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“The Woman King” on Apple TV
Agojie warriors in “The Woman King” (Image: Apple TV)

Now that Oscar nominations have been announced with some surprising omissions, last-minute campaign triumphs, and many first-time nominees, it’s time to catch up on some of the best films released in 2022. The 80th annual Golden Globes ceremony took place in January, the SAG Awards are on deck, and the Academy Awards are coming up, so you still have plenty of time to watch. Countless other awards, however, often get overshadowed by the more popular ceremonies. Markedly absent from this list is “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which is one of the best films of 2022, but one I’ve written about elsewhere.

Below you’ll find my curated list of excellent movies that have been recognized and presented with a wide array of awards. Happy watching!

6. ‘The Wonder’

“The Wonder” on Netflix
Nurse Elizabeth “Lib” Wright (Florence Pugh) in “The Wonder.” (Image: Netflix)

A great Irish film of 2022, “The Wonder,” directed by Sebastián Lelio, serves as a breathtaking companion to “The Banshees of Inisherin,” which is rightly attracting a lot of attention this awards season. The film opens by breaking the fourth wall and establishing a new take on what a narrative should look like when adapted from a novel into a film.

“The Wonder” takes place in a small, nameless Irish town roughly a decade after the end of the Great Famine in the mid-19th century. The film focuses on English nurse Lib Wright (Florence Pugh), who moves to a rural village after being hired by the town council. Lib’s task is to monitor Anna O’Donnell (Kíla Lord Cassidy), an 11-year-old girl who claims not to have eaten in months, subsisting only on manna, the same substance that allowed the Israelites to survive 40 years in the desert. It’s this supposed miracle from which the movie takes its name.

Not everyone in the village believes the young girl’s miraculous gift, including the owners of the inn Lib stays in. The young nurse’s nationality and religious skepticism, however, sow distrust among a large portion of the community. Lib aligns herself with Will Byrne (Tom Burke), a visiting journalist from London’s Daily Telegraph, and together the two try to find a way to stop Anna from starving.

The movie is a timely reminder of the dangers of misinformation and rejection of science in favor of less credible and qualified sources. Despite the heavy themes, “The Wonder” resolves itself in a way that can only be described as fabulous. “The Wonder” won Top 10 Independent Films by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures.

“The Wonder” is now available on Netflix.

5. ‘Nope’

“Nope” on Peacock
O.J. (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer) present safety training in horse handling on a Hollywood film set in “Nope.” (Image: Peacock)

Yup, Jordan Peele has done it again. “Nope” is a science fiction horror film that follows the Haywood family, owners of Hollywood’s longest-running horse-handling firm. When a sudden, otherworldly weather event leaves the Haywood family without a patriarch, O.J. (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald (Keke Palmer) struggle to stay financially solvent.

Any more of a synopsis would give away too much about the film, since much of the suspense and enjoyment lies in watching it. Nevertheless, Keke Palmer’s performance as Emerald deserves a special shout-out. In addition to the film’s awards, Palmer won Best Supporting Actress from both the Toronto Film Critics Association and New York Film Critics Circle.

At the heart of “Nope” lies the struggle between nature and nurture, as evidenced by the focus on animal domestication and training. The movie shows audiences that hubris has misguided humans into thinking they’re apex predators — and Jean Jacket reminds us we’re not.

“Nope” was listed as one of the top 10 films of the year by the American Film Institute, and was given the Best Science Fiction Film Award at the Saturn Awards.

Laugh and cringe in terror from “Nope” on Peacock.

4. ‘Triangle of Sadness’

“Triangle of Sadness” on Amazon Prime Video
Yaya (Charlbi Dean), Abigail (Dolly De Leon), and Paula (Vicki Berlin) in “Triangle of Sadness.” (Image: Amazon Prime Video)

“Triangle of Sadness” is a beautiful satire of social status and the current class divisions that continue to grow wider. Set on a luxury yacht in the sapphire waters of the Mediterranean, Ruben Östlund’s new film takes audiences far away from the Alpine ski slopes featured in his 2014 film, “Force Majeure.”

The film follows struggling model Carl (Harris Dickinson) and his model-influencer girlfriend Yaya (Charlbi Dean) as they promote the yacht on social media. From Instagram to instant glam, the young couple becomes enamored with their wealthy co-passengers, who include an elderly couple who made their fortune manufacturing explosive weapons, a Russian businessman and his family, and a tech billionaire, among others. In addition to the wealthy patrons, the ship’s alcoholic captain (Woody Harrelson) and overworked chief of staff (Vicki Berlin) provide a humorous balance to the excess and obscenity of the passengers.

“Triangle of Sadness” gracefully critiques the upstairs-downstairs mindset in which employees and crewmembers are treated as expendable and from whom subservience is expected. After a sudden change of circumstance, crewmember and cleaner Abigail (Dolly De Leon) becomes the group’s de facto leader, leading to a topsy-turvy role reversal.

Get ready for the trip of your life as you watch “Triangle of Sadness,” which won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and Best Film at the Swedish Guldbagge Awards.

Rent or buy “Triangle of Sadness” on Amazon Prime Video.

3. ‘Tár’

 “Tár” on Peacock
Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) conducts the Berlin Philharmonic with her wife and concertmaster Sharon Goodnow (Nina Hoss) in the background. (Image: Peacock)

Cate Blanchett stars as the eponymous Lydia Tár in this tense drama directed and written by Todd Field. As the conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, Tár finds herself at the apex of her career, and the film opens with an interview between the maestro and writer Adam Gopnik (himself) at The New Yorker Festival.

“Tár” offers audiences a glimpse into the world of someone whose success and hard work have given way to delusion, abuse, and egotism. Moreover, one of the central themes is the need to confront the ghosts of the past whose voices demand to be heard, and what a triumph it is to see the #MeToo movement leave its mark on a film like this.

Blanchett's representation of Lydia Tár is as glorious as it is unsettling. Performances by Noémie Merlant, Nina Hoss, and Sophie Kauer add an incredible flair to the cast, and the collection of widely celebrated classical music and original score by Hildur Guðnadóttir enhance the intense emotionality of the film.

“Tár” has won Best Film from the New York Film Critics Circle, Best Picture from the National Society of Film Critics, Best Picture from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and many more.

“Tár” is available to stream on Peacock.

2. ‘Fire of Love’

: “Fire of Love” on Disney Plus
Maurice and Katia Krafft in “Fire of Love” (Image: Disney Plus)

There’s so much to lava about this documentary from Sara Dosa. Based on the adventurous and daring careers of French volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft, “Fire of Love” presents audiences with a stunning exposé of how pursuing truth and passion can have explosive consequences.

Narrated by Miranda July, most of the movie’s footage comes from the Kraffts’ personal videos filmed on research trips across the world. Alongside the scientific thrust of the documentary, the archived footage reveals a touching, relatable, artistic side to the pair of researchers. These clips often resemble homemade films with whacky B-roll moments, but they also reflect a more refined, almost French New Wave style.

“Fire of Love” doesn’t shy away from showing the hazards of volcanology, especially in light of the enormous risks Katia and Maurice Krafft took in rushing toward rather than away from eruptions. Nevertheless, the documentary highlights the invaluable contributions both made to better understand the mechanics and dangers of volcanoes.

Along with many other accolades, “Fire of Love” won the Jonathan Oppenheimer Editing Award at the Sundance Film Festival and Best Documentary Film from the Chicago Film Critics Association.“Fire of Love” is streaming on Disney Plus.

1. ‘The Woman King’

 “The Woman King” on Apple TV
Izogie (Lashana Lynch), General Nanisca (Viola Davis), Amenza (Sheila Atim), and other Agojie set out on a rescue mission in “The Woman King.” (Image: Apple TV)

Set in early-19th-century Dahomey (present-day Benin), Gina Prince-Bythewood’s “The Woman King” follows a group of elite women soldiers as they protect their kingdom from the raiders and kidnappers of the Transatlantic slave trade. The Agojie, as these warriors are called, hold a revered position in Dahomey and must prove themselves worthy of service through a grueling and physically demanding test.

This gorgeous movie follows Nawi (Thuso Mbedo) and her journey as a young woman living outside the palace walls to a fierce warrior among the Agojie’s ranks — but not without struggle and sacrifice. Under the leadership of General Nanisca (Viola Davis), Nawi and her comrades learn hard lessons about life, love, and loss.

“The Woman King” refers to a Dahomeyan tradition wherein the king chooses a queen (kpojito) to rule next to him as an equal and preside over religious and social ceremonies. King Ghezo (John Boyega) prepares to choose a kpojito while trying to reign over a kingdom threatened by a multitude of outside powers.

In addition to Davis’s and Mbedo’s outstanding performances, Lashana Lynch and Sheila Atim shine on the screen and deserve high praise for their portrayals of Izogie and Amenza. “The Woman King” won Best Film from the Black Film Critics Circle and Best Movie by a Woman from the Women Film Critics Circle.

“The Woman King” can be rented or bought on Amazon Prime Video.

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