhere All At Once (Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert), Turning Red (Julia Cho & Domee Shi), Boiling Point (Philip Barantini & James Cummings)

Best Cinematography

Awarded to the best camerawork of any film of the year.

Belfast (Haris Zambarloukos)

From the black-and-white aesthetic through to some of the amazing usage of panning shots, Belfast is a treat to watch, and Zambarloukos deserves this nod for his stellar work this year on this film and another.

Honourable Mentions:Everything Everywhere All At Once (Larkin Seiple), Boiling Point (Matthew Lewis), Escape From Mogadishu (Choi Young-hwan), Death On The Nile (Haris Zambarloukos), Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Steve Yedlin)

Best Make-Up/Hairstyling/Costuming

Awarded to the film with the best combined make-up, hairstyling and costuming work of the year.

Everything Elsewhere All At Once

Again, a number of possibles for this award, but I go with the Daniels because the variety of universes necessitated expertise in these categories, an that necessity was met and exceeded.

Honourable Mentions: Belfast, Dr Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, The Northman, Downton Abbey: A New Era, Death On The Nile

The Ashling Award

Awarded to my girlfriend’s favourite film of the year.

Everything Everywhere All At Once

Ashing says: What can you say about this film? It’s completely random and yet, perfectly logical. It’s dreamy, surreal and chaotic and yet, the centre of the film is something we can all relate to in one way or another. The sense of change, the reliance on family, the feeling of needing/wanting to change and fighting for/against it. I went into the cinema not knowing what to expect and found myself talking about it for days afterwards. It was the most unexpected film of the year and one of the best too. Do yourself a favour, set some time aside and enjoy the chaos – just for the hotdog fingers alone.

Best Comedy

Awarded to the best comedic film of the year.

Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Animation

Awarded to the best animated film of the year.

Turning Red

Best Romance

Awarded to the best romantic film of the year.

Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Sci-Fi

Awarded to the best science fiction film of the year.

Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Comic Book

Awarded to the best film based on a comic book/graphic novel of the year.

Dr Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness

Best Documentary

Awarded to the best non-fiction film with a documentarian focus.

The Figo Affair

Best Historical

Awarded to the best historical film of the year.


Best Irish

Awarded to the best Irish film of the year.


Best Scene

Awarded to the best, non-action, scene of the year.

With Grandad in the hospital (Belfast)

Best Action Scene

Awarded to the best action/fight scene of the year.

Purse fight, (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Best Set-Piece/Sequence

Awarded to the best single set-piece sequence of the year.

Final confrontation, (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Best Delivered Line

Awarded to the best written and delivered line(s) of the year.

I’m going nowhere you won’t find me – Ciaran Hinds (Belfast)

Best Hero

Awarded to the year’s best presented protagonist character.

Evelyn (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Best Villain

Awarded to the year’s best presented antagonist character.

Miles Bron (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery)

“Diamond In The Rough” Award

Awarded to the actor/actress who gives the best performance of an otherwise bad movie.

Cosmo Jarvis (Persuasion)

“Bang For Your Buck” Award

Awarded to the best film in the shortest running time.

Belfast (98 minutes)

“Inception” Award

Awarded to a film that is still good despite its plot holes.

Death On The Nile

“Walter Mitty” Award

Awarded to a film that is still good despite its clichéd elements.

Death On The Nile

“Lonely Planet Guide To…” Award

Awarded to the best world/universe building within a film.

Everything Everywhere All At Once

“On The Shoulders Of Giants” Award

Awarded to the best sequel, reboot or remake of the year.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

“Equality Now” Award

Awarded to the film that features the best use of female characters.

Everything Everywhere All At Once

“Surprisingly Tolerable” Award

Awarded to the worst movie idea that turned good.

Werewolves Within

“Why Is No One Applauding?” Award

Awarded to the film that has been rated too lowly by the critical community.

The Gray Man

“We’re Going To That” Award

Awarded to the film with the best trailer(s) of the year.


“You Can’t Take The Sky From Me” Award

Awarded to the best thing of the year.

“Go. Go now. Don’t look back. I love you, son” (Belfast)

That’ll do for ’22. Next year I am looking forward to Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania, 65, John Wick: Chapter Four, Next Goal Wins, Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse, Elemental, Asteroid City, Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny and Oppenheimer, among many others. Until the new year.

(All images are copyright of Netflix, Searchlight Pictures, Disney+, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, 20th Century Studios, Lotte Entertainment, Vertigo Releasing, A24 and Universal Pictures)

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1 Response to Film Rankings And Awards 2022

  1. Pingback: Film Awards Archive | Never Felt Better

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