(This article is part of our Best of 2022 series.)
What an amazing year for movies. Compared to a Covid-driven crater in the industry, 2022 was a feast of diverse and hugely satisfying films. There are still a few I have yet to seen (I’m working to get them in before turning in my SAW awards!) but I truly love all five of these movies on my list. I already did a top 5 halfway through the year, and this list is hardly different. Honestly, There are at least three or four honorable mentions just a hair behind from being on this list today, and ask me again tomorrow I might change my mind.
Everything Everywhere All at Once
This remains my favorite film of 2022 after months of challengers, and one of my favorite films of the past decade. Michelle Yeoh is perfect as an overwhelmed immigrant mother running a struggling laundromat while dealing with her silly husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) and her lesbian daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu). The film gradually introduces the multiverse as a metaphor for nihilism and all the noise of life, to emphasize how if nothing matters, our relationships with others are all we have. Quan, Hsu, and Jamie Lee Curtis as IRS agent Deirdre excel at not only portraying their “normal” selves but also multiple multiverses incarnations of their characters. Quan is arguably the heartbeat of the movie and Hsu is iconic as the villainous Jobu Topaki. Everything Everywhere All at Once is one of the most creative and ambitious movies made in a long time, and expertly balances absurd gross-out humor, engaging action, and as much heart and philosophy as any movie this year.
On the Count of Three
This bleak buddy comedy sees two lifelong best friends Val (Jerrod Carmichael) and Kevin (Christian Abbott) spend one last day together before they fulfill a sacred suicide pact, grappling with what led them to be in this position where they don’t want to live anymore. If that doesn’t sound like a bucket of laughs, you’re in for a big surprise as stand-up comedian Carmichael, who also wrote and directed the film, mines the situation for all the humor and heart that it’s worth. It is at once bleak and life-affirming, but above all, authentic. Abbott is particularly good in his portrayal of a man who feels failed by the system with an inescapable fate. Every beat of this movie works in a big way.
This film may be too idiosyncratic for some people; those idiosyncrasies even detracted me from the movie on the first watch. But on a second watch, those faded into the background compared to the strengths of Peter Dinklage’s performance as Cyrano de Bergerac, the beautiful cinematography, and the terrific musical pieces. Director Joe Wright really captures something that makes the entire movie feel like a painting come to life. The classic love story rivals Romeo and Juliet and Cyrano delivers on that story. Swapping the traditional big nose element for Dinklage’s dwarfism sheds a potential silly distraction for a more grounded insecurity. While the original Cyrano may feel too unattractive for Roxanne, Dinklage’s portrayal makes the character feel altogether more doomed to a loveless life altogether.
The Menu came out of nowhere for many people, and I was no exception. it looked interesting, but I was blown away by the restaurant-themed skewering of the elite in this movie. Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy in particular stood out with typically stellar performances. The screenplay deliciously picks apart not just the food industry, but many other obsessive industries including entertainment. Whether it’s a couple who only eats there to feel elite or a critic who relishes finding things to interpret from the course, to the amateur “foodie” who is clearly out of his depth in reality. Give props to Mark Mylod for coming out of nowhere to direct this major gem.
Cha Cha Real Smooth
Apple TV+ once again has a potential hit on its hands a la Coda, with a sweet relationship rom-dramedy that peels back the veneer of a formulaic story and delivers something much more real and engaging. Cooper Raiff’s script is extremely mature for a 25-year-old filmmaker, and his performance as Andrew is endearing. Dakota Johnson has a real shot at Best Supporting Actress as Domino, the mother of an autistic teenage daughter on the edge of the adult world while still flirting with youth and possibility. This isn’t a rom-com; things don’t all work out exactly as planned, but there’s a beautiful message about the relationships and memories we make along the way, elevating it past standard fare.
Those are my five favorite films of 2022. What are your personal thoughts on my favorite films from the past year? Share them with me down in the comments!