Overlooked gems of 2022: Andrew Garfield’s Under the Banner of Heaven to the chilling Watcher

It’s that time of the year again when we revisit films and shows and see which ones made a lasting impact. In 2022, we were flooded with a bunch of new series and films that not only brought a novelty factor to predictable narratives, but also attempted to push boundaries in terms of how they told the said story.

From the Andrew Garfield-led miniseries Under the Banner of Heaven to BBC’s Life After Life, here are some of the most underrated shows and films of this year.

Shows

Under the Banner of Heaven

This Hulu show, adapted from Jon Krakauer’s book of the same name, is lead by a top-notch performance by Andrew Garfield. The Oscar-nominated actor and Spider-Man star shows his softer, vulnerable and perhaps a little more gullible side as Detective Jeb Pyre. What’s surprising is that despite starring talents like Garfield and Daisy Edgar-Jones (from Normal People fame), Under the Banner of Heaven has not generated enough noise in mainstream media.

The miniseries focuses on Garfield’s Pyre who follows the Mormon faith of Latter Day Saints. But his religious beliefs comes into conflict with his work when he is trusted to follow a case where a young LDS woman and her baby were brutally murdered in their house in 1980s Utah.

Sharp writing, and believable performances from the entire cast (special shout out to Gil Birmingham, Sam Worthington and Wyatt Russell) gives the show the needed serious emotional heft, resulting in an immensely watchable, albeit disturbing show, created by Dustin Lance Black.

You can stream Under the Banner of Heaven on Disney Plus Hotstar. 

Undone (Season 2)

Not every show gets a 97 per cent rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, so when it does, you sit up and take notice. But the excellent critical ratings aside, the Amazon Prime Video show failed to make a buzz within the general audience as much as it should have. No one was writing about its episodes, its visuals, its performances, or its unique premise.

Undone, whose first season premiered in 2019 and was followed by a stupendous second act this year, is an adult animated show that is difficult to box or label. It is a series that delves deep into the human psyche and its far-reaching possibilities, but it’s also peppered with dark humour and has a strong emotional core, that speaks about mental health and the importance of solid filial support.

The use of the rotoscoping  technique, all the while questioning the meaning of life and reality as we know it, strikes an interesting balance which makes it difficult for the viewer to leave the show mid-way.

Undone features a bevy of talent, including Bob Odenkirk and Rosa Salazar and has been created by Kate Purdy and Raphael Bob-Waksberg, with direction by Hisko Hulsing.

Both the seasons of Undone are available on Amazon Prime Video. 

Life After Life

This 2022 UK show is based on the Kate Atkinson novel of the same name. Set against the backdrop of the 20th century, the series focuses on a young woman called Ursula who undergoes an endless loop of birth, deaths and rebirths. Boasting of stunning performances by Thomasin McKenzie and Sian Clifford, Life After Life is a delicate and thoroughly binge-able affair. You would be hard-pressed to not watch another episode after watching the pilot.

Conversations with Friends

After Sally Rooney’s Normal People’s television adaptation became a sensation when it premiered in 2020, people were really looking forward to see her debut novel come to life on screen. But Conversations with Friends largely disappointed people who saw it, and those who didn’t were seemingly put off by the negative reviews. But do give this one a chance, it’s not sparkingly fresh as Normal People, but the 12-part show does feature some interesting ideas and one superlative performance by lead star Alison Oliver. Watch out for her.

Conversations with Friends is streaming on Lionsgate Play.

The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window

Granted this Kristen Bell-starrer’s mouthful title has the ability to put one off, but this is a bizarre and unusual parody of your run-of-the-mill psychological thrillers. Kristen’s Anna is a lonely artist who lives in a big house by herself after her husband leaves her. She is an alcohol addict who likes to mix pills with her choice of poison. Not the best show there is, but Kristen Bell makes the ride worth it. Definitely worth looking into.

The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window is streaming on Netflix. 

Heartstopper

This British coming-of-age drama is a sweet, sweet take on high school tribulations, intact with a solid romance. Kit Connor and Joe Locke’s chemistry is off the charts, and that alone should keep you in your seats till the sky turns dark.

Heartstopper is streaming on Netflix. 

Sweet Magnolias (Season 2)

Do you miss the Gilmore Girls days and its small town, homely vibe? When all the conflicts were not larger-than-life, and the characters seemed like regular people you might have bumped into your own lane? Then Sweet Magnolias is just what the doctor ordered. Warm with that feel-good touch about it, Sweet Magnolias stars JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Brooke Elliott, Heather Headley and Jamie Lynn Spears .

You can watch the show on Netflix. 

Films

Petite Maman

This short, crisp (runtime 1 hour 12 minutes) but fantastical adventure is a moving portrait of friendship, childhood and grief. The French film has been helmed by Celine Sciamma, who had also directed the blisteringly beautiful Portrait of a Lady on Fire.

Petite Maman is streaming on Mubi. 

Watcher

A woman moves to Romania with her husband, and finds herself lonely in a place where she doesn’t speak the language. Increasingly, she becomes suspicious that the man living across her is actually a serial killer.

This Maika Monroe movie is a hair-raising take on the psychological thriller genre, which might leave you sweating in fear. You don’t need anything more than this to take a dip in Chloe Okuno’s world.

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