2022 will go down as one of the greatest years in history for the horror genre. The Academy Awards notoriously overlook horror films, but here are six favorites we think deserved Oscar nominations.
Horror films are rarely recognized by the Oscars. In fact, it took over 50 years for the Academy to recognize its first horror film, The Exorcist, in 1974. Only five more films from the genre followed suit in the history of the ceremony: Jaws in 1975, Silence of the Lambs in 1991, The Sixth Sense in 1999, The Black Swan in 2010, and Get Out in 2017.
This year, the horror community thought we had a chance. 2022 is considered one of the best years in horror history, but alas, not a single film from the genre was nominated. We are naming 6 films that deserved Oscar nods (and, in another universe, received them).
Directed by Jordan Peele and starring Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, and Steven Yeun, NOPE follows a pair of siblings as mysterious occurrences begin to happen on their Hollywood horse ranch, and a nearby child star turned theme park director tries to take advantage of the happenings. It is a striking critique of the film industry and its exploitation of the natural world as a spectacle. Even without looking into the deeper meaning, the film is visually and sonically stunning, creating some of the most existential, horrifying, and epic seconds of horror the genre has seen.
NOPE said in no uncertain terms that Hollywood is a spectacle machine that ruins everything it touches, breaks good people and chews up living things, spitting what’s left all over the Southern California landscape.
Academy members: pic.twitter.com/e9ExrToHri
— Phil Nobile Jr. (@PhilNobileJr) January 24, 2023
NOPE is perhaps the biggest snub at the 2023 Oscars. The film is prime material for Best Picture, along with Best Directing from Jordan Peele and Best Production Design for its incredible creature alone. I’d be perfectly happy if Keke Palmer got a nod for Best Actress In A Supporting Role while we’re at it. Every film Peele has directed has been groundbreaking for horror, and it’s time the Academy recognized it.
NOPE is now streaming on Peacock.
@weekend.film Nope (2022) Directed by Jordan Peele “The word is getting out, and when it does, you know people going to come and do what they always do. Try and take it all for themselves”. #nopeedit #a24 #filmedit #jordanpeele #kendricklamar #untitled02 #movieedit #edit #nopemovie #film #a24edit ♬ untitled 02 | 06.23.2014. – Kendrick Lamar
Pearl was directed by Ti West, creator of the darkly comedic You’re Next, and the found footage V/H/S, and stars up-and-comer Mia Goth as the titular Pearl. It is a prequel to the film X, which also came out in 2022. The A24 film follows the origin story of Pearl, a young woman lusting for the life of a movie star but stuck on her parent’s farm. Pearl is actually the main antagonist of X, but these films portray a true desperation, loneliness, and determination that makes her a sympathetic and fascinating villain.
Mia Goth should have been nominated for Best Actress In A Leading Role, hands down. If it gives her any brownie points (or convinces you to watch these two films), Goth portrays not only young Pearl but elderly Pearl and main character Maxine in X, a woman also pining for the glamorous life and a tragic reflection of who Pearl once was. Her range and unsettling performance are a standout among the hard hitters of 2022.
Pearl is available to rent on RedBox, Apple TV, and Prime Video. Its predecessor, X, is streaming on Showtime.
We could have had an Oscar acceptance speech with Mia Goth’s real voice. The academy will pay for this
— Chelsea Rebecca 💀🥩 (@carebecc) January 25, 2023
Another film I see forgotten is Fresh, the directorial debut of Mimi Cave starring Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan. The film follows a young woman struggling in the dating world until she clicks with a charming stranger at the grocery store. As you may have heard, this is a cannibal movie; it takes a dark turn from romcom to suspenseful horror in a great, stomach-churning way.
A year ago, FRESH premiered at the @sundancefest! 🥩
The horror thriller by Mimi Cave was one of the most critically acclaimed films from Sundance, highlighting the magnetic acting by Sebastian Stan as Steve Kemp in one of his best performances to date.pic.twitter.com/VTLifdXb8k
— Sebastian Stan Archive (@MidiasStan) January 20, 2023
Although Stan rightfully deserves his flowers (and a Best Actor In A Leading Role nomination) for his portrayal of Steve, Fresh’s charming loser of an antagonist, the true star of this film is its leading woman Noa, played by Edgar-Jones. She expertly embodies the role of a terrified but wickedly intelligent protagonist trying to escape a nightmare. A Best Actress In A Leading Role nomination is in her future somewhere, but I wish her first was for this film.
The directing is nothing to scoff at, either. This movie is beautifully disturbing and well-crafted. The fact that Cave is a first-time director shocked me, and I can’t wait to see what she makes next. It goes without saying that she should have been nominated for Best Directing.
Fresh is now streaming on Hulu.
@sexyseabass.wife It’s so addicting wtf #fyp #abcxyz #sebastianstan #fresh #freshmovie #daisyedgarjones #noa #steve ♬ Cool For The Summer – Tik Toker
Barbarian follows a woman who finds her AirBnB already inhabited by a stranger and has to spend the night, only for every possible thing to go wrong. Starring Georgina Campbell (also seen in Black Mirror), Bill Skarsgård (also seen in IT), and Justin Long (our honorary scream queen), this film is a constant barrage of twists, turns, anxiety, and disgust. Written and directed by Zack Cregger, it explores how men and women navigate danger differently and plays with the line between victim and monster. At the very least, Cregger should be nominated for Best Original Screenplay for the tight script, realistic dialogue, well-crafted jumpscares, gut-wrenching plot, and revolting (but complex) antagonists.
Barbarian is now streaming on HBO Max.
Barbarian (2022) dir. by Zach Cregger pic.twitter.com/Y2NBGdTxtw
— velma 🐀💫 (@maggotmagick) January 3, 2023
Bodies Bodies Bodies
Bodies Bodies Bodies is a hilarious whodunnit featuring a group of Gen Z rich kids holing up in a mansion for a hurricane party. It’s an ensemble film with brilliant performances from the entire cast, especially the lead couple, Sophie, a recovering addict played by Amandla Stenberg, and Bee, a fish-out-of-water played by Maria Bakalova.
bodies bodies bodies is proof that gen z CAN be written accurately writers are just lazy pic.twitter.com/gtIT5YhAP3
— lia 🚀 boygenius is back! (@beeefyfridgerss) December 29, 2022
The film is full of tension, thanks, especially to the subtle sound design and the volatility of each character. The costumes only bolster their personalities, from David’s pink sweat suit (a jealous douchebag played by Pete Davidson) to Alice’s excessive glow stick jewelry (a cheery people pleaser played by Rachel Sennott). This fun ride deserves its recognition for Best Costume Design and Best Sound, if not Best Production Design for the sprawling, intricately and thematically decorated house the film is set in. Also, if there was an award for Best and Funniest Twist, it might just win.
Bodies Bodies Bodies is available to rent on Redbox, Apple TV, and Prime Video.
@a24 upper 🔪 middle 🔪 class 🔪 #bodiesbodiesbodies @treaclychild #myhalaherrold ♬ original sound – A24
The Menu stars Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor Joy, and Nicholas Holt, but this film has more than a star-studded cast. It follows a group of wealthy patrons visiting Hawthorn island, a prestigious dining experience masterminded by Chef Julian Slowik, played by Fiennes. The diners, including a food critic, a movie star, and a table of finance bros, soon find out that all this gorgeous and meaningful food has a deadly twist, and it’s all part of the menu.
the menu (2022) dir. mark mylod pic.twitter.com/88bSgohrUP
— . (@cinematogrxphy) January 6, 2023
Ralph Fiennes excellently portrays a chef who has lost all love for his craft. The food itself is perfect, expertly teetering on the edge of satire to emphasize the movie’s theme of exploitation in the service industry. Chef Dominique Crenn, the first and only woman to receive three Michelin stars, conceptualized and created all the dishes seen on screen, so we know that each course came from the heart. This film should have been nominated for Best Actor In A Leading Role and Best Production Design, but just like the guests at Hawthorn, the Academy failed to recognize the true art of The Menu.
The Menu is now streaming on HBO Max.
@hbo Sounds like they’re maybe a little burnt out. #themenu ♬ original sound – HBO
I would be remiss to not give some honorable mentions of other horror favorites from 2022. Smile (Paramount+) is a devastating portrayal of unaddressed trauma and mental health. The Black Phone (Peacock) is a look into the sick mind of a kidnapper and the lengths his victims must go to escape. Terrifier 2 is a gory carnival not for the faint-of-heart. Scream 5 (Paramount+) is a standout entry in one of the best legacy franchises of the genre. And Bones And All is an unconventional love story, blending the horrifying and the romantic.
If you’re looking for some undying horror movie appreciation in the wake of these Oscar snubs, I recommend the YouTube channel Dead Meat. James A. Janisse and Chelsea Rebecca are married and like to get scared together, and their series The Kill Count (created by Janisse) and The Dead Meat Podcast (created by Rebecca) are fantastic supplements to any horror fan’s watchlist.
I can’t wait to see what the genre holds for 2023, and I hope the Academy will give our films a chance next time.