With the conclusion of the Academy Awards this past Sunday, the 2022 film season is officially over. Now, to complete my own movie-watching journey from the past year, I present here a brief summary of my favorite films from 2022, along with a complete ranking of each movie I saw from the 2022 Oscars-eligibility period. See you next year!
My Top 15 Films of the Year
No. 1 – Aftersun
I will cut right to the chase on Aftersun—this is one of the greatest films I have ever had the pleasure to experience. The movie is one of the most unique coming-of-age stories I can recall, and writer/director Charlotte Wells delivers an unfathomable masterpiece in—get this—her debut feature film. Aftersun follows a father and daughter on a holiday in Turkey in the early 2000s, and it explores generational depression, grief, and the complexity of time and memories. This movie wrecked me in every possible way—during the final few scenes, I was sobbing. After I finished the movie, I emotionally paced around my living room for 30 minutes, processing what I’d just watched. No film had ever affected me like that. Until Aftersun. I imagine the fact I have a child and my own history with mental health issues contributed to my experience with this film. Oscar nominee Paul Mescal is fantastic, but newcomer Frankie Corio clearly stood out as the most impressive performance. The film also includes my favorite scene of the year (and one of my favorites of all time) in an emotional sequence, which features a deftly edited/remixed version of “Under Pressure” by David Bowie and Queen—it is pure perfection. I have not stopped thinking about Aftersun since I first watched it. It will stick with me forever, which exemplifies the beauty of film. Streaming available for purchase or rent on most major platforms.
No. 2 – Everything Everywhere All at Once
Had I not experienced such an intense emotional response to Aftersun, there is absolutely no doubt Everything Everywhere All at Once would have been my No. 1 film of the year—this is a perfect movie. For some reason, the “multiverse” is popping up in so many films in recent memory, especially Marvel properties (e.g., Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, etc.), but EEAAO is the single best example of what an exploration of multiple universes can be. This movie is fun. The editing is rapid-fire. The acting is phenomenal. But at its core, the most impressive part of EEAAO is its beautiful examination of generational trauma, depression, and identity. How is it that a movie which depicts a parallel universe wherein people have hot dogs for fingers can be so philosophical? How do you explain the emotional gravity of this movie when there is a scene (one of the film’s very best) depicting the characters as rocks? Writer/director team Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert somehow make it all work despite the absurdity. If you haven’t seen this movie yet and are wondering whether it is worth the hype (the film led the Oscars with eleven nominations and seven wins), I assure you it definitely is. Streaming for free for subscribers to Showtime.
No. 3 – Top Gun: Maverick
One of my dad’s favorite movies (if not his absolute favorite) is Top Gun. Thus, I grew up watching it a lot. Like so many other people, I really love that movie. However, I cannot help but admit I was worried about Maverickbecause legacy sequels are of such hit-or-miss quality. For every Creed or Blade Runner 2049, there’s an Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Mad Max Fury Road was in all ways flawless, yet Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps was atrocious. (And let’s not even talk about Space Jam: A New Legacy.) In the end, Top Gun: Maverick excels in ways of which so many other films (legacy sequels or otherwise) could only dream. Is the story a bit gimmicky and unrealistic at times? Sure. But since film itself as an artform has evolved so much since 1986, Maverick benefits from the technical advancements in cameras and visual effects. This movie blows the original out of the sky. Streaming for free for subscribers to Paramount+.
No. 4 – All Quiet on the Western Front
I love debating which movie can call itself the greatest war film of all time. Over the years, in terms true depictions of the horrors of war, there have certainly been some serious contenders: The Deer Hunter (1978), Apocalypse Now (1979), Platoon (1986), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Saving Private Ryan (1998), The Thin Red Line (1998), Downfall (Der Untergang) (2004), Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), Zero Dark Thirty (2008), Dunkirk (2017), and 1917 (2019). After this year, we can definitely add German-language film All Quiet on the Western Front—the second feature-length adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 novel of the same name—to that list. It is grueling and chaotic, yet it is masterfully crafted. Streaming for free for subscribers to Netflix.
No. 5 – Pearl
In 2022, writer/director Ti West proved that despite the uptick of films produced in the newer “elevated horror” genre (which I love), there are still good-old-fashioned slasher movies out there, waiting to be made. In March, West released X, a slasher film about a group of aspiring porn stars in the 1970s in rural Texas, which featured Mia Goth in the leading role. I loved X. It was certainly one of my favorite movies of the year, just missing out on cracking my top 15. West then released a prequel film, Pearl (co-written by and starring Goth), a mere six months later. Although the two films are starkly different (X looks and feels like a ‘70s movie, while West stylizes Pearl to look and feel like 1918), Pearl is the superior picture. Not only is the character’s origin story compelling, but Mia Goth was sensational. I honestly cannot believe she wasn’t in contention for Best Actress awards this film season (although she did secure a nomination for Pearl at the Independent Spirit Awards). The highlight of the movie is a scene toward the end at a dinner table, which features a single shot of Goth delivering a chilling monologue to her character’s sister-in-law. Streaming available for purchase or rent on most major platforms.
No. 6 – Babylon
While critics (and audiences) were sharply divided over Damien Chazelle’s latest feature (the film holds a critics score of 56% and audience score of 52% on Rotten Tomatoes), I fell in love with it. Sure, at three hours and nine minutes, the runtime is certainly intimidating. However, this movie never once felt that long. Depicting the transition in Hollywood from silent films to the start of the “Golden Age” of sound films in the late 1920s, this movie is fast-paced, frenetic, and downright depraved. But it works. This movie is also hilarious—I laughed out loud many, many times. Clearly the film is not for everyone, but I do believe it is worth a shot for any film lover. Streaming for free for subscribers to Paramount+.
No. 7 – The Banshees of Inisherin
In 2008, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson collaborated with British-Irish director Marin McDonagh in the dark dramedy In Bruges, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Fourteen years later, the three joined forces again for the charming, yet tragic, dark dramedy The Banshees of Inisherin. The story is simple: The lifelong friendship of Pádraic (Farrell) and Colm (Gleeson) is interrupted when Colm abruptly decides he no longer wants to be friends with Pádraic. Farrell and Gleeson are phenomenal, sparring back and forth on screen like Ali and Frazier in Manila. Kerry Condon is also great in a supporting role, as is Barry Keoghan. This movie is fantastic and very funny in such subtle ways. I also cannot stop saying “fecking,” a delightful version of “fucking” in the characters’ thick Irish accents. Streaming for free for subscribers to HBO Max.
No. 8 – Cha Cha Real Smooth
If I could give an award to the most unexpectedly touching and purposefully funny movie of the year, I’d give it to Cha Cha Real Smooth without hesitation. Writer/director Cooper Raiff (who also stars as the aimless and awkward Andrew) is clearly a very talented young filmmaker (he just turned 26), and with this movie, he has added an essential entry to the romantic dramedy genre. I laughed repeatedly at Raiff’s quirky script, and yet I also cried during some surprisingly heartfelt scenes. This is such a great movie, and if you have an Apple TV+ subscription (I know you all do because everyone is watching Ted Lasso), do yourself a favor and watch it ASAP. Streaming for free for subscribers to Apple TV+.
No. 9 – Triangle of Sadness
I love when filmmakers satirize the 1%. Those folks are surely an easy target, but when done well, it is always a fun time. In Triangle of Sadness, Swedish writer/director Ruben Östlund may have effectively perfected this subgenre of darkly comedic satire. This film won the Palme d’Or (the prestige award) at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, and for good reason. The movie takes place in three distinct, yet related, parts, and each one is brilliant. I need someone I know to see this movie soon so I can chat about paying for meals, food poisoning, whistles, and donkeys. I also cannot stop saying “In den Wolken.” Enough with the inside jokes from the film—just go watch it! Streaming for free for subscribers to Hulu.
No. 10 – The Northman
One of my favorite movie-watching experiences last year was seeing Robert Eggers’s The Northman in the Dolby Cinema at AMC. An epic action tale of revenge set during the age of Vikings in Scandinavia, The Northman is marvelously surreal—I’ve really never seen a movie quite like this one. The cast is first-rate (I mean, when you put Alexander Skarsgård in a movie with Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, and Nicole Kidman, what else would you expect?), and Eggers’s precise direction and creation of such a grisly atmosphere are unmistakable. What an adventure! Streaming for free for subscribers to Amazon Prime Video.
No. 11 – Dinner in America
I really don’t know quite how to describe Dinner in America, but here is my best shot: It’s like if you re-made Napoleon Dynamite into a filthy, R-rated punk-rock film. The movie is about an anarchist on the run who unexpectedly meets and befriends (in a very weird, unique way) an awkward (understatement of the century) young woman. It has all the quirk of Napoleon Dynamite and yet all the vulgarity of The Wolf of Wall Street. And in every way possible, this outlandish blend of genres works so well. The film originally premiered at Sundance in January of 2020, but, given the Covid-19 pandemic, it did not see a theatrical release until this past year. Streaming for free for subscribers to Hulu.
No. 12 – Barbarian
Barbarian is such a wild ride, and I loved every minute of it. I cannot say too much about the film and its plot, as it is quite easy to accidentally reveal too much. What I can say is this movie was both exactly what I thought it might be and unlike anything I had ever anticipated it to be. It feels like three separate stories told respectively in each act, but all the while the film maintains an intriguing through line. If you like horror movies, this one is a must-see! Streaming for free for subscribers to HBO Max.
No. 13 – Nope
Following Get Out (2017) and Us (2019), Jordan Peele unveiled Nope, the third film in which he directed, wrote, and produced. I loved Get Out, but Us didn’t quite land for me in the same way. Regardless, I was always going to see Nope, as the Mad TV and Key & Peele alum clearly maintains a knack for horror. Ultimately, Nopeexceeded my expectations. The cinematography was captivating, the production design was stunning, and the acting was stellar, especially Keke Palmer’s performance. Further, Nope featured one of my favorite scenes of the year—Gordy the chimpanzee stole the show. Streaming for free for subscribers to Peacock.
No. 14 – Watcher
In 2014, actress Maika Monroe had her breakthrough performance in It Follows, one of the best horror films of the past ten years—she was a revelation in that movie. Eight years later, Monroe delivered another brilliant performance in Watcher, an eerily deliberate psychological thriller about Julia, a young woman who relocates from the United States to Romania with her husband for his job, who constantly feels watched by a man across the street. Writer/director Chloe Okuno, in her feature film debut, crafts an incredibly chilling, anxiety-inducing tale. Streaming for free for subscribers to Hulu.
No. 15 – The Fabelmans
One year after giving audiences an amazing West Side Story remake, Steven Spielberg delivered his most personal movie ever—The Fabelmans, which was loosely based on his own childhood. Each of these two films received seven Oscar nominations, including back-to-back Best Picture and Best Director nominations for Spielberg. Despite being over 50 years into his filmmaking career, Spielberg proves with The Fabelmans why he’s still got it! Streaming available for purchase or rent on most major platforms
Complete Ranking of All Films Seen from 2022
- Everything Everywhere All at Once
- Top Gun: Maverick
- All Quiet on the Western Front (Im Westen nichts Neues)
- The Banshees of Inisherin
- Cha Cha Real Smooth
- Triangle of Sadness
- The Northman
- Dinner in America
- The Fabelmans
- Don’t Worry Darling
- The Batman
- Bullet Train
- The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
- Fire of Love
- Dive (La caída)
- The Whale
- Women Talking
- Avatar: The Way of Water
- Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
- The Innocents (De uskyldige)
- The Black Phone
- The Volcano: Rescue from Whakaari
- Brian and Charles
- Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
- The Gray Man
- The Inspection
- Thor: Love and Thunder
- Bodies Bodies Bodies
- The Lost City
- The Menu
- The Stranger
- Emily the Criminal
- This Place Rules
- Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
- Jackass Forever
- Bones and All
- After Yang
- The Woman King
- Downfall: The Case Against Boeing
- The Good Nurse
- Significant Other
- The Sky Is Everywhere
- Three Thousand Years of Longing
- On the Count of Three
- The Tinder Swindler
- Anaïs in Love (Les Amours d’Anaïs)
- To Leslie
- Empire of Light
- She Said
- Girl in the Picture
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2
- Mad God
- Our Father
- Black Adam
- Jurassic World Dominion
- Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.
- Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile
- The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild