This past year theaters came back to life and we were treated another great year of great films. Here are my picks for the best films of 2022
10. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Few films have worried me more in anticipation more than this one, because the first Knives Out film set such a high standard. I won’t doubt Rian Johnson again. Daniel Craig and a more-than-willing ensemble breath delightful life into this mystery sequel, but it’s Janelle Monae who walks away with the film in a wonderfully complex and fun role. I hope they make 20 more of these films.
9. Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
Covid filmmaking has forced filmmakers to present things in a different view, and director Sophie Hyde shows the world the best-case-scenario. Emma Thompson bares all alongside newcomer Daryl McCormack for a series of meetings between an unfulfilled widow and a charming escort. It’s not all just sexy fun time, it’s also delicate and touching between the two leads. It’s still the sexiest film of the year.
8. All Quiet on the Western Front
No film has presented the true pointlessness of World War I. Director Edward Berger delivers one of the most technically brilliant films while actors Felix Kammerer and Albert Schuch bring surprising poignancy and vulnerability among the masculinity of war. A painfully real experience.
7. Cha Cha Real Smooth
Director and star Cooper Raiff delivers a sweetly funny look at the generational disconnect between being in your mid-20s and what you hope for in your 30s. The man child thinks he wants to settle down, but the 30-year-old adult knows better and what settling really means. Raiff and Leslie Mann both are great, but it’s Dakota Johnson who steals the show as the focus of Raiff’s protagonist. She is sexy, responsible, and realistic.
6. Women Talking
With the ensemble of the year, director Sarah Polley doesn’t need to do too much, but she still finds a way to deliver some of the best-directed sequences of the year. As a group of menonite women discussing a rash of sexual violence, take your pick for the best in show. Maybe it’s Rooney Mara’s sunny optimism, or Jessie Buckley’s consternation, or Claire Foy’s angry righteousness. It doesn’t matter, because even if you had a pick outside of those three, you would be correct. A film full of scenes that matter, without any that sag.
While never pleasant, director Justin Kurzel does such a quietly unsettling job of showing what a perpetrator of violence would be like, without wanting to understand why. Caleb Landry Jones delivers the performance of the year as the titular character, mentally unbalanced but not without charisma and effort. Judy Davis is equally as powerful as his exasperated mother who knows exactly what kind of boy she raised. Though by no means a pleasant watch, it is forever seared into my memory.
4. Decision to Leave
Only a director like Park Chan-wook can deliver a stylish cat-and-mouse erotic thriller without an ounce of actual eroticism. Led by the perfect pair of exasperated cop Park Hae-il and the sweetest femme fatale in Tang Wei, the film keeps you on your toes about who is doing what and who actually has feelings in the right place. Few films can balance the occasionally dynamic action with the captivating dialogue while a couple sit across from each other at a table. Park Chan-wook continues to surprise.
3. Everything Everywhere All At Once
When I first saw the Daniels’ genre-spanning time-bending film, I thought this film was specifically meant for me. Odd references, gonzo humor, and fun eclectic actors rule the day. A delight from beginning to end with real-world meaning and a lasting impression. Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Stephanie Hsu are all having a blast, but its Ke Huy Quan in multiple versions of the same sweet man who single-handedly walks away with the film. Welcome back, and let’s hope he never leaves again.
2. Girl Picture
While EEAAO felt specifically tailored to my humor and sensibilities, Alli Haapasalo’s film about the sex and love lives of three high school girls in Finland is the exact opposite. Nevertheless, the sweet and real feelings between the leads and how they attempt to navigate expectations and pleasure has stuck with me for months. It is a powerhouse film that has no big aspirations beyond showing these characters in their lives, but it was nothing short of absolutely brilliant from the first frame to the last.
1. The Banshees of Inisherin
If there is a masterpiece among the great films of 2022, it’s this one from director Martin McDonough. Whether it’s Colin Farrell’s pitch-perfect performance as a man who can’t figure out why his life is crumbling, or the steadfast annoyance of Brendan Gleeson, the twitchy brilliance of Barry Keoughan, or the sweet intelligence of Kerry Condon, every actor brings their absolute best to a film with way more than surface-level ideas. No film made more of an impression on me in 2022 and I doubt there will be another one with the same impact anytime soon.
Check out all my choices for the Best of 2022. On to next year!