Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Top 10 Films of 2022

Are movies “back”? Are studios allowed to stop blaming COVID for keeping people away from theaters? Was 2022 an encapsulation of where cinema is today? 

I’ll answer with a soft Yes to all of the above. I think 2022 was a far better year in film than the last two, and I’ll admit that the strength of this year gives me hope for 2023. 

10. All Quiet on the Western Front
Directed by Edward Berger
I’m so glad I got to see this in the theater, but it still holds up at home on Netflix too. This is war cinema at its most visceral. It has the empty humanity of Come and See, the battle brilliance of Saving Private Ryan, and the war futility of Paths of Glory. I was pleasantly surprised that this landed nine Oscar nominations. Wonder how many it’ll win? 

9. Bones and All
Directed by Luca Guadagnino
Such an honest love story set in such extreme circumstances. The cannibalism storyline is clearly in right now, but I’ve never seen it expressed the way it is in Bones and All. Taylor Russell (so good), Timothée Chalamet, Mark Rylance, and Michael Stuhlbarg all help sell the notion that if they do not feast, they will die. It plagues them like a disease. Lord knows how Guadagnino made such a great love story out of such bleak material. 

8. Emily the Criminal
Directed by John Patton Ford
I loved this movie. It plays like a tough, capable street flick from the John Cassavetes School of ‘70s Cinema. Aubrey Plaza (her best role) plays a young woman from New Jersey struggling to make ends meet and pay off her student loans, so she falls quickly and organically into the dark world of credit card fraud. It’s such a believable film in terms of the process, they really make you understand how this type of fraud works. This isn’t a game changer movie or anything, just a very well-made, on the ground thriller. 

7. Top Gun: Maverick
Directed by Joseph Kosinski
The most entertaining film of the year. Period.

6. Blonde
Directed by Andrew Dominik
I’ve talked about Blonde a lot on my podcast since it was released on Netflix. You can listen to my full thoughts on the film here. Love that Ana got the Oscar nomination. I really didn’t think that was going to happen.

5. Petite Maman
Directed by Céline Sciamma
I made myself a promise to put this simple, profound, 72-minute wonder of a film in my top 5 of the year. Made for $2 million, shot largely in one location, using only five principal actors, Petite Maman is about a young girl trying to connect with her mother, through the help of another young girl. It’s easy, it’s sweet, and the last scene is one of the most moving things I saw all year. If you liked Sciamma’s previous film, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, please watch Petite Maman

4. Babylon
Directed by Damien Chazelle
Another complicated, if not grossly misunderstood, film from 2022 that I’ve talked about a lot on my podcast. I don’t know what in the world critics were on about with this one. Babylon is also a total love letter to the art form of cinema, which is evidenced so clearly in its final, breathtaking sequence. My jaw was hanging open as I watched it. Listen to my fill episode on Babylon here.

3. Triangle of Sadness
Directed by Ruben Östlund
This is one of the most hysterical films I have ever seen, let alone the funniest film of 2022. I’m a fan of Ruben Östlund’s work, but he’s never had me gasping for breath like I do during this movie. I was so happy that this Cannes Palme d’Or-winner had such a nice showing in the Oscar nominations. If I was a member of the Academy, I’d vote for Triangle of Sadness to win everything it’s nominated for. 

2. Vortex
Directed by Gaspar Noé
Gaspar Noé is a very specific type of filmmaker, and Vortex is his most mature film yet. The fact that he decided to do the whole movie in split screen is something that, at first, seems like it’s going to be distracting. But after a few moments, you embrace it and find yourself falling into two concurrent worlds. It’s a massively experimental film made by an unapologetic master. Vortex certainly isn't the most rewatchable movie of the year, but it’s one I’ll always appreciate. I also recorded two Gaspar Noé podcasts in 2022. The first was his work from I Stand Alone though Climax. The second part covers Lux Æterna and Vortex.

1. Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths
Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Yep, I absolutely love Bardo. It’s an absurdist work of art that I never could have expected. The entire time I watched it, I was on the journey of the film, but had no idea how to anticipate the destination. 

The proper way to talk about Bardo is by discussing the entire thing, including the end, which I don’t want to do here. But when I finally fucking figured out what this film was doing, I was moved in a way that is becoming increasingly rare for modern movies. 

I understand that I am seemingly alone on Bardo Island. That’s okay. I’ve read all the criticisms and heard all the complains. I get it. I typically react strongly to Iñárritu’s films, I’m not sure why. Maybe because he seems to understand pain in a way that I appreciate, and he’s so fearless in putting that understanding on the screen, film after film. Whether I’m alone with Bardo or not, I will cherish this film forever.


  1. So far, I've only seen Blonde and Bones and All based on my list so far. I do plan on seeing most of these films soon as I'm just trying to catch up right now.

    1. Great list! I loved Decision to Leave so much more the second time. That thing is such a fun puzzle. Love seeing any additional Blonde love!

  2. It's nice to see a post from you again! I've seen all of these aside from your top 2. We will definitely share a few once I write my Top 10 (still waiting on Women Talking just in case) I love that Petite Mamam got some love. I really need to check out Bardo. I hadn't heard of it until the Oscar nominations were announced. I'll have to listen to your postcast episode about Bablyon, I'm still so irritated that it bombed.

    1. Babylon bombing with critics, audiences, and awards is just shocking to me. I'm so glad he made that movie and I really hope he keeps pushing things.

      Bardo, that damn thing has my heart. I am on Bardo Island alone though haha

  3. Its wonderful to hear how much Bardo moves you. I finally found time to see it off the back of your podcast and had a unique experience. In all honesty I really didn't connect with it for most of the runtime, in spite of some great sequences peppered in throughout. But then in that last act, it absolutely floored me.

    I don't have a lot of time at the moment but will definitley see it again someday, knowing what I now know about the ending. It re-frames the whole experience with a profound new emotional texture which spoke to me so deeply, particuarly in the context of creating art that is entirely your own. We don't have forever to try.

    1. Yep, that's just it. The first time I saw that movie, I didn't really know what was happening, or why. Then when it clicked, I was floored as well. When I've gone back to rewatch it, there is so much packed into the movie to clue you into what it's doing. I haven't been that moved by a film in years.

  4. Happy to see a fellow member of the Bardo and Babylon brigade. I liked those films a lot.

    Saint Omer (Alice Diop)
    The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh)
    Decision To Leave (Park Chan-wook)
    The Worst Person In the World (Joachim Trier)
    TAR (Todd Field)
    Everything Everywhere All At Once (Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert)
    The Fabelmans (Steven Spielberg)
    Nope (Jordan Peele)
    EO (Jerzy Skolimowski)
    All The Beauty and the Bloodshed (Lauren Poitras)

    1. Love it! There are DOZENS of us! Really solid list, I put The Worst Person in the World on my 2021 list, but it was my second favorite film of that year. I really need to rewatch that actually.

      The only one from your list I haven't seen is Saint Omer, so I need to check it out!

    2. BABYLON blew my mind and I could watch it infinitely. PERIOD.

      All gorgeous examples of cinematic glory which gave me great hope that true filmmaking is far from over.

    3. That is a great list, loved them all. Emily the Criminal was just so damn good. That thing came out of nowhere and floored me. Loved it.