The genre of science fiction has its roots in the various forms of art that attempt to transcend reality. In films, too, this genre has seen its transformation through various stages and especially with technological advancements. As with improved use of computer-generated images or VFX, this genre received a major boost and helped in shaping cinematic worlds set on various other planets or out in space, while also showcasing scientific and technological ideas such as narratives revolving around cyborgs, artificial intelligence, and so on and so forth, with the theme of science helping it marking the thin line that separates sci-fi from fantasy.
If we look at recent times, sci-fi films have become one of the most popular genres especially those inculcating large-scale blockbuster elements that tend to have an escapist element delivering viewers an otherworldly experience. At the same time, there remain other films that push boundaries and especially some which have relatively lower budgets, with independent voices critiquing the genre or the advancement of technology itself or coming out with different takes on the subject. So, the sci-fi films from 2022 are also reflective of this notion, comprising both small-scale along with the biggest commercial success of last year. This list will encompass the bests of 2022 in the sci-fi genre and will be an unranked one due to the inability of some films. So, here is a list of the best sci-fi films of 2022:
After Yang (2022)
Although it premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, it marked its theatrical release in 2022. This film, directed by Kogonada, is based on the short story “Saying Goodbye to Yang” by Alexander Weinstein and emerges as a very well-designed sci-fi drama that meticulously explores the relationship between humans and technology and further questions what it means to be a human. “After Yang” (2022) takes quite the opposite route to the regular action-packed sci-fi film and aims for a much more somber and atmospheric essence that is perfectly evoked through the use of a very subtle and minimalist approach. The film further boasts of great performances from Colin Farrell, who probably had his best year in terms of acting performances (along with other 2022 films, “Batman” and “The Banshees of Inisherin”), and Jodie Turner-Smith.
Apollo 10 1⁄2: A Space Age Childhood (2022)
First of all, this film is directed by none other than the acclaimed Richard Linklater, most well known for “The Before Trilogy” and “Boyhood” (2014). This film also follows his unique brand of filmmaking, which is kind of an unadulterated autobiographical take on life, as the narrative revolves around a 10-year-old boy and his imaginary tale of being the first person to land on the moon. This is elevated through the brilliant direction of Linklater, who views this through a lens of sheer positivity, acting out with a very pure and uplifting tone with gentle doses of humor. “Apollo 10 1⁄2: A Space Age Childhood” (2022) can’t exactly be termed a full-fledged sci-fi drama, rather it is a balance of a coming-of-age light-hearted teenage drama blended with sci-fi elements that is visualized through a brilliantly refreshing use of animation. Probably one of the most underrated films from 2022, it definitely deserves an immediate watch from those who love the pure joy of cinema.
Avatar: The Way Of Water (2022)
James Cameron, even after a hiatus of over a decade, once again showcases why one can always bank upon him to create wonders on the big screen. From a grandiose viewpoint, Cameron’s visions always manage to stand out and be a hallmark, as a blueprint of any technical marvel that is to be seen in cinema. Just like its 2007 prequel, “Avatar: The Way of the Water” (2022) is no exception, as it further raises the bar of what one should seek from pure blockbuster filmmaking while there remains a plethora of substandard high-budget franchise films that can’t even get the basics right. Being witness to this film in IMAX 3D is an experience in itself that surpasses any minor drawbacks as it completely transports the viewers into the richly detailed and conceptualized world created by the visionary James Cameron. The film further speaks for itself as to why it took so many years while many other franchises are churning out so-called content like French fries. This is probably one of those films that deserve a watch in the best possible way, as it is more than a film and rather can be called a transformation into the perfect experience one can ask for without compromising on the cinematic aspects.
Crimes Of The Future (2022)
After some major hiccups in the post-2010s, legendary filmmaker David Cronenberg came up with his finest films in recent years, which is not only a brilliantly twisted idea but one that is displayed marvelously through the sort of very mature filmmaking that is perfectly expected from a director of his caliber. The film sets itself in a dystopian future where humans, through various transformations and mutations, have adapted to a very toxic environment, some of them having mutated to the point of being able to digest plastic. Here, the director gets back to exploring familiar things, as seen throughout his vast filmography, taking on themes such as the exploration of the human body and its limitations. “Crimes Of The Future” is one of the most spellbinding films from 2022, with a fair dose of mysticism that manages to display a hallucinatory essence, further elevated by an evocative score by the legendary Howard Shore.
Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)
No list of films from 2022 can be complete without mentioning “Everything Everywhere All At Once” (2022) as it fits perfectly into every genre possible as it is peppered with elements that make it a superhero sci-fi film, or maybe a comedy, action, or even a romantic film. The film’s thematic and generic range is implied by its own title. From the point of view of a science fiction film, it works brilliantly in that, even with a quite limited budget, it manages to be the perfect sort of world creation that is unique and innovative and brings out the reason why one fell in love with cinema in the first place. The perfection of blending genres should be further credited to the brilliant writing and direction by the duo of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, along with a brilliantly humorous yet poignant performance by the entire cast, especially Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan. Although “Everything Everywhere All At Once” (2022) is heavy on sci-fi and action elements, at the same time, it manages to be quite an effective portrayal of love, tugging on the viewers’ heartstrings.
Jordan Peele, after making back-to-back innovative films “Get Out” (2017) and “Us” (2019), shifts gears into a much more epic scale that itself acts as a brilliant commentary on the large-scale escapism humans tend to seek out. The film perfectly blends generic tropes of science fiction, horror, and thriller, translating all these brilliantly into the big screen with an exceptionally visualized canvas further etched out by the brilliant Hoyte Van Hoytema, making it one of the most unique experiences from 2022. Nope further boasts brilliant performances from a highly talented cast of actors from Daniel Kaluuya to Steven Yeun, and especially the breakthrough performance of Keke Palmer. Other than that, the film showcases tremendously meticulous writing that perfectly manages to blend serious themes from humanity, racism, and dominance along with the popular psyche related to the want for large-scale escapism. Interestingly, some of the films in this list are of the same notion of the promotion of large-scale entertainers, and “Nope” (2022) also contradicts and critiques those films.
From the abovementioned list, it can be said that 2022 showcased a range of science-fiction films that vary in their approach toward the genre, and it can be said that there seemed to be a major dearth in terms of spectacle-based sci-fi films from an artistic viewpoint, as “Avatar: The Way of the Wind” qualifies on that aspect. Furthermore, it can be noticed that the majority of great sci-fi films came from strong independent voices with limited budgets, which in no way served to restrict the makers from making brilliantly evocative and unique cinematic experiences. Other than these above-mentioned films, these are the special mentions: “Prey” (2022), “White Noise” (2022), “Dual” (2022), “Neptune Frost” (2022), and “Strawberry Mansion” (2022).