It seems like only yesterday that we film critics were putting the 2021 movie year to bed and hashing out our obligatory Top 10 lists for the year. Now here we are again, sifting through everything we’ve seen over the last 365 days and choosing what we deem to be the “best” of the bunch. It’s all pretty silly but undeniably fun. As always, leaving certain films off my list was pretty agonizing. But that’s the nature of these things. So without further ado, let’s get to it. It’s time to recognize the “best” movies from 2022 (according to me, for whatever that’s worth).
So let’s kick off this annual ritual by giving some love to the terrific movies that just missed my Top 10. Here is my #11-20….
- #20 – “The Fabelmans”
- #19 – “Thirteen Lives”
- #18 – “After Yang”
- #17 – “Brian and Charles”
- #16 – “The Menu”
- #15 – “The Eternal Daughter”
- #14 – “Avatar: The Way of Water”
- #13 – “Women Talking”
- #12 – “Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths”
- #11 – “RRR”
#10 “Broker” – South Korean filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda makes movies I often love. So it’s no surprise that his latest, “Broker” ended up on this list. It’s yet another beautifully composed and constructed character study from Kore-eda. One that navigates some thorny moral ground yet is wrapped in the filmmaker’s signature warmth and grace. “Broker” has a lot going on, but Kore-eda always keeps his characters at the center. And with the help of some top-form performances, these emotionally complex characters bring humanity to this equally heartfelt and heartbreaking story.
#9 “Top Gun: Maverick” – Who knew that after 36 years a “Top Gun” sequel would gross nearly $1.5 billion at the box office? Even better, who knew it would be one of the year’s very best movies? Yet here we are with Tom Cruise reprising his role as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in a film that’s everything you want a blockbuster to be. And while I don’t deny the film’s nostalgic draw, Cruise and company aren’t just rehashing old material. They’ve given us a meaningful next chapter along with the best aerial fighter footage ever put on screen. It’s an jet-fueled blast from start to finish.
#8 “The Quiet Girl” – Few movies from 2022 had an affect on me quiet like “The Quiet Girl”, the astonishing feature film debut from writer-director Colm Bairéad. This tender yet subtly heartbreaking coming-of-age drama is as hushed as its young lead character (delicately played with by a wonderful newcomer, Catherine Clinch). The story’s patient, organic rhythm sucks you in, and Bairéad conveys so much information and emotion through his quiet observations. And the film ends with arguably the most crushing final shot that I’ve seen this year or in recent years. Bairéad is truly a filmmaker to watch.
#7 “The Banshees of Inisherin” – I’ve had a pretty up-and-down relationship with the films of Martin McDonagh. But I fell so hard for his latest, which turns out to be one of the funniest movies of the year and also one of the saddest. It features a brilliant ensemble ripe with awards worthy turns from Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, and Barry Keoghan. But it’s all anchored by McDonagh’s brilliant screenplay which takes us to some dark and somber places yet has us laughing nearly every step of the way.
#6 “Decision to Leave” – South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook is impossible to put in a box. Case in point: his latest feature “Decision to Leave” which is arguably his best film to date. At times this juicy genre stew plays like a hard-boiled noir; other times it’s a simmering psychological romance. It can surprise you with its unexpected dark humor and move you with deep sense of longing. Its visual language is as compelling as the mystery, and the whole thing keeps us guessing throughout. It’s a hard movie to define, but that’s part of what makes it so special.
#5 “White Noise” – No movie on my list marches to its own wacky beat quite like “White Noise”. And that’s one reason I love the film so much. Noah Baumbach turns out to be the near perfect choice to tackle Don DeLillo’s “unfilmable” 1985 novel. While “White Noise” left an impression on me after seeing it the first time, it completely won me over after a second viewing. Baumbach gives us plenty to relish that is outside his normal comfort zone. But his signature humor and character work remain, giving the film the same offbeat allure that us Baumbach fans adore.
#4 “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” – I’ve always had a soft spot for the story of “Pinocchio”, and I wasn’t about to miss Guillermo del Toro’s take on the age-old tale. What I wasn’t expecting was to be completely swept away by his stunning stop-motion triumph. Nothing about the movie feels rehashed. Del Toro adds his own spins to the story, his own twists to the characters, and his own imagination to the world-building. It’s enchanting and heartfelt yet darkly funny and a bit macabre. It’s voiced to perfection, immaculately scored, and animated with painstaking detail and incredible artistry.
#3 “Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood” – I’ll watch anything Richard Linklater puts out, and this year he released a movie I’ll be watching over and over again. “Apollo 10 1/2” is a smile-inducing autobiographical jaunt which beautifully braids Linklater’s own childhood memories with a surprisingly tender youthful fantasy. There really isn’t much in terms of plot. Instead, it plays like a motion picture scrapbook, and I loved every second of it. And the cool mix of rotoscope with 2D and 3D animation was icing on the cake. Now if only Netflix had promoted it!
#2 “The Batman” – I had my concerns about cranking up another Batman series/franchise. But in the film’s gritty opening scene, director Matt Reaves proved he had a fresh new take that was well worth exploring. Everything that followed clicked right into place, from the spectacular cast to the immersive world-building to the dark and ominous tone. And rather than following the stock comic book movie blueprints of today, “The Batman” falls more in line with the edgy crime thrillers of David Fincher. Overall it’s a welcomed jolt to the genre and a showcase for Reaves who has something pretty special on his hands.
#1 “All Quiet on the Western Front” – 92 years after Lewis Milestone’s 1930 film, Edward Berger has delivered a jaw-dropping remake of a landmark classic. This searing epic-scaled polemic brandishes the same scathing anti-war messaging. But Berger and DP James Friend utilize today’s technology to deliver powerful imagery both on the battlefield and on the faces of the young soldiers sent to die there. It’s a relentlessly bleak account that emphasizes the brutality and inhumanity of war, resulting in some of the most visceral battle sequences ever put to film. Yet the human cost always remains its focus. An unforgettable masterpiece.