Chris Evangelista's Top 10 Movies Of 2022

It feels like every year around this time I hear (or read) the same thing: "There weren't that many good movies this year." And I always say the same thing: malarkey! Every year is a good year for film ... if you're willing to seek things out. Get outside your comfort zone. Don't only see the latest Disney/Marvel blockbuster. Try new things! None of that is to say my list of the 10 Best Movies of 2022 is full of obscure titles you've never heard of. But I maintain that this year, like last year, and the year before it, was another great year for film. When I compile a list like this, I ask myself: Which films moved me? Which inspired emotions within me that I didn't expect? Which films lingered in my brain long after the end credits rolled? I watch a lot of movies — it's the job — which means I'm always looking for a movie that really resonates with me; a movie that stands out above the fray. And the ten movies on my list did just that for me. Your mileage may vary, and that's okay — this is my list. These are the 10 best films of 2022. 

10. Elvis

"Them girls wanna see you wiggle!"

Baz Luhrmann loves excess, which makes him the perfect filmmaker to helm a biopic of Elvis Presley. But rather than follow the traditional biopic format, Luhrmann has crafted "Elvis," a wild, off-the-wall, not-quite-accurate story of how the King was manipulated by his supervillain manager, Colonel Tom Parker (a scenery-chewing Tom Hanks). The film is overflowing with energy and inventiveness, but none of it would work as well as it does were it not for the star-making turn from Austin Butler as Elvis. It's very easy to do a lazy Elvis impersonation — hell, Las Vegas is full of 'em — but Butler seems to be channeling the King here, nailing down both his voice and sexy style. The scene where we first see a young Elvis perform to a crowd of shrieking, horny women is nothing short of jaw-dropping — you can feel the raw energy coursing through the room as the ladies all go wild watching Elvis wiggle. 

9. After Yang

"Maybe I haven't the language for it."

Kogonada's elegant, beautiful "After Yang" is a quiet movie about memory; about perception; about family. Set in the future, the story concerns a family — parents Jake (Colin Farrell) and Kyra (Jodie Turner-Smith); their adopted daughter Mika (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja); and Yang (Justin H. Min), a used robot that acts as an older brother to Mika. But when something happens that shuts Yang down, the family has to decide what to do — can they get him fixed? And if they can't, are they ready to say goodbye? Farrell, in one of three great performances this year, is achingly sad as the father, who grapples with his memories and his affections for the malfunctioning robot. There's a sequence here where Farrell and Min discuss tea that's so lovely and so sweet in its simplicity and beauty that I could watch it over and over again. 

8. Glass Onion

"It's a dangerous thing to mistake speaking without thought for speaking the truth."

Bigger, funnier, and more surprising than "Knives Out," Rian Johnson's second Benoit Blanc mystery "Glass Onion" is one of the most entertaining movies of the year. Johnson peppers in enough clues to make this mystery inherently rewatchable, but it's a treat no matter how many times you check it out. Once again, Daniel Craig's Southern-fried detective is tasked with investigating a group of rich a-holes, this time on a private island where a murder mystery party is underway. Of course, nothing is as it seems. Craig does some of the best work of his career here, and I'm not exaggerating — freed of James Bond, he's able to slip into the character actor he was born to be. He's aided by a fantastic ensemble, particularly Janelle Monáe, playing one of the party guests with a few big secrets, while Edward Norton absolutely nails his clueless, vapid, Musk-like billionaire character. 

7. Everything Everywhere All at Once

"I wanted to say, in another life, I would have really liked just doing laundry and taxes with you."

Daniels, the team that brought us "Swiss Army Man," came roaring back with the bombastic, weirdly funny, tear-jerking "Everything Everywhere All at Once." A fantastic Michelle Yeoh is Evelyn Quan Wang, a woman who has to get her taxes straightened out during an audit from the IRS. But that's the least of her problem as she finds herself in the midst of a multiverse adventure full of weird worlds and strange revelations. Along for the ride are Evelyn's well-meaning but put-upon husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan, who is just as good here as you've heard in his big comeback role) and her daughter (Stephanie Hsu, also great; everyone is great here!). Wild, overlong, over-the-top, and big on warm emotion, "Everything Everywhere All at Once" was one of the year's biggest and best surprises.

6. Nope

"What's a bad miracle?"

While "Nope" may not be Jordan Peele's best movie, it is one of his most enjoyable, with the filmmaker going full Spielberg. When a UFO begins zooming around a horse farm in California, OJ (Daniel Kaluuya, great here) and his sister Emerald (Keke Palmer, also great here) team up to try to capture it on film. But getting a good shot of the object is the least of their worries, as people start getting sucked up and brutally killed (we're talking about a scene where it starts raining blood here, people). Peele crafts genuinely unnerving scenes and then combines them with laugh-out-loud moments that combine into a wholly unique spectacle, one that reminds us yet again that Peele is one of the most interesting filmmakers working right now, able to combine horror and comedy to great effect. No one is doing it like Jordan Peele right now. 

5. Blonde

"Christ, what an ugly dream."

Andrew Dominik's fictionalized take on the life of Marilyn Monroe is not a biopic, it's a horror movie. Seemingly influenced by the work of David Lynch, "Blonde" showcases the horrors Monroe, as played by an eerily perfect Ana de Armas, struggles with as she becomes a superstar and sex symbol. Many have taken issue with how bleak and horrifying the film is, but that's the point — we're supposed to be disturbed by what's happening here. Traveling through a Hollywood wrought with horrible men, de Armas' Marilyn struggles to find happiness wherever she goes — happiness in life and happiness with herself, both of which prove to be forever elusive. 

4. The Banshees Of Inisherin

"How's the despair?"

A break-up film about two friends, "The Banshees Of Inisherin" is equal parts funny and melancholy. When Colm Doherty (Brendan Gleeson) decides he no longer wants to be friends with his drinking buddy Pádraic Súilleabháin (Colin Farrell), Pádraic is thrust into an existential crisis as he tries to figure out why. Gleeson is great here, playing a man who is depressed and prone to giving into despair, but it's Farrell who really shines as the confused, hurt Pádraic, who just wants his old pal to be his old pal again. Director Martin McDonagh's script deliberately plays things close to the vest while also giving us unique, understandable portraits of both men as they drift further and further apart, their friendship becoming some sort of distant memory swallowed up by sadness. 

3. Decision to Leave

"The moment you said you loved me, your love is over. The moment your love ends, my love begins."

I've seen some folks call "Decision to Leave" a "lesser" work from Park Chan-wook, and I guess it's to Park's credit that such a damn great movie can be thought of as a "lesser" entry. Riffing on Hitchcock — especially "Vertigo" — Park's latest is a funny-yet-heartbreaking mystery about a cop (Park Hae-il) who becomes obsessed with a murder suspect (Tang Wei). The suspect's husband recently died after falling off a cliff — but was it an accident, or did his wife push him? And even if she is guilty will it matter to the lawman, who is clearly head over heels for this woman? The final act of the film is devastating to the extreme, but to get there, Park creates a frequently funny story about two people being drawn together despite, or perhaps because of a unique situation. 

2. The Fabelmans

"It will tear out your heart and leave you lonely."

Steven Spielberg gets ultra-personal with "The Fabelmans," a film based on his own childhood. But this isn't Spielberg waxing nostalgic about his past — it's the filmmaker examining his own origin story. It's also about Spielberg grappling with the one event that has seemingly colored all of his movies — the divorce of his parents. A younger Spielberg blamed his father for the breakup, but the adult Spielberg now recognizes the complexities of what happened. The film is also about how Spielberg, represented by the avatar Sammy Fabelman, learned to both love movies — and love making them. As his uncle (a scene-stealing Judd Hirsch) tells Sammy, he loves his family, but he loves making art just a little bit more. It's almost a compulsion — he has to make movies because nothing else even comes close to satiating his desire to create. There's also the implication that Sammy buries himself in filmmaking as a way to avoid the hasher things in life. It all culminates in a warm, funny, emotional film that features one of the best final scenes Spielberg has ever crafted. 

1. RRR

"Not salsa, not flamenco, my brother. Do you know ... Naatu?"

A musical. A buddy comedy. A romance. A bromance. An action pic. A historical epic. A political statement. "RRR" is all of that, and more. It is not just the best movie of 2022, it's the most movie of 2022 — a joyously big extravaganza that has to be seen to be believed. Every bit of hype you've heard about this film is justified, and then some. "RRR" is nothing short of a reminder of why movies exist — and how wonderful they can be when given the freedom to be big. The story teams up two real Indian revolutionaries — Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) and Komaram Bheem (N. T. Rama Rao Jr.) — and drops them into a fictional story where they become BFFs and take on the British empire. The action is bonkers, the friendship results in piggyback rides, and there's a giant dance number that I kind of wanted to go on for a full hour. I've watched "RRR" twice in the last few months and both times were akin to a religious experience — and a reminder of why I love movies.