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Best of 2022: Joel Winstead’s Top 10 Films


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, Joel Winstead is breaking down his 10 favorite movies from the year.

Getting back into the swing of regular releases in 2022 brought some fantastic moments to the big screen in this post-pandemic world. Out of the 80 releases seen in 2022, I have managed to whittle mine down to the Top 10. These 10 stood tall amongst some outstanding competition. 

Just outside my Top 10 are a few films I would be remiss if I did not at least mention.

Honorable Mentions

And now my Top 10 Movies of 2022….

10. “Barbarian”

Gloriously fucked up in all the right ways. This beat out “Scream” for the number 10 slot because of the sheer audacious originality. The reveals and narrative turns are a real treat and when you’re done watching you sit back and smile wanting more. This film does what horror films should do: entertain, scare, and gross you out – all at the same time. Justin Long is my scream queen. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

9. “Hustle”

Adam Sandler doing drama is next-level talent and I will always be here for it. After “Punch Drunk Love” and “Uncut Gems,” my butt will be in any seat to watch. I’m a sucker for a good sports film and this hit every note. The highs and lows are played perfectly by Sandler, who is criminally unrecognized in this awards-worthy role. It had a montage that rocked, a call back to “Rocky,” and a high-stakes payoff you actually cared about. What more could you want? Even the NBA players weren’t super distracting with their acting (or lack thereof). If you dig sports dramas, seek this one out.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

8. “TÁR”

Whew. Cate Blanchett is just on another level. Even with a close to three-hour runtime, we are in excellent care with director Todd Field and company. Blanchett is living out a fully-realized character with such nuance and craft, it’s hard to separate this character from what seems like a real-life woman named Lydia Tár. Between her acting and Field’s direction, this tight drama fits perfectly into the conversations of this day-and-age, while also having a creative and singular voice.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

7. “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Men, amiright?

The growing desperation watching two men who just want to be seen in their own way. Witnessing the implosion of a friendship, and mostly through one side, is a somewhat brilliant way to let the audience simmer in that same confused headspace as our “protagonist.” Colin Farrell is one of our finest working actors and puts on an absolute clinic. This is devilishly hilarious and worthy of every accolade, and Gleeson going full gruff is the Gleeson we deserve.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

6. “White Noise”

Existential dread packaged in ’80s grocery stores. This film is the right kind of bonkers. It feels like a series of vignettes, although there is a cohesive, narrative-driven story being told. It’s just that sometimes, the film will stop so that Adam Driver and Don Cheadle can have an amazing conversation about Nazism and Elvis. At times it borders on feeling like a Robert Altman film with its overlapping dialogue and hysterical situations.

Turns out that having a well-choreographed dance scene is going to get you some serious brownie points from me. From “Ex Machina” to this years “After Yang,” I. Want. More. Dancing. 

Don Cheadle really shines along the obvious Driver and Greta Gerwig. Noah Baumbach may be an acquired taste for some, but his confident vision and storytelling prowess are worth the price of admission alone.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

5. “The Whale”

I was already in the bag for this film, growing up loving Brendan Fraser after watching “The Mummy,” only for him to seemingly disappear from the public eye. Hearing all the buzz out of Venice only got me more pumped, the only detraction was director Darren Aronofsky. I’ve largely enjoyed his work, but at his most indulgent, it is hard to get through his films. Aronofsky does not sacrifice his vision for audience acceptance – he is as confrontational as they come with regard to film language. 

I’m happy to report that the rumors are true, Fraser is an absolute revelation, I use that overused glorification non-ironically and wholeheartedly. Fraser has long been out of mainstream pop culture, and seeing him make a comeback of this caliber, well, you love to see it. The emotional weight carried by Fraser is no small feat with everything playing on his face. It’s very emotional and the last five minutes absolutely wrecked me. Here’s to many more great Fraser performances.

Regardless of how you feel about the subject matter, this is a very well-made film with several performances that strike directly at your heart. This is why film exists: to move you with storytelling.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

4. “Top Gun: Maverick”

“Top Gun: Maverick” is one of the best cohesive legacy sequels, maybe ever. Nothing is shoehorned or forced, it all works narratively while also bringing technology to the forefront decades later. Not just in the world, but in reality. Director Joseph Kosinski has always shown a knack for visuals, breaking out with “Tron: Legacy” and with Cruise for the first time in “Oblivion.” He’s extremely proficient with blending CGI and practical effects for the maximum cinematic experience. Kosinski and his crew really took it to another level here with the best film to see on the biggest screen. A rousing blockbuster and crowdpleaser that will have you cheering. A strong showcase for Tom Cruise proving that age doesn’t mean rust.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

3. “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”

Exceeded my expectations in every way. A raucous, crowd-pleasing whodunnit that pays homage to the great ’70s whodunnits that defined the genre. Absolutely fantastic performances and even better cameos. 

Rian Johnson is back in that same milieu, this time there is a playfulness and a breezy bravura that is damn near infectious. His first outing with the debonair Benoit Blanc in “Knives Out” was a success at just about every level. It was a deconstruction of the genre, told in a fresh way, but still, one beholden to the genre it so refreshingly fits into. There are still the familiar tropes in “Glass Onion,” but I find that more like a warm blanket, waiting for me at my favorite reading chair. Johnson has weaponized the genre and turned it on its head, only this time, he’s upping the bonkers, and it works. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

2. “The Fabelmans”

It’s not every day a filmmaker like Steven Spielberg makes a defining film like this. His career is marked by these moments. Here we have another one, set apart from his body of work as a standout achievement. There is so much packed into this film it’s hard to know where to start. Part autobiography, part love letter to cinema, and 100% Spielberg. It acts almost like a Rosetta Stone for understanding his cinematic language, a film that is steeped in nostalgia and uses every technique to speak to its audience. If you are already a Spielberg fan, this is the ultimate warm hug. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

1. “Everything Everywhere All At Once”

The directing duo known as The Daniels have one other film under their belt, and that is the adorably insane “Swiss Army Man,” about a suicidal man and a farting corpse finding love and redemption. It’s beautiful and heartfelt.

That should give you a little insight into the kinds of stories they are interested in telling. Their new film is no exception. Absolutely absurd in every way. An amazing cast from top to bottom, Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, and Ke Huy Quan as the central family are all stellar. The blending of each multiverse and the creative and cohesive story being presented is next-level writing and directing. From hot dog fingers and butt plugs to googly eyes and filling out tax forms, there is a little bit of everything on display. Yeoh is the backbone and emotional center, fully buying into what The Daniels are selling, and so am I. The Daniels have once again crafted a special film, one not soon forgotten.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Follow Joel on Twitter @WinsteadJoel.

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Joel Winstead View All

Film critic and member of the NCFCA and SEFCA

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