OPINION: The five best movies you might not have seen this year

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Galadriel Gross | The Daily Wildcat

Characters from the movies listed in opinions reporter Kate Herreras-Zinman's article, "The five best movies you didn't see this year."

2022 has been a very good year for movies. Maybe it’s got something to do with the pandemic: creators have started going out and making more movies, and we could be getting the movies that didn’t come out in the past two years. Maybe it’s got something to do with luck. Some years are just better than others.

Whatever the reason, the amount of content being put out this year is insane, and while it would be impossible to see every good movie of 2022, I hope this article can help you find a great movie you might not have otherwise found. Read on for the five best movies you didn’t see this year!

“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent”

In “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” Nicholas Cage portrays a fictionalized version of himself hired to entertain at a rich man's (Pedro Pascal) party. When the government tasks Cage with getting intel on the compound, Cage is thrust into a new life of espionage.

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“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” was so wonderfully weird as a comedy. I think it went very underappreciated, not just at the box office, but as a film in itself. Many audiences were so focused on the premise and the concept that “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” was Cage’s mainstream comeback that they lost sight of an amazing comedy.

So why didn’t you see it? I think it’s, unfortunately, because of Cage. I knew as many people who said they wouldn’t see the movie, because Cage was the star, as I did people who were dying to see it because of him. I think both camps missed out on a brilliantly funny movie by focusing on his presence instead of his performance. “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” essentially has the most basic moral a movie about an actor can have: Treating your family with respect is more important than being famous. This is such a basic theme that it's hard to breathe new life into it, but “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” takes it and runs with it. Cage becomes the hilariously ridiculous extreme of a self-centered actor, and proves that weird, high-concept comedies we don’t get much of these days, can still be funny.

“Pearl”

A standalone prequel to Ti West’s “X,” “Pearl” is the story of a young psychopath coming of age towards the end of World War One. Pearl will stop at nothing to become famous and leave town to get away from her oppressive parents.

“Pearl” is a very easy movie to recommend to anyone with the stomach for it. It’s an incredibly realistic movie, and that’s exactly why it’s so good. It’s not tied down to one genre, but lets itself revel in two; “Pearl” is simultaneously a subdued period drama character study — a technicolor throwback that demands you understand how the titular Pearl thinks even if that’s not a particularly pleasant headspace — and a more traditional slasher.

Ultimately, Mia Goth’s performance is what makes the character so engrossing. The movie is the slowest burn into insanity, and other performers may have left the role feeling cheesy or flat. Yet Goth and her director, West, found something magical when they wrote this script. No matter what the movie ramps up to or how tied the film is to its late-30s aesthetic, every second of the movie is completely believable. 

“Pearl” is an outlier in this list, in that it's still playing right now. You can only watch the rest of these at home, but, if “Pearl” sounds appealing to you, you can head to a theater right now and watch it.

“Bodies, Bodies, Bodies”

In “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies,” a group of old friends reunites for a party. The party then takes a dramatic turn during a mystery game when one of the friends is found murdered.

I’d assume this movie would have been a huge hit. Maybe I was making a leap there, but I’d think a Pete Davidson vehicle with a Charli XCX theme song would have a large audience. Of course, “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies” did well enough at the box office, and it was by no means a flop. However, it seems to me that very few people have actually seen it. If I ever bring it up to people, they tend to respond that they’ve been meaning to watch it and just haven’t gotten around to it yet. That’s a shame.

The marketing of “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies” certainly makes it look like a slasher, and I can’t necessarily blame the marketing team for wanting to piggyback off of a more profitable genre, but it’s also pretty far from what “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies” actually is.

“Bodies, Bodies, Bodies” positions itself as a modern-day Agatha Christie story. The characters at play fulfill all of the mystery archetypes audiences know, but with a distinctly modern sensibility. Moreover, a very specific source of terror comes from when someone is accused, but the audience knows they’re innocent. It feels something like when your friend is accused in “Among Us” or “Mafia.” 

Finally, it’s also a comedy and a very funny one at that. The idea that funny disasters will happen if 20-somethings get high together is an age-old one, but this movie proves that jokes of that kind still have a place.

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“Mad God”

The guy who did the dinosaurs from “Jurassic Park” made his own feature-length movie. I suppose that’s really all I need to say, but “Mad God” is so much more than just the creative image of one dinosaur guy.

Post-apocalyptic movies are very common these days in so many forms, so it’s refreshing to have one be so wholeheartedly original. However, the word “original” doesn’t quite feel as though it does “Mad God” justice. I’d never seen anything even remotely resembling “Mad God” before I watched it, and I haven’t since either.

Phil Tippett (the aforementioned dinosaur maker) blends these post-apocalyptic tropes with images from “The Divine Comedy” and his own modern visions of hell; he makes it clear that this hell on earth is one of our own making by repeatedly showing us characters who are trying to escape it, whilst never quite clarifying whether or not we as the audience can. Tippett does this almost entirely without dialogue, instead using intense music and images.

“Mad God” isn’t a religious movie. It’s a movie fueled by religious concepts, but you won't find any recommendations for or against Christianity here. Instead, “Mad God” shows the futility of human conflict on a multi-millennial scale. What that means is up to you.

“Watcher”

“Watcher” features a young woman named Julia moving to Sweden with her fiancé. After settling in, Julia has difficulty making new friends in the area or getting work, so she spends the bulk of her days at home, where she’s certain she sees a man watching her from the window across the street. All of this anxiety occurs when a serial killer is murdering women her age in her city.

I had almost no expectations going into “Watcher.” A friend of mine and I wanted to see something with no parameters as long as it was good. “Watcher” worked with our schedules and had positive enough reviews.

I came in knowing nothing about this movie and came out filled with adoration. Despite a traditional wide release, it seems to me that “Watcher” flew under the radar, and that saddens me.

“Watcher,” at first glance is a horror movie, but it’s really something more cunning: a deconstruction of the slasher genre as a whole. Very few people die in “Watcher,” and we spend the entire movie in the headspace of the protagonist, Julia. Julia is a traditional slasher movie’s "final girl," but most of the traditional death associated with slasher movies occurs offscreen as Julia fears it may be coming. There’s no mystery to solve or even a killer to run away from. There’s just Julia trying to get by despite a serial killer targeting women her age in her neighborhood.

The movie creates a strange headspace to be in. “Watcher” shatters expectations by having the audience feel every emotion Julia feels by showing each and every one of them, centering on her in every scene. It’s a movie without side characters that seek only to emphasize its protagonist. You feel her anger and her frustration, but also her love, apathy and boredom. Despite living with her serial killer suspicions, Julia is still a person and the movie never lets you forget that. I’ve told lots of people to give “Watcher” a shot, and I’ll continue to do so.

Overall Thoughts

These are the five best movies you didn’t see this year, but 2022 is still far from over in cinema terms. Award season is around the corner with prestige picture releases coming out just before. It’s been a great year for movies, and I don’t see that stopping, but these five movies are a great place to start if you’re looking for films to see.


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Kate is a sophomore at the University of Arizona. She loves improv comedy and comic books.


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