The 50 Best Movies of 2022 Ranked: Nope, The Batman, and More

A comprehensive ranking of the 50 best movies released in 2022, including Nope, Top Gun: Maverick, The Batman, and more

I watched 522 movies this year. I say that as both a slight boast and a cry for help. So much for watching TV with intention, amirite? Much like in years past, I borrowed deeper and deeper into my own obsessions and hobbies as a way to combat societal issues and any struggles I may have along the way. Feeling unproductive? Watch a movie. It’s blizzarding outside? Watch a movie. Don’t want to make food? Go to the theater, eat some popcorn, and watch a movie. You get the idea.

nope best movies of 2022
Nope

But thanks to the good people over at Letterboxd (not a sponsorship, just a hearty recommendation), I can go back and reflect on what happened this year and what I watched to coincide with it. I moved in with my girlfriend of over four years and couldn’t be happier, and apparently around that same time I watched Linklater’s The Before Trilogy. I sure hope that watching Before Midnight doesn’t foreshadow things to come (I’ll be sure not to show Kaylee that film anytime soon).

We also went to Nashville this year – one of the first times in years that I’ve taken a trip outside of Minnesota and had a chance to relax. Unfortunately, the infamous COVID-19 bug had other plans and I stayed inside the Airbnb and caught up on a handful of new and old releases. Some good (All the President’s Men and The Sea Beast), and some not so good (what were you thinking Woody Harrelson with The Man from Toronto).

All of this is to say that your passions become your personality. They orbit you, and I can feel film growing closer and closer to me by the day. Out of those 522 aforementioned movies, over 150 of them were 2022 releases. Many I saw in theaters, but like my friends and family, many I saw at home. I loved my time seeing Aftersun in a second run theater by myself at noon on a Wednesday just like I loved my time watching White Noise and Decision to Leave yesterday to get ready for this ranking – and their rankings are subject to change, it’s way too soon to tell.

I also wrote a handful of reviews and lists in 2022; 60+ reviews and 15+ lists and features. Some were positive, but I imagine a few more were negative. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe the cynicism that festers inside of me comes out when I write about something that I wish was better. Maybe I feel that a year end list will suffice in giving the best films the praise they deserve.

Lastly, this list is fluid. I swapped my first and second films around every other day this year. There’s many that I haven’t seen yet (that I’ll list shortly) that I’m sure may have made this list or would’ve come close. Last year, I kept the list to 25. This year, I’m expanding it. 50 films seems right considering I saw quite a few more releases this year and the overall quality of them were a bit better.

Unfortunately, I didn’t check out the following, and I apologize. I plan on it and maybe I’ll share my thoughts in the future – Vortex, Deep Water, Bones and All, Empire of Light, The Whale, RMN, Broker, Close, Master Gardener, Women Talking, The Inspection, Devotion, Till, Spoiler Alert, Happening, Living, and God’s Creatures.

Here’s how I’d rank the 50 best movies of 2022:

50. The Sadness

The Sadness movie 2022

49. Significant Other

Significant Other movie 2022

48. Pearl

Pearl movie 2022 Ti West A24

47. The Fallout

The Fallout movie 2022

The Fallout is presented through the digital lens. A movie made for the social media era built on TikTok trends and emo rap music. What feels desolate and distant suddenly becomes a reality standing straight ahead. The film has good intentions. Vada’s (Jenna Ortega) struggle to commit to each of her different relationships as she tries to internally move on from this event is clearly stated, but it makes for a messy movie. Quinton (Niles Fitch) is billed as a main character. The tragedy most closely affects him. The Fallout movie review

46. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Black Panther Wakanda Forever movie 2022 Marvel

Wakanda Forever isn’t the leanest film Marvel has released in the last few years – the runtime is ambitious and I can’t quite say justified, but there’s clearly enough heart and emotion packed in for general audiences to be enamored by. The addition of Namor is excellent, and Tenoch Huerta gives one of Marvel’s best villainous performances yet. At times it can feel overstuffed, but I found enough meat to chew on as I left my screening. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever review

45. Jackass 4.5

jackass 4.5 movie 2022

44. Watcher

watcher 2022 sundance movie shudder

43. Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

dr strange in the multiverse of madness marvel 2022 movie

42. All Quiet on the Western Front

all quiet on the western front german movie 2022 oscars

Director Edward Berger and cinematographer James Friend come together to create 2022’s signature war epic All Quiet on the Western Front, which pushes stylistic boundaries for the genre not seen since before the pandemic. It is terrifying and riveting at its best moments, and slightly formulaic at its lesser ones. Combined with a saddening performance by Felix Kammerer, the film is one of Netflix’s best ones of 2022. All Quiet on the Western Front review

41. The Fabelmans

the fabelmans 2022 film steven spielberg movie

The Fabelmans is an overabundance of ideas and stories. They don’t always hit, but there’s enough that digs deep into the life of Steven Spielberg and helps portray him as more than just a mega-filmmaker. Combined with some wonderful technical achievements (the final 15 minutes are just awe-inspiring and prove in themselves that Spielberg still has it) and some top tier performances, The Fabelmans is a deserving Oscar season contender and one that rewards you for your patience. The Fabelmans review

40. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

pinocchio 2022 movie guillermo del toro

Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson’s Pinocchio is a beautiful and marvelous return for the ancient story after the dark places it went to in 2022. The stop-motion is clean and stoic, and the story breaths new life into the wooden child. Guillermo del Toro rarely misses, and this is another example of his gothic stories hitting just the right notes. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio review

39. Dual

dual riley stearns 2022 movie

Dual is bleak. And by bleak, I mean bleakRiley Stearns (The Art of Self-Defense and Faults) excels in this field. His films bask in off-kilter, dry-as-can-be comedy and dread. The Art of Self-Defense was a pleasant surprise in 2019, but it was clear Stearns would pull together a film that would indulge his idiosyncratic taste even more, while still being engaging and bludgeoning at the same time. Dual movie review

38. Emergency

emergency movie 2022 film

37. A Hero

a hero film 2022

36. White Noise

white noise noah baumbach

Although initially thought to be a novel too demanding for the big screen, Noah Baumbach successfully delivers White Noise to Netflix. Even with a few flaws in its delivery, White Noise is a captivating and occasionally even breathtaking movie. White Noise review

35. Stars at Noon

stars at noon claire denis

34. Turning Red

turning red pixar

Despite feeling a bit like Pixar is borrowing heavily from their contemporaries, Turning Red is the first movie from the studio to actually move the needle in a while. It’s a story for generations to enjoy, and I always prefer when Pixar aims to appeal to older audiences in conjunction with the usual kids demographic. Turning Red review

33. Kimi

kimi steven soderbergh

Kimi may be genre Steven Soderbergh, but for him to pull this off only a year out of No Sudden Move and still operating during an ongoing pandemic is impressive. I’ve learned to just happily accept any Soderbergh projects and not take them for granted, and Kimi is another well above average outing from the director. Kimi review

32. Navalny

navalny documentary movie

31. Hockeyland

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30. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

marcel the shell with shoes on a24 movie 2022

29. X

x ti west movie 2022

28. Crimes of the Future

crimes of the future cronenberg

27. Cha Cha Real Smooth

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26. Decision to Leave

decision to leave park chan wook

Park Chan-wook deserves all the credit he’s getting for Decision to Leave – a film the relies heavily on a master filmmaker working at his best. Although it isn’t as violent or abrasive as his past gems, Decision to Leave still finds its pocket in a filmography full of clever material. Decision to Leave review

25. Sundown

sundown movie 2022 tim roth

24. Apollo 10 ½ : A Space Age Childhood

apollo 10 1/2 movie netflix

23. Petite Maman

petite maman film

22. Prey

prey predator movie hulu

21. Mad God

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20. Entergalactic

entergalactic kid cudi movie

19. Sr.

sr robert downey jr documentary

In many ways, Chris Smith’s newest documentary Sr. pulls at you from one emotional beat to the next. Documenting an individual with a rich history like Robert Downey Sr. – an acclaimed independent director of films likes Putney Swope, Greaser’s Palace, and Chafed Elbows, while also being the father of eventual megastar Robert Downey Jr., feels like quite the undertaking. The filmmaker and his team dedicate an ample set of time towards Downey Sr.’s deep filmography and his personal anecdotes of developing films during the 1960s and 70s. Sr. review

18. After Yang

Top Films 2022 After Yang

17. Bodies Bodies Bodies

Top Films 2022 Bodies Bodies Bodies

Bodies Bodies Bodies lands quite well for me in the same way that contemporary programming like Euphoria does – because style and substance clash to create a palette of ideas easy to conceptualize and accept as a younger moviegoer. Many films try to relate to millennials and Gen Z-ers, but they come off insincere and preachy. Bodies Bodies Bodies comes off natural and timely, and it makes it one of the best horror films of 2022. Bodies Bodies Bodies review

16. The Batman

Top Films 2022 The Batman

The Batman is a complete reimagining of superhero genre tropes. A moody noir piece backed by a haunting score, Matt Reeves’ newest blockbuster rewrites what’s possible for these genre films. The Batman review

15. The Woman King

Top Films 2022 The Woman King

14. Babylon

Top Films 2022 Babylon

In a year where Hollywood’s biggest directors have gotten weirder and more insular, Damien Chazelle said “hold my beer” and offered the most depraved look at Hollywood ever put to screen. Babylon rules, and I won’t be swayed otherwise. Babylon review

13. Avatar: The Way of Water

avatar the way of water movie 2022

The Way of Water absolutely comes through and pulls off a better experience than the first Avatar film could ever dream of. It’s emotionally riveting and absolutely deserves to be seen on a big screen. The best films make you laugh, gasp, and cry. The Way of Water pulls off all three. Simply put, don’t bet against James Cameron. The Way of Water review

12. Armageddon Time

Top Films 2022 Armageddon Time

Armageddon Time delivers on the humility and humanity that comes with nearly every James Gray film. Combine that with an ensemble cast for the ages, and a healthy bit of film grain and aesthetic flourish, and you get one of the year’s best releases. Many films leave your consciousness soon after you finish your screening, but not this one. This one will last. Armageddon Time review

11. The Northman

Top Films 2022 THe Northman

10. Causeway

Top Films 2022 Causeway

Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, as well as Brian Tyree Henry’s supporting role and Lila Neugebauer’s unobtrusive directing style, makes Causeway one of the year’s sharpest and most afflicting films – one that pulls more emotion out of you than the average studio blockbuster. Many films pull you in with pyrotechnics and bedazzled stylistic choices; it’s harder to conjure up enough emotional weight early on to keep a viewer locked in, but Causeway does that. Causeway review

9. Aftersun

Top Films 2022 Aftersun

Aftersun is a remarkable debut movie from Charlotte Wells, one that tries to piece together memories from a father-daughter vacation years prior. Absolutely in sync with its emotions, Wells delivers one of the most personal films I’ve seen in a while. Aftersun review

8. Barbarian

Top Films 2022 Barbarian

Barbarian is still refreshing and thrilling, and it’s easily one of my favorite theater experiences of the year. Films try over and over again to use the schlocky marketing bit of audiences screaming in theaters only to be disappointing in actual terror when places in front of you (just this year The Black Phone fits that description) but Barbarian is genuinely jaw-dropping. Barbarian review

7. Jackass Forever

Top Films 2022 Jackass Forever

Listen, I’m a simple man. I have simple pleasures. Sitting in a theater practically dying of laughter over watching grown men dying of laughter because their friend came face-to-face with a bear is one of those pleasures. Jackass Forever is a perfect return to the big screen for these wild personalities. Jackass Forever review

6. Tar

Top Films 2022 Tar

5. Ambulance

Top Films 2022 Ambulance

I have a confession to make. I did not see Ambulance on the big screen and it is easily my biggest regret of 2022 so far in terms of film watching. Every moment of Michael Bay’s newest heist, getaway, cocaine-driven anxiety trip is worth the price of admission, VOD rental, and 4k blu-ray bundle all sandwiched together into one. Ambulance review

4. Everything Everywhere All at Once

Top Films 2022 Everything Everywhere All At Once

Few films grab an audience’s attention with a name as audacious as Everything Everywhere All at Once, and even fewer films live up to the billing of having such an ambitious and indulging title. In the case of Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan’s (adequately self-nicknamed Daniels) 2022 critical darling and independent success story, not only does Everything Everywhere All at Once live up to its own title, it surpasses every industry expectation and expands on what it means to be a film developed under a restrained budget. Everything Everywhere All at Once review

3. Top Gun: Maverick

top gun maverick movie 2022

Months later, Top Gun: Maverick still feels fresh – for its direction, for its acting, and for its precise attention to emotion and payoff. Every moment feels important and finely tuned, and every actor and actress fits perfectly within this nostalgia-laden juggernaut. A real hit, and one of my favorite movie theater experiences of all time. Top Gun: Maverick review

2. Nope

Top Films 2022 Nope Movie Review

Nope delivers on its promise of spectacle. Its set-up helps deliver one of the most rewarding third acts of the year, and one I’ll surely return to in years to come. Those don’t come around very often, only a handful of films lend themselves to repeat viewings, and Nope is certainly one of them. A dazzling and hypnotic viewing, and one that doesn’t leave your mind once you leave your theater. The best films make you think, and Nope gives you enough to sink your teeth into. Nope movie review

1. The Banshees of Inisherin

Top Films 2022 Banshees of Inisherin Movie

The story in The Banshees of Inisherin is simultaneously laugh-out-loud audacious and deftly potent with real questions on life and legacy. This is essentially Martin McDonagh’s treaties on friendship and what you leave behind once you leave Earth. Colin Farrell is the film’s stand-in for niceness towards those around you, and Brendan Gleeson’s character is a stand-in for tangible contributions to the world (in the film’s case, music). McDonagh constantly tries to unearth what it means to leave behind a legacy, and who will care about us when we die. The Banshees of Inisherin review

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