If you've hit up your local cinema only to be left with the choice of one of twenty sessions of the latest Harry Potter film or an obscure indie movie, I'm here to encourage you to choose the latter. For every popcorn-fuelled blockbuster, there's an even better film that will eventually hit the awards circuit, or at the very least, become a new favourite.
We've pulled together our shortlist for the best movies of 2022 to make your next trip to the cinema (or your TV) a breeze. From mind-bending multiversal emotional rollercoasters to the latest incarnations of our favourite comic book heroes, there's no need to waste your cinema ticket on something that's just meh. We'll keep adding to this list as 2022 goes on, so be sure to bookmark this tab for future reading.
1. Everything Everywhere All At Once
Trying to summarise A24's latest hit is a toughie. Take a mind-bending multiverse-based sci-fi, add in a dash of The Matrix-inspired action sequences, and pour in a whole bunch of emotion that'll make you want to hug your mum when it's done, and you've got Everything Everywhere All At Once. According to our reviewer, it's "absurdist, big-hearted, humorous and action-packed." A true masterpiece, expect thisto be on high rotation come Oscar season. It's early days, but it might just be the best film of the year.
If you haven't heard of this one through the grapevine yet then chances are that you've seen Fresh's infamous dance scene on TikTok's FYP. Featuring Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan, Fresh explores the world of cannibalism. Yep, cannibalism. It's an intelligent and female-centred horror that'll swear you off meat forever.
3. The Northman
Robert Eggers (of The Lighthouse & The Witch) has blessed 2022 with a ripper of a film. A true auteur, Eggers can do no wrong. The Northman stars Alexander Skarsgard as a Viking warrior with a thirst for revenge (surprise, surprise), after his daddy (Ethan Hawke) is murdered. Featuring an additional cast of Eggers' regulars like Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicole Kidman, and Willem Dafoe, The Northman is dark and brutal, albeit a stunning feast for the eyes. Warning: it might make you hate humans.
4. Turning Red
To lighten things up a bit, consider Pixar's Turning Red. A film about a girl who turns into a giant red panda when she becomes emotional, Turning Red is also deeply emotional and filled with themes of intergenerational responsibility. It really captures the rollercoaster that is being a teenage girl, from crushes to raging hormones to struggles with familial relationships and female friendships. It's cute, uplifting, and proof that Pixar just gets us.ADVERTISEMENT
5. Top Gun: Maverick
If you're surprised to see Top Gun up there as one of the best films of 2022, you're not alone. But this one has rippled through our screens, bringing some much-needed nostalgia with it. Set more than three decades after its predecessor, Tom Cruise reprises his role as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell. It's the epitome of exhilarating, with fantastic action sequences and pure unbridled energy.
A24 studio is notorious for producing some of the best horror films out there (Hereditary, Midsommar, and It Comes At Night, just to name a few). And it seems like X is set to join that lineup. There are some things about X that feel rightfully formulaic — set in the 70s, a group rents a barn from a creepy farmer and his wife. As the group discovers they're not who they appear to be, a stellar use of classic horror tropes is employed. But what's memorable about X is that it keeps that horror feeling pulsating throughout, without compromising on its meticulously fresh indie feel.
7. The Worst Person In The World
Whilst this one hit theatres at the end of December 2021, we're counting it towards our 2022 credits. The Worst Person in the World is the latest Cannes award-winning film from Joachim Trier. If being a Cannes winner doesn't draw you in, how about a good old existential crisis? Julie (the luminous Renate Reinsve) is just someone trying to figure herself out. Immensely relatable.ADVERTISEMENT
8. The Batman
The Batman renaissance is upon us! In the latest take of our favourite comic, Robert Pattinson takes the reins as a young, introverted and plain weird Bruce Wayne. It's hard to pinpoint just one thing that makes this film so refreshing. First, Zoë Kravitz. Second, the dark and gritty Seven-esque vibe with an emphasis on cinematography. Then, you've got an excellent villain in the form of The Riddler (Paul Dano). But my favourite part is how they've approached this Batman era, stripped down to his roots in full detective mode. It'll be a hot conversation topic this year — get your Bale versus Pattinson arguments ready.
9. The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent
Who would have thought Nicolas Cage would legitimately produce something worth watching?! Turns out, the secret to success was something quite simple — being aware. In The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent, Cage is in on the joke. Starring as… himself, Cage accepts a $1million offer to attend the birthday of a crazy superfan, but is soon forced to channel his most iconic on-screen characters.
10. After Yang
South Korean-born director Kogonada returns with After Yang, a Sundance and Cannes nominated film that's picture-perfect. Starring Colin Farrell, who is well-versed in weird and wonderful films (cc: The Lobster), this sci-fi will stun you. When his daughter's friend, an android named Yang, malfunctions, Jake (Colin Farrell) searches for a way to repair it.
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2022 and straight into the Sydney Film Festival circuit comes Utama, a stunningly poignant love story from the Bolivian highlands. It follows an elderly Indigenous Quechea couple (José Calcina and Luisa Quispe) who live remotely with their 20 (give or take) llamas. But after a severe and prolonged drought, they must decide whether to move to the city for the sake of survival or to stay and preserve their culture. Alejandro Loayza Grisi's feature film debut is a true spectacle for the senses — featuring immaculate sound design, perfectly lingering frames of desolate landscapes, and a slow-paced, authentic exploration into its character's lives. It's proof that film, perhaps more than any other mode of transportation, has the power to take you anywhere in the world.
12. Piggy (Cerdita)
Based on the award-winning short horror film of the same name, Carlota Pereda’s Piggy follows Sara (Laura Galán), a teenager who is mercilessly bullied for her weight. The opening scenes are virtually the same as the short (which, while brilliant, only alludes to the horrific ending) but Pereda expounds on this in her feature, while exploring the themes of power, violence, desire and complicity. Galán gives an excellent performance in this coming of age film that's a must-watch for horror fans.
13. Good Luck To You, Leo Grande
Written by Katy Brand and directed by Sophie Hyde, Good Luck To You, Leo Grande quietly explores motifs of ageing, desire, loneliness and shame. Multiple Academy Award winner Emma Thompson shines as Nancy Stokes, a retired schoolteacher and widow who has never had an orgasm. She hires a young, attractive sex worker (played by Daryl McCormack) to explore her sexuality in a way she never could with her husband. While the film is ostensibly about sex and female desire (particularly as we age), it isn't afraid to venture into murkier territory, like the power dynamics involved in sex work.
Written and directed by two-time Archibald Prize winner Australian visual artist Del Kathryn Barton, Blaze is a powerful story about a twelve-year-old girl who witnesses a traumatic event and processes it by receding into her imagination, which features a dragon named Zephyr, along with vintage dolls and various anthropomorphic entities. With trippy visuals, a haunting storyline and a compelling performance by Julia Savage as Blaze, this film will stay with you long after you've watched it.