Spanning indie breakouts and surprising sequels, we’ve compiled a year-end watchlist of the ten best movies of 2022.
There’s no denying that 2022 has been a chaotic year for film. Audiences have been treated to some truly disastrous movie press rollouts (ahem, Don’t Worry Darling), alongside the reprisal of superhero favourites (The Batman) and the welcome dose of music biopics (Elvis).
This year has also seen the birth of breakout stars and directors (Turning Red), as well as some sequels that somehow upstaged their predecessors (Glass Onion).
Moviegoers have this year enjoyed excellence within the full breadth of genres, from sumptuous horrors like Bodies Bodies Bodies to the Marvel-meets-family drama that was Everything Everywhere All At Once. The silver screen was blessed by both veteran directors (Nope) and debuting filmmakers (Fresh). So, as the year comes to a close, we’ve compiled our picks, in no particular order, for the best movies of 2022. Watch at your leisure.
Everything Everywhere All At Once
A singularly unique story involving parallel universes and sausage fingers, Everything Everywhere All At Once surprised audiences upon its release in April. The film, which follows a Chinese immigrant as she’s embroiled in an interdimensional misadventure, was produced by A24, and would go on to become the company’s highest-grossing title alongside Heredity. It’s a triumph in scale and originality, with stellar performances from Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Pixar’s first film helmed by a female director also happens to be its most poignant, which is saying something for a studio home to Inside Out. Part creature feature, part metaphor for coming-of-age, the film follows a Canadian tween who’s riddled by a peculiar condition: turning into a giant red panda whenever she gets mad. Succeeding 2021’s Soul, the animation proved what children at heart always knew; Pixar never misses.
Top Gun: Maverick
Arriving 36 years after the release of the original, Top Gun: Maverick is that rare, almost mythical instance of a sequel outperforming its predecessor. The action, the visuals and Tom Cruise’s performance provide the makings of a legacy follow-up that soars above your typical Hollywood sequel cash-grab. Although the stunt work almost certainly defies the laws of gravity, Maverick is enough of a popcorn thrill ride to join the best movies list.
The collective weight of comic book fans’ expectations made The Batman feel somewhat doomed from the get-go. And while it’s near impossible to replicate the success of Christopher Nolan’s entries into the DC Canon, Matt Reeves’ efforts in his 2022 iteration are laudable. The director pulls a terrific rendering of the titular vigilante out of Robert Pattinson, and compensates for the oversaturated superhero genre with bucketloads of film noir style.
Filmed at Australian music festivals and starring the likes of G Flip, Lime Cordiale and Dune Rats, 6 Festivals tells the coming-of-age story of a group of Sydney-based friends who traverse a series of music events across the state. Audiences get to see iconic Australian festivals like Yours & Owls, with director Macario de Souza transporting us to the highs and lows of the much-loved moshpit. The film ranks as one of Australia’s best this year, and offers a touching take on grief and loss to boot.
Don’t Worry Darling
We’ll admit that the press surrounding Olivia Wilde’s sophomore film was nothing short of disastrous (albeit entertaining), but aside from the avalanche of negative stories that seemed to plague it at every turn, Don’t Worry Darling was an entirely respectable effort. The psychological drama plods familiar narrative territory (girl realises her perfect life isn’t all it seems), but Florence Pugh gives it a red-hot go, and the film is visually gorgeous. Plus, a little helping of Harry Styles never hurt anyone.
The stuntmen may have gotten older, but Johnny Knoxville and co.’s proclivity for defying death remains fresh as ever in Jackass Forever. Audiences will of course be treated (is that the right word) to squeam-inducing antics but the film is also a nostalgic tribute to friendship, even if that friendship entails nakedly hang-gliding into a cactus. As is par for the Jackass course, prepare to watch most of the film through finger-covered eyes and clenched fists.
Sure, it’s home to what is arguably Tom Hanks’ worst performance (what was he thinking?), but Elvis is an otherwise fitting tribute to the titular King of Rock. Austin Butler is totally game in his leading portrayal, and while his lavish style isn’t for all tastes, director Baz Lurhman more than accounts for the glitz and glamour of Old Hollywood. Luhrmann makes a convincing case for the continuation of the music biopic trend (which is otherwise underwhelming), complete with fast pacing and action sequences.
Jordan Peele remains a horror visionary with Nope, a genre-defying creature feature starring Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer. While it somewhat suffers under the anticipatory weight established by his debut film Get Out, Peele offers gorgeous cinematography and a head-scratching message about the dangers of spectacle. It may require a Cliffnotes debrief, but Nope is certainly worth the time.
If there’s one horror film to add to your year-end watchlist, let it be Fresh. Swooning over lead actor Sebastian Stan is reason enough to indulge in this gore-fest, but the film also offers an incisive — if a little squeamish — take on the horrors of modern dating. Daisy Edgar Jones plays a hopeless romantic who soon discovers the questionable appetites of her new beau, with twist-laden results. Fresh premiered at Sundance before landing on Hulu as one of the streamer’s best movies of January.