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Brandon’s TÁRiffic Top 10 Films Of 2022

In good years and “bad” years at the movies, there are still great films gifted upon us. Old faithfuls deliver and new voices step into the light. Small films will climb high and a blockbuster or two will remind people of why something needs to be seen on the biggest screen possible. And in every year, as a film writer, we craft together our Top 10, 20, 30…films of the year. No matter the year, its never an easy task for people who appreciate the art and love and live for the medium. For 2022, culminating a top 10 was aggravating as the cuts to make were pretty deep. There were films I’d love to highlight, but being honest with myself, I have to go with what meant more to me while at the same time not being phony in trying to include what I “should” or exclude something because plenty of other people will have it on their lists and I want to be hip and different just for the sake of trying to stand out. As I say every year, there were plenty of films I still wish I would have been able to get to, but at some point, you have to call “time” and just get to it. With all top 10s, its that person’s film experience for the year. Whether they were able to see 12 films of 200, their top 10 is their top 10. So, let’s get to cracking on my Top 10 Films of 2022!

FAVORITE “NEW TO ME” FILM OF 2022

The Worst Person In The World (2021)

I started this category last year and I’m going to continue it because I really think its something important to add to someone’s filmgoing experience every year. Us film people don’t just watch new movies year round, we take in plenty from all around the history of film. This pick last year was something from 1978 that I’d never caught before, so this year I’m going to go with one of those from last year that I didn’t make my way to til after I’d made my Top 10 and after seeing it I know it most certainly would have landed in the top 1-5. Apologies to my runner up, 1970’s Le Cercle Rouge (Pick up that Criterion 4K), I’m going to go with something very recent.

Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person In The World was certainly on my radar and one that I tried to see before my list, but couldn’t find the access. Then it was nominated for a few Academy Awards and I still hadn’t taken it in. Then, one random night, I saw it was on Hulu. I decided “Sure, tonight’s the night”. And boy was I entranced, taken in and haunted by this movie ever since. It’s lived rent free in my head all year since I’ve seen it. The film starts out like a Woody Allen movie in the Hannah And Her Sisters mold and then jumps into some Jodorowsky/Tarkovsky stuff, all the while adding its own stamp on things. There are some deep cuts about mortality, your effect on people, the decisions you make and so much more. Its a film that’s incredibly thought provoking, fun, sad and technically marvelous.

One of the things to come of this is discovering Joachim Trier. I’d never seen a film of his before and this was the third in his thematic “Oslo Trilogy”. Following my viewing, I immediately sought out his other films, of which a few are tough to find in the United States in 2022. This is what, ideally, a good film should do for people who love movies. Seek out the other works of the creator. Trust the maker. Unfortunately, in today’s climate, we seem to reject the strong visioned artists a lot or just check out the one now and stop, maybe seeing their next movie whether intentional or incidentally. If you haven’t seen The Worst Person In The World, its on a Criterion Blu-ray, Hulu and Kanopy. From me, it comes as one of the highest recommends.

10. Hurray For Well Made Blockbusters! (Avatar: The Way Of Water / Top Gun: Maverick)

When it came to weeding this list down, it got to 11. And rather than choosing between these two, I found they fit a certain category and could both slip into number 10. Avatar and Top Gun’s sequels both came after a lengthy hiatus from the initial installment and both proved absurdly worth the wait and even better than the highest of anticipations. These were both a thorough enjoyment in IMAX for me and I was blown away by the crafter on screen in both cases.

Top Gun: Maverick I was an admitted doubter on. But I should have believed in Tom Cruise and not found myself fooled into tossing it in with the typical franchise/IP market. The aerial stuff in the film was absolutely breathtaking and the story here was handled incredible well. Like Creed II, a lot of it sounds bad in paper, but wins you over in execution. I found this film to top the original. Sure, it does not have the vibe, style and musical excellence like that one, but Maverick had the characters, visuals, technical achievements and clarity on what the mission was and in-mission scenes to push it easily over for me. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go marinate my crow before I throw it into the air fryer.

I was never in the doubter category for James Cameron’s sequel to Avatar. Having lived through the success of the first movie and been to the theme park for it twice since the original’s release (2018 & 2021), there’s clearly a love for the movie and obviously the demand would be there for it. The Way Of Water continued through an even more impressive journey on Pandora, keeping the themes of exploration intact. Like Maverick, its a refreshingly self contained sequel (Sure, we have set ups, but the movie doesn’t hinge upon the “next time, on Avatar“), with its own start to finish agenda. The final hour of the film is one of the most impressive action finales we’ve seen in a blockbuster in years. The finale almost plays like a Cameron greatest hits real, but has incredible stakes, subverts tropes and has you on the edge of your seat. Bring on the third movie, I’m ready for it now.

One of the best things to come from both movies is they do what big blockbusters should do – impress you with their big screen entertainments. They proved that CGI doesn’t have to looks subpar and can actually be of value and action scenes can look impressive and not have to be shot by the most basic standards. Kudos to both filmmakers and those involved as they promoted big screen popcorn entertainment for the masses in the best of ways.

9. Decision To Leave

Like many film geeks, Park Chan-Wook caught my eye when I was recommended Oldboy almost 20 years ago. I then sought out the rest of the Vengeance Trilogy and then found Joint Security Area. I’ve kept up with him pretty decently ever since. His latest is an interesting dwelling into some territory that would make Alfred Hitchcock blush. Yes, we’ve seen detectives fall for suspects before in films, but the way this film is told and the script is constructed feels entirely fresh and original. You have no idea where this is going to go, nor can you really put a finger on how characters are going to act. Decision to Leave is a truly engrossing film with good drama, character, thrills and mystery to weave right into one tasty shake.

8. Nope

Congrats to Jordan Peele, you are 3/3 on my Top 10 lists. Every year he’s made a film, its wound up here. And for good reason. His third film, Nope, showcases his chops at delivering something much larger in scale visually, and he handles it with ease and puts his own trademark on it. This one has a small, fun cast to really dive into here. Upon release, I saw where people thought this movie was much more straight forward, surface level flick with nothing beneath it at all. But when I saw it, those folks couldn’t be more wrong, they just perhaps, weren’t seeing it. There’s A LOT beings said and going on here in the movie. Peele also brings some new haunting pieces to the table as well as a unique movie monster and wholly original take on the UFO genre. He’s also got some wonderful commentary on film history that isn’t as up front about it as others this year, but winds up really being some of the fun beneath the surface in Nope.

7. R.R.R.

What a sensation this film was for about a month. A great word of mouth theatrical experience. I was happy to catch the wave and boy, the overhype did not disappoint. Prior to Top Gun & Avatar‘s return, RRR showed us that blockbusters could embrace what they were and “go for it”. They didn’t have to be snarky or 100% self aware. They could be confident in their storytelling and characters and just embrace the journey and the experience. I took a chance in asking my 10 year old son if he wanted to go see this 3 hour historical fantasy action adventure from India with me and he accepted the invite. After the lengthy opening sequence, he leaned over to me and said “Those are 2 of the most badass guys I’ve ever seen in a film”. And that joy he had never expired and its one of his favorite movies this year. I’m pining for a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray of this epic, but I’m still waiting. If you love big movies, if you love true superhero type affecting and lore in the craft of filmmaking, this 3 hour delight will fly by.

6. Banshees Of The Inisherin

I’ve recently been recommending Banshees of the Inisherin to people since it came to HBO Max and the results have been mighty favorable. In the past couple weeks, I just wrote many words of it in my Blu-ray review. What starts as a silly movie that seems almost childish in ways, turns into a very darker and more adult affair. Martin McDonagh’s film is exquisitely shot and performed and hopefully will be receiving many notices in the awards season to come.  One of my favorite responses I’ve had from someone I recommended the film to said “At first I was like ‘What am I even watching?’ and then was like “Shit, what AM I watching?!'”. What I love most about movies is surrendering to it and just going in and then becoming part of it as it builds around it. Many can seem like “Where exactly are we going” at first, but once the rules and characters become set up, the journey onward then can be quite incredible.

5. Babylon

If you know me, I LOVE big swings from directors. And Damien Chazelle took a giant one here with Babylon. A film that has turned much of film Twitter and proclaimed film aficionados into a bunch of sheltered nuns. Yes, this movie is bonkers, but there is nothing THAT extreme in this that someone who takes in a good well rounded amount of film from other genres and internationally hasn’t seen before. But, it is what it is. I had joy blasting through this breakneck trip through Hollywood’s transition from silent to sound. Performers here all doing a damn fine job, but there’s a scene with Jean Smart addressing Brad Pitt later in the film that is one of my absolute favorites of the year and really deserves giving her tons of recognition. Babylon is a movie, like Chazelle’s La La Land that I finished and immediately wanted to take a gander at again. It’s a shame it isn’t doing better at the box office, but I’m also not surprised as its not a film for everyone and if people are going to clear out their schedule for a movie that’s over 3 hours this holiday season its going to be Avatar. For those detractors of this film, I’ll just kindly refer to the title of David Cross’ 2002 album.

4. Everything, Everywhere All At Once

I’m not sure I need to prop up Everything Everywhere All At Once even more than it has been. The film’s success has been on of the best and most feel good stories of the year. An original film that people actually got of their butts to see in the theater and word of mouthed it to being the A24 studio’s biggest hit. And now its having actual Oscar anticipations including being the frontrunner. I’ve been a fan of Michelle Yeoh since seeing her in Police Story III: Supercop and Tomorrow Never Dies and its a joy to see her having this successful run in America the last few years, with this being the crowning achievement. There’s an impressive imagination and visual splendor on display in the film, to go along with some wholesome family material as well. Its not surprise that when people do see it, they do become so attached to it. The most important part is the film never forgets to be fun and silly. Michelle Yeoh is game for everything thrown at her here and she’s game for it, with her moves and her dramatic chops leading the way, compliments by Ke Huy Quan’s excellent performance and some good campy goofiness from Jamie Lee Curtis. Even though my favorite Marvel film this year was Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness, Everything Everywhere All At Once was head and shoulders above as the year’s incredible multiverse movie we were promised was coming in 2022.

3. The Fablemans

Spielberg nabbed my top spot last year and came quite close to doing so 2 years in row. His life story is an earnest one and endears quite well. This guy is spilling some brutally honest guts out about himself and his family. There’s a commentary on the struggle to follow your passion and put all you have in it while still wanting to put that into your family as well. Perhaps some people are turned off by a successful filmmaker sharing early struggles on his way to greatness, but any of us who made movies and tried to be a filmmaker in a time when it was culturally accepted or deemed “cool” by our peers or family can find themselves in it. The film contains 2 of the absolute best cameos/1 scene wonders in that of Judd Hirsch and David Lynch. The film has one of the absolute best endings the year. I also loved the recreation of him making his low fi movies as a scout and filming the filming of them in a such a way he could have only dreamed to do when he was actually in that time of his life. As a fan of Spielberg, the passion of film and a coming of age family story.

2. Pearl

Ti West has been a favorite of mine since House of the Devil. I think he’s far better than a lot of people give him credit for, and Pearl I believe is where they are finally seeing it. Pearl was easily making my top 10 since I saw it, but where it would place was a mystery before sitting down to hash it out. And the fact the movie impressed me immensely upon seeing it and is one I’ve not only watched multiple times, but thought a lot about made me ultimately find it in the penultimate spot. I thought about tying it to X here, which I liked well enough, but I decided on just the prequel as it offers something far more unique and sees West heading down a different avenue. X feels not unlike House of the Devil well, whereas Pearl has some clear visual influence but it feels mightily as just Pearl. Mia Goth is a flat out one of the year’s best performances, and probably the best performance that’ll become overlooked this year when the trophies get handed out. She’ll be in great company of sadly too many great performances from horror movies that don’t really sniff a chance. West also incorporates the pandemic into his film in probably one of the most creative ways. Unlike many ignoring it or doing a period film to avoid it, his period film utilizes the previous one from 100 years ago into his story. Pearl has many interesting feels akin to stuff like Psycho or The Red Shoes while purely telling its own story in such an interesting visual and minimalist way. As a fan of West for all these years, I can easily say this is likely his best film, too.

1.  Tár

Sometimes you just know it the moment the film starts. You know it when the credits begin to roll. Todd Field returned to directing after over a decade away and delivered a masterpiece for right here and right now with Tár. I was taken with the teaser trailer for the film and decided I wouldn’t watch or look up anything on it until I saw the film when it released. Cate Blanchett is a performer that’ll have my dollar and my butt in the seat anytime she’s in a movie. In a career of amazing performances, that this argues to be possibly her best is impressive. While a lot of the buzz for the film IS that performance, that’s overlooking the script, direction and supporting performances in the film as well. Field has a film with one of the best opening scenes of the year that is an incredibly simple interview seminar scene that is rifling off who Lydia Tár is and giving us a taste of her persona. The film immediately captures you in her world and never lets you go. Field and Blanchett are both so specific in their craft here that this feels like an actual person or biopic we are watching. The film plays in almost a thriller-esque way. It doesn’t take the audience for dumb and there are so many reads and interpretations you could have many discussions about.

Tár includes the single best scene of the year which looks like it was done all in one take. That scene isn’t just impressive because of how long it goes and that it was one take. Everything here works for it. Its a brilliantly written scene. Blanchett kills it here. The camera isn’t lazy it moves all over the classroom auditorium. The subject matter of the scene is thought provoking, engaging and tells you everything you’re going to want to know and learn about our lead character as the film continues to take its journey.

Blanchett obviously is going to be nominated for her performance here, but Nina Hoss plays so well off of her and gives a supporting performance that is rightfully able to be held on that pedestal. Marc Strong shows up in a few spots of the film and gives quite a performance that is different from where you typically see him. Julian Glover is a nice surprise showing up and sparring off with Blanchett in scenes with a pretty nifty dynamic between the two. One of the things I do enjoy a lot about the film is that there are many small characters, some that don’t really have any dialogue, that act so well and are given just enough attention that they are super recognizable and memorable. There’s one guy with a medium hair cut with a part in the middle and glasses that I know him and I like him merely by the way he moves his head and shakes in agreement or thought.

In addition to those small characters there’s an aspect of this movie in that it quickly sort of educates you enough in its opening moments to have you geeking out on or appreciating the geeking out of the world of classical music, the processes, the politics that come with and the philharmonics that perform them. You’re invigorated into this as its the most important thing in the world to our focal character, so therefore it is to us. We seek to know more, we enjoy seeing the set ups, the pay offs and Lydia in action throughout this thing. I’m sure there’s even more to it as you continue to return to the movie or if you are already well versed in this field.

There was one easy pick for me on this list and it was #1. Tár struck a chord with me and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this movie since I got up from watching it at the theater. The 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray came out just a couple weeks ago and I wondered if it would still hit as hard the second time around. And thankfully it did and it played differently and I noticed so many different things about it. I feel Tár is a film that is of my favorite type, that is going to continue giving, continue unlocking different ideas and discussions and continue my appreciation and enjoyment over the years.

And I agree with Aaron Neuwirth, “Apartment For Sale” not being on the Oscars shortlist for Best Original Song is a crime!

Honorable Mentions/The Last Cuts/The Back 10 (in Alphabetical:

Barbarian, Bardo: False Chronicles of a Handful of Truths, Bones and All, Glass Onion, Neptune Frost, The Northman, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Three Thousand Years of Longing, The Woman King, Women Talking

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “Brandon’s TÁRiffic Top 10 Films Of 2022”


  1. Aaron

    Loving the new to me section! What a great list! Or a Tarrific one, I should say. We’ll be overlapping plenty, and I know so many of these will only grow in appreciation.