Posted January 14, 2023

Updated January 21, 2023  /  Updated January 31, 2023 /  Updated February 9, 2023

 

It could be said that 2022 was the first year in many that felt like a normal return for movies as we know it.   

I would use the term normal with an asterisk beside it.   

The COVID pandemic wreaked a near irreparable amount of harm on the industry in 2020 and threatened to derail the theatrical experience forever, which was mostly avoided in 2021 with the advent of vaccines and the pandemic's tide being turned for the better.  Cinemas began re-opening and people felt more comfortable journeying back to them.  And in 2022 more people went to the movies than they did in the previous two years before that, seeing the return of popular blockbusters dominating the box office and proving that the cinematic experience was far from extinct (there is, however, a larger and more damning argument to be made that high marquee studio pictures are the only ones monopolizing cinemas with smaller indie fare being dealt crippling blows, but that's a topic that requires a whole article in itself).  I ventured back to the cinema more times in 2022 than I had combined in 2021 and 2020, but I was hardly back to pre-pandemic levels of making 3-4 trips per week.  We seem to be living in a perpetual movie world where theatrical releases co-exist with those that go straight to streaming or appear on streaming 45 days after seeing the light of day in theaters.  Either way, I remained productive - if not more - on the screening front in 2022, a year that I thought produced the finest films in quite some time. 

Five films that made my TOP 10 of 2022 were seen theatrically, whereas the rest were consumed either via VOD or were produced for and/or premiered on streaming services.  I would say, though, that many of the films listed below deserved cinematic viewing on as big of a screen as possible.  As is the case with all of my previous BEST FILMS lists, I always aim for variety here, and my TEN BEST FILMS OF 2022 is assuredly no exception.  A historical epic appears here, as does a three hour drama about the early years of Hollywood (it was a notorious box office bomb, but not a qualitative one).  A murder mystery makes an appearance (also a sequel, no less, quite rare on these lists) alongside a late 19th Century dramedy about the end of a friendship.  Two animated efforts get top billing too (one of the stop motion variety and the other courting some controversy about Oscar eligibility because of its methods used, but regardless...I thought it rocked), not to mention one of the best high school/coming of age films in a long time (that nearly everyone forgot about or didn't see) and a surprisingly frank film about sexuality from an older adult female prerogative (now that's a rarity these days).  And because I just can't bring myself to produce an obligatory list of ten great films, I've also opted to reveal a greater TOP 25 compilation to give honorable mentions to other work that just couldn't make the cut of the TOP 10, but were worthy of acclaim nonetheless. 

One last note:  I have yet to see a few noteworthy 2022 releases as of the posting date of this article (like THE WHALE, AFTERSUN, and TAR, for instance).  Once I screen them and feel they deserve worthy placement here then I'll amend my rankings below. 

So, let the accolades begin with my number one film of 2022 followed by 24 other highly worthy candidates: 

 

 

 
 

1.   THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN

 

I can't think of another film from 2022 where all of its ingredients clicked together with such masterful fluency.  Whether it be the richly textured performances, the stunning recreation of a different time and place from a century-plus ago, or its story of friendship lost and the dangers of hanging on to what's not there anymore, THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN showed - once again - British-Irish director Martin McDonagh working on a whole other level apart from his contemporaries.  This marked his fourth film behind the camera, coming off of critically lauded efforts like his Oscar winning THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (and how could I forget what a splash he made in the industry in the late 2000s with his hitman dramedy IN BRUGES?), but his latest just might be his most mature and accomplished work to date. 

THE BANSHEES ON INISHERIN showcased some of the same hallmarks of McDonagh's past films in the way that they pack a real psychological gut punch while harnessing bleak gallows humor.  I laughed a lot during this film when I first screened it, but when it wasn't making me laugh I was often recoiling in horror.  The story here could have not been more economical: Two lifelong friends (played in two of the finest performances of the past year by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson respectively, reuniting with McDonagh after IN BRUGES) living in the fictitious early 20th Century Irish isle of Inisherin have an abrupt break-up caused by one of them...for no real reasons offered initially, which sets the other on a downward spiral of shame. What starts off as a small scale story of bruised male egos evolves into something decidedly more sinister and brutally honest about the nature of toxic male relationships.  THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN demanded at lot out of viewers in terms of asking them to fully accept and embrace the macabre absurdities in this tale while also showing how fragile friendships can be pushed to the brink of unspeakable self-harm.  

I've seen this film three times since its theatrical premiere and its potency has remained with each viewing.  I knew this was 2022's best the first time I experienced it.  

 

2.  BABYLON

 

There have been many in critical circles that have described writer/director Damien Chazelle's BABYLON - his fourth feature film - as a "feel bad" portrait about Hollywood.  That's only partially true.  The Oscar winning filmmaker's latest in 2022 was an epically staged and executed historical drama set between the late 1920s and early 1930s, during which time seismic change occurred that forever altered the course of the industry: the shift from silent to sound films.  BABYLON presented this rocky changeover to the "talkies", but it also served to remind viewers that the pre-Code film industry of the Roaring Twenties was anything but quaint and innocent.  If anything, this was a time when the studio system systematically chewed up and spit out stars like commodities, and were often discarded once they outlived their value.   

So, yes, Chazelle's BABYLON was a "feel-bad" film in this respect, but it was also steeped in an admiration for Hollywood film history and paid reverence to the pioneers that paved the way over a hundred years ago.  But, to be sure, Chazelle's drama was also intrinsically critical of this period (which bares more that a striking similarity to our modern era).  Most crucially, BABYLON was impeccably well engineered in its deconstruction of Hollywood's past, its depiction of 1920s Tinseltown and all of the behind-the-scenes lunacy, decadence, and treachery that befell the movies as a whole.  Hollywood of the silent era was glamorous, but had its nasty underbelly.  Chazelle demonstrated - perhaps more than any other filmmaker from the past twelve months - a go-for-broke and free-free-wheeling bravado with his film and one that was as technically assured as any I've seen from him.  And BABYLON has one of the most shocking and sensationally rendered opening sequences of the movies, which also featured a performance of feral ferocity by the open-to-anything Margot Robbie, who deserves Oscar consideration for her portrayal of a silent film star that will stop at nothing to get noticed.    

This was by no means an easy watch, but Chazelle made - for my money - a towering and sprawling achievement that reminded me of the ethereal power of the movies as larger than life works, but beneath the movie magic projected on screen lures a heart of darkness.  BABYLON also reminded me of why Chazelle is easily the most dynamic new voice in contemporary cinema.  With his stunning debut in WHIPLASH, followed by his glorious musical LA LA LAND, his masterful portrait of the Space Race in FIRST MAN and now BABYLON it's evident that there are few other young American directors working on such a consistently high level.

 

3.  THE FALLOUT

Here's a film that was widely released so early in 2022 that I feel that it was completely forgotten about and/or ignored on most critic's TOP TEN lists.  To be honest, I almost didn't watch it when it officially premiered in the U.S. on HBO MAX (or Crave TV in Canada), but I was so glad that I did.  I often loathe the prospects of sitting through yet another soft pedaled and saccharine drama about high school and youth culture in general, but when I finished my screening of Megan Park's THE FALLOUT I was convinced that this was the best film about teenagers, their frailties, and their fears for the future since Bo Burnham's EIGHTH GRADE

Making an impressive directorial debut, Park opened her film rather modestly as it showed the daily comings and goings of its Gen-Z characters, but tragedy soon strikes when a mass shooting occurs at their high school, which leads to many of these already lost souls in the story becoming more hopelessly entombed in anxiety and trauma.  The best accolade that I could possibly give THE FALLOUT is that Park never once condescended down towards her young characters and instead treated them with respect as we journeyed with them on their obstacle laden paths to recovery. It was also a sensitively and intelligently rendered portrait of how teens struggle to find answers after something so senseless has happened...and often can't find any.  We were also given a thoughtfully rendered friendship that developed between two girls in particular that dealt with the aftermath of the shooting in their own unique ways (played stupendously by Maddie Zielger and Jenna Ortega, with the latter being talked about by everyone lately because of her work on Netflix's WEDNESDAY series, but this is her true career breakout performance).  THE FALLOUT marked a major achievement as far as first-time directors go, and Park's efforts should have garnered a much wider audience and attention than it received last year.

 

 

 

 

 

4.  APOLLO 10 1/2: A SPACE AGE CHILDHOOD

The core premise of Richard Linklater's wondrous animated film APOLLO 10 1/2: A SPACE AGE CHILDHOOD could not have been anymore bonkers, yet enthralling: 

What if Neil Armstrong was not the first human being to step foot on the Moon?  And what if the actual first person to do so was a Houston, Texas residing fourth grader that was hand picked by NASA to take part in a top secret mission to do a test run to the Moon to ensure that - in the future - Armstrong and company won't have any hiccups?

To say that Linklater's Netflix produced film was, well, out there is a massive understatement.  Making a triumphant return to the type of rotoscope animation style that he used to superb effect in films like 2006's A SCANNER DARKLY, Linklater created a time capsule, what-if historical picture wrapped in a sweet coming of age tale that's loosely based on his own family and upbringing in Texas (minus the kid going to the Moon, of course).  Despite the fact that APOLLO 10 1/2 was pure make-believe, Linklater nevertheless bathed his animated film in sumptuous nostalgic waters to the point where it became more compelling as an evocation of a tightly knit family and all of the minutia of their everyday lives during an extraordinary period of technological change and human achievement.  APOLLO 10 1/2 made for a great companion film to Linklater's own DAZED AND CONFUSED (set in the 70s) and EVERYBODY WANTS SOME (set in the 80s) in the ways that they respectively explored the microcosms of growing up in different eras.  

And the ethereally beautiful rotoscope animation (headed by Tommy Pallotta) was crucial in selling this film's marriage of fantasy and reality.  The film was embroiled in controversy when the Academy made it ineligible for the Best Animated Film category, a hogwash move that was later rectified (all of the actors here were, yes, shot live action wise on greenscreens, but then the artists rotoscoped over them and completely built their environments and what they interacted with from scratch).  Not only is this the best animated film of 2022, but also one of the best films period, and one that served as a riveting portrait of 60's youth culture and family ties.   

 

5.  GUILLERMO DEL TORO'S PINOCCHIO

 

Let's get one thing out of the way right from the get-go: 

2022's other PINOCCHIO offering - Disney's live action remake of their 1940 animated classic, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks - was an unnecessary abomination as far as cynical cash grab pictures go (and was one of 2022's worst films).  It did nothing fresh or revitalizing with the underlining material that, in turn, was spawned in Carlo Collodi's original 19th Century literary source material. 

Saving the day was Guillermo del Toro and his bravura stop motion animated PINOCCHIO, which thoroughly washed away the bad taste that Zemeckis' remake left in my mouth.  Del Toro is a self-admitted and longtime Pinocchio fanboy that both worshipped at the alter of the pioneering 1940's animated film and Collodi's darker book.  His PINOCCHIO was a lifelong passion project in bringing this legendary story to life, but not in live action form nor through traditional animated techniques. With a massive assist from co-director Mark Gustafson, del Toro opted to use stop motion animation to give his take on Pinocchio a different aesthetic lease on life, not to mention that he compellingly grounded this tale in Fascist Italy post-WWI and pre-WWII, giving the narrative a whole layer of historical intrigue and social-cultural subtext.  It almost never happens that two films about the same subject matter are released in the same year with one making my WORST FILMS list and the other occupying my BEST FILMS compilation, but del Toro's re-imagined PINOCCHIO (ambitiously supported by Netflix, making yet another appearance here) deserved its acclaim as one of 2022's finest.  It was a dark, haunting, visually stunning, and soulful exploration of a classic mythology that I thought simply didn't need another film version.  

Del Toro proved me wrong.  Boy, did he ever.  

 

6.  THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING

A few years back I selected George Miller's MAD MAX: FURY ROAD as the best film of the last decade, and for very good reason.  Making one of the greatest sequels and pure action films of all time is certainly a hard act to follow.  Instead of journeying back to the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Australia, the 77-year-old Oscar winning filmmaker opted to make something more modestly budgeted within the fantasy genre.   

THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING was that film (and his first since 2015's MAD MAX: FURY ROAD), and it could not have been anymore refreshingly different.  His newest work was proof positive of his astounding versatility as a director (he has made everything from MAD MAX to supernatural comedies like THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK to fact based dramas like LORENZO'S OIL to family entertainment delights like BABE; PIG IN THE CITY and HAPPY FEET), and perhaps the finest aspect of THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING was that it was an adult fantasy told from an adult perspective that was tailored for adult viewers.  Based on the short story by A.S. Byatt, Miller spun a tale of a world renowned "narratologist" (played beautifully by the always reliable Tilda Swinton) that finds herself unleashing a massive genie - or Djinn (played by the commanding  Idris Elba).  Because she's a foremost expert in myths and fables, she understands the inherent pratfalls of making three wishes to Djinn, which leads both characters on a journey of discovery ripe with philosophical questions.   And it all never really traveled down the expected path that I thought it would going in.   

Miller made this film for relative peanuts (around $40-50 million), but it looks two to three times more expensive.  He still was able to let his unparalleled skills as a visualist take command as he showed Djinn recounting his past history through the centuries.  All of the flashback vignettes were masterpieces of arresting, dreamlike imagery, but I think - in the end - that I responded more to how THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING was not a tailored made and conventional fantasy for family audiences.  It's so rare to see genre efforts like this that both inspire a sense of awe and wonder in their sights that also are made directly for my age demographic.  Miller's MAD MAX follow-up was criminally avoided by most filmgoers in 2022, but far too many missed one of the year's most wondrously ambitious, stylistically audacious, and dramatically potent films.    

 

7.  THE GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY

 

I think that it was safe to say that writer/director Rian Johnson confidently and securely moved on as a filmmaker from his creatively wrongheaded handling of his STAR WARS sequel trilogy entry in THE LAST JEDI to his stupendous ode to Agatha Christie whodunits in 2019's KNIVES OUT (which I placed on my list of best films of that year).  Not only did that film pay respectful reverence to the longstanding legacy of the murder mystery genre, but it also infused in it a hip contemporary edge.  That, and it introduced one of the movie's most compelling new characters in Daniel Craig's master sleuth Benoit Blanc.

A sequel to KNIVES OUT proved inevitable (it was a massive box office success and critical darling), which led to the Netflix (another appearance here!) producing the Blanc-led follow-up GLASS ONION (the streaming giant acquired the rights to two more KNIVES OUT mysteries for a cool half a billion dollars).  I rarely put sequels on my TOP TEN lists, but what Johnson achieved with GLASS ONION was no simple or easy feat.  The setup of this murder mystery contained obligatory elements (Blanc finds himself yet again in a secluded setting with several suspicious suspects that all were capable of committing murder...and then a murder occurs), but this is not a direct follow-up to KNIVES OUT, which was a wise move.  Instead, the players (outside of Blanc), the locations, and the stakes were all vastly different, not to mention some of Johnson's elitist targets seemed bigger this time.  More importantly, Johnson's script was KNIVES OUT's equal in terms of being razor sharp, insidiously funny, and diabolically orchestrated with layers upon layers of subterfuge brilliantly sprinkled in throughout.  And at the center of it all was the wily presence of Craig, who has never looked so happy to have put James Bond behind him. GLASS ONION was 2022's most purely and giddily entertaining films, not to mention one of the finest sequels in many a moon. 

 

 

 

8.  THE NORTHMAN

THE NORTHMAN was one of 2022's most brutally effective pictures on levels of pure blunt force trauma and absurdly savage trippiness; it was like CONAN: THE BARBARIAN on acid. 

Leave it up to director Robert Eggers - no stranger to the bizarre and macabre (see THE LIGHTHOUSE and THE WITCH) to take full command of a massive $100 million budget and spearhead a historical Viking epic that has his esoteric brand of strange and hallucinatory energy cursing through its veins.  THE NORTHMAN was many things and it did many of those things astoundingly well: It was (a) a simple tale of revenge, (b) an odyssey set, yes, in the age of Vikings and (c) a work of maniacal and lurid fantasy that was cemented in slasher tendencies.  It was a strange and beguiling cinematic cocktail, but one that I ravenously drank up.  THE NORTHMAN could never be described as a straightforward historical action picture and it rarely felt slavishly reliant on the genre's conventions.  It might be Egger's most accessible of films, but that's not to say that it mindfully held viewers' hands either.  It was a huge tragedy that THE NORTHMAN was a box office bomb and not seen by enough people.  This is one of a small handful of incredible epics that deserved big screen consumption and served as a rallying cry for people to return to the cinemas.   

 

9.  GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE

GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE was a movie about sex...I mean...like...completely about sex.  

But it was not a dirty movie in the slightest.  The core premise of this Hulu released (Amazon Prime in Canada) minimalist dramedy concerned a middle aged and constantly uptight retired teacher (played in one of the finest performances of her esteemed career by Emma Thompson, so that's saying a lot) that has had a mostly joyless sex life, so she decides to rent out a hotel room and hires a vastly younger male sex worker (played in the film's other superlative performance by Daryl McCormack) to please her in any way during the time allotted and paid for.   

Now, under less assured hands, GOOD LUCK TO YOU LEO GRANDE could have easily been a witless TV sitcom-like disaster, but director Sophie Hyde and writer Katy Brand never once made their film smutty or cheaply sensationalistic.  Rather more compellingly, they used this economical premise and limited setting (it was almost entirely set in the hotel room with just these two characters) to tell a tender minded and sensitive rendered examination on an older women experiencing a sexual re-awakening and how people form connections with others from different walks of life.  Best yet, GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE was a film told predominantly from the aging female perspective, and how hopelessly rare is it these days to get a frank, intelligent and amusing film about human sexuality that doesn't involve young people?  And witnessing Thompson take complete command of this film in her portrait of a woman at the autumn of her life navigating feelings of low self worth that takes drastic measures to deal wit them was the gift that never stopped giving here.  Mature bedroom dramas are all but extinct, which made GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE stand out as one of 2022's best.

 

10.  THE MENU

Much like GLASS ONION before it, director Mark Mylod's THE MENU eviscerated a very specific target in the ultra well-off members of society, but he also expanded his cross hairs to hone in on fanatical foodies, pompous critics (wait...what?!), social media celebs, and the obsessive meticulousness of the gourmet culinary arts and world.  And this film was frothing at the mouth in going right for the satiric jugular in ways that I couldn't have even envisioned before screening it completely blind.  I went to this film cold and without knowing much about it at all, and was far better off because of it.   

THE MENU was cheekily and sneakily marketed as a black comedy, but deep down the film contained equal parts psychological horror elements that are only unleashed after a wonderfully modulated slow-burn build-up.  The film had a deceptively basic premise: A bunch of uppity one per centers journey out to an exclusive and posh island restaurant for an evening of multiple delicious courses served out over four-plus hours by the reigning master chef supreme (played with reptilian ooze by Ralph Fiennes), but as the night progresses it's revealed that this obsessive drill sergeant of a chef may have more - shall we say - insane motives with his patrons.  With the Oscar winning Fiennes having a hell of a time playing this man of irreproachable refinement and intelligence (coming off so terrifyingly in the most modest ways) and a juicily penned screenplay that took great unfiltered pride in examining culinary violence being perpetrated on the self-serving rich in society, THE MENU was served up as one of 2022's most deliciously unhinged and creepily amusing dishes. 

  ...and now to round off my TEN BEST FILMS OF 2022 with my selections from 11-25:  
 

11. the woman king:  A fearsomely empowered Viola Davis lead the charge of this ultra rare swords and sandals historical epic that focused an all-female squadron in 19th Century West Africa.  

12. ELVIS:  Director Baz Lurhman made his most propulsive and energetically stylish movie since MOULIN ROGUE that also featured one of the finest performances of the year in Austin Butler's deep dive work as The King.   

13. PREY:  After so many tired and sometimes downright dreadful sequels over the years, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE helmer Dan Trachtenburg brought the PREDATOR franchise back to its roots while injecting some much need innovation into the storytelling.   

14. Kimi:  Remember when Steven Soderbergh announced his retirement years ago?  Good thing he wasn't serious, or we might not have received films like this robustly confident and intense tech thriller that played like an intriguing hybrid of Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW and De Palma's BLOW OUT.  

15. Nitram:  An engrossing and powerful drama about Australia's worst mass shooting; it couldn't have been more frighteningly timely.  

16. the black Phone:IWriter/director Scott Derrickson decided to pass on making DOCTOR STRANGE 2, but the MCU's loss was the horror genre's big gain with this atmospheric 1970s themed nerve wracker.  

17. Pearl:  This prequel to Ti West's period slasher picture X was the more fiendishly clever of the pair.  

18. the bATMAN: Matt Reeves worked miraculous wonders with his work on the PLANET OF THE APES reboot trilogy and also succeeded in his thankless task to re-tool the Caped Crusader and bring him back to his detective noir roots.  

19. Causeway:  Inspired performances by Jennifer Lawrence and Bryan Tyree Henry helped ground this modest budgeted and low key drama about people dealing with trauma. 

20. the sea Beast:  One of the best animated films of the year was this completely overlooked seafaring gem produced by Netflix and from the makers of BIG HERO 6.   

21. My Father's DragoN::Netlfix striked again with their release of this beautifully rendered 2D animated film from the geniuses at Cartoon Saloon. 

22. Against the IcE:  Yet another Netflix picture making the cut, with this one being a historical survival thriller that focused on the compelling tale of two Danish Arctic explorers that ventured to the absolute tail end of Greenland. 

23. the unbearable Weight of Massive Talent:  If you're willing to get past the gimmicky nature of this film's premise (Nic Cage plays Nic Cage in an action comedy that celebrates...Nic Cage) then you'll find yourself being rewarded by one 2022's smartest and funniest satires.   then

24. Raymond & RaY:  A compassionately observed and crazily funny family dramedy that featured a top tier Ethan Hawke and Ewan McGregor playing estranged brothers having to go to one of the most awkward funerals in movie history. 

25. Metal Lords::This criminally underrated Netflix coming of age high school comedy was good natured, complexly rendered, and extremely endearing; it deserved some modest comparisons to SING STREET.

 
  Beyond my TOP 25, here's a further selection of films that are definitely worth seeing, but just not quite great enough to make the final cut:  

Everything Everywhere All At OncE:  No way I was going to overlook this eccentrically ambitious martial arts comedy fantasy on my list, which contained career high work by the always amazing Michelle Yeoh.

Resurrection:  One of the most difficult to sit through psychological thrillers in many a moon, and I mean that as a sincere compliment.  

Dual:  No one does ultra dry macabre comedy that's impenetrably strange like writer/director Riley Stearns, and his latest offering certainly didn't disappoint.  

See For ME:  A small scale home invasion thriller from way, way back in January of 2022 that succeeded for the manner it tossed in a compelling new hook into the dime-a-dozen genre. 

Munich: The Edge of WaR:  A commendably good men standing around and talking/negotiating bureaucratic spy drama that amalgamated fact and fiction in mostly solid fashion. 

Death on the NilE:  Kenneth Branagh made a triumphant return as Hercule Poirot in this evocatively stylized and intriguing Agatha Christie whodunit. 

UncharteD:  One of the ultra rare video game to movie adaptations that delivered on its large scale set-pieces and eye popping spectacle while embracing its inherent silliness. 

I Want You BacK:  This Amazon Prime romcom was memorable for how it subverted genre conventions while adhering to them all the same.  

WindfalL:  A Netflix produced minimalist psychological thriller that played well into its slow-burn, cat and mouse home invasion elements.  

Lucy and DesI:  Amy Poehler's intoxicating Amazon Prime documentary told a touching love story about two of the most iconic figures in sitcom television history in Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and showcased why they were a truly pioneering industry couple.  

All the Old KniveS:  This Amazon Prime spy thriller deserved to be respected and seen as a mostly effective piece of counter-programming against more mainstream genre pieces.  

X: Ti West's horror picture was an effective amalgam of BOOGIE NIGHTS and FRIDAY THE 13TH with a splash of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE thrown in for good measure.  

DoG:  I don't usually respond well to man/dog bromance pictures, but this one had an earnestness and sensitivity that won me over. 

Emergency:  A skillful piece of dexterous filmmaking that managed to subvert expectations in its well worn college comedy genre. 

Top Gun: MavericK:  This long gestating and frequently delayed sequel to the film that made Tom Cruise a bona fide box office mega-star back in the 80s had no business being as good as it was; it easily contained some of the most virtuoso and technically staggering dogfight sequences ever committed to film. 

THE Lost City: This Sandra Bullock starring vehicle tried awfully hard to be the second coming of ROMANCING THE STONE mixed with INDIANA JONES, but it was undeniably funny for its sustained silliness. 

InterceptoR:  A preposterously scripted, but preposterously enjoyable UNDER SIEGE clone that featured a well cast  Elsa Pataka (wife of THOR himself, Chris Hemsworth) carve out a fully credible tough as nails action hero. 

Sonic the Hedgehog 2: As far as the relatively cursed video game to movie genre goes, this sequel to the surprisingly decent 2020 franchise introductory installment - even with its deficiencies - still went down more satisfyingly than most. 

HustlE:  This Netflix made underdog sports picture represented yet another fine example of Adam Sandler's continued maturation as a highly competent and thoroughly effective dramatic star.

Father StU: A very good Mark Wahlberg headlined this appealingly made fact/faith-based drama.

THE Forgiven: This drama had a relatively intriguing premise that chronicled the worst aspects of white privilege and the racial and economic divide between the haves and the have nots from writer/director John Michael McDonagh (brother of Martin). 

LightyeaR:  This solo Buzz Lightyear animated adventure (completely separate from the TOY STORY mythos) garnered mostly negative reviews, but I thought it was an enjoyable franchise spin-off (granted, one of Disney-Pixar's more minor efforts). 

BeasT:  Idris Elba versus a CG man hungry/stalking lion?!  Hey, it was shockingly good and my guilty pleasure film of the past year. 

I Love My DaD:  One of the cringiest comedies of 2022 with one of the cringiest setups in maybe genre history that was equal parts bizarrely funny and deeply unsettling in equal measure.  

Where the Crawdads SinG:  Looking past its more more logic straining elements and a final act that simply didn't work, this Southern period mystery thriller was well acted and atmospheric.  

Do RevengE: Netflix's coming of age high school comedy was a hip, stylish, and enjoyable modern day redo of Hitchcock's STRANGERS ON A TRAIN.

Emily the Criminal:  Aubrey Plaza once again showed here why she is unafraid of just about any film genre and role challenge.

DC League of Super-PetS:  Who was a good boy?  This pretty adorable and fun animated film was, to be certain. 

Greatest Beer Run EveR:  Peter Farrelly followed up his Best Picture winning GREEN BOOK with this impossible to believe, but undeniably true story about one man's outlandish journey to delivery brewskies to his pals fighting in the Vietnam War.  I found myself engulfed in its ludicrousness. 

BarbariaN: Yeah, this fiendishly clever horror thriller fell apart in its late stages, but its first half remains one of the most memorable first 40-minutes that I had with a movie in 2022. 

Enola Holmes 2:  Millie Bobby Brown once again lent her considerable charm and natural appeal to this well made sequel. 

Confess, FletcH: It's impossible to think that we haven't had a silver screen FLETCH outing in over three decades, but we got just that in this Greg Motolla directed entry, featuring a surprisingly solid Jon Hamm substituted in for Chevy Chase. 

A Christmas Story ChristmaS:  This very, very long time in the coming sequel (make that 39 years!) to the iconic 1983 Yuletide classic gave diehard lovers of Bob Clark's film what they wanted in a new installment without becoming an exercise in dreadful pandering.

THE WONDER: You would have been right last year to avoid DON'T WORRY DARLING by instead seeking out this Netflix produced period drama set in mid 1800s Ireland for your Florence Pugh fix. 

Emancipation:  A better made historical Civil War era thriller than many gave it credit for, thanks largely to Antoine Fuqua's stylish direction and Will Smith's captivating performance. 

THE Fabelmans:  It might seem a tad self-serving (and indulgent) for Steven Spielberg to make a movie about his life and times as a child/teenager growing up in a dysfunctional family and becoming obsessed with filmmaking, but his semi-autobiographical period drama worked on its self-reflective levels. 

Avatar: The Way of Water: 13 years of waiting and hundreds of millions of dollars invested and we finally received a sequel to James Cameron's technologically pioneering 2009 sci-fi epic, which wholeheartedly delivered on mesmerizing spectacle.  

THE PALE BLUE EYE: This bone chillingly atmospheric gothic horror/murder mystery film represented the third cinematic teaming of director Scott Cooper and star Christian Bale; the story became unglued in its final act, but the build up to it was superb. - Added January 21, 2023

AFTERSUN: Charlotte Well's debut coming of age feature film won over many on their TOP 10 lists.  I didn't quite have it in as high of a regard.  Despite some of its pacing issues and stylistic choices, though, I still found it to be a profoundly empathetic and sensitive tale of family love, loss, and recollection.   - Added January 31, 2023

TAR: Even though I thought that writer/director Todd Field's first film in 16 years stumbled in some of its narrative and thematic handling, his third feature still stood out on a pure filmmaking craft level and largely because of star Cate Blanchett's gripping performance.   - Added February 9, 2023

 
 

 

 

  

 
 
 

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