2022 started strong for me when I virtually attended Sundance, and I never looked back from then. This year was full of every kind of movie imaginable, and picking only ten is much more difficult than it seems. Blockbusters, indies, international films, and animation were all able to not only produce good movies but some of the best of the year in one of the most spread out years in quite some time. The ten I have chosen are the films that affected me in a magnitude of ways. They are films I will, and have already, return to for years to come and some I will hold dearly in my heart forever.
My honorable mentions include The Northman, White Noise, The Batman, Top Gun: Maverick, and Glass Onion.
10. Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (Dir. Dean Fleischer-Camp)
No other movie this year had as much charm or pure heart as Marcel the Shell With Shoes On did. The jump from YouTube to the big screen comes with many risks, but Dean Fleischer-Camp was able to do this seamlessly thanks to one of the most lovable characters of the entire year. Not to mention, Jenny Slate gives an all-timer voice performance as the titular Marcel.
9. RRR (Dir. S. S. Rajamouli)
When RRR made its first wave through theaters, I was still working as a manager of my local theater. RRR was the loudest and highest-priced movie that had ever come through the theater; every time I would poke my head in, some of the most insane things I have seen in a film all year consistently were on screen. Once I finally sat down and watched it, it all made sense, and honestly, I’m upset I never made the time to see it in theaters when I could. RRR is one of the most bat-shit films of the year, but it is also one of the best as it tells a compelling story with assured direction, strong visuals, powerful performances, and the best choreography of the entire year.
8. Nope (Dir. Jordan Peele)
The best thing about NOPE is that, as Harry Styles would say, it feels like a movie. What is arguably Jordan Peele’s most ambitious work is also his most assured delivering a pure blockbuster spectacle that feels similar to Spielberg at the height of his monster movie run. Get Out was led by one of the best scripts of the past decade and Us was led by one of the greatest performances seen on screen, but NOPE is the movie that proves Peele as a director and a really good one at that.
7. All Quiet on the Western Front (Dir. Edward Berger)
Without a doubt one of the best war films of all time, All Quiet on the Western Front blends the pure brutality and hopelessness of war and is notable for being told from the side that lost. Lead actor Felix Kammerer is phenomenal, and Edward Berger’s direction is one of the best of the year. It also has one of the most insane scores I have probably ever heard.
6. Decision to Leave (Dir. Park Chan-wook)
I have seen Decision to Leave a few times now, and I am still in awe of some of the edits and transitions Park Chan-wook thought of and pulled off. This boasts the best direction of the year (some of the best direction I have ever seen), and has a tragically beautiful story to boot. Tang Wei and Park Hae-il are both excellent and the ending of this movie left me in shock and in tears.
5. The Fabelmans (Dir. Steven Spielberg)
There has been a recent surge of legacy directors creating films based on their childhood or adolescence to give audiences an insight into their upbringing and what made them who they are. Steven Spielberg’s recent film does just that plus a little extra. He doesn’t just make The Fabelmans a movie about what filmmaking means to him, no, he tells a story about how without filmmaking, he can’t live. He doesn’t just show how his parent’s divorce affected him growing up, but how he also caused as much pain as he felt. This movie could have been a smear job of his parents’ relationship in a “look how hard my life was” sort of way, but it wasn’t. Instead, it’s a beautiful family drama of regret and guilt, and how to control the uncontrollable situations in life.
4. Everything Everywhere All At Once (Dir. The Daniels)
Nothing – not even watching the Daniel’s first film Swiss Army Man – could have prepared me for Everything Everywhere All At Once. It’s part sci-fi movie, part kung fu action flick, part family drama, and quite of bit of comedy; this movie truly is everything. Some of the absolute best visuals from any movie – I mean, the immaculate editing, for one – and every performance is fantastic, Ke Huy Quan being the standout and the hopeful next Best Supporting Actor winner. There is a mother-daughter relationship as moving as anything this entire year; I still haven’t been able to watch this without breaking down sobbing.
3. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Dir. Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson)
What Guillermo del Toro managed to pull off is nothing short of magical, and will change how people see animation as a medium and how to do adaptations as a whole. Pinocchio is a story that has probably been told one too many times, including this year when there were three adaptations of the story alone. But Del Toro creates a story around the character, rather than fitting the character into the story. Because of this, everything about Pinocchio changes. The setting is now Fascist Italy during the rise of Mussolini, the story revolves around death and how precious life really is, and the characters learn to fit into Pinocchio’s world rather than him fitting into theirs. It takes a true visionary to be able to pull off something like this, and it is clear that del Toro is one of the best filmmakers alive.
2. Aftersun (Dir. Charlotte Wells)
There was a strong push from Aftersun to overtake as my #1 of the year, and even if it ends the year as my personal #2, it is more of a 1B than a true 2. Aftersun and my number one film have similar themes of memory and depression, but this one goes to a much darker place. Films this year – namely The Son – have tried to accomplish what Aftersun did, but didn’t understand that the key to telling a story like this is to not tell it, but to show it. This confidence and faith from Charlotte Wells would be a lot for any director, but for a debut, it is completely mesmerizing. Frankie Corio is the breakout star of the year, and Paul Mescal gives the best performance of 2022 without question. I will never be able to listen to “Under Pressure” the same again. I saw this at TIFF, which is a moment I will never forget as by the end, I had a breakdown right in front of Paul Mescal.
1. Cha Cha Real Smooth (Dir. Cooper Raiff)
Cha Cha Real Smooth became my number 1 during the Sundance in January of 2022 and didn’t move from my list ever since, even if Aftersun made a strong push. The reason Cooper Raiff’s sophomore outing ultimately finished higher is because of the emotional connection I have to the story. It quickly affected me thanks to its tender and honest script and beautiful performances from Raiff, Dakota Johnson, and (my breakout star for the year) Vanessa Burghardt. Its beautiful depiction of post-college malaise and mundanity is highlighted by the longing for something to come along and give you some sort of clarity for your future. This film caught me at a time in my life when I was (and still am) very much Andrew: looking for that comfort in an unknowing world and holding on to the memories of people who change us forever.
Loves movies, the awards season, and this dog (even if he isn’t his).
Favorite Director: Bo Burnham