I hate to fall back on a cliche, but where did the year go? It seems like just yesterday, we were all hunkering down in our bunkers, praying for COVID-19 to blow over so we could get back to regularly scheduled programming. What we realised, in the months to come, is that while the pandemic may never fully leave, we’d all have to find ways to reinvent what regular living meant for us in an endeavour to get back to—yet another cliche, I fear—normalcy.
In some ways (and in the famous words of one Kylie Jenner), 2022 was… the year of realising things. It was a year in which we held celebrities a little more accountable for the things they said and did—whether it was the nepo baby trend that kickstarted a conversation about privilege in show business, or the demise of the wife guy in pop-culture, spurred on by several famous men who had pledged devotion to their families being caught in infidelity scandals.
2022 was also the year where the film industry came back into full swing. One big release followed another, and out of the hundreds of films that came out this year (including a new Avatar and a new Top Gun), many, like Michelle Yeoh’s Everything Everywhere All at Once, left a mark far greater than the confines of a movie theatre or a calendar year. Here, find all the celebrity and pop-culture moments that gave us pause this year—for reasons both good and bad.
1 / 22
Rihanna released her first solo song in six years (and also a baby)
The era of the patient Rihanna fan has arrived. Alongside dropping ‘Lift Me Up’—the lead single from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s soundtrack and the musician’s first solo song since Anti in 2016—Rihanna gave fans a first look at her adorable son on TikTok. Before giving birth to her first child with partner rapper A$AP Rocky in May, Riri also redefined maternity fashion as we know it with sensuous, bump-centric looks.
2 / 22
Face masks in 'Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery' were about more than just pandemic safety
From Birdie Jay’s mesh mess (a subtle reference to when Lana Del Rey was spotted out and about wearing a mesh face mask in the throes of COVID-19?) to Claire’s boring beige mask slipping off her face because she refused to stop for a moment to adjust the straps, the face masks each character wore in the Knives Out sequel spoke volumes about their personalities. My personal favourite was, of course, Benoit Blanc’s well-fitted, colour-coordinated cloth mask—perfect for pairing with his preppy island outfits and maintaining a poker face whenever Miles Bron opened his mouth to speak.
3 / 22
Harry Styles did not spit on 'Don't Worry Darling' co-star Chris Pine
While one PR crisis after another catapulted this fairly unremarkable film to the heights of notoriety (Florence Pugh and Olivia Wilde’s alleged feud, dating rumours between Wilde and Harry Styles… the list goes on), none were as entertaining as the one the Internet immortalised on video: a moment between Styles and Chris Pines at the film’s world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, where Styles seemingly spat on Chris Pines’s lap before taking a seat beside his fellow cast member. A representative for Pines has since denied the incident and called it a “a ridiculous story”, but we still found it to be more exciting than the actual film itself, which was a stylish rehash of unoriginal ideas.
4 / 22
Michelle Yeoh claimed her rightful throne
It’s Michelle Yeoh’s year, and we’re all just living in it. The legendary Malaysian actor has a staggering number of roles under her belt, acquired over a career spanning four decades, but it took 2022 art-house hit Everything Everywhere All at Once for her to finally gain widespread recognition as a powerful, era-defining artist—and to take her place as number one on a call sheet. For everyone having grown up with an immigrant mother and beyond, Evelyn Wong will always have a special place in our hearts.
5 / 22
Will Smith made the Oscars relevant again
What was the most shocking thing about the 94th Academy Awards? Was it that Will Smith strode up onto the stage and open-palm smacked host Chris Rock for making a ‘G.I. Jane’ joke about his wife, Jada-Pinkett Smith? Or, was it the fact that despite years of declining viewership, historic lack of representation, and a baffling system of preferential voting, the Oscars are still around?
6 / 22
Harry and Meghan sought privacy with an Oprah interview and a Netflix special
Mere mortals like myself may never understand the intricacies of existence as a royal—but it does seem counterintuitive, no?
7 / 22
The FIFA World Cup made a sports commentator cry
Legendary Argentine footballer and Argentina national team captain Lionel Messi broke several records at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, winning the championship title for his home country. One of the most touching parts of the victory, no doubt, was watching Argentine-American sportscaster—known best for his prolonged ‘Goaaaaal’—break down in tears while announcing Argentina as World Cup champions in a heartfelt broadcast.
8 / 22
Megan Thee Stallion finally got justice
Last week, Daystar Peterson, the Canadian rapper better known as Tory Lanez, was finally found guilty by a Los Angeles jury of shooting rapper Megan Thee Stallion after an argument in 2020. The case, which was been long drawn out and oftentimes reduced to tawdry tabloid headlines and rap pot-shots at Megan’s expense, was a chilling reminder of the dehumanisation that black women—even famous, wealthy black women—still face in our culture.
9 / 22
BTS leaves Army for the (real) army
As it turns out, even the world’s biggest boyband has to abide by South Korea’s conscription laws. With BTS’s oldest member Jin enlisting in the military this year to serve for a period of two years, the Internet has been flooded with tweets of grave concern and grief from the BTS fandom (also known as ‘Army’) who want to know when their idols will “return from war”. Still, the boys seem to be in good spirits, sending Jin off earlier this month with a sweet Twitter post which translates to: ““Our older brother!! Go and come back safely!! Love you.”
10 / 22
‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ paid a worthy tribute to Chadwick Boseman
The second installation to Marvel’s Black Panther franchise had the unenviable task of making a sequel without the first film’s main hero—the late Chadwick Boseman, who had starred as the titular Black Panther in the 2018 film before he tragically died of colon cancer in 2020. Despite the complex challenge of preserving Boseman’s legacy while allowing one the most culturally meaningful productions of our era to move forward, director Ryan Coogler (alongside stellar new and returning cast like Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett and the magnetic Tenoch Huerta Mejía) delicately and emotionally weaved Boseman’s—and T’challa’s—departure into the very fabric of the film, honouring Boseman poignantly.
11 / 22
Woo Young-woo left an extraordinary mark
While K-dramas continue to take the streaming world by storm, one that left a particularly lasting impression with its unique storyline and diverse characters is Netflix’s legal drama Extraordinary Attorney Woo—starring Park Eun-bin as Woo Young-woo, a brilliant young lawyer on the autism spectrum. As the series deftly balanced intriguing episodic cases alongside Young-woo’s blooming romance with earnest litigator Lee Jun-ho (Kang Tae-oh), an official announcement for season two may just be on the horizon.
12 / 22
The Try Guys said "Bye, Guy" to Ned Fulmer
Having built his entire brand on being a wholesome (but otherwise boring) family guy, it was no surprise that Ned Fulmer, a now former-member of the Buzzfeed-originated foursome The Try Guys, greatly disappointed fans in October when he was caught cheating on his wife, Ariel—with an employee, no less. Heartbroken as the Internet is for Ariel, the saga was also a masterclass on men holding other men (even their closest friends and colleagues) accountable for bad behaviour.
13 / 22
Jordan Peele said ‘Nope’ to anyone who thought he was done
If Nope didn’t make sense to you the first time you saw it, give it a second watch—maybe a third. Jordan Peele’s long-awaited third film turned out to be, at its core, a monster movie fronted by a (spoiler alert) UFO-shaped alien. With unforgettable casting (it’s hard to pick a favourite performance between Daniel Kaluuya’s understatedly intense Otis “OJ” Haywood Jr and scene-stealing Steven Yeun’s manic theme park owner-cum-former child star Ricky “Jupe” Park) alongside a melange of bizarre references that seem to grow in absurdity only to connect at the very end, Nope is a genre-defying sci-fi project that surmises the circus of 2022.
14 / 22
Austin Butler swung into ‘serious actor’ territory by perfecting his smize
All future Elvises have a tough mark to hit, thanks to Austin Butler’s soulful portrayal of the King of Rock and Roll in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. Butler spent a good amount of the film looking up through fluttering lashes, fixing the camera with such an arresting stare that the audience was startled out of a reverie when the actor actually started singing and dancing—which he also does pretty well, as it turns out. Yes, Butler’s voice may have irrevocably changed, and yes, he may now permanently be in character as Elvis, but if you ask me, it was all worth the hip-shaking performance of a lifetime.
15 / 22
Twitter got musky
From mass layoffs (including the entire Twitter human rights team) to hour-long global service disruptions, what hasn’t happened in the tech-dystopian Twitter-verse since Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover? With celebrities and key personalities leaving the platform in droves, it may be time to fire up your old Tumblr account again.
16 / 22
Celebrities fell in (and out of) love
Bennifer getting back together and tying the knot nearly two decades after their original split is the stuff of rom-coms, but I’m more interested in learning about a couple that didn’t last quite as long. When Trevor Noah ended his gratifying seven-year run at The Daily Show this year, rumours were swirling that the host had just started dating singer Dua Lipa. The couple has not been formally linked since, but at the time, all I could think was: Damn, Trevor. If I had a chance with the one and only actual it-girl of our generation Dua Lipa, I’d quit my job too.
17 / 22
Rosalia chewed her way to a new smash hit
With viral TikTok trends continuing to dictate the success of new music releases, many artists are focusing their marketing budgets on targeting the platform (or hiring Chris Olsen to do it for them). Spanish singer Rosalia, however, chanced upon TikTok fame quite on accident with her addictive track ‘Bizcochito’. Despite never being released as a single, Rosalia’s hilarious performance of the song during her Motomami World Tour led to its memeification in the best way possible. Even Jacquemus did it.
18 / 22
Lily-Rose Depp, Maude Apatow and Zoe Kravitz made it all on their own
There’s not much left to add to the conversation around nepo babies, but let me just say this. Can we stop asking nepo babies if they think they are nepo babies, and then being disappointed when they refuse to admit they are nepo babies?
19 / 22
Jeanette McCurdy turned her trauma into a must-read memoir
As far as celebrity memoirs go, former iCarly star Jeanette McCurdy’s made the sort of profound impact few can aspire to. Opening up about the physical and psychological abuse she endured at the hands of her late mother, McCurdy poured her heart into the aptly titled I’m Glad My Mom Died, tearing open a conversation about protecting child entertainers that has never been more timely.
20 / 22
Beyonce showed up at my House (music)
Nothing really needs to be said about Renaissance. Queen Bey came, she saw and she conquered.
21 / 22
The metaverse isn’t here yet—but it feels close
From Bella Hadid’s new NFT collection to Gucci’s new gaming academy, everyone wants a piece of the metaverse. It may not be fully formed yet, but you can catch up on the latest and most interesting news about burgeoning new technologies here. Oh, and also, this year we learnt how to BeReal.
22 / 22
The Internet found its new favourite cocktail
It’s New Year’s Eve! Get off your phone and go get a drink. I know what I’m going to be ordering at the bar tonight, courtesy of House of Dragon’s Emma D’Arcy. (In case you’ve been living under a rock, it’s a Negroni Sbagliato, with a hint of Prosecco).