We say this every year but with so many new releases, it is almost impossible for anyone to keep up with the amount of new content that is released each week. That’s why we are here with a list of our absolute favourites! That’s right folks, we’ve asked our staff to compile a list of their favourite movies released in 2022 so far. There’s a wide variety too, including foreign films, indie gems, distributing thrillers, and action-packed Hollywood blockbusters. Hopefully, our readers will discover something new on this list that they end up loving as much as we do.
A quick note before we move forward: We’ve only included movies released either on VOD or theatrically in North America before August 1, 2022. In other words, don’t expect this list to include many of the great movies we’ve watched at film festivals that have not yet been released. Finally, we will be back in December with an updated version of this list. Enjoy!
While the latest effort in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise was met with a lukewarm response from many critics, the movie has more to say than you might think. Diving into deep, heady social issues like gentrification, technological progress, mass shootings, and the prevalence of social media, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is more than just a cash-in on the success of the Halloween revival.
All of that mumbo-jumbo aside, though, the movie is also a lot of fun. Though it does have things to say, it’s also often just an excuse for Leatherface to go to town and do some super nasty stuff to folks. This is great news for horror fans, however, as it allows for some truly gruesome and inventive scenes of violence and bloodshed, particularly as the film ratchets toward its climax. It’s a hell of a good time and well worth the investment for its meager runtime. (Mike Worby)
Give Michael Bay some drones to use for his action scenes and the possibilities seem endless. Ambulance is Bay’s most exciting film since The Rock— a character-driven heist thriller featuring questionable morals, an insane car chase, and great performances from the entire cast, most notably that of Jake Gyllenhaal. With the director pushing the limits of modern camera tech, Ambulance rarely slows down. Meanwhile, the runaway ambulance surgery scene will make sensitive viewers shriek and watch with their hands covering their eyes.
Ambulance is simply put, better than all the Transformers films combined and a prime example of what Bay does best; escapism filled with high-speed drama, and lots and lots of non-stop action filled with nail-biting suspense. Michael Bay… Bay! Bay! (Ricky D)
Peter Strickland’s films aren’t necessarily the most accessible, and Flux Gourmet seems to be the film where he acknowledges and accepts that notion. What is his most personal effort to date, Strickland leans into his eccentricities in storytelling and weaves a narrative around a group of “sonic caterers” who take up residence in a remote institution. It’s the “sonic catering” that will immediately throw off the uninitiated to Strickland’s work as a group of characters played by Asa Butterfield, Ariane Labed, and Fatma Mohamed create music using nothing but the sounds of food. However, Strickland goes even further as the group’s stubborn leader becomes fascinated with a writer’s bowel movements and hostile towards the residence’s director, played by Gwendoline Christie.
Each performance delivered with a dry and exacting tone, Flux Gourmet is always fascinating even when it’s at its most obtuse. However, where Strickland will sometimes just let that weirdness permeate throughout the film, Flux Gourmet is him having a conversation with himself in a way that only he can. It’s a strangely cathartic film where you can feel the director negotiating with himself through each character’s interactions with one another.
As with many of his other films, the dedication of the actors often brings out the best in his films, and here is no exception. Amplified by its dizzying soundscape that makes the idea of making music from food seem like a viable endeavor. It doesn’t quite reach the heights of The Duke of Burgundy nor is it as accessible as a Berberian Sound Studio might be, but for Strickland and his fanbase, it’s an engaging look into the mind of someone wrestling with their own artistic vision. (Christopher Cross)
The stop-motion nightmares that Tippett presents in excruciating detail throughout Mad God is the work of a legend in the field of animation and visual effects. Tippett’s credits run deep through Hollywood’s greatest achievements in visual effects from Jurassic Park to the original Star Wars trilogy, and while those were seen more as breakthroughs for the medium, Mad God is the extremely well-polished masterclass in stop-motion. It doesn’t break new ground, but it has an undeniable ability to transport audiences into its world of despair with a relatively wordless experience that makes it the work of someone at the top of their craft.
30 years in the making, Phil Tippett’s Mad God is an example of the power of endurance while textually showing the repetitive, cyclical collapse of civilization. Breathtaking to witness from start to finish, its simplistic set-up deceitfully suggests a case of style over substance, but it’s in every waking nightmare that Tippett serves up in a gloriously macabre fashion that Mad God’s emotional resonance starts breaking through. A man diving into the depths of a depraved world, armed only with a bomb and a map, attempting to change the course of events with an act of sacrifice. An audiovisual feast that rarely deigns to imply hope in its hopeless hellscape, Mad God’s final act pays off its chaotic and brutal journey with the potential for something new to form; maybe the violence and depravity will continue, but at least someone proved it can be paused, even if only for a moment. (Christoper Cross)
Calling Hustle one of the best basketball movies ever made doesn’t do it justice since there haven’t been that many great movies (excluding documentaries) about the sport to begin with. So, with that said, I feel comfortable in saying Hustle is one of the best sports movies in recent years and easily the biggest surprise of 2022. Who would have thought a LeBron James/Netflix-produced Adam Sandler movie would be this good? And while it follows a by-the-numbers plot, its compelling characters, stellar performances, technical craftsmanship, overall execution, and numerous cameos by many real-life NBA stars, make up for its narrative familiarity. Hustle is the rare sports movie that translates its love of the game to the screen and a movie that anyone can enjoy, regardless of their knowledge of the sport. (Ricky D)
Steven Soderbergh’s latest film is the sort of thriller I knew we’d get eventually: A version of Blow-Up, Blow Out, and The Conversation, only set in the Internet age. I always assumed such a movie would have a Facebook moderator as a hero, but instead Angela (Zoe Kravitz) works for an Amazon-like company, monitoring Alexa searches.
KIMI combines that conceit with the corporate espionage thrillers of the ’70s like The Parallax View, while also serving as one of the few movies about the pandemic that doesn’t absolutely suck. The film manages to make Zoom calls interesting and also captures a moment in Seattle, mid-pandemic but post-Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.
Also, one scene captures one of the best music needle drops in any movie in memory, and the best gag of its kind since the “Fuck the Police” drop in Jordan Peele’s Us.
KIMI didn’t make much of a splash when it landed on HBO Max back in February, but it’s one of the better films of Soderbergh’s post-retirement era. (Stephen Silver)
Known for his disturbing sci-fi creations (Ex Machina, Annihilation), Alex Garland moves to the increasingly popular folk horror genre with his most recent film, Men. We follow the recently widowed Harper Marlowe (Jessie Buckely) as she travels to the small village of Cotson for a therapeutic retreat. Seeking refuge from the trauma of an abusive marriage, her attempts to recover are increasingly interrupted by the local men of the village, all played with great flexibility by Rory Kinnear. Early on we are given the taste of hope and healing as she gazes over the beauty of the countryside. This Edenic view is quickly lost. Beginning with small comments (“Mrs. Marlowe, no”?) and microaggressions, the film steadily escalates into the surreal realm of horror. It catches you off-guard with each uncomfortable moment, leading to a grotesque conclusion that will sear itself into your brain.
Buckley and Kinnear are stellar, dominating each scene with a purposefully uncomfortable dynamic. At times they will make you squirm, and cringe, yet they still achieve compelling on-screen chemistry. Harper’s rage, fear, and trauma become palpable on screen, as Kinnear changes and shifts into increasingly disturbing characters. Garland evokes the many faces that trauma can have, and the ways in which male violence can manifest and rebirth itself, passing between generations and communities. While Men has polarised critics, some finding it shallow, others stunned by its visuals and performances, it is a highly original undertaking. Experimental styles have recently found fertile ground in the horror genre (Mother!, The Lighthouse, Censor), and Garland’s Men germinates into an unforgettable final product. (Ryan O’Shea)
In a time when media has been oversaturated with mainstream-friendly queer stories like Heartstopper, agonizingly slow period dramas, and heavy, trauma-centered dramas, Andrew Ahn’s Fire Island swooped in and gave queer cinema the messy, delightfully sexy, and fun film that we so desperately needed. With so many queer stories written with straight audiences in mind, it was refreshing to finally see a widely-distributed film that was not simply made about queer people, but rather explicitly made for queer people.
The characters in Fire Island are not sanitized queers or cute teens designed to make suburban moms comfortable: they’re honest, raw, adult characters with messy and realistic lives. And yet, unlike the tragic characters in something like Brokeback Mountain, the film is still primarily fun and happy: the realism creates a foundation for joy and celebration rather than tragedy. For anyone who has been waiting a long time for a new film that indulges in the pleasures of queer mess, Fire Island fills that void delightfully.
Bowen Yang is establishing a name as a comedy powerhouse, and seeing him shine alongside an established legend like Margaret Cho is exciting. The film is the perfect blend of hilarious and heartfelt, and any queer person who feels like the fun, sloppy, slutty and beautiful parts of their lives have gone either unnoticed or pathologized in recent cinema will be grateful to find Fire Island. The meaningful moments are insightful and poignant, the romantic scenes are adorable and heartwarming, the party scenes are wild and chaotic, and the funny moments are downright hilarious. Fire Island is, without any doubt, one of the most enjoyable and important films of 2022, and it would be a shame to miss it. (Seven Greenwood)
Cronenberg’s first film in eight years marks a return to many things. He brings us into another grotesque reverie filled with delightful abominations that prod at our ideas of humanity. This time, it’s a sci-fi/noir exploration of how our bodies adapt to the polluted world we’ve created. The impeccable cast naturally embodies the dark and sexy tone of the film. As with Cronenberg’s earlier films, so much of the wonder of the world he’s created is the tactile and physical nature of the world. He eschews CGI for real, gross objects that make your skin crawl simply by knowing they exist: a bed that looks like a hybrid of a walnut and testicle, a chair made from jawbones that helps you digest. My only complaint: I want more! (Kent M. Wilhelm)
Richard Linklater has made a lot of movies about Texas, and a lot of movies about different aspects of his childhood and young adulthood. He’s also made quite a few animated movies. With Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood, Linklater has done all three at once and made his best film in years.
The animated film tells the story of a kid in 1969 Houston (voiced by Jack Black but implicitly based on the director), who experiences touchstones of life in that era, from the Apollo 11 launch to call the rock music that was popular at the time. He ends up an unlikely participant in a NASA mission (the recent Beavis & Butt-head Do the Universe, amusingly, had a similar hook, with the space-bound kids also coming from Texas.)
This is extremely well-trodden stuff, from the nostalgia for the time period to the music, but Linklater has pulled off a funny, entertaining, and poignant work. It arrived at SXSW and then landed on Netflix in April to little fanfare, but it’s worth a look for fans of Linklater, space, and the ’60s. (Stephen Silver)
Crass, stupid, painful, and always the best time. Jackass is back, with the final outing for the original crew. Despite this being the fourth film (along with a TV series and several similar spinoffs), Jackass Forever finds a way to make things feel fresh and exciting whilst still familiar. Bringing in a few new cast members (including Jasper from Loiter Squad, superfan Zach Holmes, and the hilarious Rachel Wolfson) as well as almost the entire original crew makes for a new dynamic, and more extravagant spins on older stunts make this both a path forward and a look back at the legacy of Jackass.
Slapstick comedy is the name of the game, but don’t let that fool you, Jackass has always had more to offer than just people doing dumb stuff and hurting themselves. There are public pranks, challenges, a plethora of celebrity guests, and some very well-directed cinematic segments mixing all of the above. Everyone is older now, but Jackass Forever proves they’re all still young at heart.
The absence of Bam is felt, though the reasoning for it seems entirely fair, and he does make a brief appearance in the marching band segment still. After Ryan Dunn’s passing all those years ago it looked like the Jackass crew were done with that side of things, going separate directions and figuring out their lives. Seeing them come back together, with a dedication to their lost friend, is honestly very touching even set beside the silly antics of the film itself. Jackass Forever is a great sendoff, a last trip for the jackasses who brought so much dumb fun into the world. (Shane Dover)
When The Northman was unleashed unto audiences in April, goodwill towards writer-director Robert Eggers was high. He was coming off two wildly successful pictures, at least critically. The Witch (2016) and The Lighthouse (2019) oozed a new, exciting voice in independent horror. The Northman promised to sport a much larger budget, which usually but not always suggests a more mainstream endeavour. Early trailers had cinephiles salivating at the prospect of spending two hours in the 9th century CE with Vikings.
The result is a film that perhaps proves more contemplative and surreal than what the marketing campaign promised. If anything, those qualities only enhanced its warm reception, seeing as it earned a healthy 89% Rotten Tomatoes score. Unfortunately for its sake, audiences did not flock to the theatre to see it. That isn’t a big issue for modestly budgeted pictures like Eggers previous efforts but disheartening for this new film’s reported $90M price tag. Enthusiasts won’t care one iota, nor should they. With his third project, Eggers remains true to his instincts, which serve him, now three films in a row, to accomplish two main objectives. First, make a strange film. Despite what it looks like what The Northman will be, the truth of the matter is that the movie is replete with trippy imagery befitting of dream sequences on acid. Second, invite the audience to experience the world the filmmaker creates. The Witch was mercilessly oppressive. The Lighthouse kept audiences stuck on a rock with two people slowly going insane. The Northman announces loud and clear that the age of Vikings makes for a visceral, memorable experience on film, but one wouldn’t want to live in it! (Edgar Chaput)
The legacy of Scream can’t be understated; it may not have been the first slasher film to build on pastiche and lean into the meta idea of slashers themselves, but it certainly did things its own way and Wes Craven put together another defining film in the genre. Fast forward to 2022, and after a plethora of sequels of varying quality and even a revival series that actually found its own footing, and once again we’re back to Woodsboro with the bumbling yet vicious Ghostface on the prowl.
Wes Craven, who directed the first four films, unfortunately, passed a few years back. This makes this new installment the first in the mainline series to not be crafted by the master himself. Though it’s fairly obvious that Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett are huge fans of Craven’s work and emulate his style in places quite well. This isn’t a spooky scary slasher, nor is it a bloodbath (though there are still some brutal kills), instead it’s a goofy and fun take on the idea of a slasher film. There are scenes subverting the audience’s expectations, and playing with what we’ve been conditioned to look for in horror films, and of course, the meta conversations about what gets a person killed in a horror film are ever-present.
Ever since Halloween brought back their original final girl every old horror franchise now seems to be jumping at the opportunity to hit the same mark. And honestly the inclusion of Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette, really add to the dissection of horror revivals. Plus, seeing how Dewey, Gale, and Sidney have changed and where their lives have taken them is a nice touch when kept at an arm’s length as the film does. Exploring new characters and new dynamics whilst also having the lore backbone with the original characters works wonders.
It’s leaps ahead of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre revival, and probably decently on par with 2018’s Halloween. It may not hit the heights the original film did, nor is the adoration and exploration of the genre quite as powerful, but it feels like quite a fitting modernization of the franchise, bringing it up to date. (Shane Dover)
Kogonada’s follow-up to his quietly masterful Columbus is a sci-fi epic in miniature. Set in the near future, Jake’s android, Yang, malfunctions, leaving his daughter without her beloved companion. He searches for a way to repair himself but in the process, uncovers a whole other life that allows him to reconnect with his family. That might sound a little vague, but once you get to the film’s big philosophical twist, that ambiguity will be well worth it, as its utterly life-affirming finale will send you away with both tears and fervor for existentialism.
The film’s pensive and quiet story asks what it means to be alive while ruminating on humanity’s increased reliance on technology, the nature of loss, and the deeper facets of all social connections. Kogonada’s visual mastery boldly and sneakily renders its sci-fi world appealing, making its understated wavelength rewarding for those who desire to look beyond its alluring surfaces.
Featuring a terrifically subtle performance from Colin Farrell and a delicately poignant score from Aska Matsumiya (with a crushing piece from the legendary Ryuichi Sakamoto), After Yang both visually and sonically dissolves the boundaries between man and machine, laying bare an authentic portrayal of a family yearning for greater connection, despite an unfathomable loss. (Prabhjot Bains)
The year’s best horror film is a great meditation on age, beauty, and self-worth, all wrapped up in a terrific homage to the “70s slasher”. Ti West tows the line between exploitation and art beautifully, delivering a unique rendition of horror tropes we’ve become all too familiar with. Unlike the pornographers he’s depicting, West has meaningful things to say in addition to the bodies he’s showing, lending gravitas to his vision. The film unabashedly wears its influences on its sleeve and may appear like surface-level entertainment but, unlike most of its predecessors, it digs a bit deeper, underpinning its grisly and memorable kills with thematic heft.
Boasting arguably the best use of Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” in recent memory and wonderful performances from its cast (featuring star-making turns from Mia Goth and Kid Cudi), X is an enjoyably depraved jaunt through the Texas backwoods that gives its aging murderous specimens a touch of humanity. When That sex scene graces the screen, it’ll have you wincing even harder than its gruesome kills, not only due to its pervasive awkwardness but because of its scathing indictment of our gut reactions.
With a prequel, secretly shot back-to-back with this film, already in post-production, it will be exciting to see what West does with the genre in a much different period of American history (set during the First World War). So, here’s to more introspective blood and gore! (Prabhjot Bains)
Batman is hands-down the most overused and overmined property in DC Comics. That’s why it’s particularly impressive that adaptations and extrapolations of his mythos continue to be so exceptional. Matt Reeves’ take on The Dark Knight reframes the hero as more troubled than ever, a man who is less concerned with doing good or helping people than with getting his aggression and rage out on the criminal elements of Gotham City.
It’s a bold take and one that examines The Caped Crusader, as well as other key characters from Batman stories, in inventive and exciting new ways. It’s also hands-down the darkest take on this world yet, with a vicious serial killer and his social media-obsessed acolytes at the heart of the conflict. Furthermore, the performances from Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Colin Farrell, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, and a host of others really help to add new layers of depth to these characters. With a sequel already a sure thing, Reeves’ series of Batman films could rise to rival Nolan’s before the director is through. (Mike Worby)
There are few blockbusters in recent memory that even compare to the luxurious over-the-top excess on display in S.S. Rajamouli’s Telugu-language epic, RRR (standing for “Rise, Roar, Revolt”). A blunt but melodic adventure that brings together two real-life revolutionaries, gives them both superhuman strength and abilities and then forges a relationship between the two as they find their alliance and their methods of taking down the British army frequently at odds with each other. Veering away from subtlety completely and leaning heavily into its bombastic nature, RRR is an infectious and endearing example of maximalist filmmaking that never misses a beat. (Christopher Cross)
Do not tell Tom Cruise what he cannot do. Don’t tell him to not make a sequel to a film that is 36 years old. Refrain from arguing that the previous entry is considered a bit cheesy by today’s standards and that many people love it “ironically,” as the cool kids say these days. Please, if a pandemic erupts that delays the movie’s release date, avoid telling him that the studio considers shortening its theatrical window in order to boost its own new streaming service, Paramount+. Honestly, don’t say any of those things to Tom Cruise. None of those will dissuade him.
Against many odds, Top Gun: Maverick came (finally), saw, and conquered. Its victory is threefold. First and foremost, it has made well over 1B$ at the time of this writing, making it Cruise’s first project to join that coveted rank. Second, it was warmly received by critics everywhere. Thirdly, movie-goers around the world love it. It isn’t especially original, nor does it ask its star to flex his acting muscles more so than he has in recent years. What it lacks in those departments it makes for in cinematic moxie. Incredibly well shot, a technical marvel, and a solid continuation of a character’s story we last saw in 1986. It’s extraordinarily easy to consume and digest, and serves as engaging, simple but effective summer entertainment. Unless one simply has a knee-jerk reaction to anything having to do with the military (fair play), it’s genuinely difficult to say much bad about Maverick. The sky isn’t even the limit anymore for Tom Cruise. (Edgar Chaput)
Anchored by its tremendous performance from Michelle Yeoh and dizzying yet confident direction from The Daniels (Swiss Army Man), Everything Everywhere All At Once feels like lightning-in-a-bottle and a fever dream rolled up into one emotional, action-packed journey. When the fate of every universe is placed at the feet of an immigrant laundromat owner (Yeoh) about to have her entire life dismantled by the IRS if she and her husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), can’t figure out their tax situation and survive their next audit.
The stresses of life compound to live up to the film’s name and structure. The film’s plotting is a delirious balancing act as it captures the anxiety facing Yeoh’s character and then builds from there, expanding upon her relationship with her daughter (Stephanie Hsu) to provide the emotional throughline needed to keep everything grounded. But it’s a film that is always reaching for the stars. A smorgasbord of martial arts, absurdist comedy, and heartrending drama, Everything Everywhere All At Once is constantly firing off on all cylinders.
For a sophomore effort from Daniel Schienert and Daniel Kwan directing together, it feels like a miracle that never strays from its design. A meticulously crafted experience with incredible pacing, editing, cinematography, acting, and soundtrack, Everything Everywhere All At Once leaves nothing on the table. It’s a poignant look at people struggling to find meaning in existence despite having goals and purpose. The relatability of its concepts combined with the way its use of multiverses taps into the current zeitgeist, Everything Everywhere All At Once is a singular journey that feels vital at this exact moment in time with a message that will always be relevant. (Christopher Cross)
Jordan Peele is part of a rare collective of filmmakers whose name alone can generate immense buzz for a project. This reputation is well earned as his debut, Get Out, revolutionized the horror landscape with piercing commentary on America’s tumultuous relationship with race. His third feature marks his first venture into blockbuster territory, and, for the most part, is an unabashed success.
His latest offering is a meaty spectacle of epic proportions that thrills just as much as it provokes. With Nope, Peele remains a master of misdirection, confidently crafting a truly American parable that deftly touches on a plethora of themes, ranging from a commentary on family legacies to the innate struggle of creating movie magic. In an endless wave of empty action vehicles, Nope is the rare blockbuster that grounds its absorbing phenomena with thematic and philosophical weight, giving us new things to be afraid about in this ever-intimidating world.
While Peele’s allegorical and metaphorical aspirations can, at times, supersede the need for clear, cogent, storytelling, its mesmerizing spectacle more than makes up for it, as its wholly inventive and original finale is at once a feast for the eyes and a buffet for the brain. In many respects, it’s Peele’s greatest work yet, perfectly marrying the intimate scares of a horror film, with the all-encompassing scope of an epic. For many, the sky is the limit, but with Nope, Peele confidently asserts he has bigger and bolder places to explore.
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