In 2022 audiences finally had a reason to return to theaters. From big blockbuster sequels (Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way Of Water and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever), to family-friendly animated flicks, rom-coms and sci-fi drama’s there was no shortage of things to see. Here’s our list of the best films of the year (in no particular order), plus a few honorable mentions.
Top Gun: Maverick took the world and 2022 by storm. The long-awaited sequel to 1986 film Top Gun is now one of the highest-grossing movies of all time with $1.4 billion (not adjusted for inflation). On the domestic charts, the film is the fifth-biggest title ever with $716 million. It also solidified the global star power of Tom Cruise who reprises his role as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. Cruise, who does all his own stunts, and his motley crew of new recruits, deliver a pulse-pounding sequel that takes the original to new heights.
Stephen Spielberg has been making movies for more than 50 years, but The Fabelmans is his most personal film to date. Michelle Williams and Paul Dano star as Mitzi and Burt Fabelman, stand-ins for Spielberg’s real-life parents. Their performances are among the year’s best, delicately textured and deeply moving. Then there’s Seth Rogen and Gabriel LaBelle, who plays a young aspiring director who soon discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of films can help him see the truth.
GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY
Glass Onion grossed over $15 million in its one-week theatrical run and has already become one of Netflix’s top three most-watched original movies since launching Dec. 23. Daniel Craig reprises Southern detective Benoit Blanc for a new murder mystery in which the suspects are played by Dave Bautista, Kate Hudson, Edward Norton, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr. and Janelle Monáe whose performance will leave you wanting more. The singer-turned-actresses’ elusive Helen serves as the glue to this murder mystery and she certainly doesn’t disappoint.
AVATAR: THE WATER OF WATER
Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, Avatar: The Way of Water is bountiful and breathtaking. Directed by James Cameron, the long-awaited sequel tells the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure. Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang and Kate Winslet.
The never-before-told story of Mamie Till Mobley’s quest for justice for her son, Emmett Till has finally made it to the big screen. Directed by Chinonye Chukwu and starring Danielle Deadwyler in a pulse pounding performance the film showcases the power of a mothers love like never before. We expect Deadwyler to be amongst the best actress nominees for her moving performance. Rounding out the cast is Whoopi Goldberg, Jalyn Hall, Frankie Faison, Jayme Lawson, Tosin Cole, Kevin Carroll, Sean Patrick Thomas, John Douglas Thompson, Roger Guenveur Smith, and Haley Bennett.
BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever cleared the $800 million mark at the worldwide box office and earned critical acclaim for how it wrestles with the death of Chadwick Boseman. Director Ryan Coogler delivered a lot of emotional suspense with this big budget sequel while paving the way for new characters and storylines – though it’s easily 20 minutes too long. Still, the female led drama, fight sequence, plot twists and tear-jerker ending make it a worth-while watch.
THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN
Set on a remote island off the west coast of Ireland, the film follows lifelong friends Pádraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson), who find themselves at an impasse when Colm unexpectedly puts an end to their friendship. Directed by Martin McDonagh the film is poetic and violently hilarious. Farrell won the best actor prize at the Venice Film Festival, and we expect this film to be amongst contenders for the Oscars as well.
THE WOMAN KING
No other film puts Black women on display quite like The Woman King. Directed by Gina Prince Bythewood, the film tells the story of the Agojie, an all-female unit of warriors who protected the African kingdom of Dahomey in the mid-19th century. Inspired by true events, Viola Davis plays General Nanisca as she trains the next generation of recruits and prepares them for battle against other tribes and colonialism that threaten to destroy their way of life.
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
It’s rare to see a film where you can’t predict what will happen by the end, and rarer still to see one where you can’t predict what will happen from one scene to the next. No surprise it has been a box office force for A24 with over $100 million worldwide. In this unhinged multiverse movie Michelle Yeoh stars as immigrant matriarch Evelyn Wang, who operates a laundromat with husband Raymond (Ke Huy Qua) that’s being audited by the IRS. As if her tax woes weren’t enough, she’s saddled with personal issues too.
Cate Blanchett stars as orchestra conductor extraordinaire Lydia Tбr, a figure so vivid that you could almost believe she’s a real person. She’s not: Writer-director Todd Field and Blanchett created her tyrannical and magnificent persona from imagination. This is an ambitious—and surprisingly funny—film about a complicated, often unlikable woman who works hard and reaches high for what she wants. But it’s also about art as a kind of sustenance—fuel for survival in a sometimes merciless world.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Decision To Leave, The Menu, Nope, Where The Crawdads Sing, Empire of Light