Year In Review: The best movies, new and old, I saw in 2022

January 15 or so is officially the cut-off point for posting “year in review” stuff, isn’t it? After that, it gets a little embarrassing, I reckon.

So, in just under the wire is a look at my ten favourite movies I’ve seen in 2022 (keeping in mind I haven’t gotten around to some of the big Oscar contenders like Tár, The Woman King and The Fablemans yet), plus, in the spirit of my occasional Movies I Have Never Seen feature, the ten best movies from any time that I finally got around to seeing in 2022. And… action! 

Best 10 Movies of 2022 (alphabetical order)

The Banshees of Inisherin – A friendship breaks down on a small Irish island and Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Kerry Condon deliver astounding performances in a bitterly funny, gorgeously filmed Irish fable of love and grotesque revenge.  

The BatmanAnother superhero movie, but the first one that actually makes Batman a detective, with Robert Pattinson’s none-more-goth Bruce Wayne balancing on the knife’s edge between being too much and not enough. I’d love to see one superhero flick that doesn’t end with an explosive CGI orgy, but this one hits the mark far more than it misses. 

Everything Everywhere All At Once – Michelle Yeoh is the Queen in any universe, and we should all bow down before her. 

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – It’s bigger, broader and less restrained than its predecessor, but Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc remains a joy and Edward Norton as Elon Musk is bloody hilarious.

The Menu – A pitch-black satire about a night in the restaurant from hell, blunt and gaudy and yet right on trend at mocking this weird non-stop viral world we live in. 

Mister Organ – The overwhelming theme of this year’s best films seems to be the abuse of power, but this spiralling rabbit-hole of a documentary by NZ’s David Farrier makes it all feel far more personal, creepy and violating by focusing on one very unpleasant man’s doings.   

Nope – Jordan Peele’s movies are consistently surprising and exquisitely staged, and the simmering unease created by this sort-of alien invasion story sticks with me. Like Get Out and Us, the more you think about it the more you see going on behind the immediate story beats. 

Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio A better fairy tale you won’t see all year, unafraid of exploring loss and death but also hilariously funny, and with stunning old-school stop motion animation. Far better than any of Disney’s rather dire “live action remakes” of their classic cartoons. 

RRR – The best action movie of the year is this frenetic Indian epic, with a sense of joyful fun and dazzling scope and anything-can-happen energy that seems missing from most carefully machined Hollywood product.

Weird: The Weird Al Yankovic Story – I saw UHF in the theatre in 1989 and finally, decades on, we get the next best thing to a sequel, with an uncanny Daniel Radcliffe taking us on a wild ride through Weird Al’s life, perhaps with a few exaggerations. A joyfully silly gift of a film for Weird Al fans and anyone tired of bloated self-serious biopics.

Tied up around #11: Black Panther Wakanda Forever; Clerks III; Decision To Leave; Elvis; The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent; Triangle of Sadness; The Northman; Fire Of Love; Top Gun: Maverick; Prey.

The 10 best movies I finally saw for the first time in 2022 (in chronological order)

Wages of Fear (1953) – An all-time tense thriller about angry, restless men willing to take on an impossible job just to survive. 

Johnny Cool (1963) – I watched this pitch-black slice of noir in memory of the late Henry Silva, and he stars with an all-star oddball cast (Sammy Davis Jr! Jim Backus! Bewitched’s Elizabeth Montgomery!) in a gangster tale that’s far darker and sleazier than its Rat Pack-era trappings would have you believe. 

Playtime (1967) – I’ve been getting into Jacques Tati a lot this year, and his comedy is like an intricate whimsy machine – immaculately staged, formal and gentle, yet always with something unforgettably spot-on to say about us crazy human beings. 

El Topo (1970) – A surrealist western that is a relic of the hippie era but also a passageway into a dreamlike, horrible world of quasi-heroic quests that never truly end. 

Blue Collar (1978) – Harvey Keitel and Richard Pryor as down-and-out autoworkers who embark on the most inept robbery ever, and a portrait of a bruised and struggling American dream. 

The Decline of Western Civilization (1981) – Music as madness, music as escape, music as addiction, and one of the best music documentaries I’ve ever seen

Smash Palace (1981) – A gripping and raw New Zealand drama starring the late, great Bruno Lawrence as a desperate man making all of the wrong decisions to fix his messed-up life.  

Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) – Objectively, not a good movie, I know, I know. But yet, I finally got around to watching most of the schlocky, silly series last year, and this one – slasher horror polished to a machine-like gleam – is the giddily exploitive and slightly self-mocking peak of the lot. 

Hereditary (2018) – Finally got around to Ari Aster’s terrifying horror movie about family trauma and it’s just as disturbing as I dreaded it might be. I want to watch it again, but I also kind of never want to watch it again. 

The Worst Person in the World (2021) – This Norwegian film starts as a self-aware ironic romantic comedy in the mode of Fleabag and becomes something more powerful and ultimately rather unforgettable.  

Author: nik dirga

I'm an American journalist who has lived in New Zealand for more than a decade now.

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