The odd/even cycle of movie year quality continues.
Candidly, I don’t think 2016, 2018, or 2020 (the latter for understandable reasons) offered peak cinema, and 2022 is following that trend. My Top 10 this year is unfortunately one of my weaker ones in recent memory. The good news, I hope, is that if this cycle continues, we’re in for a treat for 2023.
Still, like the even years preceding 2022, I came into the new year with a list of movies I truly enjoyed, and I’m excited to share this list of my top 10 movies of 2022 with you.
10. Violent Night
Christmas movies are so rarely praised for their filmmaking quality. Granted, that’s because many of them aren’t worthy of such praise, but some are. Violent Night is one of them.
A love letter to Die Hard and Home Alone, Violent Night featured a perfectly-cast David Harbour as a disgruntled Santa who finds himself in a man-against-an-army showdown on Christmas Eve protecting a family that mirrors the original Knives Out clan.
This movie is joyous, features grin-induing fight choreography, and will certainly be on my watchlist this coming December.
9. Bullet Train
I didn’t have too much fun at the movies this summer, so by the time Bullet Train hit theaters in August, I was ready for something exactly like it. Unlike Violent Night, I’m not sure when or if I’ll watch this one again — but I had a genuinely fun time watching it. In my opinion, that’s worth something.
With his Oscar-winning charisma and physicality, Brad Pitt charms as he anchors this ensemble-supported movie. Even if it’s not necessarily a rewatchable, it certainly is more than watchable.
8. The Batman
I had to do this movie justice (sorry – my roommate and I quoted that ad nauseam for months).
The Batman breathed new life into an IP that was tired and lacking originality. Most importantly, they nailed the tone here. The darkness of Gotham and Wayne himself worked, helping to create a dreadful and gripping tale of The Caped Crusader. And that end sequence? Terrifying and masterfully done.
7. She Said
Here we have the best journalism movie since 2015’s Spotlight. I’m disappointed that She Said didn’t get the love it deserved at the Oscars (Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, and – yes – Best Picture nominations), but I’m also bummed it didn’t resonate commercially. Hopefully it’ll attract a deserved wider audience when it hits streaming. Its two-hour runtime flew by and I was hooked throughout.
6. Triangle of Sadness
I went into this one with very little knowledge of its premise (except that that scene was eventually coming). Although Triangle of Sadness isn’t exactly saying anything that hasn’t already been said, I appreciated how it said what it was saying.
The writing and these performances — particularly those of Woody and Dolly — are top notch. Dolly’s third-act emergence was my favorite character arc of the year, and although they left her out of Best Supporting Actress, I’m eternally grateful to the Academy for recognizing this masterpiece in three of its above-the-line categories, ensuring it will be seen by more viewers.
5. Avatar: The Way of Water
I missed you, James Cameron. This man is a visual moviemaking master, and to see him essentially remake both Avatar and Titanic in the last act of this film had me on the edge of my seat for a full hour. It takes some time to get to where it’s going, but once we emerge from the whale communication and Neyteri absence in the first stretch, we’re treated to this long-awaited return to what we love about Pandora, movies, and of course, James Cameron.
4. Top Gun: Maverick
Admittedly, I’m strongly indifferent towards the first Top Gun, so my expectations weren’t exactly through the roof for this decades-later sequel.
Boy was I blown away.
I’ve revisited this movie a couple times since seeing it in theaters, and each time, I remain just as moved and entertained as my first outing. My heart races in the first moments as Mav strives to hit Mach 10, and I find myself holding back tears of joy during the landing scene at the end.
The music, sound, cinematography, and acting make Top Gun a true feat. Tom Cruise is equal parts mad man and genius, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
3. The Banshees of Inisherin
The worst title, best movie combo award goes to this one. I was skeptical about a movie with a silly title from the man behind Three Billboards – a film I did not like – but Banshees knocked my socks off.
Banshees is just as much a drama as it is a comedy — and one of my friends (Hi Trevor!) aptly noted it could just as easily be classified as a horror movie with its themes of abandonment, isolation, and futility. I’ve watched this one twice, and know it’ll be in semi-regular rotation in my life for some time for its impending stakes, laugh-out-loud comedy, and captivating performances.
2. The Northman
Eggers is slowly becoming one of my favorite up-and-coming filmmakers with three completely unique wins under his belt. Honestly — the man just makes good movies.
The Northman gets points for its dedicated production, use of setting, visceral fight sequences, themes, tone, and acting — all of which surface up into one kick-ass epic.
Another shoutout to my dear friend Trevor, not only for telling me to see this movie, but to see it in theaters.
I feel like if I call this movie bonkers, insane, or outlandish, you may take it the wrong way, so suffice it to say I mean all of those words in the absolute most flattering ways imaginable. RRR left me gobsmacked — kicking myself for thinking I wouldn’t find a single thing enjoyable about a three-hour-long, non-English, Netflix-distributed Indian film.
RRR is simply one of the finest epics I’ve had the joy of viewing. It has everything one loves about escapism, and although its over-the-top nature leaves a bit to be desired, this is far-and-away the best movie from 2022 that I saw.