Blockbusters were plentiful and of high quality in 2022.
Whether it was Tom Cruise in a cockpit, a couple of Indian superheroes, or Robert Pattinson in a cape and cowl, big-budget movies were a big part of our cinematic lives again after the effects of the pandemic, and surprisingly many of them were as good – or even better – than the usual critically acclaimed Oscar fare that tops normal year-end lists. Though there are a few award-worthy films in what has been a fantastic year for moviegoers.
Here are the best movies of 2022, ranked (and where you can see them):
‘Everything Everywhere All at Once,’ 10
The dizzying sci-fi/family/kung fu adventure about a laundromat owner who must save the multiverse delivered on many levels, not just weirdness. (Hail, alternate world of hot dog fingers!) Michelle Yeoh has quadrupled as a Hollywood icon, Jamie Lee Curtis is getting her first Oscar nomination, Stephanie Hsu has a crazy bright future, and Ke Huy Quan – a 1980s kid favourite from “The Goonies” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” – has made a spectacular comeback.
‘The Inspection,’ 9
Elegance Bratton’s auspicious feature film debut takes a fresh look at the tired basic training drama (see: “Full Metal Jacket,” “An Officer and a Gentleman”). Golden Globe nominee Jeremy Pope plays a young gay man who decides to join the Marines after being rejected by his homophobic mother (Gabrielle Union). He encounters a wall of toxic masculinity and prejudice that tests his resolve in a moving story that is unsettling in its rawness but not without hope.
‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ Episode 8
His call sign isn’t Wizard, but Cruise performed an incredible magic trick by honchoing a long-awaited return to his ’80s action classic, full of airborne bravado and beach volleyball, and unleashing a sequel that had no right to be this good. “Maverick” succeeds by proudly owning everything “Top Gun” is and ever was: a macho romp that soars into the Danger Zone and appeals to the rebellious streak in all of us.
‘The Fallout,’ 7
Jenna Ortega had a powerful performance as a teen girl who survives a school shooting and navigates the aftermath with the popular classmate (Maddie Ziegler) she hid with while shots were fired. Megan Park’s directorial debut, an emotional wrecking ball of a film that doesn’t let up until its gut-punching conclusion, is a must-see for parents and children growing up in this worrying time.
Did we really need Pattinson to play the Dark Knight in the 7,439th film? Most likely not. Aren’t we relieved he’s hurling Batarangs at bad guys? Sure thing. Matt Reeves’ grimy, realistic, and super-cool take on the Gotham City mythos benefits from the British actor’s broodiness and sharp detective skills. Thankfully, it also gave birth to Zoe Kravitz’s feisty Catwoman, Paul Dano’s eerie serial-killing Riddler, Colin Farrell’s gangster Penguin channelling Robert De Niro, and a taste of Barry Keoghan’s gleefully disturbed Joker.
‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,’ No. 5
The Marvel superhero sequel would be fantastic in any context, but the fact that director Ryan Coogler and his cast accomplished all of this in the aftermath of Chadwick Boseman’s death is nothing short of a movie miracle. Through T’Challa’s sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) and her fellow Wakandans, who must save the day while dealing with their own grief, the film honours both Boseman’s legacy and that of his iconic character, while also delving into geopolitical issues with the arrival of Tenoch Huerta Meja’s antagonistic Namor.
- ‘Pinocchio by Guillermo del Toro’
With this enjoyable stop-motion animated take set in 1930s Italy, Del Toro, a modern master of the macabre, gives the classic fairy tale a twisted bliss. With a precocious, mischievous wooden puppet desperate to be a real boy and a star-studded voice cast (from Ewan McGregor to Cate Blanchett), the whimsical story tackles war and fascism – you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Pinocchio mocking Mussolini – as well as dark and fairly mature issues with life-affirming zeal.
- ‘Inisherin’s Banshees’
Being ghosted by a friend or loved one is a common source of stress and heartbreak. Add a remote Irish island setting from the 1920s and two of the greatest actors of their generation, and you’ve got a dark comedy with a point to make. Martin McDonagh’s beautifully bleak exploration of isolation, desperation, and mortality lets Farrell and Brendan Gleeson loose as ex-best friends caught up in a sudden fiery feud, with supporting turns from Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan as characters caught up in their not-so-civil war.
If Brendan Fraser conjures up images of “Encino Man” and “George of the Jungle,” then Darren Aronofsky’s immersive psychological drama may just blow your mind. Fraser brings his entire soul to a beautiful and heartbreaking portrayal of a 600-pound man who, knowing his end is near, yearns to reconnect with his estranged, troubled teen daughter (Sadie Sink). It’s the kind of personal story that appeals to the sympathetic while weeding out the cynical.
The three-hour action epic from director S.S. Rajamouli is a muscular slab of over-the-top giddy joy. The two-fisted story of a loyal warrior (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.) on a rescue mission and an ambitious soldier (Ram Charan), first an enemy and then a friend, is set in 1920s India and is an epic with a smorgasbord of historical fiction, huge emotional stakes, A-plus musical numbers, and jaw-dropping cinematic chutzpah. The two magnetic leads truly bring “RRR” to life, from revelatory moments to one spectacular dance-off.