The clock strikes twelve. Another year has rushed by and you’ve still not watched a single one of the shows and films you said you would by the 31st.

Forget reading lists: with countless new premieres almost every week, sometimes it’s a never–ending watch–list that causes you the most grief.

Returning home after Michaelmas to old friends who actually maintain a healthy work–life balance might also put some things into perspective. You’ve spent the better part of a year as a tripos–topping choral–scholar–union–president — but at what cost? Did you catch Netflix’s Matilda? Paul Mescal in Aftersun? Top Gun: Maverick? I didn’t think so.

But not to fear! Here to help is Varsity’s breakdown of 2022’s best offerings to guide you through what’s really worth catching up on as we move into another busy term.

On the big screen:

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s record breaking sophomore feature for A24 is by turns funny and heart–wrenching, but always utterly and unapologetically bizarre. With Michelle Yeoh’s Evelyn being chosen to save the world after developing dimension–hopping capabilities, the film breathes new life into a now well–worn multiverse concept and is frankly everything that Doctor Strange’s Multiverse of Madness should have been. But don’t be fooled: this is no Marvel superhero flick. For all its impressive action sequences and logic–defying displays of power (avert your eyes natscis), Everything Everywhere All at Once is really a mother-daughter drama about missed opportunity, appreciating those around us and finding some kind of meaning in our lives. The perfect film to inspire some Lent resolutions… however short–lived they may be. Strap in and enjoy the ride!

The Banshees of Inisherin

Directed by Martin McDonagh, as they were for 2008’s In Bruges, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson reunite for another foray into the world of tragicomedy, but this time delivering more heavy, existential blows against the backdrop of the Irish Civil War. The film concerns the abrupt fall–out to a lifelong friendship between two inhabitants of the remote island, Inisherin. As a former dramatist, McDonagh’s film plays out much like theatre, often echoing the dramatic absurdism of Beckett, and a characteristically witty script.

“Far more the world–weary finalist than the bright–eyed fresher”

The Batman

Robert Pattinson finally made his appearance as the caped crusader in the latest instalment of the Batman franchise. While the plot itself is nothing groundbreaking — Gotham is once more terrorised by a vicious but unidentified serial killer — the film is certainly one of the franchise’s best, thanks to Pattinson shedding Bruce Wayne’s suave sophistication to favour a more disturbed and brooding portrayal. In other terms, Batman is far more the world–weary finalist than the bright–eyed fresher, and while Bale’s Bruce has time to rock up to the freshers fair, Pattinson’s is locked firmly in the library — rolling his sleeves up and getting down to business.

On the small screen:

SAS Rogue Heroes

From the creator of Peaky Blinders comes the unbelievable story of the WWII soldiers who formed the SAS. No surprise then, that the show shares a similar penchant for anachronistic music and heavy stylisation. An effortlessly witty script is impressively brought to life by a young and lively cast. Featuring enthralling action sequences in the sun–drenched sand dunes of North Africa, SAS Rogue Heroes grabs your attention and does not let it go.

House of the Dragon

House of the Dragon is a prequel set some 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones begin. (Hopefully enough distance to make you forget that series ending…) With an admittedly smaller scope than that of its predecessor, House of the Dragon foregrounds the beginnings of the decline of House Targaryen and the struggle to determine who will ascend the Iron Throne. True to form — gratuitous sex, violence and incest abound — the real focus remains on the complex politics of family, alliance and succession, revelling in meticulous world–building.

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Mountain View

Some films are so bad they’re good

Stranger Things Season 4

The Duffer brothers serve up yet another thrilling and chilling set of episodes for this penultimate season, but this time sporting an even darker, more gruesome tone to prove that art can mature alongside its audience. A spate of graphic killings grip the town of Hawkins. With bigger stakes and new levels of horror, these kids aren’t kids anymore. Inspiring the reemergence of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill on the UK charts among various other TikTok trends and pop culture moments, Stranger Things is undeniably the most influential, if not also the best, show to have returned in 2022.