By Santiago Brion | January 30, 2023
Photo Credit: Clipart Library
2022 has been an exceptional year in film. Between Robert Pattinson in a batsuit, a talking wooden puppet, two cannibal teens falling in love, the return of icons like Puss in Boots, Ghostface, and Predator, Elvis Presley, and James Cameron finally releasing Avatar 2, these movies lifted the past year on its shoulders. Here is my ranking for the 10 best of the year.
10. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
For almost a decade, Guillermo del Toro, with help from co-director Mark Gustafson, has been hard at work on his take on Carlo Collodi’s celebrated fable. Del Toro puts a spin on the traditional “Pinocchio” story that we all know. After Geppetto loses his son Carlo, he carves himself a puppet to deal with his unimaginable grief. When a wood sprite brings the puppet to life, Pinocchio must learn to be brave, honest, and truthful in fascist Italy, with help from Sebastian J. Cricket, who lives in the heart of the wooden boy. Along with a great cast, highlights being Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, Christoph Waltz, and newcomer Gregory Mann, the film is beautifully animated and well-voiced. “Pinocchio” is uniquely dark considering its setting and themes of father-son dynamics, death, and fascism, with sequences involving Pinocchio going to a boot camp, being trained to be a part of Mussolini’s youth. It roots into Del Toro’s signature style of turning humans into monsters, while retaining its core message from the classic story on not giving in to temptations. I guarantee that the ending will make you cry.
9. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
10 years ago, Jenny Slate and ex-husband Dean Fleischer-Camp made a series of youtube videos of a talking shell named Marcel. This meta-documentary, directed by Dean, is an insightful look into the internet sensation’s life including her time with her grandma, her rise to fame, and the pursuit of finding friends & family. It’s also a great commentary on social media and content creation as well as a reconciliation project between Jenny & Dean.
A movie that deals with the dynamics between a father and his child, “Aftersun” is a beautiful and heartbreaking tale about a woman who recounts the last time she was with her father. The film takes place in a hotel in Turkey where 11-year-old Sophie, played by Frankie Corio, and her dad Calum, played by Paul Mescal, spend their summer in the late 90s. Charlotte Wells’ directorial debut is packed to the brim with exceptional and calming filmmaking and performances, particularly from Mescal who is now nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, and Frankie now a promising young performer.
7. The Banshees of Inisherin
Writer & Director Martin McDonough reunites Colin Farrell & Brendan Gleeson for “The Banshees of Inisherin”. The film is a tragic dark comedy taking place in 1920s Ireland, about two friends who start to drift apart as they pursue different interests. The split does not go well for them, and the film speaks to the relatable moments of falling out of friendships. Colin Farrell’s role as Padriac is probably the best of his career, with Brendan also putting on a great performance as Colm. Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan were also highlights of the film, and so is the film’s very clever writing and comedy.
Following “Get Out” and “Us”, horror film director Jordan Peele takes 2022 by storm with “Nope”, a sci-fi Western thriller. Siblings OJ & Emerald, played by Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer, attempt to capture footage of a UFO. “Nope” is more than the average alien thriller, with deep commentary on how we consume media and our obsession with spectacles. The film was perfectly made with IMAX cameras and grand cinematography from Hoyte van Hoytema, which shows off the wide open space of the California desert and ominous cloudy skies. Great performances from Keke, Daniel, and breakout actor Brandon Perea make “Nope” one of the best movies of the year.
5. Top Gun: Maverick
“Top Gun: Maverick” became the movie sequel that we did not know we needed! 35 years after the original Top Gun, ace pilot Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, is sent to the Top Gun program to learn how to be a better aviator. This time around, Maverick becomes the teacher, instructing a group of pilots including his comrade’s son, Rooster, played by Miles Teller. The movie is surprisingly enjoyable and has great aviator stunt combat, and performances from Cruise, Teller, and Val Kilmer, who reprises his role as Iceman. It has an emotional third act that’ll have you cheering. This movie is the blueprint for legacy sequels.
4. The Batman
A new live-action Batman movie can no doubt have many people skeptical and nervous. Director Matt Reeves proves the naysayers wrong by making another great Batman movie, and arguably the best comic book movie ever made that rivals Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”. Robert Pattinson plays the caped crusader this time around, and the film follows his second year as Batman. While trying to stop Riddler’s crime spree, Bruce Wayne discovers his parents’ deep dark secrets and learns to be the Gotham City protector that he has to be. The film has tremendous cinematography from Greig Fraser, a great score from Michael Giacchino, and great performances from the cast including Zoe Kravitz, Andy Serkis, Paul Dano, and Pattinson, the latter being a highlight of this perfect movie. After watching “The Batman”, you’ll definitely be jamming to Nirvana.
3. Everything Everywhere All At Once
Following Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert’s debut, “Swiss Army Man”, the duo’s sophomore feature, “Everything Everywhere All At Once” exceeded expectations in a big way. The film follows the unlikely hero of Evelyn Wang, played by Michelle Yeoh, who has to save the multiverse from the form of Jobu Tupaki, while dealing with personal family troubles, like her husband falling out of love, her demanding father, and her daughter’s non-Chinese girlfriend. Every plotline of the film pays off in a grand way, not to mention that every parallel universe plot is very compelling including one with hot dog fingers (yes, you read that right), one straight out of Pixar’s “Ratatouille” and one where Evelyn is a celebrated actress which parallels Michelle’s Hollywood status. The film proves that the Daniels are original storytellers. What else is there to say except do your taxes or else the universe will be sucked into a giant bagel.
“RRR”, standing for “Roar Rise Revolt”, is an action movie unlike any other. In 2019, “Parasite” exposed the greater public to South Korean cinema, and “RRR” is doing the same thing with Bollywood/Tollywood movies from Southeast Asia. The film takes place during the British rule of India in the 1920s when two revolutionaries, one a rebel and the other working for the British Raj, become unlikely friends, then enemies, then friends again. In addition to incredible action sequences and a show-stopping third act, the film is a grandiose musical with catchy tunes like “Naatu Naatu”. Though the running time is three hours long, it is well with your time and a roaring experience that you will not forget.
Bodies Bodies Bodies
Decision to Leave
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
Avatar: The Way of Water
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
“Babylon” has divided the film community since it came out at festivals. Director Damien Chazelle crafts a period piece set in 1920s Hollywood that follows the groundbreaking transition of silent films to talkies. It follows 4 people working in the industry including an up and coming producer and Mexican immigrant, a jazz player, a promising young actress and a veteran actor. Another three hour long affair, “Babylon” moves swiftly. Underneath the 1920s glamor and debauchery, it proves to be an insightful film displaying what fame does to people; how an actor is reduced to their former self, or a person of color loses their dignity and place in Hollywood being at the mercy of white capitalist greed. The film is carried by its performances including breakout star Diego Calva, as well as Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt. The ending of the movie can be considered one of the most defining pop-culture moments of the decade consisting of a mind-bending montage of classic and modern films. The movie says a lot about Hollywood as a business and a glorification of blind celebrity worship, and how far society has established the consumption of films and filmmaking for the past 100 years. Every film ending needs to have a crescendo and the hyper-active montage in “Babylon” ends a fantastic year of films for 2022.