2022 was another great year in film. Those 365 days brought us back to Pandora after 13 years, showed us an alien cloud, gave us the return of our favorite Spidermen, Tom Cruise continued his legacy as the #1 action movie star, and Ralph Fiennes made us fearful of high end restaurants.
There was a lot to see and a lot to love. Here are my 10 favorite films of the year….
Barbarian – Directed by Zach Cregger
Barbarian was a wild ride from beginning to end. Georgina Campbell (from Black Mirror’s Hang the DJ) gives a fantastic final girl performance as Tess – a character that’s equally frustrating as she is smart but that makes for an entertaining film. Justin Long’s appearance kicks the story into another gear and it goes 150MPH until the end. Director Zach Cregger creates some very tense moments and gives some incredible visuals throughout the film. In a year full of good horror films, there was no other film like Barbarian.
Favorite scene: Tess following Keith’s voice in the dark only to find out they’re not alone.
Top Gun: Maverick – Directed by Joseph Kosinski
If you ever doubted Tom Cruise being the last action hero in Hollywood, his performance in Top Gun: Maverick should’ve ended that. It’s been 30 years since the original and Tom Cruise and Co. found a way to make this sequel feel fresh and new while also making it feel connected to the original. The third act has all the action you’d want from a Top Gun movie with some heartfelt moments sprinkled in as well. Top Gun: Maverick is one of the few movies that has unanimous approval from everyone I talked to about it.
Favorite scene: Maverick’s test run showing everyone it can be done.
Tar – Directed by Todd Field
Wow is the only description I have for Tar. Cate Blanchett gives an incredible performance as Lydia Tar. She’s incredible in it; I had to Google to make sure this wasn’t a true story. The film tackles power, abuse, narcissism, and cancel culture in such a smart way without every making you feel like you’re watching a movie tackling heavy subjects. I wouldn’t be mad if this film and Cate Blanchett won all the awards.
Favorite scene: Lydia’s debate with her student. Later in the film you realize everything she said was self-serving.
Everything Everywhere All at Once – Directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Seeing Michelle Yeoh show her wide range of talents made me smile. This film is a wild multi-dimensional adventure. This film brought all the emotions out of me. It was funny, captivating, heartbreaking, and so very sweet. There’s no other film quite like this and no other actor that could’ve played Evelyn other than Michelle Yeoh. I can’t think the film enough for introducing Stephanie Hsu as 2022’s Breakout Star.
Favorite scene: Jobu Tupaki’s introduction. Stephanie Hsu is so good in that scene. Did I mention she kills someone using two dildos? A+ cinema.
Prey – Directed by Dan Trachtenberg
A film about the first Predator to land on Earth got my attention. When I found out the film was set in the 1700’s and focused on a young Comanche girl played by Amber Midthunder…well now you have my full attention. There have been a lot of Predator sequels and Prey feels like the one closest to Arnold’s 1987 original. Amber Midthunder is a star and I need to see her in more action film ASAP. It was dope seeing Amber and our other Native brothers and sisters kicking ass on the big screen. If there was an Academy Award for best dog, it would go to Naru’s dog Sarii. Sarii is the best dog and comes through in the clutch. Let’s hope this leads to more Native stories in Hollywood.
Favorite scene – It’s more a sequence. The French fur trappers try to trap the Predator and he goes through them faster than milk goes through me. This leads to Naru and her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) taking on the Predator.
The Woman King – Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood
Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Woman King is an epic story that’s inspired by true events. I’m not sure what’s true or not true but I believed every frame I saw onscreen. Viola Davis plays fierce warrior Nanisca who leads an all female army known as the Agojie. Viola is the star but she makes from for Thuso Mbedu to give a breakout performance and for Lashana Lynch to remind everyone she needs or own action film. I’d watch an updated version of this with an army of women take out sex traffickers. Let’s make it happen!
Favorite scene – The opening scene when the Agojie rise up in the grass right before combat. It’s an incredible opening and sets the tone for who these women are and what they’re capable of.
The Batman – Directed by Matt Reeves
The Batman was a film I enjoyed when I first watched but like more and more after each viewing. It’s a truly beautiful film – the lighting, the action, the score. All of it is perfect. Robert Pattinson gives us a different version of Bruce Wayne/Batman that I didn’t think I would like as much as I did. Paul Dano is creepy as the Riddler and Zoe Kravitz is my favorite Catwoman. I really hope we get to see more of this Batman operating a grounded Gotham City that feels as dark and brooding as Batman. If they keep making interesting Batman films, I’ll keep watching.
Favorite scene – Batman chasing down Penguin in the Batmobile. Turn the sound up on your TV and watch that scene. Colin Farrell as The Penguin really sells the scene.
The Menu – Directed by Mark Mylod
The Menu has a simple premise – a young couple goes to an exclusive restaurant hosted by a chef. Things are a little weird but quickly take a bizarre turn as the guests slowly start to realize what’s going on. This film does not work without Ralph Fiennes as Chef Slowik, Hong Chau as Elsa, and Anya Taylor-Joy as Margot. The three of them really hold this film together as things get increasingly stranger. This fells like something that’s a few degrees away from the Twilight Zone or Outer Limits. It’s just over 90 minutes and worth every second of your time.
Favorite scene – Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) finally reveals his true intentions.
Nope – Directed by Jordan Peele
Nope is one of the most interesting and entertaining films of the year. Jordan Peele does a great job setting up the film’s final act that’s not like anything I’ve seen in a sci-fi movie. Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya are the perfect pair for this wild ride and give us a genuine sibling relationship to root for. I don’t know what Jordan Peele has cooking up next, but I’ll be there.
Favorite scene – OJ tries to help capture Jean Jacket on film and the motorcycle guy shows up. The scene is both funny and tragic.
The Black Phone – Directed by Scott Derrickson
It’s a creepy 1980’s style horror film about a man known as The Grabber that abducts kids. It really plays into every latchkey kid’s nightmares – all the 80’s babies know what I mean. Ethan Hawke is great as the villain. The real star is Madeliine McGraw as Gwen – the young sister trying to find her kidnapped brother. It’s a delightful film that hits on all cylinders until the final frame.
Favorite scene – Finney tries to escape The Grabber while he’s asleep. I almost screamed at the screen for that little boy to run