2022 has been another strange year, we seem to be having a lot of those lately. This is the year that we all just kind of got bored with the pandemic and decided things should return to normal, meaning even if you wanted to try and avoid society (or as I like to call it “be normal”) you had no choice but to try and take part. For the world of movies, this has actually seen a lot of big things happen, from the box office bouncing up a little more towards being normal to heads of studios changing around to possibly the best news, the end of the Snyderverse (yes I did put that there to weed out people who would be overly upset by that joke, thanks for noticing).

With the year over though the time has come for the standard list of films that I liked a lot that I choose to state are the best of the year because that’s just what people who do movie criticism are expected to do. Before we start the list properly though, let’s lay out the ground rules.

  • I didn’t get to see every film, despite my best attempts there are some that slipped through the cracks, some I avoided and some that only got released in Sydney when I just didn’t want to make the trip. I still managed to review over 150 films in 2021, which should be enough to provide a decent list.
  • Only films released in Australia in 2022 are going to be on this list. We’re talking mainstream releases that I could access either by VOD or my local cinema (there might be a few festival films thrown in). So if you see a film you think is from 2021, check and see when Australia got it because that’s what I have to go with. Also, keep in mind some films that came out in 2022 in the states are slated for 2023 in Australia, so things like Marcel The Shell With Shoes On, Till and The Fabelmans will all be eligible for next year’s lists.
  • Any video-on-demand movie is eligible for all lists. If they sent it out to be viewed by an audience, then they should be ready for critique.
  • Remember that “Best” and “Worst” really mean “Film I liked the most” and “Film I disliked the most” because film is art and art is subjective and all lists of this nature are merely using the titles that work best for the search engine and makes you sound like some form of authority.
  • These are merely my opinions at the time I made the list and you are absolutely entitled to disagree with me for any reason, hell I’ll probably disagree with me in a matter of months. Go nuts, make your own list in the comments or question my order or even what I had on the list. That’s fine. What’s not fine is just saying “Your list sucks” with no reason behind it, critique is fine but blind attacks with no justification aren’t. If you leave a comment that’s a critique I will happily discuss it with you but if it’s an insult… well, I’m the one with the delete button.

Honourable Mentions

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers: Taking the Rescue Rangers and doing an unofficial sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit with them is an idea that’s so insane that it absolutely shouldn’t work, but it does. This film is silly, weird and chock full of heart. Plus, any film that includes the rap lyric “My name is Dale, I don’t eat whale” is instantly a personal favourite

Fire Island & Bros: This year was actually somewhat better for films with queer characters and we even got a few fairly major releases with largely gay casts. Both Bros and Fire Island are genuinely hilarious and understand the complexities of queer relationships in ways that we don’t often see in film. Hopefully, this is the start of something, maybe we can get more queer rom-coms that are actually made by and star queer actors being given wide releases because everyone deserves to be represented… and hopefully next time they’ll do better at the box office.

Prey: Prey asks the very basic question “What if a Predator popped up in the 1700s among a tribe of Comanche people” and the answer is that it’d make possibly the best entry in the Predator franchise since the original. Action-packed, terrifying and creative as hell, Prey has shown that the Predator franchise actually has a chance at a second life if it just does this kind of thing again, drop Predator in the middle of the Ming Dynasty, throw that big lug somewhere in Australia before colonization, it not only provides some great chances for representation but it actually feels like something that fits the mythos of the character.

Terrifier 2: An insane hard R horror film made on a minuscule budget somehow got a worldwide release and it’s just an objectively fun time. It pushes against every boundary of good taste, is one of the most absurdly violent films you’ll ever sit through and goes on for much longer than it probably should… and it’s perfect. This is the film of the year that’s going to keep cult status for a long time and it deserves it.

And now, the proper list

10) Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Pinocchio adaptations come and go and more often than not they’re just not that good, but then along comes Guillermo del Toro with a stop-motion animated classic in the making to remind everyone just how you can make this story work. Blending the original Pinocchio story with a dash of Frankenstein and a heaped helping of anti-fascism, this film elevates the classic story into something truly magical. It manages to be entertaining, makes a powerful political point and never talks down to its intended audience… shocker, Guillermo del Toro knows how to make a truly great film.

9) The Pez Outlaw

Every one of these lists is probably destined to get an entry I saw at a film festival and this is that entry. A strange documentary about a man who ran an underground Pez dispenser ring probably isn’t the kind of thing that you would expect to be as captivating as it is, but The Pez Outlaw is absolutely fascinating from start to finish. It’s stylistic as hell, filled with some of the most entertaining recreations ever put in a documentary, with a cast of strange eclectic characters and a story that’s so insane that it could only happen in the early 90s. A love letter to anyone whose hyperfixation has driven them to do something stupid, The Pez Outlaw is the best documentary in a while.

8) Scream

2022 was one of the best years in horror, it’s been so good that this list is going to be half horror films and I have no explanation for that other than horror just kicked itself into high gear and showed off just how great it could be. We probably should’ve known this was going to be the case with one of the earliest releases of the year, Scream. Scream had several impossible hurdles to get over, from things as small as being another entry in the legendary Scream franchise to the major issue of being the first entry in that franchise to be made after the passing of Wes Craven. 

Scream was Wes Craven’s baby, he directed the first 4 entries and made the franchise the benchmark it is today so a new entry was going to always feel strange without him but oh god Scream not only kept his legacy going but it finally turned its satirical edge onto the audience. It’s been 12 months so let’s just say that the fact that the killers in this film are basically the same people who make petitions asking entire films to be remade because they didn’t like them is absolutely brilliant. Scream looked at legacy sequels and audience expectations and rammed a big knife down their throat and it was glorious.

7) The Menu

Simple ideas well executed are a weakness of mine, “What if Gordon Ramsay finally cracked and killed his customers” is a simple idea that everyone has had at some point and The Menu is that idea perfectly executed. This dark comedy doesn’t hide its plans, it tells you pretty early that no one is leaving this restaurant alive and the fun comes in seeing just how everyone is going along with their inevitable demise.

Every element of the film is so perfectly executed, from Chef’s Table-style shots of the meals that break up the film to the performances of the superstar cast to its high-camp ending that’s so silly that it’s impossible to not cackle when you realise they’re really doing this shit, it’s the kind of film that shows a simple idea done well can be truly special.

6) Violent Night

Die Hard with Santa Claus” is an elevator pitch so hilariously stupid that it shouldn’t work, but Violent Night’s complete commitment to the idea takes it from something that’s silly into a truly magical alternative Christmas classic. The comedy is pitch black, the action is nonstop and the violence is so insane that you’ll find it almost impossible to resist cackling at just what Christmas decoration got shoved into which orifice. 

On top of being dark and violent, Violent Night also manages to have one of the biggest hearts you’ll see in a Christmas film this year. It really makes the magic of Christmas feel special, showing how important it is to cherish your loving family while you can and even throws in a bit of magical whimsy for good measure… you know, in between impaling people’s heads on Home Alone-style booby traps

5) X (and to a lesser extent, Pearl)

Ti West’s throwback to 80s slasher horror and porno chic was a surprising delight, and the more you think about it the better it gets. It’s a film that feels like it belongs on the shelf of a sleazy video store, the shelves you had to walk through a beaded curtain in order to get to. It’s dirty, cheeky, playful and has some of the most glorious practical effects you will find. It’s a film made by and for slasher fans and it delivers on everything you could want from that genre.

On top of X just being generally fantastic on its own, X also gave us the glorious love letter to classic cinema that was Pearl (which still hasn’t been released in Australia, thankfully I got hold of a DVD of it but for the love of god it is not that hard to make a film available worldwide at the same time) AND we’ll soon be blessed with Maxxxine… it’s wild to think that this is all happening within a few years but it’s just nice to see someone committed to doing something this insanely fun in the horror genre again.

4) Barbarian

I’ve repeatedly said this has been a great year for horror films and picking the best horror film to come out hasn’t been easy, there are enough great options this year that you could pick and be fully justified. For me, the best horror film of the year is the one that not only horrified me but took the audience on a wild thrill ride full of sharp left turns you didn’t see coming, and Barbarian is a film almost entirely comprised of sharp left turns and it refuses to indicate a single one of them.

Barbarian enjoys playing with the audience, giving off the appearance that it’s going to be about an innocent girl stuck in a house with a creepy stranger (who is played by Pennywise, a casting choice so intentional that it should’ve made everyone realise that something weird was going on) and before long it descends into absolute madness, throwing in a commentary on abusive men who think they’re not that bad just because it can. If you somehow have managed to not see Barbarian and not know the wild places it goes, take the leap and give it a watch because it’s one of the wildest and most original films of the year and easily the best horror film of 2022… but not the best film.

3) Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Knives Out’s sequel had a lot to live up to, the first film was basically perfect on every level (Indeed, it was one of the top films of 2019 according to a certain someone). It had a dream cast, fantastic cinematography and one of the most perfectly assembled plots that you will ever see. Glass Onion somehow matched that quality and ramped up the spectacle to an absolutely insane level, the final scene in particular is a flaming hot delight that will have your jaw on the floor the entire time. Every revelation is so well thought out that you’ll want to rewatch a few times just to make sure you didn’t miss anything. No, seriously, watch this a second time after you know how it was all done and just pay attention to how much obvious shit Rian snuck past the audience, we’re talking flat out showing a murder happening and having it just sneak by without you spotting it.

Glass Onion is confirmation that this is a franchise that should just go on for as long as Rian Johnson is willing to make them, it’s so fun and creative with a bunch of fantastic actors giving some truly iconic performances that it makes every other murder mystery look like they’re barely trying in comparison. 

…also any film that upsets a dipshit like Ben “Dry Vagina Maker” Shapiro has to be pretty fantastic.

2) Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

It’s no secret that I hate biopics, most of them are the same and most of them suck (Except Rocketman, a film I fall more and more in love with as the years go by). Leave it to Weird Al Yankovic to notice this and take that tired biopic formula and apply it to his own life story before turning everything up to 11 and seeing what happens. What you get is the finest parody of biopics that’s ever existed, and there isn’t an ounce of exaggeration in that description.

It’s hard to know what’s more fun, the complete commitment to the mocking of tropes (Turning family-friendly Weird Al into a hard-partying drug-addicted asshole who has a tumultuous relationship with Madonna), the absolutely bonkers final sequence an assload of machine guns or the genius performance by Daniel Radcliffe who simultaneously doesn’t even try to act like Weird Al Yankovic and also gives off the perfect biopic performance of Weird Al Yankovic. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story fired its shot right at the heart of the biopic genre and it didn’t miss… but it’s not even close to the best film

1) Everything Everywhere All At Once

Everything Everywhere All At Once had me crying over a pair of rocks with googly eyes on them… that right there is how you know the film is great. The imagery is so objectively stupid, so wrong on so many levels that it shouldn’t work but by the time we get to that moment you are so invested in the heartfelt story of it all that you can’t help but cry. 

Everything Everywhere All At Once had me cheering like a banshee over a fight that can best be described as “Who is going to get to shove a butt plug inside them” because by that point the film had made that battle a genuinely important moment that the fate of the world relied on.

Everything Everywhere All At Once had me wanting a lesbian romance film where Jaime Lee Curtis and Michelle Yeoh have sausages for fingers and just do cute things for an hour and a half because the short cutaways to that world were so cute and touching that it was impossible not to want more of it.

There is no film out there quite like Everything Everywhere All At Once, and there won’t ever be anything quite like it again. It’s a glorious take on the multiverse that has a heart so big that it manages to come through all the strange and insane imagery that is being thrown on screen by the madmen making it. It throws together a tense family drama, an action movie, a sci-fi epic and a wacky comedy in a blender and somehow manages to make everything work. It has basically just handed Michelle Yeoh the best leading actress Oscar, something she easily deserves more than anyone else and has truly changed people’s perception of just what is possible in cinema.

You wanna know the biggest compliment I can give this film? It’s on the top of this list AND it also earns the “This Film Tried To Kill Me” award for its use of strobes.

This might be the only time I will ever put that weird little award on the Best list, and considering this award was inspired by an experience with Incredibles 2 that should tell you how damn amazing a film would need to be for me to still love it even after that.

That award is usually a guaranteed trip to the worst list, nothing can make me hate a good film more than strobe lighting for no reason and make no mistake when I say there is no reason for strobe lighting to be in this film… and yet, even with that actual health hazard as a part of this film, it’s undeniably the best film of the year. 

And that was the best of 2022 list, if you have films you think should be on here then comment them and raise engagement because we must appease the algorithm because for some reason we put technology in charge of everything.

2 thoughts on “The Top Ten Best Films of 2022

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