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The Best Movies of 2022

January 8, 2023

By John Corrado

Another year has come and gone. We are now a week into 2023, which means it’s high time for my countdown of the best movies of 2022. It took a little while to put this list together, with me watching (and rewatching) as many films as possible to get the order right. But I think I have settled on a selection that offers a pretty good encapsulation of the year that just ended.

While moviegoing still isn’t back to what it once was, this was partially a year of “big” movies like Top Gun: Maverick making a bit of a comeback, which felt pretty good after two years of COVID. This was also a year of bold statement pieces (think Cannes winner Triangle of Sadness) to go along with the more quiet character dramas, and long movies were back in full force, too, with six of my top ten films clocking in around the two-and-a-half-hour range. Below you will find a selection of fifteen honourable mentions (#’s 25 to 11), followed by my top ten countdown.

Honourable Mentions: (25) Aftersun, (24) Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood, (23) Cha Cha Real Smooth, (22) Broker, (21) Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, (20) Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, (19) Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, (18) White Noise, (17) All Quiet on the Western Front, (16) The Batman, (15) The Northman, (14) Nope, (13) Bros, (12) Holy Spider, (11) Living

#10: Triangle of Sadness

Ruben Östlund’s second Palme d’Or winner Triangle of Sadness is maybe the boldest work yet from the Swedish filmmaker, mixing the exploration of gender roles from Force Majeure with the high society satire of previous Palme winner The Square into one ambitious, exhilarating 147 minute package. A good majority of the film takes place on an affluent cruise ship satirizing the filthy rich (literally), with the film poking good fun at the modelling industry as well. It’s all brilliantly scripted and staged by Östlund, who also knows exactly how to use his ensemble cast; Harris Dickinson and the late Charlbi Dean carry the film, with Woody Harrelson and Zlatko Bouric stealing every scene in the midsection as the Marxist captain and Russian capitalist passenger, before Dolly De Leon all but walks away with the entire movie with her memorable supporting turn. (Review)

#9: Turning Red

This recent outing from Pixar Animation Studios is the first movie I saw in 2022 that had a real shot at making this list, and here we are. Like the studio’s recent efforts Onward and Luca, this is another semi-autobiographical film inspired by the director’s own childhood, reimagined through a high-concept fantasy lens. Director Domee Shi taps into her own experiences growing up in Toronto in the early 2000s through the story of Meilin Lee (Rosalie Chiang), a Chinese-Canadian girl who discovers that she can turn into a giant fluffy red panda, with the film’s emotional centre coming from her relationship with her mother (voiced by Sandra Oh). Like Pixar’s best efforts, Turning Red is brilliantly animated, wildly entertaining, and also very sweet. That it’s set in Toronto is just icing on the cake. (Review)

#8: Elvis

As I wrote in my review, director Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis is “biopic as cinematic spectacle.” It’s maximalist filmmaking of the highest order (a descriptor that actually could fit a few films on this list), offering a boldly edited visual experience somewhat akin to an extended music video or concert film that left me – as an Elvis fan – holding back tears by the end. Austin Butler channels “The King” through his incredible lead performance, morphing into one of the most iconic entertainers of all time through a feat of acting that moves beyond mere impersonation to become something wholly transcendent by the incredibly powerful final sequence. (Review)

#7: Decision to Leave

Director Park Chan-wook’s technically dazzling puzzle box of a movie is a mix of murder mystery and sensuous romance, that is ingeniously constructed by the Korean master. Following a detective (Park Hae-il) who starts falling for the woman (Tang Wei) he is investigating, this is a mature, seductive, and often beguiling film that is carried by excellent performances and brought to the screen through some of the best editing and cinematography of the year. It’s a film that rewards repeat viewings, building to a haunting and unforgettable ending. (Review)

#6: Everything Everywhere All at Once

The indie movie success story of the year, A24’s multiverse-jumping action comedy from directing duo Daniels is a true work of originality that builds upon their feature debut Swiss Army Man. Michelle Yeoh delivers a career-defining performance as the immigrant owner of a laundromat filing her taxes, and former child actor Ke Huy Quan shines in the undisputed favourite supporting performance of the year as her husband (delivering an already immortal line about doing laundry and taxes that is bound to get you choked up). It’s an immigrant story, a touching film about parental acceptance, and a wild jaunt through multiple universes featuring hot dog fingers and butt plugs. That it made over $100 million at the box office is an encouraging sign in an otherwise mostly bleak moviegoing landscape. (Review)

#5: TÁR

Cate Blanchett’s immaculate performance as Lydia Tár, a classical conductor besieged by scandal, is at the centre of writer-director Todd Field’s latest movie TÁR; a brilliantly made slow-burn film that holds us in its tight grip for the entire 158 minute running time. There are few films as nuanced as this one in grappling with the current subject of “cancel culture,” and Field’s direction feels Kubrickian at times, turning this multilayered character study into a thrilling aural and visual experience. It’s an exceptional piece of filmmaking, that is built around another brilliant, can’t-take-your-eyes-off-her performance by Blanchett. (Review)

#4: Top Gun: Maverick

Tom Cruise said that he was going to save cinema with this shockingly good legacy sequel to his 1986 classic Top Gun, and the mad lad actually did it. Directed by Joseph Kosinski, and featuring stunning aerial photography and in-camera effects, Top Gun: Maverick is the absolute best example of this type of movie. It’s a blockbuster that pretty much anyone can enjoy and get something out of, while offering a gloriously entertaining and genuinely thrilling good time built around a surprisingly poignant story about legacy (the way the film brings back Val Kilmer leads to one of the best and most compassionate scenes of the year). It got rave reviews, made a boatload of money at the box office, and already stands as a modern classic. I loved everything about it. (Review)

#3: The Banshees of Inisherin

Writer-director Martin McDonagh’s latest – and best since his debut In Bruges – could perhaps best be described as a breakup movie about platonic friendship. The film focuses on two men on an Irish island, Pádraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson), whose daily ritual of meeting up at the pub is interrupted when Colm announces that he simply no longer wants to be friends. It’s one hell of a hook for a film that might sound simple on the surface, but morphs into something as darkly funny as it is quietly profound in its nuanced portrait of straight male relationships. Farrell is astonishingly good as a man struggling to accept the end of a friendship, and Barry Keoghan will steal and then proceed to break your heart in his truly special supporting role. (Review)

#2: The Whale

This is sure to be the most controversial pick on this list, but no film last year moved me quite like this one, and Brendan Fraser’s devastating performance at the centre of it. Directed by Darren Aronofsky, Fraser delivers the defining role of his career as Charlie, a six hundred pound gay man who no longer leaves his apartment and is taking stock of what his life has become, while trying to reconcile with his difficult teenage daughter (Sadie Sink). Hong Chau delivers one of the best supporting performances of the year as his friend and helper. It’s an emotional and tough to watch film, but one that’s also about redemption, building to a blindingly powerful ending. I will never forget sitting at the very back of the balcony at the Royal Alexandra Theatre for its TIFF premiere, and sobbing through the final fifteen minutes, an experience made all the better by the emotional, several minute long standing ovation that Fraser received afterwards. He deserves all of the praise he has gotten. (Review)

#1: The Fabelmans

As a kid who grew up obsessed with the work of Steven Spielberg, there was almost no chance that The Fabelmans, the director’s autobiographical portrait of his childhood when he fell in love with making movies, wasn’t going to end up being my favourite film of the year. Working from a sensitive screenplay that he co-wrote with Tony Kushner, Spielberg’s deeply personal film is beautifully acted by the entire cast, including Gabriel LaBelle as his young stand-in Sammy Fabelman, Michelle Williams and Paul Dano as his parents, and Seth Rogen as the uncle. As much as it is about “the magic of movies,” it’s also about the power of cinema to help us see those around us in a different light, and how we suffer for our art. It’s a movie that delivers both great entertainment and raw emotion, while being fully absorbing throughout its entire 152 minute running time. I had a hunch that this would be my number one pick partway through seeing it at TIFF, and it still stands as my favourite movie of 2022. (Review)

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