Hello hello!! My list of best/favorite movies of 2022 is here! I’ve been working on this all weekend, and every year it’s an arduous process. Per my blog tradition, I usually wait until mid-January, and this year I started jotting down a list of the top 25 films I saw last year that would either make my Top 10 Best or my 15 Honorable Mentions.
I always have to preface this kind of post that there are still plenty of 2021 movies I have not seen yet: RRR, Aftersun, Corsage, Til, Broker, Love Song, Nope, Benediction, The Eternal Daughter, etc. which might alter my current Top 10.
Top 10 Films of 2022
(in reverse numeric order)
It goes without saying of course, that everyone’s list is personal… my criteria is that a film makes a lasting impression on me, combining the virtue of being entertaining, imaginative, deeply moving, thought-provoking, and indelible. Replayability is a factor I take into consideration as well, though I don’t necessarily want to rewatch every single film on my list. So here we go:
10. Top Gun: Maverick (Full Review)
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Who knew a sequel of a movie released in the mid-80s would be a smash hit with critics/audiences alike, and also smashes all kinds of box office records. It was the highest-grossing movie of 2022 domestically (though Avatar 2 ended up beating it when counting the global box office of 2022 by a couple million dollars).
Tom Cruise has proven to be the biggest action star in the world with his penchant for death-defying stunts, and he’s got the young’uns to be on board with them too!
As a piece of entertainment, Top Gun: Maverick delivers the spectacle and thrills it promises… deftly mixing unapologetic nostalgia and stimulating action that should satisfy fans of the original and win new ones.
9. Marcel The Shell with the Shoes On (Full Review)
Director: Dean Fleischer Camp
One of the most imaginative movies I’ve seen this year! It started out as a short film in 2010, with Jenny Slate as the voice of Marcel as well as the co-writer of the screenplay. Animated movies can often be more emotionally fulfilling than live-action movies and this is definitely a prime example of that.
I laugh, cry, and cheer for the diminutive Marcel whose huge personality more than made up for her tiny frame. It’s so rare to see a movie that’s endearingly funny with surprisingly emotional depth, yet is still suitable for the whole family. I’d be up for a sequel for this or maybe even a TV series–I’d readily watch more of Marcel’s adventures!
8. Pinocchio (Full Review)
Director: Guillermo del Toro
It’s been a strong year for animated films in various formats. This one is another stop-motion animated film with mind-blowing visuals and an imaginative retelling. I just love what Del Toro’s done with this classic tale here that I won’t even bother watching the Disney remake.
His Pinocchio tale is as haunting as it is soulful, destined to be a modern classic. The visuals are breathtakingly beautiful but it’s not the case of style over substance. I’d even argue this is worthy enough to be nominated in the Best Picture category, in addition to the Best Animated Feature. I’ll be rooting for Alexandre Desplat to nab an Oscar nomination for his score and for Ciao Papa to get a nom for Best Song.
7. The Batman (Full Review)
Director: Matt Reeves
Typically Marvel is light years away compared to DC, but apart from Wakanda Forever, this has been a weak year for the MCU. I’m glad James Gunn isn’t allowed to meddle with Matt Reeves’ The Batman franchise in his DCEU overhaul, as I love what Reeves has done so far with the first film, can’t wait for more!
As I mentioned in my review, it has its own share of flaws, but there are plenty of great things as well that warrant its place amongst my Top 10.
I love that the film feels more like a mystery crime thriller than a typical superhero movie. Upon rewatches, I’ve grown to appreciate Robert Pattinson’s grungy take on the Caped Crusader. Zöe Kravitz’s terrific as Selina Kyle and Colin Farrell blows me away with his scene-stealing performance as Penguin.
6. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Full Review)
Director: Ryan Coogler
I was rather disappointed with most of what MCU delivered last year, with the exception of this one. Ryan Coogler and his co-screenwriter Joe Robert Cole ably blend the themes of loss of the great Chadwick Boseman with the Wakandans’ defiance and resiliency. They also upped the stakes by introducing a new world power they didn’t anticipate, with the introduction of Tenoch Huerta as a powerful leader.
Coogler did two amazing things with Wakanda Forever: he ensures that Boseman’s legacy lives on while also honoring the immense prowess of Wakanda’s women. Now, I’m not sure this sequel is worthy of an Oscar Best Picture nomination like the predecessor, but Angela Bassett’s performance as Queen Ramonda is indeed Oscar-worthy!
5. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story (Full Review)
Director: Rian Johnson
The first Knives Out movie is one of my Top 10 list of 2019, so bravo to Rian Johnson for creating a worthy follow-up to a sensational movie! He’s got a such flair for writing an enigmatic script filled with riddles and sneaky red herrings. Glass Onion (which, I agree with Johnson, should just be the title without mentioning Knives Out at all) is another entertaining whodunnit with a brilliant script and a fun ensemble cast who have a blast in their roles. Daniel Craig certainly loves playing Benoit Blanc, more so it seems than he does playing 007.
Though the first Knives Out is equally brilliant, I enjoyed this one a lot more thanks to the beautiful, sunny tropical paradise. This is the kind of movie that’d be fun to rewatch just to catch some of the clues you didn’t notice the first time around.
4. Decision To Leave
Director: Park Chan-wook
This is the only film in my top 10 that I haven’t had a chance to review yet, though I mentioned it on my Top 5 Breakout Performances list. I’m not super familiar with Chan-wook’s films apart from Stoker and Little Drummer Girl miniseries, but the idea of a romance whodunnit really appeals to me. A detective investigating a man’s death meets the dead man’s enigmatic wife during the investigations and the two falls for each other.
There’s such a quiet longing between them that I find so alluring, as the pent-up passion between two people can be so much more intriguing than a sex-fueled tryst would. I love everything about this film – the mysterious vibe, evocative cinematography, classical-tinged music, and of course, the fantastic performances of the leads, Park Hae-il and Tang Wei.
This is South Korea’s official submission for this year’s Oscar’s Best International Feature Film category and I definitely will be rooting for it.
3. Women Talking* (Full Review)
Director: Sarah Polley
I just reviewed this film recently even though I had seen this back in October. It’s a testament to how indelible this is that some of the dialog is still fresh in my mind. The subject matter might be somber and as the title says, the film shows mostly women conversing, but it’s not at all tedious. I find it magnetic and absorbing right from the start, thanks to the astute script and powerful performances.
In a year filled with terrific ensemble performances, Women Talking stands out from the pack–I’d be aghast if this one didn’t make the cut in the SAG Award Best Film Ensemble nominees.
2. After Yang (Full Review)
2022 is totally Colin Farrell’s year! He delivered four great performances (the other two are on my Honorable Mentions) this year, but I think this one is the most underrated. Farrell plays a husband and father who’s dealing with his daughter’s malfunctioning companion droid.
I know The Banshees of Inisherin is on many people’s Top 10 list, but I picked this one over that as the subject matter really resonates with me. I’ve always been drawn to sci-fi movies that explore human and AI relationships, and After Yang offers something fresh and poignant when it’s placed within a story of a nuclear family.
Kogonaga’s storytelling style is unique in that it doesn’t bombard you with a ton of exposition or flashy techniques, and he’s also unafraid to let the film takes hold of you with its quiet grace. It’s also only 96 minutes long! When movies are getting longer and longer these days, I so appreciate those with a shorter running time that still make a big impact like this one.
1. The Woman King* (Full Review)
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
I’ve been a huge fan of Prince-Blythewood’s work in the past decade, so I’m glad she continues to get bigger projects in Hollywood. She’s got the indomitable Viola Davis in the title role, plus a stellar mostly-female cast to tell the amazing story of the Agojie, an all-female warrior in the West African Kingdom of Dahomey. The actresses went through rigorous training to play fierce 19th-century fighters so the stunts look visceral and real.
Here’s a film that delivers on practically every front: Epic action, check. High stakes with a powerful enemy, check. Character development, check. Plus the phenomenal performances! Here’s another top contender in the Best Ensemble of the Year, with standout performances from Lashana Lynch, newcomer Thuso Medu and John Boyega.
The fight scenes aren’t just happening within the film, there’s apparently a long fight to get this story brought to life as well. It’s all the more gratifying that a black filmmaker gets to bring a female empowerment story to life in such an glorious fashion. All hail The Woman King!
15 Honorable Mentions
There’s no ‘science’ in picking the Best List… mostly just gut instinct and personal preference. I really enjoy these 15 films, and some of them actually almost made it to my top 10 list. In any case,
(in alphabetical order)
- Avatar: The Way of Water
- Catherine Called Birdy*
- The Banshees of Inisherin
- Everything Everywhere All At Once
- The Fabelmans
- Good Luck to You, Leo Grande*
- Mrs Harris Goes to Paris
- The Sea Beast
- Saint Omer*
- She Said*
- Thirteen Lives
- Turning Red*
The films marked with * (asterisk) are those #directedbywomen
Check out my list of films I saw as part of the 52 Films By Women Challenge