This time of year – although stressful academically for college students – tends to produce some of the year’s best films. Studios release their heavy hitters around this time so they're fresh in voters’ minds when the time comes to declare the year’s best. That doesn’t mean all of them are good though – for every great film released, a dud is sure to follow.
Over Thanksgiving break, in between eating pumpkin pie and lounging in bed like the grandparents in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” I tried to watch as many of these films as possible. Here are my thoughts on some of them.
“The Wonder” by dir. Sebastián Lelio
Florence Pugh stars in this slow-burning psychological thriller that follows a young girl – played by Kila Lord Cassidy – in the Irish Midlands who has inexplicably managed to live without eating for months. Pugh plays the nurse who has been assigned to observe her.
Although the film has a slow start, the third act’s twists and Ari Wegner’s stunning cinematography make it worthwhile. Pugh is mesmerizing as always, but the unexpected standout is Cassidy. She delivers one of the best child actor performances of the year.
“The Wonder” is one of 2022’s surprise gems.
“She Said” by dir. Maria Schrader
I was incredibly weary heading into “She Said.” The film follows the two New York Times reporters – played by Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan – who wrote the story that exposed Harvey Weinstein and jumpstarted the #MeToo movement.
How could a film that was made in the very industry that it’s condemning be anything but preachy and artificial?
Thankfully, Schrader directs the film with empathy. “She Said” is at its best when its subjects recount the ugly truth about Hollywood. Other than that, it’s a routine journalism film with rather shallow protagonists.
“Bones and All” by dir. Luca Guadagnino
It’s a miracle that the Guadagnino-directed road movie about lovestruck cannibals received such a wide release in the first place. But thanks to MGM studios, audiences across the nation have the opportunity to catch this once in a lifetime film in theaters right now.
Long story short, “Bones and All” is my new favorite film of 2022. Because I read the novel it’s based on beforehand, I knew how the story would play out. But as the credits rolled, I sat in the empty theater with my jaw to the floor.
“Bones and All” is a beautiful, horrific film. I would go from shuttering at the carnage on screen to tearing up in a matter of seconds. It’s refreshing to see Timothée Chalamet in a role where he gets to be weird, and Taylor Russell is a revelation. The final five minutes are engrained in my brain.
“Spirited” by dir. Sean Anders
Now for a sharp left turn.
“Spirited,” a musical comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell, feels like a fake movie. It could’ve been a holiday box-office hit before the streaming era, but was instead dumped on Apple TV+ with virtually no noise.
Ryan Reynolds plays a version of himself – shocking, I know. My Christmas wish is for him to play against type just once. Overall, some of the songs are charming, but this was a slog to sit through. I’ll stick with the Christmas classics.
“The Menu” by dir. Mark Mylod
This Thanksgiving, I was thankful for “The Menu.” Anytime a wholly original film is released in theaters, I jump at the chance to see it.
The Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Fiennes-led satire is a wild ride from start to finish, and features some of the year’s sharpest dialogue. Because Will Ferrell is one of the film’s producers, I’ll forgive him for making “Spirited.”
The commentary may be a bit on the nose at times, but “The Menu” is a fantastic addition to the ETRCU (eat the rich cinematic universe).