In 2022, Nollywood had everything for everyone. Thrillers, epics, young adult series, and more contributed to giving Nollywood its greatest diversification from comedy so far, and even that was well represented in quality. Thanks in part to streaming giants solidifying their presence in the country. Without further ado, here are our picks for the best of Nollywood in 2022:
7. King Of Thieves
Femi Adebayo’s King Of Thieves, or Agensikole, banks heavily on the mythical aspect of ancient Yoruba culture, and it stars Odunlade Adekola and Femi Adebayo in opposing roles as king of Ajeromi and the self-styled King of Thieves respectively. These two will wage spiritual battles, directly and by proxy, for most of the film’s duration, and as no end is in sight to Agesinkole’s reign of terror on the town, Ajeromi’s King becomes ever more desperate to bring this battle to an end. The King Of Thieves, however, possesses a background story that only becomes apparent in the last act, and it helps add a lot of depth to the character and allows you to unmask the film’s putative villain to explore the man inside.
6. Far From Home
Far From Home follows Ishaya Bello, who dreams of hustling his way out of the slums of Isale Eko and into a life as a distinguished artist beside his idol, Essien. Fate throws a spoke in his wheel, as he is not able to raise funds to complete his travel process, so he quickly recalibrates his goals. Enter Wilmer Academy, where he can get the best platform to showcase his talents, eventually earning a meeting with Essien.
Before that though, he will have to wade through normal teenage waters of love and friendship, and not so normal ones like drug dealing and criminal bosses. Through it all Ishaya remains upbeat and cheerful, much like the series, so that while it might not be a very authentic depiction of a Nigerian high school experience, it is certainly an enjoyable one.
5. Blood Sisters
Blood sisters was Netflix’s first Nigerian original series, and where many Nigerian movies loved to end in a sprawling Owambe scene, a massive wedding or burial to cap the hours of buildup that preceded it, Blood Sisters was the reverse. A wedding goes horribly wrong as a bride, Sarah and her friend, Kemi wind up killing the groom. Even with a self defence argument they will spend the majority of four episodes escaping the law and vengeful family members, while they strive to prove their innocence.
Blood Sisters will be remembered for bringing Nollywood one step closer to our imagination for it, as the thriller series was crafted with enough suspense to keep you on your toes and strong performances from a cast that was assembled from Nigeria’s top drawer.
For her final cinema release for a while, Jade Osiberu pairs up with Ugandan director “Loukman Ali” (The Girl in the Yellow Jumper) for his Nigerian directorial debut. The film centers on Wale and Akin, two brothers who grow up as orphans. In contrast to Akin, who develops into a seasoned criminal and joins a robbery gang, Wale enlists in the police force as an adult. Everything goes wrong when Wale’s task force is tasked with taking out the heist group.
Due to technical and financial limitations, action thrillers are a much-dreaded genre in Nollywood, but Loukman Ali’s work suggests the genre has a bright future. Although it isn’t perfect, it is by far the genre’s best Nollywood appearance.
3. Battle on Buka Street
Funke Akindele’s Battle On Buka Street was preceded by warnings from the actor-producer that a commitment to politics will ensure it is her last ever, but after our first impressions it could not be more important to discourage her from that endeavour. She strikes gold seemingly effortlessly, gathering a main cast of four powerful actresses that was always going to deliver, (Sola Sobowale, Tina Mba, Mercy Johnson and herself) and more importantly providing them with a script that perfectly matches their individual nuances.
Its story is summarised in its title, as it follows two feuding step sisters locked in a lifelong battle for supremacy, a battle in which there are no rules. This story, simple as it sounds, is Battle On Buka Street’s greatest asset, especially as it strengthens in the final act where Nollywood comedy movies usually crumble, and it gives credence to the thought that Nollywood saved its best for last in 2022.
Anikulapo, or “the one with death in his pocket”, has now had its story reduced to two Internet memes. One shows Saro and his crafty eyes apparently searching for the next person to betray, and the other Arolake’s resolute expression as she empties him of his power, finally fed up with his ungrateful philandering to the point she ends things herself. Greed and power have a relationship that has been thoroughly explored in all forms of media, and Kunle Afolayan adds his voice to it, setting his story in 17th century Oyo after he had built a film village that perfectly portrays this. It is a win for Nollywood on so many levels, but mostly for how it brings to life culture and history to depict a powerful story.
- For Maria: Ebun Pataki
For Maria is the most poignant film of the year. Originally released in 2020, it only got to Nigerian market in 2022. It tells the story of Derin, a mother suffering from Postpartum depression. For an industry with rarely visceral and poignant stories as such, ” For Maria” is the 2022’s best. It signals Damilola Orimogunje as one formidable director/writer to watch. The nifty story is elevated by Meg Otanwa and Gabriel Afolayan’s committed performance.