2022 has been an excellent year for movies. There’s been a treasure trove of brilliant horror films, experimental animated films, and mind-blowing visual feasts. There was so much to choose from this year that composing a top 10 list was difficult. Sure, there were some for-sure films I had already saddled at the top, but filling out the rest was a real challenge. And so, after sorting through hundreds of films, here are the ten best of 2022.
10. Turning Red
Pixar’s best film of the year is far more than just the groundbreaking movie that addresses periods. While forgoing most of that allegory, the entire premise of the teenager Mei becoming a giant red panda is as heartfelt as it is fun. I really loved the absurd anime style being more distinct than other CGI movies and the energetic humor coursing throughout this early 2000s fantasy adventure. In other words, it’s the best kind of Pixar film and the type I hope they keep making more of in the future.
9. Armageddon Time
A Jewish growing up in New York in 1980 learns about the world’s harsh realities. Racism, antisemitism, class divide, and corruption all assault this plucky kid trying to figure out his life. There are a lot of angering and heartbreaking moments in this picture, but also a lot of hope. It’s so satisfying listening to Anthony Hopkins as the chipper grandpa who is well aware of racists and tells his grandson that people like that can go fuck themselves. I adore this movie.
The general premise of Aftersun is a father slowly learning to let go of his daughter as she grows up throughout a vacation. But it’s way more than that, functioning on a cerebral and emotional level of coming to terms with fleeting moments. Posed partially through a camera, there’s a profoundly heartbreaking contemplation on how limited time we have with people who will eventually change. It’s a film that wants to hang onto these small moments of joy and only let go with bitter grace. The last shot of the father walking off into the next stage of his life is one of the most perfect endings to this slow and somber drama.
Jordan Peele is 3 for 3 when it comes to horror movies. Nope turns the camera around on the audience with a UFO story that is anything but predictable. OJ and Em try to save their horse ranch from an alien in the sky that is difficult to track. In addition to being a contemplation on taming nature and being bound by an audience, there are some grand and gorgeous shots in this film that merges sci-fi, horror, and Westerns. It also has one of the most nightmare-inducing scary shots of any film I saw last year. You know which one I’m talking about, the one inside the alien where all the people are getting…yeah, it’s terrifying. Terrifyingly brilliant.
6. Decision to Leave
Park Chan-wook already has a robust filmography, and you can add Decision to Leave to that list of his top films. This detective thriller follows an insomniac detective and his relationship with a suspect that enters into dangerously romantic territory. This twisty plot of murder cases and secret love is excellent, but the highlights are the eye-popping shots that are creatively staged. Everything from the shifting focus of the interrogation room to the off-putting perspective of the corpses is so good. The final scene on a beach as the tide comes in is as beautiful to look at it is somber for the realization of a relationship coming to a bitter end.
5. The Menu
This literal eat-the-rich movie is so incredibly fulfilling. Ralph Fiennes plays a world-class chef who has decided his final dinner service will end with a murder-suicide finale. His plans are slightly off when he realizes Anya Taylor-Joy’s character is not among the stuffy and wealthy elite. Gruesome and absurd, this is top-notch class satire at its finest, with perfect performances and brilliant tension mounting as the guests suffer for their sins. You’ll never look at smores and cheeseburgers the same way again.
Damien Chazelle savages Hollywood’s transition from silent to sound as one big, bold, blunt, and bombastic party. The rise and fall of actors and producers is such an intoxicating experience overflowing with fantastic performances. Yes, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie is great, but extra attention should be paid to Diego Calva as the evolving Manny. He’s the heart and soul of this picture that proceeds from the dreamy fugue states of an out-of-control party to a somber realization of cinema’s bitter evolution. I know the film has been a bit polarizing, but all the attention to detail and lavish staging is so damn good that I think in time, it’s going to be better recognized as Chazelle’s best film. Also, the soundtrack by Justin Hurwitz is some of the best movie music I’ve heard all year.
3. The Banshees of Inisherin
Martin McDonagh has crafted a film masterpiece that is simultaneously hilarious and sad at extreme levels throughout. Set on an Irish island, Colin Farrell plays a dim man who can’t understand why his friend Brendan Gleeson doesn’t want to be friends anymore. What follows is a dryly amusing and disheartening tragic story of men unable to process complex feelings. Feelings of existentialism, loneliness, anger, and suicide become hard to handle for these guys. It’s the type of film that makes you want to laugh at the relatability and then bawl your eyes out at how close it hits to home.
S. S. Rajamouli’s action epic is one of the most intense and exciting action pictures I’ve seen all year. Set in 1920s India, revolutionaries Raju and Bheem form a bond as they strike back against British occupations. Fluctuating between friends and enemies, the two engage in everything from bold close-combat fights to high-energy dance-offs. It just fires on all cylinders for being a film that can highlight the political and racist issues of the era while still featuring a thrilling chase sequence involving horses and motorcycles. It’s an unbelievable action epic that I can’t get enough of.
1. Everything Everywhere All At Once
This film will likely be a favorite of many this year. And why wouldn’t it be? The Daniels have directed an unbelievably surreal, eccentric, and transcendent film. The tale of the unfortunate laundromat owner, Evelyn being sent on an interdimensional adventure is meaningful, exciting, and bizarre. In addition to being loaded with heart and charm, the action-packed sequences feature stellar editing and an immense sensation of boundless imagination. What follows is a trippy adventure of martial arts, romance, family, bagels, raccoons, buttplugs, and weaponized dildos. True to its title, this film has everything, and it’s sure to be set as a gold standard for future films with the desire to tap into the concept of the multiverse.