Vanessa Armstrong's Top 10 Films Of 2022

It's a new year and I'm sure we're all tired of Top 10 lists, but here's one more before we say adieu to 2022! My list makes no sense as a whole — there are major blockbusters and indies, films truly epic in scope and some that are more intimate fare. I took the Marie Kondo approach to this list — every film here brought me joy. Sometimes that joy was terrible joy, and sometimes it was light, fluffy, and cozy joy. I need both in my life, depending on how I'm feeling, and these films all helped keep me afloat through the past year.

Before I get to the final list, I want to give shout-outs to some who didn't make the Top 10, such as "RRR" (especially that sequence where tigers, leopards, and other wild animals attack the colonists), the cheeseburger from "The Menu," Robert Pattinson's emo Caped Crusader in "The Batman," and the bromance between Nic Cage and Pedro Pascal in "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent." There were a lot of movies in 2022, folks. Here are 10 of them. 

10. The Long Walk

We can't go back in time to fix any of our past wrongs, no matter how much we may want to. This Laotian film, however, uses both time travel and ghosts to give the main character a means to do so, and things get real f***** up. The movie, directed by Mattie Do, follows the unnamed "Old Man" (Yannawoutthi Chanthalungsy) as he walks with the ghost of a young woman (Noutnapha Soydara) he sees die in the jungle when he was a child. With the help of this ghost, the old man travels back in time, where he attempts to "help" his younger self by killing his mother before tuberculosis does. His actions have ripple effects, and force him to face his own grief and his other, more murderous pastimes. The film is haunting and harrowing, and will leave a mark on you even if the plot is admittedly hard to follow at some points.

9. Top Gun: Maverick

I admit I had very low expectations for "Top Gun: Maverick." It was a sequel I wasn't yearning for, especially in this age where reboots and revivals of old IP are more common than some would like. The movie, however, blew me away — not only were the action scenes impressive, but it also has moments of Tom Cruise giving impressively emotional performances, especially in that scene with Val Kilmer (you know the one). It was a true cinematic experience, and one of the first I've had in years. I laughed, I cheered, I even teared up a bit. What more could you ask from a film like this? 

8. Marcel the Shell With Shoes On

Jenny Slate's voice for Marcel in "Marcel the Shell With Shoes On" is as cute and memorable as how tiny Marcel looks. The film had a long journey to the screen, starting out as three-minute shorts that director Dean Fleischer-Camp put together. Marcel is painfully adorable, but what makes the film stick in my brain is the endearing relationship Marcel has with his grandmother, Connie, who is voiced by none other than Isabella Rossellini. The film is funny and sweet, and it makes you want to hug your family and/or friends when it's over.

7. Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio

We all know the story of Pinocchio, and while 2022 saw the ignominy of the Disney "live-action" version of the story, we were also blessed with Guillermo del Toro's beautiful stop-motion rendition of the tale. The story that del Toro and co-director Mark Gustafson tell is darker than the one you likely know, but it's also devastating beautiful, especially with the creation of the characters, from the craggily crafted Geppetto (voiced by David Bradley) to the scruffy visage of the monkey, Spazzatura (surprisingly voiced by Cate Blanchett), to — of course — Pinocchio himself (voiced by Gregory Mann), a boy cobbled together in grief that, in the end, gives his papa (and you, most likely) such terrible joy.

6. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

With "Glass Onion," Rian Johnson manages to follow up his critically and financially successful whodunit "Knives Out" with a murder mystery that's even more complex and satisfying. Daniel Craig slays once again as Benoit Blanc, the world's most famous detective with a Foghorn Leghorn accent, and the star-studded ensemble cast knocks their roles out of the park. The numerous cameos are also a delight, and served as sprinkles on what was already a delightful ice cream sundae of a mystery. It's also a movie I can't wait to watch again, as (no spoilers!) certain scenes take on a whole new meaning once you know how events unfold. 

5. Everything Everywhere All At Once

I know I won't be the only one who lists "Everything Everywhere All At Once" in my Top 10, but hey, it's a great film! Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Stephanie Hsu all kill it in their lead roles, with Hsu in particular deserving a supporting actor award or two for her bombastic performance. The movie gets wacky (real wacky) as Yeoh's character, Evelyn, traverses the multiverse, including one timeline where she and her daughter, Joy (Hsu), are "talking" rocks. But what makes the film so great is its exploration of pain and love, as well as intergenerational conflicts and expectations. It will make your open your googly eyes and see the world and those you care about in a new, kaleidoscopic light.

4. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

After Chadwick Boseman's tragic and unexpected passing, writer-director Ryan Coogler did what seemed impossible with the "Black Panther" sequel — he made an epic Marvel movie full of the requisite explosions and battle scenes, and managed to also make it an intimate film about grief and how to face the death of a loved one. "Wakanda Forever" also includes the best mid-credit scene of any movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it also made me cry more than once. It's a big film with a big heart, and one of the best MCU movies to date. 

3. Broker

Hirokazu Kore-eda's latest feature, like some of his works before it, revolves around an unexpected found family facing seemingly insurmountable odds, systemic and otherwise. The story, which takes place in Korea, starts with a young woman (Lee Ji-eun) leaving her baby boy outside a "baby box," a hatch outside a Busan church where mothers can anonymously leave their children. Two men (Song Kang-ho and Gang Dong-won) take the child with the intent to illegally sell him. The mother comes back, however, and she joins up with the brokers to get a cut of the winnings. The four soon become five when a seven-year-old orphan joins their group, and you can't help but ache for them all as they realize they've found something special with one another but know that what they have can't last. While the story toes the line of being overly melodramatic, Kore-eda manages to stay on the right side of it and brings us a bittersweet, emotionally wrenching film.

2. Nope

"Nope" is a movie that sticks with you. The film has often been called Jordan Peele's love-letter to cinema, but it's also about the dark side of Hollywood — how the industry can literally eat you up and spit you out in a thousand bloody pieces. Peele's imagery also sticks with you, particularly the flashbacks to Ricky "Jupe" Parks' (Steven Yeun) experience as a child actor when his co-star on a sitcom, Gordy the Chimp, maims and/or murders several people. You can't tame the beast of Hollywood, and the image of that shoe standing straight up will be stuck in my headspace for a while. (Along with the shots of Jean Jacket's digestive tract.)

1. The Banshees of Inisherin

This movie is a comedy, kind of? It's also a tragedy, and a drama, and a film full of violent sentiments and cut-off fingers and phenomenal performances across the board. It wrenches you between emotions, from laughter to sympathetic despair, to muted horror. The basic premise of the film, which takes place in 1920s Ireland on a small island called Inisherin, is that Colm Doherty (Brendan Gleeson) decides one day he no longer wants to be friends with Pádraic Súilleabháin (Colin Farrell). Pádraic doesn't take it well, but Colm is extremely serious, and the two remain tangled in brutal ways while others, especially Pádraic's sister (Kerry Condon) and the village idiot (Barry Keoghan), try to stay afloat in their wake. To say more would be to say too much, but the film was an unexpected wonder to watch and one of writer-director Martin McDonagh's best works.