The Year in Review – 2022

by Ken Bakely

Looking back after a year has passed, I’m always tentative when it comes to publishing a top 10 list. There are always more movies to catch up on, and when it comes down to it, even if I had gotten the chance to see everything I was possibly interested in seeing, we’re still dealing with the intrinsically odd and imperfect pursuit of ranking such disparate works. 

But I think there is a reason for doing this: sharing the movies that have stood out and impressed can be a valuable guide in a time when a seemingly endless assembly line of titles cascades across the queues of streaming services, subject to the whims of The Algorithm on whether people will actually find out about them. At the core, this is a chance to discuss movies, person-to-person, with some regularity. We can mark the time that has passed and make recommendations. It’s why I always look forward to participating on the year-end podcast over at Film Pulse, in which we share and compare our top 10 lists in detail; I’ll only include my list below, without further comment. For more discussion, you can listen to this year’s episode here.

A wide array of movies ended up comprising my list for 2022, but I’ve found some interconnecting themes among some of them. There were big, extravagant blockbusters, like RRR and Top Gun: Maverick, that wowed audiences, showcasing extraordinary action sequences that broke new territory in their own individual ways. Complicated psychological studies like Decision to Leave and Tár weaved bitingly perceptive tales of their complex characters, placing them in worlds that twist and turn until they give way entirely. And a trio of great films – Petite Maman, The Cathedral, and The Fabelmans – explored themes of family and memory with a range of approaches and inspirations, but what united them all were their vivid and potent searching of how we are consciously and unconsciously shaped by the people around us and their own hopes, anxieties, and shortcomings.

So without further ado, here is my top 10 list. This includes only the titles of the films and their rankings, with links to reviews where applicable. For more about why I selected each of them, check out the Film Pulse podcast.

  1. Petite Maman (Céline Sciamma)
  2. RRR (S. S. Rajamouli)
  3. A Love Song (Max Walker-Silverman)
  4. Decision to Leave (Park Chan-wook)
  5. Strawberry Mansion (Kentucker Audley and Albert Birney)
  6. The Cathedral (Ricky d’Ambrose)
  7. The Fabelmans (Steven Spielberg)
  8. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (Jane Schoenbrun)
  9. Tár (Todd Field)
  10. Top Gun: Maverick (Joseph Kosinski)

And here are some honorable mentions, listed alphabetically:

After Yang (Kogonada)
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (Laura Poitras)
Emily the Criminal (John Patton Ford)
God’s Creatures (Saela Davis and Anna Rose Holmer)
Glass Onion (Rian Johnson)
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson)
On the Count of Three (Jerrod Carmichael)

So with that, we close the book on 2022. Onwards, and hopefully upwards, into 2023.