It’s been quite a year for movies in 2022. Streaming platforms continue their all-out assault on the box office with a plethora of content, and every major studio either has or is planning to drop some kind of tentpole release. After so many ups and downs, it really does feel like movies are back.
Hell, we’ve had at least 4 major blockbusters drop this year, and the summer blockbuster season hasn’t even really hit yet. There’s still plenty to look forward to, so I thought it would be good to take a look at the year so far and rank some of my personal favorites that I’ve seen so far.
A few clarifications before we dig into the list. First, I have been privy to a few films early due to some festivals I was able to screen this year, so there will be some films on this list that haven’t been released yet but will be later this year. And not all of them have their wide release dates set, so I can’t even tell you where to find them. But I felt it necessary to include them because they technically had an early 2022 release date (albeit limited) and they were absolutely wonderful films that have lived rent free in my brain since I screened them. Second, I can only go off of the films I have seen this year. So if you adored “Ambulance,” more power to you but I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to see it so it can’t make the list.
In addition to including festival-only releases, my own criteria counts theatrical, straight to streaming, and documentaries on an equal playing field. I could probably do multiple rankings for each of these respective categories, but for the sake of time and my own amount of effort I’m willing to put in, we’re ranking them all together and equally. And, not that this important, but you’ll notice that Marvel is nowhere to be found in my top 10. So if you ever questioned whether Disney shells out money to me for rave reviews, hopefully this serves as irrefutable evidence that I am not living the high life of printed money from Kevin Fiege‘s off shore bank account.
Some films just barely made the list. These are films I really enjoyed, but they didn’t quite make the cut as favorites.
“The Batman” – HBO Max
This is a really, really good film. “The Batman” is well made, beautifully shot, and really well acted, solidifying Robert Pattison as a bonafide action star. But I also didn’t lose my mind over it, and while I’ve seen it three times already this year, this issues I have with “The Batman” hold it back from being one of my favorite moving going experiences of 2022. It’s good, but it’s not great and wont’ hold its place in my cinematic memory as much as others may feel that it should.
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”
Much like previous film, “Multiverse of Madness” was really good but not great, and I can kind of take it or leave it overall. I didn’t harbor the hate that many others did, and much of my issues were minimal at best. But there were plenty of misgivings I had with it, some of which have to do a with film that DOES make the list and does everything “Multiverse of Madness” wished it could but infinitely better. I wanted to love this one, but it failed to leave a long lasting impression on my even if I thoroughly enjoyed myself watching it.
I enjoyed the hell out of “The Northman.” The wild, barbaric cinematography, the graphic viking retelling of “Hamlet” and the entire cast chewing through scenery every single chance they got. And yet, for a Robert Eggers film, “The Northman” did leave me wanting. I’m not entirely sure what for seeing as how the film literally concludes with two naked viking warriors sword fighting in a literal volcano, but it simply doesn’t have the lasting impression I would’ve wanted. I don’t think I can pinpoint what else I wanted from “The Northman,” but whatever is missing caused it to fall just outside of the top 10 for 2022.
Man, this was one helluva ride with the wildest blend of sex and horror and exploitation of both in clever ways. “X” is truly an experience, and is quite literally everything “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” wished it could be. I would probably argue that “X” only misses the top 10 list due to other films being a better experience for me than any folly of the film itself. “X” is really good, delivering heavy on themes of sex and violence and how those two things often coincide in the genre of horror along with some clever subversion that sells the success of the film overall. “X” just barely makes the cut.
Now that the mentions are out of the way, let’s get into the REAL top 10! Here are my favorite films of 2022 so far!
10. “Fresh ” – Hulu
The only horror/thriller film to make the list, “Fresh” really blew me away. Maybe it was the incredible performance from Daisy Edgar Jones, or seeing Sebastian Stan in a completely different role than I’m use to seeing him. Or maybe it’s just that the film’s slow burn, dark turn creates an unforgettable atmosphere of unsettled and disturbing emotions without going overboard with its graphic depictions. Don’t get me wrong, “Fresh” is loaded with some grotesque imagery, but it’s not central to its story and the performances and pacing are what make this one a real success.
9. “Emergency” – Amazon Prime Video
One of the biggest standouts from Sundance this year for me, “Emergency” is the perfect blend of buddy coming of age college story pitted against social and racial commentary without ever diminishing either one of them. It is wildly funny and deeply unsettling in the way in frames racism and social issues that need to be addressed. The vehicle (both literal and metaphorical) with which the film chooses to deliver these larger, more important themes turns out to be the right choice, and “Emergency” is a truly fun but thought provoking film that I highly recommend to everyone.
8. “The Lost City” – Paramount+
I’m as surprised as you are, but have not qualms about where the “The Lost City” ends up on the list. This movie was one of the more surprisingly enjoyable films of the year for me, one I didn’t have much stock in going into it and leaving with nothing but a smile and some much needed joy. Sometimes movies just need to entertain us, and “The Lost City” was perfect pallet cleanser from a year spent pouring through a very long list of screening for meaning films. Sometimes you just need to watch Channing Tatum and Sandra Bullock transport you back to the mid 90s of action comedies and crack jokes as the romp through the jungle. “The Lost City” delivers, and is perhaps the most surprising inclusion on the top 10 list of the year.
7. “Top Gun: Maverick”
Please don’t freak out. I absolutely adored “Top Gun: Maverick,” and it was a true cinematic experience that almost no film on the list even comes close to. Cruise was right to hold this film hostage for almost 3 years so people could experience it the way it was intended. This is a film that demands to be seen on the biggest screen possible, and you are doing yourself a huge disservice if you wait to watch “Top Gun: Maverick” when it hits streaming later in the summer. Trust me when I tell you, this is a theatrical experience, one you should not miss out on. “Maverick” is a visual masterpiece, and while it has its flaws narratively speaking, the sheer mastery of cinematography and arial combat is a wonder to behold. Even if you aren’t invested in the original, I would still highly recommend “Top Gun: Maverick.”
6. “Navalny” – HBO Max
I’ve watched a lot of documentaries this year, and while a majority of them were excellent, “Navalny” is easily one of the absolutely best docs of 2022. It is more relevant than ever given the current political climate and actions of Russia, but “Navalny” is unlike any documentary I’ve ever seen. Sure, it follows the basic formula of all great documentaries, but what happens and how it transpires is jaw dropping and unforgettable. I can’t remember a time I’ve watched a documentary and been on the edge of my seat when things really start to take off. I genuinely can’t recommend “Navalny” enough. If you’re true crime fan, a documentary fan, or even just a fan of out of this world story telling where fact is stranger than fiction, “Navalny” has it all and more!
5. “Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers” – Disney+
Yup, you read that right. A feature film based on a 90s cartoon that no one asked for or even really knew was a thing cracks the top 5. And rightfully so, because “Chip ‘N’ Dale Rescue Rangers” is much more of a “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” sequel we didn’t know we needed than an actual sequel/reboot of the original series. It is an absolutely bonkers interpretation of the original show, but my god is delightfully unhinged and gut busting hilarious. “Chip ‘N’ Dale” is nostalgic fueled pandering done right, made predominantly for adults who will lose it over ever easter egg and adult joke (jammed packed in this thing from start to finish) but has just enough child like animation silliness to be fun for the whole family. I was not expecting “Chip and Dale” to be so damn good, but here we are adding it to the top of the list of my favorite films of 2022.
4. “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent“
I’m not gonna say it here because I say it every single time the conversation of Nick Cage comes up, but my god is “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” the answer to my long rhetorical question. I laughed til I cried, and can’t remember having that much fun the theater in a long time, including this current year. “Massive Talent” is massively funny and thrilling. It’s big and brazen and self aware, and sports the perfect pairing of Cage and Pedro Pascal, with Pascal being the most enjoyable he’s ever been in his entire career. And that includes “The Mandalorian.” It is truly a wonderful experience, and if it’s playing near you, I highly recommend checking out “Massive Talent.”
The only film on the list without an official release date, “Linoleum” is a SXSW release that has stuck with me far longer than any of the films I screened this year. I literally balled, I mean ugly cried as the film began its 3rd act conclusion, and I haven’t been able to escape how touching and wonderful this very weird indie film ends up being. “Linoleum” works best when you know as little about it as possible, because where it begins and where it ends up and so drastically different you’ll spend the rest of the day trying to figure out how you missed it. But the journey is worth taking, and “Linoleum” floored me with how much I ended up loving it. I can’t wait for more people to see this film.
2. “Cha Cha Real Smooth” – Apple TV+
I’m just going to say it: 2022 is the year of Dakota Johnson. “Cha Cha Real Smooth” was the talk of the town at Sundance, and became THE film to watch on many critics lists. Rightfully so, too. Because “Cha Cha Real Smooth” is a touching, funny, heartfelt story of the fallacies of love, romances, chances and life itself, and tells a rather run of the mill story is a wildly unique way. I loved this film so much, and it absolutely earns its praise and massive purchase for distribution from Apple. “Cha Cha Real Smooth” is simply lovely, and I have no problem putting it at the top of my list. Mark your streaming calendars for mid June. You’re not going to want to miss “Cha Cha Real Smooth” this year when it hits AppleTV+ on June 17th.
1. “Everything Everywhere All At Once”
I think most of you probably guessed this was going to be the top pick for the year. “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is close to a perfect film, one that I haven’t stopped thinking about since I saw it and can’t stop telling people to watch it. And if we’re being honest, I don’t know that there will be another film this year that tops it. “EEAAO” is a dazzling cinematic wonder, a film that is powered by out of this world performances, and wild bonkers story that still feels controlled by its authors, and a heartfelt conclusion that (surprise surprise) left me in tears for the majority of the films conclusion. It is just a goddamn delight, and holds its number one spot by a very wide margin. If you watch just one film this year, make it “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”
So there you have it, my mid year review of my top 10 favorite films of 2022. I’m sure there are plenty to come that may dethrone some of these come December, but I think this is a terrific list of recommendations.