Sunday, January 1, 2023

2022 Unseen Film Awards - The Best Under Seen Films No One Is Talking About

The Unseen Film Awards has returned after a year off.

Because everyone’s viewing habits are all over the place and because no one, not even film writers are on the same schedule, we’ve compiled a list, a very long list, of films that people have not been talking about but should. These are everyone’s Best Under Seen Films of the year.

It is absolutely a mind blowing collection of films that proves that there are way more good things out there other than the big Hollywood films

A few quick notes concerning the compiling of the list:

First apologies to anyone I didn’t contact concerning voting. I’m still working on a loaner computer and the most complete voter list is locked up on the one that’s still down. I know I did not reach a number of people since I only had contact information for  some  people through Twitter and since Elon Musk took over a bunch of my favorite people jumped ship.

The initial requests for lists went out to fifty plus people and was supplemented along the way.  The list below is made up of the responses of everyone who sent me a list.

Despite the potential large voter pool a large number of people declined to participate for various reasons. The main reason was because many people didn’t feel comfortable giving me a list  because they didn’t see enough films. I tried to explain this isn’t a best of the year list but something else, I still got the same answer. They felt they needed to have seen more films  to give a fair assessment. A  couple of film writers added that while they saw a lot of films this year they didn’t  really go much beyond the films everyone was talking about because that was what they their viewing went and anything beyond that didn’t stick with them.  I also had several people decline because they genuinely didn't have anything they felt was under discussed.

The list below is made up of some truly wonderful people. Not only is it many of the Unseen Films family of writers, but our friends as well which includes writers, filmmakers, performers, fans, and people we’ve met along the way. This isn’t a list that is typical “critic” think list but the heartfelt choices of the voters. 

If you need proof this isn’t your typical list consider that there only a couple of repeated titles.

It should be pointed out that the lists vary in form and style. Some people just gave me a list and some gave explanations. Some gave one film and some gave more than the asked for three titles. I went with whatever was offered me and present it here, more or less unedited. 

For those who are curious I do not have an entry on this list. It's intentional, since I post almost daily on films that most people are not talking about so  it would be hard to give a short list of films.

Lastly a big thank you to Liz Whittemore who came up with the idea of how to do the awards this year.

(Bonus points are going to C Ernst Harth for stumping me with a whole slate of films I didn't hear of)

LIZ WHITTEMORE - Mom, Editor Reel News Daily, Alliance of Women Film Journalists, actress, dancer, Hula Hoop Champion.
And(Shudder) The Runner

SAM JULIANO- Writer Wonders in the Dark

The Banshees of Inisherin

AUSTIN BELZER of Austin B Media

Three films that no one is talking about but absolutely should be are: DON'T MAKE ME GO, POMPO THE CINEPHILE, and DESCENDANT.

For DON'T MAKE ME GO, I loved this one for how seemingly "simple" it was on the surface, but how complex it turned out to be. It's a story of a father and daughter growing apart as the two take on their last road trip before she starts college. However, John Cho and Mia Isaac elevate this story into a story about the intricacies of a father-daughter relationship that most people either willingly ignore or rarely discuss.

POMPO THE CINEPHILE is a bag of fun. This Japanese animated film directed by Takayuki Hirao is a love letter to the art of filmmaking and only gets more inventive the closer the film gets to the finish line. 

DESCENDANT is my favorite documentary that was released this year. Somehow, despite a Netflix release, I never heard anyone talk about it. For those unfamiliar with the subject, documentarian Margaret Brown covers the discovery of the last known slave ship, Clotilda, and how the residents of Africatown in Mobile, Alabama, reacted to the discovery. There are no big dramatic moments like some documentaries I've seen this year, like HOLD YOUR FIRE from IFC Films, but it works to its benefit. Brown presents the facts and reactions of those affected by the discovery and lets the viewer contend with the answers to the questions she asks. It's documentary filmmaking at its best.

PATRICK MEANEY - film director, comics writer

Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon - A really fun ground level superhero odyssey through the sleazy back alleys of New Orleans from director Ana Lily Amirpour, it was barely released at all, but will hopefully become a future cult favorite. If you liked seeing Kate Hudson back in action in Glass Onion, don’t miss her great performance in this film!

Emily the Criminal - A perfect fusion of all too relatable contemporary economic fears with a modern noir story, featuring a career best Aubrey Plaza, whose chemistry with Theo is off the charts. 

Tar - This movie has certainly gotten a lot of critical praise, but hearing 2 hour, 40 minute movie about a classical composer might sound like a “vegetables” movie. Thankfully, Tar is anything but. It’s a black comic Kubrick-style odyssey that is entertaining, thought provoking and masterfully produced.

KENNETH R FRANK-Writer, director, producer
I’ll give three picks here, though one is not a feature or short film but a limited series that I wish were more in conversation.  I approached this as one larger film I wish more people had seen (though still very independent by Hollywood standards), one tiny film I saw at a festival that I hope people will be able to find and see sometime, and then one streaming piece that is easily found but not talked about in our surroundings.

The Wonder, directed by Sebastian Lelio.  A strange period piece that breaks the fourth wall (a lot) with a huge performance by Florence Pugh.  There’s a lot to talk about with this.

The Sisters Karras, directed by Micah Stathis.  This film was playing alongside one of ours at a festival this summer, and I found myself really rooting for it and hoping more people see it and other films like it.

Extraordinary Attorney Woo, directed by Yoo In-Shik.  My wife recently got into watching Korean dramas on Netflix, and this is the newest release that caught her attention.  In the K Drama space, my favorite is probably still Because This Is My First Life, but Woo is a more recent release and I think, despite the cultural barriers, is something American audiences would love if given the chance.

KURT BROKAW Senior Film Critic, The Independent (
My best Unseen Film of 2022, hands down, is "Miracle," the  Romanian crime drama by Bogdan George Apetri.  It was shown briefly at Film Forum.  If it had been at ND/NF or NYFF, I'd have fallen on my sword, to the hilt, for it.

It's unlike any New Romanian Cinema film of the past 20 years, nearly all of which are modern-day Romanian directors endlessly apologizing for all the broken institutions in their country that their parents suffered through under Nikolai Ceausescu.  And that their country is still suffering with.  The New Romanian Cinema is dedicated to the proposition that nothing works in Romania, and that Past is prelude to Present and probably Future.

"Miracle" has none of that.  The abortion system, which is a minor but important element in the screenplay, works.  And more important, the police system, which is repeatedly shown to be as awful as Vlad the Impaler in New Romanian Cinema, also works.  The detective in this thriller has a brain, and it works big time.

What he's trying to solve is the kidnapping and near-fatal rape and beating of a novitiate.  She's not quite dead but she's in a coma and not responsive.  We know who assaulted her, so the issue is whether the detective will discover and prove his identity before the girl possibly dies.   

I won't tell you much more, except one unique thing which is not quite a spoiler: 
The director posits two different endings, and you the viewer get to choose which of the two endings you want to walk away with.  Either or both help the picture earn its title of "Miracle."  

It may be, in a number of ways, the best film I've seen in 2022. 

There is has another crime drama  by the same director, which I've also seen and which also has a surprise ending, and some of the same actors.  It's engrossing and it works, but it's not in the same league as "Miracle."  "Miracle" is the one.

LISA SANFORD- Disney Expert and Pink Bunny
I'm far more of a TV person these days - on any given night, I'd much rather watch 2-3 episodes of a new series than a movie. Sadly the ones that I really loved did NOT get renewed (Paper Girls, Dollface), or had their renewals rescinded (Minx)

EDWARD DOUGLAS The Weekend Warrior
I guess I'm gonna go for an all-international list.

The Innocents - Directed by Norwegian screenwriter Eskil Vogt and released in May not long after he was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay for The Worst Person in the World -- I saw it at New Directors New Films myself -- this is a straight-up genre film that takes place at a Norwegian housing complex where a group of kids start hanging out and discovering that they have amazing powers. One of them starts using those powers for evil deeds, putting him at odds with the others, but unlike how these things often go, Vogt takes things more in the direction of a horror film than what we might normally see in a movie about kids with powers. This one was seemingly by even the most die-hard 

Murina - This Croatian drama from first-time director, Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic, benefitted from having Martin Scorsese as an executive producer, but it was a fantastic coming-of-age film starring Gracija Filipovic as Julija, a young woman living on a remote island with her family, including her abusive father who doesn't like the fact that his daughter is maturing and becoming woman. Things get even more difficult when her father's friend (played by the brilliant Cliff Curtis) shows up wanting to buy the island and Julija becomes immediately intrigued by him. This is a terrific film from a country whose films we rarely get to see here and I'm shocked it wasn't Croatia's Oscar pick.

El Otro Tom - Another film I saw at Lincoln Center, this one as part of Neighboring Sounds (FilmLinc's Latin film series), Rodrigo Plá and Laura Santullo's Mexican-American drama involves a single mother whose young son Tom suffers from ADHD, causing her to have to make sacrifices to make sure he's getting a proper education, even though that often disrupts her ability to work or have relationships. I was blown away by this film and a little upset when I was the only critic at a press screening at the Walter Reade.

I'm going to include Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom as an honorable mention because even though it was nominated for an Oscar earlier this year (for 2021), it didn't actually play in New York City until January and that's when I saw it. This is Bhutan's very first entry at the Oscars, resubmitted after some complications a few years back, but the movie still works, involving a young singer from the city who goes out to a remote area to teach (part of his duty to his country) and it fully changes him. I recommend seeking this and the three movies above out whenever they play anywhere.

ALLISON BROWN- Writer for Josh At The Movies, graphic designer
Not Okay
Spoiler Alert
She Said
Luckiest Girl Alive
Allie added "It's hard to limit  the choices"

REID RAMSEY-Unseen Films writer, Podcast guest, raconteur
1. Susie Searches
2. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair
3. Mother, May I?

*I just about included Michael Bay’s AMBULANCE on this list because it was such a flop one may call it “underseen,“ but I couldn’t in good conscience do so when there are actual small movies that could use the push


I didn't get a chance to watch that many films this year. Of all the films I watched, "Nna Thaan Case Kodu" (Malayalam Film) is a bit less talked about film that I thought was brilliant. A very funny movie with strong characters, that talks about the life of a small-time thief who is arrested for a robbery he didn't commit and how he defends himself in the court over a period of 3 years. It's available for streaming on Hulu.

MR C- Editor Planet Chocko, Unseen Films writer

My favorite film of the year blends old school puppetry with martial arts fantasy using CGI, great camerawork, & diabolical wu xia storytelling! If you can somehow get access to it, watch Demigod: The Legend Begins .  I’ve been intrigued with this Taiwanese style of puppetry & storytelling since watching The Legend of The Sacred Stone at BAM during the NYAFF some years back. That’s a great film as well.

The second film that I can’t get out of my mind & is relevant to all of us that have a sense of pride & community is - Photographic Justice: The Corky Lee Story .

Corky Lee was a rogue photographer from NYC that focused on documenting the struggle & diaspora of Asians living in America but color & ethnic background didn’t serve as a barrier or limit to his reporting. He basically represented and wanted to make light of any conflict that affected marginalized communities including civil rights protests, racist immigration legislation, and violence towards Sikhs and Muslims of Asian descent since 9/11. 

BC WALLIN-Writer, journalist 

The Best Film of 2022

The Most Under-Discussed Film of 2022
RRR, because it will be undiscussed until the point when it has been legitimately acclaimed as the best film of 2022.

3 2022 Films Worth Giving More Attention
Official Competition

2022 Special Awards
Best Thing to Happen to the Movies: "Naatu Naatu" in RRR
Special Commendations to Every Character Actor in The Batman, Penelope Cruz's Hair in Official Competition, Michael Bay's Drones in AmbuLAnce, Hoyte Van Hoytema's Use of Blue in Nope, and Mad God for Existing

WENDY FEINBERG- Co-Director of the Port Jefferson Documentary Series

PETER GUTIERREZ - Unseen Films writer, comics creator, story teller, educator 
Petite Maman

C. ERNST HARTH - Actor Producer, Writer, 
3 films I saw in 2022 that should be seen.

The Palindromists 
Director: Vince Clemente
A documentary about the world's greatest palindromists as they prepare for the World Palindrome Championship. Who knew? Fascinating.

Faking a Murderer 
Director: Stuart Stone
Tony Nappo jumps off the screen as the subject of two filmmakers' investigation of a possible serial killer. Loved the premise. The creators and Nappo followed this up with Vandits, a mix of the humor of Bad Santa with the conceit of Groundhog Day. Two totally different movies.

Country of Hotels
Director: Julio Maria Martino
What happens in room 508? One of those films that I can't remember any particular scenes from but the vibe has stayed with me. I enjoyed it. You just need to see it.

Plus two additional films  with personal connections:

Director: L. Gustavo Cooper
I starred in this one. It's a fun ride.

Director: Anthony Harrison
I produced this one. Sweet coming of age story that will find a larger audience.


Here’s my top 3 films of 2022. I’ve also included links to the trailers. All three are short films.


Chrysoula Korovesi & Marios Gampierakis

Once There Was a Sea 

Joanna Kozuch

The dog apartment

Priit Tender

JUSTIN MCCONNELL- Director, Producer
The Harbinger - the scariest film I’ve seen over the last few years. Andy Mitton took our early COVID anxiety and isolation, and made a truly unsettling low key version of Nightmare on Elm Street out of it, with heartbreaking payoffs.

Freaks Out - this hasn’t been released in North America yet, but played several festivals, and it needs to be on your radar. Feels very much like Alex de la Iglesia and Guillermo Del Toro had a twisted war baby. Weird, heartfelt, magical, brutal.

Accident Man: Hitman’s Holiday - 2022 was filled with amazing action films (especially stuff like RRR), but this one scratched the right tonal and good times itch the most for me. A joyful throwback to a bygone action era that the DTV world has been increasingly clawing back from extinction over the past decade. I’m here for it

STAN M –  Steve's co-worker and horror movie fan

TROLL is a blast. This maybe a near perfect giant monster movie that could only be better with the addition of Godzilla

MORBIUS-I liked this. I really don’t get all the hater for this film. Its not the greatest film in the world, but I like it.

The last one is all the Indian films I’ve been seeing locally. I have been having a blast going to my local theater and seeing films I know nothing about going in and can’t stop coming out of. Why aren’t these films not getting more press in the US?

DEREK PITCHER- Unseen Films reader




And Steve chimes in:
Okay I’ll throw in a  JERRY AND MARGE GO LARGE. Catching this again on cable TV a couple times recently I found myself enjoying it all over again. Why did this get dumped?

EDEN MILLER-Unseen Films writer, comics expert, 

I watch a lot of movies, apparently. I don’t really feel like I do and compared to some people I know, I don’t feel like I watch that many. But fine, I do watch 3-4 a week whereas most people may watch one, if that.

When asked to share the movies I loved this year that not enough people talked about, I thought it was going to be easy. Then I sat down and made the list. I was expecting to come up with 10 at most. I ended up with a list of 22. If you’re reading this site, you’ve probably heard of some of them but I also feel like they fit into the category of “why aren’t more people talking about these movies?”

I have listed the movies in alphabetical order. The links will take you to my Letterboxd reviews, which were my informal, immediate reactions to each of these.

I am nearing the end of a yearlong project that I started in March called The Revision that focuses on film adaptions of comics about girls or women that aren’t superhero-based. Yes, that’s specific and complicated but that was the whole point. It’s been fun and I hope you check it out.

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