10 Best Movies of 2022
The world of cinema didn’t paint a lot of pretty pictures in 2022. Studios continue to merge, consolidating power in the hands of the few, resulting in some poor decisions that favored the dollars over artists. Save for Everything Everywhere All at Once, small to mid-budget movies floundered at the box office, continuing the dark trend of only blockbusters surviving at the cinemas.
But the beginning of a new year should not be a time to reminisce about all the bad stuff that happened over the past twelve months. It should be a time when we look at all the positives and figure out a way for them to continue in the future.
So, in an effort to give credit where it’s due, I’ve listed out my favorite films of 2022. Some of these films I expected to be on this list, while others came out of left field. It goes to show that you can experience something truly incredible if you dig a little deeper.
Everything Everywhere All at Once
10. After Yang
After Yang is full of grace and compassion, with a touch of melancholy to make it a truly reflective experience of the human soul. It merges American sci-fi with the softer side of independent cinema, which makes it a perfect project to be under the A24 umbrella. With only two films to his name, writer/director Kogonada is already entering the conversation as one of the best humanistic directors of the modern era.
Equally hilarious as it is disturbing, The Banshees of Inisherin finds Martin McDonagh, as well as his troupe of actors, in top form. There’s nothing quite like it, and it serves as another reminder that we should all be a little kinder to one another.
Hirokazu Kore-eda has always been more interested in the human drama coming from each character, how they intersect, and what decisions they ultimately make rather than inserting any kind of thriller-like elements to entice the story to a more mainstream audience. The result is another outstanding effort from the Japanese filmmaker, backed by a flawless ensemble led by the subtly nuanced and exceptional Song Kang-ho.
7. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
A sequel to 2019’s Knives Out, the great igniter to the revitalization of the whodunit genre, was always going to be a tricky obstacle to overcome. In stepped Netflix, who gave writer/director Rian Johnson the necessary blank check to indulge in his wildest fantasies. And because of that, he has crafted a whodunnit that is grander, funnier, stranger, and perhaps better than the original. As the first of two planned sequels, I can only imagine what Johnson is going to serve up next.
As our guide through a world of classical music and power dynamics, Cate Blanchett reaches another echelon in a career that peaks have only marked. If TÁR is meant to mark the second coming of Todd Field’s career, then we should all be in for a lengthy treat for the mind, body, and soul. But if this was only a brief blip and we’re subjected to another sixteen-year absence, then I at least know what my most anticipated film of 2038 will be.
Park Chan-wook’s Decision to Leave is often a paradox in itself. It’s classical, yet modern. Cold, yet sexy. Unsatisfying, yet enthralling. Luckily, it finds the near-perfect balance between all of those things, creating a wondrous genre exercise that must be seen to be wholly believed.
Justin Kurzel's Nitram was one of the best films of the 2021 Cannes Film Festival (where I first saw it) as it explores a real-life tragedy with both grace and severity. While it may be an experience that wrecks people's bodies due to its humanistic intensity, there is hope that there will be a greater understanding of this dark chapter in human history upon leaving the theater.
The Fabelmans is a collection of Spielberg's greatest hits, all delivered to their greatest effect. There’s laughter, tears, and wonder in this story that is much more than the sum of its parts. If Spielberg climbs the Dolby Theatre steps to collect his third Best Director Oscar, then it will be one of the few long overdue wins that came at the right time for the right project.
2. All Quiet on the Western Front
In the film’s harrowing opening sequence, we follow a coat worn by a German soldier. The man dies in battle, and the coat is plucked off his corpse. It’s then shipped back to a factory to be washed of the blood, mended, and given to a new recruit. It’s moments like this, of which there are many, where director Edward Berger masterfully illustrates the futile self-fulfilling cycle of death that war creates. All Quiet on the Western Front is not just the best film of the year, it’s one of the best of its genre.
With dashes of Singin’ in the Rain, Boogie Nights, The Wolf of Wall Street, Uncut Gems, and Mulholland Drive, Damien Chazelle’s Babylon is a true auteurist epic in every sense of the word. It’s a 188-minute deconstruction of Old Hollywood mythology, complete with cocaine, fast cars, projectile vomit, glitzy actors, underground sex dungeons, and buckets of style. There isn’t anything like it this year, or any year for that matter.