As Boys II Men would say, we’ve come to the end of the road. After 200+ new films and few category best lists to eliminate some contenders and make the list more manageable, we’ve come to the fateful attempt to boil down the entire year to 10 films. Admittedly, it was incredibly difficult to try select the top 5% of such a massive watchlist, and even as I write this I’m not even 100% sure I got it all correct. So before we get into the list, let’s set some expectations and disclaimers to add some context as to how these 10 came to top the list of a pretty solid year for film.
For starters, I have included some honorable mentions that almost made the list, and if pushed could probably usurp some of the selected choices. In addition, I wanted to add some variability to the list, and not have yet another regurgitated list of the exact same movies as every other best of 2022 list. Not that there’s anything wrong with those selections, as most of them would indeed qualify as some of the best of the year. But as a personal endeavor, I wanted to be a little unique this time around and shed light on some unsung heroes. This brings us to what actually qualifies as a new 2022 film.
Not to get too deep into the weeds on this one (because you came here for a list, not my justification for it), but I am not disqualifying films whose “release” dates are a 2021 festival premiere, or one that had a limited release in a country I don’t live in. I count a film’s actual release date as when it is made available to see in the US. I didn’t attend the festival it premiered at and I don’t live in Finland, so even though it may be marked as 2021 because it debuted at Cannes and played in two theaters in Croatia, I will be counting it as a 2022 release.
And lastly (and most important), all best of lists are subjective. No list is perfect and no list can include every film you think should be included. So while I get wanting to write a strongly worded letter about how angry you are that “Top Gun: Maverick” didn’t take the number one spot or spam the comments with “What about such and such movie huh!?” know that everyone’s best of lists will be different and that’s ok. That’s showbiz baby!
Alright, I’ve rambled enough. Here are the top 10 best films I watched in 2022.
Usually I go through each one in this section, but there were honestly too many films that just barely made the cut, so we’re gonna have to do a speed round here. Some top honorable mentions include “Decision to Leave” (an absolutely stellar Korean film), “Top Gun: Maverick” (ya, ya I know, how dare me) and “The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titantic,” a wildly unique Finnish film that has not left my mind since I saw it at SXSW in March. This one was actually moved off the top 10 at the last minute, as I thought it may be TOO contrarian for its own good and would feel like I’m being different just for the sake of it instead of actually selecting the films I truly feel are the best. The last two honorable mentions are “The Menu” and “Women Talking.” These two are probably 11 and 12, or 9 and 10 if I was given longer to sit with it all. All of these honorable mentions are terrific films and I highly recommend them.
10. Lost Illusions
Probably the very last minute addition to the list, “Lost Illusions” is everything “Babylon” wished it could be, narratively speaking. Based on a novel series of the same name, the film follows a young writer from a small town who travels to Paris in the 1820s and is swept up the wild world of royalists, journalists, debauchery, and early gossip columns. It’s a whirlwind of early 19th century life, and yet is somehow just as relevant today. It is incredibly engaging, with stellar production design and terrific performances, and though a late entry into my best of list, “Lost Illusions” more than earns its keep.
9. Next Exit
Truthfully I was not expecting to love this film as much as I did, especially considering how frightened I am of death and mortality. But for whatever reason, “Next Exit” spoke to me in ways I was not ready for, and became a film that has lived rent free in my head since I watched it. It’s a drama, a road trip story, and a love story all at once, and balances them really well. It both humorous and cathartic, deeply touching and emotionally investing. It is definitely on the smaller side of films, but I really loved “Next Exit,” and how much it has stuck with me solidifies its place in my top 10 of the year.
8. Do Revenge
I said what I said, and I will not apologize. “Cruel Intentions” meets “Mean Girls” meets “Heathers,” with a splash of Gen Z flair and you get “Do Revenge.” These comprised elements are all up my alley, and checks a lot of boxes of things I enjoy in films. Plus, not everything has to be big weighty dramas. Sometimes they can be brash, hilarious, vibe picks. “Do Revenge” is very much a vibe pick, but I stand by it. I loved this one, and however ridiculous it gets only makes me love it even more. How can you not want to see Sophie Turner scream “I don’t do cocaine” at the top of her lungs in one of the best cameo freak outs ever put on film? You can read my full review here.
Ok, so my list isn’t really going to be THAT different from this point on, as most of the films that top the list are pretty common picks. “Tar” is definitely one of them, and it’s another film that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. Cate Blanchett is downright mesmerizing, delivering a career best in a long line of career bests. I don’t know that “Tar” works as well without her, but Todd Field’s script is one of the most complex, well researched and original screenplays I’ve seen in years. “Tar” is brilliant, and more than earns its place in the top 10. Full review here.
6. The Woman King
Historical revisions and embellishments aside, “The Woman King” is just a damn good time at the movies. A true “they don’t make them like they use to” hero’s journey story, it is one of the few films on the list that left me glowing when it ended. Action packed, heartfelt, and bursting with incredible, award worthy performances, “The Woman King” is just a incredible piece of cinema from top to bottom. Though I get the sense that its Oscar chances are thwarted, it is easily one of the most exiting and fun films I’ve seen all year. You can read my full review here.
5. The Banshees of Inisherin
I’m sure many are shocked to see “Banshees of Inisherin” so low on the list when it’s usually in the top 3 of most others. Once we get into the top 5, most if not all of these films can be interchangeable on any given day. Regardless, I loved “Banshees of Inisherin,” a chilling but darkly funny tale of isolation and dissolving friendship. The reunion of the “In Bruges” team works impeccably here, and it is easily one of the best films of 2022. You can check out my full review here.
Curveball! “Linoleum” is kind of cheating, since it doesn’t have a release date and has only been shown on the festival circuit. A strange sci-fi drama starring Jim Gaffigan, “Linoleum” works best when you know as little about it as possible. It sports one of the best endings to a film I’ve seen all year, one that left me absolutely wrecked emotionally. “Linoleum” takes a while to really get going, and doesn’t really come together until the final act, but that finale packs a wallop of a punch and I’ve been tweeting anyone associated with the project to find out when more people can finally watch this incredible film. I’ve been told by a producer (yes, really) that February 24th, 2023 is current release date for “Linoleum,” and I really hope that’s true because I want more people to experience this one.
I debated long and hard about how high I should place “RRR,” because it really might deserve to be number one. This one is about as close to flawless as a film can get. Bonkers, action packed, over the top in every way and totally fantastical, “RRR” is about as close to a masterpiece as one can get. A bromance for the ages, “RRR” is just everything films are made of. Of course, you need a whole day to get through it, because it’s true to form to its Tollywood roots and spans well over 3 hours. But for a year where 90% of films suffer from overly long runtimes, “RRR” never, ever stops being epic, and has almost 0 fat on its epic retelling of history. Usher in the new year with a fun night of “RRR.” Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
I gotta say, French cinema killed it this year. Some of my absolute favorite films have been French, and “Happening” is probably one of the best, well made films I won’t need to watch again. Though it takes place in the 1950s, the subject matter of “Happening” rings just as relevant today as it did then. With a knockout performance from Anamaria Vartolomei, the tight cinematography creates an almost claustrophobic experience, one that brings the audience in to feel the tension and impending dread that our lead feels as she navigates through her harrowing situation. “Happening” is a must watch for everyone, one that I wished more people saw and talked about.
Everything Everywhere All At Once
At least my number one slot surprises no one. “EEAAO” is just everything. The wild original story, the incredible performances, the rebirth of Ke Huy Quan, the breakout of Stephanie Hsu, the rightful recognition of Michelle Yeoh, and yes, Jamie Lee Curtis with hot dog fingers. This one knocked me out from the beginning, and was never in question of losing its spot in the top 3. Even on a rewatch, it still packs a punch, and “EEAAO” left me ugly crying for the last 30 minutes. I get it, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and some may find it to be overrated and overbearing. But for me, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is the best film of 2022. Full review here.
So there you have it, the best 10 films of 2022. See you next year!!!