Streaming: the best films in 2022 you haven’t seen

Nearly 600 films have been released this year in Australia, many of which are now streaming – so which ones are worth your time?

We are publishing early this week to compensate for the Melbourne Cup holiday, so we don’t have the Australian weekend box office figures yet. Instead, I am plunging into streaming, but from a different perspective from my colleagues.

The weekly box office contains a huge number of films which never travel beyond the inner city capitals. Many of those arthouse films vanish quickly, so most hardened filmgoers grind their teeth at least a few times a year. 

How do we find all those ‘I wish I had seen that’ films? You can maybe find them on Flicks, the go-to site for streamed titles – but only if you remember them. So I conducted an experiment using the entire list of films released this year so far in Australia. 

There are 588 of them, which I turned into a single list on Numero, the source of our box office data. Then I decided to concentrate on films we don’t remember because they don’t have decent marketing budgets. I removed the 172 that made more than $1m at the box office, which made the list more manageable. I left out the 160 specialist Indian films, the Event Cinema screenings and some Chinese propaganda. 

I was left with 148 films which we can only see if they are being streamed, so I checked them all off against Flicks. 

I wanted some sort of description of the remaining films, title by title, because I haven’t seen most of them. I used a hodgepodge of reviews, mostly from Wikipedia, Rotten Tomatoes and sometimes Flicks, which I didn’t credit individually because there are hundreds. 

My first general impression of the final list is that the films are much more varied and interesting. They are not driven by the increasingly abrasive need to fit a formula for streaming companies, or to recover huge budgets on a global market. Indeed, only a small handful turn up on Stan or Netflix, so almost all the films are pay-to-view, mostly across the same platforms of Apple TV, Prime Video and Google Play. 

A few are on SBS or the ABC while Ritz at Home is worth keeping an eye on, along with ACMI’s Cinema 3

I am dividing the list into three segments: box office $500,000 to $1m; $100,000 to $500,000; and $0 to $100,000. I will publish one list each week from now until late November, so you are not faced with one horrendous list that pummels your brain. 

Here is the list for $500,000 to $1m. I apologise in advance for the quality of the descriptions, but I hope there is enough for you to find what tickles your fancy. There are only seven films in this category, and they are pretty respectable with substantial names in the cast, and/or festival success.

Last Seen Alive – box office of $749,000

Wife disappears at a gas station, husband delves into local underbelly. Critical contempt. 

Apple TV, Google Play, Prime Video

Blacklight – $743,000

Did fairly well, has Liam Neeson as a government agent with dirty hands. Hated by critics. 

As a possible selling point for Australian audiences, it was shot in part in Melbourne and it’s surrounds, as flagged by our film critic at the time of release:

Directed by Mark Williams, who also directed Neeson’s recent Honest ThiefBlacklight was largely filmed in Melbourne in late 2020 when Australia’s mostly Covid-free status was a big draw for overseas productions. It’s not exactly a showcase for Melbourne as a city full of stunning locations; aside from a few laneways and a couple of residential locations, most of the settings on show here are in and around the Southbank region.

ScreenHub reviews Blacklight, with Liam Neeson

Apple TV, Google Play, Prime Video

Mothering Sunday – $587,000

Olivia Colman, Colin Firth and Odessa Young heap their talents into British romantic drama written by Alice Birch and directed by French Eva Husson. Three different time periods, starting after WW1 with a forbidden romance between maid and wealthy lover. ‘Mothering Sunday works at a frustratingly chilly remove, but involving performances and solid overall craft mean it’s rarely less than engaging’, according to Rotten Tomatoes summary.

Apple TV, Google Play, Prime Video

Maigret – $559,000

Gérard Depardieu plays the archetypical French intellectual flic, in this single film adaptation which swims in style and brought out both the joy and cattiness of French critics. 

Apple TV, Google Play, Prime Video

Off the rails – $551,000

Excellent cast in English film about three mature women who recreate an Inter-rail holiday across Europe in honour of a dead friend, whose daughter comes too… A comedy though critics liked it much less than audiences.. 

Google Play and Prime Video

Drive My Car – $523,000

An act of genius from Ryusuke Hamaguchi which won Best International Feature at Oscars and Best Screenplay at Cannes. Critics swooned as well. 

SBS on Demand from Nov 3, Stan, Google Play, Apple TV and Prime Video.

Read: ScreenHub reviews Drive My Car

X – $513,000

A horror film and a tribute to 70’s slasher films as porn makers in an isolated barn are edited out in memorable ways. More popular with critics than this description may suggest. 

Apple TV, Prime Video, Google Play, Ritz at Home

David Tiley was the Editor of Screenhub from 2005 until he became Content Lead for Film in 2021 with a special interest in policy. He is a writer in screen media with a long career in educational programs, documentary, and government funding, with a side order in script editing. He values curiosity, humour and objectivity in support of Australian visions and the art of storytelling.