It’s almost impossible to rank the best movies in a single year, but an attempt will be made with this list. Films are an art form and all art is subjective. Still, year end lists are a time-honored tradition… as flawed as they might be. So here we go!
Top 10 Movies of 2022
#10 – After Yang
Where to Watch: $2 Rental on YouTube
The film essayist-turned-filmmaker Kogonada has had a phenomenal year. His television series Pachinko has received rave reviews, and he released After Yang, his second feature film. After Yang is a tender and beautiful story of a family dealing with the sudden malfunction of their android (and family member), Yang. This movie is subtle science fiction and a gentle exploration of what it means to be alive. It is made with compassion, and features one of the year’s two great Colin Farrell performances. It also has the best opening title sequence of any movie this year.
#9 – The Menu
Where to Watch: HBO Max starting today
The Menu is a deliciously wicked horror-comedy hybrid directed by Mark Mylod; successfully making the jump to films after working on top tier television series like Game of Thrones and Succession. The film features reliably great performances from Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Hong Chau, and Nicholas Hoult. The rest of the ensemble is fantastic as well. You could cut the tension with a knife in this film with its dissection of the socioeconomic divide between the rich and the poor.
#8 – Pinocchio
Where to Watch: Netflix
Guillermo del Toro is one of cinema’s greatest storytellers, and this newest film is no different. His stop-motion version of Pinocchio is quite dark, and this comes as no surprise, but Del Toro makes the interesting choice of setting the film in 1930’s Italy during the rise of fascism. He also changes Carlo Collodi’s story in one significant way. The original story, and the Disney version, frame it as a story of Pinocchio being rewarded for his obedience. Del Toro’s Pinocchio is one that emphasizes disobedience in the face of injustice, and encourages one to forge their own path.
#7 – Triangle of Sadness
Where to Watch: $6 Rental on Apple TV
Sweden has a long history of producing some of the most original filmmakers, and they’ve done it again with Ruben Östlund. He has made a whole career examining peculiar human behavior, and his newest film is no different. Triangle of Sadness is a satire divided into three distinct sections, and to say the events that occur are unexpected would be an understatement. Without revealing too much, the film is about the power structures inherent in a variety of situations. One of the main sections of the film takes place on a luxury cruise ship, and closely examines the interactions between the guests and the crew. When something goes wrong, the power dynamic shifts dramatically.
#6 – Turning Red
Where to Watch: Disney+
Turning Red is the best Pixar film in years, and it was directed by Domee Shi, a talented storyboard artist and filmmaker that was recently promoted to Vice President of Creative at Pixar. Her film is a quirky story of a 13-year-old Canadian girl of Chinese descent named Meilin. The young girl turns into a giant red panda whenever she gets excited. This film is filled to the brim with creativity, and is permeated with enormous heart and positivity. It is an allegory for puberty, and also a beautiful story about growing up and becoming your own person.
#5 – The Tragedy of Macbeth
Where to Watch: Apple TV+
The Coen Brothers have been making movies together since the early 1980’s and collectively they are two of the greatest filmmakers of all-time. The Tragedy of Macbeth marks Joel Coen’s first time directing a film without his brother, and the results are absolutely breathtaking. You don’t need to be a Shakespeare fanatic to enjoy this film. Denzel Washington stars as the titular Macbeth. He is great as always, as is Coen’s wife Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth. The real star of the movie though is the stunning black-and-white cinematography from Bruno Delbonnel. Legendary stage actor Kathryn Hunter is also a scene stealer with her eerie portrayal of the witches in the story.
#4 – RRR
Where to Watch: Netflix
India has one of the largest film industries outside of the United States, but rarely does one of their movies break through to mainstream audiences abroad. RRR is the movie to do that. Directed by S.S. Rajamouli, RRR is a 3-hour action-adventure epic about two revolutionaries that journey away from home so they can fight for their country and gain independence from the British in the 1920’s. This movie has some of the most gorgeous (and over-the-top) action scenes in film history. It is also a wonderful story of friendship and perseverance. You have never seen anything quite like RRR.
#3 – The Banshees of Inisherin
Where to Watch: HBO Max
The Banshees of Inisherin is the newest dramedy from Martin McDonagh, and it’s another darkly comic story that takes something specific and makes it universal. Set on a small island off the coast of Ireland, it tells the simple story of two lifelong friends and what happens when one of them suddenly decides to end the friendship. Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell deliver some of the best performances of their impressive careers, as does Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon. Fair warning: the film has some surprisingly gruesome moments.
#2 – Tár
Where to Watch: $20 on Apple TV or Amazon
Tár is the first film directed by Todd Field in 16 years, and it was worth the wait. Cate Blanchett delivers the best performance of her career in this character study about a fictional and problematic composer named Lydia Tár. This is a movie about a megalomaniacal artist that is obsessed with controlling every aspect of her life around her. This film is intense, unique, and asks viewers to examine the concept of separating art from the artist that creates it. It is also a broad examination of art in general, and one of the best films released in recent memory.
#1 – Everything Everywhere All at Once
Where to Watch: $12 on Apple TV or Amazon
Everything Everywhere All at Once is easily the best film released in 2022. Nothing else comes close. It’s a masterpiece from two of the most creative individuals working in film today: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. Also known as The Daniels, the duo got their start making eccentric short films and music videos that were filled with maximum creativity and unconventionality. This is their second feature film and it is a beautiful, complex, and human story about a Chinese immigrant that owns a laundromat. She soon finds herself entangled in the multiverse, and finds out that she alone can save the world by exploring other universes containing lives she could have led. It takes a humorous tone while examining the alternate lives that could have existed for the characters, and by extension, ourselves. The special effects are absolutely incredible, and the cast is one of the best ever assembled.
Legendary martial arts actor Michelle Yeoh delivers her best performance as the main character. She seamlessly switches between the various personas of her alternate lives, showing her true range and gift as an actor. Ke Huy Quan makes the comeback of the century. Previously known as a child actor in The Goonies and Indiana Jones, Quan returns here and delivers a heartbreaking and tender performance that audiences are sure to fall in love with. Jamie Lee Curtis also surprises with the best work of her career in a deliriously over the top performance. It’s not possible to heap too much praise upon this movie. It stretches the limits of what movies can be. It’s everything I love about the cinema, and makes me excited for what comes next from everyone involved. Wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, you need to do yourself a favor and see this movie at once.
Barbarian – A surprising and unique horror film that will delight fans of the genre. It is split in two halves and features some incredible creature design. (HBO Max)
Bardo – Alejandro Iñárritu is one of the greatest living filmmakers and while this movie is not for everyone, it swings for the fences and features some of the year’s greatest cinematography. (Netflix)
Bones & All – Luca Guadagnino’s newest film is a unique concoction of cannibalism and romance, and features one of the year’s most disturbing performances in Mark Rylance. ($20 on Amazon)
Decision to Leave – Park Chan-wook is a master filmmaker, and his newest is one-part police procedural and one-part beguiling romance. (Mubi)
Glass Onion – Rian Johnson continues his “whodunnit” phase with another stellar and meticulous entry in the Knives Out series. Janelle Monae shines in a remarkable cast. (Netflix)
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On – This film is a wonder of stop-motion animation, based on a ten-year-old viral video on YouTube about an adorable, talking shell. The story is tender and profound, and Marcel is brought to life with the incredible voice acting talents of Jenny Slate. ($5 on YouTube)
Men – Alex Garland always tries something different. Men might be his biggest swing yet. A grieving woman deals with the surreal horror of being harassed by various men that all share the same face. ($5 on Amazon)
Nope – Jordan Peele once again shows that he is a modern master of horror filmmaking, and here makes a film critical of spectacle, particularly at the expense of children and animals. It has elements of science fiction and western, and a terrific central performance from Keke Palmer. (Peacock)
On the Count of Three – This is the directorial debut of comedian Jerrod Carmichael. It is a darkly comic day in the life of two suicidal men that decide they will kill one another simultaneously instead of having to kill themselves. (Hulu)
Speak No Evil – This disturbing film from Danish filmmaker Christian Tafdrup was the highlight of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. It’s a horror movie with multiple surprises and shocking reveals. (Shudder)
Best Documentary: This Place Rules – This documentary was released on December 30. It barely made the cut, but immediately made an impression. It follows alt-journalist Andrew Callaghan as he and his crew traveled across the country in late 2020, documenting the events between the 2020 presidential election and the violent insurrection at the capitol building on January 6, 2021. Full review coming soon. (HBO Max)
Best Stand-Up Special: Jerrod Carmichael’s Rothaniel – This is the second time Carmichael is appearing on this list. His talent lies in his quiet sincerity and earnestness. He is a truth teller, and does so in a way that seems like every statement is a revelation. Rothaniel is unlike any other standup special. While most comedians are vehemently against hecklers and crowd interaction, Carmichael here openly encourages it. This is a finely-tuned performative speech with moments of audience participation worked into it. It’s intimate in a way that has never been seen before in this format. (HBO Max)
Best Mini-Series: Station Eleven – Based on the novel of the same name, this mini series is surprisingly inspiring. Set in a post apocalyptic world, it follows a group of traveling theater performers as they move between various locations. There are individual stories mingled throughout, but the overall impression is that of a mini-series that has the utmost faith in humanity, even in the most dire circumstances. It is a desperate plea for art in the face of hardship. (HBO Max)
Best Drama Series: House of the Dragon
This prequel series to Game of Thrones is set hundreds of years before that story, and focuses on the Targaryen family as they sat on the iron throne. It features the deceit, double-crossing, and dragons we’ve come to love and expect from the prior series, but it also makes its own mark. House of the Dragon is not as sprawling as Game of Thrones. It’s more tightly-focused story allows for deeper character development. The cast is perfect, and the tragic nature of this fictional family is infinitely watchable. (HBO Max)
Best Comedy Series: Our Flag Means Death
Taika Waititi strikes again! This time as producer and actor in Our Flag Means Death, an offbeat comedy set in the early 1700’s. It tells the mostly-true story of Stede Bonnet (a revelatory Rhys Darby), a wealthy landowner that leaves his life behind to become a pirate. Along the way, he meets “Blackbeard”. Played by Waititi, he truly makes the character his own since very little is documented about the famous pirate. The show is notable for its inclusive LGBTQ+ storylines and characters, and features a hilarious ensemble of actors. (HBO Max)