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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

2022 wrapup: my favorite movies of the year

Tara Natarajan
That’s a wrap for the movies of 2022.

If you know me, you know I am a major movie buff. A film bro. A cinema connoisseur. If I have free time, you’ll find me in front of a screen. 

I mostly enjoyed arthouse and independent films this year, but I look forward to broadening my horizons even further in the upcoming year. Movies were my biggest pastime in 2022, which is why I feel qualified to make a year-end list with a few of what were in my opinion, the best movies released this year (in no particular order): “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” “X,” “Aftersun” and “Fire of Love.” 


“Everything Everywhere All At Once” (Rated R)

A24’s “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (known as the Daniels), is the crown jewel of film this year. This weirdly absurdist yet deeply emotional movie explores the concepts of isolation, nihilism and existentialism through a working-class Asian immigrant family that ends up in the middle of a multiversal conflict, with particularly outstanding performances by Michelle Yeoh as the frazzled matriarch Evelyn and Stephanie Hsu as her unhappy daughter Joy. 

Yeoh’s fantastic action sequences — a homage to her “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” days — add an element of thrill while her poignant performance during key emotional moments perfectly encompasses the stoic yet fiercely loving nature common of immigrant parents. Despite the humor, moments of warmth and intense nothingness hit the viewer like a truck, with familial dynamics and mental health depiction particularly resonating with first- or second-generation immigrant families, specifically Asian-Americans.

As shown in its title, “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is, in fact, a film where everything is everywhere, happening all at once. But despite the thoughtfully placed chaos, the Daniels bring forth a film as close to perfect as it gets, driving a narrative that creatively portrays some of the darkest aspects of human nature. This film is nothing less than essential, and it has the potential to become an American classic. Run, don’t walk to see it, because it’s been released on all major rental platforms, including Apple TV and Google Play.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Falcons


Aftersun” (Rated R)

Starring Paul Mescal and newcomer Frankie Corio, “Aftersun” is a touching yet devastating coming-of-age movie following a father and his young daughter during a single summer vacation to Turkey. Through a warm, buttery cinematographic palette and the gorgeous natural chemistry between the father-daughter pair, director Charlotte Wells’ patient, probing approach to memory pays off with a visually stunning and emotionally intuitive film. “Aftersun” is aesthetically reminiscent of a faded photograph, examining the reconciliation of our rosy memories of loved ones and our understanding of who they really are as people. 

It follows in the footsteps of movies like “The Florida Project,” told through the eyes of an adolescent protagonist teetering between childhood innocence and a darker unknown. Although the storyline itself is a nonlinear slice of life with one blissful moment after another, there is a quiet, intangible tension that one can only interpret as the impending reality that all loving parent-child relationships are destined for heartbreak through death or separation. Unpacking a relationship that feels infinite in its love, “Aftersun” is a deeply moving masterclass in the art of memory, nostalgia and grief.

“Aftersun” is not an easy movie to watch. Despite (or perhaps, because of) its depiction of carefree youth, it is a film that requires a great deal of patience to process. But the ultimate purpose of any film is to explore the human psyche, and it’s only possible to do so if you absorb the full range of heavy emotions and profound questions about the nature of parenthood, childhood and memory that this gorgeous movie brings to the surface. 

While “Aftersun” is not currently available on any streaming services, you can pre-order it on Apple TV or wait for it to become available for rent or purchase within the next two months.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Falcons


“X” (Rated R)

“X” is filmmaker Ti West’s acclaimed indie slasher flick set in the late ‘70s, starring scream queens Mia Goth and Jenna Ortega. Goth plays Maxine Minx, an aspiring pornographic actress with big dreams who travels to an isolated Texas farm to film a home video along with her producer boyfriend Wayne and fellow actors. Ortega portrays Lorraine, the prudish and religious girlfriend of the film’s ambitious director. Things quickly turn sinister when the ancient owners of the farm, Pearl (also played by Goth) and Howard, discover their activities and set out on a bloody rampage. 

Despite its gore — a homage to classic slashers such as “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Psycho” — “X” stands out because of its deeper themes: The essence of the movie revolves around the conflict of beauty, sexuality, aging and self worth. There is also a brilliant twist on the “final girl” trope commonly found in slasher movies, where the conservative female characters often end up surviving while sexually promiscuous or mature female characters are killed off faster (a reinforcement of the idea that sexuality is dangerous to women). Overall, the film is a brilliant critique of Western puritanism and its dangerous consequences.

If you really enjoy “X,” you’re in for some luck: West secretly directed a prequel, “Pearl,” which was released soon after the former. Mia Goth reprises her role as the titular character as we find out the story behind the villain from “X”. I know “Star Wars” gave prequels a bad reputation, but this one is nearly as good as the original and well worth the watch. You can buy or rent both movies on Apple TV or the Google Play Store.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Falcons


Fire of Love (Rated PG)

I’ve never been an avid viewer of documentary films. However, the Natural Geography feature “Fire of Love,” now streaming on Disney+, was a true standout this year because it presents a rare combination of history, science, and a love story for the romantic in all of us. 

“Fire of Love” follows the careers and lives of two pioneering French volcanologists, Katia and Maurice Krafft, whose lives were intimately intertwined both as scientists and lovers. Tragically, yet fittingly, the Kraffts died together in a pyroclastic lava flow while filming an eruption up close in Mount Unzen, Japan. 

Told entirely through archival footage of the intrepid couple and their recordings of various eruptions around the world, the documentary focuses not only on their scientific achievements, but the intense relationship between the two. Between Katia’s fearlessness and Maurice’s quiet intellect, the pair were a phenomenon in the field of volcanology during their careers. They often ventured to the very edge of an active volcano to capture never-before-seen footage, risking their lives on every occasion. 

The footage the Kraffts recorded was spectacular and explosive, but so was the nature of their love. The documentary’s chronology doesn’t progress according to their geological exploits; rather, it defines their lives by the timeline of their love story. Katia and Maurice, the indomitable explorers, could not have existed without Katia and Maurice, the incandescent lovers. 

The greatest gift the Kraffts left to the world was their hundreds of hours of vivid video and thousands of photographs, which “Fire of Love” turns into a colossal tribute to their legacy. Director Sara Dosa takes their life’s work and creates a masterpiece of primordial intensity: The neverending cycle of the earth’s fiery self-destruction is but a backdrop for the eternal tango of two volcanic lovers.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Falcons

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