Twelve Under-The-Radar Films From 2022
You've still got time to watch these movies, yo!
I don’t know if I’m going to formally make a “top movies of 2022” list this year. There were a lot of great movies I watched this year - most recently BABYLON and SPIRITED, two maximalist films that are unabashedly earnest films yet couldn’t be more different than one another - but I really just don’t have the inclination to rank the great movies I watched. If you want to get an idea of what I watched (and liked) this year, check out my Letterboxd account here.
Instead, I wanted to take a moment to spotlight twelve really great movies you might have missed this past year. These movies all came out in 2022 and they are all available to watch via a streaming site of some kind. So, if you are the type of chum who likes to make an end-of-the-year list of your favorite films and you haven’t seen something from this list, get to watching before the clock strikes midnight on Saturday night.
Riley Stearns makes damn good movies. They won't be for everyone but goddangit, they are most assuredly for me. Karen Gillan plays a terminally-ill woman who is given the chance to clone herself, that way her friends and family won’t have to mourn her death. When it turns out her diagnosis was a mistake, though, she must fight her clone in a duel to the death as, legally, only one is allowed to live. DUAL carries through the tone that I loved so much in THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE and builds it around an engaging, smart sci-fi parable about depression and self-loathing. Available to stream on Hulu, AMC+ and rent via all the major VOD markets.
This absolutely stunning Spanish film is about an overweight girl who is bullied until, one day, she witnesses her bullies being abducted. Does she do something about it? Or does she let them get what they deserve? Laura Galán's performance is tremendous and the film deftly balances genuine scares with real emotional pathos. I really can’t wait to see what director Carlota Pereda does next. Available to rent via all the major VOD markets.
Guess what? DOG is really, really great. Seriously. Granted, I'm a mark for both road trip comedies and YouTube videos of dogs crying at the funerals of their owners so I'm this movie's primary audience. It doesn't make it any less true that the movie is sweet, funny, and incredibly well-made. Channing Tatum co-directs (and stars) in this film about an emotionally-damaged army ranger who must escort an equally damaged service dog to attend the funeral of the pooch’s former trainer. I ugly cried during this movie. A lot. Available to stream on Amazon Prime and Epix and rent via all the major VOD markets.
I LOVE MY DAD
Grade A cringe comedy. Patton Oswalt plays a father who tries to connect with his estranged son by catfishing him. As the lie escalates, the dad is forced to take more and more drastic measures in order to not break his son’s heart and further carve a rift in their relationship. The film nails the right balance between extremely awkward and extremely funny. It is apparently based on the writer/director/star’s real-life relationship with his dad. So, yuck. Available to rent via all the major VOD markets.
SOFT & QUIET
Holy shit, this is a rough movie. An alt-right ladies group’s wine night turns very bad, very quickly. This movie will piss a lot of people off, but to know thy enemy is essential. The movie puts you into the mindset of the very real monsters we live next door to and the result is, what we call in the movie industry, a real butt-clencher. The horror of this movie is the fear of when the movie might conceivably end. Available to rent via all the major VOD markets.
What if EVIL DEAD was a Twitch stream? This super fun low-budget one-man-found footage film is about a disgraced social influencer who spends the night in a haunted house. Great gore, even better comedy. This film kills an audience and I wish it had received a bigger theatrical footprint. That said, it’s still a ton of fun and -combined with the final segment of V/H/S/99 - an amazing one-two-punch from filmmaking duo Joseph and Vanessa Winter. These guys are going to be huge in the coming years, trust me. Available to stream on Shudder and AMC+.
THE PEZ OUTLAW
This documentary is an incredibly fun film about a Michigan man who waged a war of illegal imports and bootlegs against the US PEZ corporation - bringing in unauthorized European candies and selling them for big bucks to hungry American collectors. Steve Glew, the titular Pez Outlaw, stars as himself in a series of fun reenactments. Available to rent via all the major VOD markets.
This Finnish film follows a young woman who doesn’t fit in among her uptight, image-conscious parents. When she finds an egg in the woods and hatches it, she befriends the baby - a weird bird creature who proceeds to transform into something even more terrifying. The monster from HATCHING is one of my favorite new film creatures. What a weird, scary lil’ dude - slurping up puke, eating people’s pets, being a big ol’ boss. Keep flying to new heights, HATCHING bird monster - I’ll be rooting for you all the way to the top. Available to stream on Hulu and rent via all the major VOD markets.
FUNNY PAGES is so damn good - an incredibly funny celebration of how far people will go to chase artistic legitimacy. It’s at once both a celebration of underground comics and a blistering takedown of the same underground comics, which is - if we are being honest - absolutely perfect. Matthew Maher, who was great in OUR FLAG MEANS DEATH, is so f’n funny as a nervous wreck of a man who becomes the fixation of a young man desperate to break into the comic book world. The best adaptation of a Daniel Clowes comic that never existed. Available to rent via all the major VOD markets.
If you're a fan of creepy-ass movies with super smart concepts, don't pass this one up. It's one of the year's best horror films, for real. The movie is set during the early days of COVID and manages to weave an incredibly clever new monster around an already frightening pandemic. When a woman joins her friend in an isolation pod, she discovers a mysterious entity is using COVID's backdrop to prey upon the lonely. A slow-burn told with extreme confidence, the movie actually manages to do the near-impossible, tell a scary story about COVID that doesn’t feel cheap, exploitive or doomed to age like bad wine. Available to rent via all the major VOD markets.
ADULT SWIM YULE LOG
After I finally had a chance to see the Adult Swim Yule Log, I kind of wanted to stop watching movies for the rest of the year so I can go out on this high. Casper Kelly’s film is like a horror film adaptation of the graphic novel PLACES - smart, weird, funny, magic. I really don’t want to ruin any of the film’s surprises, so just please watch this film without knowing anything about it. Available to stream on HBO Max.
A group of mercenaries is forced to make an emergency stop in a mystical region of Senegal, only to discover there are bigger monsters out there than themselves. I really dug SALOUM, a movie that effortlessly skips across genres like a game of hopscotch. The visuals are slick and the mythology is unique to the film’s West African setting. I love a film where characters are at peace with the fact they live in a world of monsters, both man-made and metaphysical. Available to stream on Shudder and AMC+, and rent via all the major VOD markets.