11 underappreciated films of 2022 to add to your watchlist

David Earl and Chris Hayward in Brian and Charles
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2022 has been quite a year for cinema, but we know that sometimes smaller films fly under the radar – here, then, are some of our favourites.

Sure, we know about the likes of Top Gun MaverickThe BatmanElvis, Glass Onion and even awards frontrunners that didn’t make trillions such as The Banshees Of Inisherin and the correctly award-winning Aftersun. But how about a few movies – well, 10 movies and one very relevant TV show – that might have slipped off your radar? Well, glad you asked…

Words: Lauren Miles, John Moore, Simon Brew


Dir. Bruno Samper and Kristina Buozyte

We’re used to sci-fi films being made up of shiny CGI and elaborate costumes, but what makes Vesper such a triumph is its simplicity. It mixes science fiction with a dystopian, swampy setting to create a world that’s full of disgusting, tactile creatures. The young Raffiella Chapman spends the whole film getting her hands dirty as she seeks a way to escape her life of poverty with her sick father (Richard Brake). She’s also very impressive in her first leading role, and this film will leave you eagerly waiting to see what she does next. 

Vesper also features excellent performances from Rosie McEwen and Eddie Marsan – who’s particularly nasty in this. This is a very unique sci-fi movie, and definitely not one to miss.

A Bunch Of Amateurs

a bunch of amateurs

A Bunch Of Amateurs

Dir. Kim Hopkins

Find a more heartwarming, human and film nerdy a documentary this year, and then instantly drop us a mail because we want to watch it. A Bunch Of Amateurs is precisely the kind of film why lists like this exist, and we fully intend to beam a torch of light onto it for many years to come. It’s a British doc about the decades-old, but fading, Bradford Movie Makers club, as a bunch of generally senior folk make small movies and – memorably – try to recreate the opening of Oklahoma. The club is basically bankrupt, its members are battling problems of their own, and this charming, funny, moving and wonderful film – genuinely one of the best of the year – is testament to them all. Seek it out. Watch it. Please.


Dir. Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović

Murina is a quietly powerful film and an impressive feature debut from Kusijanović. It’s a beautifully shot coming-of-age tale set on an idyllic island off the coast of Croatia, where Julija (Gracija Filipovic) lives with her controlling, overbearing and abusive father Ante (Leon Lucev) and acquiescent mother Nela (Danica Curcic). Julija’s life changes when Ante’s old friend Javier (Cliff Curtis) turns up, giving her new ideas of what life could be like.

Lucev does an excellent job of making Ante thoroughly despicable, and his battle of wills with Julija – a fight between freedom and oppression – makes for a compelling story. This is just a beautiful depiction of a girl becoming a woman, challenging the patriarchy and seeking a better future.



Brian And Charles

Dir. Jim Archer

Well, this is lovely. Brian – played superbly by David Earl – is many things. For the purpose of this story, he’s a bit lonely, and he’s an inventor. As such, he decides to take on his most ambitious project yet: making himself a robot companion (nothing mucky, mind) out of a washing machine (told you). Shot in a documentary style, what follows is a charming comedy drama, that marks the second time already we’ve used the word charming in its list. His robot creation is ingenious too, and Charles Petrescu deserves an Oscar run all of his own. It got a bit of attention when it came out did Brian And Charles, but don’t let it fall off your radar in the midst of the end of year awards scrum. It’s ace.

Girls Girls Girls

Dir. Alli Haapasalo

Finnish director Alli Haapasalo’s second feature is a tale of three young women undergoing a period of self discovery. What elevates Girls Girls Girls above the standard coming-of-age tale is that it expertly navigates not just the exciting parts of becoming a woman and discovering your sexuality, but the awkward and unpleasant bits, too. 

It’s a depiction that feels unabashedly, and sometimes painfully, honest. The fact that our protagonists Mimmi (Aamu Milonoff), Emma (Linnea Leino) and Rönkkö (Eleonoora Kauhanen) are complex and flawed but also very likeable enhances the movie’s sincerity. These are realistic characters navigating complex situations and relationships, and the film leaves us knowing that they have a long emotional journey ahead of them, even if we don’t get to see it.

Light & Magic

Dir. Lawrence Kasdan

Every list of this ilk needs an entry that’s a bit of a cheat, and welcome to ours. However, Light & Magic – which popped up on Disney+, amongst all the erotic thrillers and action films – is a film nerd’s dream. It’s a six part documentary series that on the surface charts the rise of ILM (Industrial Light & Magic). What it’s actually doing though is telling the story of how effects work in the movies migrated from practical to digital, through the prism of movies such as Star WarsPoltergeistJurassic Park and Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

It’s an officially-sanctioned piece of work, which means some rough edges are sanded down. The trade off is it gets incredible access and talking heads. It’s worth getting one of those Disney+ free trials for alone.

Zaris-Angel Hator as MAISIE BRUMBLE and Karl Urban as JACOB HOLLAND in The Sea Beast

The Sea Beast

The Sea Beast

Dir. Chris Williams

In a year full of great (and, to be honest, a few middling) animated films, The Sea Beast seemed to go largely unnoticed when it landed on Netflix over the summer. It’s an energetic and colourful feature full of childlike wonder. Protagonist Maisie dreams of setting sail on a ship and becoming a legendary hunter – figures who hunt sea monsters in order to protect coastal settlements. 

We meet exciting pirate-like figures, including Captain Crow (Jared Harris) and Jacob Holland (Karl Urban). There’s also a touching storyline that reveals that the ‘sea beasts’ may not be all they seem. Does it share some similarities with How To Train Your Dragon? Most definitely, but its wonderful creature designs and moving story are part of what makes it one of the best animated films of the year. In fact, I’d consider it one of the best in general. 

Samantha Morton in Save The Cinema

Save The Cinema

Save The Cinema

Dir. Sara Sugarman

The best supporting actor performance of the year that nobody’s talking about is Adeel Akhtar’s mayor in Save The Cinema, a very British film telling the story of a threatened arts venue trying to get the UK premiere of Jurassic Park back in 1993. Headlined by the ever-awesome Samantha Morton, Akhtar goes full Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves here, in a film that follows the conventional lines you expect of it, but still is – yes! – charming and heartwarming. Plus: very funny. Sky gave it a limited release earlier in the year and it now lives on Sky Cinema, hoping to be discovered. A genuine family movie too, which is nice.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

Dir. Eric Appel

An absolute joy from start to finish, Weird: The Al Yankovich Story is a gleeful melding of a truth, half-truth and outright bullshit that both celebrates and sends up the musical biopic genre it occupies in exactly the way you’d expect from him. While all the focus was on the marvelous stunt casting of Daniel Radcliffe (and his moustache) in the lead role, this movie’s secret weapons are the strength of its cameos and the sheer sense of mayhem they bring. 

Yes, Radcliffe is deliciously over the top for the entire time in a turn that further highlights him as one of the great No Fucks Given actors of his generation, but Evan Rachel Wood gives him a great run for his money when she hits the screen, while Jack Black, Lin-Manuel Miranda, David Dastmalchian, Conan O’Brien, Emo Phillips as well as the real Weird Al himself and a host of others all pop in and out to keep the humour rolling along. 

Supporting in more substantive ways are Rainn Wilson as Doctor Demento (a real person who was highly influential in Al’s nascent career) along with Julian Nicholson and Toby Huss (fictionalised takes on Al’s parents) who all aid in creating a narrative that tells you simultaneously everything and nothing about its central character, and how he wants to be remembered by the wider world. 

For fans, it’s fun to pick the nuggets of truth from the fiction; for non-fans it’s just plain old fun – especially as it goes further off the reservation for its finale.  


Dir. Alex Garland

Perhaps not one to watch with the kids, Alex Garland’s first film as director since the superb Annihilation managed to secure a release on over 300 screens in the UK (and was gone off most of them the week after). We tried to get it on our cover too, but they turned us down. Still, this is intense stuff that rewards knowing next to nothing about it before you go in. To call it an acquired taste is pretty fair, and it goes to darker edges of horror, with imagery in one scene you ain’t going to forget very quickly. Some superb performance work from Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear too. A reminder too that Alex Garland is a real voice in British cinema, and that he should be allowed to direct more films. Just not ones that should be watched around dinner time.

Kat (voiced by Lyric Ross) in Wendell & Wild, directed by Henry Selick

Wendell & Wild

Wendell & Wild

Dir. Henry Selick

For heaven’s sake watch this movie. Why? Because we want Henry Selick to take more of Netflix’s cash and turn out ridiculously dark, touching, inclusive and subversive stop motion animation like this forever. Consider it a public duty.  

As a figure central to creating the market for long-form examples of the art in the early 2000s with The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and The Giant Peach (okay, mainly the first one) Selick hasn’t made a movie since the masterpiece that was 2009’s Coraline, and that – frankly – is almost as heartbreaking as parts of Wendell & Wild. The tale of the teens of a school who battle with demons both very personal and very real. They are manifested by Selick’s singular talent for visuals in the form of the titular characters, voiced by the wonderful Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. 

Other voice turns come from the legendary James Hong, Angela Bassett and Ving Rhames, but it is Selick’s visuals that consistently steal the show, as you’d expect. It’s a rare thing to see a master at work, but here it is: in a film so jam-packed with imagination and ideas it begins to burst at the seams at times. This means it’s not as narratively lean as it could be, but in style and substance Wendell & Wild delivers all you’d hope for from the talent behind the camera, truly setting a high technical bar for others to jump and a film that beats with the kind of blackened heart Selick is synonymous for showing. 

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