Laramie Movie Scope:
Top, bottom films, etc. of 2022
Best, worst and ruminations on 2022 films
by Robert Roten, Film Critic
January 28, 2022 (updated on August 4, 2023) -- Here is my list of the best films, best actors, and the most disappointing films from the year 2022.
There are the usual caveats. I saw most of the year's top films with the exception of a few films which had limited distribution or promotion in this country.
I have more top-rated films on my list this year than any other year because I was able to see more of them thanks to streaming services. Streaming services not only made it easier to see more good movies, these companies also produced a lot of the top movies on my list, as opposed to theatrical releases.
So where are The Banshees of Inisherin, Aftersun, Blonde and Triangle of Sadness? I saw them, but I didn't think they were quite good enough to make my Top 10 list. I did not see A House Made of Splinters, Tell It Like a Woman, To Leslie or Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, but I did see most of the other Oscar contenders.
Below this list of top films, are honorable mentions, followed by lists of my picks for top director, top actor, top foreign film, etc. Those lists are followed by lists of the worst films, overrated films, funniest, saddest, weirdest, most romantic, etc. I've included a Dubious Distinction award for a films of “bad taste.” My top 10 lists include more comedy and films starring black actors, two varieties of movies absent from most top 10 lists. Drama is easy, but comedy is difficult.
Best 10 films of 2022
1. Everything Everywhere All at Once
This multiverse comedy about a woman's troubled relationship with her husband and daughter is a challenge to watch, but equally rewarding. It is a challenge to make a story like this comprehensible, and a challenge for actors to portray a variety of characters in the same film, but everyone is equal to the challenge.
2. Argentina, 1985
The year's best international film, from Argentina tells the true story of the prosecution of former government officials for crimes against humanity. It is dramatic, tragic, heartbreaking and even funny at times. It is pretty historically accurate, too.
3. Emily the Criminal
A fantastic performance by Aubrey Plaza powers this very relevant drama about an under-employed woman burdened by crushing student loan debt. There seems to be no way out of this jam, until she joins a dangerous criminal organization.
4. Catherine Called Birdy
This bawdy, farcical comedy set in 13th century England is a wild romp from beginning to end. Young Birdy refuses to play by the rules and causes calamity wherever she goes, but she finally grows up and learns to take responsibility, sort of.
This highly imaginative coming of age drama is about a young girl who tries to escape her troubles by retreating into dreamland. She discovers directions to dream worlds left by her late father, and there encounters another lost soul like herself that needs to be rescued.
This brilliantly written drama about a pioneering orchestra director features an Oscar-worthy performance by Cate Blanchett. This work of fiction is so well written and performed it absolutely seems like a based-on-fact story when you watch it.
7. All Quiet on the Western Front
The second best international film of the year is this German language adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's 1929 novel, based his experiences in World War One in the German Army. This one is a bit different than the other adaptations, showing a bigger picture of the war at times.
8. She Said
This powerful drama about journalists trying to get frightened women to go on the record to talk about rampant sexual abuse in Hollywood is the best journalism drama since “The Post.”
This powerful Belgian film, directed by Lukas Dhont, tells a tragic tale of two close young friends torn apart by the pressure of conformity. This story is told with great sensitivity and subtlety. The cinematography by Frank van den Eeden, is excellent, capturing the drama as well as beautiful scenery.
10. The Quiet Girl
Another great international film of 2022 is from Ireland, and the dialog is all in Gaelic. As its name implies, this is a very quiet, coming of age movie with emotions that run deep below the surface, but it all comes to a powerful emotional climax at the end of the film.
Top 10 Documentary/Honorable Mention movies
Steven Spielberg's very personal film loosely based on his own youthful experiences is a powerful drama with some surprising twists and turns. Several characters who seem to be minor characters at first end up having a major impact on the story.
Based on a true story about abused women in an isolated religious community, it tells a tragic, dramatic story about women making a momentous decision. They have to decide whether to stay in the compound, or leave behind everything they have ever known and venture out into the unknown.
Brendan Fraser gives a great performance as a morbidly obese man trying desperately to reconnect with his daughter and make his life count for something. His complex character is at once resigned and hopeful, despite tragedy and mistakes he has made in the past.
The year's best animated film is another coming of age movie about a young girl who suddenly finds out about a family secret involving magical transformations. It is also about becoming her own person, and breaking free from the confining expectations of her mother.
This unusual horror film that defies expectations, featuring a strong African woman as its main character. It deftly combines supernatural and psychological horror with romance and social commentary in a setting that contrasts African and urban New York world views and experiences.
All That Breathes
The year's best documentary features a compelling story about the incredibly dedicated people running a bird sanctuary in India. It features the best cinematography I've seen this year, detailing the miracle of wildlife in a big city.
Fire of Love
When you combine a love story with fantastic footage of volcanoes you get one of the year's best documentaries. Some of the video of this couple standing on the brink of volcanic eruptions is stunning.
This documentary about the late David Bowie is as enigmatic as Bowie himself. It is chock full of ideas and images. Subjects range from the music business, to fans, the press, Bowie's many artistic interests besides to music, to how he and his music evolved over the years.
Many people who think of themselves as heroic are not. This movie is about a real hero, Alexi Navalny, and the high price he has paid for that heroism. It is also about the unusual brand of journalism practiced by Navalny, his followers, and the Bellingcat Investigative Journalism group.
Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths
Second only to Everything Everywhere all at Once in its use of imaginative images to illustrate its message, this movie is a tour de force about Silverio, the alter ego of the director, Alejandro G. Iñárritu. It shows Silverio's struggles with his past, his family, his art and his identity, as a man caught between the worlds of Mexico and the United States.
Avatar: The Way of Water
You might have actually seen this one, or heard about it, so it should come as no surprise that it is a pretty good movie. James Cameron follows up his monster hit Avatar 13 years later with a sequel that is just as successful, and one that stirs up interest in 3D movies all over again, much to the chagrin of those crazy, enraged 3D haters.
This comedy adventure movie pulls off the neat trick of combining a stoner comedy, in the tradition of Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, with a serious socially conscious story about racism in America. This is especially hard to do, but every once in a while somebody pulls it off (such as in Sorry to Bother You in 2018).
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
This strange mix of Hollywood reality and Hollywood fiction is funny and entertaining. Nicholas Cage is fully engaged and intensely entertaining as only he can be as a sort of real life action hero, while making fun of the idea of this very genre.
This is a dramtization of the heroic rescue effort to save the lives of 13 people trapped inside Tham Luang cave in Thailand in 2018. This is an accurate retelling of the massive, heroic effort to rescue those trapped in the cave. It is a great story, well told.
One of the best basketball dramas ever made, this is both a personal drama about a sports agent and a player, but it also explores a side of professional basketball seldom seen.
This documentary, directed by Alex Pritz, effectively shows both the efforts of those to save the Amazon rain forest, and those who are trying to carve out farms from the rain forest by cutting and burning the land. Both sides have their dreams.
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
This documentary illustrates the remarkable personal journey of tragedy and triumph, artistic achievement and political activism of photographer, author and activist Nan Goldin.
More lists below
Links to reviews of all the films on this page are indexed in the
following web pages:
1. Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert — Everything Everywhere All at Once
2. Alejandro G. Iñárritu — Bardo: A False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths
3. Santiago Mitre — Argentina, 1985
4. Darren Aranofsky — The Whale
5. Steven Spielberg — The Fabelmans
Best feature film directorial debut
1. John Patton Ford — Emily the Criminal
2. Nikyatu Jusu — Nanny
3. Domee Shi — Turing Red
4. Lila Neugebauer — Causeway
5. Graham Moore — The Outfit
Best leading actor
1. Brendan Fraser — The Whale
2. Felix Kammerer — All Quiet on the Western Front
3. Adam Sandler — Hustle
4. Austin Butler — Elvis
5. Daniel Giménez Cacho — Bardo: A False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths
Best leading actress
1. Michelle Yeoh — Everything Everywhere All at Once
2. Cate Blanchette — Tár
3. Aubrey Plaza — Emily the Criminal
4. Danielle Deadwyler — Till
5. Viola Davis — The Woman King
Best supporting actor
1. Judd Hirsch — The Fabelmans
2. Brian Tyree Henry — Causeway
3. Mark Rylance — Bones and All
4. Ke Huy Quan — Everything Everywhere All At Once
5. Brendan Gleeson — The Banshees of Inisherin
Best supporting actress
1. Jamie Lee Curtis — Everything Everywhere All At Once
2. Hong Chau — The Whale
3. Angela Bassett — Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
4. Stephanie Hsu — Everything Everywhere All At Once
5. Carey Mulligan — She Said
Best child actors
1. Marlow Barkley — Slumberland
2. Catherine Clinch — The Quiet Girl
3. Frankie Corio — Aftersun
Best adapted screenplay
1. All Quiet on the Western Front — Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson and Ian Stokell
2. She Said — Rebecca Lenkiewicz
3. Women Talking — Sarah Polley and Miriam Toews
4. The Whale — Samuel D. Hunter
5. White Noise — Noah Baumbach
Best original screenplay
1. Everything Everywhere All at Once — Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
2. Tár — Todd Field
3. The Fabelmans — Steven Spielberg & Tony Kushner
4. Turning Red — Julia Cho, Domee Shi, and Sarah Streicher
5. Bardo, Or False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths — Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Nicolás Giacobone
Best animated feature
1. Turning Red
2. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
3. The Bad Guys
4. Marcel the Shell With Shoes On
5. Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood
Best foreign language film
1. Argentina, 1985
2. All Quiet on the Western Front
3. The Quiet Girl
4. All That Breathes
5. Bardo, Or False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths
1. All That Breathes — Ben Bernhard, Riju Das and Saumyananda Sahi
2. The Banshees of Inisherin — Ben Davis
3. The Fabelmans — Janusz Kaminski
4. God's Country — Andrew Wheeler
5. The Quiet Girl — Kate McCullough
1. Everything Everywhere All at Once — Paul Rogers
2. Avatar: The Way of Water — David Brenner, James Cameron, John Refoua, Stephen E. Rivkin and Ian Silverstein
3. Top Gun: Maverick — Eddie Hamilton
4. The Swimmers — Iain Kitching
5. EO — Agnieszka Glinska
Best visual effects
1. Avatar: The Way of Water
2. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
3. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
4. Everything Everywhere All at Once
5.Top Gun: Maverick
Links to reviews of all films on this site are indexed below:
Funniest films of the year
Saddest films of the year
Weirdest films of the year
Everything Everywhere All at Once
This multiverse comedy has people with fingers like hot dogs, and characters who become rocks in alternate realities. People can transform themselves with paper cuts and other, even more painful things. This movie is far out.
Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths
This movie feaures a number of weird scenes, including a newborn baby being put back inside the mother, only to reappear occasionally. There is also a scene where a man climbs a big pile of bodies to converse with a Spanish conquistador, and another scene where a man shrinks down to the size of a small boy during a conversation with his dead father.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
Al Yankovic specializes in song parodies. In a stroke of genius, this movie about his life and career doubles down on that idea. Eric Appel's film is a hilarious parody on the usual musical biographical movie, poking fun at the genre and everything else. It gets really weird, with Al (played by Daniel Radcliffe) going all Rambo in a wild jungle rescue mission.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Yet another movie with weird trips through the multiverse, including a visit to a universe where everybody is some color of paint. Then you've got Doctor Strange taking over the dead body of another Doctor Strange left over from another universe.
Bones and All
This movie feaures a number of weird characters who are modern day cannibals who somehow live undetected amongst normal people. They are compelled to eat people in order to survive, sort of like vampires, only without the good fashion sense. A couple of these cannibals are really creepy.
The Banshees of Inisherin
This dark comedy features a fiddle player who cuts off his own fingers to spite his best friend. That's insane! A miniature donkey tries to eat one of the fingers and dies. In revenge for the donkey, its owner tries to kill the fingerless man by setting fire to his house. None of this is believable, but it sure is weird, and funny.
Crimes of the Future
The weird world of David Cronenberg is on display in this movie about people who eat plastic, and others who keep growing new organs. The movie centers on a man who does performance art in a weird autopsy device modified to remove his new, extra organs. Other weird machines appear in the movie, along with equally weird characters.
Wendell & Wild
This animated film about demons, and people who can summon them from hell is like The Twilight Zone on acid. The demons are weird enough, but there are human beings in the movie, such as so-called Hell Maidens and a mad scientist, who are even weirder.
Best love stories
Scariest villains of the year
Wanda Maximoff, The Scarlet Witch (played by Elizabeth Olsen) the disturbed mass killer in
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Gorr the God Butcher (tortured serial killer of gods, played by Christian Bale) in
Thor: Love and Thunder
The Riddler (played by Paul Dano) devious killer on the loose in Gotham City in
Sully (played by Mark Rylance) is a creepy cannibal who becomes dangerously obsessed with a young woman in
Bones and All
Fjölnir The Brotherless (played by Claes Bang) ruthless killer of his own brother in
The year's most overrated films
The year's best films you've never heard of
Most disappointing 2020 films I've seen
While I saw most of the best films 2022, I purposefully missed nearly all of the reportedly bad films, including Amsterdam – Minions: The Rise of Gru – Firestarter – Three Thousand Years of Longing – The 355 – Memory – Hotel Transylvania 4: Transformania – Blacklight – Christmas Bloody Christmas – Pinocchio – Ticket to Paradise, among many others.
I did see some films that made some “worst of” lists, like Bones and All, Blonde, Violent Night and My Policeman, but while most of them were not very good movies, they didn't seem all that bad, either.
Here are some films I saw that disappointed me the most:
I disregarded the bad reviews on this one. I should not have done that. I had hoped it would be better. It was not.
I rented a disk on this one, hoping it would not be as bad as the reviews indicated. I hoped that maybe it would be so bad, it would be fun. Instead, it was so bad, it was just awful.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
I was hoping that the filmmakers could recapture the quality of the first Fantastic Beast film, but as with the second film, this one fell short of what I was hoping for.
I went to see this because it was being shown in 3D, a rarity these days. Based on the reviews, it should have been better, but it was only a bit above average.
Based on the budget and star power of this movie, it should have been better.
Bad Taste Awards
The first Bad Taste Award goes to AftersunThis film is almost unwatchable from a pacing and visual standpoint, but on top of that it is exploitative, sexualizing a pre-teen girl. Worse yet is one of the movie's main publicity photos, which sexually exploits the same young girl.
The second Bad Taste Award goes to BlondeThis film turns Marilyn Monroe into a pure victim, and a sexual object. This is probably not the intent, but it is the result.
The Third Bad Taste Award goes to PleasureThis film is supposed to blow the lid off the video pornography industry, and it sort of does that, but it can't seem to rise above it, becoming exploitative and sleazy, much like its subject matter.
Links to all my reviews are indexed below:
Copyright © 2022 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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