Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is time once again to reflect on the year’s cinematic calendar! It is time to list my top 10 BEST movies of 2022! If you have not read any of these countdowns before, the rules look a little something like this. First, I must have seen the movie for it to qualify for the list, obviously. There are certain titles I missed out on this year like “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” “Father Stu,” “RRR,” “Blonde,” and “Crimes of the Future.” I can only see so many things in one span of 365 days. Also, this is a subjective list. I am not saying these are the movies you should like, I am only giving my recommendations. Maybe you’ll like them, maybe not. I am not trying to force anyone to love these titles. Also, these movies must have had some theatrical release over the past year, even if it just played in one theater. If it is a straight to Disney+ or HBO Max title for example, the film does not qualify. Although on that note, I will be listing where you can find these movies as of writing this post. If you are reading this months from now, they might be somewhere else, but still. Also, if I reviewed the movie, which is the case for almost all of the entries on this list, I have attached links to my reviews of these projects. Check them out if you are interested in knowing more about my thoughts! With that out of the way, it is time to start counting down the movies, and we will start with these honorable mentions.
Honorable Mention: Top Gun: Maverick (available on Paramount+)
The first of six honorable mentions this year is “Top Gun: Maverick.” I saw “Top Gun: Maverick” three times this year, with two of those times being in a giant IMAX theater. It is probably the most immersive movie that has come out in 2022. Yes, even more than “Avatar: The Way of Water.” I like the first “Top Gun,” but I can easily claim this sequel is superior. This film is action-packed, funny, and ultimately has something for everyone.
Honorable Mention: Nope (available on Peacock)
Speaking of movies I saw three times this year, “Nope” is a Spielberg-like effort that offers stunning cinematography, a creepy UFO, and charismatic characters. What more could you want? While it is probably not in contention for any Oscars, Keke Palmer gives a performance that displays her talent and personality in full force. This is my least favorite film from Jordan Peele, but it also stands out for being his most fun. Give it a watch sometime.
Honorable Mention: Clerks III (available on VOD)
“Clerks III” is one of my favorite comedies of the year. Like some of the other films on this list, this is a love letter to filmmaking. But what makes this one stand out from say the recently mentioned “Nope,” is that it feels less like a love letter to Hollywood, perhaps industrial filmmaking. And instead, more of a shoutout to those working in independent films or those who just want to make movies with their friends. “Clerks III” is not only funny, but utilizes a true event from Kevin Smith’s life to add plenty of emotion. It is the best “Clerks” movie of the trilogy.
Honorable Mention: The Adam Project (available on Netflix)
“The Adam Project” is the latest collaboration from star Ryan Reynolds and director Shawn Levy. This film has a clever concept, a talented cast, and some slick action sequences. Alongside Ryan Reynolds, Walker Scobell plays a younger version of his character and delivers plenty of palatable chemistry. It is also a great watch for younger viewers, because I think they can take something away from the film in addition to being entertained by it.
Honorable Mention: Babylon (in theaters)
Similar to how “Nope” is my least favorite Jordan Peele directorial effort, I can say the same when it comes to “Babylon” directed by Damien Chazelle. Although despite that claim, I can nevertheless point out that “Babylon” is an absolute must see for lovers of film. The lead performances by stars like Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt are unspeakably grand. Some of the sets are among the most eye-popping of the year. For the most part, “Babylon” mixes comedy and drama to excellent results. It is another spectacular effort from Damien Chazelle.
Honorable Mention: Emergency (available on Prime Video)
Lastly for honorable mentions is “Emergency.” I watched “Emergency” late into the year, but I am glad I had the chance to check it out. This movie is responsible for some of 2022’s most gutbusting scenes, palatable chemistry between talent, and a simple concept done brilliantly. Like “Babylon,” there are certain moments that successfully blend comedy and drama, in addition to quite a few thrills.
With those out of the way, it is to talk about my favorite movies of the year one more time. These are my top 10 BEST movies of 2022!
#10. Smile (available on Paramount+)
Coming in at #10 is “Smile!” 2022 might be the best year for horror I have experienced while doing Scene Before, and this film is exhibit A as to why that is the case. This is a film that did not cost a ton of money to make, in fact it was intended to be a straight to Paramount+ release until they did test screenings. The test screenings had enormously positive results, the film was put in theaters, and people ate it up. Not to mention, Paramount must have been popping bottles over the humungous profit. This film has a terrific lead performance by Sosie Bacon, a captivating supporting cast, and a neat concept. Sosie Bacon is responsible for one of my favorite lead performances in a horror film since Toni Collete in “Hereditary.” The way she has to navigate the lead role through such terrifying, strange, and outlandish happenings is brilliantly realized and I bought into all of it. The horror genre has a history of delivering scares through repeated, expectedly horrifying concepts like clowns, ghosts, and monsters. “Smile” on the other hand effectively takes an everyday concept, specifically smiling, and makes it scary. Nevertheless, this movie was grin-inducing. “Smile” has elements of other horror movies, but uses those elements to create something delightfully fresh. This is the feature-length debut for Parker Finn, and I cannot wait to see what idea he comes up with next.
#9. Barbarian (available on HBO Max)
Speaking of top tier horror, #9 is “Barbarian.” This film is simple in its concept, but balls to the wall crazy good in its execution. Essentially, a woman rents a home while visiting a spot away from where she lives but she ends up finding another guest staying in the house when she arrives. Despite the confusion, the two end up staying together. Georgina Campbell and Bill Skarsgård have great chemistry and had my attention from the first act and beyond. Justin Long has a significant role in the movie and he does an outstanding job playing one of the most fascinatingly written characters of any movie I have seen this year. In addition, this film is scary, gory, and tense. There is a sense of conflict even in the most miniscule of moments. While there are some expected horror elements in “Barbarian,” the film stands out for how well it uses the relationship between Tess (Campbell) and Keith (Skarsgård) to not only further the story, but further the sense of unease for the former. After all, Tess is a woman entering a home with which she is unfamiliar and there is a seemingly strange man inside. Classic stranger danger. The ending feels a tad abrupt, but that is forgiven with one of the year’s most well-written scripts and some genuinely creepy moments.
#8. Turning Red (available on Disney+)
Up next on this list is “Turning Red!” Some of you might be thinking that this film goes against my theatrical only rule because it is a Disney+ release. Technically speaking, yes, it is primarily a Disney+ release. Although the film also released in select theaters at the same time. In fact, I had the privilege of getting to watch this film earlier this year at the El Capitan in Los Angeles. “Turning Red” is marvelously animated in addition to being ridiculously fun. The music in the film is occasionally catchy, the characters are likable, and I always rooted for the protagonist of Meilin Lee. “Turning Red” is my favorite Pixar film of the decade thus far because much like some of my other favorite Pixar movies like “Up,” it is a story that perfectly balances fun and emotion. It is a story that I adored because of how likable of a character Meilin is but also because of how it reminded me of how some people in my family, possibly including myself, may have had to adjust to me as I was growing up and becoming an adult. Granted, this film is a metaphor for puberty, and as a man, part of that metaphor involves something that I cannot experience firsthand. But that also goes to show how impactful this film is. It is a film that despite its subject matter, is accessible to a multitude of audiences and manages to keep me interested the whole way.
#7. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (in theaters, available on VOD)
If you thought “Turning Red” was a cool animation, then guess what? “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is freaking spectacular. While I care about Pixar, the studio that made “Turning Red,” a bit more than DreamWorks, when the studio has a hit, I am not afraid to acknowledge it. “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is a movie that did not deserve to be this good. It is not just fun, but it is hilarious, fast-paced, and surprisingly dark. I enjoyed the first “Puss in Boots” for what it was, but “The Last Wish” makes the original “Puss in Boots” look like “Shrek the Third” when I compare it to the first “Shrek” installment. Not only is the concept brilliant despite its simplicity, but it also delivers a great lesson for children. Antonio Banderas kills it as Puss, the supporting cast from Florence Pugh to John Mulaney all bring their A-game, and the writing does them all favors. Aside from that, this is one of the prettiest looking films of the year with stunningly realized action sequences. If anything, I would say “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” to my delightful surprise, is this year’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Not only does the movie excellently bring forth such an epic journey with likable characters, memorable moments, and tons of laughs. It also manages to break new ground in terms of delivering an unconventional, but attractive animation style. “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is a movie I would recommend for all ages.
#6. The Fabelmans (in theaters, available on VOD)
Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time and he continues to prove it this year with his brand-new movie, “The Fabelmans.” This movie was practically made for me. It is about a young boy growing up in a kooky family who just wants to make movies. I was sold with the premise, but little did I know how much said premise would translate to a great story on its own. “The Fabelmans” is not just a solid story, but it reminded me of why I do what I do. Specifically anything and everything around film and video. Whether it means making it or reviewing it. I do it for myself, obviously, but like this post, or anything else deemed artistic, I do it for an audience. If the audience continues to come back, I will keep making this for them. “The Fabelmans” showcases the importance of family while also highlighting the spirit of one’s hopes and dreams. The film is funny, dramatic, and heartwarming. This is one of the most fun watches of 2022 for a plethora of reasons. One reason why this movie is not higher on the list is because the second act, while still good, slightly falters at a certain point and shifts the tone dramatically before getting back on the horse in the third act, but it does not change the fact that I left “The Fabelmans” a happy camper. If you have ever had a dream, you will adore this movie.
#5. Pearl (available on VOD)
Up next is a movie I did not get to review this year, and that is “Pearl!” This year, Ti West created “X,” which I thought was a solid horror flick. Then months later we got this prequel. I waited a bit to watch both films, I nailed em both in a day, and I cannot be happier that I did. What a great series of films so far. “Pearl” surprised me because of how quick it came after “X.” Speaking of surprises, I was amazed in regard to how much more “Pearl” stuck with me compared to “X” after watching it. While films like “Glass Onion” have a more recognizable cast, the ensemble in “Pearl” is by far the cream of the crop for 2022. Mia Goth is a freaking legend as Pearl. Emma Jenkins-Purro plays her friend, Mitsy, to perfection. Pearl’s mom, played by Tandi Wright, is incredible. There is a particular argument between Wright and Goth that sent chills down my spine. Most horror movies give me chills through action. Maybe someone gets beaten, bloodied, killed. But despite how actions often speak louder than words, this is a film where words, not to mention moments of silence, become the elephants in the room. There is a five-minute monologue that is perfectly executed in every way from Ti West and crew behind the camera, and Mia Goth in front of it. It is almost the greatest scene of the year, and possibly the best acting of the year. For those who read this post, I recommend “X.” Give it a shot if you have not seen it. But if you must know, its follow-up prequel, “Pearl,” is jaw-dropping, mind-boggling, and I could not stop thinking about it the moment it was over. Give “Pearl” a watch sometime.
#4. The Banshees of Inisherin (in theaters, available on HBO Max)
What is the concept of “The Banshees of Inisherin?” Two friends break up. Sounds kind of boring, right? Well, it is not! In fact it is one of the most satisfying movies I have seen in recent memory! This movie had happiness, sadness, and everything in between. This is a simple concept that becomes more twisted by the second. The locations in this movie are easy on the eyes and some of the most attractive I have seen on screen this year. In an industry that is increasingly relying on green screens and new technologies like StageCraft, it is nice to see movies like “The Banshees of Inisherin” show the power of what shooting on location can do. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are brilliant together. Never have I wanted to spend so much time watching two characters who hate each other this much. This movie is directed by Martin McDonagh, who also helmed “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” While I liked “Three Billboards,” I loved “Banshees” and I cannot wait to see it again.
#3. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (available on VOD)
Up next is one of the cutest movies I have seen in my entire life, “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On!” I have not seen the “Marcel the Shell” web series that this movie bases itself on, but this does not change the fact that this movie offers the most adorable scenes and characters I have seen in recent film. I have seen a lot of movies, therefore I have witnessed plenty of comedic scenes, but “Marcel the Shell” offers a possible first for me through my moviegoing experiences. There was a segment in the film that had me laughing so hard that I drooled by an armrest. This is one of the few gems that audiences witnessed this year from A24, and it is undoubtedly one of my favorite movies from the studio. I think as far as family friendly movies go, there is almost no better option in regards to this year’s cinematic calendar. This is the kind of movie that will enlighten imaginations and entertain everyone. Despite being based on previously established materials, this is one of the most original and fresh stories of the year. On paper, this sounds ridiculous, but the execution is perfect. Give “Marcel the Shell” a shot, you might be surprised on how great it is!
#2. The Menu (in theaters, available on HBO Max)
Anya Taylor-Joy has been on a roll lately doing one interesting project after the next. Projects like “Emma.” and “Last Night in Soho.” While she made an okay movie with “The Northman,” I can declare that “The Menu” is a feast in every way. All the characters, even those as minor as can be, are charming. The editing is some of the cleanest and funniest of the year. The script is incredible. If I could relive one theatrical experience this year, my first experience of “The Menu” would be up there because of how hard I laughed. Very few movies have been this funny and haunting at the same time. I also loved John Leguizamo’s character. Hong Chau is excellent in her supporting role. Ralph Fiennes however practically steals the show as the eccentric chef Julian Slowik. I saw the trailer for this movie during almost every screening I went to for some time at the theater. It gladdens me to say despite how many times that trailer played, this movie still felt fresh and delivered plenty of moments to savor. Once again, this year has been chock full of great horror like the few films already mentioned on this list such as “Smile.” Although if I had to pick a favorite project within the horror genre, it would probably be “The Menu.” This movie delivers some of the best dark comedy in recent cinema. The laughs were neither short or quiet. Above all, “The Menu” is this year’s greatest encapsulation of what horror can be.
#1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (available on Paramount+, Showtime)
Through all the ups and downs, peaks and valleys, and all that jazz, we have arrived to my favorite film that I saw for the first time in theaters this year, excluding “Belle,” which despite being on some of this year’s best lists, is technically a 2021 film. I would love to include it, but I cannot, because reasons.
That said, I can include the greatest multiverse story ever told, one so great that it is unfathomable as to how it can ever be beaten. My #1 best movie of 2022 is “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Between the recently mentioned “Marcel the Shell,” the “X” movies, and even movies like “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” A24 killed it with this year’s slate, and “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is the holy grail of this great slew of films. There is so much to love about “Everything Everywhere All at Once” that I am not sure I would have time to list all the reasons. To start, here is some talk about the film’s originality. For those of you who say original filmmaking is dead, let me just remind you that in recent times, there is an executive who thought a movie about a woman who tries to save all of reality while dealing with the IRS and her family was a good idea. This is one of the best concepts for a film I have ever heard, and it has led to one of the best films I have ever seen. I try to avoid seeing movies twice in theaters, but this is one where I made an exception. This is the kind of film that would make for an outstanding watch with friends who have no idea what it is. I would love to invite a friend or two over who have never seen the movie and see how they react to certain scenes because I am sure some of those reactions will either stand out, or vary across the board. Either way, despite following the recent multiverse trend Marvel has been doing lately, this movie is a one of a kind. I have never seen anything like it, and it is possible I will never see anything like it again.
Every single cast member had to take on perhaps one of the toughest, most complex roles they had to face in their lives. Because they are not just playing one character, they’re playing two, three, four, sometimes hundreds of different iterations of the same character. Each one is unique enough to pass as its own, but they are all a small part of this massive story. Michelle Yeoh plays the lead role of Evelyn, and said character is the perfect center to this movie as she is perhaps a representation of everyone who had a dream. This movie begs the question as to what our lives could have been if we made a certain choice, or if our lives are planned out to be super exciting or totally boring from the getgo. Joining Yeoh is Jamie Lee Curtis as a cranky IRS inspector, in addition to Stephanie Hsu as a massively layered character by the name of Joy, and you have Ke Huy Quan making a comeback as Waymond, Evelyn’s husband. All of these performances are terrific and each one of their characters maintain a great deal of pizzazz and personality.
This film has perhaps the most ridiculous, absurd, jaw-dropping use of quantity, and therefore, it all adds up to what can only be described as god tier quality. The amount of universes we visit, the varied characters we see, the concepts that feel new, fresh, and exciting, it all makes the film so thrilling, and yet, mind-numbing to describe. There are so many exciting things going on in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” that there has to be more than one definitive, perfect, sellable way to tell people what this movie actually is on the surface. Although the best thing about this film is that despite its convolution, despite so many different things going on all at once, it does not keep itself from neglecting the core of its story. Evelyn is easily the most likable protagonist of the year because while she does whatever she can to succeed in accomplishing her goals, we also see other versions of her who are practically superior, and while they may be happy, it makes me feel sympathetic toward the central Evelyn who is spending her days running a laundromat. We see hints of her other interests throughout the movie. Perhaps her other creative aspirations. There are others in this great multiverse who are living dreams that she failed to achieve, so in a way, I feel bad for this Evelyn most of all. This movie got me to care about rocks sitting next to each other. I cannot remember the the last time I said that. I sometimes think about and appreciate how animations can successfully turn inanimate things like toys into lively, emotional figures. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” on the other hand is live-action, and I found myself surprisingly captivated by rocks. This movie takes big swings, and every hit is a grand slam. While “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is not my favorite movie of all time, it is one that is so unique, so one of a kind in its nature, that I do not know how it could possibly be done as a sequel or how people could rip it off with pleasing results. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is a representation of what people’s lives could have been, and yet, shows us what life is all about. That is why it is my favorite movie of 2022.
Thanks for reading this countdown! First off, I want to shoutout everyone who made a movie in 2022, good or bad. You kept this moron inside the cinema or in front of the television, and I call that an achievement. If you want me to be real, 2022 did not have a lot of exceptionally great movies compared to other years, same with the exceptionally bad. There were plenty of good movies though. Although some, like the recently mentioned “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” falls under the category of exceptional. It is that epic. That said, the time for 2022 movies is coming to a close, and it is time to move on to 2023! I want to announce some time this year, we will be doing the 5th Annual Jack Awards. For those who do not know, I do this thing every year called the Jackoff Awards, where I celebrate the year in film. It is like the poor man’s version of the Oscars. And yes, I said Jack Awards. I am changing the name. It is my show, I can do what I want! The other name is kind of getting old. It did win a Twitter poll, and that is why I stuck with it, but this year I decided, enough is enough. Stay tuned for the 5th Annual Jack Awards, coming later this winter! Some of the films mentioned here, possibly all of them, could contend for Best Picture when the awards arrive. Stay tuned! If you want to see more of my recent countdowns, check out my top 10 WORST movies of 2022, and speaking of leaping into the new year, also be sure to check out my top 10 MOST ANTICIPATED movies of 2023! If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, what are your favorite movies of 2022? Did I miss anything? Do you agree with my list? Disagree? List your picks down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!