As 2022 comes to a close, it’s time to look back on the year in pop culture. For Inside The Film Room, that means movies and television. Here, Zach Goins is breaking down his 10 favorite movies from the year.
We are BACK.
Last year 2021 felt like Hollywood was still finding its legs in a post-pandemic world, but 2022 brought us back to the theater like we never left. From epic blockbusters to indie darlings and a fantastic year for horror, the past 12 months have marked a true return to form for movies.
Looking back on all 67 new releases I watched in 2022, I’m extremely pleased and confident with my Top 25, which means these 10 films are the very best of the best. But at the very top, this may be the first time I’ve ever felt quite so strongly about three movies. On any given day, I could make a case for any of the top three films on this list to hold down the number one spot – and I’d be perfectly happy with it. Ultimately, I went with my gut after a rewatch of each, but just know they’re all equally loved.
Before heading into the Top 10, let’s look at some films that just missed out.
12. “The Fabelmans”
13. “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio”
15. “Women Talking”
And now the Top 10 Movies of 2022….
The latest “Scream” film released just 14 days into the new year, but the horror-thriller stood the test of time all year long. The “Scream” franchise thrives on meta commentary about the film industry, and this installment takes a stab at the reboot and legacy sequel craze sweeping Hollywood – while also functioning as one itself. The original gang returns to pull on those nostalgic heart strings, plus a cast of all new victims enters the chat, led by modern scream queen Jenna Ortega. It stays true to the roots of the franchise, all while pushing the series forward with new purpose. (83/100)
Hidden beneath all the glitzy, musical spectacle lies a heartbreaking tragedy, anchored by a stellar performance by Austin Butler. Come for the frenetic energy and flashy musical numbers, stay to be haunted by all the “What ifs?” you’ll ponder for weeks after watching. Baz Luhrman’s style is admittedly not for everyone, but if you can make it through the breakneck first act, you’re in for a treat. (84/100)
It’s not quite as sharp as “Knives Out,” a near-perfect movie, but that doesn’t mean Benoit Blanc’s return isn’t still a damn good time. Rian Johnson is back with another star studded cast and a brand new murder mystery that’s as twisty as it is kooky. Even if you pick up on clues along the way, there are so many layers to this glass onion that you’ll still be thrown for a number of loops. Daniel Craig slips back into Blanc with ease, and the ensemble cast is supremely funny, but Janelle Monaé is the real standout here. It’s smart, whimsical and laugh out loud funny, all while keeping you second guessing yourself the whole time. (84/100)
7. “She Said”
“She Said” is an absolute knockout led by powerhouse performances from Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan. Director Maria Schrader tells a gutting story with care and compassion, sensitively covering the subject matter while still crafting a compelling journalism drama. Structurally it doesn’t reinvent anything, covering all the required plot points of the subgenre, but it’s damn good at doing so. It’s a bit overlong in sections and could be tightened up a bit, but Mulligan and Kazan are so magnetic it’s hard to mind getting extra time with them. (84/100)
It took a minute – and reading a few articles post-viewing – but we got there. Jordan Peele’s return to the big screen is his most elevated take on horror yet. “NOPE” leaves you with questions and lets you work to figure out all of its intricacies and layers, which may not work for all viewers, but when everything clicks it’s a revelation. Keke Palmer is the definition of a superstar here, and Daniel Kaluuya turns in another stellar performance. It’s not as much pure terror as Peele’s past films, but certainly the eeriest. (85/100)
Unpredictable. Creative. Touching. Action-packed. Hilarious. The descriptions of “Everything Everywhere All At Once” are endless, because the movie quite literally is exactly what its title says. It’s a movie that needs to be experienced because words truly can’t do it justice. Michelle Yeoh transforms, while Ke Huy Quan makes an epic return to cinema that will leave you cheering and crying all at once. We need more big swings like this, please and thank you. (86/100)
4. “Cha Cha Real Smooth”
I don’t know if I’ve ever simultaneously felt so happy and so sad during a film, but the silly, simple “Cha Cha Real Smooth” has done it. Cooper Raiff’s rom-com-drama feels all too familiar for those recent college graduates searching for what’s next after school. It’s just, most grads don’t have Dakota Johnson in the picture. The leading duo’s chemistry is off the charts, and the vibes of this movie are – simply put – just so wholesome and pure. (90/100)
“The Way of Water” is a spectacle in every sense of the word, simultaneously serving as a blockbuster action epic, an intimate familial drama, and a stirring environmental commentary. The first film is justifiably critiqued for lacking a bit of substance behind all its glitz and glamor, but that is certainly not the case here. The cast of characters is expanded greatly, with each playing a pivotal role in Cameron’s emotional storytelling. Over the course of three hours, each character grows and develops, making the film’s third act gut punches teary and earned. The sequel blows the first film out of the water with jaw dropping visuals and immaculate details and beauty. (95/100)
Breathtaking action, tense drama, laughs and tears all in 131 minutes that felt closer to 90. “Maverick” is so good at channeling the nostalgia of “Top Gun” while meaningfully adding on to the story of its predecessor and adding even deeper emotions. Tom Cruise delivers a genuinely layered performance opposite of an equally compelling Miles Teller. This movie deserves endless rewatches and it gets better each and every time. (96/100)
1. “The Batman”
This is not a “superhero movie” – it’s a noir crime epic as chilling and mysterious as the genre’s best – and it just so happens to include the most fleshed out version of Batman ever seen onscreen roaming a fully lived in Gotham City. The action takes a backseat to mystery here, leaning into Batman’s reputation as the world’s greatest detective, but when it’s time to fight, the punches and stunts are phenomenal. Robert Pattinson is the Batman/Bruce Wayne – no exceptions. Zoe Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, Colin Farrell and John Turturro – the entire cast is truly stellar. Matt Reeves really did that. (97/100)
Here’s to another fantastic year at the theater in 2023!
Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Raleigh, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for CLTure.org.