From Ponniyin Selvan 1 to Vikram: Here’s the list of best Tamil films of 2022 – The Indian Express

More than 200 films were released in Tamil cinema in 2022. To come up with the list of the best among this exhaustive number of films is rather easy — most of the big hits of the year are also among the most outstanding films made this year. It’s always a good sign when the audience backs good cinema. Of course, they did miss some of the gems like Kadaisi Vivaysayi, which deserved more footfalls in the theatre. However, this list tries to capture the best of Kollywood irrespective of the money they raked in.
Iravin Nizhal: Director-actor Parthiban has finally gotten his due this year with the well-deserved reception for this film, which was entirely made in one single shot. The technical brilliance of the film is unparalleled, and it would need an eccentric personality to pull off such feet.
Our review read: “Parthiban has also tried to whip up shock by showing some tragic imagery, which usually doesn’t find a place in mainstream movies. He also has many R-rated pun-filled dialogues that suggest the filmmaker’s effort to shed the inhibition to say things that normally Tamil filmmakers won’t say in movies.”
Taanakaran: Vetrimaaran’s Visaranai showed how police brutality is unleashed on those who lack power. The brilliant directorial debut of Tamizh opened a new dimension of brutality that exists within the men in power. It also brought out the performer within Vikram Prabhu.
Gargi: Gautham Ramachandran’s Gargi is a brilliant achievement even in terms of the story. While our cinema is used to make threats external, with this wonderful drama, he makes us realise that evil could reside beside us or even within us. The film has incredible performances by Sai Pallavi, veteran RJ Sivaji, and Kaali Venkat.
Natchathiram Nagargiradhu: Pa Ranjith went low-key with the scale of this romantic drama, which emerged as his boldest work till date. It is also the most experimental movie of the Sarpatta Parambarai director. The film is a response from the filmmaker to the new the narrative that was peddled in the mainstream that termed the love of Dalit people as ‘Nadaga Kadhal (drama love)’.
Our review said: “Nathchathiram Nagargirathu—its commercial performance notwithstanding— from an established mainstream director is an important step forward – not just for the director’s ideological movement, but for Tamil cinema as a whole.”
Witness: There’s another new voice in Tamil cinema — director Deepak. His debut, however, remains among one of the underrated films of 2022. Witness is a painful story of the politics surrounding a death of a young swimmer, who drowns in a manhole when he’s forced to clean the sewer. The film brings to fore an issue that is often sidelined by the mainstream, with some marvelous performances from Rohini and Shraddha Srinath.
Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu: No one saw this coming from Gautham Vasudev Menon. It is one of those rare films in Tamil cinema, where the voice of the writer is heard on screen. In this case, it is of renowned Tamil writer Jeyamohan, who has penned an unusual gangster origin story that pushes heroism to the back burner. VTK also rediscovered actor Silambarasan for fans and himself.
Our review read: “The best thing about Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu is the characterisation of Muthu. There’s something heroic about Muthu’s journey, but there’s no heroism. He is realistic but there is something mystical about him.”
Thiruchitrambalam: Dhanush brought back the long-forgotten times of Tamil cinema, where films with smaller stakes and lighter conflicts worked. It also proved it’s not that people want to come for the big screens only for larger-than-life heroes, but to anything that’s genuine and worth their time.
Our review read: “When filmmakers are widening the focus to get all of India to the theatres, director Mithran Jawahar’s Thiruchitramabalam treats you to an extreme close-up of everyday people and their everyday problems. It is also a gentle reminder that you don’t need a lot of guns to blow the audiences’ minds.”
Ponniyin Selvan: I: Mani Ratnam finally got to realise his long-time dream of adapting the epic historical Tamil novel Ponniyin Selvan this year and how! The film ended up as one of the highest-grossers in Tamil cinema’s history and the director’s career. The film tells the story of the Chola kingdom and the power struggle that existed in the 10th century.
Our review read: “Mani Ratnam understands Kalki’s novel is a mainstream page-turner, so he retains its flavour and neither intellectualises it nor dumbs it down.”
Vikram: Vikram is the sort of film you get when a talented fanboy gets to direct his beloved icon. Lokesh Kanagaraj is one of the few directors, who was able to make his voice heard despite having a giant who mostly overshadows everyone and everything in his films. The film also kickstarted the trend of universe-building in Tamil cinema.
Kadaisi Vivasayi: Tamil cinema for a long while was plagued by didactic films about farming and agriculture that were mostly shallow romanticization of rural life. Despite touching upon similar topics about organic farming, Manikandan produced something meditative with Kadaisi Vivasayi which excels in the form and the content simultaneously.
Special mentions:
Sethumaan:
Kuthiraivaal:
Silanerangalil Sila Manithargal:
Mudhal Nee Mudivum Nee:
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