2022 was a great year for film. It offered a great variety of different films spanning an array of genres, themes, and award worthiness. While narrowing down just ten films proved to be a harder task than I had initially thought, these are my personal picks for my top ten films of 2022. However, honorable mentions include: Girl Picture, Turning Red, and Pearl.
10. Moonage Daydream (Dir. Brett Morgen)
As a massive David Bowie fan, this documentary was an absolute gift. Transcending the boundaries of a typical music documentary, Moonage Daydream allows the audience to step into the mind of David Bowie himself, allowing the star to tell his story in his own words. With a lightning fast pace, you do not feel the runtime, and the editing of this film is absolutely phenomenal. Its cosmic and technicolor-feel mirror the aura of the subject matter, and the emotional climax of the film will send chills down your spine. While this film is certainly most recommended for David Bowie fans, I would also recommend it for any fan of music documentaries in general, or for anyone who appreciates impressive technicalities in a film.
9. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (Dir. Anthony Fabian)
This is a warm cup of tea of a film. It gives off the vibe of a classic Hollywood film of the mid-twentieth century, while still feeling modern enough for present day audiences. Helmed by an utterly charming performance by Lesley Manville, this film embodies charm and loveliness. While it certainly is not anything groundbreaking or earth shattering (save for maybe the absolutely stunning costumes featured), this film offers nothing more than utter delight, and for that, it can’t be faulted.
8. Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me (Dir. Alek Keshishian)
I have been a massive Selena Gomez fan for over half my life. While I was excited to see that she would be the subject of a new music documentary, I was completely blown away by how vulnerable this documentary was when I watched it. Selena bravely shares her struggles with mental health, opening up the conversation for the greater society to explore how we approach mental health. I was immediately comforted by the way in which Selena normalizes struggles such as anxiety and depression, reminding everyone that mental health does not discriminate. I left this film with a new appreciation for Selena, after years of thinking I couldn’t possibly love her more.
7. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (Dir. Tom Gormican)
This one wins the surprise of the year for me. This film manages to find the perfect blend of both humor and drama, suspense and action. Nicolas Cage gives a brilliant and self aware performance as a fictionalized version of himself, with spot-on comedic timing and a hefty dose of heart. Pedro Pascal serves as the perfect counter part to Cage as Javi, keeping up with the actor’s larger-than-life persona while still letting Cage be the star. Watching the scene in which Nic and Javi try to climb over a brick wall while on LSD is the hardest I’ve laughed in a theater in a long time, and watching the third act of this film for the first time is the most stressed I’ve been while watching a film in a long time – the mark of a great movie.
6. Matilda the Musical (Dir. Matthew Warchus)
Anyone who knows me personally can attest to how big of a role musical theater has played in my life, and anyone who’s known me since 2013 can likely attest to how big of a fan I am of Matilda the Musical. While I was initially skeptical of seeing this musical adapted for the screen (I am overly protective of my favorite musicals!), Matthew Warchus smashed through any cynical expectations I may have had. The direction and production design of the film are absolutely gorgeous, and the performances are spectacular. Everyone is pulling their weight in this film, and there is not a single weak link. Of course, the stand out is Lashana Lynch with her beautiful and subdued performance as Miss Honey. While my love for the source musical may make me a bit partial, I truly believe that this is not just a beautiful adaption of a beautiful musical, but it is frankly one of the better stage-to-screen adaptions of late.
5. She Said (Dir. Maria Schrader)
As a general fan of true-life-journalism movies, I was blown away by this film. It manages to approach an incredibly heavy subject matter in a way that is easy to digest, and it never crosses the line into being unwatchably heavy. There is a balance of equal parts reverence and factual integrity that makes this movie so brilliant. Led by stunning performances by Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan, this film is an emotional whirlwind. It also was a sobering reminder of just how much has happened since the events of this film, and how this particular New York Times article opened the door to how we approach sexual harassment not just in the entertainment industry, but in all industries. It’s truly incredible to sit back and think about how much change these brave journalists, and the women who ultimately spoke out, have since brought about throughout the world, even if the discourse around this film has demonstrated how frustratingly far we still have to go.
4. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Dir. Rian Johnson)
As a huge fan of the original Knives Out film, this was my most anticipated film of 2022, and it did not disappoint. Benoit Blanc will likely remain a career highlight for Daniel Craig (which, for a James Bond, that speaks wonders), and this ensemble cast could not be more perfect. While Janelle Monáe is the stand out, every actor in this film is giving beyond their best, and it is of course delightful to see the resurgence of Kate Hudson. While the “mystery” of this film felt a little easier to crack than its predecessor, the social commentary it makes elevates it to be on par with the original. Often times, a “whodunnit” can be a one-and-done in terms of watchability, given that it can be a little less exciting to return to after cracking the case. However, Rian Johnson leaves many subtle little Easter eggs and nods throughout the film that makes you pick up on something new each time you watch it, which is no easy feat.
3. Elvis (Dir. Baz Luhrmann)
My eight-year-old self’s love of Lilo and Stitch eventually blossomed into a love of Elvis Presley, and in my early twenties, I became particularly interested in the history of rock and roll, including the history of “the King.” Pair that with a nearly lifelong love of Baz Luhrmann and propensity for 1960s fashion, and it would seem impossible for me not to love Elvis. While the film glazes over some of the more complicated aspects of Elvis’s history, it does a brilliant job of showing all the many sides of superstardom: the glamor and ritziness, the exploitation and abuse. Austin Butler’s performance is letter perfect, and I would not be mad in the slightest if this were to win him the Oscar for Best Actor. All in all, a gorgeous film and a beautiful addition to the Baz Luhrmann cannon.
2. Women Talking (Dir. Sarah Polley)
The ensemble work in this film is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Much like She Said, Women Talking manages to take a very serious subject matter and portray it in a way that is still palatable. I’ve never seen a movie where I loved so many of the main performances. While Claire Foy is my personal pick for Best Supporting Actress for her work in this film, Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara, and Ben Whishaw are also giving superb performances. The film plays out like a stage play, and its screenplay is rich and deep. A heavy watch to be sure, but one that is not so heavy it can’t be rewatched.
1. The Banshees of Inisherin (Dir. Martin McDonagh)
Oddly enough, I was not sure how I felt about this film the first time I saw it. It was strange, and spoke to my biggest fear of waking up and learning I’m a dull person. And, much like Taylor Swift, I found myself questioning if the chopping off of fingers was meant to be some sort of metaphor. However, on the second watch, I fell absolutely in love with this film, to the point where it was bumped up to my number one film of 2022. The performances in this film are just utterly spectacular, the cinematography is stunning, and the screenplay is just so darkly humorous (my kind of humor). While I certainly understand that this film isn’t for everyone, there is something about it that is just so delightful to watch (save for that one scene with poor Jenny). I will not be mad in the slightest if this ends up winning Best Picture, as it’s definitely my Best Film of 2022.
Lives in NC, where she is on a first name basis with the owners of her favorite pho spot.
Favorite Actress: Angela Bassett