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The best movies of 2022

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With New Year’s Eve fast approaching, it is a perfect opportunity to list some personal favorite movies from 2022.

First off, the biopic Till from United Artists makes a lasting impression. Telling a horrific true story of a group of white supremacists murdering a black teenager and the effect this event had on his mother, the film boasts a memorable performance by Danielle Deadwyler as Mamie Till that perfectly encapsulates a mother’s grief and fury.

While we critics do tend to laud heavy dramas, this reviewer remains taken by Avatar: The Way of Water and its awe-inspiring spectacle. Yes, this sequels’ family drama is corny (although this reviewer did find himself concerned for the plight of the aquatic sea creatures during the climax), but the 3D visuals and action provides the biggest movie thrills of the year.

One movie that received a lot of awards buzz a month back that since dissipated is the British drama Empire of Light, released by Searchlight Pictures. Most North American critics didn’t respond favorably to this period effort, which involves a young man and a middle-aged woman who are co-workers at a cinema and embark on a complicated personal relationship. This viewer found it to be engagingly sweet, with a subtly inspirational message about movies bringing a tiny bit of escapism into our difficult lives. It stuck with this critic and it includes perhaps the best cinematography of any film this year.

Looking for something you can watch without heading to the cinema? If you are a Netflix subscriber, watch Emily the Criminal from Roadside Attractions. This effort stars Aubrey Plaza as a young woman with a criminal record who can’t get a job to pay off student debts. She involves herself in a credit card fraud ring and the movie follows her through numerous attempts to purchase valuable items with fake plastic. It’s one of the tensest film experiences of the year and compelling from start to finish.

If you enjoy documentaries, Fire of Love from Neon is another memorable effort. It recounts the history of French volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft. The pair would walk right to the edge of lava flows to capture footage and study volcanoes. The archival images are incredible, as was their devotion and the movie leaves viewers with remarkable and almost surreal images of the explosive power of these natural phenomena.

While it won’t be in wide release for another couple of weeks, Women Talking is a unique and moving feature. This film from Orion Pictures involves a group of women in an isolated Mennonite village grappling with disturbing crimes committed against them for years by men in the community. Much of it is set entirely in a barn with the women discussing and debating what to do and how to move forward. It is subtle, understated and beautifully acted, making the final film feel authentic and powerful.

Everything, Everywhere All at Once is one of the wildest movie experiences of 2022. This comedy/drama features a debt-ridden laundromat owner who discovers that she is the only one who can save the universe from destruction. Along the way, she encounters alternate worlds and versions of herself. The film benefits from a great cast and while not every joke lands, much of it is effective (the protagonist’s husband, in particular, makes a strong impact). The movie is most definitely unlike anything else that played in cinemas this year.

A24’s drama The Whale from writer/director Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, Black Swan) is currently generating controversy among the press. It’s a gloomy tale about a morbidly obese gay man who never leaves his apartment and teaches an online course. Despite being under prosthetics, Brendan Frasier gives an astounding performance as a self-destructive figure trying to right a few wrongs in his life with what little time he has left. It’s incredibly downbeat, but this reviewer found the flawed lead relatable in his struggles with depression and addiction.

One of this writer’s favorite titles of the year is the eccentric comedy/drama Triangle of Sadness from Neon. It marks the first English-language debut feature from Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund (who won acclaim a few years back for Force Majeure).

The story involves two self-involved, egotistical social media influencers who are invited on a luxury cruise with obscenely wealthy travelers. When the ship encounters bad weather, social roles end up reversed and the rich find themselves subjugated by crew members. It’s a very funny, very dark satire (featuring Woody Harrelson in an entertaining supporting bit as the ship’s drunken captain) with plenty of twists. It really comes alive when the leads board the yacht and interact with oddball characters from different backgrounds.

Before addressing my single favorite film of the year, I should also point out other movies that made a lasting impression.

Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio is a marvelously animated update of the classic tale which manages to keep the book’s themes intact. Based on a true story, The Good Nurse features a chillingly memorable performance from Eddie Redmayne as a medical professional responsible for killing an untold number of patients. Both of these films are available to view on Netflix.

Living from Sony Classics is a remake of the 1951 Akira Kurosawa film Ikiru with a performance from star Bill Nighy that really tugs at the heartstrings.

Speaking of strong performances, Cate Blanchett’s work in Tár is impressive to watch, even if the film requires a great deal of patience from viewers.

This genre movie enthusiast also enjoyed X,  a striking ode to 1970s horror pictures, as well as The Menu, which featured Ralph Fiennes as a famous chef preparing a disturbing dinner for some nasty upscale clientele. It delivers shocks and cutting criticism in equal doses.

The recent release Bones and All is a strangely compelling romance with shocking horror film elements that benefits from its exceptional cast. And the crime/comedy/drama Vengeance successfully mixes genres, offering plenty of surprises and social commentary in its tale of a New York reporter investigating a death in small-town Texas.


My favorite film of the year is The Banshees of Inisherin from Searchlight Pictures. This tale of a friendship that is unexpectedly broken apart is brilliantly written. It offers many layers of analysis as viewers witness two men let their pride and stubbornness lead them down a dark and grim path towards violent conflict. In this reviewer’s eyes, just about every element of the movie is worthy of an award and one hopes that the Academy gives it, at the very least, some well-deserved cast and crew nominations.

Of course, there are probably a couple of great films that this critic hasn’t caught up to quite yet, but he stands by all of the picks listed here. That’s it for 2022, we’ll see what new sights cinemas will bring to us in the coming year.


By Glenn Kay
For the Sun