Top 10 Movies of 2022

Save the best for last, right? In this case, I saved the hardest. I saw A LOT of movies in 2022 and, thus, my top ten compilation was nearly impossible to make. While it’s sure to change in the future, these are my top 10 favourite movies of 2022. Hope you enjoy!

Runner-Up: TÁR (dir. Todd Field)

Photo taken from The Guardian

Full disclosure: I originally had this at number 10 before seeing Argentina, 1985 but I already had a review written for it and it is most definitely worthy of a mention so I decided to include this little section!

TÁR is a tough film to review. Todd Field’s work here is over a decade in the making and has the intricacies to prove it. Each one of TÁR’s darkened alleyways and rooms evade an entirely complete interpretation. But, then again, how else could it lay claim to commentary on cancel culture, abuse of power, the corruption of fame, and the reverence (or lack thereof) we owe to the past. At the centre of it all, though, is Cate Blanchett giving a performance so incredible that she looms as large in the entertainment industry as her titular figure.

10. The Banshees of Inisherin (dir. Martin McDonagh)

Photo taken from Vanity Fair

Somehow, McDonagh strikes a perfect balance between existentialism and comedy in his latest (and greatest) film. The Banshees of Inisherin is a thoroughly entertaining watch on its own and, yet, also packs enough subtext and wildly original ideas to benefit several rounds of rewatches. With performances sure to dominate awards ceremonies for the rest of the season and an astounding screenplay, Banshees is a crowd-pleasing, can’t miss cinematic experience that rightfully earns all of its praise.

9. Babylon (dir. Damien Chazelle)

Photo taken from IMDb

Damien Chazelle’s latest lives up to its name on all fronts. Every scene is vivacious and utterly bonkers, somehow magically capturing the depravity and remarkable nature of stardom and its products. Chazelle’s direction is flashy and his long-time collaborator Justin Hurwitz’s score is perfectly punchy and bold. After a brief detour into space with First Man, Babylon marks Chazelle’s return to form in the best way possible. La La Land is still his crowning achievement, don’t get me wrong, but Babylon exposes the seedy underbelly that exists alongside, and is often fuelled by, the land of dreams.

8. Triangle of Sadness (dir. Ruben Östlund)

Photo taken from Dazed

An “explosive” film to say the very least; Triangle of Sadness uses its three-act structure to its maximum potential. Each segment gorges itself in prodding the super-rich and all the imitators and wishful thinkers who thirst for the power that comes with wealth. By the time this turns into a standard survivor’s tale, the metaphor is well-established and it doesn’t let anyone off the hook. Östlund’s direction is extremely precise (a theme for this year, apparently) and his script is also equally as strong. His achievement here is only exacerbated by the fact that two similar films were released this very year and neither struck as fine a balance while still being as wickedly entertaining as Triangle of Sadness.

7. Argentina, 1985 (dir. Santiago Mitre)

Photo taken from Loud and Clear Reviews

I’ll start off by saying that I knew literally nothing about any of the cultural or historical touch points this focused on. With any movement from real life to screen, there are things lost in translation. But, for me, this was no concern. I found the way the story was told compelling on its own; the actual visual storytelling was actually given the space to do much of the heavy lifting without the script. The dazzling cinematography and lighting accentuate the mix of darkness and beauty of the story on display. The camera often glides behind figures as they move and frames them in dynamic ways. It’s superbly directed and composed on every level, making it a stunning feat destined for a Best International Film nomination at the Oscars. To be perfectly honest, I just saw this yesterday and was so moved by it that I had to make room on this list for it (sorry TÁR). In an all-time great year for film, this is a must-see.

6. The Batman (dir. Matt Reeves)

Photo taken from Batman News

In a year where Marvel released three films, two “Special Presentations” (whatever that means), and three Disney+ shows, not one of them managed to come anywhere near The Batman. Maybe there’s just something about the character, as Nolan’s The Dark Knight was previously my other favourite live action superhero film. Reeve’s Batman is gritty and drenched in gorgeous cinematography. Each of its performances are also strong, which helps to emphasize the believability of the mystery at its center. It’s at once a detective tale in the vein of Se7en while still adhering to its heroic (or perhaps, anti-heroic) roots. For once, it’s nice to be treated as an adult when viewing this kind of film, where things don’t magically resolve within a standard runtime and characters have actual motivations, flaws, and relationships. With James Gunn at DC’s helm, we can only hope more of this kind of film are greenlit. 

5. Women Talking (dir. Sarah Polley)

Photo taken from Los Angeles Times

I’ve written about this extensively on my Letterboxd (please don’t recoil in disgust) as I’ve been privileged enough to see Sarah Polley discuss this twice. Her choice to create a model for a collaborative and person-focused directorial experience is incredible and a demonstration that she isn’t avoiding engagement with the themes of the film herself. The ensemble cast is the best of the year and, hopefully, will rake in a few awards as such. Still, it’s Polley’s script ultimately that emerges as the highest achievement. There is such a fine art to adapting and, although I am unfamiliar with the source material, the choices she discussed in her Q&As only grew my appreciation for her masterwork. There’s an empathy to this film that has completely blown me away both times. While the women are rightfully forefronted to tell their story and discuss, there is a specified place for the men as well, the effects on their lives and mentalities also highlighted. Listening is an important role and humility, though it may appear weak to some, is essential. Polley’s aversion to shying away from the real faith of these women and their culture is also another trump in an already stacked hand. Needless to say, it was worth the wait.

4. Nope (dir. Jordan Peele)

Photo taken from IMDb

My most watched movie of the year should come as no surprise. Jordan Peele is back in the rare form that birthed Get Out, demonstrating such strong directorial control that he has cemented his place among the greats of our age. The buzzword of the film is, unsurprisingly, its central idea – that of the spectacle and, more importantly, our obsession with it. It’s a brave topic on its own, but where Peele succeeds is in turning the lens back on himself as he creates a spectacle of his own. Both Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya nail their roles as ranchers trying to get “The Shot” of the object they hunt Jaws-style. But the most unforgettable scene in the film takes place without them, as Peele guides his camera through a disheveled film set to reveal the dastardly consequences that can come when profit and fame is prioritized over personhood.

3. Decision to Leave (dir. Park Chan-wook)

Photo taken from South China Morning Post

Park Chan-wook has contributed to this century’s film canon in a way that many would have already deemed legendary. But it’s with Decision to Leave that I personally believe he’s unveiled his greatest triumph. The two leading performances from Tang Wei and Hae il Park are completely absorbing. The story, in his usual manner, twists between a forbidden romance and a windy police procedural. The homages to Hitchcock’s Vertigo are also well-deserved, which come as quite a shock given how legendary that film is. And yet, Park Chan-wook shows that he is a one-of-a-kind filmmaker, adding a swelling emotional resonance to an already deeply intriguing and visually stunning thriller.

2. Everything Everywhere All At Once (dir. The Daniels)

Photo taken from Everything Everywhere All At Once

It was hard to pick my favourite from this year as I’ve alluded to – and this particular film being here may come as a bit of a shock given that my first experience with Everything Everywhere All At Once frustrated me. Don’t get me wrong, I was still blown away, but the nihilism of the second act left my head spinning in a way that I found hard to reconcile in order to whiplash back to the sentimentality of the end. But man, if it didn’t entirely win me over the second time (and the third). Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan deserve every award that gets thrown their way for giving their characters so much heart and depth. It’s the only way that the final emotional needle gets threaded. There is certainly no other film on this list that is more original or outrageous than this one and the fact that it was made by such a bare-bones crew is a testament to the strength of the Daniels in the director’s chair (or chairs?). In a year where films like Women Talking exhibited an unparalleled empathy and Nope an introspection often lacking in Hollywood, Everything Everywhere All At Once combined both to make a grand statement that, even in the chaos of the multiverse with giant floating everything bagels and questionably-shaped company awards, there is a need for love because every life has value. And that’s something I can get behind.

1. Aftersun (dir. Charlotte Wells)

Photo taken from The Globe and Mail

An absolutely incredible breakout film from Charlotte Wells. Her slow and subtle trip down memory lane has yet to leave my brain after seeing it a few months ago. Paul Mescal is electric in this, enough to even potentially upset Austin Butler for my pick as Best Actor. Wells’ heartfelt story is one with the film itself, shifting between adapted events, crackly handheld footage, and strobing mental dance floors. There’s a beating heart on the sleeve of this one which makes me excited to see what’s to come in the future from Wells.

Thanks for reading!

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