Editor’s Note: I know I’m super late with top ten lists this year, but life (and COVID) got in the way. Still, I wanted the team to get their top movies of 2022 out there so hey, better late than never right? Kicking things off is Amanda-Marie. You can check out all of our lists over here.
10. The Sea Beast – Dir. Chris Williams
I’m always down for an animated film with diverse representation, so right off the bat this one caught my attention. Overall, it’s a relevant story wrapped up in a cartoon about fighting sea monsters. As the film progresses, we discover that the real monsters are the people that have invented fake histories around these creatures to villainize them. And the monarchy sending the people of their kingdom to fight the sea beasts, plays a huge part in keeping these fabricated stories alive. The whole thing treads way too close to the current events of our country, where history itself is being replaced by false narratives, and it’s eerie.
9. Windfall – Dir. Charlie McDowell
This is a film filled with great acting and a great story. I’m always impressed when a cast can convey the highs and lows of a piece in one location. Jesse Plemons as the CEO, is self-assured and creepy, while Lily Collins playing his spouse, aptly titled “Wife”, says so much without saying anything. Jason Segel has a real departure from the comedic roles we’re used to seeing him in. His character is titled “Nobody,” which perfectly portrays the class structure of this film, and with literally nothing to lose, holds the CEO and Wife hostage on a remote weekend. Segel’s Nobody is smart, desperate, and definitely not afraid to say how he feels. It’s nice to see Siegel stepping into more serious rules, and I’m excited to see where else he’s headed.
8. Elvis – Dir. Baz Luhrmann
It’s not so much that the film is good, I mean it’s beautiful, with the dizziness and pace that you would expect from a Baz Luhrmann film. But the reason I have it on my list is solely for Austin Butler. I’m not an Elvis fan but Butler made me one, if only for the length of the film. The way he manipulates his body, the suaveness, the confidence, mixed with this underlying sensitivity, it’s just intoxicating to watch. After the recent string of biopic pics like Bohemian Rhapsody, most of which are inaccurate, at least with this one, when you get sick of everything else, you can put your blinders on and concentrate on Butler.
7. Emily the Criminal – Dir. John Patton Ford
Aubrey Plaza is miles away in this film from the typical, deadpan Plaza that we’ve seen in shows like Parks and Recreation and White Lotus, and that’s what makes this story so compelling. As a woman saddled with student debt and unable to advance from a dead-end job due to criminal charges, you can see the frustration pore out of her during most moments she’s on screen. And she has a right to be frustrated as no one gives her a break. She has these scenes where it’s clear she’s about to burst, pissed that people are trying to take advantage of her.
There’s very few things that are warm about Emily. She’s cold and harsh because she has to be. She knows that if she gives an inch, anyone can take a mile.
6. Glass Onion – Dir. Rian Johnson
This is just a plain old fun film with an all-star cast. Daniel Craig is even better as Benoit Blanc this time around and is a great representation of us, the audience, as he tries to piece together the complicated relationships between this group of friends that get whisked away to Miles Bron’s (Edward Norton) private island during the pandemic. The real standout is Janelle Monáe playing a dual role as twin sisters, as she manages to paint a clear picture of each at various points in the film. It all comes together in the end and it’s worth watching to find out who committed the murders.
5. The Good Nurse -Dir. Tobias Lindholm
The standout of this film is the acting of Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastain. Redmayne’s soft nature is well suited for Charlie Cullen, who hides the fact that he’s secretly killing patients. He can express such ease and friendliness but turn cold in a matter of seconds. He makes you feel sympathy for a man who truly doesn’t deserve it. Jessica Chastain is equally brilliant at the balancing act of nurse and parent, pulling off the frustration and complexity that accompanies both roles as they pile on one another. The two have great chemistry and at times, you wish this was a buddy movie instead of a true life horror show. And perhaps it treads on too familiar territory for Netflix, in the way that the platform often has attractive actors playing awful people, which can garner sympathy for truly vile individuals. And maybe Redmayne’s physical appearance is what some of my feelings toward the character of Charlie are based on. Regardless, Charlie is extremely complex, and there’s a quietness in the performance that’s chilling, as you’re never sure what he’s thinking and when he may reveal his true colors.
4. Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers – Dir. Akiva Schaffer
I was a big fan of this cartoon growing up and loved that they took two beloved characters and combined them with weird rejects of other beloved characters, to make a really funny film about what happens to cartoons that fall on hard times. It gives a whole new meaning to the bootleg film industry, where you never quite know what the film will look like if it doesn’t come from a reputable source. A similar sentiment can be applied to this film as you don’t quite know what you’re going to see as it goes on, but you’re enjoying the ride.
3. Werewolf by Night – Dir. Michael Giacchino
This tight 52-minute story is beautifully told in black and white cinematography. Despite the violence, there’s a lightness and funniness, especially where it concerns Jack Russell (Gael García Bernal ) and Ted the monster. Don’t let the fact that it’s on Disney Plus deter you, as Disney seems to be making more pictures for adults than kids nowadays.
2. White Noise – Dir. Noah Baumbach
The dialogue of this film is the standout, as there are just so many hysterical lines. The character of Jack is the perfect role for Adam Driver, as it allows him to be comical when needed while keeping him in that dramatic zone that he’s known for. The chemistry between he and Greta Gerwig, who plays his wife Babette, is cutesy but believable. Don Cheadle adds the comic relief as Murray, a fellow professor like Jack. The style is very Wes Anderson with all the colors, costumes, and the perfectly stocked grocery store with nothing out of place. Some parts of the story feel unnecessary but overall, it’s an entertaining watch.
1. Everything Everywhere All at Once – Dir. Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
It’s hard to put into words how much I love this film. Each year I look for that film with either original writing or an original concept, and this film checks both those boxes. Michelle Yeoh is incredible as a regular woman, Evelyn Wang, trying to get through her taxes. Overall, Evelyn’s unsatisfied in life, and through extraordinary circumstances which allow her to inhabit all the twists and turns she could have taken, she realizes that the path she’s on, may not be as bad as she thinks. It’s a profoundly weird film that’s also hugely relatable, and Yeoh deserves all the awards.
Honorable mention: Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel – Dir. Bo Burham
It’s more of a comedy show than a film, but I wanted to include this on my list in some way. Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel was one of the best comedy specials I’ve seen in a long time. Directed by Bo Burnham, it’s a deeply intimate show that at times feels like a therapy session, as Carmichael tells the truth about his sexuality, while grappling with his family’s mistakes and the ones he made in turn, all in front of a live audience. It’s more a conversation than a performance, as the audience asks him questions, prompting even more reflection. It’s beautifully directed with these closeups on his face, and at times the camera just rests on him, so we can take in everything he’s feeling. It’s deeply honest, staying with you long after it’s over.