Best movies of the year you need to watch right now

Dec 21 2022, 5:12 pm

With so many streamers and changing theatrical release windows, finding the best movies of the year can be hard.

Because there are so many changing places to catch a new movie, it can be confusing, but that also means there more options than ever before. For your viewing pleasure, we watched over 220 movies from 2022 to decide what the best ones are, including a few honourable mentions.

It was an eventful year for movies. Gosling made his comeback in a Netflix action movie (The Grey Man), Machine Gun Kelly co-directed a very bad film (Good Mourning), Lindsay Lohan made her comeback (Falling for Christmas), and the first gay romantic comedy from a major studio featuring an entirely LGBTQ principal cast was released (Bros).

There will always be too many movies released to see every single one, but you should know which films you simply can’t miss.

Here are our 10 picks for the best movies of the year in 2022.

10. Avatar: The Way of Water

“Wherever we go, this family is our fortress.”

You’d be forgiven if you haven’t seen the original Avatar since it came out in 2009. It was way too long, filled with corny dialogue, and the “3-D experience” of it all seemed essential once it left the theatre.

But if you have rewatched it recently, you quickly realize that’s all still true but that the effects are still AMAZING. Movies now are dark and muted, often to disguise a rush in the VFX department. Since 2009, superhero movies have become the sole blockbuster. The DC Universe basically has zero colours, and the MCU is known for terrible roto and scene composition. It’s what results from directors and VFX not speaking to each other because those movies have become more of a machine than an artistic endeavour, even if often a fun one.

When Avatar came out, there were two MCU movies. There are now over 40, and The Way of Water is back to show what time, care, and a singular vision can do to a film’s look. It’s the most impressive visual film of the year and probably of all time. Big Jim is back, and he is never to be doubted.

The original was a rip-off of Dances With Wolves, which was a rip-off of Pocahontas. But this sequel is its own movie, and although it isn’t perfect, it has its own identity. When the plot isn’t propelling forward, the world is growing larger and more intricate, all of which is leading to a final hour of mind-blowing action scenes and cry-worthy moments.

Will it hold up on your TV at home? No, but who cares. Go see this in the theatre and have your mind blown for five hours or however long this movie was.

9. Lady Chatterley’s Lover

“There’s a little flame between us that’s always burning.”

We get it. Romantic period pieces based on English literature can get a bad rap.

People just seem to think they’re boring. It doesn’t seem to matter that modern movies like Atonement, Wuthering Heights, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, or Pride and Prejudice are as riveting as they are beautiful and 100% must-watches.

These stories aren’t just about courting each through hand-written letters across the countryside. The best in the genre are about people confined to the times they are in, experiencing a forbidden love that has no choice but to exist and destroy everything in its path.

That’s exactly why Lady Chatterley’s Lover is so refreshing. It has all of these elements and is clearly indebted to the source material, but without spoiling too much, it leaves behind the sombre and sorrowful that usually leaves us weeping as the credits roll and instead, allows the love to exist. This is a story of forbidden love with hope, not despair.

Plus, it has to be said, Jack O’Connell and Emma Corrin’s chemistry basically melts the screen every time they’re together. That helps. If there were a “hottest movies of 2022” list, this period piece would be at the top.

8. The Northman

“I will avenge you, Father! I will save you, Mother! I will kill you, Fjölnir!”

Robert Eggers passion for gritty violence and realistic dialogue everything is a put-off for some, but you have to hand it to him, he’s the only one doing it. He’s definitely the only one doing it while having so much fun.

His first movie was The VVitch, a “New England folk-tale” where the dialogue was authentic to 1630s New England and Eggers even consulted experts on 17th-century British agriculture. Sounds boring. It was terrifying.

His second movie was The Lighthouse, where he actually built the lighthouse from nothing and hired Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson to speak like it was 1890s New England and drink and fart all night. Sounds weird. It was thrilling.

In The Northman, we get a Viking tale of revenge that’s truly epic in scale when it wants to be. A camera one-shot of a village raid or a volcano-set fight scene might imply this is a generic gore fest for the boys, and you’d be right to expect that from a Viking tale featuring a ripped Alexander SkarsgĂĄrd trudging through the mud — but it’s more than that. The film is at its best in its smallest moments, like the bonkers hallucinatory visions with the perfectly cast Bjork, or in a tender hot springs embrace with the scene-stealing Ana Taylor Joy, or in every scene where Nicole Kidman is going full Nicole Kidman (in a good way).

It’s a movie mostly about bloodlust, but it’s also a little bit about normal lust too. Sometimes that’s what you want in your highly historically accurate Viking action thriller romance movie.

7. The Stranger

“Breathe in clear air and breathe out the black.”

This is probably the biggest wild card on the list.

The Stranger feels like a Netflix movie that came and went with little cultural impact at all. It could be because it’s incredibly dark, or maybe it’s the fault of the Netflix algorithm pushing most of its subpar teen comedies at you. Whatever the reason, The Stranger is worth seeking out.

Based on the true Australian story, this is a psychological crime thriller inspired by the murder investigation of Daniel Morcombe. That’s all we’re going to say because the information this film withholds is why it’s so great. It’s a slow burn, but it’s worth it.

For most of the movie, the audience never really knows who anyone is or even necessarily if there is some sort of plan. By the time the plot, and the action of the detectives involved, reach a point of no return, we are fully allowed into the story. It’s a twist that never feels gimmicky. Most of the story is haunting, often with ominous visions and creepy conversations, until the last half an hour becomes the true crime story you’ve been craving and hoping it would become.

After watching a generic mystery movie, like 2022s I Came By (also Netflix), and you think to yourself, “it was fine, not quite sure how they would improve it”…this is an example of how a filmmaker can improve on a straightforward story without turning it into a Wikipedia page on the screen.

6. She Said

“We’re all here, Harvey.”

If you like All the President’s Men, Spotlight, The Insider, or any other great movies about the gritty, slow-working nature of investigative journalism, then She Said is for you.

This is based on the real-life New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor and their investigation that exposed Harvey Weinstein’s history of abuse and sexual misconduct.

Like all of the best in the genre, the cast is outstanding, but the story is at its best when the lead reporters are front and centre, working within the system to find the answers and release the truth.

The riveting set pieces scattered throughout the film are not in explosive arguments or sudden revelations that save the day at the last minute but in the quiet conversations when people are willing to talk, and much more important, when people are finally willing to listen.

5. Everything Everywhere All At Once

“So, even though you have broken my heart yet again, I wanted to say, in another life, I would have really liked just doing laundry and taxes with you.”

Yeah, this was alright, I guess — just the most fun, funny, inventive, beautiful, romantic thing audiences have seen in years, and if it wasn’t such a smash hit, it’d be called an instant cult classic already.

Inspired by all kinds of movies before it, like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Matrix, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and strangely enough, Ratatouille, the title of this movie sometimes feels like what the two directors of the same name (The Daniels) are throwing at you in dialogue and visuals.

From the intense and frantic fighting scenes to the perplexing explanations of how the universes work, to the moments of silence as we watch rocks sit there doing nothing, and even in the tender grip of hot dog fingers, we are arrested in our seats. And it all works.

The movie wouldn’t work at all without Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, giving not just dramatic portrayals of everyday people but bringing believable fight scenes, emotional gravitas, and a sense of humour to every scene, and sometimes…all at once.

To talk about what makes this movie so special would be to spoil it, so it’s best to just say what the movie is about and let you be surprised. This is a story about a Chinese-American immigrant who owns a laundromat and is getting audited by the IRS.

4. Nope


2022 was a sneaky great year for horror. Smile, Barbarian, Prey, Significant Other, Resurrection, and Speak No Evil are all examples of why it remains one of the most interesting genres, but Jordan Peele proved himself the modern horror master again with Nope.

Nope, a Western as much as it is a horror flick is scary but also funny, weird, thought-provoking, and most of all, original.

Get Out was an instant hit. Us was divisive. Nope feels like both. It’s a movie about spectacle, harnessing the wild, race in Hollywood, and this science fiction western with genuine twists, fun performances, and massive spectacle awes on the first watch but also rewards multiple viewings. Few directors still get blank cheques like this to make a studio film that plays in theatres based on an original script: Tarantino, Nolan, Anderson…and Peele. Plus, it’s always a treat to see Daniel Kaluuya on screen, but it’s finally a character worthy of Keke Palmer’s enormous talents.

Answers to why the shoe behaved like that may never be answered for you, but answers to what that strange noise in the sky is (and why it stops), and it makes it all the more horrifying.

3. Top Gun Maverick

“Daggers descending below radar. Dagger attack.”

Besides the fact that this basically saved the theatrical experience (for now) making well over a billion dollars worldwide, this thing is just fun.

It’s a nostalgia hit, sure, but in an era of way too much of it, Maverick knows when to pull the strings (“talk to me, Goose”) and when not to (beach football is DIFFERENT that beach volleyball). The first movie is random aerial tasks to see who gets Top Gun. Awesome. The sequel? Specific aerial manoeuvres to pull off a real-world mission. Even more awesome.

For a majority of the runtime, even though we see Maverick fly and explode at Mach 10 (lol) in the first 10 minutes, we know this can’t possibly live up to the anticipation of what the training promises. Tight flying through a canyon, climbing mountains, inverted missile fires, getaway chases…but in that one single shot of Sam sites firing and planes evading in the mountains, every packed audience realized at the same time…Tom did it.

All we ever get now are lazy, green-screen, forgettable action movies (looking at you, Moonfall), and Top Gun was one that turned and burned through it all with real cockpit shots and real Gs pulling down the absolutely gorgeous faces of these actors.

2. Tar

“It’s not until I conducted it that I became convinced we’re all capable of murder.”

Tar is an incredibly high-concept story that is so skillfully made as a biopic that it became a running joke that people were blindly believing that Lydia Tar was a real person.

Lydia Tar is the (fictional) first female chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, and this film follows her fall from grace in the cancel culture era as truths about her past come to light.

Directed by the great Todd Field (his first film in 16 years), this movie satirizes and champions, it haunts with unknown screams in the distance during a jog, and it also immediately confronts you with intense close-ups as Tar threats a child with violence. Blanchett is an anti-hero without much hero to her. This is There Will Be Blood with musical instruments instead of oil rigs.

Men who put on this type of unlikeable and committed performance (Day-Lewis, Bale, Pheonix, Oldman, etc.) are almost always praised for it, while women barely ever even get the opportunity to try. Blanchett gets a chance here and is completely titanic.

Many people think this is a biopic because it’s perfectly staged as such, but really it’s an incredibly specific work of fiction dealing with cancel culture, art, sexuality, and what it means to wield a position of power – deservedly or not.

With a Kubrickian coldness and a Kubrickian sense of humour, Tar also has a sense of being riveting and entirely compelling…which also feels like Kubrick. 

1. Aftersun

“When you were 11, what did you think you would be doing now?”

Because it’s A24 and because of the melancholic trailer, you know this one is bound to devastate.

Unlike other slow-burning A24 movies (Moonlight, Waves, Under the Skin), this one has so much tension because it appears happy and comfortable and easy. Like a charming Sunday puzzle that almost feels like it’s putting itself together because the end feels unimportant and far off anyway, once this story is realized and the image is finally put together, it’s too late — it’s heart-wrenching.

2022 was the year that legendary directors looked back at their childhood. Spielberg (The Fabelmans), Mendez (Empire of the Light), Gray (Armageddon Time), and Inarritu (Bardo) all dove into the past to tell their own story and how it’s framed their entire life. Charlotte Wells, a first-time director, looks at her childhood here with the most introspection and care out of them all.

How do kids comprehend why their parents are unhappy? And how do we reckon with that when we are older?

The young Frankie Corio gives an understated and pitch-perfect performance as Sophie, and Paul Mescal gives the same devastating performance that he did in the miniseries Normal People based on the book by Sally Rooney.

This one never needs to tell you what it’s about. By the end, with a sudden change in storytelling structure, we know exactly what it all meant and why it’s such a personal story for this filmmaker (it’s based on her own home videos).

It’s about a father and daughter. It’s about love, sexuality, and loss, and more than any of that, it’s about memories and the haunting feeling of losing grip on them and what it looks like spending the rest of your life trying to find futile ways to get them back.

Honourable mentions: Happening, The Innocents, The Banshees of Inesherin, All Quiet on the Western Front, As They Made Us, Smile, Confess, Fletch, Barbarian, Prey, Close, Petite Maman, To Leslie, After Yang, The Batman, Armageddon Time, Causeway, The Woman King, Cha Cha Real Smooth, The Fabelmans, Glass Onion

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