Welcome back movie fans, it’s been another wild year where I completely fell off keeping up with movie reviews, but unlike 2020, I did watch quite a bit this year. I am toying with going back and writing reviews for many of the films I have seen, but at the very least I wanted to compile a list of ten favorite movies of the year. I’m even going one step further and will actually rank them. Let’s get started then, my personal top ten movies of 2022!
10. Turning Red
The biggest shame of Turning Red is that this movie didn’t get to play in theaters. This Pixar movie is everything you’d expect from the studio, heartful, funny, and charming. It wallops adults and their children with powerful messages in playing that difficult balancing act of speaking to everyone. This won’t be the only movie on this list that deals with mother-and-daughter relationships, but this movie does a great job of highlighting how important it is to build that trust and evolve the bond you have with your child or your parents. Also, for anyone who grew up in the late-90’s-early-00’s, this movie has a nostalgia that will have you grinning throughout.
9. Emily the Criminal
This isn’t the first movie that Aubrey Plaza has dominated the screen, but this is one of her best. This indie crime thriller with a sprinkle of 2011’s Drive noir feel is a tense-watching experience that leaves you conflicted by the end of the film. The motivation of getting pushed into a dangerous lifestyle because of student debt is sadly not that far-fetched and for those of us who still have that burden on our shoulders, it adds an extra element of playing out that what if through Emily’s eyes. This is an excellent small film that not enough people watched. Check it out if you can.
There are so many layers to this thriller mystery comedy movie, that even as I write this I am thinking, should this be higher on my list? It has social commentary coming from both sides of arguments, a mystery of a young woman’s death, and a very fun cast to tie all together. For those who listen to podcasts, this movie is very similar to the podcast S-Town, where the story you are sold ends up going in a completely different direction by the finale. It’s funny in both its commentary on how little different parts of society understand one another, and yet are so alike when it comes to the basics of being a human. This is another movie that barely anyone saw and it’s a shame because this is one of the good ones.
7. The Black Phone
With the way Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness turned out I’m glad that director Scott Derrickson stepped away to instead get back to the horror genre and give us this excellent horror film. The movie’s concept is simple, a young boy Finney gets kidnapped, but is helped by the ghosts of his kidnapper’s victim. It’s tense, terrifying at points, but also builds in the way a boxing movie like Rocky or Creed does whereby the end you are ready to see if Finney can fight back against The Grabber. For those that like a good children fighting back against evil story, you will love this movie as much as I did.
The one thing I heard the most about this movie from those who saw it in early screenings, don’t watch any trailers, don’t read up on this movie, just go see it. I’m glad I did. This is probably my favorite pure horror movie in a good long while. It goes places I did not expect and kept me glued to the screen the entire run time. If you like a good horror mystery movie this is one of the best you can see in recent memory. Even those that aren’t typical fans of the genre, this one is that good that you should make the exception.
5. The Northman
The biggest movie director Robert Eggers has crafted yet, the Northman could have just been a typical revenge movie with a Viking coat of paint. But it’s his unique direction and writing that adds the spiritual trippy spice to make this movie something truly special. Add an excellent cast led by Alexander Skarsgård and Anya Taylor-Joy (more from her in the next entry) and you have an epic that was a pure joy to see on a big screen. Like several movies on this list, it was not seen by anywhere near enough people. If you like a good epic, rectify this, and check out The Northman.
4. The Menu
The Menu was a surprise for me, a movie that I didn’t know a thing about until one trailer a month before the movie came out. This dark comedy, thriller, horror nailed it in every regard. The film has a stellar cast lead by Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Fiennes. The plot involves Anya’s Margot joining a very exclusive dining experience set on an island. Very quickly the uptight almost cult like Michelin star dining experience turns into a deadly game of survival. It goes back and forth between horror and comedy to keep things from going too dark. For fans of the genre, it’s a boatload of fun.
3. Top Gun: Maverick
The first time I watched the original Top Gun? The day before I saw Top Gun: Maverick. I have no nostalgia for the first movie. I loved this sequel. It’s what a blockbuster should be, and it’s a movie’s movie if that makes sense. It’s big, it’s bold, the action keeps you glued to the screen, and it feels like being on a roller coaster. Love him or hate him, Tom Cruise knows what it means to make something you MUST see on a big screen. There is a reason this is one of the highest grossing movies of the year, it’s meant for you to watch again and again.
2. The Batman
What will likely be the most controversial movie I have on my list. I loved The Batman. The dirty, gritty take on the dark knight was everything I have been looking for in a Batman movie. It’s a detective movie, it has a super fleshed out world, villains all over, a terrifying is-this-guy-crazy Batman and shockingly a buddy cop element thrown into the mix. This may not be everyone’s Batman, but this is the Batman I have been waiting for since playing the excellent Arkham video games. I was glad it delivered and can’t wait to see what is to come with the Penguin spin-off show and the sequel.
1. Everything Everywhere All At Once
Everything Everywhere All at Once is so many things. It’s a movie about the concept of a multiverse, an action movie, a comedy, a family drama, and exploration of what makes a good parent, a good partner, what it means to be strong, and how to embrace the positive against the backdrop of a chaotic world. It’s exactly what the title says it is. I could gush about this movie for hours at a time. In a year where the powerhouse of Marvel with hundreds of millions of dollars to tell stories about a multiverse it was an indie movie about an immigrant couple’s family struggles that nailed the concept and dove headfirst into what is possible when anything is possible. This isn’t just my favorite movie of 2022, it’s one of my favorite movies period. I can’t wait to watch it many times for years to come.
Wow! This was a challenging list to make, this year had some great movies! Here are a couple of honorable mentions I still thought were a great time.
Bodies Bodies Bodies
Here’s to 2022 and hoping that 2023 can delight and surprise with more great times at the movies!