Favourite film, TV and videogames of 2022

Film

Despite a return to cinema viewing being viable for the first time in a couple of years, I saw only two films in the cinema in 2023. However, they were among my favourite films I saw this year, and the atmosphere was certainly an important part of that. Though lighter than my usual fare, I thought that the 1950s mystery pastiche See How They Run (Tom George, 2022) was near-perfect in the sense of achieving everything it set out to achieve. Seeing it with my wife, followed by Italian food and stand-up comedy on our first date night in years, was the happiest viewing experience imaginable. We saw the Bowie documentary Moonage Daydream (Brett Morgen, 2022) together a week later, which I found almost overwhelming, and which prompted intense conversation about art and ambition.

At home, the films I loved the most were the epic Embrace of the Serpent (Ciro Guerra, 2015) and the moving SF-inflected social drama Gagarine (Fanny Liatard / Jérémy Trouilh, 2020). On the back of the once-a-decade Sight & Sound poll, my most exciting discoveries didn’t include the new #1, (Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles), which I finally watched and appreciated well enough, but rather the masterful and hallucinatory Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 2000) and the 14-minute Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943), the missing link between Luis Buñuel and David Lynch.

Recently-released films I loved included the uncomfortable, oddly overlooked family drama The Nest (Sean Durkin, 2020), the heartfelt and sweet time-travel piece Petite Maman (Céline Sciamma, 2021), impactful Icelandic folk horror Lamb (Valdimar Jóhannsson, 2021), the triumphant (though perhaps fractionally lesser than the first film) sequel The Souvenir Part II (Joanna Hogg, 2022), the terrific debut of one of my favourite British filmmakers, Katalin Varga (Peter Strickland, 2009), and the effective music documentary The Velvet Underground (Todd Haynes, 2021). Honourable mentions go to moral drama A Hero (Asghar Farhadi, 2021, Lady Diana horror film Spencer (Pablo Larraín, 2021), one-take restaurant-set thriller Boiling Point (Philip Barantini, 2021), sweet coming-of-age drama Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021), and anti-Hangover ‘buddy movie’ Another Round (Thomas Vinterberg, 2020).

Older films that I saw this year for the first time and loved included the startling The Magician (Ingmar Bergman, 1958), the intense, remarkably faithful adaptation Woman in the Dunes (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1964), fantastic eco-thriller The Day the Earth Caught Fire (Val Guest, 1961), Wages of Fear remake Sorcerer (William Friedkin, 1977), Beat-era improvisation Shadows (John Cassavetes, 1959) and his much later masterpiece A Woman Under the Influence (1974) and downbeat but ultimately alarming made-for-TV domestic horror The Appointment (Lindsey C. Vickers, 1982).

TV

My favourite TV shows in 2022 were wonky sitcom The Witchfinder (2022) and the first of the two seasons of odd arthouse documentary How To With John Wilson (2020), both of which delighted me again and again. This is Going to Hurt (2022) was the most important TV drama I saw this year, and I hope it proves influential on policies relating to NHS funding. I loved the understated Drôle (Standing Up) (2022), the first season of Only Murders in the Building (2021) and Peter Jackson’s absorbing fly-on-the-wall documentary The Beatles: Get Back (2021). I finally got around to watching all seasons of Detectorists and Ted Lasso, both of which are as good as everyone says. I enjoyed bitesize comedy Cheaters (2022), sketch show Ellie and Natasia (2022), the first season of rotoscoped time-travel mindtrip Undone (2019), and the overlong but ultimately compelling Bad Sisters (2022). My guilty pleasure was the double-crossing mystery game show The Traitors (2023), though I found myself more preoccupied with the convolutions required of the production team than the bickering of the contestants.

Videogames

As usual, most of my favourite PC games I played this year were indie affairs: idiosyncratic card-game Lovecraftian mystery Inscryption (2021), monochrome Zelda-esque romp Death’s Door (2021), superb roguelike brawler Hades (2018), plant-detective simulator Strange Horticulture (2022) and compulsive timesinks Stacklands (2022) and Loop Hero (2021). Despite each of these sucking up far more of my time, my favourite indie experience of all was the 5-hour experience of The Case of the Golden Idol (2022), an Obra Dinn-esque mystery based around a series of crude fixed tableau and a click-and-drop language interface, which featured a story as compelling and labyrinthine as any novel I’ve read this year.

This year I finally succumbed to buying a Nintendo Switch for the family. Together, me and my sons  played lots of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (2017), Super Mario Party (2018) and Yoshi’s Crafted World (2019) as well as charming indie coop gateway-RPG Child of Light (2014) and nutso platform brawler Adventure Pals (2018). In the evenings, I poured hours into (in ascending order) heart-halting Metroid Dread (2021), the beautifully serene The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017) and, at long last, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015) – though I loved the essentially endless questing, plus in-world card game Gwent, I skipped almost every cutscene. Does that make me a bad gamer?