After seeing a personal record number of movies in 2020, 2021 was a disappointment. COVID precautions from the year before meant that there weren’t nearly as many movies that released in 2021. Or, at least, not as many I thought were worth seeing. Plus, I got married. I was busy. But in 2022, I returned to my hobby with a vengeance. I determined to get back on the saddle. I saw at least one movie every day from January 1 until February 27, when I finally had to admit my goal of seeing one movie every single day wasn’t going to come true. Still, 8 months later, I’ve seen an average of 1.5 movies every day this year. Most of these have been older movies. Still, in total, I’ve seen 120 new movies so far this year. Of those, here are the ten that stuck out as the best of the best.
Jordan Peele’s latest felt less like elevated horror and more like a Spielbergian sci-fi adventure. I was perfectly okay with that. Though the one scene with more traditional-looking aliens showed that Peele is still capable of horror, I loved that he was able to show us what else he’s capable of.
9. Fire of Love
Is this documentary about volcanologists really the best romance movie of the year? It’s one of only two movies on this list I’d consider even the slightest bit romantic.
8. All Quiet on the Western Front
If the Best Picture-winning original version of this movie is even better than this gruesome new remake, I very much look forward to seeing it! “All Quiet on the Western Front” depicts the horrors of war as viscerally as I’ve ever seen it done. “1917” might have been more innovative, but this similar-looking movie about the same war presents a more shocking rebuttal against government-sanctioned violence.
7. Glass Onion
“Glass Onion” stood out this year for its comedy, because laughably good comedies are few and far between (though the best few this year appear on this list). Writer and director Rian Johnson was right to see that Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc is absolutely worth bringing back after “Knives Out.” As long as Johnson and Craig are teaming up and the stories are fresh and funny, count me in for an indefinite number of sequels.
Even with many critics organizations moving toward genderless acting categories (one winner, regardless of gender, for Best Lead Performance and one for Best Supporting Performance), it might be tough for anyone to come out ahead of Cate Blanchett in this year’s race. She might have delivered the best acting performance of the year as the titular conductor Lydia Tàr, whose illustrious career takes a dive.
5. Women Talking
The ensemble cast of Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Judith Ivey, and others may have been the best I saw all year. The characters in Sarah Polley’s drama are not the kinds of people most of us encounter in our daily lives (as Mennonite women, their lives are mostly spent off the grid), but these actresses disappear into their characters so convincingly.
4. The Fabelmans
This Steven Spielberg biopic, written and directed by the man himself, showed the magic of the movies in action. It’s the kind of movie that Best Picture usually goes to, when it’s an option, and I expect this year may be the same.
3. The Menu
I didn’t laugh harder all year than I did when I saw this outrageous dark comedy starring Ralph Fiennes as a serious chef with serious problems. Mainly—it turns out—problems with the rich.
2. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
The year’s best documentary has got to be this fascinating doc about artist and activist Nan Goldin, whose life can be (and is) broken up into chapters, each one seemingly more interesting than the last.
1. Everything Everywhere All at Once
This movie has sat atop my list for nearly 9 months, since I first saw it in early April. I called it the unlikeliest cinematic success of the year, and I still stand by that. What joy it has been to see friends and strangers continue to see this funny, heart-breaking, mind-bending sci-fi epic for the first time and have an absolute blast. When is the last time something so bonkers (in a good way) contended for the year’s biggest prize?