JR'S TOP TEN FILMS-2022 EDITION
2021, 2020, 2019, 2019-2010, 2019 MID YEAR, 2018, 2018 MID YEAR, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2009-2000, 2006
Jim Rutkowski weighs in with his picks for the TOP 10 films of 20
2
2

2022-The Best Movies of an Uncertain Year

(011922) Cinema just had a rough year. While there were definitely upbeat stories to accompany the now constant anxieties percolating throughout the industry—from Tom Cruise once again asserting his dominance as the king of summer via Top Gun: Maverick to the surprise and wholly welcome blockbuster status of A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once -the fact remains that “the movies” are in a state of upheaval and uncertainty. Do massive, mainstream audiences still have taste left in their palates for original adult-skewing films? And if streaming is the future for dramas, comedies, and other “mid-budget” movies, what then is the future of streaming given that market’s own recent crises?

It’s a weird time. Yet one thing stays consistent: the satisfaction that comes with seeing a good movie. Whether that film makes you laugh, cry, or shudder, there is still an ineffable joy derived from being lost for a couple of hours in the dark. Finding those stories has gotten a little more difficult in recent years, but trust us, there is gold up in them hills. And sometimes its shine is as big and gaudy as you’d hope—like an F/A 18F jet rocketing past IMAX cameras. First off, a few honorable mentions:

Top Gun: Maverick:
Tom Cruise is pound for pound one of the last of the Hollywood “stars”. Willing to give 200% towards entertaining everyone, he throws everything AND the kitchen sink into his projects. And in the case of Maverick, succeeds admirably.

Prey:
On the surface, it's yet another attempt to drag out the Predator franchise. But by rooting the story in an unexpected time and place, as well as having a very strong lead character, this film is for my money the best film of the series.

Nope:
Jordan Peele's Nope plays with genre expectations, pairing confident and mouthy Keke Palmer with the hushed and inquisitive Daniel Kaluuya as a pair of siblings in a long line of Hollywood horse trainers. This incredible duo find themselves in the heart of an extraterrestrial scuffle, alongside a child star-turned-entrepreneur (Steven Yeun) and bewildering flashbacks to a chimpanzee gone berserk.

The Batman:
Benefiting from complete franchise isolation and a distinct lack of Bruce Wayne origin story, The Batman shows DC's Dark Knight as an angst-ridden rookie tearing Gotham City a brand-new face, not yet the polished article Batman movies usually depict. The moody tone combined with director Matt Reeves and Peter Craig's detective noir script also contributes to this injection of superhero movie freshness, while standout performances from Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle, Paul Dano as Riddler, and Colin Farrell as Penguin (not to mention Robert Pattinson himself) add a class and depth to the beautiful cinematography from Greig Fraiser.

Also:
The Northman, The Women King, The Eternal Daughter, Kimi, All Quiet on the Western Front, Women Talking.

As for the worst movie of the year, that's easy. Rob Zombie's adaptation of the 60's TV series
The Munsters. It proves that you should never let a fan of something adapt that something into a film. In a word: un-watchable.

And now, the 2022 TOP 10 Countdown...

 

10.) GLASS ONION
Director: Rian Johnson

Writer/director Rian Johnson and Daniel Craig reunite for a second whodunit in which gentleman sleuth Benoit Blanc (Craig) visits the world of the privileged, eccentric, and deadly. Here that world belongs to a tech billionaire “disruptor” (Edward Norton) and the circle of friends he’s gathered to a remote Greek island for a weekend of revelry and a game in which they must solve his “murder.” But when the game turns deadly Blanc has to spring into action. Johnson’s
Knives Out follow up is both twistier and more pointed than its predecessor, taking aim at the excesses of tech moguls, influencers, and politicians as it unfolds an ingeniously plotted mystery.
 

9.) RRR
Director: S. S. Rajamouli

If Hollywood were to produce a historical epic about the evils of 20th-century colonialism in India, chances are it would be slow, stately, and so slathered in Western guilt (however appropriately) that it would look something like, well, Gandhi. S.S. Rajamouli’s Telugu-language barrage on the senses, RRR, takes the opposite approach. It’s as slow and stately as a speedball. Set in the 1920s, before India’s independence from Britain, this swing-for-the-fences import stars N.T. Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan as a pair of allies coming at injustice from different ends. Early on there’s a sequence where the two first join together to save a child from a burning river that involves the most insane cinematic stunts since Mad Max traveled down Fury Road. I don’t think I blinked for the next hour. This is a long sit of a movie (187 minutes) and the plot is fairly dense and thickety, but the wild, balls-out bravado of Rajamouli’s filmmaking is undeniable. If you’re not convinced that this one is for you, just give it 30 minutes. I promise, at that point, resistance will be futile.
 

8.) MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON
Director: Dean Fleischer-Camp
Do you feel like sobbing your eyes out over a one-inch-tall shell wearing little shoes? Then this one’s definitely for you! This adorable, heart-wrenching story takes the form of a faux documentary in which a filmmaker finds Marcel, the one-inch-tall shell with shoes on, living in his Air-BnB. Marcel and his grandmother Connie are the only two shells left from their once-thriving community at the home-turned-rental-property, but Marcel is ready, with the help of the internet, to finally find his family. You’ll laugh, you’ll ruin your popcorn with tears, and you’ll likely have a hard time handling small inanimate objects around your place for a while.
 

7.) the FABLEMANS
Director: Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg’s latest interprets his own origins via the story of Sam Fabelman (played by Gabriel LaBelle) a movie-mad kid who comes into his own as an artist as his gifted computer scientist father (Paul Dano) and artistically inclined mother (Michelle Williams) — drift apart. It’s Spielberg’s love letter to his parents and to filmmaking, but it hardly comes off as navel-gazing or self indulgent. Instead it’s a complex love letter that doesn’t skimp on the difficulties and occasional ugliness of his profession, or his upbringing.
 

6.) DECISION TO LEAVE
Director: Park Chan-wook
The plot is familiar: while investigating a murder, Busan detective Jang Hae-jun (Park Hae-il) finds himself taken with the victim’s widow Song Seo-rae (Tang Wei)—who's also the chief suspect. But director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) makes the makes the most basic of noir set-ups feel fresh via his restless, stylish direction and a deep investment in his character’s emotional lives, particularly a femme fatale (or is she?) depicted with great depth and fragility by Tang.
 

5.) THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN
Director: Martin McDonagh
The new pitch black comedy from Martin McDonaugh takes us to a fictional remote Irish island wherein resides Pádraic (Colin Farrell in peak form), a sweet and uncomplicated farmer with a beloved miniature donkey named Jenny. Life is good for Pádraic, until it’s not: his best friend, a curmudgeonly fiddle player named Colm (Brendan Gleeson), decides he no longer wants to speak to him. So intent is Colm cutting ties that he threatens to cut off one of his own fingers every time Pádraic tries. And, well, it only gets more brutal from there. Great sweaters—plus a scene-stealing turn from rising fave Barry Keoghan—though.
 

4.) AFTER YANG
Director: Kogonada
I have a major weakness for small-scale science fiction, tales of robots exploring higher consciousness, and the work of Colin Farrell (who was also incredible in The Banshees of Inisherin this year). So After Yang was practically made for me, yet still, the director Kogonada’s second feature exceeded my expectations, finding new life in the familiar tale of a malfunctioning android. Buoyed by Kogonada’s whisper-quiet storytelling sensibility, After Yang delves into a future that’s neither dystopian nor utopian, in which a family is shattered by the loss of Yang (Justin H. Min), who is both a nanny and an artificial son of sorts to Jake (Farrell) and Kyra (Jodie Turner-Smith). The emotional revelations build slowly but land with a thunderclap. It also has the single best opening-credit sequence of any 2022 film.
 

3.) TAR
Director: Todd Field
2022 produced few movie moments as unsettling as the moment in Todd Field’s TÁR in which the acclaimed composer and conductor Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) hears a scream in the distance while jogging. She — and we — never learns the origin of the scream but that’s not the point. It’s an image of a seemingly impervious character suddenly realizing the world might hold threats for her she’d never imagined. Field’s expansive film allows Blanchett to explore a deeply flawed (but, stylish) character in full as Lydia makes the long journey from the top of the classical arts world to unknown depths after her past history of taking sexual advantage of those under her supervision comes to light. It’s a nuanced and complex drama that considers how beauty sometimes comes from ugly sources and ponders what form redemption can take for those on the other side of scandal, if it’s possible at all.

 

2.) EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
Director: David Kwan and Daniel Scheilnert
The title doesn’t lie: the second feature from The Daniels (the directing team of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) features everything from occasionally outrageous kung fu action to a Pixar parody as it sends Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), a discontent Laundromat owner across the multi-verse on a journey that could save her fracturing family (and maybe existence itself in the process). The film mixes absurd humor and poignance in an overwhelming rush of action scenes, movie homage's, and family drama. It’s a touching Indy drama in the form of a mind-bending blockbuster-or maybe it’s the other way around.
 

1.) AFTERSUN
Director: Charlotte Wells
The big heartbreaker of the year, is also my pick for the best of the year. Aftersun is a stunning debut from Charlotte Wells that follows an 11-year-old Scottish girl named Sophie (Frankie Corio) on vacation in Turkey with her young dad Calum (Paul Mescal). She’s carefree and precocious and enjoying the finest fruits of the 90s (No Fear t-shirts, the Macarena); he’s adrift and clearly struggling with something implacable. Only with the distance of time can adult Sophie—now the same age as Calum was on their trip and reflecting back—begin to understand her father. Aftersun is about memory and loss and seeing your parents as individual people, with an expertly-executed gut punch of an ending.
 

Images © Copyright 2023 by their respective owners No rights given or implied by Alternate Reality, Incorporated
Review © 2023 Alternate Reality, Inc.

LAST WEEK FEATURED:
"
Vito's 2022 Cinema Retrospective"

     

NEXT WEEK VITO REVIEWS:
"Women Talking
"