Kenzie’s Top Ten Films of 2022

2022 was quite a year for films with something truly for everyone, but for me personally, there was so much good cinema I had a difficult time making a list only at ten films. Some of my favorite films of the year are floating in my top thirty films without making it into my official top ten, including All Quiet on the Western FrontDecision to LeaveAll the Beauty and the BloodshedThe Woman King, Saint Omer, and Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The films that made it into my official top ten are films that not only had an immediate impact on me while watching, but also stayed with me. 

10. Pearl (Dir. Ti West)

Ti West is not a director I was anticipating making two of the best films in one year, but both and Pearl truly stood out to me in 2022. Pearl has had such a lasting effect on me as it is much more than a genre film. As with most horror films, Pearl is much more than meets the eye. The film is a compelling story built around family drama, dark impulses, and a gory character study. Mia Goth is undeniable throughout the film and perfectly complements the film’s technicolor style with psychological horror, madness, and (eventually) violence.

9. Elvis (Dir. Baz Luhrmann)

While I am always a fan of Baz Luhrmann, I am not a big of Elvis Presley and was not very familiar with Austin Butler before June 2022. Well as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson once said, cut to the future and now I’m not only one of the many leading a Butler campaign for Lead Actor but also have an Elvis Presley biopic in my final ranking of the year! Elvis transcends the typical musician biopic with Luhrmann’s energetic, loving portrait of Elvis Presley led by one of the best performances of the year by Austin Butler.

8. Aftersun (Dir. Charlotte Wells)

Not to sound like a broken record, but watching films as a parent is such a different viewing experience. Aftersun was perhaps one of the harder films to watch as a parent, not because it made me worry about my own child but because it reminded me of issues that I struggle with myself as a parent. Charlotte Wells delivers one of the best debut features in years with Aftersun. The film is beautifully shot as a memory anyone could have, yet still has a specific visual only Wells could bring to the screen. Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio are both excellent in such different ways. Mescal’s performance as a depressed, young father is one of the most haunting portrayals of a parent on screen. 

7. She Said (Dir. Maria Schrader)

Journalism films are a genre I will always be interested in, but She Said was a film I was both excited and nervous about. I was lucky enough to see the film at its AFI Festival premiere and was blown away. The writing, direction, performances, and score are all some of the best of the year. She Said is not just a new journalism film to cherish within the genre, but a film that stands on its own. There is something about a group of women telling this specific story at this point in time. 

6. Babylon (Dir. Damien Chazelle)

Hello College! When I originally saw Babylon, I wasn’t the highest on the film, but over the following days, Damien Chazelle’s film never left my mind. Babylon is a visceral odyssey of the film industry transitioning from the silent film era to the talkies. The film is rooted deep in old Hollywood’s dark history and mythology as Chazelle guides the audience through fictional character’s triumphs and moments of total despair. Babylon is a fearless, fever dream filled with beautiful performances from one of the best ensembles of the year, led by the incredible Diego Calva. Chazelle is able to bring the magic of audiences hearing sound pictures for the first time to screen while also highlighting the meltdowns a new advancement in film can have on the industry behind the scenes. Babylon is both an angry letter to the industry and a love letter to film, the medium itself.

5. Women Talking (Dir. Sarah Polley)

Every once in a while, there is a film I truly feel thankful for and Women Talking is on that list. Sarah Polley’s film is one of the most achingly powerful films of the year and is such an important film to have in order to start difficult conversations whether it be about sexual assault, a woman’s place in society or faith. Women Talking features the best ensemble cast of the year with Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Judith Ivey, Sheila McCarthy, Michelle McLeod, Kate Hallett, Liv McNeil, August Winter, and Ben Whishaw. Each actor is not only given an opportunity to shine on their own but they also all blend together perfectly. A perfect film with a sharp script, beautiful direction, powerful performances and one of the best scores in years. Women Talking is such an important, necessary film that I both ache and yearn to share with my own daughter one day. 

4. After Yang (Dir. Kogonada)

The first film to officially make my top ten this year was After Yang, which sat at number one from March 2022 until October. A stunning film about what makes us all human. The film starts with easily the best opening credits of any film this year but ends with such an emotional gut punch it’s truly a viewing experience I’ll never forget. I walked home from my local Alamo Drafthouse quietly crying to myself. 

3. TÁR (Dir. Todd Field)

Todd Field’s first film in sixteen years did not disappoint. TÁR begins with Cate Blanchett’s Lydia Tár explaining her command of tempo and control. The film ends with what appears to be quite the opposite, however, depending on how you interpret the ending, it could just be her new beginning. A powerful film not about cancel culture, but how it is perceived and consumed by audiences. Blanchett delivers one of her best performances ever and TÁR may be Field’s greatest directorial effort. 

2. Bones and All (Dir. Luca Guadagnino)

There is before Bones and All and there is after Bones and All. Truly, the latest film from Luca Guadagnino somehow broke me more than his previous. Guadagnino is always a filmmaker who utilizes all of your senses in a viewing experience and Bones and All is no different. You can physically feel the longing, tension, and even violence as you watch this love story unfold on screen. Bones and All is a tender experience. Yes, the film has scenes of intense violence as it is following cannibals, but the overall product is a loving, soft film. Some of the best performances of the year come from Bones and All in a star-making performance from Taylor Russell, one of Timothée Chalamet’s bests, and two unmissable supporting performances from Mark Rylance and Michael Stuhlbarg.

1. The Eternal Daughter (Dir. Joanna Hogg)

I’m a fan of most of Joanna Hogg’s films, but nothing prepared me for how much I would adore The Eternal Daughter. The film may be described as a ghost story, but it is truly a film about loss, regret, trauma, and the love shared between a mother and a daughter. Tilda Swinton is on double duty in the film as both mother and daughter, but her performances are so incredible, sometimes you forget it’s one actor you’re watching. It’s a hypnotic film with amazing sound, cinematography, and production design. The commentary on telling the story of a loved one for the sake of art is truly some of the most poignant I’ve seen on screen in so long: a powerful conversation to be had. Mothers and daughters have such a special relationship as they carry each other in such a powerful, but heavy manner; The Eternal Daughter truly brings this special feeling to the screen in one of the most emotional, moving films of the year. 

Kenzie Vanunu
she/her @kenzvanunu
Lives in LA with her husband, daughter and dog. Misses Arclight, loves iced vanilla coffees.
Favorite Director: Darren Aronofsky
Sign: Capricorn

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