It’s time for me to present my (as usual very late) list of my favourite films of the year.
So far I’ve watched 78 movies from 2022, and I think I’ve seen most of the movies I wanted to watch. Still, there are some I didn’t get around to before making this list. So to cover all bases, here are some of the movies I haven’t seen yet:
- Armageddon Time
- Cha Cha Real Smooth
- Emily the Criminal
- The Menu
- The Quiet Girl
- The Wonder
Honourable Mention: Barbarian
Barbarian is best experienced if you go into it blind. This new horror movie is greatly written ans does well at making you feel unsettled from the start, with the strong atmosphere, suspense and feeling of dread. There’s even some surprising humour which fits into the movie and doesn’t take away from the tension. The performances are really good, including Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgard and especially Justin Long. Zach Cregger’s direction was great, with outstanding camerawork and cinematography, from the movements to the choice of lens. It’s not without some issues: the social commentary is a little muddled, the twists don’t hit as hard in the second half, some unexpected jumps in the narrative causes hiccups in pacing, and it would have benefitted from a longer runtime. Still, Barbarian is a solid, suspenseful, entertaining and well crafted horror movie, and one of the best horror movies of 2022.
Some other Honourable Mentions:
- The Woman King
- Argentina, 1985
- Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
- Thirteen Lives
With the honourable mentions done, here are my favourite movies of 2022.
I admit I’m one who wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the Elvis Presley biopic considering that I’m not always favourable on Baz Luhrmann’s movies, but I was surprised by his latest movie. As someone not familiar with the central subject, I liked it. It’s not a particularly complex biopic and it is very familiar and standard, but it does succeed for me because it tries to capture the spirit of Elvis and emphasizes the spectacle. The story is fairly engaging and has this consistent energy throughout, and the interesting choices (hit or miss) help to make it somewhat stand apart from other music biopics. There are also some great performances from the cast including Olivia DeJonge, Helen Thomson and Richard Roxburgh, while Austin Butler is fantastic as Elvis Presley, talking and singing like him but also capturing his essence incredibly well. Luhrmann’s style is in your face and while it didn’t always work for me in his other movies, it did here. It’s very chaotic and perhaps a bit overwhelming, but it was a real experience watching in the cinema, from the dazzling visuals to the sound and music. I do feel like it might not hit as hard on a rewatch, especially on a smaller screen. But from my first viewing, I really liked it.
24. Everything Everywhere All at Once
When I watched Everything Everywhere All at Once for the first time, I assumed that it would still be in my top 10 of the year. I will admit that this movie has gotten worse for me. On the second viewing, the very quirky humour felt more grating, random for the sake of being random, and it didn’t hit as hard this time. That being said, I still like the movie and it is impressive in some ways. It is sincere and heartfelt, and I even found the family drama to be more compelling than the actual multiverse part. The film is helped by the great performances, especially from Michelle Yeoh, Ke Guy Quan, and Stephanie Hsu. The Daniels (Scheinert and Kwan) directed this well, with a visually kinetic style and is energetic from beginning to end. The action is really entertaining, the editing is perfect, and the score is great. When I watched the movie, I was sure that Everything Everywhere All at Once wouldn’t be for everyone, and while there’s certainly others who understandably can’t get into this at all, it ended up being a hit and one of the most beloved movies of the year by audiences. In spite of my problems with it, I do at least like it.
My review of Everything Everywhere All at Once
One of the more overlooked movies from 2022, especially when it comes to horrors/thrillers. Resurrection is a slow building paranoia thriller about emotional abuse and trauma, which becomes more disturbing as more shocking revelations are presented. It’s effective in making you constantly anxious and stressed. For a while it’s hard to figure out what is happening, adding to the uncomfortable feeling. The sharp and unsettling tone is helped by the strong direction, striking cinematography and ominous score. It strongly benefits from some fantastic performances, including Tim Roth and Grace Kaufman. However the standout is Rebecca Hall, giving a phenomenal performance in the lead role. So much of the movie relies on her, and she conveys terror, trauma and guilt so well. Resurrection does get shaky as it approaches its third act and goes in a different direction compared to the otherwise grounded first two acts. Also, while I respect the vague and ambiguous ending, it’s still one I’m not sure about yet. Overall though, Resurrection is a tense, anxiety driven and unsettling psychological thriller that deserves more attention.
Michael Bay’s latest film is one of his best, and the more I think about it, the more I like it. The story is straightforward, focussing on a heist and hostage situation taking place in an ambulance. It’s really over the top and implausible, and comparable to the action movies from the 90s. It comes with the sense of self awareness, yet remains one of Bay’s more emotional movies, mainly with the central three characters. It also benefits from the performances: the main trio with Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abduel-Mateen II and Eiza Gonzalez are all really good, especially Gyllenhaal in a wonderfully unhinged and energetic performance. While it’s comparatively restrained for Bay, it was still refreshing watching a modern action movie and being able to feel the director’s style throughout. The action is spectacular with wonderful destruction, and was excellently captured on screen, especially with the use of drones. This made it an action movie like none of the others from 2022. Ambulance was one of Michael Bay’s best movies and a highly satisfying cinema experience.
21. All Quiet on the Western Front
There’s usually at least one or two war movies released every year. However of those, I think this most recent All Quiet on the Western Front definitely deserves all the acclaim. It’s a bleak and moving anti-war film from the perspective of German soldiers in World War 1. It humanizes soldiers on all fronts while capturing the worst of humanity. It’s really one of the only recent war movies I’ve seen which successfully conveys that there are no winners in war. The story isn’t particularly complex but it’s handled so well and the emotional beats hit hard. The acting is all excellent (especially from Felix Kammerer in the lead role), who all deliver devastating and raw performances. It’s also a film so carefully and immaculately crafted, it’s fantastic on a technical level and help to form an accurate picture of WW1 from the production design and environment to the brutal war sequences. All Quiet on the Western Front was a lengthy but impactful, brutally realistic and unsettling portrait of war. Not an enjoyable movie to watch, but one well worth watching.
My review of All Quiet on the Western Front
20. White Noise
From brief glances, White Noise looked a little weird and I didn’t pay attention to it much. Yet it’s one of the most interesting movies to come from 2022. It’s an ambitious film which takes a lot of risks and is firmly not for everyone. It initially starts out simple with an initial plot focussing on a family’s lives being disrupted by an airborne toxic event. However, that’s just the start, and the plot isn’t really consistent. I found it to be strange and perplexing initially, especially with the very strange and unnatural dialogue. However there was something intriguing and exciting about it that had me curious to see where it would go, and I quickly found myself wrapped up in this off kilter and multi genre movie. The film benefits from a strong cast who deliver in their roles, with Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig and Don Cheadle all being great. Even Noah Baumbach gives it a distinct style that adds a lot to the movie and gives the right tone through visuals alone. White Noise is a darkly humorous, absurdist, satirical, and wonderfully weird dramedy. I admit that there’s a lot that I didn’t understand and much of my liking of it comes from its boldness and uniqueness. I’m not quite sure I understood everything that it was going for, but I’m sure things will be clarified upon rewatch. Still, the end result just seemed to work for me.
19. Women Talking
A very late entry on this list, Women Talking is fantastic and lived up to all its acclaim. It’s a self contained and dialogue heavy movie, but is handled in such a way that its not too stagey. It touches on heavy topics like rape and sexual assault, but handles them well. It’s very layered, has depth, and handles the subject matter with a lot of empathy and sensitivity. It’s a hard movie to watch, but in spite of the bleakness, it is hopeful by the end. There is an outstanding ensemble of performances, especially with Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy, and Ben Whishaw. It’s further helped by Sarah Polley’s strong direction, it is top notch on a technical front with great editing and cinematography, and has one of the best scores of the year from Hildur Guðnadóttir. It’s a riveting, sensitive and powerful movie, and well worth watching.
My first venture into Indian and Tollywood cinema paid off. RRR is a well constructed movie which is a lot of things: part action, part romantic comedy, part historical drama. As a result it’s tonally all over the place, yet the combination works quite well. It’s an unabashedly wild movie with spectacular and over the top action and exhilarating musical numbers, yet has genuine heart and emotional stakes, especially with the central relationship between the characters played by N.T. Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan. It is a long movie at 3 hours, but I never once felt bored. RRR is an entertaining and visually gorgeous spectacle, and it’s not a surprise that it ended up being such a hit.
17. Three Thousand Years of Longing
I admit I was skeptical from the looks of the movie despite George Miller directing and Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton starring. Yet it ended up being one of the most distinct and surprising movies of the year. The best way I can describe the movie is that it’s a subdued, endearing and existential fairy tale love story for adults, and a sincere character study about stories and the importance of them. Much of it is just one character recounting the many stories from his past and I found it all riveting. Helping this are the strong performances from Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton, and George Miller’s direction, with stunning visuals and plenty of spectacular and creative sequences. Three Thousand Years of Longing is rough in parts from the CGI and some pacing issues towards the second half, however it’s great on the whole. It’s visually beautiful, director driven, sincere, and not afraid to be creative, weird or different. Definitely worth checking out if you missed it.
My review of Three Thousand Years of Longing
16. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
While I didn’t watch the other two Pinocchio movies released in 2022, it seems Guillermo del Toro’s version is easily the best of them. It is also one of the best films of the year. It tells its captivating story incredibly well, and it is more complicated and complex than expected, with it being childlike, sweet and uplifting, yet heavy, emotional and unafraid to get dark (as expected for a movie set in Mussolini’s Italy). The voice performances are excellent and convey the characters incredibly well, especially David Bradley, Gregory Mann, Cate Blanchett, Ewan McGregor and Christoph Waltz. The stop motion animation is gorgeous and stellar, everything looks like a work of art, and the movements are flawless. The designs are great and the production designs are wonderful with so much detail. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is a mature, charming, magical and wonderfully crafted film, with so much passion on display. I highly recommend it, it’s very likely the best animated film from 2022.
My review of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
15. After Yang
After Yang released earlier this year but seemed to have been forgotten, which is a shame because it is incredible. Despite its futuristic setting, at its core, it is about coming to terms with a potential death in the family. It’s a very contemplative and meditative movie with an intimate story about memory, losing time and what it means to be alive and in a family. The conversations are thought provoking and meaningful, and the film sticks with you long after watching. It certainly helps that the committed cast all give tremendous and powerful performances, especially Colin Farrell. Koganada unsurprisingly delivers with his direction, given his work on Columbus. It has this calming and dreamlike atmosphere as well as visually stunning, from the cinematography to the production design. After Yang is fantastic, an intimate, existential yet beautiful reflection on life, loss and humanity. It definitely deserves a lot more attention than it’s been receiving.
I admit that I was cautious going into Aftersun. Every time a slice of life or coming of age movie releases and reaches critical acclaim, I end up just liking it but finding it underwhelming and not being able to get into it, Aftersun was an exception. The plot is simple with a girl spending her last holiday with her father and not much happens. However, characters and details reveal themselves over time and I was invested. I found the subtle approach to be very effective, no dramatic outbursts or monologues to be seen here, it feels like we are right there with the characters in real life. It captures the feeling of childlike innocence but with an undercurrent of profound sadness. Charlotte Wells was amazing with her directorial debut. So much is conveyed from the story with visuals alone and the way things are filmed and portrayed. And of course, Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio are key to making the film work as well as it did, delivering some of the most believable and best performances of the year. Aftersun is a contemplative, quiet and moving film that snuck up on me. It only gets much better the more I think about it.
13. Crimes of the Future
Crimes of the Future is a welcome return for David Cronenberg, delivering yet another bizarre film with great worldbuilding, a strange and interesting futuristic setting, and a unique vision of the future of human revolution. If anything, I wished that I could’ve seen more or even get a sequel. There’s also a lot happening thematically, including the fascination with the human body and how it evolves over time. The cast including Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux, and Kristen Stewart all deliver in their roles, and help to sell the strangeness of these characters, their actions and the world they live in. Cronenberg’s direction is stellar and on a technical level it’s fantastic on all fronts, the cinematography and production design help to convey this vision of the future. The effects are outstanding with all the CGI and makeup effects, mainly for the body horror, and said body horror is used to serve it’s concept and story instead of trying to provoke a reaction. Finally it has a fantastic score from Howard Shore that is among his very best work. Crimes of the Future was a welcome return to form for David Cronenberg; a thought-provoking dystopian horror neo noir.
My review of Crimes of the Future
12. Decision to Leave
Park Chan–wook’s latest movie was predictably great. It initially presents itself as a police procedural (relatively standard compared to his other films), but over time reveals itself as a romantic thriller, almost like a Wong Kar-wai film if it was made by Park instead. The first half of the story is engrossing and intriguing, filled with details, clues, and is layered with important subtleties. It all came down to the central relationship which is unconventional yet compelling and I was wrapped up in it. This is certainly helped by the performances from Tang Wei and Park Hae-il, who excellently portray the central compelling on screen relationship. Park’s direction is phenomenal, the cinematography is spectacular, the visuals are alluring, and the camerawork is incredibly inventive. It’s certainly one of the best films of the year on a technical level. The only reason this movie is not higher on the list is mainly because of a somewhat disappointing second half which I wasn’t as invested in outside of the ending. Beyond that, Decision to Leave is a phenomenal movie that deserved a lot more attention.
My review of Decision to Leave
11. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
As a fan of the first Knives Out, I consider its sequel to be at the very least on the same level of quality, while trying enough different stuff that it’s a distinct enough film. Rian Johnson has delivered another snappy and sharp screenplay which doubles down on the twists, humour, social satire and more. While initially hard to follow where it was going, it was overall well plotted and not easy to predict, and the third act and conclusion was satisfying. Again a talented ensemble cast is assembled, including Janelle Monae, Edward Norton, and Kate Hudson. Also, Daniel Craig once again returns as Benoit Blanc in more of a lead role, and is delightful and entertaining to watch as ever. Glass Onion is thoroughly entertaining and was one of the most fun experiences I had with a movie in 2022.
My review of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Tár is a great character study focusing on the rise and fall of a (fictional) esteemed conductor and composer, and is one of the best crafted films of the year. It’s riveting from beginning to end, the long stretches of dialogue are excellently written, and Todd Field’s direction is outstanding with a great and distinct visual style. It’s the performances which tie everything together, particularly with a career best Cate Blanchett. The lead character of Lydia Tár is already compelling, excellently crafted and put together, and Blanchett portrays her wonderfully. One of the year’s best films for sure.
9. Bones and All
Bones and All is many things, a horror film, a romance, a roadtrip movie, and a coming of age story, and it succeeds at all of them. It’s certainly deranged and disturbing given that it’s a movie about cannibals, yet remains sincere, tender, and beautiful. The relaxed approach to the story pays off well and helps us get emotionally invested in the troubled central characters. Luca Guadagnino’s direction is amazing, capturing the 1980s Middle America time period and setting especially with the gorgeous cinematography and the great use of the different locations. The performances are all great with a strong cast including Mark Rylance, but it’s particularly Taylor Russell and Timothee Chalamet who stand out. Those two share believable chemistry and their endearing relationship is the heart and soul of the movie; the movie just wouldn’t have worked nearly as well if that didn’t succeed. Bones and All is a riveting, brutal, unique and beautifully made romantic horror film that I was very invested in from beginning to end.
8. The Fabelmans
Steven Spielberg’s latest film is his most personal, and one of his best. A semi autobiography and coming of age story, it’s a heartfelt reflection on his own life that’s cleverly written and excellently directed (as to be expected). It showcases the passion of films and the pursuit of one’s dreams, and while it is a love letter to movies, it still highlights the cost and sacrifice that comes with pursuing said dream. It’s also a love letter to Spielberg’s family, as he recreates his childhood memories and personal struggles within his family life. The movie could’ve easily been self indulgent, but it’s authentic, genuine and compelling to watch. Gabriel LaBelle, Michelle Williams and Paul Dano are fantastic and believable here but really everyone plays their parts well, including Seth Rogen and a memorable David Lynch appearance. The Fabelmans is an intimate, personal and earnest love letter to cinema and family, and its definitely one of the most ‘complete’ movies released in 2022.
7. The Banshees of Inisherin
The Banshees of Inisherin is one of the most layered and complex films of the year. It’s initially simple as it focuses on a friendship fading away, but reveals itself as something more. It’s a tragicomedy with lots of levity, humour and witty dialogue, yet is a melancholic, existential and bittersweet movie at the heart of it, with a darker undercurrent. It’s Martin McDonagh’s most emotional, mature and layered film yet, focussing on loneliness, despair and inner turmoil. It exceeds greatly particularly because of its outstanding performances: Colin Farrell (potentially career best here), Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan are all amazing. The Banshees of Inisherin is a beautiful, layered, darkly funny and emotional tragicomedy. McDonagh’s latest film just might be his best yet.
My review of The Banshees of Inisherin
Nope is Jordan Peele’s most ambitious film yet, and it just might be my favourite of his. He has delivered a suspenseful horror spectacle which also works as a genre picture and love letter to sci-fi. While it’s his least scary movie, there’s a real sense of unnerving dread, eerie tension and atmosphere, and it even contains his most disturbing scene yet. At the same time, there’s effective comedy, whimsical moments that are reminiscent of Steven Spielberg’s movies, and is entertaining throughout. As expected it’s thematically dense and layered with social commentary about exploitation, and turning tragedy and trauma into spectacle, making Nope a spectacle about a spectacle. The small but effective cast give great performances, with Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Kalmer, Steven Yeun and more bringing across their characters wonderfully. Jordan Peele delivers in his direction of his biggest movie yet. The cinematography is stunning, capturing the sky at different times of the day, the sound design is immersive, and the scenes of tension are effective, even the shots of clouds are unnerving. Nope is a spectacular and memorable sci-fi horror movie, and I’m looking forward to what Jordan Peele makes yet.
5. Top Gun: Maverick
I have watched Top Gun: Maverick more times than any other 2022 movie: twice in cinemas and on the third viewing at home, it was just as thrilling as the first two times. Maverick remains one of the biggest surprises of 2022 for me, considering I mildly enjoyed the first movie as a cheesy 80s classic. However, the sequel is a genuinely great blockbuster. Joseph Kosinski directs this excellently, it’s an incredibly well put together action film, from the cinematography to the editing and sound, and the aerial sequences are intense and fantastically done. The cast all deliver including Miles Teller and Val Kilmer, and Tom Cruise sells his role of Maverick, still the same character from the 80s but with an added emotional weight I wasn’t expecting. In fact, the most surprising aspect was the genuine and meaningful drama and an actually solid story. While it’s similar to the original in some ways, it’s executed better here, whether it be with more fleshed out character dynamics, or the sense of gravitas. Unlike the original it builds up to the climax and you feel the stakes leading up to it, giving each action sequence added weight and tension. It even does justice to the original with a mix of old and new; honouring the original while moving forward to do its own thing. It felt like there was a genuine reason for this sequel to be made, and is definitely up there as one of the best legacy sequels. It surpasses the first movie in every regard and is one of the best action movies of recent years. It is really worth watching even if you’re not a big fan of the original.
My review of Top Gun: Maverick
4. The Batman
The latest take on Batman by Matt Reeves was immensely satisfying. A murder mystery detective action thriller inspired by Se7en, it’s dark, bleak and grungy and I was invested throughout. It embraces the goofiness of the comics, while taking itself seriously. It also benefits from being self contained, not feeling that it needs to set up the next film or tie in any other characters. The cast are all wonderful in their roles, Zoe Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Andy Serkis, Colin Farrell, John Turturro and Paul Dano deliver great portrayals of their already iconic characters. Robert Pattinson as Batman is however the standout, who is thankfully another unique take on the Caped Crusader. As a reclusive Bruce who spends most of his life as Batman, Pattinson’s performance is mostly minimalist, but very fitting for this version of the character, and he conveys a lot physically and emotionally. The direction from Matt Reeves was excellent; the noir ambience and atmosphere from the stellar cinematography, to the lived in Gotham City (which may well be the best representation of that setting). I can say with certainty that The Batman is at least one of my favourite versions and portrayals of the character, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Reeves delivers next.
3. The Northman
The latest film from Robert Eggers may be his most accessible, but is still a dark, brutally and wonderfully weird film, and remains one of the best cinema experiences I’ve had. It may be a fairly straightforward simplistic revenge story, but it is riveting and immersive, and does well at depicting vengeance and the endless cycle of violence. As expected with this being an Eggers movie, it’s authentic to the time period, from the dialogue to all the other little details surrounding the movie. A large and impressive cast including Alexander Skarsgard, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Nicole Kidman all deliver. The direction from Eggers was exceptional, more than delivering on the larger scale. The cinematography and visuals are outstanding, and the battle sequences are brutal and gnarly. It really helped you feel like he took you back to that time and place. Apparently Eggers had to make some compromises for this movie, but you wouldn’t know it from the fantastic end result. The Northman is a creative, ambitious and uncompromising hard R epics that we don’t get much of nowadays.
These next two are so close together, they could practically be tied for first place.
2. Avatar: The Way of Water
I used to be in the group of people that just wasn’t that into the first Avatar, but in rewatching it, I gained a greater appreciation. It held up very well over the years, and is crafted on such a high level compared to most of the blockbusters released today. That certainly enhanced my experience for the sequel, which improved upon the original in just about every way. James Cameron continues to build this world further and expand into new territory; with the level of detail in this world, you can really feel his passion for these films. Despite the larger scale, The Way of Water still feels intimate with the focus on characters. There is so much heart and sincerity throughout, even allowing for the middle hour of the film to be quiet and lacking with conflict so that we can just spend time with these characters. While the first movie felt a little trapped within a familiar plot structure, The Way of Water feels freer to follow its characters. And of course, it ends with a satisfying climax which is a blast to watch, especially in the cinema. James Cameron’s direction is on another level, and he delivers yet another amazing technical achievement, with the technology not only serving as a visual spectacle, but also helping to tell its story. The visual effects are outstanding, everything from the characters, the water, the creatures and more look so real, and the action is entertaining and well captured. Avatar: The Way of Water is spectacular, epic and beautiful. I would love to see more modern day blockbusters to have as much passion and craft put into it. With the expected success at the Box Office, it seems that we are definitely getting all of James Cameron’s planned sequels, and I am thoroughly looking forward to them.
My review of Avatar: The Way of Water
When I first watched Avatar: The Way of Water, I thought that my favourite film of 2022 was locked in, yet a month later, a little movie called Babylon changed that. Damien Chazelle’s most ambitious work yet takes massive swings and is one of the more polarising movies of 2022. An epic covering the rise and fall of multiple characters involved in Hollywood in the 1920s, it’s chaotic yet coherent and I was enthralled throughout. It’s funny and entertaining with outrageous moments, while also being a sad and tragic story. It explores eras of cinema and how much film has changed, celebrating cinema while also serving as a hate letter to Hollywood. It helps that there’s a great and talented cast behind it, especially with Diego Calva and Margot Robbie delivering excellent performances. It’s phenomenally directed, bombastic and stylish, with stunning cinematography, frenetic energy from beginning to end, and the best score of the year. Babylon is ambitious and an enthralling and exhilarating experience. It isn’t for everyone but it worked perfectly for me.
What are your favourite movies from 2022?
YES! I also chose “Babylon” as the year’s best film and was attacked by a few FB friends who said I was crazy…they HATED it, and while I understand the exact moments that did it for them, I also disagree completely…it’s a brilliant meditation on fame – and while he chose to go wildly over the top, I find it funny that he gets skewered for that while “EEAAO” will win best picture for it!