I swear I never set out to have my top ten movies of the year cover a broad range of genres and styles but that has refreshingly been the case, especially in recent years.
This year’s list includes films by debut directors and legends. It includes dark comedies, tense thrillers, family dramas, and mind-bending sci-fi.
It also features something new for me: a healthy dose of horror. That includes today’s film, which as it happens is also a dark comedy, tense thriller, family drama and mind-banding sci-fi movie all in one. I guess that makes it the perfect way to kick things off.
Best Films of 2022
#10 – Nope
I’ve seen most of the movies on this list more than once, to catch things I might have missed and to cement my feelings one way or the other.
Repeat viewings really paid off in the case of Jordan Peele’s Nope. The first time through, I didn’t know what to expect from one minute to the next. The film’s narrative detours were disorienting. That didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment, but it did put me in the position of trying to decipher the movie while watching it.
After my first viewing, I thought and read a lot about Nope and explored its multiple themes. I better appreciated what Peele was saying about the hypnotic power of spectacle, the role of observers and exploiters. I examined Peele’s return to race as a central theme, and the idea of Black contributions to Hollywood being ignored or diminished. I grew more fascinated by what he was saying about the hubris of humans when it comes to dealing with, and attempting to control, nature.
After all that processing, my second viewing of Nope was a joy. I was able to spend most of my energy investing in the characters, the humor, and the suspense. I spent more time marveling at Peele’s fluid camerawork and his knack for crafting indelible set pieces.
I especially appreciated the sibling dynamic of Daniel Kaluuya’s OJ and Keke Palmer’s Emerald, and the matter-of-fact way they respond to the presence of an alien predator in their backyard. The movie’s suspenseful back half works so much better because of the investment the first half makes in caring about its protagonists.
Nope is a rare big budget, big screen summer blockbuster that thrills you as much with its ideas as its images. Peele has consistently delivered these cinematic unicorns, and I look forward to revisiting all of them for years to come.
While I’m not sure Nope would make my personal top ten, I did like it quite a lot – just not as much as Get Out.
I need to see this film for all the reasons you mention. I was particularly intrigued by the exploration of the ways people respond to past trauma and how those dynamics play out in society.
And, of course, Keke’s performance was pure joy. To respond to Dana’s comment, it’s not unusual to hold an artist (musician, filmmaker) to a standard he or she set with an outstanding debut, but we have to allow that the “sophomore slump” (and beyond) is likely far more our own battle with perception than it has anything to do with the artist who just wants to keep creating.
In other words, the fact that Spielberg made Jaws and Peele Get Out at the start of their careers shouldn’t mean we’ll unfavorably compare every subsequent movie to those early masterpieces.
I find your insights into the film very interesting and can understand why a second viewing was so satisfying. I also compared it to Get Out and found it lacking
I think Amy’s point makes sense about comparing other movies to the first “masterpiece” of the creator. I wasn’t too impressed with this film but another viewing could change my mind …or not stay tuned 😊
As is the case with every top-notch review of this film that I’ve read since seeing it my main feeling following your insights many of which I agree with is that I need to see this movie again! With a film like “Nope” that lives so much in its subtlety and seemingly abstract manner of tying disparate themes together subsequent watches are surely additive. However, I have not done my due diligence so far. This is something I will have to rectify in the coming week. Excited to read your thoughts on all your favorite films as I already know they’ll make me see and love them in a whole new light!