The 25 Best Films Of 2022

Feb 23, 2023

2022 was a generous year for movie lovers: a new Sight and Sound list was released to stir the pot about the greatest 100 films of all time; film festivals around the world returned to in-person experiences; even the whimsical gibberish from Nicole Kidman and AMC Theaters about going to see a movie gave us something to bond over as things adjusted to a strange but safer normal. 
READ MORE: The 100 Most Anticipated Films Of 2023
It was a year of cinematic memoirs, with Steven Spielberg, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, and James Gray taking viewers on incredibly personal journeys related to their filmmaking; it was also a significant year for big spectacle, whether one found that in the fast and furious experience of “Top Gun: Maverick,” the epic lava saga of “Fire of Love,” or the big-hearted action sequences in the Tollywood epic “RRR.” But as our top picks below indicate, it’s still the most original, challenging, and bold characters and scripts that excite us the most. 
Below is our Top 25 list of the best films of the year, with capsules written by members of our voting board.
Follow along with all our Best Of 2022 coverage here.
Honorable Mention“Avatar: The Way Of Water” (James Cameron) My god, we are so dumb to ever doubt or bet against James Cameron. He has done it once again with his big, dumb, glorious, and sensational “Avatar” sequel. The underwater sequences are unreal, next level in a way that will make your eyes bleed with wonder. The film is embargoed, so we can’t properly review it, but suffice it to say while it maybe lacks a little bit of first and feels a bit greatest hits, same-y and insipid at first, when it finally starts cooking, and the visual spectacularity of Pandora’s ocean hits, it’s a true, OH SHIT! Moment. And let’s not just praise the visuals, which, yes, are phenomenal. “The Way Of Water” is moving, beautiful, emotional, utterly sincere without one trace of irony, and one of Cameron’s most empathetic pieces of work that really considers the planet and all living things worthy of respect and love. It may sound corny, and it is at times, but it is also damn majestic; a family drama about the power of community, kin, care, and togetherness that just looks and feels supernova radiant in the hands of a master who knows how to make cinema feel larger than life. – Rodrigo Perez
25. “The Northman” (Robert Eggers) A gnarly, visceral, psychedelic Viking action movie by filmmaker Robert Eggers upping his glorious game with spellbinding bewitchment and spectacular and bloody fury? Yes, f*cking, please. Eggers’ brutal but mesmerizing meditation on the futility of revenge—hypnotically arty and also primally vicious in equal measure—was a damn good time at the cinema and a visual feast for the senses. Focus Features put up a big risk on the movie, and while it maybe didn’t put up the numbers they hoped, we hope they’re not discouraged and emboldened by just how artistic and yet thrilling this bone-cracking, muddy marvel was. – RP (Our review of “The Northman”)
24. “The Batman” (Matt Reeves)After Christopher Nolan’s definitive trilogy and Batfleck, was there really anything more to say about a modern Batman? Turns out the answer was, surprisingly, yes. Tilting far deeper into what Nolan set up—dark, gritty, psychologically realistic—filmmaker Matt Reeves exacerbates all those qualities and does three things Batman hadn’t really done on screen before: lean into the “world’s greatest detective” quality of Batman, slant away from heroism and dive instead vengeance, and truly show Gotham as a wet, rotting, cesspool full of despair and ready to explode at any moment. Not only that, Reeves tackles the ideas of Bruce Wayne’s white billionaire privilege, the Gotham corruption his family legacy was complicit in, and his inexperienced, year-one naïveté. Plus, “The Batman” is thrilling and engrossing, features spectacular car chases and set pieces, and gut-punches with a soaring third act about the realization that hope, leadership, and heroism can go further than fear, hate, and revenge in the long run. A smart, savvy, terrifically crafted blockbuster from Reeves (again). Everyone take cues from this, please. – RP (Our review of “The Batman”).
23. “Benediction” (Terence Davies)The latest from renowned filmmaker Terence Davies pays tribute to poet and former soldier Siegfried Sassoon with his own cinematic lyricism, just as Davies did for Emily Dickinson and “A Quiet Passion.” “Benediction,” which is driven by two great performances from Jack Lowden and Peter Capaldi as Sassoon at different but equally muted stages in his life, captures the inner turmoil of a poet who wrestled with his sexuality, war trauma, and creativity throughout his life. Davies treats these ideas with fascinating artistic impulses: sometimes the camera will spin around a sullen Capaldi as he sits quietly in church, aging him; in other moments, Davies will hold a shot of two hands meeting longer than many other filmmakers would, imbuing quiet passages with immense intimacy. “Benediction” is the kind of glistening biopic that becomes so much more than that; it flourishes for the immense passion that unfolds in front of the camera and behind it. – NA (Our review of “Benediction”) 
22. “Resurrection” (Andrew Semans)There are so many unforgettable facets of this Sundance title that blitzes back and forth across a high wire stranded over the sanctimony of emotional trauma. In a pitch, it’s about a relationship between a young woman and an older man that led to truly insidious behavior involving the disturbing loss of a child. Rebecca Hall carries that horror within her tense performance as Margaret, which is ratcheted up in each scene she shares with Tim Roth’s David, her terrifying ex who suddenly reappears in her life. Elements of fear, control, and the most toxic parts of a relationship are then maximized by a script inspired by Andrzej Žuławski that constantly makes one wonder what reality it’s all taking place in. In some of their best work yet, Hall (who delivers a ten-minute, show-stopping monologue that fills in the bizarre backstory) and Roth make this waking nightmare as blood-and-guts visceral as possible. – Nick Allen (Our review of “Resurrection”) 
21. “Catch the Fair One” (Josef Kubota Wladyka)Kali Reis barrels into a movie star career with “Catch the Fair One,” a lean and brutal thriller from director Josef Kubota Wladyka, who co-wrote the script with Reis. With its chilly visual palate and gripping bursts of action, the movie channels its anger about the commodification of women and Native people into a tale of a boxer trying to find her sister after she disappeared into New York state’s sex trafficking underground. Reis’ performance is as fierce and cutting as the switchblade she hides in her mouth, sometimes causing her to wake up next to a pool of blood. “Catch the Fair One” becomes calculated with its aggression, finding an apt metaphor in former professional boxer Reis portraying a fighter who has a super punch but is faced with the human weight of every unpredictable step of the way. The power of this movie hasn’t gone unnoticed: Reis has been signed on to star in the next season of HBO‘s “True Detective,” and Wladyka used his eye for full-force filmmaking in the HBO series “Tokyo Vice,” following after none other than pilot director Michael Mann. – NA (Our review of “Catch the Fair One”) 

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