top of page
  • Nate Adams

TheOnlyCritic picks: The Top 25 Movies of 2022


(From LTR Keke Palmer in "Nope," Tom Cruise in "Top Gun: Maverick," Sam Worthington in "Avatar: The Water of Water" and Michelle Yeoh in "Everything Everyone All at Once")

 

From high octane, adrenaline fueled madness to a breadth of groundbreaking queer romantic comedies and dramas, 2022 was a rollicking year for cinema. James Cameron returned to Pandora for the first time in 13 years, Tom Cruise proved audiences would come back to movie theaters if the film was right, and Martin McDonagh delivered one of the most tragic break-up films of the millenia. With “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” the indie distributor A24 not only got their biggest hit, but it expanded audiences minds and showcased newfound innovation on a shoestring budget. It wasn’t just a good year for movies, it was a great year. Sure, there were disappointments and the tough theatrical market proved futile when it came to arthouse fare with the overall top 10 highest earners of the year being either sequels or reboots. You have to go back to the early ‘90s to find an era where no sequels made the cut.


Such is the name of the game. We live in a superhero dominated marketplace and the pandemic taught audiences that, if a film wasn’t a must-see in theaters, they’d just wait for it to hit either streaming or premium video-on-demand. That’s why it was encouraging movies like “Elvis,” a film I didn’t care much for, or “The Woman King” and “Ticket to Paradise,” had decent box office runs. It showed studios can still be innovative (and lucrative) even if their main character doesn’t wear a cape or spandex. There was much to celebrate on a cinematic level and it’s always good to remember that when any film pundit unveils their best of the year, it’s a personal endeavor not mandated by outside forces. Even if some of your 2022 favorites didn’t make my cut, that doesn’t devalue them. There will more than likely be some selections (and omissions) on my list you’ll probably gawk at, but I hope my picks either encourage you to seek out something you otherwise wouldn’t, or, perhaps, confirms what you already knew.


As long as we’re embracing the art-form and discussing the medium in a constructive manner, we all win.


Without further ado, and after viewing over 220 movies, here are my top 25 movies of 2022.

 

25: Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers

If you would’ve told me a live-action/CGI hybrid Disney+ streaming movie about Chip ‘n Dale would be anywhere near my top 25 a year ago, I may have called you crazy. But when you have John Mulaney and Andy Sandberg carrying this irreverent, “Lego Movie” crossed with “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” adventure, the sky’s the limit. (On Disney+)


24. Bones & All

What a year for cannibals! Luca Guadagnino's stirring and thematically beautiful love story, “Bones & All” is the first of two movies about man-eating carnivores to make the list. Starring heartthrob Timothée Chalamet and the enchanting Taylor Russell, with a devilish supporting performance by Mark Rylance, “Bones & All,” underneath all the chewy limbs and mutilated corpses, is actually a sweet romance anchored by two of today’s best young stars. Maybe don’t watch it on a full stomach. (On VOD)


23. Fresh

If “Bones and All” is a romance about cannibals in the vein of Guadagnino's “Call Me By Your Name,” then Mimi Cave’s absolutely wild “Fresh” is “Death Proof” meets “Hannibal.” Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan are excellent in this sneaky thriller where the less you know going in, the better. Off with your heads! (On Hulu)


22. Cha Cha Real Smooth

Cooper Raiff’s endearing coming-of-age dramedy “Cha Cha Real Smooth” proved the young filmmaker's debut, “Shithouse,” was no fluke. This time he has star power (Dakota Johnson turns in a memorable performance) and a movie with more heart on its sleeve. It’s about a 22 year old college graduate turned Bat Mitzvah DJ trying to land on his feet. He doesn’t know where it’ll take him, but he’s along for the ride whether he wants to or not. Take it back now y’all! (On Apple TV+)


21. God’s Country

For too long, Thandiwe Newton has never gotten to take charge and command the screen. But with Julian Higgen’s politically charged western “God’s Country,” that’s forever changed. Newton blows the roof off the place in this pressure cooker drama that lingers long after the credits roll. It’s a travesty Newton isn’t in the award conversation this year. (VOD)


20. Speak No Evil

No movie made me more sick or disturbed than Christian Tafdrup's unforgettable “Speak No Evil,” a film where I had to pick myself up off the floor upon its insane conclusion. Do with that information what you will, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. (On Shudder)


19. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Here’s a movie that won’t make you sick or hate yourself for watching it. The creative minds of Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp blessed audiences this year with the wonderful and bubbly “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,” an endearing “mockumentary” about the exploits of a one-inch tall, anthropomorphized conch shell with a googly eye and pink shows. You’ll be smiling the entire time. (VOD)


18. Pleasure

I saw Ninja Thyberg’s audacious debut “Pleasure” back in 2021 at the Sundance Film Festival (it was finally released this past May) and was blown away at the film’s smart assertion on the adult entertainment industry. Featuring a knockout performance from newcomer Sofia Kappel, “Pleasure” doesn’t offer another sexists, exploitation fueled peek behind curtain, rather, it unveils and affords an honest, open discussion about what truly makes this multi-million dollar industry tick. (VOD)

17. Scream

If you know me, you know how much “Scream,” as a franchise, means to me. But it’s not something I take for granted, so I was relieved Radio Silence duo Matt Bettinlli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (stepping in for the late Wes Craven) were not only able to honor the legacy of this incredible series, but pushed it forward in manner conducive to the roadmap screenwriter Kevin Williamson and Craven laid all those years ago. Ghostface is back and I can’t wait for “Scream 6.” (On Paramount+)


16. The Menu

Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy are a perfect match throughout Mark Mylod’s wickedly fun social satire “The Menu.” The thriller spins a bold yarn whose primary targets, foodies, influences, and the wealthy elite, are the victims of their own downfall. The dialogue is savory and the aftertaste sits squarely in your throat. If anything, it’ll make you crave a cheeseburger. (In theaters)


15. She Said

Maria Schrader’s incredible newspaper drama “She Said” documents The New York Times investigation that brought down producer Harvey Weinstein and it also joins the ranks of “Spotlight” and “All the President’s Men” as an old-fashioned investigative thriller that celebrates the power of journalism. Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan are at the top of their game. (On VOD)


14. Jackass Forever

Like visiting old friends, Jeff Treamine’s display of debauchery and lewd behavior is cranked to the max in “Jackass Forever,” the glorious fourth installment in a franchise I pray never dies. Johnny Knoxville assembles his rag-tag team of bozos to put their stamina (and testicals) under intense scrutiny. There’s something inherently poetic about this group banning together and hurting themselves for our entertainment. I’m not sure I laughed harder at a movie all year. (On Paramount+)


13. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

One notch below men having their balls engulfed in a beehive, comes Guillermo del Toro’s wonderful (and now definitive) take on the classic tale of Pinocchio. A gorgeous, stop motion delight with out-of-this-world voice work by Gregory Mann, Ewan McGregor, and David Bradley, del Toro’s vision is unmatched and pays homage to Carlo Collodi’s beloved source material more than any of the previous iterations. It also puts more emphasis on the relationship a father shares with his son and asks children to explore themes of religion and existentialism in only the way del Toro can. (On Netflix)


12. Bros

It’s a bummer more people didn’t see Nicholas Stoller and Billy Eichner’s queer romantic comedy “Bros” in theaters because what a delightful experience. Groundbreaking in several different ways, including being the first openly gay LGBTQ+ studio backed picture of its kind, “Bros” is also a tender, sweet romance molded in the shape of “When Harry Met Sally.” It’s a laugh-out-loud riot. (On Peacock)


11. Nope

Nobody is making movies quite like Jordan Peele. One of the few filmmakers whose name above the title is good enough to get audiences into theaters and his latest feature, “Nope” doesn’t disappoint. Working with much bigger themes (exploitation, ownership, influence) and a sizable budget, “Nope” takes Peele to the skies in an ambitiously organic sci-fi chiller that would make John Carpenter and Steven Spielberg blush. (On Peacock)


10. All Quiet on the Western Front

Easily the best war movie since “Saving Private Ryan,” Edward Berger’s 2022 remake “All Quiet on the Western Front,” doesn’t hold back. It’s one of the more harrowing and realistic displays of war violence ever documented on film thanks to an incredible crew. Everything from production design, makeup and the score are firing on all cylinders. Shout-out to Felix Kammerer’s devastating performance. (On Netflix)


9. Navalny

A jaw-dropping documentary one has to see to believe, Daniel Roher’s “Navalny,” follows the Russian government and their attempted assassination of Putin dissenter Alexey Navalny. Nothing could prepare you for the revelations uncovered throughout the film, including a sequence so completely surreal, it pushes the boundaries of reality. (On HBO Max)


8. Tár

Todd Field’s first movie in nearly 16-years, “Tár” follows a modern artist with a deeply egocentric personality who finds herself in the middle of a comeuppance during the #MeToo era. Cate Blanchett is fierce and quite literally on fire in this stunning magnum opus that unravels slowly, and methodically until the final scene hits you right in the gut. It’s Blanchett's Oscar to lose. (On VOD)


7. The Northman

How Robert Eggers convinced a studio to pony up $90 million bucks for a non-franchise, Viking epic where Alexander Skarsgård is ripping hearts out for breakfast is one of 2022’s modern movie miracles. From the world’s deadliest game of cricket, and battling enemies, naked, inside an erupting volcano, nothing is off limits in Eggers staggering “The Northman.” I’m so glad it exists. (On Amazon Prime Video)


6. Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood

Richard Linklater is the master of the modern day hangout movie. From “Dazed and Confused” to “Everybody Wants Some!!!” Nobody creates a “vibe” more than Linklater and his rotoscoped animated “Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood” is the epitome of that mantra. Set during the 1969 moon landing as told through the eyes of a 10-year boy, Linklater’s inventive and picturesque time capsule is the first movie I’ve seen that made me nostalgic for a time when I wasn’t alive. Features an incredible narration by Jack Black. (On Netflix)


5. Everything Everywhere All at Once

Move over “Doctor Strange” and “Spider-Man”, the best adaptation of the “multiverse” belongs to an immigrant who runs a laundry and dry cleaning business. Until now, Marvel had owned the term, but the wonderful and imaginative “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” helmed by Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, redefines the meaning. Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, Jamie Lee Curtis and James Hong are aces, helping solidify that “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is a movie that will live in cinematic history for decades. (Streaming on Showtime)


4. X

The best slasher film in ages, Ti West’s retro “X” proves refreshing and, oddly enough, comforting. A love letter to “Friday the 13th,” “Sleepaway Camp,” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “X” finds an adult film crew on the receiving end of some penetrating kills. Mia Goth is the true star of the movie and would go on to star in the prequel “Pearl” which is a completely different beast, but still worth the watch. (Streaming on Showtime)


3. Avatar: The Way of Water

Never bet against James Cameron. His return to Pandora 13 years removed from when “Avatar” became the highest grossing film of all time is just as engrossing, stunning, and visually masterful as the first. The script is sharper and the underwater sequences are breathtaking. Here’s a rare filmmaker who can take a gigantic budget of $350 million and put it all on the screen (there were times I was watching the movie, I’d lose major plot points because I was staring at Pandora fish). I can’t wait to do this again in a few years and, in case you forgot, Cameron is still the king. (In theaters December 16th).


2. The Banshees of Inisherin

Martin McDonagh’s poignant, darkly comical and heartbreaking “The Banshees of Inisherin” deconstructs every facet of what a true friendship means in time of despair. McDonagh enlists two veterans in Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson to play drinking buddies on the fictional island of Inisherin who have a falling out that yields unruly (and hilarious) consequences. Farrell gives the performance of the year in this outstanding film that shows McDonagh hasn’t lost his touch. (On HBO MAX)


1. Top Gun: Maverick

There isn’t a movie I’ve seen more this year than “Top Gun: Maverick,” a blockbuster that puts most blockbusters to shame. Love him or hate him, Tom Cruise is the hardest working man in Hollywood, clocking overtime to foster a visceral, encompassing, and out-of-this-planet experience. “Top Gun: Maverick” is no different. It’s the movie that brought audiences together. It’s the movie where you could set aside politics and just bask in its ambitions. Most hold a place in their hearts for the Tony Scott directed predecessor, but I’d argue “Top Gun: Maverick” is far superior.


The dogfights are exhilarating, the action sequences ungodly, and the need for speed has never felt more urgent, Major props to director Joseph Kosinski who captured over 700+ hours of practical, aerial footage to make this thing look as real and authentic as possible. I know it’s only 2022, but we really could be talking about the best movie of the decade.


And a bonus! “Hold My Hand” by Lady Gaga is undoubtedly the song of the year. (On VOD and streaming on Paramount+ Dec 22nd)


Honorable Mentions: The next five movies that just missed the cut.


The Phantom of the Open (on VOD)

Dual (on Hulu)

Don’t Worry Darling (on HBO MAX)

The Inspection (on VOD)

Barbarian (on HBO MAX)


The Top 10 Television Shows of 2022

  1. Severance (Apple TV+)

  2. Better Call Saul (AMC)

  3. The Rehearsal (HBO)

  4. The Bear (Hulu)

  5. House of the Dragon (HBO)

  6. The White Lotus (HBO)

  7. Barry (HBO)

  8. Under The Banner of Heaven (Hulu/FX)

  9. Welcome to Wrexham (Hulu/FX)

  10. Ozark (Netflix)


THE TOP 25 BEST MOVIES OF 25 (Recap)

  1. Top Gun: Maverick

  2. The Banshees of Inisherin

  3. Avatar: The Way of Water

  4. X

  5. Everything Everywhere All at Once

  6. Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood

  7. The Northman

  8. Tár

  9. Navalny

  10. All Quiet on the Western Front

  11. Nope

  12. Bros

  13. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

  14. Jackass Forever

  15. She Said

  16. The Menu

  17. Scream

  18. Pleasure

  19. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

  20. Speak No Evil

  21. God’s Country

  22. Cha Cha Real Smooth

  23. Fresh

  24. Bones & All

  25. Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers


See you in 2023!



Comments


Subscribe here to have every review sent directly to your inbox!

NEVER MISS A REVIEW!

Be the first to know!

Thanks for subscribing to TheOnlyCritic.com!

bottom of page