From Avatar 2 and Barbarian to Glass Onion and Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio, these are the best movies of 2022 so far.
It’s been an interesting year for cinema. Superhero movies were outgunned by a Tom Cruise throwback, horror received critical acclaim and commercial success via the likes of X, Barbarian, and Nope, and we finally got that long-awaited Avatar sequel.
There were some surprise smash-hits in the shape of Indian Tegulu epic RRR, and Everything Everywhere All at Once, which did a mulitiverse better than Marvel managed in their big-budget efforts.
So the following – in alphabetical order – are the best movies of the year; our favourite films of 2022, which we’ll be updating as and when new gems are released.
Avatar: The Way of Water
It’s been a long, LONG, time in the making, but James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water finally hit screens December 2022, and was worth the epic wait, combining awe-inspiring special effects with a cracking adventure.
Here’s what we said in our Avatar 2 review: “You may be left questioning the reasoning of certain decisions, or the inclusion of some people altogether, but a grand saga is being sketched here, and the movie does a terrific job of illustrating this scope across a huge runtime without a single dip in pacing or attention. Cameron has always been a master of the heart, and the plot packs as much suspense as it does poignancy – sincerity always wins.”
The Banshees of Inisherin
The Banshees of Inisherin re-teams In Bruges writer director Martin McDonagh with actors Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, and the result is one of the best movies of the year. Here’s what we said in our Fantastic Fest review: “The Banshees of Inisherin is definitely the work of a playwright, with the dialogue at times feeling overwritten. But there’s beauty in the words, with sentences going round in circles, and conversations folding back on themselves in hypnotic fashion.
“The location frequently feels a bit Craggy Island, thanks to the eccentric characters and broad situations. But there’s no harm in evoking comedy classic Father Ted.
“Banshees has a more serious story to tell however, with the underlying message concerning coping with the slow passing of time until death, and what makes a life well lived. Making the movie McDonagh’s most mature feature yet, and very possibly his best.”
We saw the brilliant Barbarian at an early preview during FrightFest, and this is an excerpt from the Dexerto review about arguably the best horror movie of 2022: “Barbarian is a film that defies expectations at every turn. Zach Cregger toys with his characters – and as a by-product the audience – at every available opportunity, clawing them back and forth like a cat playing with a mouse.
“The film has things to say, about the city of Detroit’s decline, and the toll that took on the people who lived there. And about the phenomenon of Airbnb, where we stay in another person’s home, knowing nothing of what happens inside their walls.
“But social commentary aside, Barbarian is pure, simple, crowd-pleasing horror that’s filled with surprises and shocks. The kind of movie that grabs you early in proceedings, holds tight for the duration, then barely lets go as the credits roll.”
Tim Burton put a dark Batman onscreen. Christopher Nolan made him even darker through his trilogy. And in 2022, Matt Reeves gave us the darkest Dark Knight yet in The Batman, in the process crafting one of the best movies of the year.
Robert Pattinson plays the title character and brings a brooding intensity to the troubled billionaire crimefighter. Gotham has also never been more richly textured, giving us grounded takes on Riddler (Paul Dano), Penguin (Colin Farrell), and Catwoman (Selina Kyle). We even got to see Batman being a detective for once!
Bones and All
Bones and all reunites director Luca Guadagnino and actor Timothée Chalamet, and like their last collaboration – Call Me By Your Name – it’s a tender love story. Though this time the romance is wrapped in a tale of fine young cannibals.
Here’s what we said about the movie when we reviewed it at Fantastic Fest: “With his red hair, ripped jeans, and rebellious attitude, Chalamet exudes bravery and confidence in his early scenes, but gradually reveals Lee to be much more frightened and insecure. Plus, a scene of him rocking out to KISS is sure to launch a thousand memes.
“While [Taylor] Russell is a revelation as Maren, getting the audience on side early in proceedings, and keeping them there in spite of the terrible things she does. The connection that Maren and Lee share makes the horrors of Bones and All somehow palatable, the film finding beauty in the darkness.
Brian and Charles
Unassuming British comedy Brain and Charles stole our collective hearts, as explained in the Dexerto review: “While the genre changes and the tone shifts, Brian and Charles never loses sight of what it is: a film about finding friendship in the most unexpected places.
“David Earl delivers a deeply affecting performance as Brian, somehow being both sad and optimistic throughout the film. While Chris Heyward is good as Charles, I think. He certainly makes a fine comedy foil for his friend. Their bond – and the bond that Brian slowly starts to form with Hazel – lie at the heart of the movie. With Brian and Charles ultimately about making a connection, and how those connections can give life meaning. As sometimes, we just need someone to help us boil cabbages, or join us for a game of darts.”
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert – collectively known as the Daniels – Everything Everywhere All at Once is a wonder of sound and image, and one of the best movies of the year. The story is absurd, revolving around the owner of a laundromat meeting with the IRS, where she learns about parallel universes and moves between them while doing battle with a powerful being hell-bent on destroying the multiverse.
The film combines pretty much every genre in existence, from action and comedy to romance, drama and horror, and exploits all of Michelle Yeoh’s remarkable talents as the ‘verse jumper in question.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story
Knives Out sequel played at festivals, and is getting a limited theatrical release before streaming on Netflix. Here’s what we said in our London Film Festival review of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story: “Glass Onion’s quality isn’t a surprise – the thinking men do not bet against Rian Johnson – but it is a damn shame.
“As a sequel, it’s grander, glitzier, and engineered for big laughs and enriching rewatches – Netflix may have been able to pay the bills, but even with a limited theatrical release, it’s a sad loss for the big screen.”
We first saw The Menu at Fantastic Fest and immediately fell in love with this razor-sharp satire of celebrity, privilege, and foodie culture. And especially Anya Taylor-Joy’s superb central performance, that finds her going toe-to-toe with Ralph Fiennes, and coming out victorious.
Here’s what we said at the time in the Dexerto review of The Menu: “The movie takes aim at some pretty soft targets, but it nails each and every one of them, teasing and provoking the audience while managing to remain consistently funny. It looks amazing, with restaurant and kitchen as sleek as you’d expect from a place like Hawthrone, where style has become more important than substance. While it also manages to stick the landing, with the final meal – one that’s off-menu – ending the movie on a note of hope following the grim cynicism of what’s gone before.”
2022 has been a brilliant year for genre movies, as this list proves. And new ‘Master of Horror’ Jordan Peele was back with his third feature, following critical and commercial smashes Get Out and Us.
Thanks to Nope, he’s three-for-three, the sci-fi scarer grossing more than $170m worldwide and earning a Rotten Tomatoes score of 82%. Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer star as siblings whose efforts to capture evidence of a UFO have creepy and increasingly terrifying results.
Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinochhio
2022 gave us two Pinocchio’s – Robert Zemeckis’ pointless re-tread of the Disney animation, and this more complex adaptation from the mind of Guillermo Del Toro; a version that plays out in stunning stop-motion, against a backdrop of creeping fascism.
Here’s what we said about the film in our Pinocchio review: “Guillermo Del Toro breathes new life into an old story with his take on Pinocchio, a stop-motion wonder where the spirit of the original remains intact, but where the story is given new resonance thanks to the time and place in which its set, as well as several inspired narrative additions. It’s a heady, irresistible mix that would be near-perfect were it not for those terrible songs.”
We absolutely loved Predator prequel Prey, and this is what we said about the action-horror-sci-fi flick in the Dexerto review: “Predator remains the only film to make moviegoers believe Arnold Schwarzenegger could be afraid of anything, but Midthunder is an exceptional foil for the hunter’s feral ways. While others scream and shoot, inflicting damage but opening themselves up (literally), she’s a believable, formidable; hiding, but never cowering.
“The majority of the film rests on her shoulders – along with Coco’s – and they never once buckle. It’d be wonderful to see them back – then again, I wouldn’t say no to Danny Glover caught up in another drug war fueled by a heatwave. Gnarly, exhilarating, and primal, Prey is the best movie in the franchise since the original. Put it this way: Predator is back.”
This Telugu-language EPIC is the most expensive Indian movie ever made, and has broken box office records all over the world. That’s because the $72 million budget is all up there on the screen, with director S.S. Rajamouli – working from a script he co-wrote with V. Vijayendra Parasad – shooting some of the best action of the year.
The story revolves around two real-life revolutionaries – Alluri Sitarama Raju (played by Ram Charan) and Komaram Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.) – and follows their battles with the British Raj. The title stands for ‘Rise, Roar and Revolt’, all of which happens during RRR’s incredible 182-minutes.
Top Gun Maverick
Whisper it – the original Top Gun isn’t a great movie, with both the plot and characters paper-thin, and the success of the movie largely due to Tom Cruise’s charisma and some amazing visuals. Top Gun Maverick – which soars some 36 years later – fixes those issues, being better in every way, shape, and form.
Cruise and Val Kilmer reprise their roles, the latter in moving fashion. The talented likes of Miles Teller, Ed Harris, Jon Hamm and Jennifer Connolly join the cast, in the process raising the bar. While director Joseph Kosinski shoots the sh*t out of the aviation sequences, resulting in the most successful movie of 2022 thus far, and the biggest of Cruise’s career.
So that was our list of the best movies of 2022 so far, which was updated on December 20 to include Avatar 2: The Way of Water and Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio.
For more coverage of 2022’s best films head to our dedicated Movie and TV channel here. We’ve written about 2022’s best scary movies here, while you can read our list of the best games of 2022 so far here.