The 10 best movies of 2022

The Menu, Avatar: The Way of Water, The Batman, The Northman, Elvis made the top 25 but not our top 10 movies of 2022.

Some of the movies on my year-end list passed quickly and quietly through theaters and if there are a couple themes to the past year in movies, they’d have to big swings and long runtimes.Matt Reeves reinvented The Caped Crusader as an emo Bruce Wayne in the 176-minute-long The Batman.

The directing tandem known as The Daniels made the best multiverse movie of the year (sorry, Doctor Strange) with the mind-bending Everything, Everywhere All At Once (140 minutes). Todd Field opens Tár (158 minutes), his first film in 16 years, with a 15-minute long Q&A with Cate Blanchett’s titular character. Ruben Östlund centered the entire second act of Triangle of Sadness (147 minutes) around explosive bodily functions on a luxury yacht. Steven Spielberg made his own biopic with The Fabelmans (151 minutes).

James Cameron took 13 years to follow up Avatar with Way of the Water (192 minutes). Ryan Coogler had no choice but to go bold with certain decisions after losing his lead actor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (161 minutes). All make our list of the best films of the year.Not every swing was a home run. We’re decidedly mixed on the frenzied, borderline-parody Elvis (159 minutes), Damien Chazelle’s cocaine-fueled Old Hollywood odyssey Babylon (189 minutes) and Andrew Dominik’s agonizingly depressing Marilyn Monroe story Blonde (166 minutes).

10.Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Director-writer Ryan Coogler had the unenviable task of making a sequel to global phenomenon and Oscar Best Picture nominee Black Panther in the absence of Chadwick Boseman, who portrayed the titular hero before passing away from cancer in Aug. 2020 at the age of 43. Packed with stellar performances led by Letitia Wright (Shuri), Angela Bassett (Queen Ramonda) — both reckoning with grief and loss in the aftermath of T’Challa’s death — and newcomer Tenoch Huerta (Namor, the mutant god-like leader of underwater city Talokan), Coogler succeeds with the emotionally rich, visually stunning and action-packed Wakanda Forever. The sequel’s greatest strength lies in how it deals with the passing of T’Challa head-on, never shying away from the sadness of a life cut short too soon. The carefully-woven narrative manages to honor the legacy of Boseman without sacrificing its superhero thrills and still pushing the beloved franchise forward. Wakanda Forever is certainly the best of the MCU’s Phase 4, a film that managed to exceed unprecedented expectations.

9. Descendant

In exploring the discovery of the sunken Clotilda, the last known slave ship to arrive in the U.S. (more than half a century after the trafficking and sale of human bodies was outlawed) in Alabama’s Mobile River, documentarian Margaret Brown also turns the lenses on the people of Africatown, known descendants of the enslaved people on that ship, in this phenomenally illuminating and profound history lesson. In turn Descendant makes one of the most striking arguments for reparations ever put on film, the people of the reeling, polluted Africatown still being victimized by the same wealth and racial power structure today that existed in the 19th century. The argument “but that was hundreds of years ago” simply doesn’t cut it here.

8. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

It took Stanley Kubrick and company 400 days to shoot the master filmmaker’s final movie, Eyes Wide Shut, which he called his “greatest contribution to the art of cinema.” It took Eric Appel and company only 18 days to film this actual masterpiece, and I call it that with only the slightest hint of hyperbole. Of course, a Weird Al “biopic” is complete farce, somewhere around 3 percent true, according to Appel. Yankovic is one of our greatest satirists of all time. And Daniel Radcliffe and Evan Rachel Wood are Oscar-worthy (again, only slight hyperbole) as Weird Al and his “girlfriend” Madonna. Between Spinal Tap, Walk Hard, Popstar and now Weird, here’s hoping Hollywood never stops making fake music biopics.

7. Tár

Todd Field’s penetrating drama isn’t technically a documentary… but don’t be alarmed if you come out of the film believing Lydia Tár is a real person. That’s how deeply Cate Blanchet burrows into the role of the titular conductor, who experiences an epic fall from grace over the movie’s expansive two-and-a-half-hour runtime. Directed with pinpoint precision by Field, Tár is one of the most intensely insular movies ever made, with audiences invited inside of Lydia’s increasingly troubled mind as she goes from celebrated to canceled. It’s a ride that might be too intense for some, but if you’re on the movie’s peculiar wavelength, it’s a symphony of greatness.

6. Top Gun: Maverick

A belated sequel to 1986’s Top Gun seemed like a bad idea. But when Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) returned to the US Navy’s elite fighter-pilot school, the resulting blockbuster wasn’t just a thrilling showcase for some spectacular aerobatic displays, but a touching, bittersweet drama about getting older. It was also the year’s most successful film. So… how did Cruise and co do it? Simple, really. They brought back all the elements from the original Top Gun, and then they improved every single one of them. Of course, it helps that Cruise looks better today than he did in 1986.

‘Its a tall task to produce a sequel to any movie as ingrained in our culture as 1986’s Top Gun — the motorcycle ride to “Take My Breath Away,” swooping fighter jets, that volleyball game and the bar scene with pilots serenading their instructor — let alone 36 years later. But somehow director Joseph Kosinski, returning star Tom Cruise and company did it. They forged an action movie entirely fit for 2022, with just enough nostalgia sprinkled in to make fans of the original cheer. No wonder it was also a big-time winner at the box office, becoming the fifth highest grossing movie of all time.

5. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Rian Johnson has done it again. It would’ve been damn near impossible to top the writer-director’s brilliant 2019 whodunit Knives Out with this highly anticipated follow-up. But the fact that he comes even close is a triumph in itself. Glass Onion is just as star-studded (an Elon Musk-like Edward Norton! Janelle Monae! Kate Hudson! Daniel Craig again, of course!) and again takes some mercilessly hilarious stabs at the rich and the right, but it’s also a far showier affair, leaving New England for a private Greek island overflowing with tech gadgetry. Most impressively, though, is how Johnson once again crafts an impossibly meticulous murder mystery that’s ridiculous fun lies in peeling off its layers – and maybe crying some with laughter, too.

4. The Fabelmans

In the wake of Avatar 2 premiering, there’s been a lot of talk about “betting against James Cameron.” Namely that you should never do it. What about Steven Spielberg? Was there ever any doubt that his most personal story yet, the heavily autobiographical Fabelmans, would also be one of the best films he’s ever made? It’s fascinating watching his cinematic alter-ego, Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) fall in love with filmmaking, sure, but the deep emotional resonance of Spielberg’s self-told biopic comes with the heartfelt revelations he makes concerning the demise of his parents’ (Michelle Williams and Paul Dano, both stellar) marriage. Plus that final scene (and surprise cameo) is an absolute banger. – K.P.

3. The Woman King

Move over Maximus, and back to the rack with you, William Wallace. Viola Davis looks Gladiator and Braveheart right in the eye and says, “Hold my sword.” The dramatic powerhouse-turned-action star headlines Gina Prince-Bythewood’s rousing period epic, which elevates history into myth — much like the films the director is clearly inspired by. Set in 19th century Africa, it deals directly with the continent’s brutal legacy of slavery in the context of a dramatic story about mothers and daughters. And did we mention the action? Prince-Bythewood stages multiple battle sequences that’ll leave you rattled and rolled.

2. The Banshees of Inisherin

British-Irish writer-director Martin McDonagh has made a lot of fans over the years with sometimes violent, darkly comedic crime fables like In Bruges (2008) and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017). Banshees, however, is the most glorious thing he’s done yet. McDonagh loses the crime element, mostly — unless suddenly deciding you no longer like your best friend and drinking buddy is a crime (and it should be), as is the case with the stubborn Colm (Brendan Gleeson) and poor Pádraic (Colin Farrell), which it should be. This delightful, hilarious, moving and just-bloody-enough gem features Farrell’s best performance to date and infectious “fecking” Irish dialogue as memorably distinct as Fargo’s Midwestern quips. One of the few movies from 2022 we we’d watch over and over.

1. Everything Everywhere All At Once

The best superhero movie of the 2022 also happens to be the best film of the year. But in a twist, this feature wasn’t churned out by the Marvel machine or the DC crew; and instead of a Hollywood Chris, it was fronted by an unlikely, middle-aged duo of Michelle Yeoh and former Goonie Ke Huy Quan. Everything Everywhere All at Once is a heart-rending dysfunctional-family dramedy disguised in trippy, action-packed multiverse mayhem, at turns breathtaking and mind-boggling. A rewarding watch, no matter which universe you’re from.

Author Profile

Joanna Fletcher
Live Events Reviewer


Leave a Reply