The Best Movies of 2022 in a Year of Cinematic Delights

Even as the film industry continues to recover from the crippling effects of the pandemic, the ongoing story of cinema is not about a loss of quality. It was a year full of cinematic delights from all over the world, with first-time filmmakers doing their best to shock audiences and old masters delving into their darkest memories for indelible masterpieces. I worry about the fact that most of my favorite films from 2022 didn’t come from major Hollywood studios—an industry that once prided itself on producing diverse stories seems to be too focused on the biggest and loudest—but it was still an unforgettable year .

Julia in the sea
Kino Lorber/Antitalent/Everett

10. Murina (directed by Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović)

Sharp debut from Croatian filmmaker Kusijanović, Murina is a domestic drama set on the magical shores of the Adriatic Sea. The film is about an inscrutable teenager, Julija (Gracija Filipović), who is a whiz at catching eels but is unstable at home and comes into conflict with both her father and mother as she longs for more independence. Hope arrives in the form of businessman Javier (Cliff Curtis), who is looking to buy his father’s land, and Kusijanović eases the tension as Julija flirts with Javier in an effort to shake off her provincial existence. The film looks gorgeous, its taut storyline is perfectly structured and the lead performance (another debutante) is remarkable — it’s an engaging hit that you can recommend to anyone.

Daniel Kaluuya in No
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9. Nope (Jordan Peele)

With each film Peele directs, his narrative ambitions grow, and he has lost none of his willingness to take risks with the budgets he’s given and tell stories about the kinds of characters Hollywood rarely puts on screen. This would be refreshing in any era, but it’s especially exciting in 2022, when major studios have moved away from originality. Nope a course of anger and confusion at how people see and process terrible things. Yes, it’s about a magical group of movie industry criminals who chase UFOs around the California mountains with cameras, but it’s a horror film that manages to cleverly interrogate the genre without sacrificing thrills.

Family photo from After Yang

8. By Yang (Kogonada)

I have a huge weakness for small-scale science fiction, stories about robots exploring higher consciousness, and the work of Colin Farrell (who was also amazing in Banshees of Inisherin this year). Then By Yang was almost done for me, yet director Kogonada’s second installment exceeded my expectations and found new life in the familiar tale of a broken android. Sweetened by Kogonada’s whisper-quiet narrative sensibility, By Yang delves into a future that is neither dystopian nor utopian, where a family is torn apart by the loss of Yang (Justin H. Min), who is both a nanny and the artificial son of Jake (Farrell) and Kyra (Jodie Turner-Smiður). Emotional revelations build slowly but land with a thud. (It also has the best opening sequence of any movie from 2022.)

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Anna Cobb in We're All Going to the World's Fair

7. We’re all going to the World’s Fair (Jane Schoenbrun)

A film that feels like it crawled out of some dark corner of the Internet, Schoenbrun’s feature debut is one of the best films I’ve seen about the experience of being too online—clicking one page too deep or watching one video too many. It’s a quiet yet cerebral and terrifying contemporary epic about a lonely teenager named Casey (Anna Cobb), who embarks on an inscrutable viral phenomenon called the World’s Fair Challenge. Using Casey’s laptop footage and videos of other “players” around the world, Schoenbrun documents how a virtual experiment can take on an alarming weight, driving users to unravel in unpredictable ways. In a year of great debuts, Schoenbrun is at his best.

Armageddon time
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6. Armageddon time (James Gray)

Armageddon time is a haunting, melancholic vision of the recent past from one of America’s great directors, whose last two wonderful features took him deep into the rainforest and beyond the rings of Neptune. Here, Gray returns to the outer boroughs of New York City, where he might as well be a laureate screenwriter, and distills some of his most bittersweet teenage memories. Armageddon time follows a rebellious Jewish sixth grader named Paul (Banks Repeta), an artistic kid who lives to disappoint his middle-class family in Queens. So much of the film is made up of sharp little flashbacks, like Paul ordering Chinese food in the middle of his mother’s tasty dinner, but it builds to something more ominous – a warning about the growing climate of political greed in the 1980s, and the speed at which lofty libertarian ideals can crumbled in her face.

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Alexander Skarsgård in The Northman
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5. The Norwegian (Robert Eggers)

I wouldn’t thrive in Viking times—if someone threw a spear at me in battle, I probably wouldn’t be able to catch it in the air and throw it back, like the warrior prince Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) does in Egger’s thrilling adventure. But power The Norwegian lies in how incredibly real its muscular action sequences feel, and in how deeply invested I was in the legendary story of a Viking prince stripped of his throne and sent on a lifelong quest for revenge. Egger’s previous films (The witch and The lighthouse) mixed truth and nightmarish magic, and The Norwegian accomplishes it on a grand scale, making an ancient tale of revenge (a story that helped inspire Shakespeare a small village) feels fresh.

Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton

4. Three thousand years of longing (George Miller)

The first film from Aussie legend Miller since his Oscar win Mad Max: Fury Road, Three thousand years of longing came and went this summer with barely any attention at the box office, but it’s ready to be discovered by a larger audience. The plot is certainly strange: A buttoned-up professor (Tilda Swinton) accidentally invites a sentient genius (Idris Elba) to her hotel room and proceeds to learn about his highly dramatic, millennia-long life, only to fall in love with him along the way. But Miller’s film succeeds because the chemistry between its two leads feels lived-in despite the fantasy atmosphere and the Elba djinn stories. Unfurls varies greatly in tone, jumping from violent palace intrigue to giddy romance to strange comedy. It builds to a finale that actually has something to say about the buzzing anxieties of modern life; Leave it to Miller to find a new side to our strange modern condition decades into his career.

Merie Weismiller/Universal Pictures

3. Fabelman’s (Steven Spielberg)

When I first heard that Spielberg was making a semi-autobiographical film about his teenage years, I expected memories of his filmmaking to come alive—and Fabelmans, which follows young ‘Sammy’ and his family, has plenty of that. His sisters dress up as toilet paper mummies and charge the camera, he makes a war film that offers the first glimpse of Hollywood’s high-end movie, and he discovers a clever way to light gunshots in his teenage cowboy game by poking holes in the tape. But what is so striking about us Fabelman’s is her bitter honesty—about Spielberg’s parents’ divorce, his role in it, and how his film obsession shaped their lives. It’s a tangible piece – wrapped in the fun package he always provides.

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Tilda Swinton in Eternal Daughter

2. The eternal daughter (Joanna Hogg)

A stunning semi-sequel to the two of them A souvenir films, The eternal daughter sees once again British director Hogg risking his life for a story that blurs the lines between truth and fiction. The souvenir (parts one and two) focuses on her younger days as a film student, but The eternal daughter is a ghost story of sorts, about a filmmaker (Tilda Swinton) who goes to a hotel in an old English estate with her elderly mother (also played by Swinton) and discovers that they are the only guests there. The farm has some significance to the family and brings back old memories, as well as some supernatural sightings. But the most stunning sight is Swinton playing against herself, setting up family life with whispers, glances and awkward dinnertime chats.

Cate Blanchett directs in Tár
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1. Tears (Todd Field)

Knowing Lydia Tár isn’t loving her, exactly, but the mercury conductor is impossible to stop thinking about. Fields’ film, his first in 16 years, introduces us to a fictional celebrity at the top of the classical music world, who, when we meet her, is lecturing a Lincoln Center audience about her absolute mastery of rhythm. Tears ends up with her in a completely different scenario, and the path she takes for her downfall is remarkable and unpredictable, winding up this tight-wired powerhouse and wondering how her life is falling apart. This is by far the greatest piece of cinematography I’ve seen this year – requiring the audience to notice the corners of every frame while delivering an unforgettable performance from Blanchett. Even in a year where the movie was surprising and surprising, it was destined to be my number 1.

Medal of Honor: Top Gun: Maverick, Barbarian, Banshees of Inisherin, Decision to leave, RRR, Babylon, Return to Seoul, Aftersun, All the beauty and the bloodshed, Crimes of the future


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