From top to bottom, Sean’s best of 2022 list has a recurrence that summed up the entire year.
I think if you ask any regular moviegoers, most will agree that 2022 was the best theatrical-going year since 2019 before everything went to hell with the pandemic. It’s obvious that things have gotten much better, with vaccines readily available and movie studios releasing more films, despite there being a dead period from August to October. It was an exceptional year for movies, both big and small; but when the big ones hit, they really hit. So, as I assembled this list, it’s safe to say that 2022 can be summed up as the return of the blockbuster. And up and down this list, the bigger productions we championed throughout the year are not only a celebration of blockbusters, but also an example of how good those offerings were in a year full of so many great movies. I’m happy a handful of blockbusters made it on this list in this particular year, as the blockbusters of today give me hope for 2023 and beyond for moviegoing in general. As always, thank you for taking the time to read my stuff throughout the year. You have no idea how much I appreciate it.
Honorable Mention: Everything Everywhere All at Once, Elvis, The Fabelmans, Decision to Leave, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Jordan Peele is now 3-for3 as a director after Get Out, Us, and now Nope, which is essentially this generation’s Jaws. A sci-fi thrill ride about blockbusters, Peele’s latest Grade-A film dares to challenge its viewers and our obsession with spectacles. While Daniel Kaluuya is back collaborating with Peele, it is Keke Palmer who takes the spotlight here in what is sure to be one of Peele’s most revisited films as time goes on.
Read our site’s review of Nope here.
Director Todd Field’s take on cancel culture and the #MeToo movement is like watching a car crash in slow motion as we see the driver (played by Cate Blanchett) get catapulted from her seat. You can’t help but watch as this famed artist’s life comes crumbling down and rightfully so. And just when you thought Blanchett couldn’t be any better, think again as she gives a career-best performance here. Oh, and the ending? Arguably an all-timer.
Read our site’s review of Tar here.
8. All Quiet on the Western Front
Remakes can be quite tricky, but this remake is on par with its previous versions. While there are no heroes or happy moments in this film, it’s as powerful an antiwar statement as there ever has been in film. And that in itself is rewarding.
Read our site’s review of All Quiet on the Western Front here.
7. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Every bit as good as Knives Out, Rian Johnson and Daniel Craig have given us another case of Detective Benoit Blanc’s that we’ll revisit again and again. As relevant as it is hilarious, we can only hope this whodunnit gets a proper Blu-ray release for all of us who still own physical media to add to our collections.
Read our site’s review of Glass Onion here.
6. Top Gun: Maverick
The movie that brought moviegoers back to cinemas. Tom Cruise’s victory lap. What more is there to add to this movie that delivered everything and more? Bravo, Tom.
Read our site’s review of Top Gun: Maverick here.
5. Avatar: The Way of Water
Top Gun: Maverick was the best American blockbuster of the year up until this month when the long-awaited Avatar sequel finally arrived. With jaw-dropping visuals and a story centered around family, this sequel swims past its predecessor in every way. If you doubted director James Cameron, have you apologized to him yet?
Read our site’s review of Avatar: The Way of Water here.
Goodness, I still cannot believe this is a directorial debut. A profoundly moving film that’s a coming-of-age story, an exploration of the bond between a parent and child, and a close examination at mental health all at once. And the needle-drop? Whew. I wanted to hug my parents after seeing this one.
3. The Banshees of Inisherin
Challenging its viewers to embrace its bleakness and its character’s intentions, The Banshees of Inisherin features the year’s best ensemble with awards-worthy performances from its core-four actors here. You’ll laugh at the sharp dialogue and grimace at some moments in this film, but you might also think about friendships long after the credits roll in director Martin McDonagh’s latest.
Read our site’s review of The Banshees of Inisherin here.
Leave it to this Indian blockbuster to put almost all other blockbusters to shame. A historical action epic, musical, romance, and bromance blended into one three-hour Tollywood epic, there’s something for everyone in RRR if they’re willing to explore films beyond our borders. No film made me grin more this year than RRR, thanks to its heart and soul. And The “Naatu Naatu” dance sequence is not only the best moment in any movie this year, but among one of the best in any movie ever. Period. If you have yet to see it, it’s now playing on Netflix.
1. The Batman
If you know me well enough, then my Number 1 should not surprise you. But I want you to think about something here: In almost every comic book film that comes to mind in recent memory, how many of them showed the superhero helping their community or people surrounding them firsthand? Not just heroes “saving the world,” but also showing superheroes actually helping others? Our first look at the Caped Crusader in The Batman labeled him as “vengeance” and someone who acted on violence and rage. But by film’s end, Batman is a changed person who knows “vengeance” will not help him save the city that he is trying to protect. And as we see Batman help citizens after a flood, a woman he helps get life-flighted grabs him. It’s a powerful and enduring moment that showcases the “hero” in superhero.
In a world where visual effects heavy comic book movies that look like they were shot in parking lots dominate the theatrical landscape, leave it to director Matt Reeves to give audiences the new gold standard for the comic book genre. Thanks to its richly satisfying, gothic-soaked world, detective-centered story that’s akin to Seven, its unforgettable score, and arguably the best Batman on film ever, The Batman truly is a special film that reignites our obsession with the genre.
Read our site’s review of The Batman here.