Wow 2022 went so fast! Here we are in 2023 and with it comes a brand new batch of exciting upcoming films. But now's the time when we take a look back at the films that came out in 2022. Last year featured the return of Avatar, the end of Marvel's Phase 4, and some surprising international hits! So which ones stood out the most?
Compiled here is a list of Brett's Flix's favorite films of the year. Please take note that just like last year, this is not a list of the year's BEST, but my personal favorite films of 2022. So while I do consider every film on this list to be of good quality, personal taste is also a big influence. Let's begin.
10. Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero
As a lifelong Dragon Ball fan, I was ecstatic to hear that we were getting a new film set after 2018's smash hit Dragon Ball Super: Broly. And not only that, but for the first time in years the focus was not going to be on Goku or Vegeta; this time shifting to Gohan and Piccolo. Not since the Cell Games saga of DBZ had Gohan gotten such screen time. And while this film may have a slightly silly premise and a couple structural hiccups, it more than makes up for it with stunning animation, Akira Toriyama's signature humor and blistering action set pieces. It's truly jaw dropping, and accessible enough that new fans should be able to join in on the fun without any confusion.
09. The Black Phone
What happens when you combine a great director, creepy source material, and excellent performances? You get The Black Phone! Based on the story by Joe Hill (son of Stephen King), directed by Scott Derrickson (Sinister and Doctor Strange), and starring Ethan Hawke, this is the best horror film of the year. A tense and creepy film that features a fantastic story bolstered by impeccable directing and genuine performances. Ethan Hawke shines as The Grabber, but surprisingly, his younger co-stars Mason Thames and Madeline McGraw really steal the show. This film is not only scary, but has one of the most cathartic and cheer-worthy final acts in modern horror.
It's been 12 years since Predators was released. AKA 12 years since the last decent installment in the venerable action sci-fi franchise (we don't like to talk about 2018's The Predator). But lo and behold, there was hope on the horizon. Dan Trachtenberg (director of the stellar 10 Cloverfield Lane) brings the hunt back with a vengeance. Set the earliest in the Predator timeline we've been, Dan strips back the muscles, machine guns and puns to give us a leaner, meaner, nastier Predator and an even leaner and meaner warrior (played wonderfully by Amber Midthunder) to fight back! Featuring an excellent lead performance, solid effects, and (most importantly) tense and bloody action, this film is a return to form for the Predator series. And also happens to be the best film in the series since the 1987 original. You can check out the full Brett's Flix film review here. And our rundown of the entire Predator franchise here!
07. Clerks III
I never thought Kevin Smith's Clerks III would see the light of day. It has been a long and tough road for Smith, with many of his recent films suffering painfully small budgets. Clerks III is no different and there are times when the sheer cheapness of the production threatens to tear it all down. It is also painfully obvious that most of the lead actors haven't acted in anything since 2006's Clerks II. So how did this make my Top 10 of the year? Through sheer heart and emotion. As a man who grew up with Smith's signature style of humor and quirky antics of Randall, Dante, Jay, Silent Bob, and the whole Quick Stop crew, this film is an extremely emotional send off. So while some jokes might not land, and some shots may seem amateur, I saw this as Kevin Smith returning to his filmschool roots to say a tearful goodbye to some of his most beloved characters while also bravely acknowledging his own mortality. Be warned: while Clerks III is funny, it takes a dip into heavy emotional drama. I was balling by the end, and I would be hard pressed to find anyone who didn't feel something by the end of this film.
06. The Northman
If you want to see this generation's Conan the Barbarian with the visual pallate of a Von Trier film, then The Northman is your bag! This is testosterone fueled vengeance in the form of a film. Alexander Skarsgard packed on the muscles and does pretty much all his own stunts to bring us a savage man on the verge of insanity giving everything he can to avenge his father. This is the original Nordic tale that influenced Shakespeare's Hamlet. With emotional twists, guttural action, feral performances, and imagery that is simultaneously brutal and stunning, The Northman is my favorite film from Robert Eggers to date.
05. Shin Ultraman
All hail Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi! The pair brought us the best film of 2016, Shin Godzilla, and here they are giving Japan's premiere giant superhero the same treatment! Shin Ultraman features excellent effects, great performances, and knock-out action scenes. But this wouldn't be an Anno script without a shockingly deep philosophical discussion about weapons and humanity's relationship to them. This pair has done an excellent job of infusing Japan's most famous characters with new life and I cannot wait to see how they handle next year's Shin Kamen Rider!
Rise! Roar! Revolt! This was the surprise smash hit of the year. Indian director S. S. Rajamouli laid it all out on the table, and his gamble paid off in strides. Based on real people from India's history, but an original and fictional story, RRR is an adrenaline shot of a film, and hands down the most entertaining movie of the year. This film bounds from one gonzo action scene to the next, but unlike most American productions, it never forgets its heart, and balances a seemingly impossible tone. RRR is why we need strong international voices in the industry. This film may not be the best made film of the year, but is a shining example of how an imperfect film can still be the perfect viewing experience. DO NOT skip this film, and check out our full review here!
03. Top Gun: Maverick
Let me start off by saying that I am not the biggest fan of the original 1986 Top Gun. It's by no means a bad film, but it also never really struck me as an absolute classic. The sequel however, completely blew me away. From simply a production standpoint, this is one of the most impressive films ever made. 85-90% of what you see is REAL. No CGI. REAL pilots taking the actors thousands of feet into the air at hundreds of miles per hour, engaging in death-defying arial stunts and maneuvers. It's simply stunning to watch. But that wouldn't amount to anything if the story or directing wasn't up to snuff. Good thing is, it totally is! Tom kills it as an older and not quite wiser Maverick, who had been dealing with the guilt of Goose's death ever since '86. And director Joseph Kosinski brings a sense of style, honor, and intensity to the whole proceedings. There is a reason this film has been hailed. Do yourself a favor and watch it on the biggest, loudest screen you have!
02. The Batman
What happens when you combine one of the greatest superheroes in pop culture with one of the top modern directors? You get The Batman! Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, War for the Planet of the Apes) sets his sights on another venerable franchise to put his mark on. And he NAILED IT! We finally get a hard-boiled detective story starting the Dark Knight. This three-hour crime epic has Batman solving Riddler's clues in order to stop the maniac from destroying all of Gotham, and the Wayne family reputation in the process. What makes this film stand out so much is its incredibly tight screenplay, stunningly gorgeous cinematography, unhinged fight scenes, and bold and beautiful atmosphere. It even has a great thematic subtext about fatherhood. Matt Reeves brings the Arkham games to life while also staying true to the dark and deep psychology of the Caped Crusader; a film that is just as layered as it is thrilling. The Batman will stand the test of time as one of the best superhero movies made. Guaranteed. You can check out our Group Goof review of the film here.
01. Everything Everywhere All At Once
The best film of the year also happens to be its weirdest and wildest. It's difficult to fully explain everything involved in Everything Everywhere All at Once. It's one part martial arts film, one part goofy comedy, and one part The Matrix. But mix that with Michelle Yeoh's incredible leading performance, Key Huy Quan's emotionally charged supporting role, and directors as wacky as the story itself (Dan Kean and Daniel Scheinert - directors of Swiss Army Man) and you have a recipe for the best film of the year. This film has it all! Laughs! Tears! Action! Hotdog fingers! You read that right! This film tows the line between outrageously bonkers, and incredibly emotionally impactful. I've never seen a film like it. And that is why it is the best film of the year.
This film had all the potential to be a really solid remake. The original film from 1984 isn't bad by any means, but it also could have been improved upon. The Stephen King story on which it's based is filled with twists and turns that cinema should surely capitalize on. Sadly, this 2022 version of the story does a worse job than its '84 counterpart. Ryan King Armstrong gives a great lead performance, showcasing some emotional range that many child actors are unable to accomplish. But unfortunately her performance is surrounded by a weak story, oddly conceived plot turns, and uneven performances from pretty much the entire rest of the cast (I'm looking at you Zac Efron). Do yourself a favor and just skip this one.
04. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)
As a big time horror fan, I have enjoyed most of what the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series has offered. Even in some of the wackier entries (looking at you Next Generation) there is still some fun to be had. So when they announced a new film in the series, I was interested. But sadly, this just turned into another lame slasher that honestly didn't even feel like a Chainsaw movie, but more of a generic horror flick. There were moments of light in the darkness: a sick sense of humor that peaked out from time to time (including a gut-bustingly funny ending shot). But the film never commits to the satire and instead tries to play the horror straight... into the trash. Lame characters, uninspired kills, and a real lack of threat makes this film one of the worst trips to Texas I've taken.
Moonfall was the most disappointing film of the year. It had all the markings of a perfect Roland Emmerich rollercoaster. The concept of the Moon falling into the planet is just so bonkers that it feels like the perfect fit for the director of The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and Independance Day. But sadly, the effects are the only thing Roland seemed to care about. The script is littered with cardboard copies of better characters you've already seen in all of his other films: the intelligent scientist, the annoying politician, the comedic sidekick, the tough military man... they're all here. And all more paper thin than you've ever seen them before. Even the genuinely cool second act twist couldn't save this from being the most boring and lazy piece of writing I've seen in a while.
02. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
Speaking of lazy writing, the newest Fantastic Beasts film tried so hard to be relevant that it literally tripped over the corpse of its own franchise. Not a single character is actually a character anymore, they've all been reduced to talking plot points and nostalgic references to the vastly superior Harry Potter films. Director David Yates is completely bored in the franchise that he apparently cares so much about. It's so glaringly obvious that Rowling is not a screenwriter that I wanted to drop the TV on my head. And when it's all said and done, the big villainous plot basically boils down to "magical voter fraud". You read that right. Even the effects couldn't save this jumbled mess of a story. The Secrets of Dumbledore did so bad that Warner Bros. is apparently scrapping their plans for a 4th and 5th film in the series, and just calling it quits here. Probably for the better.
Here it is. The worst film of 2022. A film so bad that it sparked an entire subculture of memes. Memes so sarcastic that they tricked Sony into thinking people actually enjoyed it enough to re-release it in theaters... to disastrous results. Jared Leto sleep walks through Morbius, a film that literally takes the most boring route at every turn. It copies the structure from vastly superior comic book films, and then doesn't do a single interesting thing with the material they've been given. Oh, and did I mention that nearly every single Marvel connection featured in the trailer isn't even in the film? In fact, if you read interviews with director Daniel Espinosa, it turns out he didn't even film those moments! They were shot by an additional Sony crew specifically for the trailers alone. They were never intended for the final film. Talk about the worst bait and switch! Matt Smith (Doctor Who and House of the Dragon) seems to be the only actor here who knows what kind of film he is in. Hot chews the scenery so loudly that you can here his teeth from a mile away. Hey, at least SOMEONE had fun. A lot of the Gen Z crowd might call this film "so bad it's good", but in all honestly, it's not. It's so bad, it's nearly unwatchable. Poor Jared Leto. Someone get him a good comic book film, please.