The Long Goodbye to 2022

Benoît Magimel in Albert Serra’s Pacifiction (2022)

Three artists we lost in 2022—sculptor Claes Oldenburg, painter Silke Otto-Knapp, and filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard—are remembered in the new Artforum. With his later works, Godard “proved to be the greatest montage artist of all time, his dialectical ability to generate profuse new meanings from the simple juxtaposition of images as intuitive as it was astounding,” writes James Quandt. When Amy Taubin learned of Godard’s death in September, she turned to 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (1967), noting that it was with this film that he began “anew his search for the cinematic sublime in the films that follow until in Histoire(s) du cinéma [1988–1998], he takes possession of images, words, sounds by hundreds of makers who, together, formed the language in which the twentieth century was written.”

At, contributors pay tribute to other major figures in cinema who passed away last year, including actors Sidney Poitier, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Monica Vitti, Angela Lansbury, and Ray Liotta; directors Peter Bogdanovich and Bob Rafelson; and composer Angelo Badalamenti. As 2022 wound down, we also lost Adrienne Mancia, the influential curator at the Museum of Modern Art; Bill Pence, a former vice president at Janus Films and a cofounder of the Telluride Film Festival; Eduard Artemyev, a composer who worked with Andrei Tarkovsky on Solaris (1972), Mirror (1975), and Stalker (1979); and Ruggero Deodato, who worked as an assistant director for Roberto Rossellini and Sergio Corbucci before making the still-controversial Cannibal Holocaust (1980).

Slate’s Dana Stevens spent the holidays hosting Movie Club 2022 and discussing the year’s surprises, disappointments, and overall trends with Bilge Ebiri, Beatrice Loayza, and David Sims. “On the threshold of the long-predicted and never-quite-accomplished death of movie theaters, I feel a new urgency to understand what it means that they’ve stuck around for so long,” writes Stevens. Ebiri remains “pretty bullish on the future of movies in theaters,” but “I do worry that we’ve wound up in a situation where the small films that need time to build an audience are precisely the ones that have almost zero margin for error.”

Assessments of the year that was kept rolling out, one after another, between the Christmas and New Year’s weekends. New York’s Metrograph invited writers, artists, and filmmakers to name the best moviegoing experience they had in 2022. For the fifteenth year running, Notebook editors asked contributors to dream up fantasy double features, pairing new and older films they saw this year. Among the synapse-tingling combinations are Kentucker Audley and Albert Birney’s Strawberry Mansion and Wim Wenders’s Until the End of the World (1991), a coupling submitted by Juan Barquin, and from Phuong Le, João Pedro Rodrigues’s Will-o’-the-Wisp and Luchino Visconti’s Ludwig (1973).

Rodrigues sent in one of the 185 best-of-2022 lists Roger Koza gathered and sorted in one of the major polls of any year, La Internacional Cinéfila. Other participating filmmakers include Radu Jude, Paz Encina, Alain Guiraudie, and Helena Wittmann. Koza also regularly invites esteemed programmers such as Nicole Brenez, Andréa Picard, Cristina Nord, and Haden Guest, and of course, critics as well, including Jonathan Rosenbaum, Adrian Martin, and Ela Bittencourt. Scoring the most mentions this time around is Albert Serra’s Pacifiction, featuring Benoît Magimel as a high commissioner on an island in French Polynesia and, as Carson Lund puts it at Slant, “a cog in the machine of forces far greater than himself, more necessary for relaying the image of a benevolent state than for enacting any actual policies on the ground.”

Coming in behind Joana Pimenta and Adirley Queirós’s Dry Ground Burning and Ana Vaz’s It Is Night in America, Pacifiction is the third-most mentioned title in a similar poll conducted by desistfilm. Jafar Panahi’s No Bears tops the list of ten at Hyperallergic, and Paste contributors have voted Hit the Road, directed by Panah Panahi, Jafar’s son, to the top of their list of fifty. David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future is the favorite at In Review Online, while the staff at ScreenAnarchy is going for S. S. Rajamouli’s RRR. Crooked Marquee gathers lists from its writers and the Film Stage has put together an alphabetical list of the best undistributed films of 2022.

If festivals are the frontlines in cinema’s ongoing battle to sustain its cultural relevance, then Jessica Kiang and Guy Lodge are surely among our most valued dispatchers. Both have tweeted annotated top fifties with links to further reading from each title. Kiang’s #1 of 2022 is Alice Diop’s Saint Omer, which “hints at all the undiscovered storytelling modes that exist if the reins are given to filmmakers this disdainful of traditions built on their exclusion.” For Lodge, it’s Todd Field’s Tár. “Haven’t talked, argued, agreed, and disagreed with this many people about a film as much as this one this year: that would be a case for it even if it weren’t as elegant, idea-filled, wildly funny and persistent as Tár is.”

Further free-standing lists come from Sam Adams (#1: Kogonada’s After Yang), Geoff Andrew (in the order he saw them), Sean Baker (fresh discoveries of older films), Philip Concannon (Hlynur Pálmason’s Godland plus discoveries), Mike D’Angelo (Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin), Steve Erickson (alphabetical), Tim Grierson (Charlotte Wells’s Aftersun), Roderick Heath (alphabetical), Glenn Kenny (with a fun anecdote about Ricky D’Ambrose’s The Cathedral), Peter Labuza (more pairings of the old and the new), Michael Nordine (Michel Franco’s Sundown), Barack Obama (looks like his #1 is Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans), Andy Rector (revival screenings on 35 mm), Dan Sallitt (Ted Fendt’s Outside Noise), Srikanth Srinivasan (Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s Matter Out of Place), and Blake Williams (Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO).

Sukhdev Sandhu’s list for Prospect includes work by Luke Fowler and Deborah Stratman as well as Kim Hopkins’s A Bunch of Amateurs, a film that was released in the UK last summer but has yet to arrive in the States. British critics have been raving about this portrait of the Bradford Movie Makers, one of the world’s oldest amateur filmmaking clubs. The membership is aging, the bank account is shrinking, and the clubhouse is crumbling, and yet they persist. As Dan Fox writes, A Bunch of Amateurs shows us “how much art goes on in private, never to be recognized, running alongside the multiple jobs that have to be juggled, the loved ones that need caring for, the vicissitudes of health, the anxieties of money, the emotional toll of loneliness. How important societies like Bradford Movie Makers are for people’s psychological wellbeing.”

Let’s wrap by looking back ninety years once again with Kristin Thompson. “1932 was the year when Hollywood emerged from the difficult transition to sound and made polished movies that regained the fluidity of cinematography, staging, and editing that had been lost to some extent,” she writes. Among her favorite films of that year are widely recognized classics from Frank Borzage, Howard Hawks, Ernst Lubitsch, Jean Renoir, Yasujiro Ozu, and Josef von Sternberg but also one that warrants more attention. Thompson calls Raymond Bernard’s Wooden Crosses is “France’s great anti-war film of the early 1930s, following Hollywood’s All Quiet on the Western Front and Germany’s Westfront 1918, both of which were in my top ten for 1930. For me, it’s the best of the three.”

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