Movies in December 2022: Acclaimed Directors

2022 saw a lot of acclaimed directors have their movies released, with many of them appearing on streaming platforms towards the end of the year.

  • God's Crooked Lines

    Follows a woman checking into a psychiatric ward to investigate a homicide.

  • Thirteen Lives

    The rescue mission in Thailand of a group who are trapped in a system of underground caves.

  • Blonde

    A fictionalized chronicle of the inner life of Marilyn Monroe.

God's Crooked Lines is another maze of a movie by Spanish director Oriol Paulo. They might not be a household name, but his previous movies Mirage, The Invisible Guest and The Body are all brilliant, with many twists and turns to keep you on your toes. This movie is no different with many unsettling moments that'll question everything you've just seen.

Thirteen Lives is the theatrical version of the incredible true story that gripped the world. I already knew much of the story after watching the exceptional documentary The Rescue. Directed by Ron Howard, this is a worthy fictionalised account of the daring rescue of twelve boys and their coach from deep inside a flooded cave in Northern Thailand. There were moments throughout which were gripping and it was very claustrophobic in places, especially during the final rescue with their "packages" being sedated. The cast of Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell and Joel Edgerton are impressive, but their performances fall into the background, covered in diving equipment and overshadowed by the awe-inspiring story.

Blonde is a series of highly fictionalised accounts of Marilyn Monroe. Directed by Andrew Dominik, I was really disappointed – I loved his movie The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – but this was a mess. Technically it is brilliant and it is superbly acted, but it is incredibly vapid. I was inclined to turn it off after 30 minutes, yet somehow this movie is nearly three hours of insipid scene after scene. It does conjure a psychotic and consuming feeling but it’s a complete and utter slog. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone.

  • Bardo

    An acclaimed journalist goes on a journey to reconcile the past, the present and his identity.

  • Amsterdam

    In the 1930s, three friends uncover one of the most outrageous plots in American history.

  • Elvis

    The life of American music icon Elvis Presley, from his childhood to becoming a rock star in the 1950s.

BARDO, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths is the latest movie by Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu. He won Academy Awards for Best Director for two years running with The Revenant and Birdman, but it is a movie from his roots, Amores Perros, that first drew me to this director. BARDO is unlike his previous movies, it is self-indulgent; it is all about grandeur and spectacle. Some of the sequences were mesmerising whereas others were failures. The camerawork and cinematography are easily the best part of the movie. Like his previous movies, it is demanding and rewarding in the end, but one that I may not revisit.

Amsterdam reunites director David O. Russell with Christian Bale, who worked together in American Hustle and The Fighter. Featuring a stellar jam-packed cast — Christian Bale steals the show but Margot Robbie is a close second — and first-rate production design, with peculiar characters and setting. Yet, unlike his other movies, it is severely let down by an absolutely woefully boring screenplay.

Elvis is definitely a Baz Luhrmann movie; it is brash, bold and over-the-top with plenty of ornate flourishes. The movie starts off energetic but the screenplay runs out of steam towards the latter half. It doesn't match the flamboyant Moulin Rouge!, more comparative to his take on The Great Gatsby.


Also…

There were big movies from other acclaimed directors that I haven't been able to watch yet. Some of these have had very limited theatrical releases or haven't been released in the UK yet.

Many of these movies have received plenty of awards at film festivals around the world. I am looking forward to watching all of these in the near future.

  • James Cameron released his long-delayed Avatar sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, which is out in the cinema at the moment and is an epic at three hours and 12 minutes.

  • Rian Johnson released (just before Christmas) a sequel to his Netflix whodunit hit Knives Out called Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery with an all-star cast including Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Kate Hudson and Dave Bautista.

  • Noah Baumbach released White Noise starring Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig. It has mixed reviews, but I enjoy his family-squabble type of movies, especially his previous release Marriage Story which also stars Adam Driver.

  • Darren Aronofsky released the critically acclaimed The Whale starring a stand-out performance by Brendan Fraser. He is a director I follow closely because he made Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain, so I am always excited about his projects, which are also eclectic and interesting.

  • Steven Spielberg released The Fabelmans starring Michelle Williams and Paul Dano. Probably the most well-known filmmaker on the planet, his latest movie seems to be a retrospective of his life and love of cinema.

  • Park Chan-wook released Decision to Leave. The Korean director has a penchant for horror movies, with the incredible The Handmaiden and Oldboy as two of his previous classics. His movies are meticulously orchestrated with punchy reveals, so I am interested to see how this plays out.

  • Damien Chazelle released Babylon starring Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie. His previous three movies have been highly acclaimed, First, bursting with raw energy, Whiplash caught everyone's attention. He followed it up with the acclaimed musical La La Land, becoming the youngest winner of the Academy Award for Best Director. Finally First Man, the biographical movie about astronaut Neil Armstrong.

  • David Cronenberg released Crimes of the Future starring Viggo Mortensen and Kristen Stewart. Known as the “Baron of Blood”, he is best known for the 1980s horror movies The Fly, Scanners and Videodrome, but directed Mortensen in his contemporary movies Eastern Promises and A History of Violence.

  • Todd Field released TÁR starring Cate Blanchett in an acclaimed role. The director doesn't have a prolific back-catalogue but his dramas In the Bedroom and Little Children are worth watching.

  • Paul Schrader released Master Gardener starring Joel Edgerton and Sigourney Weaver. The director caught my eye with conflicted First Reformed, but he has been making features since the 1970s, with a history of good movies that are on my watchlist.