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movies, music and tv that made me feel less alone
Firstly, let me thank you all for subscribing to my newsletter. When I started this account earlier this year, I had no idea I would share such personal and heartfelt content with strangers. With every post, I feel more at home with myself, and I hope my writing does that for you as well.
Despite my struggles in 2022, I'm looking forward to a year filled with joy and success.
Best wishes for the New Year to you and your loved ones.
Haaniyah (in a panoramic)
FILMS OF 2022
My 2022 ranking hasn’t been completed, as I still have films to get through, so I’m going to recommend three movies from my current favourites.
Bones & All (2022) dir. Luca Guadagnino
Don’t you love when a film refuses to leave your brain?
I came into my screening of Bones & All not knowing much about the film other than it was adapted from a book with the same name and that I should be wary of the gore. The only film by Guadagnino I’d seen was his remake of Suspiria (2018), which I frankly did not enjoy compared to the original (one of my favourite films). However, all my doubts about Guadagnino and this film melted away when we opened with shots of paintings of vast American landscapes. I felt sucked in. Every frame of this film is a painting, the story is heartbreaking, and the performances leave you feeling like your own heart has just been eaten.
Bones & All takes place in a universe where there is a small subsection of people who are cannibals (or eaters as they’re known in the film). One of these cannibals is our main character Maren (played by the incredible Taylor Russell), who finds herself abandoned by her father after sneaking out and giving in to her urges. Maren goes on a road trip to find her birth mother, who also left her at a young age and on the way, she meets two more people who, to her surprise, are just like her. One of them is Sully, an older Eater who becomes obsessed with Maren and eventually begins to stalk her. The other is Lee (played by Timmy T Chalamet), a younger Eater who meets Maren and agrees to drive her to her mother, eventually falling in love with her during their trip.
I don’t want to go into too much detail because I think the impact may be lost if I spoil the whole thing, but I want to say that this film is one of the most romantic movies I have ever watched. Both leads are lost people who find themselves in a world that hates and fears them through no fault of their own, but they find each other, and with that, they find love.
I read the film's screenplay, and I want to leave you with a quote that’s stayed with me for the last few days.
All we have is what we see, and what we see is youth, freedom, beauty, and, most of all, love. The country belongs to them here, not the reverse. There is no abandonment, no shame, and no harm. Not anymore.
The Fabelmans (2022) dir. Steven Spielberg
I have to be honest. I rolled my eyes when I saw a trailer for The Fabelmans a few months back.
I thought, here we go, another biopic / autobiographical film about somebody's life and how lucky we are that they were born. We're about to witness career highs and lows that should've been in a documentary, but spectacle works better for audiences.
However, I have to admit I was fucking wrong.
I mean, Spielberg does subtly brag about his talent in this film, which is understandable because he’s STEVEN SPIELBERG. The film is less about 'you should be grateful for me, and my art is your blood'. Instead, it's 'filmmaking is my life's work, and I wouldn't be able to exist without it'.
The latter was something I found myself drawn to as someone who isn't interested in doing anything except writing. It was nice to have a film advocate the importance of the arts at a time when it feels like filmmaking is giving up on itself due to corporate interests. The Fabelmans leaves with a reminder that art and creativity are part of our DNA. Without them, we wouldn't function as individuals or as a society.
Aftersun (2022) dir. Charlotte Wells
I also have a father like Calum, and this film made me cry.
Please watch it.
Honourable mentions of other 2022 films I’ve adored this year
Decision To Leave (2022) dir. Park Chan-wook
Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) dir. Daniel Scheinert & Daniel Kwan
Nope (2022) dir. Jordan Peele
Funny Pages (2022) dir. Owen Kline
Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022) dir. Halina Reijn
FIRST-TIME WATCHES OF 2022
This list won’t include any 2022 releases, as those will be on my 2022 list.
The Worst Person in the World (2021) dir. Joachim Trier
The third and final instalment of Joachim Trier’s Oslo trilogy came to us last year with The Worst Person in the World, a coming-of-age film that explores the feeling of never feeling situated in life. Julie (played by Renate Reinsve) is a young woman who finds herself changing career paths. First, she’s a med student, then a psychology student and finally, a photographer. This pattern of indecisiveness follows her into her mid-twenties to her early thirties, where she’s now all but a stay-at-home girlfriend to a comic artist and fears the idea of domestic life. Finally, Julie meets a young man at a party (who is also in a relationship), and she rediscovers what’s missing from her current relationship, sending her into a headspin. The film is an emotional rollercoaster that takes us through her highs and lows and leaves us questioning if our choices leave us the ‘worst person in the world’ to someone in our lives.
The Apartment (1960) dir. Billy Wilder
This is a recent watch, and I am unfortunately not someone who has seen many if any, Billy Wilder films (something I’m going to change in the new year), but my god, does it pack a punch. The film follows Bud (played by Jack Lemmon), an accountant at an insurance firm. He lives a relatively simple life, except that he regularly allows his superiors to use his apartment as a den for extramarital affairs. Aside from being funny, well-performed, and beautifully shot, my attention was drawn to how seamless the story was. Characters come and go from the screen without any clumsiness or overdue presence, and there is a rhythm to the way the story flows, which is incredible to watch. There’s a reason this is heralded as a classic and a screenwriting masterclass.
Mistress America (2015) dir. Noah Baumbach
Mistress America is a comedy directed by Noah Baumbach and co-written with his frequent collaborator Greta Gerwig. As a longtime fan of Gerwig's work as an actor, director and writer, I knew this would also be right up my alley.
Mistress America feels like the connecting glue between Frances Ha and Lady Bird. Tracy (played by Lola Kirke) reminds me heavily of Christine, and Brooke (played by Greta Gerwig) is a more, albeit barely, put-together version of Frances. The film explores Tracy’s first year and her new relationship with her stepsister, Brooke, ahead of her mom's new marriage. Brooke is a woman of many talents and is Tracy's inspiration for her creative writing piece, which she plans to submit to a prestigious college writing group. The women spend the film getting to know one another and building their relationship, but Brooke has no idea that Tracy is documenting their time together. This film struck me as very timely as we currently have the discourse of ‘should writers blast their family or friends via essay’ on the bird app (Twitter). Tracy’s decision ultimately harms her newfound sister and forces her to confront aspects of herself she’d rather ignore. If Lady Bird is the film for your teen years, Frances Ha is for your late twenties—Mistress America is definitely for the 24-year-olds.
Honourable mentions of other first-time watches I’ve adored this year
Last Holiday (2006)
The French Dispatch (2021)
Jackie Brown (1997)
The Holiday (2006)
MUSIC OF 2022
Similar to finding out your Myers Briggs Type, Spotify Wrapped tells you so much and yet nothing at the same time. My Wrapped list includes some great artists and songs, but I wouldn't call them my favourite picks of 2022. In most cases, I use the entries as background music when writing or doing other tasks, not as active listening. So, my list of music from this year will differ from my Wrapped, sorry, Spotify AI.
RENAISSANCE - Beyoncé (2022)
I mean, it’s obvious, according to Lastfm, I’ve played this album almost 300 times and for a good reason. Dance music always returns when society falls into a financial black hole— this year is no exception. The post-2020 years have been challenging, but at least we now have Beyoncé to listen to whilst we dance through the pain.
As far back as I can remember, Beyoncé has always been a staple in my life, and I know she will continue to be as I grow into my 20s and 30s. She serves up some career-best vocals and incredibly experimental production on RENAISSANCE, which reminds us why she's one of the most acclaimed performers of all time. In addition, RENAISSANCE is a homage to the originators of dance music— the Black LGBT community. Beyoncé asks us to come together in joy to remember what they’ve done for music and how none of this would be possible without them. RENAISSANCE is a celebration of culture, music and creativity.
My favourite songs from the album include AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM, PURE/HONEY, ALL UP IN YOUR MIND, VIRGO’S GROOVE and ENERGY.
Norman Fucking Rockwell - Lana Del Rey (2019)
2023 marks the 10th anniversary of Pure Heroine by Lorde, Self Titled by the 1975, AM by the Arctic Monkeys and Night Time, My Time by Sky Ferreira. Additionally, it marks the 10th anniversary of the Tumblr 2013-2014 era. Of course, everyone has a different artist they idolised from that time, but for me, it was always the infamous Lana Del Rey.
Lana Del Rey has always been a complex figure in my life. Even though she has some frankly insane takes (like the typewritten culture letter), her influence on my taste in music cannot be denied. My first encounter with Lana was when she released Born To Die (2012), and just like any embarrassed teenager trying out new music, I thought I was the only one who understood her. However, it wasn’t until I joined Tumblr in 2014 that I realised that other people also loved her music and had created an identity around it.
The last time I listened to Lana a few years ago, I was convinced I had outgrown her 'my daddy loves me, but I have to leave' crooning. However, as usual, Tiktok showed me that I was missing out. While scrolling through my FYP earlier this year, I heard a snippet of Norman Fucking Rockwell (the title track of NFR), and I felt this sudden overwhelming sadness. Maybe Lana and I were still on the same page after all.
In the song, she proclaims, 'Cause you're just a man. It's just what you do. Your head in your hand as you color me blue.'
Relatable stuff, huh? Maybe all I needed was some age and bad experiences with love to finally get her.
My favourite songs from the album include, `Norman Fucking Rockwell, Cinnamon Girl, How to disappear, and Mariners Apartment Complex.
All I Have - Amerie (2002)
As with Beyoncé, Amerie has always been a part of my life. As a child, I remember listening to 1 Thing and becoming enamoured with its melody and her angelic voice. Despite this, I hadn't delved into her albums until this year, when I heard a snippet of I Just Died on TikTok (I guess that app is helpful for something).
I Just Died is one of those songs that makes you feel like you've just fallen in love. The song recounts when Amerie realises she has a crush on her friend. She's terrified to admit it, but he reciprocates the feelings, and all feels right in his arms. It's a classic love song and is now one of my all-time favourite R&B songs. All I Have is equally romantic and captivating throughout. Amerie's voice creates a sense of warmth and excitement in the mundane, like a hug buried in an album.
My favourite songs from the album include Why Don’t We Fall in Love, Talkin’ To Me, Need You Tonight, and I Just Died.
Honourable mentions of albums and artists I’ve adored this year
Overgrown - Joyce Wrice (2021)
First Band On The Moon (1996) - The Cardigans
Being Funny in A Foreign Language (2022) - The 1975
Blue Summer (2021) - Woesum
Around The Fur (1997) - Deftones
Touch (2005) - Amerie
Gemini Rights (2022) - Steve Lacy
Beatopia (2022) - Beabadoobee
DECIDE (2022) - Djo
Atlanta Millionaires Club (2019) - Faye Webster
Hypnos (2022) - Ravyn Lenae
Laurel Hell (2022) - Mitski
RINA (2017) - Rina Sawayama
Luv 4 Rent (2022) - Smino
Gently Down Your Stream (1973) - Four Mints
TV OF 2022
I can’t lie; I’ve written so much so far that I’m just giving you a short list— trust that these are incredible.
Love Life (2022)
You'll undoubtedly enjoy Love Life if you love romantic comedies. It's an anthology series about the love lives of different people. Anna Kendrick stars in season 1, and William Jackson Harper stars in season 2. We delve into their ups and downs, childhoods, and what makes them tick. In an age of terminally online dating TV, it was nice to watch something with so much heart and so human. While I enjoyed season 2 more than season 1, it is still an incredibly well-written show overall.
Interview with the Vampire (2022)
Vampires are back, baby! I haven’t seen the Tom Cruise version of this, and frankly, I don’t think I will, so any comparison is null and void here.
IWTV is a phenomenal piece of television that tackles faith, sexuality, the supernatural, and abuse. Most, if not all, of the performances are superb, but my god, Jacob Anderson is a fantastic actor. I hope he continues to prove how underused he was in Game of Thrones and that this show is not another victim of the relentless cancellation brigade.
The Bear (2022)
The Safdie Bros meet Ratatouille.
Honourable mentions of TV I’ve adored this year
Midnight Mass (2021)
Single Drunk Female (2022)
I May Destroy You (2020)
Derry Girls (2018)
Abbott Elementary (2021)
The Boys (2019)
Girls (2012) —I’m also shocked.
Never Have I Ever (2020)
Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000)
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