Best of 2022 is ComingSoon’s weeklong celebration of the entertainment that made this past year so memorable.
2022 was a fantastic year for cinema as there was truly something for everyone. We’re truly spoiled with great releases coming out nearly every single week of the year, be it in cinemas or on streaming services. It can actually be overwhelming at times as there is always something new to check out and appreciate.
This year delivered multiple all-time classics, and our list of the 20 best movies of 2022 includes a numbered top 10 and an alphabetical list of 10 honorable mentions.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Multiverse of Madness was refreshingly freaky for a Marvel movie, as director and horror legend Sam Raimi was able to get a bit weird with it. Strange and Wanda’s multiversal battle involved puppeteering dead bodies, using forbidden magic, and controlling various hellspawn, making for a wonderfully macabre take on a superhero movie.
Baz Luhrmann’s stylish biopic gets stellar performances from both the charismatic Austin Butler and the always-reliable Tom Hanks. Never dull for a moment, this visual delight is bolstered by an interesting framing device by focusing on Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis’ parasitic relationship that leads the “King of Rock” to superstardom and to his grave.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Glass Onion is one of the year’s funniest movies and a blast to watch. There are some truly inspired casting choices, such as making Dave Bautista a men’s rights activist YouTuber and Edward Norton an obnoxious billionaire that is heralded as a genius. The cast as a whole makes every scene involving them a lot of fun to watch and the twist ties into the movie’s themes quite nicely to wrap this mystery up with a bow.
Dating can be a drag and, in some cases, a scary game of Russian roulette. Fresh understands that and cleverly weaves those fears into its horror narrative to ratchet up the stakes and make it more than just a simple thriller. Daisy Jessica Edgar-Jones’ Noa is a resourceful lead that has to deal with normal problems in an extraordinary way, which is what a great horror movie does. On top of being a fantastic film, it’s also a promising directorial debut from Mimi Cave.
There’s something satisfying about watching a bunch of insufferable people slowly realize they’re in more trouble than they could possibly imagine. The Menu sharply takes on the way that pop culture, fandom, and snobbery have become more prevalent in the modern day in a way that is as funny as it is tense. The whole cast perfectly portrays their characters as unlikeable but still watchable, making for a wild finale that does not disappoint.
Jordan Peele’s films are always wildly inventive concepts expressed in unexpected ways and Nope is no different. This alien story’s fascination with spectacle combined with its unorthodox otherworldly beings results in a horror movie unlike any of its genre contemporaries in 2022. Looking away may also be a prominent theme within the film, but Nope is one film that absolutely deserves to be looked at and studied.
Prey takes the Predator series back to its former glory. By taking place in the 1700s, Prey is able to show a different and more primitive Predator as well as human characters who can’t rely on technology. This time period naturally allows it to execute on one of Predator‘s main themes — overcoming through cunning wit, not sheer firepower — since arrows can’t outmatch a helmet-guided bolt gun. Prey proved that the Predator can still be an astute hunter if it has the right team behind it.
Cate Blanchett’s performance in TÁR was one of the most pleasant surprises of 2022. The two-time Oscar winner actress poured her body and soul into portraying Lydia Tár under the direction of Todd Field. Tár is a brilliant composer-conductor who slowly sees the relationship with her wife Sharon (Nina Hoss) and her professional life falling apart. TÁR opens an interesting debate on cancel culture and its consequences, among other things.
Triangle of Sadness
The Ruben Östlund-directed black comedy could just be seen as a luxury cruise that goes wrong for its uber-rich participants. Yet, it has so many layers that it becomes a metaphor for our society’s decay. In 147 minutes, Östlund deals with the application of Marxist theories, underlines the critical aspects of capitalism, proves that a matriarchal society wouldn’t be much better than the patriarchal one, and more. Triangle of Sadness rightfully won the Palme d’Or at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival in a rare combination of critical and audience approval. The cast included Woody Harrelson and the late Charlbi Dean.
It has often been said that pornography and slashers have a lot in common, and X makes that comparison one of the focal points of the film. X uses clever techniques to compare the two, yet is still an expertly crafted and uncomfortable thriller in its own right that explores youth and sexuality. Some of these ideas are given further context in Pearl, its prequel that was released a few months later. And while not as strong as X, the two make for a great and disturbing pair.
10. Decision to Leave
Park Chan-wook is a legendary filmmaker, so it should come as no surprise that his latest film, Decision to Leave, is yet another standout. What starts as a simple detective story becomes a tantalizing romance drama with some of the most impressive and stylish moments of cinematography all year. From a filmmaking standpoint, Park Chan-wook is once again a master of the craft, as every shot in this film feels expertly placed and leaves you wanting to go back and rewatch just to see what you may have missed both visually and thematically.
9. Banshees of Inisherin
Martin McDonagh reunites with Colin Ferrell and Brendan Gleeson, and the trio comes together to create another movie that will stand the test of time. Essentially a break-up film between friends, The Banshees of Inisherin takes it time to tell a story that is as bleak as it is beautiful. With sharp writing that will leave you laughing despite the on-screen destruction of lives and the haunting backdrop of the Irish Civil War looming over it all, the movie cleverly examines conflict.
8. Turning Red
Right from the opening scene, Turning Red overflows with charm. The lovingly recreated streets of 2002 Toronto provide the perfect backdrop for this touching tale about growing up and being your own person while trying to satisfy your parents. The anime-inspired twist on Pixar’s usual stunning 3D visuals creates an exciting energy that truly communicates Mei Lee’s personality at this point of her life, as it portrays the manic energy of a teenager perfectly.
The conflict she has with her mother’s expectations and the clash of generations solidifies Turning Red’s emotional resonance, as everybody can understand the idea at least a bit. With scenes that keep viewers interested from beginning to end, it’s truly one of Pixar’s best films to date.
7. The Batman
Anyone who doubted whether Robert Pattinson was fit to play Bruce Wayne/Batman was pleasantly surprised by The Batman, which immediately received intense praise in a tumultuous year for DC. The intense action-drama took a modern look at the Caped Crusader and some of his finest villains without losing any of the appeal that these icons have fostered.
Paul Dano’s terrifying take on the Riddler helped make this first new Batman outing truly unique, though there’s truly no part of this cast that didn’t succeed in making The Batman one of 2022’s finest films. It’s intense, thrilling, and willing to dive into some dark subject matter. Here’s hoping DC Studios’ new management can help all their future films reach the heights that The Batman hits.
6. The Fabelmans
This autobiographical project from Steven Spielberg may change the names but nearly all of it actually happened to the acclaimed filmmaker. It’s a raw look at the visionary director’s childhood, one that doesn’t attempt to paint his own parents as angels, but as flawed and deeply caring individuals that had more of an impact on him than he could ever try to describe in his own words. It’s quite fitting that Spielberg makes a movie rather than writing a book about his own life and the results are something really special.
With some hilarious moments, some stellar looks at the do-it-yourself filmmaking that defined his youth, and a look at his first time going to a theater, there is no shortage of memorable sequences. The Fabelmans is ultimately a love letter to filmmaking while also expressing how selfish being a creative can be and how difficult it is to find a balance between family and the arts. It’s a fascinating look behind one of the greatest directors ever and the key moments that helped inspire his working process and the man he came to be.
5. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Guillermo del Toro knows how to make a beautiful movie – particularly ones that involve the weird and wonderful aspects of life and mythology. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is one of the filmmaker’s best, taking the universally-known tale of Pinocchio and infusing it with new life and boundless creativity. Most would never have thought to tell the beloved story with a background of fascist Italy, but del Toro absolutely makes this combination work.
The meticulously animated stop motion is a wonder to behold and gives a suitably ethereal quality to the whole production. Discussing death and loss in a frank way helped make the movie hit hard, and in a year that saw the release or announcement of a surprising amount of Pinocchio adaptations, there is little question as to which one will have the longest legacy.
RRR is a true epic that has so many elements and executes them all remarkably well. Raju and Bheem’s friendship is unironic and wholesome, resulting in two charismatic leads that only get more charming when they join forces. Its action scenes bend reality for the sake of spectacle and are simultaneously hilarious yet gripping. There’s even an incredible musical sequence that has one of the catchiest rhythms and hypnotic dances ever put to film.
All of this somehow forms into a cohesive film about taking down the cartoonishly evil colonizing British forces. RRR masterfully balances all of these tones and is a rowdy, rambunctious, and refreshing film that took Indian cinema to a more worldwide audience. It’s hard for a film like that to break through in such a way, but it deserves the global stage.
3. Top Gun Maverick
Ahead of its release, Top Gun fans feared the Joseph Kosinski-directed sequel would have just been a mere nostalgia operation. Top Gun: Maverick is more than that. The Tom Cruise-led movie savvily mixes a good story, thrilling action, and reliable characters without forgetting to pay homage to the 1986 blockbuster at the right moment.
Years have passed, but “Maverick,” just like the actor that plays him, still has an itch to be in the danger zone, an innate desire nothing could ever extinguish. This all plays out in the movie’s incredible flight scenes, which are made all the more realistic by the actors actually being in flight rather than acting on a green screen. However, it’s the emotional core that makes the movie so special as “Maverick” is chosen to guide the new generation of Top Gun graduates, including the son of Maverick’s late best friend, “Goose,” who is wonderfully played by Miles Teller.
2. Avatar: The Way of Water
Never bet against James Cameron. The acclaimed director was able to follow up 2009’s Avatar with a sequel that outdoes it in nearly every way. The visuals are even more breathtaking as we get to go underwater with some incredible sequences that saw the actors holding their breath for minutes on end. It’s a true technical marvel, and every frame is a sight to behold, especially in 3D.
However, The Way of Water is so much more than just an impressive moviegoing experience. There’s a real emotional core at the heart of the story, and the wonderful story between Lo’ak and Payakan is a sight to behold as two outcasts from different species are able to forge a real, undeniable bond. After you’ve seen it, it’s easy to understand why it has taken control of the box office and isn’t losing steam thanks to its unique blend of heart and spectacle inspiring repeat viewings and more people to check it out due to the positive word-of-mouth.
1. Everything Everywhere All at Once
Filmmaking duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert pulled off an incredible accomplishment with Everything Everywhere All at Once as the surrealist comedic drama moved audiences and took them on a memorable trip through the multiverse. The ridiculous moments, such as the hot dog fingers and the wonderful Raccacoonie bits, shouldn’t work in a film so moving, and yet, miraculously it all does. This is a movie that isn’t afraid to get weird, and if viewers are willing to give it a chance then they are rewarded with a truly special time.
Daniels also get the best out of their performers. Ke Huy Quan gives a Best Actor-worthy performance as Waymond Wang, who is seen as a goofy pushover but ultimately serves as the emotional core of the story. Meanwhile, Michelle Yeoh is as charismatic as ever managing to show the full gamut of emotion as Evelyn while grappling with the realization that her own daughter, wonderfully played by Stephanie Hsu, is a threat to the multiverse. Every individual aspect of Everything Everywhere All at Once is worth celebrating, which is why it was easily ComingSoon’s consensus best movie of 2022 as it managed to resonate with all of our staff.