The Best and Worst Movies of 2022

10. Avatar: The Way of Water (dir. James Cameron) and Nope (dir. Jordan Peele)
Is this cheating? Maybe. But in a cinema landscape dominated by disposable blockbusters, Cameron and Peele delivered big-budget films made to last. Both are films about family, obsession and invading forces, but mostly they’re on this list because they showed us something we hadn’t seen before.

9. Triangle of Sadness (dir. Ruben Östlund)
Though I’m less enamored with the first part – skewering the vapidity of supermodels – the later two sections are lights-out brilliant. On the luxury yacht, class divisions start to grow wider, until all the rich assholes are throwing up in a segment that rivals that infamous Family Guy scene. But what comes after is even more brilliant: a turn of the tables that echoes both Lord of the Flies and The Twilight Zone.

8. Women Talking (dir. Sarah Polley)
I love movies that mostly feature a single location and lots of talking. They’re usually dominated by men: Glengarry Glen Ross, 12 Angry Men, Reservoir Dogs, the list goes on. But Polley’s film gives women the floor as they debate a life-changing decision: leave the religious compound where they’ve spent all their lives, or stay and face continued sexual assault. It’s not easy subject matter, but it’s handled delicately. The performances are excellent across-the-board, building to a powerful ending.

7. The Fabelmans (dir. Steven Spielberg)
You know who’s good at making movies? That Steven Spielberg. This extremely autobiographical story about a boy (Gabriel Labelle, a knockout in his first major role) obsessed with filmmaking hits all the right emotional notes without the sentimentality Spielberg can be guilty of indulging in.

6. The Banshees of Inisherin (dir. Martin McDonagh)
The end of a friendship can be more painful than the end of a romantic relationship. But below the surface there’s even more to explore in McDonagh’s viciously dark comedy: ambition vs. contentment, selfishness vs. selflessness, and even echoes of the Irish Civil War.

5. Babylon (dir. Damien Chazelle)
Chazelle’s three-hour poison pen letter to Hollywood is both exhilarating and exhausting. It’s the most depraved mainstream movie since The Wolf of Wall Street, and often just as funny. The glitz and glamour are just a façade. Making a movie is more than just hard work. It’s soul-eroding work, as Manny (newcomer Diego Calva) learns during his ascent from go-fer to studio executive.

4. Tár (dir. Todd Field)
A biopic of a person who does not exist. A ghost story. A cautionary tale. Tár is all of these things and more, anchored by Cate Blanchett’s latest masterwork. The very definition of a slow burn, it’s got red herrings, reprisals and payoffs galore.

3. Decision to Leave (dir. Park Chan-wook)
Korean director Park Chan-wook made a strong name for himself with the ultra-violent and stylish “Vengeance Trilogy” in the mid-00s. But he’s taken another leap as a filmmaker in the last decade, with the sexy, twisty adaptations of The Handmaiden and The Little Drummer Girl. But Decision to Leave is his best movie to date. The descriptor “Hitchcockian” gets thrown around far too often, but its apt here: a cop (Park Hae-il) finds himself unable to do his job due to his attraction to a murder suspect (the marvelous Tang Wei). Just when you think you’ve figured the film out, the rug gets pulled out from under you. And then there’s still an hour to go! The perfect pacing makes its devastating ending hit that much harder.

2. Everything Everywhere All at Once (dirs. Daniels)
The most audacious American film of the year, blowing all the other “multiverse” movies out of the water. It lived up to its title, tackling mother-daughter relationships, small business struggles, neglected spouses and more, with diversions like hot-dog fingers and butt-plug shaped awards. Even amidst all the chaos, it found the beauty of small moments.

1. RRR (dir. S.S. Rajamouli)
I saw this solely on a friend’s recommendation. Even though the showing I attended had maybe a dozen people, we were all in awe of this Telegu epic, which remixes Indian history to create a three-hour blast of bromance, music and as a hero once said: “Telling the British to shove it up their ass.” That its cult has only grown in North America proves that true crowd-pleasers don’t have borders.

After Yang (dir. Kogonada)
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (dir. Laura Poitras)
Armageddon Time (dir. James Gray)
The Batman (dir. Matt Reeves)
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (dir. Ryan Coogler)
Fire of Love (dir. Sara Dosa)
Glass Onion (dir. Rian Johnson)
Jackass Forever (dir. Jeff Tremaine)
KIMI (dir. Steven Soderbergh)
Mad God (dir. Phil Tippett)
A Man Called Otto (dir. Marc Forster)
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (dir. Dean Fleischer Camp)
Moonage Daydream (dir. Brett Morgen)
The Northman (dir. Robert Eggers)
The Outfit (dir. Graham Moore)
Prey (dir. Dan Trachtenberg)
Three Thousand Years of Longing (dir. George Miller)
Top Gun: Maverick (dir. Joseph Kosinski)
Turning Red (dir. Domee Shi)
Vengeance (dir. B.J. Novak)

Apollo 10½
Bones and All
Confess, Fletch
The Eternal Daughter
Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.
Next Exit
Nothing Compares
On the Count of Three

Dark Glasses (dir. Dario Argento)
Jurassic World: Dominion (dir. Colin Trevorrow)
Luckiest Girl Alive (dir. Mike Barker)
Master (dir. Mariama Diallo)
Unplugging (dir. Debra Neil-Fisher)

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