Ranking all 75 new movies I watched in 2022


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Kevin Lynch, Editor-in-Chief

Welp, 2022 has finally come to a close, and while I don’t think its catalogue of films quite hit the highs of some of 2021’s major releases, it was still good to see blockbusters and smaller releases alike back in full force this year. I certainly didn’t get to see every major release I wanted to (looking at you, AMC-pushing-back-the-release-for-“Women Talking”) but I sure did see a lot, so what better way to look forward to a jam-packed 2023 than to waste a few thousand words on everything that came before?

I ranked every new release I saw in 2022 throughout the year (shoutout to the Notes app), and after oh-so-much finagling with the final order, I’ve finally reached about as definitive of a ranking as any of us are gonna get. Even then, there are still tons of spots on here I could be convinced to shift around, and I won’t pretend that my ranking system was anything other than a mix of vibes, quality and utter bias. My list is far from the right one, and I highly encourage anyone to watch and form their own opinions on any movie I’ve ranked; *most* of them are more than worth your time. In fact, it should be stated ahead of time that just because a movie is anywhere outside of the top 20 doesn’t mean that I think it’s necessarily bad; there are just other movies that deserved the higher spot more. With that being said, I will aptly step out of my own way to present to you, in a very particular order, all 75 2022 movies I watched this year.


75. “Marmaduke”


Listen. I can stand up on my little soapbox all day about how “Marmaduke” is the worst movie released this year. I can tell you about how it’s a horrible animated kids’ movie, even by Illumination standards. I can preach about how it’s one of the most unfunny, poorly written and all-around terrible things that my virgin eyes have ever witnessed. But I don’t need to do all that. Instead, I can just tell you that Marmaduke is voiced by none other than Pete Davidson. 


It’s that bad.

74. “Morbius”

Sony Pictures

The acting is awful. The plot is incoherent. The action is lazy. But for a brief, beautiful moment in early April, it was Morbin’ time.

My review: “Morbius” review: the peak of cinema (and my life)

73. “Pinocchio” (The bad one)

Walt Disney Pictures

While it may seem at first like an unimaginative and ultimately harmless cash-grab, Disney’s latest live-action remake leaves so little impact that it might just be the biggest “waste of time” movie released this year. Not even Tom Hanks’ bizarre performance as Geppetto could save this one from the garbage heap it belongs in.

72. “Black Adam”

Warner Bros. Pictures

The sheer mediocrity of “Black Adam” can’t be fully grasped until you witness it for yourself, or rather, fall asleep halfway through for yourself. In spite of its seeming promise to be middle-of-the-road, generic superhero schlock, the movie is surprisingly lame; over a decade after his original casting as the character, Dwayne Johnson is seemingly too cool to actually act in his own movie, a statement that applies to the large majority of the cast as well. Couple this with one of the least engaging and most poorly-thought-out scripts in a superhero movie to date, action scenes without any excitement whatsoever and a truckload of missed potential, and you have yourself a recipe for one of the most “nothing” movies of the year.

71. “Downton Abbey: A New Era”

Focus Features

This movie had no reason whatsoever to exist, and this is coming from someone who sat through six seasons of this show and one prior movie. The only redeemable section of the film is the half-baked queer subplot, but the two miniscule scenes it was given aren’t even much better than the rest of this muddy wreck. It’s likable enough if you enjoy this sort of pandering British fluff, but its existence is perplexing to say the least.

70. “Hotel Transylvania: Transformania”

Sony Pictures Animation

Speaking of perplexing existences, you may be asking yourself: “There’s another ‘Hotel Transylvania’ movie?” Yes, beloved reader, there is another “Hotel Transylvania” movie. While the fun animation makes this a somewhat enjoyable experience on the surface, the fact that this movie just repeats practically the same plot as the rest of the movies in this already-too-long series is frankly embarrassing and not even close to being worth anyone’s time.

69. “Jurassic World: Dominion” 

Universal Pictures

As someone whose favorite all-time movie just so happens to be the original “Jurassic Park,” I can say with confidence that “Dominion” is far and away the worst movie in the franchise, and perhaps one of the most pathetically insulting movies I have ever had the displeasure of seeing. Even the sad, desperate little gasps of mediocrity it achieves by bringing back the original cast members are outweighed by a plot that has no clue what it wants to be and an embarrassingly-unfulfilled premise. 

“Bringing dinosaurs into the rest of the world” feels like it should be a slam dunk storyline for some cheesy, if mediocre, “Jurassic” fun, but if anything, the only thing that this plot device accomplishes is making it slightly easier for the writers to hide their extreme incompetence and gives ample time for the movie to display its banal editing that removes any and all tension and stakes from the action scenes, none of which I cared about anyway with characters this flat and one-note. I can’t in good conscience put it any lower because it is, at least on a surface level, competent, but saying this movie is the “Rise of Skywalker” of the “Jurassic” franchise is, frankly, an insult to “Rise of Skywalker.”

68. “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore”

Warner Bros. Pictures

The third entry in the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise is, at the very least, better than its predecessor. La-di-freakin-da. While the last movie, “The Crimes of Grindelwald,” — more aptly titled, “The Crimes Against Anyone Who Had the Misfortune of Watching This Hunk of Garbage,” — was a miserable, unfun and utterly pointless exercise in milking a brand name for money, “The Secrets of Dumbledore” manages to pull out a mediocre, confusing and ultimately-probably-just-as-pointless follow-up that leaves you feeling confused, if not downright baffled by the end. 

At any given moment, the movie seems incredibly unsure of what emotion it’s trying to convey, and plot points are thrown at you and rushed by so quickly that it’s easy to forget what characters’ motivations are at any given moment. The movie does ultimately manage some interesting and dynamic set pieces, even going so far as to provide the movie with an actual plot to back them up this time, but in the end, nothing the movie does will ever escape the pervading sense of worthlessness it carries throughout. 

67. “Purple Hearts”


“Purple Hearts” is one of the most instantly forgettable movies of the year, offering no substance outside a handful of forced and ultimately unimpactful scenes of cute-if-you-squint romance. There is nothing to love or despise about the rest of the movie; it simply exists, withering away slowly into obscurity in the dusty corners of Netflix’s archives. 

It was, however, better than “Marmaduke.” So there’s that.

66. “Thor: Love and Thunder”

Marvel Studios

If there was an award for “movie that pissed me off the most”… actually, never mind, “Thor: Love and Thunder” wouldn’t even win that one because “Jurassic World: Dominion” easily snatches the title from it. As if I needed further proof this film is a loser.

A tired, derivative and utterly unfun follow-up to one of the MCU’s best movies, Taika Waititi’s second outing in the “Thor” franchise feels like it’s desperately trying to recapture the magic of what it pulled off so effortlessly in “Thor: Ragnarok.” And yes, in “Ragnarok,” I quite enjoyed the movie’s unserious, tongue-in-cheek tone; here, however, the relentless — and I do mean relentless — barrage of jokes fail to land even a third of the time that they are constantly espoused from the characters’ stupid — and I do mean stupid — mouths, giving the movie an awkward tone in which neither its humor nor serious moments can come even close to sticking the landing. 

Natalie Portman’s return as the Mighty Thor is somewhat endearing and certainly the highlight of the movie, but the jokey persona that the script saddles her with feels joltingly out of sync with the serious emotional arc she is given. This arc, along with every other emotional subplot in the film, feels completely unrealized due to the movie’s tendency to simply refuse to allow the characters to go five seconds without cracking some inane witticism, almost like the scriptwriters had a nervous tic where they felt compelled to erase any meaningful emotion from a scene the second the story veers anywhere near actually capitalizing on its untapped potential.

There is much more that I could tear into with this movie, but to dwell on this complete embarrassment of a film any longer feels like a disservice to all of our time. Saying that this movie is “just for fun” when multiple other highly comedic MCU projects like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Ant-Man” and, you guessed it, “Thor Ragnarok” manage to provide funnier and better-placed humor while still containing satisfying character growth is a gross underestimation of the audience’s worth. Marvel fans’ expectations may have been whittled down considerably after being pounded with streaming projects for month after month after month, but for a movie that cost $250 million and grossed over triple that number worldwide, it’s safe to say that we all deserved better than this. 

65. “Ticket to Paradise”

Universal Pictures

While a rom-com starring the combined star power of George Clooney and Julia Roberts set in Bali sounds like it should be an easy slam-dunk, “Ticket to Paradise” felt overwhelmingly… off. It’s a movie that is oh-so-blatantly made for 50-plus-year-old white people to go to the theater to laugh and point at the screen and say, “OMG! They are so me!” that it comes off as incredibly awkward for anyone not in on the culturally-relativist joke. The stars’ charisma is still a pleasant highlight, however, and the plot is just competent enough that I can’t in good conscience put it any lower, but as a whole the film is boring at best and majorly uncomfortable at worst.

64. “Uncharted”

Sony Pictures

Even as someone with a very minimal knowledge of the “Uncharted” video game franchise, I can tell you with confidence that Tom Holland is many things, but Nathan Drake is certainly not one of them. Despite being horribly miscast, however, Holland does at least share some fun banter with Mark Whalberg, tiresome and uninteresting as it may be, elevating the movie oh-so-slightly from being a tedious and unoriginal action movie to being a tedious and unoriginal action movie with Mark Whalberg.

63. “Minions: The Rise of Gru”

Universal Pictures

“Minions: The Rise of Gru” is everything “Morbius” wishes it was: despite being consistently clowned on and memed, the Illumination sequel actually manages to provide a fun and, for the most part, engaging kids movie that feels less emblematic of the typical annoying Minions humor than one might expect going in. Does it have a reason to exist? No. Does it have any real artistic merit? No. Would my eight-year-old self have enjoyed it? Probably, yeah. It may not offer much to anyone thoroughly exhausted by these babbling yellow Tic Tacs, but as a whole, it manages to shine as one of the year’s most pleasant surprises.

62. “Kimi”

Warner Bros. Pictures

Ahh, “Kimi.” How dost thou baffle me? Let me count the ways… While far from a bad movie, this film attempts the extreme taboo of being a “COVID-era thriller,” a plotline that is as contrived and uncomfortable as one might expect. The cinematography is at times interesting and Zoe Kravitz is clearly bringing her best — blue wig and all — but the movie’s disjointed plot and themes leave it feeling more like an awkward student film than a fully-fledged concept.

61. “Lightyear”

Walt Disney Pictures

Despite the potential of the premise of Pixar making a bold, stunningly-animated space adventure starring Buzz Lightyear, “Lightyear” is a surprisingly mediocre, half-hearted attempt that has more under-baked elements than an unfinished crème brûlée. Disney and Pixar have become notorious for popularizing the “twist villain” archetype in their movies, and this film’s execution of the trope may in fact be the most baffling use case yet. Outside of this, the movie is never given time to satisfyingly develop any of the themes it establishes, and its cast of characters — outside of the adorable robotic cat Sox, of course — never manages to land anywhere close to memorable. The movie has some interesting set-up, but very clearly has no idea where to take it, causing it to devolve into uninteresting Star-Wars-esque fluff by the time it reaches its underwhelming conclusion.

60. “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent”


Carried tremendously on the backs of stars Nic Cage and Pedro Pascal, “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” works best when it’s focusing on the two leads’ relationship and letting the actors have fun in their roles. Outside of this, however, it spends too long attempting to be a light-hearted action-comedy that somehow takes itself less seriously than it should and yet still manages to somehow be not comedic enough. As an ode to the career and talent of Nic Cage, it works, but it would have benefited greatly were it not caged in the expectations of a modern Hollywood blockbuster.

59. “The Woman King”

Sony Pictures

The best way to describe “The Woman King” is that it feels like an endless tug-of-war between a PG and R rating; on one hand, it depicts brutal warfare and violence, as well as the horrors of slavery, but by the end it feels bafflingly more in line with the sunshine-and-roses plot of a Disney movie than an actual historical drama. The first act — where the movie takes its time setting up characters and having fun montaging through their training — is a highlight, but after this the film bogs itself down with so many uninteresting and contrived plotlines that one begins to wonder whether the movie was actually ever interesting in the first place. 

On top of this, attempting to make a movie in which the main characters go to war with swords, knives and spears work with a bloodless PG-13 rating comes across as incredibly stilted and squanders any real urgency or excitement during the action scenes. Viola Davis and Lashana Lynch’s performances are both praiseworthy, but the script and plot that they are laden with feels so watered-down that any potential it has for greatness is quickly squandered.

58. “The Tinder Swindler”


I’ve never been one to obsess over crime media, true or otherwise, but even I have to admit that this look into the exploits of a slimy Tinder con man was more than a little interesting, and the documentary’s production value left nothing to be desired, either. As admittedly repetitive and over-dramatized as the whole affair is, I can’t say I wasn’t thoroughly invested throughout. 

57. “Not Okay”

Searchlight Pictures

Ever had one of those days where you didn’t feel like going to school, so you lied to your parents and pretended to be deathly ill just to get the day off, only to find that staying home wasn’t worth the price of all the lying? This is the plight of Danni Sanders as she fakes a trip to Paris for clout and is caught in a surprisingly intricate web of lies when she accidentally becomes a “victim” of a terrorist attack in “Not Okay.” In spite of being a terrible, terrible, simply awful person, Danni is a fun protagonist to watch, and the movie’s combination of a reverse-survivor’s-guilt narrative and a sign-of-the-times commentary proves especially interesting to watch, even if it gets a bit old after a while. The social commentary suffers the same fate; it’s interesting to a point, after which it gets tiresome and one can’t help but wish that the movie would pull another trick out of its fake-trauma-ridden sleeve.

56. “Don’t Worry Darling”

Warner Bros. Pictures

Welp, turns out Harry Styles fans had a lot to be worried about with this movie; while on its surface, it may seem like a well-polished, well-written thriller, “Don’t Worry Darling” is more of a cheap shell used to disguise a poorly-conceived and bizarrely uneven film, one that only gets worse the more you think about it. The movie’s passable and at-times-interesting setup may trick viewers into thinking that it has something to say, but with a final twist that somehow tries too hard without ever even trying at all, any intrigue that the movie halfheartedly developed is swept away as if it never existed in the first place. The interesting visuals, authentic set design and strong acting displays by Florence Pugh and Chris Pine (maybe next year, Harry) are enough to carry the movie relatively far. Still, there’s only so much Style that the movie can pack in before things get Harry.

Podcast review by Juliet Aquino: https://open.spotify.com/episode/10YlhlSzW8VMnRqvTw2SXF?si=86d1d6142c774b4a

55. “See How They Run”

Searchlight Pictures

For being such a straightforward whodunit, “See How They Run” is certainly one of the oddest movies released this year. Despite poking fun at every murder-mystery trope in the (Agatha Christie) book, the film still seems utterly steadfast in its identity as a mediocre and odd spin on the genre. There are few films I would truly consider to be “B-tier,” but this movie is as good an example as any. While it keeps things short, the movie seems to buffer in place for long stretches at a time, and when it does finally manage an interesting twist, it’s untwisted faster than you can say “pretzel.” The performances are fine enough, to be sure, but there’s no escaping the feeling that the movie was made solely to be shoved into theaters to attract whatever placid muder-mystery-enjoying moviegoers it could before the release of “Glass Onion.”

54. “Wendell and Wild”


When people complain that they don’t like stop-motion animation, movies like “Wendell and Wild” are what gives me some understanding why. Despite having a brilliantly fun premise, a star-studded voice cast — including Key and Peele as the titular demonic brothers — and Henry Selick, the man who practically wrote the book on stop-motion with “Coraline” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” behind the wheel, the spooky Netflix release is undoubtedly a miss. 

The movie is consistently plagued by a messy and unfocused plot and, most egregiously of all, low-energy animation that conveys absolutely zero tension or emotion, even in moments where the movie is desperately trying to scrape some together. It’s hard to complain when movies with this level of uniqueness — let alone stop-motion ones — are rare, but “Wendell and Wild’s” failure to live up to virtually any expectations is disappointing to say the least.

53. “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special”

Marvel Studios

While I’m hard-pressed to find any reason that Marvel’s two Disney+ Special Presentations this year don’t count as movies, by virtue of their structure, I can’t find it in me to rank them very high. In that vein, James Gunn’s bite-sized holiday romp with the Guardians is certainly nothing offensive or bad, though it pales in comparison to most other additions to this list. 

Outside of its all-too-short 40-minute runtime dragging it down its potential greatly, there are many jokes that don’t land and scenes that feel like needless filler, distracting from the otherwise cozy holiday sentiment. In spite of these gripes, however, it’s basically a proven fact that any outing with the Guardians is going to be a good time, simply by virtue of the intensely fun character dynamics and writing, and it’s hard to be mad at the opportunity for one last Guardians adventure before the characters’ final sendoff. 

52. “Violent Night”

Universal Pictures

While I hate to seem like a scrooge with back-to-back Christmas entries in the back half of the ranking, it’s hard to dislike “Violent Night,” even in spite of its many unfortunate flaws. David Harbour as a worn-down and disgruntled Santa Claus is quite simply one of the best castings of the year, and anytime his character is on-screen the movie is guaranteed to be a sleighful of bloody, cuss-ridden fun. In terms of the rest, however, awkwardly paced editing in combination with a script that is nowhere near as funny as it seems to think it is makes almost every scene that doesn’t contain this “Die Hard”-ified Santa a slog to get through. The action is incredibly fun, and the use of almost every possible piece of Christmas iconography — even a plastic baby Jesus — as a weapon makes this a more than unique enough holiday action flick to warrant a watch, even in spite of the mediocrity it’s entrenched in.

51. “Do Revenge”


While “Do Revenge” might not “Do anything” too special with its fairly tried and true premise, it still makes for an enjoyable enough watch, albeit one with surprisingly little to fill its runtime with. The movie’s largest flaw is that its plot takes an unnecessarily hefty number of twists and turns, none of which are all too interesting enough to warrant being included, especially when the movie doesn’t seem too keen on actually deviating that far from its original, untwisted premise. It still has its moments, however, and there are multiple fun performances littered throughout that keep things consistently entertaining, but even with low expectations going in, it feels like they could have “Do(ne) better.”

50. “Werewolf By Night”

Marvel Studios

Even though it was released just a little over a month after its official announcement, “Werewolf By Night” was easily my most anticipated Marvel project of the year. A cheesy, bloody, black-and-white Halloween special inspired by classic monster movies? Don’t mind if I do! While this special is equally affected by its all-too-short runtime, it’s hard not to love a project with so much love and care put into every morsel of its production, and it makes for a howling good time in the end. I’d be lying if I said that I thought the vintage aesthetic was used to its fullest potential, but in this case, the attempt in itself is more than unique enough to justify watching.

49. “Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood”


A nostalgic tribute to the ‘60s, “Apollo 10½” provides a fun and undeniably captivating look into life through the eyes of a kid growing up in an era of technological wonder. Jack Black’s narration as the main character Sam keeps things engaging throughout, though things get markedly less fun when it cuts to a subplot about Sam’s supposed “top-secret” moon mission, an addition that feels surprisingly tacked-on in order to give the movie some sense of overarching “plot” to keep things moving forward, and when tacked onto a movie that, in reality, seems to only want to tell lighthearted childhood stories, the outcome is vastly uneven. It succeeds in pursuit of the latter, to be sure, but the overall unbalanced plot drags down an otherwise enjoyable, concise story.

48. “DC League of Super-Pets”

Warner Bros. Pictures

While “DC League of Super-Pets” doesn’t do much outside of what one might expect for an animated kids movie with super-powered pets, the film manages to pack in some unexpected humor and emotion throughout. Yes, the kid-oriented humor might take precedence, but with low expectations going in, it’s an engaging and heartfelt movie through and through, nothing more, nothing less.


47. “The House”


“The House” has a very important lesson to impart on the viewer (namely, me): a “dark” comedy does not, in fact, imply that the film is a comedy with “dark humor”; it apparently implies that the film will be utterly terrifying and soul-wrenching, challenging your sense of sanity for every second that it remains on your screen until it mercifully ends long after the point when you wished it would. 

While it certainly wasn’t what I went in expecting (or wanting), it’s hard not to give credit where it’s due for this three-part stop-motion anthology; the sheer creativity and passion on display is commendable and certainly does its job throughout. And even though I might not personally enjoy the unsettling, disturbing and all-around creepy final product, I’ll settle for giving it a pat on the back, shoving it into a middle-of-the-road placement and then promptly forgetting about it as quickly as possible.

46. “Death on the Nile”

20th Century Studios

It may not be the flashiest or best-acted movie of the year, but to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the latest Kenneth Brannaugh-helmed Hercule Poirot movie would be an understatement. The “Murder on the Orient Express” sequel cranks up the suspense and intrigue from the original, providing an ultimately satisfying conclusion with plenty of twists and turns along the way. The boat-centric setting proves to be great fun when it comes to foiling the master detective, and all of the side characters serve to make this an intensely enjoyable, if forgettable, murder-mystery romp.

My review: “Death on the Nile” Review – Killing in Style

45. “Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers”

Walt Disney Pictures

Yep, it’s one of those movies. While “Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers” certainly promises to be yet another in a recent string of soulless studio cash grabs like “Ready Player One” and “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” siphoning off of audience’s nostalgia for classic Disney animated characters, the Disney+ release manages to surpass any and all expectations, delivering a fun and swashbuckling adventure that packs in more than meets the eye. Not every joke or emotional beat may land, but more often than not they do, making this a perfectly enjoyable, if surprisingly crass, family movie.

44. “Bullet Train”

Sony Pictures

“Shoot to thrill,” is certainly the motto of this high-octane, high-energy action flick; while it certainly contains several promising ideas and admittedly dumb-fun moments, however, “Bullet Train” feels far too bogged down in trying to replicate the reliably jokey format of “Deadpool” or “Suicide Squad” rather than leaning into any of the strengths it already possesses. Were it something more akin to a high-speed murder-mystery rather than a rather clumsy attempt at an action comedy I could likely find it in me to be kinder, but its clear missed potential derails much of the fun. 

43. “Sonic the Hedgehog 2”

Paramount Pictures

Despite being your resident “never really got into ‘Sonic’ games” guy, even I could tell that “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” was something special. A certified crowd-pleaser for general audiences and diehard fans alike, the sequel to the 2020 original is an improvement in almost every conceivable way; it doubles the number of classic Sonic characters present and leans heavily into its video-gamey roots while still retaining the charming family fun of the original. Sure, some useless subplots and characters are certainly far more fleshed out than they ever should have been, but the sheer catharsis of seeing such a faithful, fun and lovingly crafted adaptation of the blue blur on the big screen means that my smaller gripes ultimately ring hollow.

42. “Breaking”

Bleecker Street

If you had told me a month ago that one of the most gripping dramas of the year would spend roughly 90 minutes exclusively in a Wells Fargo, I would have called you crazy. And yet, “Breaking” manages to pull this feat off with a compelling and smartly told story of a man who holds a bank hostage after being screwed over by the system and driven to desperation. John Boyega’s performance is the highlight of the film, and his characterization does wonders to help the viewer empathize with his character; the only thing holding it back is that, because it’s based on a true story, it’s not as evenly paced as it needed to be given the capacity for monotony that lies with such a simple premise, dragging down what would otherwise be a powerful story. 

41. “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”

The Roku Channel

After literal decades of parodying almost every song known to man, in hindsight, it was only inevitable that Weird Al would eventually arrive at the magnum opus of his career: a parody of his own life. With a slick production value, a plethora of celebrity cameos and, of course, Daniel Radcliffe in the titular role, “Weird” has all the makings of a stereotypical Hollywood-produced musical biopic. The twist, of course, is that this movie is almost entirely a complete fabrication; in fact, it would hardly be a surprise to learn that the movie’s writers simply blended every living musician’s Wikipedia entries into one big mush, touched it up a bit and created a feature film out of it. 

While “Weird” can in fact feel like it leans a bit too hard into the ham-fisted “generic musician backstory” side of things rather than highlighting its own, well, weirdness, the prevailing feeling that every scene is just one big inside joke between the filmmakers and the audience is a formula that’s simply too fun to not work. Daniel Radcliffe is also simply a joy to watch, and his performance truly sells many of the movie’s most bizarre moments, cementing what can only be described as one of the most unpredictably fun watches of the year.

40. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”

Marvel Studios

Ryan Coogler’s sequel to his 2018 hit certainly had a lot to live up to, being forced to work as a continuation of the original’s world and characters, a set-up for future projects and, of course, a fitting tribute to Chadwick Boseman, and whether or not it lives up to these standards it sets for itself is arguable. The movie certainly takes itself much more seriously than the average MCU project; it’s refreshing to see a superhero movie that gives its characters and themes the room to breathe they deserve, rather than cramming them in as an afterthought in order to justify its action scenes. 

And while the movie’s strong first half does more than enough to fulfill the need for a satisfying and meaningful story, this initial promise quickly begins to dwindle in the second half, as the already-long movie begins to feel like it’s trying to play catch-up to reach the climactic and action-packed third act that was mandated of it. Unfortunately, the second that the movie begins to slip, its flaws likewise become more and more apparent; unnecessary plotlines and characters become even more glaring, and the strong characters and emotion that were present in the beginning begin to blur together with the CGI mud. It’s hard to deny that “Wakanda Forever” is one of the most unique and well-made Marvel movies of the past several years, but its promising aspects make its shortcomings all the more disappointing. It’s a more-than-worthy sequel to the original and a touching sendoff to Boseman, but unlike a real cat, it doesn’t quite land on its feet. 

39. “Three Thousand Years of Longing”


In spite of the admittedly eye-popping visuals and interesting, fairy-tale-like stories weaved throughout, “Three Thousand Years of Longing” feels stuck in a limbo between being as complex and thought-provoking as it has the potential to be and as fun and entertaining as it seems to want to be. Without committing further in either direction, however, the movie is an enjoyable, quality time that unfortunately keeps most of its potential bottled up throughout.

Read more in my admittedly-more-positive-at-the-time review: “Three Thousand Years of Longing” Review: Bizarre genie tale rubs the right way

38. “The Bad Guys”

Dreamworks Animation Studios

Remember earlier how I said that nobody really likes the trend of the “Space Jammification” of movies? Well, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, the “Spiderversification” of animated movies is just as real, and it needed to happen yesterday. What this means for those unacquainted with the concept is that animation studios like Dreamworks are beginning to borrow heavily from the fluid and expressive animation style pioneered by Sony in “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and “The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” a phenomenon that is clearly visible in Dreamworks’ output this year, “The Bad Guys” and “Puss In Boots: The Last Wish” (and yes, there will be a quiz). 

While the animation is indeed as shiny and fun as advertised, the story of “The Bad Guys,” though certainly nothing special, managed to pack a lot more charm and wit than anticipated, and even familiar kids’ movie tropes felt at least a little more fresh and exciting than they by all rights should have. It’s certainly no “Spider-Verse,” but the movie far surpasses any expectations I had going in, and it’s a more than fun enough experience to warrant recommending.

37. “The Whale”


For every other entry on this list, my placement of each movie has lined up almost entirely with what I perceive its quality to be. Sure, some personal bias plays into things, as it always will, but that bias almost always trends in the positive direction, and at the end of the day, who’s gonna complain about me giving movies a little extra love? Well, “The Whale” is probably the only notable outlier to that trend; if I had my way, this movie would be placed far higher. In fact, if I judged this movie solely off of some of the extremely resounding and emotional moments throughout, it could have even cracked the top 10. But then I remember what the movie is about. I remember the obscene amount of prosthetics it slaps onto Brendan Frasier. I remember the scenes of the main character gorging himself on pizza that he covered in mayo and ham. And then I remember that it is not very good.

“The Whale” is a disgusting movie, and not just for the things I just mentioned; out of all the stupid, contrived hooks to give a movie, who in their right mind thought that “morbidly obese Brendan Frasier” would be the right pick? And while this might seem like a minor nitpick, believe me when I say that everything in the film is swallowed up by this totally ill-conceived and unflatteringly-executed premise: the brilliant script? The strong characters? Genuinely some of the greatest performances put to screen this year? All wasted, because this movie just reaaaally needed to be about a fat guy. Obviously, this isn’t really anyone’s fault; the film is based off of a play, after all, but something about the way that the movie portrays its main character is so undoubtedly off-putting that it ruins the movie in ways I can’t even begin to describe.

In spite of this, however, the movie’s themes are beautifully handled, and Hong Chau, Sadie Sink and Frasier are all acting like their lives depend on it; hell, the movie even squeezed some tears out of me with its incredibly touching ending. I just wish that the movie wasn’t so heavily tainted by so many, for lack of a better term, offensive scenes that just made me audibly groan in the theater. “The Whale” truly isn’t a bad film, and these off-putting moments didn’t even take me out of the experience; they simply served to reinforce the fact that the movie is too tightly tied to its own awful creative decisions to ever be anything greater than the sum of its parts.

36. “Prey”

20th Century Studios

While anyone familiar with the modern movie industry knows that continuations of long-running, recognizable series like “Predator” have the propensity to be lazily-executed, churned-out products that leave fans of the original burned and divided, the recent Hulu release smartly sets itself apart from mainline “Predator” movies in a number of clever and intriguing ways, using its preexisting franchise ties as a vessel to tell an interesting and original story that couldn’t have been told otherwise rather than simply cashing in on a recognizable brand name.

Like, a movie set in the 18th century Great Plains where an unproven Comanche girl seeking to become a warrior must use all her wits and skills to survive alone during the first ever Predator hunt on Earth?? Even as someone who has yet to even see any of the previous “Predator” movies, you had better believe I was hooked from the start. The movie’s overall narrative might follow largely predictable beats, but it still provides a varied number of action set pieces and all sorts of slashy Predator fun that exceeds all expectations one might possibly have going in. Between all of these combined elements, “Prey” makes for an unquestionably great time for both franchise veterans and newcomers alike; for anyone looking for an engaging and fun action thriller to watch now, well, let’s just say your prey-ers have been answered. 

35. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”

Marvel Studios

If there were ever an argument for modern MCU movies feeling stale and visionless in comparison to their other blockbuster counterparts, Sam Raimi’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is it. The sequel is simply bursting at times with creative shots, transitions and, more than anything else, color. The vibrant, expressive nature of the movie is a breath of fresh air, even amidst the semi-generic MCU tropes, setups and cameos present, and I’m hard-pressed to think of any other Marvel project that has had tangible, noticeable editing choices made throughout that enhance the story perfectly. 

The plot feels ripped right out of the likes of Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2,” telling a winding multiversal tale that still manages to remain entirely human at its core. It may fumble somewhat in delivering its themes, but their inclusion in the first place speaks volumes about the movie’s more personal nature and commitment to trying something new, confined as it may be. Call me crazy, but I greatly appreciated seeing a comic-book movie where the characters’ development continues throughout the entirety of the movie, rather than being put on pause for exposition dumps and action scenes. It also wears its comic-booky silliness as a badge of honor, leaning into the craziness even further rather than trying to restrain itself for the sake of realism, and even in spite of its more intense and horror-focused approach, the movie is nothing if not fun.

While it doesn’t quite succeed at what it’s trying to accomplish, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” at the very least, succeeds at trying, and when a movie is doing as much new and original work as this is, nitpicking and tearing down its flaws rather than raising up its strengths, in my mind, would be madness.

34. “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie”


As a huge fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles growing up, I was initially disappointed by the announcement of the “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” show; after all, I grew up on the 4Kids show, and seeing another take on the characters that seemed to embrace the energetic, quip-heavy energy of many other modern kids shows after the similar approach of the Nickelodeon show came as something of a disappointment. However, upon checking out the Netflix-released movie based on the show, I can officially say that I ate my words almost as much as I ate up this simply delightful take on the Turtles.

The animation, to start, is leagues better than one might expect going in, and it’s easy to accept the more frenetic tone when the animation has just as much fluidity to match. The story, a very clear nod to the classic “X-Men: Days of Future Past” plotline, is almost exactly what one would hope to see from a Turtles movie, and while the characters are certainly off-kilter from their usual portrayals, it’s easy enough to move past the changes and just keep rolling with the fun. The movie manages to provide the familiar feelings evoked by TMNT adaptations of yore in tandem with its own additions to the franchise that feel more than at home; if that weren’t enough, it all culminates in a third act that may go down in history as the single greatest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequence of all time, taking place in perhaps the best TMNT movie of all time to boot.

33. “All Quiet on the Western Front”


If you have seen “1917,” you have seen a better version of this movie; there, I said it. Make no mistake, “All Quiet on the Western Front” is a very well-made movie with lots of craft and care put into its creation. Its powerful anti-war theme is properly highlighted in horrifying and uncomfortable ways, and the acting showcased is undoubtedly impressive. It’s a shame, then, that all of this effort is spent on a movie that feels so underwhelming in the end; blame whatever you want — the two-and-a-half-hour runtime, the depressing story, etc. — but I find it immensely difficult to connect with anything in this otherwise-solid movie.

Read copy editor PJ O’Grady’s review: “All Quiet on the Western Front” hits the mark

32. “EO”

Skopia Films

This was perhaps the farthest I traveled this year in order to watch a movie. 

A movie about a donkey. That makes sense, right?

Eo, an innocent, gray little donkey, goes through a series of misadventures in this bizarre yet visually impressive film; “misadventures” might be a bit off considering how bleak and decidedly unfun the entire journey is, but the titular fluffy four-legged fiend is most certainly as cute as advertised, and he makes for an undeniably sympathetic set of dopey brown eyes with which to view the story from. The visuals strike an impressive middle ground between being artistic and impressive while still being clear and readable, and these visually striking scenes combine with the powerful (if overly intense) score to create an engrossing and wholly original experience.

The story, on the other hand, feels questionable; many of the scenarios that Eo wanders into arguably revolve too much around other characters rather than Eo himself, and while this is a fair choice in many cases, the premise of the story “taking place through his eyes” kind of falls apart when it’s largely never clear what reaction, if any, Eo has to the many things he experiences. Yes, this examination of innocence is complex and interesting, but it never feels like it connects in the heart-wrenching and emotionally resonant way that it should. That said, the way all of these details are created and shot is simply too brilliant to ignore, and I can certainly appreciate the ambition and talent that went into the project, even if it didn’t quite work for me.

31. “Brian and Charles”

Focus Features

When you think about it for long enough, “Brian and Charles” follows a pretty hackneyed trope: a lonely inventor accidentally brings a “robot” to life, forging a bond as the two overcome their initial hurdles and disagreements. But while it might seem like an awfully plain and dull idea for a film, the chemistry between the two — especially the bumbling yet extremely endearing inventor Brian — surpasses the limitations of the predictable plot and makes for a playfully fun experience; the acting and writing are both entertaining and believable, and the sincere yet simple nature of the story does an excellent job of highlighting the movie’s strengths. In the end, it’s still not quite enough to overlook the fact that the story feels like it’s been done before in about a thousand kids’ movies, but its sheer charm (in addition to its unexpectedly strong cinematography) carry it farther than you might expect.

30. “Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical”


I’ll level with you all right now; “Matilda” has never been my favorite Roald Dahl story. Even in spite of the timelessly whimsical nature of the story, I’ve always been much more of a “Fantastic Mr. Fox” or “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” kinda guy. However, even though I wasn’t expecting much from a Netflix adaptation of this fairly one-note story, much less a musical one, I was pleasantly surprised by how thoroughly enjoyable this film was. In the end, “Matilda’s” story is simply a perfect recipe for rekindling lost feelings of childhood wonder and rebellion, ideas complimented perfectly by the enjoyable performances and largely catchy and uplifting musical numbers throughout. 

If the movie can be faulted for anything, however, it’s its tendency to make all the flaws of the original story even more apparent. The ending is now even more rushed and poorly built-up-to than usual, some characters are uncharacteristically sidelined and the plot as a whole is just as disjointed and loosely connected as ever. These complaints, however, pale in comparison to the absolute joy that the movie manages to convey, delivering a surprising amount of childlike fun while still holding its own as a unique, if flawed, adaptation.

29. “White Noise”


Most of the time, you want movies with scripts that sound true-to-life; like something could be said by any ordinary person, regardless of whether they’re in a movie or not. But other times, you just want whatever the hell is going on in “White Noise.” With a tone that is equal parts sci-fi and social commentary, Noah Baumbach’s adaptation of this bizarre yet compelling story is an intriguing, wholly original tale, one elevated tremendously by the uncanny dialogue and convincing performances. Adam Driver shines as the lead, in addition to co-stars Greta Gerwig, Don Cheadle and especially Raffey Cassidy, all of whom elevate the odd script with performances that add equal parts tension, humor and humanity to every scene. “White Noise” is nothing if not unique, and while it’s debatable as to whether it successfully pays off all of its intriguing set-up in the third act, it’s a valiant, highly watchable effort nonetheless.

28. “Triangle of Sadness”


It’s not difficult to triangulate what makes this movie so great; it’s an hilarious, bizarre and extremely-on-point portrayal of the dynamic between the working and the upper class, topped off with a brilliant and dynamic cast to boot. However, while it serves a scathingly funny comedy and a fresh and original social commentary, its structure as a whole is dodgy, with several large shifts in tone and focus that can make things hard to follow and make seemingly important scenes and characters feel obsolete in retrospect. That’s all part of the fun, though, as while the film’s plot is nigh unpredictable at points, the overall tone, writing and themes stay consistent throughout, making it easy to simply strap in and enjoy the ride. All of the actors are delightful in each of their caricatured roles, and the fast-paced, tight script that they’re given means you’ll never get sea-sick of watching, even given the movie’s moderately long runtime. 

27. “Entergalactic”


“An animated romance movie by Kid Cudi” was probably the last genre that I would expect to crack this echelon of the list, but here we — and “Entergalctic” — are. The movie’s Spider-verseified animation (see, I told you the vocab would be useful) is both noticeable and stylish, carrying the movie to unexpected heights; the film’s presentation is truly a treat to behold, and it keeps otherwise-less-interesting scenes engaging and fun. The romantic chemistry between the two leads likewise does an impressive amount of legwork making the story believable, and even a certified non-romcom enjoyer™ I found myself smiling and tearing up multiple times throughout for this admittedly predictable romance. Creative visual sequences and storytelling (not to mention Kid Cudi songs) are abundant, unexpectedly elevating the movie beyond the simple “animated romance” that was advertised.


 26.  “A Love Song”

Bleecker Street

On its surface, “A Love Song” is an incredibly simple movie, one that has surprisingly little to fill its already-short runtime with. However, in spite of its basic and rather cryptic story, the film undeniably has a lot to say about loneliness and the idea of love as a whole. Dale Dickey shines as the lead, especially because she’s left to act on her own for a large chunk of the movie, giving ample time for the movie to build a captivating setting and atmosphere. The film’s charm is chiefly derived from its simple nature, and it does a stellar job at making use of every single element and scene throughout to build its story and flesh out its characters. This may be one of the best examples of simple yet effective setup and payoff all year, and every one of its quirky-yet-heartfelt side characters has an important role to play in the story. Its simple nature may end up working against it when it comes to long-term memorability and overall execution of its themes, but it’s still difficult to not appreciate the “A Love Song” for what it is.


25. “Turning Red”

Walt Disney Pictures

I don’t know about red, but you can bet that pretty much every other Disney and Pixar release this year turned green with envy upon realizing that “Turning Red” is truly one of the best family animated films in the past several years. The movie shows that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel with some massive twist or hook to make a good movie for kids; it beautifully captures whimsical middle school energy by simply embracing all of the awkwardness and cringe from early-2000’s urban life while also adding in a dash of fluffy intrigue just to spice things up. By keeping things simple, Pixar ups the fun and humor while also allowing the movie to focus more on the main character, Mei, and her everyday struggles and experiences. 

It’s certainly appreciated to see Pixar embracing much less plot-focused movies like “Luca” and “Turning Red” as of late, as opposed to something like “Lightyear,” giving the viewer more time to connect with characters and for plot points to sink in fully. It doesn’t quite stick the landing, offering an emotional resolution that feels surprisingly half-hearted and unfinished in spite of the excellent job the movie does laying the groundwork for it. While, as internet reaction has proven, the movie isn’t for everyone, it’s simply impossible for me not to love a movie bursting with this much charm and heart (and fluffiness).

Read former editor-in-chief Alyssa Schulz’s review: Disney Pixar’s “Turning Red:” a refreshing new take


24. “After Yang”


The fact that Colin Farell has three movies in my top 25 should speak wonders to his obscene success this year, and even my least favorite of the bunch is no exception. With its abstract sci-fi setting and plot about human-like androids serving as emotional support in families, one might expect “After Yang” to soon devolve into an action-y, “Blade Runner”-esque sci fi story, or at the very least some sort of high-tech thriller like *shudder* “Kimi.” However, rather than pushing its plot into a direction shrouded in CGI blandness, the movie uses its odd setting and worldbuilding as a commentary on the human condition, with Yang — the family’s now-defunct AI companion — providing an interesting and unexpectedly personal perspective on what makes life special.

That might sound hokey, but through its unconventional story structure and contemplative atmosphere, the movie manages to weave countless themes into its relatively simple narrative. Many, if not all, of these ideas are left mostly unexplored, simply acting as questions poked at by the sincere acting and storytelling; while it might be largely unfulfilling, the movie still has a strong idea of what it wants to say and how it wants to say it. The plot points connecting these emotional moments together certainly aren’t as interesting or fleshed-out as they could be, but it’s largely a worthwhile concession for a film that’s this strongly convicted in its thematic identity. 


23. “Petite Maman”


Short and sweet is the name of the game in this surprisingly heartwarming exploration of childhood and grief, with the central narrative hinging off the relationship between two tiny girls who connect while playing in the woods. While the emotional themes probably didn’t connect with me as well as they probably should have (I spent over half the movie afraid that the second girl was about to transform a demon or undergo some equally horrifying twist), the dynamic between these two tiny girls playing innocently in the forest undoubtedly makes for some of the most universally enjoyable scenes created this year.

When the emotion hits, it really hits, but for the remainder of the film it feels like it dedicates too much of its all-too-short runtime to developing themes and outside relationships that don’t work quite as well as the main one advertised. However, the movie is simply too darn poignant and moving to deny it all the praise it so rightfully deserves; it may not sound like much, but believe me when I tell you that having two 8-year-old girls mucking about in a forest is far more enjoyable and emotionally moving than it has any right to be.


22. “The Menu”

Searchlight Pictures

If there’s one thing that can be said for this fine-dining-centric horror movie, it’s this: it eats. Ralph Fiennes delivers a delectable performance that is both chilling and yet oddly sympathetic, serving up death and horror in ways that are both entertainingly campy and bizarrely chilling. The entire cast is most certainly having a blast chewing up the script, and while it might not seem like the most appetizing watch, it subverted any and all expectations I had going in and creates a recipe for a definite crowd-pleaser. A movie that manages to be this fun and surprising feels surprisingly rare, and it makes for such a ridiculously fun time that the chance to watch it again for the first time sounds mouth-watering.

My review: ‘The Menu’ review – Compliments to the chef


21. “Fire of Love”

National Geographic Documentary Films

While describing a “National Geographic documentary about volcanologists” might not inspire much interest for the average non-STEM-inclined viewer, “Fire of Love” is an utterly beautiful love letter to curiosity, passion and nature that will give you a completely new perspective on volcanoes and life in general. The lives of Katia and Maurice Krafft are told in a bold and spellbinding way that uses hundreds of hours of archived footage from the explorers’ studies of countless volcanoes around the world, providing for some of the most surprising and utterly gorgeous visual images put to screen this year. Things may get a little repetitive, but the unexpectedly incredible imagery and undeniably fascinating story of the two researchers is more than enough to warrant overcoming the semi-redundancy throughout. 


20. “Babylon”

Paramount Pictures

Much like the era of 1920’s Hollywood it portrays, “Babylon” is a wild, unfocused and surprisingly earnest film that manages to capture a certain sense of special magic; it’s hard to say whether the movie’s successes come as a result of the aforementioned inanity or in spite of it, but it somehow achieves its desired effect regardless. The performances are a standout, with Diego Calva, Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt all managing to win you over almost immediately, and the additions of Li Jun Li and Jovan Adepo, while criminally underused, are highlights as well. The film’s visual flair — seen through its vivid color grade and frenetic minute-long takes that zoom through chaotic movie sets with reckless abandon — is easily another one of its strengths, and director Damien Chazelle is certainly giving it his all. 

The writing, however, is another matter entirely; individual scenes and character arcs are often superb, with Pitt’s enigmatic yet tragic portrayal of soon-to-be-washed-up movie star Jack Conrad being a surprising emotional gut punch, but the overall structure and plot are so off-puttingly bizarre that one can’t help but wonder how many of the insane structural decisions were purposeful and which were a result of trimming down this already-three-hour-long movie. This is even more noticeably baffling when it comes to Jun Li and Adepo, whose interesting characters are simply squandered by the crowd of plotlines and themes happening all at once. The film hits a certain point where the plot seems to dive into self-parody, only to pop right back up and deliver some of the best moments in the film back-to-back; there are a dozen plotlines and characters fighting for attention at once, and the plethora of inconsistent time jumps throughout do it no favors.

“Babylon” is so wildly uneven that I could go on for paragraphs about how simply ridiculous many of its creative decisions are. On the other hand, it’s nothing if not profoundly engaging; its message about “the power of cinema” is heavy-handed and delivered from an embarrassingly obvious twenty-first century point of view, but it still lands nevertheless. The same can be said for the rest of the writing, as while it’s often just bogged down in its overabundance of story, when scenes hit, they really hit, and it’s hard not to admire the film for the huge swings it takes. In spite of all its decadent craziness, it’s a sad, cynical film that will leave you practically gutted afterward, and if all the tons of (literal) elephant crap layered on top of it were what was needed to get there, then it was well worth it in my eyes.


19. “The Northman”

Focus Features

“The Northman” dares to boldly ask the question that we’ve all been wondering: are Viking movies cool? The resounding answer: yes, yes they are. It may not be the most complicated movie of the year — with a plot that is essentially a copy-paste Scandinavian version of Hamlet — but “The Northman” delivers an intricately crafted experience that feels like an extremely enjoyable watch while still having deep and provocative themes at the same time. Director Robert Eggers, arguably one of the best working visionaries for period-accurate stories like this given his previous work on “The Lighthouse” and “The Witch,” delivers an amazingly authentic tale that pulls no punches and manages to make a compelling action drama without watering down its story to appeal to Western audiences. 

Alexander Skarsgård’s forceful performance — both literally and figuratively — is a highlight, in addition to that of renowned AMC Theaters spokeswoman Nicole Kidman, two of the many actors in this film who are clearly giving their all to tell the story in an emotional and authentic manner. This, in combination with the supreme sense of dramatic weight that Eggers lends behind the camera, provides for an intensely enjoyable viewing experience. Vikings, as it turns out, are pretty darn cool. 


18. “Bodies Bodies Bodies”


Saying that a movie “understands” Gen Z is oftentimes like saying that an Adam Sandler movie is funny: something that’s easily assumed but is rarely the case in actuality. “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” however, surely belongs in the “actuality” camp; blending the genres of whodunit, slasher thriller and comedy creates a movie that somehow feels more #relatable to Gen Z in one scene than any full-length movie could ever dream to be, no matter how many outdated Vine references it throws in. The writers ingeniously blend the inherent drama, fakeness, toxicity and sometimes-literal backstabiness of twenty-first century culture to create a movie with a timelessly fun and murderous story that also feels like it was quite literally written yesterday.

The movie takes a while to really get started, and once the drama and intrigue get a-going it becomes clear how unnecessary the previous character introductions were. This is because the heat of the moment is where “Bodies Bodies Bodies” shines its iPhone flashlight up towards the heavens; meandering and buzzword-ridden conversations that you could swear that you’ve heard before, endless bickering with no clear end in sight, characters inexplicably glued to phones for long periods of time: these moments are where the movie is in its element, and its three-cheese blend of genres mixes into a delightful, steaming hot, murdery queso dip.


17. “Avatar: The Way of Water”

20th Century Studios

A full 13 years after the release of the original “Avatar,” James Cameron returns with a vengeance in the film’s sequel, once again a jaw-dropping visual spectacle that’s here to kick ass, take names and maybe revolutionize the cinema landscape for decades while it’s at it. While the visuals are obviously the movie’s true moneymaker, the film’s story is nothing to sneeze at either; it’s a sequel that uses the mammoth gap between entries to its advantage, opting to take the world the first movie created and center it more around a personal story of the main characters of the original and their new family. While the moment-to-moment plot may fall short on several occasions, as a vehicle to carry the film from one stunning moment to the next, it’s more than effective and packs in a fair amount of strong emotional beats throughout the way. They may not land as well as they probably should for a movie of this length, but the plot seamlessly gets through so much story in the span of one movie that it’s nearly impossible to complain.

The visuals, as expected, knock it out of the park and take the park along with it, creating breathtaking new underwater environments while building upon the gorgeous vistas established in the first film. The movie isn’t just carried by fancy computer-generated graphics alone, however; none of the world would be as impressive without how utterly creative the new worldbuilding is as well. It doesn’t spend as much time bogged down in tiny details like the first movie, allowing it to simply spend the middle portion of the story chucking new idea after new idea at the audience, and they practically all stick like they’re coated in oh-so-much space whale goop. It’s a largely imperfect film, and it probably doesn’t need to be quite as long as it is, but it’s infused with so much passion, energy and raw filmmaking power that it’s an undeniably great watch. If you were someone skeptical of the hype around seeing it in 3D, don’t be; it really is that awesome.


16. “Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio” (the good one)


Even in a year with three different adaptations of “Pinocchio” released (and no, I actually have enough self-respect to not watch the third one), there wasn’t even a question as to whether Guillermo Del Toro would be able to set his stop-motion Netflix release apart from the crowd. Del Toro creates a spellbinding tale, one that’s emotional just as much as it is entertaining; every frame of animation feels lovingly crafted — as indeed it was — and it feels like the characters are reaching through the screen to yank you right into this imaginative and colorful world. Even in its darkest and most serious moments, the film is simply bursting with color and personality, making for one of the most utterly distinct and captivating movies released this year.

It does suffer from some pacing issues, namely several segments that feel as though they could have been easily cut or trimmed to give the movie a slightly-more-digestible runtime, but it’s hard to complain when a longer movie means more time spent in this ingeniously crafted world. The story feels familiar while also adding in many interesting tangents and subplots (Italian facism, anyone?), and its emotional beats will split your heart open like a walnut. Its animation makes it undoubtedly one of the most beautiful films of the year, and the fact that it has a story this magical to boot feels like a dream come true; Del Toro effortlessly puts the Disney version’s embarrassing excuse for a remake to shame, cementing this as the definitive adaptation of the timeless story. 


15. “RRR”


For anyone who may be asking, “Why should I watch some weird Indian movie I’ve never heard of before?” To answer this question, I must pose another: why the hell wouldn’t you? With dynamic camerawork, an instantly iconic cinematic bromance and bombastic action scenes that put almost everything released by Hollywood this year to shame, “RRR” is simply impossible to not recommend. 

The story feels sweeping and epic, and all its fun quirks — like dance numbers and cheesy montages — actually enhance the movie’s enjoyability and never feel too over-the-top considering how utterly bonkers the action is to begin with. It does have a particular romance subplot that 1) just feels wrong and 2) is completely underdeveloped in the third act, and it’s perhaps a bit too grand and windy with a runtime of over three hours, but with this much fun to be had, you won’t see me whining. It’s a wholly entertaining lens into a completely different culture, and for all the insane spectacle it provides, the heart at the center of it all never dwindles for a second. 


14. “Top Gun: Maverick” 

Paramount Pictures

A modern sequel to the original 1986 “Top Gun” — a generic, mediocre-at-best Tom Cruise action flick — felt like it was heading straight for the danger zone, or at the very least the box-office-failure zone. However, with the combined factors of pandemic delays and a supreme word-of-mouth boost, “Top Gun: Maverick” has soared to become the second highest-grossing movie of the year, and for good reason. While I may have little affinity for the original film, “Maverick” still feels undoubtedly warm and nostalgic, and it tackles its characters in a contemplative way that far and away surpasses its source material. Cruise’s Maverick, much like the kind of cheesy, high-thrill blockbuster that he represents, has started to feel increasingly like a relic from a bygone era, and both the story and movie itself are dedicated to rekindling that lost magic and taking both the characters and audience for one more ride into the sunset. 

Sure, it might boil down to just another schlocky, vaguely-propaganda-esque action flick at the end of the day, but it’s impossible to deny that “Maverick” feels like it has something to say, and it has a bombastic, high-flying, high-octane way of saying it. It may drag a bit in the middle and follow some pretty easy-to-spot blockbuster tropes, but even if this movie is one of the last traditional, crowd-pleasing blockbusters we get, then it’s one hell of a swan song. 


13. “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”


“Glass Onion” is a title that should in no way be the name of an actual, feature-length, Hollywood-budget movie, but when you’re Rian Johnson hot off of your success with the original “Knives Out,” it’s safe to say that you can name your movie whatever you damn well please. The follow-up to Johnson’s 2019 hit is a crowd-pleaser to say the least, bringing with it a phenomenal and talented cast, all of whom are playing characters somehow even more outrageous and caricatured than the original. While it may feel a bit watered-down in terms of its subversion of the murder-mystery genre in comparison to its predecessor, it’s hard to mind too much when the sequel replaces this more nuanced genre deconstruction in favor of amping up the fun factor throughout.

Johnson proves that all you need is some talented actors and an incredible script to make a movie that practically anyone can enjoy; its mystery still has plenty of twists and turns, too, making its runtime go by in no time flat. It’s certainly nothing genre-defining, but it sets out to entertain, and it goes above and beyond in this regard while also keeping the audience on their toes. If Johnson wants to spend the rest of his career penning oddly-named detective stories of the same caliber as “Glass Onion,” then I for one am not going to complain. 


12. “Aftersun”


Despite all of the praise that I’ve heaped (and will undoubtedly continue to heap) onto movies at this end of the list, I can say with confidence that “Aftersun” is the one movie in my top dozen that didn’t really connect with me. Yes, yes, blasphemous, I know. With its rich, moving portrayal of childhood memories of a young girl’s vacation with her father, the film’s depiction of the two’s relationship through deceptively simple scenes makes for some of the most engaging and heartbreaking storytelling of the year, both building your faith in people while tearing your heart in two at the same time. 

It’s an intensely personal, incredibly special movie, and it’s easy to underestimate just how well the film is able to capture childhood feelings of discomfort and confusion with small and intimate moments. As mentioned before, I get the sense that it didn’t click with me as much as it could have, but I’m extremely glad I experienced it regardless; it’s rare that a film can make me feel so much without explicitly “trying” to hit on any specific emotions, and its beautiful yet simple imagery paired with incredible acting and writing easily cements its place on my list. 


11. “Tár”

Focus Features

One of the most surprising opinions I saw online after the release of “Tár” was many people’s shared disappointment that Lydia Tár was, in fact, not actually a real person. Yes, that’s how realistically awful Todd Field portrays Cate Blanchett’s titular character in this film; while this approach makes for a largely unsympathetic character, however, it also succeeds in creating one of the tightest and most comprehensive character studies of the year. Field’s storytelling method feels almost like he’s playing mental poker with the viewer, careful to never reveal too much of his hand through scenes and dialogue while also stringing together important themes and intriguing plot developments throughout. 

While it may be a bit of an eyeful on first watch, it makes the entire film incredibly engaging and satisfying, even in spite of the bits of Tár’s character being provided piecemeal like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle for the viewer to put together. The writing is also purposeful and sharp, and when combined with Blanchett’s just-give-her-all-the-awards-already-level performance, the result is a sincerely fantastic film that is somehow even greater than the sum of its parts.  

My review: ‘TÁR’ review: A maestropiece


10. “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish”

Dreamworks Animation Studios

Okay, okay, I admit it; I am nothing if not utterly pretentious. To prove this, you need look no further than this very list: the movies in my top 10, for example, are largely weird, off-putting hours-long balls of depression, misery and overall “downer vibes” that are most certainly not the kind of movie you bust out at a party to make friends (or even acquaintances for that matter). Hell, any sane person that enjoyed “Aftersun” should probably be given a warm blanket and antidepressants as soon as humanly possible. But alas, in my darkest hour, less than a mere 48 hours from the start of 2023, my horrible, vain, disgusting self was given a gift from the animation gods: ladies and gentlemen, Puss in freakin’ Boots. 

An amazing script. Likable, if not loveable characters. And the best animation in a feature film since “Into the Spiderverse.” Yup, this movie officially rules. “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” does something that all the best sequels hope to accomplish: it takes everything you know about its main character and flips them inside-out. Despite focusing on a seemingly-one-note side character, the movie just rolls with Puss’ basic characterization and fleshes it out to the max, creating a profound character study so deep and intrinsic that it raises deep, poignant questions about the meaning of life and the value of the relationships we share. In a Dreamworks movie. It’s not just Puss who’s given such surprising depth, either; Kitty Softpaws, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, heck, even the secondary villain had a more fleshed-out backstory than some movies can claim to give even their main characters. 

Let’s not forget the out-of-this-world animation, either: I simply cannot stress enough how simply fantastic this movie looks from top to bottom. No shot is wasted here; every scene has a beautiful look and style to it. The action scenes in particular are a standout, making every confrontation feel vivid and high-octane, all while keeping things readable and unique. It’s without a doubt one of the best animated films of the year, and an epic return for Dreamworks in general. And if it takes sacrificing a little pretentiousness to recognize that achievement, so be it.


9. “Elvis”

Warner Bros. Pictures

I know, I know. The second the words “Elvis biopic” spill out of my mouth, I can already tell what you’re thinking: “Sounds overdone.” “Sounds boring” “Sounds like it was made for my grandma.” Welp, I can confidently say that “Elvis” is neither overdone nor boring, though I can also say with roughly 50 percent certainty that its editing probably shouldn’t be witnessed by anyone over 70 — or with epilepsy — because Baz Luhrman’s newest film is one rock-n-rollin’ wild ride. Just when the musical biopic scene was starting to look like it was losing steam, who better to helm a film about one of the greatest musical icons of all time than the same man who unironically put Jay-Z songs in his “Great Gatsby” adaptation? The answer: no one. 

“One of the greatest musical icons of all time” might make it sound like I’m slipping into hyperbole, but it’s hard to stop myself when the film portrays almost every aspect of Elvis’ life with such a sense of tragic grandeur; with the movie largely taking place from the point of view of the infamous Tom Parker — the man largely regarded as having caused the star’s death by overworking and overmedicating him to the max — the film is just detached enough from Presley himself that it gives Elvis, played to a tee by Austin Butler, a mythic quality about him throughout. A scene where Elvis sits contemplatively on part of the massive Hollywood sign in L.A. at sunset? Sure, why not! Young Elvis crowd-surfing while overtaken with the power of God during a Baptist congregation? Of course! All of these pale in comparison, however, with perhaps the most out-of-pocket and insane scene of the year, that being a dramatic zoom-in on Parker’s (Tom Hanks’) face as he hears Elvis’s music for the first time and exclaims: “He’s white!?”

Simply saying that “Elvis” can be entertainingly goofy is a disservice to the film as a whole, however; it’s simply fit to burst with raw emotion, and its often-over-the-top sequences do nothing to detract from the surprisingly sincere story buried underneath, carried in large part by Butler’s showstopping performance. The film can be called many things: inaccurate; overexaggerated; bloated; but one thing it’s not is fake. Luhrman is clearly bringing his A-game, wowing the viewer with its bonkers editing and storytelling to create one of the most energetic, entertaining and downright cathartic movies of the year. Rock n’ freaking roll, baby.


8. “The Fabelmans” 

Universal Pictures

I was considering opening my entry on “The Fablemans” with yet another a rhetorical question (yeah, yeah, you try writing 70+ of these things) about whether or not Steven Spielberg would be able to pull off a semi-autobiographical film that tackles the oh-so-hackneyed trope of “the magic of cinema,” and then I stopped myself when I realized that this one wasn’t even a question; of course he can. With a profoundly personal and endearing story in combination with its classic Spielbergian charm, the film is an utterly irresistible treat that manages to carry across its central message without being overbearing or high-hatted, crammed to burst with strong performances and even stronger direction that elevate it into the upper echelon of his work. 

The movie hits on so many pertinent themes while simultaneously remaining a compelling and engaging film due in large part to Spielberg’s direction, which produces so many creative and visually stunning shots that anyone trying to count them might as well give up and go home now. It’s a beautifully personal film, both on a visual and thematic level; it somehow manages to take the done-to-death “movie magic” theme and provides a real, tangible place for it in the story. There’s one scene in particular where the main character, Sammy, is caught in the middle of a family argument, merely sitting back and wishing that he could capture the moment on film rather than stepping in in any meaningful way, highlighting the disconnect between the beauty of film and the struggles of real life. That might sound like a downer, but rather than dwelling on the faults of his family — who the movie is largely based off of — Spielberg explores the surprising impact that film can have for those both in front of and behind the camera, creating a brilliant film that is equal parts creative and fun as it is emotional, one that accomplishes everything it sets out to do and more. So, y’know, just another Spielberg movie.


7. “Mad God”

Tippett Studio

Saying that Phil Tippett’s stop-motion masterwork “Mad God” is akin to a nightmare is an incredibly apt description: with its bizarre and unsettling imagery, striking visuals and lack of a traditional “plot,” the movie certainly feels otherworldly and strange. However, much unlike a nightmare, “Mad God” is something I wish I could experience again and again; its bizarrely constructed world feels undeniably fresh, combining odd post-apocalyptic imagery with other sources of inspiration to create something unlike anything else ever released. 

The focus of the film is mostly on the world itself, with no dialogue present whatsoever and an overall sense of vaguely morbid curiosity permeating throughout. You truly never know what insane concept the film will throw at you next, and it all connects seamlessly to form some sort of satisfying Rube-Goldberg-esque payoff at the end of each individual sequence. Things may go a bit off-the-rails towards the end as things quickly escalate from “bizarrely intriguing” to “mind-meltingly existential,” but everything is still exceptionally realized either way. “Mad God” is a rare film; a feat of both imagination and animation, combining to create something that is simply so extraordinarily fresh and beautifully grotesque that I can scarcely describe it further without simply just telling you to watch it for yourself.


6. “Nope”

Universal Pictures

Was this movie bad? Did it fail to live up to expectations? Did Jordan Peele’s directorial hot streak come to an end? Was it not one of the most imaginative and fun films released this year? These questions (yeah, yeah, I know) all have one simple answer: “Nope.”

God bless Jordan Peele — the only man in Hollywood brave enough to make a UFO movie in the year of our lord two-thousand-and-twenty-two — because boy, oh boy, did he ever make a UFO movie. As a quote-on-quote horror movie, “Nope” isn’t the best; however, as an overall experience, it’s simply impossible to deny the insane creativity and passion present within this seemingly-standard thriller. Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Steven Yeun are all bringing their absolute A-game, and all three manage to capture intense dramatic heights while also bringing incredibly understated characterization to each role. The movie is made with an utterly nuts level of attention to detail, and this quality shines through in the writing as well: everything in the film ties in beautifully with the overarching theme, and the fact that all this is paired with such a talented acting and directing crew feels almost too good to be true. 

Even in spite of all the new-fangled technology needed to bring some of its most impressive scenes to life, the film is firmly old-fashioned in its grandeur and dramatic flair. If a movie taking place in a dry California desert can be this visually impressive, then there is absolutely no excuse that any other movie released this year cannot also look this damn cool. While the movie certainly never shies away from jaw-dropping sequences, it also has a healthy amount of restraint that it uses to great effect, and the film’s delivery never disappoints, even if the only payoff is little more than a sickly ironic joke. There are very few films released this year that have such an effective combination of drama, humor and horror, and “Nope” is probably the best of them; if a movie has the ability to fill me with a sense of deep existential dread every time I look up at a cloud, then you had better believe it’s a good one.


5. “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Searchlight Pictures

There’s very little I can say about “The Banshees of Inisherin” that I haven’t said before. There’s the pitch-perfect, authentic Irish feel, the tight script and, of course, the incredible acting, but overall it’s the film’s ability to raise and explore interesting ideas of friendship and purpose that sell it as one of the absolute greats this year. It’s hard to pinpoint just one overarching narrative theme that the film is truly “about,” but its messages about life are nothing if not impactful. It’s incredibly interesting to see the stakes and focus of the film shift throughout, and right as you start to think you’ve got a grasp on where things are headed, it knocks you flat on your back and finds a new and interesting way to interrogate the film’s central ideas while keeping the plot engaging and preventing stagnation.

All of this is elevated by the movie’s purposeful characterization and storytelling: Colin Farrell, Brendon Gleason, Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan are all bringing some of the strongest performances of the year, creating both some of the funniest and most emotionally devastating scenes in recent memory. As someone who has multiple Irish relatives and has visited the country, it’s hard to think of any way that the film could have captured the feel of the island any more perfectly, and the way it uses this bleak Irish setting to tell a compelling and emotional story is just the icing on the crusty, dry Irish bread. It feels strange to say that I loved a movie that packs such an overtly depressing punch, but its characters and settings are so utterly charming and endearing that I can’t possibly put it any other way. Suffice it to say that the Oscar buzz it’s getting is entirely deserved, and anyone putting it off as boring awards bait is missing out on one of the year’s strongest films.

My review: ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ review – A pot of cinematic gold


4. “Decision to Leave”

CJ Entertainment

If you made the “Decision to Leave” the theater at any point during Park Chan-wook’s latest film, then I can say with confidence that you are a clown and a fool, because dear sweet lord in heaven, is this movie an utter masterpiece. A gorgeous blend of classic noir detective stories and romance, “Decision to Leave” is a smart, sleek and ultimately mesmerizing film that tells a gripping story of a detective drawn to the mysterious wife of a puzzling murder victim. The mystery isn’t the true focus of the movie, however, as the first half of the film is spent setting up tantalizing dominoes that fall perfectly into place to create a film that is so well-executed that it should be a crime.

And remember when I said that this movie was gorgeous? I wasn’t kidding, because sweet mother of moses, every other movie even attempting to compete with it for the best cinematography award this year might as well pack it up and go home already (except for “Fabelmans,” that one can stay). When no other movie this side of Spielberg can even come close to this film’s visual attention to detail, you know you’re doing something right, and boy is it ever; colors pop in almost every frame, everything is lit to sheer perfection and the camera tricks on display are simply too good and too fun to be true. 

Combine this with some truly impressive visual effects and picture-perfect acting, and you’ve got an absolute classic on your hands; the film has so much raw passion on display both behind and in front of the camera that it’s nearly impossible to catch it all on first viewing. For anyone concerned about the barrier of subtitles and language, let me give you a gentle but firm suggestion that may assuage your reasonable fears: shut the hell up and watch it. 


3. “The Batman”

Warner Bros. Pictures

Turns out I have quite a conundrum on my hands. Y’see, in my number three and number four slots, I have two noir detective films with amazing acting, a unique and engaging plot and god-level cinematography. The question: how do I choose which gets the higher spot? I answer this question with another, simpler question: which one has Robert Pattinson in kevlar?

Yep, that’s right. I shoved “Black Adam” and “Morbius” into my bottom five. I shrugged off pretty much every single new MCU movie released this year as an undisputed “ehh.” The only comic-book film released this year that actually exceeded my expectations was “DC League of Super-Pets.” Thus, one might reasonably assume that I was done giving superhero movies high spots in my ranking, let alone in the top 10. Well, anyone assuming that must not have watched “The Batman,” because putting this film anywhere outside of the top five would be nothing less than a federal offense in my eyes.

Not only did director Matt Reeves give us one of the most well-directed, gripping films of the year, a thrilling blend of noir drama and action blockbuster, he did it while making a mother-flipping Batman movie. A Batman movie. To see such a faithfully replicated yet unendingly fresh take on the world of one of my favorite characters brought to life fills me with a sense of sheer joy matched only by last year’s “The Suicide Squad.” To hear Robert Pattinson’s Batman spouting cheesy yet 100-percent-believable lines like “This city’s eating itself,” and “I am the shadows” within the opening 10 minutes made me practically swoon in the theater, and the utter commitment to the characters and entire world of Gotham City within the film is simply too admirable to ignore. 

Reeve’s Gotham is brimming with so much grime and darkness that it feels more alive than some entire characters in other superhero movies; the ridiculous complaint that “scenes feel like they’re lit with just one lightbulb” shouldn’t even be a complaint at all when the movie just looks so goddamn cool. There are so many brilliant shots in the movie that use its dim lighting to jaw-dropping effect, and while it may wear a bit thin towards the end of its three-hour-long runtime, the atmosphere it creates is simply undeniable. The film still feels realistic, sure, but not in the sense that it’s trying too hard to seem contemporary and true-to-life: the world that the movie builds is just so believable that you can’t help but believe that everything happening is absolutely real, if just for those three hours. 

To top it off, as you might have guessed, the writing is superb, and characters feel distinct and memorable in their own right. In fact, it’s so good that I would make the case that in spite of how grounded the film is, it’s still even funnier than every Marvel project released this year combined; like, a riddle about a thumb drive leading to a set of car keys attached to a literal thumb? If that’s “boring” and “too serious,” then I’m a falafel. The movie is so audaciously comic-booky at times while always playing things completely straight that it’s practically impossible to not walk out of the theater with a massive grin on your face. 

Add in fantastic performances from Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz (who is fortunately given better wigs in this movie), Alfred Molina, Paul Dano, Colin Farrell and yes, Barry Keoghan, and you have, simply put, one of the best movies of the year and one of the greatest superhero movies of all time. Its pacing might not be perfect, but I sincerely struggle to think of any other flaw the movie holds. 

With all this in mind, of course, you might be wondering: is it the best Batman movie ever?

*cackles in Lego Batman* 


2. “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On”


When I unsuspectingly clicked on the trailer for the movie “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” one morning while scrolling through Twitter, I had little idea what I was getting myself into. Two minutes and 24 seconds later, I was left with a puddleful of tears at my feet and a new mission in life: I would see that movie in theaters, even if it killed me. Well, after watching that trailer probably about 100 more times afterwards, spending month after month constantly refreshing the “Showtimes” page on Fandango and making an unnecessarily convoluted trip into downtown Chicago, I finally watched the movie. At least I think I did. It was kind of hard to see through all the tears.

 “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” is a very special movie to me. You might assume that this is just because it features an adorable stop-motion shell that’s practically scientifically engineered to tug at the heartstrings of me and every middle-aged wine mom in existence. And you would be (partially) right. The film is endlessly cute and creative in its execution of the “tiny shell boi using everyday household items to accomplish tasks” idea, and it successfully captures all the whimsy that one might expect from such a premise; Marcel rolls around the house in a ratty tennis ball with a hole in it as his “car”; he employs a Paddington-esque system to knock down oranges from the outside garden; he uses a needle as a “sword”; he gets his feet sticky and just randomly starts walking up walls; there is an endless abundance of whimsical creativity on display, and it’s all done with such elegance and simplicity that it’s almost impossible to not fall in love with the movie just a few minutes in.

Outside of this, however, there’s a sense of simple, unrestrained optimism about the film that is perhaps even more enchanting than any cute shenanigans Marcel himself could create. Marcel’s simple yet moving journey of learning to accept change feels instantly relatable and timeless, and its execution is dripping with so much sincerity that it feels like a bucket of icy water to the face after every boring, cynical blockbuster released over the course of the year. In my mind, there’s no way any movie could be called “naive” when it’s this deeply committed to its perfectly wholesome message, and one as unabashedly cute as this is certainly in no risk of reaching that territory. The story taps into some deep, long-forgotten memory or feeling that’s hard to put into words, and while it might sound crazy given the off-beat and decidedly unrelatable premise, I’ve never felt more deeply connected to a movie than I do with “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On.” I’m fully willing to admit that I was crying from almost start to finish with this one; it’s the kind of magical movie that I wished would never end, and yet the entire package is one so immaculately crafted that its bittersweet ending is just further confirmation of this film’s status as an absolute masterpiece. 

I still go back and watch the trailer for the movie whenever I’m in need of some optimism and encouragement, and I always, always find what I’m looking for.


1. “Everything Everywhere All at Once”


Well la-dee-frickin-da, aren’t I quirky. Was there ever any doubt that “Everything Everywhere All at Once” would be my number one movie of 2022? Not really, no. Even when “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” made me cry or “Banshees of Inisherin” split my heart in two or “Aftersun” sent me into an existential spiral or “Nope” made me scared of clouds, if we’re being honest, they were only really ever competing for the second-place spot. 

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” has always existed on a separate plane from every movie released this year, much less every movie released ever. In a nutshell, it’s one of those movies. One of those movies that’s almost impossible to stop thinking about after watching. One of those movies that’s so engrossing that you don’t even realize your eyes are watery till the credits roll. One of those movies that you can’t even properly describe without talking at the pace of a caffeinated hyena and waving your arms around like a crazy person. What to say, then, for the movie that has everything (everywhere all at once)?

Well, to start, there’s a reason that this film has connected with so many people; it’s simply one of the most surprisingly sincere and dense films released this year; the main character, Evelyn, perfectly captures the disassociated blah-ness that so many of us can relate to in everyday life, and it’s deceptively easy to see some aspect of yourself in her characterization. The film’s message about finding meaning in life — while corny on a surface level — is exquisitely executed, carrying a surprising amount of weight that you don’t see coming until it hits you smack in the face, and it’s hardly an exaggeration to say that it gives you a midlife-crisis-ful of deep, existential questions to ponder afterwards. 

Not only does the movie have a lot to say, it has a fun and oftentimes roundabout way of saying it. Everything about the film works so well because it hides its deep existential theming under a cornucopia of fresh and well-executed action sequences and utterly hilarious jokes; furthermore, there’s so much random-yet-inspired worldbuilding throughout that it’s incredibly fun and easy to get swept away by the sheer volume of things the movie throws at you. 

More than any other film released in recent years, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” feels like the only movie that has successfully employed the concept of the multiverse, using the premise’s versatile storytelling potential to deliver both moments of out-of-pocket hilarity and gut-punching emotion. It may take a bit to get to the real meat and potatoes of its messaging, but the film’s setup is paid off and then some in the final act, creating an incredibly cohesive and impactful film that uses every one of its limited characters and locations to great effect. 

Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Stephanie Hsu are all delivering fantastic performances, adding a sense of humanity and tangibility to even the wackiest of scenes. Sure, it might not work quite as well for everyone, but if any movie can be this life-alteringly good, even for a small handful of people, it deserves more praise than I can possibly give it. 

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is a brilliantly crafted, utterly heartfelt masterpiece: one that I simply can’t recommend enough, and it is, without a doubt, the single best movie I watched in 2022.

My review: “Everything Everywhere All at Once” review: better than a blockbuster

Credits for cover images (clockwise):

Paramount Pictures (“Top Gun: Maverick”); Searchlight Pictures (“The Banshees of Inisherin”); Sony Pictures (“Morbius”); Universal Pictures (“Jurassic World: Dominion”); 20th Century Studios (“Avatar: The Way of Water”); Warner Bros. Pictures (“Elvis”); Searchlight Pictures (“Not Okay”); Walt Disney Pictures (“Lightyear”); Universal Pictures (“Nope”); CJ Entertainment (“Decision to Leave”); Universal Pictures (“The Fabelmans”); Walt Disney Pictures (“Pinocchio”); A24 (“Marcel the Shell With Shoes On”); Netflix (“All Quiet on the Western Front”); The Roku Channel (“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”); Dreamworks Animation Studios (“The Bad Guys”); Netflix (“Entergalactic”)