Before I get into my picks for the year, I want to do a quick shout out to a number of fantastic films that I almost included in my top 10.
I’ll start with the blockbusters. “Maverick” was very entertaining — I think the massive box office performance speaks for itself — but I found the writing and the acting pretty basic. Similarly, I really enjoyed the “maximalist” approach to “RRR,” and I had a lot of fun watching it; yet, the film sags a bit in the middle and honestly the exaggerated tone hurts the overall pacing and performances. “Avatar: The Way of Water” was easily the most visually appealing entry of the year, but it’s too long and the story needed another draft or two.
We had a strong year for animated films. I would definitely recommend “Lightyear,” “Wendell & Wild,” “My Father’s Dragon,” and “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” but none of these were quite at the level of the films listed below. In more serious fare, the documentary “Eternal Spring” — which tells its story using 3D animation — was one of the best documentaries of 2022. (Other great documentaries from the year include “Fire of Love,” “Moonage Daydream” and “Prehistoric Planet.”)
For more adult, darker fare: “The Banshees of Inisherin” should probably be on this list (it’s gorgeous, razor-sharp, and well executed on every technical level) but it just didn’t resonate with me. I really enjoyed Sam Mendes’ “Empire of Light” — I am in the minority with that opinion — but it definitely has flaws in terms of structure and pacing.
Finally, I saw some fantastic releases this year that may not be “the best” but are worth mentioning: Bess Wohl’s “Baby Ruby” (it lives in my head rent-free), Charlotte Wells’ “Aftersun,” Marie Kreutzer’s “Corsage,” and Ti West’s “Pearl.”