The year 2022 was an odd one for film (some might call it “2020 part 2” or “2020 2”) entirely because the studios suffered from similar supply chain issues that plagued most other industries during the year. No, they didn’t lack building materials or suffer from cargo ships being backed up at ports or in canals around the globe but they did have to pause or substantially scale back production on their films due to COVID restrictions the previous two fiscal years. It takes several years for a film to get made usually, and that pandemic plug-up finally hit the movie release calendar this cycle. We just didn’t have as many movies to choose from, which will reflect on my list. There were barely 10 movies that I liked enough to make this list.
You’ll notice that there are no Disney/Pixar/Marvel films on my list. That’s because this has been the worst year for Disney films in recent memory. I don’t know what is happening over there, but they need to get their acts together. Their film output this year is embarrassing.
10. Lucy and Desi
This film took me by surprise. It was timed to come out around the same time as the Amazon’s awards hopeful, Being the Ricardos, and in my opinion ended up eclipsing it. Amy Pohler did a fine job directing it and her love for these two people can be felt through the duration of the documentary. I learned so much about that era of television and the stars and felt like I knew them after the end of it. It is now playing on Amazon Prime Video.
9. Fantastic Beasts: the Secrets of Dumbledore
I consider myself a pretty die-hard Harry Potter fan and was terribly disappointed in the previous Fantastic Beasts film. However, I thought Secrets of Dumbledore redeemed the franchise and set it off in a truly “fantastic” new direction. It is still the only film that successfully portrays my favorite character in all of literature successfully (Albus Dumbledore). It can now be viewed on HBO MAX or rented via any VOD platform.
8. Puss in Boots: the Last Wish
The Last Wish has no right being as good as it is. A sequel to a spin-off of a washed up franchise seemingly somehow reinvigorates a whole animation studio was not on my 2022 bingo card, but here we are. Although, Dreamworks has always done best with its second films in their respective franchises; Shrek 2, How to Train Your Dragon 2, and Kung Fu Panda 2 all outshine their predecessors. Puss in Boots: the Last Wish is now in theaters.
7. The Batman
Matt Reeves is one of the best filmmakers working today and he has created an almost masterpiece with this one. It’s brilliantly scripted, directed, shot, and scored. It’s a really great film. However, I still don’t think that it’s a great Batman film. And it’s too long. So, if you have over 3 hours to spare, you can watch it now on HBO Max or rent it on any VOD platform.
6. Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off
As a child of the 90’s and a former skateboarder, I found this film to be fascinating and even touching. Tony Hawk is an insanely talented and charismatic figure and this documentary tells his story both epically and intimately. It’s my favorite documentary in recent memory and well worth a watch (although be warned there is quite a bit of adult language in it). It’s on HBO MAX.
5. Glass Onion
It seems to be a Christmas miracle that a Rian Johnson film ended up on my list. I normally find his brand of subversive storytelling among the worst Hollywood trends in recent years. However, he was a lot more restrained in his latest outing (which is crazy because I can’t imagine that Netflix gave him any notes) and what he created is a sharply written satire/murder mystery with very little fluff or needless on the nose social commentary. You can watch it on Netflix.
4. Weird: the Al Yankovic Story
I was excited for a Weird Al biopic that was announced earlier this year. But what they released on the Roku channel completely and utterly surpassed my expectations. It’s a parody masterpiece and the funniest film I’ve seen in the last 5 years. You can watch it on the Roku Channel (you can download the app on your phone or watch it on your TV if you have a Roku TV or box).
3. Top Gun: Maverick
There are few movies that live up to the hype like Top Gun: Maverick does. There’s a line in the film at the beginning of the third act where someone says to Maverick, “You’re where you belong.” And every time I sat through the film in the theater–4 times, if we’re counting–I felt that moment shake me to my core. It’s an old school story that wears its emotions on its sleeve, yet that earnestness is what we seem to crave. It’s what we love about going to the movies and I hope other filmmakers take lessons from it, particularly those at Marvel. You can now stream it on Paramount+ or rent it on any VOD platform.
2. The Fabelmans
It’s no secret that I consider Steven Spielberg to be the greatest filmmaker of all time and in this autobiographical film we get to see behind the curtain of how and why he became the master storyteller that he is. It’s Spielberg’s best film since Bridge of Spies and John Williams’ best score since Lincoln. It’s also Michelle Williams’ best performance she’s ever done (she portrays Spielberg’s mother). It might still be playing in a theater near you or you can do a Premium Video On Demand (PVOD) or just buy it on any VOD platform.
1. Marcel the Shell With Shoes On
I was taken completely by surprise by this film. I wasn’t looking forward to it but decided to take my children to a screening of it on a whim. It is really funny and deeply moving and just utterly charming. It earns every bit of its 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and worth every penny that you spend on it and just might leave you in tears. I can’t recommend it enough. I hope it wins best animated feature at the Oscars this year. You can rent or buy it at any VOD platform.
Great post. Thank you, Dan!