2022 was a very unpredictable year, as are the movies that did and did not, make it on my Top 10 list.  Some of these films excel in storytelling, acting,  and cinematography, while others are incredibly entertaining.

#10: Babylon

“Babylon” is essentially a dark and decadent retelling of “Singing in the Rain.”  Although it has far fewer musical numbers, it revels in excesses of sex, drugs, and humor.  This one isn’t for everyone, but for those who can stomach the madness, it’s a wild ride.

#9: The Banshees of Inshirin

It’s hard to decide which is more compelling in this movie.  The script (one of the very best this year) or the incredible performances. (Some more nuanced than others.)  Taking place over a few days on a fictional island during the end of the Irish Civil war, “Banshees” has a simple story that will haunt you for a long time.

#8: RRR

“RRR” is the third film on this list that takes place during the 1920s but in a very different setting.  It’s the story of two Indian revolutionaries who become best friends but find themselves facing opposing goals.  The characters are based on two real historic figures, but this movie elevates them to superhero status.   Not only does this movie have bombastic action sequences, some delightful narrative twists, and a rousing soundtrack, it also contains the best dance-off ever filmed.

#7: Prey

“Prey” is the best “Predator” film since the original.  It’s also the most beautiful of the entire series.  The heroine brings “Ripley” energy to her performance, and we believe she is fully capable of taking on the creature by the end of the film.  It will forever be one of the great cinematic sins that this movie was never released in theaters.

#6: The Menu

With a script sharper than the chef’s knives, “The Menu” is a tasty flick that doesn’t overstay its welcome.  Great performances all around and an absolute delight if you have a dark sense of humor.

#5: Nope

Jordan Peele’s “Nope” is an absolute masterpiece.  On the surface level, it’s a light horror film about a UFO.  But peel back the layers and it’s a commentary on the Hollywood industry and cinema’s obsession with excess.  Pull back a few more layers and you’ll learn just how ground-breaking the cinematography and visual effects are.

#4: X & Pearl

I know I’m cheating a bit here, but “X” and “Pearl” pair so well that it would be a shame to separate them.  It’s impressive that writer/director created not one, but TWO iconic horror films in the same year!  He manages to capture two very different film styles but still makes them complementary to each other.  “X” feels like a sleazy 70’s slasher flick, while “Pearl” is a heartbreaking “Wizard of Oz” style character study of a woman losing her mind.  Mia Goth is great in her dual role in “X”, but truly shines in “Pearl.”  It’s hard to decide if her monologue or that final long take is more riveting.

#3: The Fabelmans

I think what captivates me the most about “The Fabelmans” is how much of himself Speilberg put up on screen.  It’s interesting that he chose to market this film as a “fictionalized” version of his childhood when it ends up having more accuracy than most biopics.  It’s fascinating to see a character (real or not) use art to handle the various traumas in their life.  On top of that, “The Fabelmans” is made with all the flare and heart that Speilbergh imbues his best movies with.

#2: Top Gun: Maverick

Whether or not you believe this entire movie is a “death dream” after the moment his experimental jet breaks up going Mach-10, everyone agrees that this is a crowd-pleaser.  I’m generally not a fan of sequels that come decades too late, but if you’re going to do it, this is how it’s done.  Some of it is a bit silly, and the ending is ripped right out of “Star Wars,”  but that just adds to its charm.  The cinematography in this is absolutely insane, especially if you had a chance to see it in Imax.  Never before have jet dogfights been filmed like this.

#1: Everything, Everywhere, All at Once

The biggest surprise for me this year ended up being my #1 pick.  “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once” is a very accurate title.  It brought Ke Huy Quan back to the big screen!  It gave Michelle Yeoh a decent role where she’s not just a sidekick to other actors pretending to know kung-fu!  Jamie Lee Curtis as a cruel, dumpy-looking, IRS agent!  Characters travel through the multiverse, engage in martial art battles using sex toys, and it even has a great story that’ll make you tear up! Who could ask for anything more?

Honorable Mentions

These films ALMOST made it on my top 10, and are certainly worth experiencing if you haven’t seen them.

  • Violent Night  (SO Much fun!!)
  • The Batman (We finally see Batman as a DETECTIVE in a Noir-ish narrative.
  • The Whale (A difficult watch but Brendan Fraser is incredible!)
  • The Northman (One of the best revenge parables I’ve seen in a long time. Great in many ways)
  • Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (You’d be surprised how much a little shell could convey so much emotion.)
  • Barbarian (Just watch it. The less you know on this horror movie, the better)
  • Smile (A GREAT fun horror movie that both subverts and leans into expectations.)