I started writing about movies in 2014 under The Colorful Silver Screen; I’ve written about them under several different blog titles since, but I had a regular audience throughout those title changes. I’ve stuck with T.’s Take since 2017, and it’s now hard to stay motivated to write for a blog when I can’t build a regular audience anymore. Still, I occasionally want to have a more personalized place than Letterboxd and Twitter to jot down my thoughts, so I’m going to rank every 2022 movie I’ve seen by now on this blog.
I’m not a fan of straight-up dramas and art house films, so this isn’t the most comprehensive year-end list you’ll find. In fact, since I don’t watch many new movies, I rank everything I see in a year instead of give a top ten. That said, this is one of the widest varieties of new releases within a year I’ve seen, even if there are still stragglers from this year I won’t be able to get to until after I’ve posted this list.
I’m splitting the ranking into four categories: movies I DISLIKED; movies I MODERATELY LIKED; movies I GENERALLY LIKED; and movies I LOVED. I also want to give a shout-out to some of my favorite not-new movies I saw for the first time this year: 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016), Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes (2020), One Crazy Summer (1986), The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), Love and Monsters (2020), and Searching (2018). Now onto this year’s titles:
20. Old (PG-13) – M. Night Shyamalan’s adaptation of a graphic novel about vacationers who experience rapid aging on a beach they can’t escape from is, like Split (2017), another recent horror effort of his that’s missing the heart of his inaugural efforts like The Sixth Sense (1999) and Signs (2002); also like Split, it’s my least favorite movie of its year. These days, Shyamalan’s content with being weird and nasty just for the heck of it; I can’t call his creative vision uninspired, though.
19. Jurassic World Dominion (PG-13) – Like the previous Jurassic World movies, it’s unremarkable but palatable fluff, with its greatest offerings being the dino action and the nostalgia of finally seeing Sam Neil, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum reunited.
18. Uncharted (PG-13) – Calling this one of the most competent video game movies I’ve ever seen isn’t saying much, but as someone who likes the Uncharted games more in theory than in their vulgar and mean-spirited practice, I found the movie’s thrills and laughs agreeable enough. (Full review)
17. Nope (R) – I have specific tastes in horror, so Jordan Peele’s previous works don’t pique my interest; hearing that this one is more of a monster movie, though, made me want to check it out. The irony of this is that I liked the movie’s first half of buildup much more than the second half’s turn into a monster movie, where the nature of the beast disturbed me more than it scared me while also having silly weaknesses. I can say that this is the first movie I’ve ever seen that has a made up SNL skit as part of its lore, though.
16. The Lost City (PG-13) – The entire first act of this Romancing the Stone (1984) for the 21st century had me laughing hysterically; on that level, it agreed with me more than Romancing the Stone. Alas, the last two acts have merely occasional laughs, opting to be more cute than funny. It’s also unfortunate how the story validates the idea of smutty romance novels.
15. See How They Run (PG-13) – Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan lead this self-aware whodunnit with terrific comic timing, especially from Ronan. Alas, the laughs and meta commentary fizzle down after a while.
14. Thor: Love and Thunder (PG-13) – It wastes its villain’s interesting potential, a couple subplots go too politically correct, and it forgets that the gods in the Marvel Cinematic Universe aren’t actually gods. But, it did have me laughing throughout, it has a couple of innovative action scenes, and its ending is touching. While it’s far from the greatest Marvel movie, Bao the God of Dumplings may be the greatest thing I’ve seen in a Marvel movie.
13. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PG-13) – I enjoyed its ambition and admired its attempts at poignancy, but I didn’t really feel those attempts until some very late flashbacks to the first movie. It’s not a bad sequel, but, since I don’t think the character they’ve chosen to now lead this franchise is qualified to do so, there could have been a better sequel had they recast T’Challa.
12. Kimi (HBO Max) (R) – A conspiracy thriller that has a couple of brilliant gags and payoffs, but for all its potentially thought-provoking themes, it ultimately ends up feeling disposable. Still, I really connected with the protagonist, played compellingly by Zoë Kravitz, even if her anxiety issues are more extreme than my own.
11. Night of the Coconut (Nebula) (NR) – It’s hard to explain the very premise of Night of the Coconut since it’s the feature-length culmination of a storyline that developed throughout a series of video essays by Patrick H. Willems. Still, I now want to see Patrick produce a feature-length movie with this same sense of coco-nutty invention that doesn’t require a series of video essays to understand, as long as he doesn’t throw in another anti-Catholic joke.
10. Ambulance (R) – This isn’t the first Michael Bay movie I ever liked since I used to love his Transformers movies, but between this and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016), Michael Bay now has two movies that appeal to my current sensibilities. With Ambulance, I’m still not a fan of how hyperactive Bay’s camera and editing can get, its runtime feels a little too long, and its conclusion is morally muddled, but I was invested in its story, characters, and Bayhem to the end, with its effective buildups of tension and humor to break them, even if some of the jokes feel forced.
9. Beast (R) – It may not have been a hit at the box office, but it was a hit with me, pitting a family against a rogue lion with unique camera staging, scary suspense, and a human element that’s not the brightest but nonetheless sympathetic. (Full review)
8. Prey (Hulu) (R) – More enjoyable to me than the original Predator (1987), presenting its gore less in-your-face and making up for its unintentionally hokey dialogue with thrilling action direction (it missed the opportunity to be called Predater, though). (Full review)
7. The Batman (PG-13) – It’s hard to picture this reboot leading to a planned trilogy when this one movie is long enough to already feel like a whole trilogy, but it refreshingly brings Batman to his detective roots that the mostly superior Christopher Nolan trilogy merely touched upon.
6. Thirteen Lives (Amazon) (PG-13) – Ron Howard nerve-wrackingly directs this retelling of a true daring cave rescue that happened in 2018 Taiwan, with Viggo Mortensen as rescuer Rick Stanton adopting an accent so British that it takes me aback even as a Lord of the Rings fan.
5. Avatar: The Way of Water (PG-13) – Not only does this have some of the most stunning visuals and immersive world building ever put to film, but it also introduces a new cast more endearing than the original’s while adding more dimension to the existing cast. That said, the teenage angst and over-ambition within the family at the center of the story can be frustrating, major threads are left dangling for its sequels, and the plot takes many detours during its middle act that I couldn’t appreciate until my second viewing where I knew where they were going. An uneven yet enchanting experience.
4. Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (PG) – I have so many questions about its world building, and it could have done without a couple of edgy jokes, but those problems sink into the background when it has me smiling and laughing throughout and even almost makes me shed tears for a snail shell. A person really is a person no matter how small, or shell-like.
3. Belle (PG) – Despite pacing issues that became more apparent on second viewing, I think the story’s emotional impact is more than powerful enough to overcome them, and its music and visuals are gorgeous. (Previous review)
2. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (Roku) (TV-14) – UHF (1989) is one of my all-time favorites, but Weird Al’s exaggerated autobiography that fittingly mocks the cliches of the biopic genre is downright brilliant, making me laugh until I couldn’t breath on several occasions.
1. Top Gun: Maverick (PG-13) – The platonic ideal of a crowd pleaser, perfectly balancing action, drama, and humor. And if Avatar aims to wow us with what can be done with computers, Maverick aims to wow us with what can be done in-camera, with actors being flown in real airborne jets. As I’ve said elsewhere, the original Top Gun (1986) grated on me so much that I couldn’t finish it, so it’s outright miraculous that its sequel is not only a great movie on its own but also my favorite movie of 2022.
While there weren’t any movies last year I outright loved, this year has four, and given how many movies on this list I liked in general, I’d say this was a pretty good movie year! Here’s to hoping for next year to also be good, even if not many of its titles have caught my interest as of now – and to hoping that I can produce at least two 2D animated shorts next year (my first one).