The Friendly Film Fan Reveals the Winners for the 2022 Movie Season.
Hello, all, and welcome back to The Friendly Film Fan and to the 7th Annual Friendly Film Fan Awards! As most of you are no doubt familiar with the nominees by now, it’s time to select our winners for this cinematic year of 2022. There was a lot to celebrate, from the return of audiences to theaters in a very big way, to the sheer amount and skill level of art in the movie world having come to bear to the discovery of new and exciting voices in the cinematic space ready to make their mark. Having deliberated on these winners for nearly a month now, it is time to reveal who actually takes home the trophies we don’t have so they can all brag to their friends about them. Here are you winners for the 2023 Friendly Film Fan Awards!
Best Sound Design:
When it came to movie sound in 2022, there simply wasn’t a more exciting, adrenaline-pumping experience than Top Gun: Maverick. From the roars of the F-18 fighter jets to the sonic booms of the Darkstar, every last bit of audio was perfectly calibrated to get our collective need for speed as sky-high as it could be. I can still hear those flares in the final mission.
Best Visual Effects:
True, it may seem like a moot point to even have a Visual Effects award during a year where James Cameron released an Avatar sequel, but the work Cameron and his VFX crew are doing should not go uncelebrated, nor should the other stellar work this year in the rest of the nominee pool. Revolutionizing visual effects is just what Cameron does in his films, but the notion that there could be yet another VFX revolution at all is certainly notable. Plus, when fully CG creatures look this convincing, it’s hard not to watch in awe all the same.
I’ve waxed ad nauseum about how Todd Field’s masterful script for TÁR had any number of people convinced that its lead character was a real person, but beyond that, it’s painfully well-balanced across a plethora of themes which are seldom this nuanced. Notions of power, abuses of it, who actually has it, how it’s wielded, whether it can actually ever be taken away from those who have it – these are all present here in any variety of ways, as well as many other themes like artistry vs. pretention. Plus, “U-Haul lesbian” Cate Blanchett. Need I say more?
Yes, the Oscars got it wrong, as we expected they would, but here at The Friendly Film Fan Awards, justice shall prevail! Justin Hurwitz’ mammoth score for Babylon is one of the decade’s finest to date, and not only in motion pictures. One only needs to here “Welcome” and “Voodoo Mama” to be absolutely convinced that Hurwitz may be one of the most important composers of the modern era in any field of music, but the fact that so many other tracks are also certified bangers is what changes that “may” to “is.”
Best Character Design (Costumes + Makeup & Hairstyling):
While period pieces, films about African tribes, comic book adaptations, and even wacky multiverse-jumping fare often all have fantastic costume design work within their frames, there is something to be said for the way contemporary costumes accentuate characters’ personalities, and there was no movie better at that particular thing in 2022 than Rian Johnson’s blast of a murder mystery, Glass Onion. In every scene, each character is wearing something that speaks to who they are as people, good and bad, including Benoit Blanc himself. Turning Janelle Monáe from a formalistic tech founder into a regular Alabaman and back again in the course of one feature really is a feat of its own, but the fact that this film also managed to give us Daniel Craig’s striped swimsuit is reason enough to hand it this award.
Best Production Design:
One of the only Oscars Babylon was certain to win still managed to get snatched away by All Quiet on the Western Front’s dominant technical night at the Academy Awards, but we here at The Friendly Film Fan, we recognize just how difficult it is to pull off designing an entire film’s look around an era chock full of the thing you’re making: a movie. The set of sets alone could win its own Oscar, or the party sequence as elephants crash in below the balcony or even the descent into hell in the film’s third act, but what sets Babylon apart from everything else is that the design is the story. Babylon is about excess, evil, triumph, defeat, being part of something bigger, and it doesn’t get much bigger than making the set you’re on the most essential piece of the story you’re telling.
Best Film Editing:
There were moments in EEAAO where I truly felt that it had the best editing I’d seen all year. Then the same thing happened later with TÁR. Aftersun and TGM are made in the edit bay; you can’t tell those stories properly without the correct editor in the chair. Yet none of them – in my view at least – were able to pull off the astounding feat of editing in Park Chan-wook’s masterful Decision to Leave, weaving characters in and out of rooms at breakneck speed, changing from scene to scene in such creative fashion, match-cutting to some of the most heartbreaking shots of 2022 (mountains and seas, anyone?). To say that the editing in Decision to Leave is an achievement is as much of an understatement as one can make, but without doubt, it was the editing achievement of 2022.
The closest race at this year’s Friendly Film Fan Awards by far, The Batman and Nope were both neck and neck for a win in this category, a category so stacked in fact that there were at least three other films that could have also landed a nomination beyond the five chosen. However, if one is just edging out the other here, Hoyte van Hoytema’s stunning work on Jordan Peele’s Nope ultimately pulls through the stronger of both. Both of these films have excellent visual cohesion, incredible nighttime photography, and some of the year’s most striking single frames, like Batman walking towards an upside-down car or OJ’s run sequence; however, where The Batman tends to focus on the micro as a character piece (“what makes Batman who he is/what does being Batman mean”), Nope leans into the macro, and in a film dominated by the question of human beings’ relationship to spectacle, making the film itself a spectacle is a genius play.
Best Stunt Ensemble:
There were some amazing stunt sequences in 2022. The Batmobile chase in The Batman, the fanny pack fight from EEAAO, the rescue battle from Woman King, hell there were four or five stellar sequences in RRR alone. And yet, there were not stunt sequences more impressive or entertaining to watch in the theater as those in Top Gun: Maverick. Even for the actors not flying the planes, simply being in them as the arial maneuvers happened in real time counts as stunt work; you can’t fake those reaction shots, for which the cameras had to be set in the jets before they even went up into the sky. Add onto that the fact that every single action sequence in TGM is one of the finest ever put to film, with real planes flying real people, and you have the makings of one of the most iconic stunt ensembles ever put to screen.
A film’s true power lies in its ability to captivate an audience, and the greatest tool a filmmaker has at their disposal to captivate an audience – apart from the story itself – is the cast they employ to tell that very story. Great ensembles can be chock full of performers having a great time playing fanciful characters or discussing a complex issue with nuance and grace or even simply working their asses off to bring us the best entertainment they possibly can as they push their bodies to the absolute limit. Then there are the smaller ensembles, groups of three or four exceptional storytellers bringing characters to life in order to tell a story on a more intimate or personal scale, often with one or two leads to carry the thrust of the tale being told. It is in this space that we find what were our two lead contenders in The Banshees of Inisherin and Everything Everywhere All at Once, and while the ensemble in EEAAO is an exceptional one, we’re sticking with Banshees for the win here, as there’s not one average or weaker performance among the whole bunch when compared one to one with its rival. We’ll see more of this cast later down the list, but for now, we’re just proud to name them the Best Ensemble of 2022.
Best Supporting Actress:
Every one of the nominated performers in this category is a stick of dynamite in their respective films, some on the verge of explosion, some whose fuses have only just been lit. For all of Jesse Buckley’s steely resolve to Claire Foy’s righteous rage, each of the women in Women Talking could have all been nominated here to fill up the category all by themselves, but then how would we celebrate Dolly de Leon’s show-stealing third act turn in Triangle of Sadness or Stephanie Hsu’s immediate “taking over the movie” entrance as Jobu Tupaki in EEAAO? Each of these nominees is as worthy as the next and any one of them winning the Oscar would have been more than fine with us (although we have some…different feelings about the end result). For our part, however, no one quite stole our hearts and our heartbreak as thoroughly as Kerry Condon in The Banshees of Inisherin. Condon embodies one side of Banshees’ quiet tragedy more than any other, the idea that even the good people on the island, the ones trying to stop a metaphorical war from reaching its inevitable conclusion, eventually must choose to save themselves because that’s all there is left to save. It’s a note-perfect performance in a film with few – if any – false notes, and we’re proud to hand Kerry Condon the Friendly Film Fan Award for Best Supporting Actress of 2022. I’m sure the bragging rights will look spectacular next to her BAFTA.
Best Supporting Actor:
As my personal favorite movie of the year, I knew I couldn’t let Everything Everywhere All at Once go home empty handed, even if it couldn’t quite stack up in some other categories like it did on Oscars night; luckily, there was no question in our minds or the Academy’s about which supporting actor performance stole the show in 2022. Ke Huy Quan came back to movies like a force of nature, bringing Kung Fu skill, a wide range of emotionality, and some of the most beautifully heartbreaking lines in cinema history roaring to life. “In another life, I would have really liked just doing laundry and taxes with you” rings as true as it does solely because of Quan’s fantastic performance, and as happy as we all were to see him win his Oscar, we’re even more overjoyed to hand him the 2022 Friendly Film Fan award for Best Supporting Actor. Welcome back, Ke! We’ve missed you, buddy.
Perhaps the toughest category to decide in the whole of this awards race, Best Actress may be the most stacked that this category has ever been to date, from Danielle Deadwyler’s gut-wrenching work in Till (at least the second-worst nomination snub at this year’s Oscars) to Tang Wei’s calculated heartache in Decision to Leave to Margot Robbie’s powerhouse exploration of stardom and misery in Babylon. Michelle Yeoh did take home the Oscar in that night’s closest race as well (and we are so proud of her for it!), but for us, there’s just something so undeniable about Cate Blanchett once more reaching a career high with her not simply perfect but outright transcendent performance in TÁR that we have been entirely unable to shake. Blanchett is Lydia Tár in the same way that RDJ is Iron Man, that J.K. Simmons is J. Jonah Jameson, and she joins the pantheon of abusive composer/conductors which Simmons himself occupies (Whiplash) as yet another of the most powerful performances in music movie history. One really only needs to see TÁR once to fully understand just how impressive Blanchett’s performance really is, like someone pointed a camera at her and just filmed her real job, to the point where – again – people thought Lydia Tár was a real person until looking her up. Yes, part of that is in the writing, as mention earlier, but in order to bring that writing to life, you need a performer at the top of their game throwing a perfect fastball every single pitch, and that’s exactly what Cate Blanchett does here. Congratulations Cate, here’s a Friendly Film Fan award to go next to your two Oscars.
Sometimes superstardom comes after years or even decades in front of the camera and sometimes it comes almost overnight; you just have to make the right move, and that’s what Austin Butler did in Elvis, a film I do not like led by a performance as powerful as any biopic turn I’ve ever seen. Sure, Butler had a stint as a Disney Channel star, but for this particular film, he so embodied the legendary musician that he’s still getting made fun of for not having dropped the vocal intonations of the icon well after filming and promo has wrapped on the film. It’s an easy performance to underrate when attempting to spread some love to the other nominees in this category, but when you do watch the performance all the way through, it’s easy to see why Butler became one of the fastest rising stars working today in a matter of months. The guy just has it, and we here at The Friendly Film Fan would like to be some of the first to recognize and reward him for what’s sure to be one of his most iconic parts.
All of the nominees in this category turned in phenomenal work in 2022, and this almost went to Todd Field for directing one of the finest character studies of the last decade, but ultimately, there was not one director who seemed to have the most innate sense of control over his film than Park Chan-wook crafting a heartbreaking noir in Decision to Leave. Every move in Decision to Leave must be precisely calculated not only so audiences will invest in its characters and story but also so that no note in a story this twisty feels too complex for an audience to understand, even as the film’s plot remains as intricate as anything Chan-wook has made over the last ten years. It’s a quiet miracle – the bad kind Daniel Kaluuya refers to in Nope – that Decision to Leave was shut out of the Oscar nomination entirely, but here, as people of integrity, we not only have the film nominated in multiple categories, we award Park Chan-wook the Friendly Film Fan award for Best Director of the year.
And here we are at the award for Best Picture. It certainly has been a journey getting here, and every nominee in this category is as worthy of the next of recognition and celebration for the achievements they are. For our part, however, there was no more well-balanced, brilliantly-told, or quietly tragic film made in 2022 than Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin. If this were any other kind of film, the impact would be lessened – drama, dark comedy, etc. But Banshees roots itself in the tragedy of the inevitable and the all-too-easily preventable. None of this had to happen, yet all of it – like the Irish civil war the story is juxtaposed against – will inevitably lead to a worse outcome for all involved. The most innocent will suffer needlessly (as with Barry Keoghan’s character), the good will be made to save themselves alone (as with Kerry Condon), and at the end of the day, as the two men stand on the beach at the end of a long journey – or the start of one – neither will have learned their lesson, because one was too full of himself to see the damage he was doing and one was so hurt by that damage that the only thing he can now do is fight back against it. It’s a deeply acidic and feel-bad ending to a story that feels more honest than most stories allow themselves to be, and that, along with everything else it brings to the table (a stellar look, haunting score, and brilliant script to boot), is why we have named it the Best Picture of 2022.
And so concludes this year’s Friendly Film Fan awards! What do you think of our winner selections? Are there any you disagree with? Anything you’re surprisingly happy to see walk with a victory? Let us know in the comments section below, and thanks for reading!
- The Friendly Film Fan
Film critic in my free time. Film enthusiast in my down time.