Top 10 Films of 2022 w/ Honorable Mentions

You can also check out my Top 25 Film Performances of 2022.

Honorable Mentions

(in alphabetical order)

Really good, but not great movies that just missed my list.


Powerful but a bit trope-y South Korean drama about a makeshift family of baby merchants trying to find a loving home for an abandoned baby. Broker wisely rides the strengths of its characters and their fascinating dynamics. (In Theaters)

Jackass Forever

The hardest I laughed in theaters all year, my vote for funniest of the Jackass movies and hey, that’s really saying something. There are even unexpected little moments of poignancy based on the main crew’s friendship, especially when you realize how long they’ve all been doing this shit together. (Paramount+)

Mad God

The first of three stop motion animation movies on my honorable mentions and maybe the most impressive. A passion project for Jurassic Park and Robocop visual effects guru Phil Tippet, thirty years in the making. (Shudder)

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Another stop motion animation movie but one that’s much less dark and gross than Mad God. Dean Fleisher Camp and Jenny Slate‘s Marcel the Shell with Shoes on is a light, charming, low-stakes adventure comedy about a shell trying to find his way back home after being left at an airbnb. It never puts a shoe wrong (I’ll fire myself, I’m sorry) and ends on a genuinely sweet note. ($5.99 rental on VOD)


Some of the best ideas in mainstream filmmaking this year came from sketch comedian turned Rod Serling surrogate, Jordan Peele‘s third film, Nope. Alien invasion movies have been done to death over the past eighty years or so but Peele manages to find unique ways to tell it with incredible cinematography, interesting characters and a fantastic creature concept, while smoothly blending political and social commentary into every frame. (Peacock)


Far superior prequel/sequel to Ti West‘s X, which I liked but didn’t love. This I really loved. Mia Goth reprises one of her two roles from X in this villain origin story about a simple farm girl with big city dreams. The only difference between this girl and the millions of hopefuls that have gotten off the bus to LA over the past 100 years is that Pearl is a sociopathic killer. I was really surprised at how funny this movie was and so much of that is due to Goth‘s stand-out performance. She also co-wrote the screenplay which must have been a dream for an actor. ($5.99 rental on VOD)

Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio

Possibly the best screen adaptation of the classic story I’ve ever seen and the best thing (read: only good thing) Guillermo Del Toro has made since The Shape of Water. This version is much more viscerally sad than the rest of the adaptations but it’s also the funniest, most inventive and most touching adaptation, with an ending that stayed with me long after I watched it. If you need any more convincing, the voice cast is staggeringly impressive featuring Tilda Swinton, Ewan McGregor, Christoph Waltz, Ron Perelman, Tom Kenny and Cate Blanchett as a monkey. (Netflix)


Loud, bold and gorgeous 3-hour Indian epic that follows fictionalized adventure stories of two of India’s most famous revolutionaries. It’s a bit rough around the edges, the CGI animals are pretty wonky looking and it takes a while to get acclimated to tonal rhythms and voice dubbing, but strong performances and never waning energy really save it. It features one of the best dance numbers I’ve ever seen in a movie. Holy shit. (Netflix)


Incredibly disturbing horror drama about an abused woman (Rebecca Hall, in her best performance to date) whose former abuser (a terrifying Tim Roth) has finally found her after several years. There are some obligatory violent climaxes and bizarre arthouse horror imagery, but for the most part the movie unnerves us with simple two-person conversations. The shit Roth says to Hall and the way she reacts is far scarier than any axe to the face I’ve seen this year. (Shudder)

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

I had zero expectations for a Roku Original Comedy about the life of Weird Al Yankovic, so imagine my surprise when it ended up being one of the funniest and most enjoyable movies I watched last year. The decision to make it a parody on biopics so it plays in the tradition of 80s Zucker Brothers spoofs was the right one because it feels like the only way Weird Al, arguably the most famous parody artist to ever live, would want to tell this story. I’m glad they didn’t opt for a more traditional approach to the material, because that wouldn’t be as interesting. Daniel Radcliffe is really solid but the real power comes from the impressive ensemble which features Evan Rachel Wood as Madonna, Rainn Wilson as Dr. Demento and a scene-stealing, fall-out-of-your-chair-laughing performance by Toby Huss as Yankovic’s dad. (Roku TV)

10. Barbarian

One of the most flat-out exhilarating experiences I ever had in a movie theater and only the second most exhilarating experience I had in a movie theater this year. 2022 wasn’t the strongest year for movies overall, but it featured a handful of “Holy Shit! Movies Are Back!!!” theater experiences, three to be exact for the first time since Covid-19 dropped. Barbarian is a fun, mildly scary, majorly funny and completely self-aware horror film about the shittiest movie airbnb of all time. That’s all I’ll tell you about the plot because the movie is way better experienced if you go in as cold as possible. Just know that it dodges horror tropes and cliches at every turn and features at the heart of it three very effective performances from Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgaard and a hilarious Justin Long. It’s certainly not for everyone but for those who can handle it it’s a real touchstone in genre that announces former Whitest Kid U Know and sketch comedian turned filmmaker, Zach Cregger, as a big name to watch out for. I think with Jordan Peele‘s massively successful genre pieces, the industry is starting to see the benefit of having comedic artists make horror films where the comedy actually lands. More like this, please. (HBOMax)

9. Benediction

I can’t think of a more jarring tonal shift than to go from Barbarian to Benediction, a film that is so much its opposite it’s comical. Benediction isn’t a loud, exciting horror film that takes place in Detroit, it’s a quiet, slow-burn historical drama that takes place in England. However both movies are more or less about processing trauma, which Benediction definitely explores with a more nuanced hand. It surrounds a real-life underrated poet named Siegfried Sassoon, flawlessly played by Jack Lowden as a young man and Doctor Who’s Peter Capaldi as an old man, who was committed to a mental hospital for speaking out against the war, WWI to be exact. From there he tried and failed to make a name for himself as a poet, cruising from one pretty but mean musical theater gay to the next, each making him more miserable than the last. Benediction is certainly a very rigid film but by design, and while it seems to have all the ingredients for a movie that makes me long for a nap, it’s so sharply written and humanely acted I found myself wildly invested in it. It’s a subtle film about trauma, loneliness, depression and painful self-reflection, but its crafted at a level so high it’s worth seeing. (Hulu)

8. After Yang

A very smart and surprisingly touching sci-fi indie drama that really flew under the radar this year. South Korean filmmaker Kogonada‘s (Pachinko, Columbus) adaptation of Alexander Weinstein‘s short story follows a family from the future whose A.I. nanny, Yang, short circuits and more or less dies. Afraid of how his daughter will take, a future dad named Jake (Colin Farrell in his other great performance this year) seeks out to have the nanny fixed. He uncovers a dastardly plot by the nanny manufacturer to spy on/record human families through the nanny, but the film really is much more about him sifting through his dead nanny’s old recorded memories as the film asks how do humans chose what they remember. Do they even choose? How would AI mimic that? I won’t give away much more other than to say After Yang is a rare sci-fi movie that’s about ideas versus Tom Cruise firing a gun atop a flying space car. (Showtime)

7. Top Gun: Maverick

Speaking of Tom Cruise in a flying space car, I’m here to testify that I saw the light this year with a movie I was so convinced I would dislike. I previously mentioned that Barbarian gave me my second most exhilarating theater experience this year, Top Gun: Maverick gave me my first. A legacy sequel to a classic movie I vehemently hate, this new Top Gun is much more self-aware than the previous film and completely understands all the parts it needs to work as an action adventure thriller and boldly trims the rest of the fat. It’s stupid, it leans into the stupid, it hits every cliche checkpoint of the genre and ultimately, that’s why it works. This is a two-hour exhilarating thrill ride with incredible plane stunts and very little CGI (if any). You can see every plot twist from a mile away but you’re roused none-the-less when it inevitably happens. Check your brain at the door. (Paramount+)

6. The Fabelmans

Met with a very mixed reception from both film critics and audience members I respect, mostly on the basis that it tends to be ham-fisted in its delivery and more focused on Spielberg‘s relationship with his parents versus him learning how to make movies. First, it’s a Spielberg movie about Spielberg so of course it’s going to be overly sentimental. Second, I found the characterizations of his parents by Paul Dano and a marvelous Michelle Williams to be quite moving and I enjoyed his dynamic with each of them. An extremely promising actor named Gabriel LaBelle plays Sammy Fabelman, an obvious stand-in for Spielberg himself, for the majority of the film. This casting choice was key to the film working or not, but because he’s so good key scenes he shares with his mother (Williams) succeeded in getting me emotionally invested in the characters. There are some truly magical moments involving both character and a young Spielberg figuring out how to make movies through trial and error. My attention never waned during the film’s 2.5 hour runtime, managing to end on a note so high it sent me out of the theater with a dumb smile plastered on my face. ($19.99 VOD rental)

5. Everything Everywhere All at Once

The definitive movie phenomenon of 2022 gave me my #3 most exhilarating theater experience of the year all the way back in April. Everything Everywhere All at Once is a great movie that manages to take an insane and insanely complicated multiverse action movie plot and beautifully merge it with solid human drama in a way I haven’t seen done before. However, I don’t think it’s as seamless as a lot of people do, it definitely was crying out to be twenty minutes shorter and its slow start didn’t need to be that slow to properly establish the three central leads and their dynamic. That being said, this is still an excellent and groundbreaking movie that proves mainstream sci-fi shit can actually be about human beings versus explosions and character interactions filmed on two separate green screens a continent apart. Michelle Yeoh, Ke Hey Quan, Stephanie Hsu and Jamie Lee Curtis all deliver fabulously entertaining and energetic performances that should win at least one of them a golden boyfriend. (Showtime)

4. The Banshees of Inisherin

British-Irish playwright/filmmaker Martin McDonagh‘s best and resonant film is also his simplest. The Banshees of Inisherin is a breakup movie between two friends on a sparsely populated island off the coast of Ireland. Colm (Brendan Gleeson) is starting to face the reality of mortality and feels like his dim friend, Pádraic (Colin Farrell, in his best performance), is holding him back from creating music that will be remembered long after he’s gone. This completely crushes Pádraic, and the two begin long series of terribly bleak but wildly funny exchanges that see out the end of their friendship. McDonagh has written the best screenplay of the year with dialogue so expertly constructed you hang onto everything these people say, even though so many conversations in the movie purposely feel like a giant runaround. The film has four incredible lead performances from Farrell, Gleeson, Kerry Condon as Farrell‘s sister/the only logical thinking person on the entire island and Barry Keoghan as the “village idiot” who ends up being a lot more perceptive than anyone notices. There’s a dark current that travels under the comedy, it’s more subtle in the beginning than in the third actor, but it’s always present. A lot of people have claimed its a civil war allegory since the Irish civil war is happening literally one island over the entire runtime, and that may be true, but more than anything it’s a closely observed small town story where the issue is banal but the stakes are sky high. (HBOMax)

3. Decision to Leave

Celebrated Korean auteur Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, The Handmaiden) has gifted us with the best erotic thriller in years. Decision to Leave follows Hae-jun (Park Hae-il), a very clever but thoroughly bored murder detective in the midst of a spectacularly failing marriage. Against his better judgement, he falls in love with a woman suspected of murdering her husband. That woman is Song Seo-rae, an even more clever and complex character that slowly reveals her intentions as the movie goes on. She’s played brilliantly by Tang Wei, who you might remember from another erotic thriller from fifteen years ago, Ang Lee‘s Lust, Caution. The film is about the psychological cat and mouse game the two play while obviously flirting with each other, and while most inferior erotic thrillers would focus more on the sexual elements, Decision to Leave is more about the emotional connection between the two. Park Hae-Il and Tang Wei give one of the year’s best performances, in tandem, and the rest of the cast is great as well including Lee Jung-hyun as Hae-jun’s yuppie wife who thinks every marital problem can be solved with weekly sex. Former camera operator turned director of photography, Kim Ji-yong, enriches the film with the best cinematography I’ve seen all year. Besides being meticulously crafted on a narrative level, the film deploys so many creative visual elements that never seem superfluous but in fact, exist only to enhance our understanding of the emotional and mental state of the characters. This is filmmaking of the highest caliber and Park Chan-wook has delivered one of his best. It’s a shame the Academy did not see it that way, the film was controversially shut out of the Best International Film category along with RRR and Broker. ($6.99 VOD rental)

2. TÁR

TÁR is the greatest character study entirely based around a single character since There Will Be Blood. Cate Blanchett delivers the performance of her career as Lydia Tár, a Berlin-based conductor who is an EGOT winner and all around celebrated phenomenon meaning she gets away with everything. More less controlling or conducting ever relationship in her life, Lydia is at the peak of her career when a slew of allegations drop that threaten to throw her from her throne. Actor-turned-filmmaker Todd Field (In the Bedroom, Little Children), who has returned to filmmaking after a sixteen year absence, wisely doesn’t tell you everything up front and slowly paces out the missing pieces of what Lydia did so you can get to know and understand the character first. The movie never absolves Lydia of anything but it also doesn’t just point the finger at her. TÁR is not only about a power-hungry professionals who become monsters, but the highly political institutions and publications that enable these people because they have exalted them to god-like status. It’s also very funny and satirical in the way it quite honestly portrays these institutions’ hierarchies. At 158 minutes, TÁR is a slow burn but every extended two-person encounter (which the film is mostly comprised of) is essential to understanding our wickedly flawed protagonist. You do not like Lydia Tár when her movie is over, but you understand her and her circumstances in a way most movies about bad people don’t come close to. ($5.99 VOD rental)

1. Aftersun

I was deadlocked between TÁR and this for my #1 movie of the year, but upon rewatching both, I just couldn’t resist giving the honors to Charlotte WellsAftersun, an intensely moving and cerebral indie about a young woman remembering the last time she ever saw her father. Callum (the Oscar-nominated Paul Mescal) is a 30-year-old single dad who takes his eleven year old daughter, Sophie (Frankie Coiro) on a bonding vacation to Turkey at a middle-of-the-road beach resort. The whole movie is seen through the eyes of 11-year-old Sophie as the adult Sophie tries to piece together from her memory who her father was and what exactly he was struggling with. The movie gives us clues to how or why he died, but never confirms anything because the particulars are not what the movie is about. It’s about memories we have of deceased relatives as kids and how since our brains are still developing at that age, we never get the full picture. Mescal and Coiro‘s chemistry is off the charts, at times we forget we’re watching two actors. Nothing is ever forced and moments go on as long as they have to, this is a very contemplative slow burn of a movie but one that gets us so invested in the central relationship that we’re never bored. I don’t think a movie from a first time filmmaker has ever topped my end of year list, but Aftersun is that rare right-of-the-gate picture for a director that gets everything right. Some of the technicals might seem more accomplished in TÁR, but what sealed the deal of Aftersun‘s placement above it on my list is the ending, one the best and most emotionally affecting ones I’ve ever seen. It’s a gut punch of emotions and it took me seeing it a second time to really appreciate how much the movie earns it. I can’t wait to see what Wells does next because Aftersun announces her as a major new artist that should be on everyone’s radar. ($5.99 rental on VOD)

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