Daniel Rester’s Top 10 Films of 2022

The year 2022 provided a lot of great films, from small indies to huge blockbusters. Here are the ones that stood out to me the most out of the many films I saw.

20 Runner-Ups: 

30. Deadstream

29. Prey

28. Decision to Leave

27. Men

26. Living

25. The Woman King

24. Barbarian

23. X

22. You Won’t Be Alone

21. Causeway

20. Mad God

19. Bones and All

18. Babylon

17. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

16. Women Talking

15. Argentina, 1985

14. The Northman

13. The Quiet Girl

12. Avatar: The Way of Water

11. Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths

10. RRR

RRR is a flashy, wild Tollywood film from director S.S. Rajamouli that paints a fictionalized story of some real historical figures. It has a wonderful bromance at the center and extravagant set pieces throughout, including a colorful dance number and plenty of physics-defying action. N.T. Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan make for charming leads and help hold everything together even as the film runs long at 182 minutes. The song “Naatu Naatu” won an Academy Award. Grade: A- (8.3/10)   

All Quiet on the Western Front

9. All Quiet on the Western Front

Edward Berger’s adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s seminal anti-war novel All Quiet on the Western Front is a powerful experience, though it never reaches the heights of the 1930 film version. The battle scenes are terrifying, epic, and expertly staged, while all of the soldier actors are believable throughout. The addition of armistice scenes not found in the novel throws off the pacing from time to time, but they don’t hinder the film too much. Berger’s film won Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, and Best Production Design. Grade: A- (8.3/10)    

8. Pearl

Director Ti West and actress Mia Goth owned the horror scene in 2022 with X and its prequel Pearl. I liked X a lot, but I loved Pearl. While X operates like a terrific ‘70s slasher, Pearl is more of a dark character study taking place in 1918. Goth is simply magnificent in both films, with a particular monologue in Pearl being the highlight of both films. It’s a shame she was not nominated for an Academy Award for her Pearl performance. It’s one of the best performances of the past decade or so to grace the horror genre. Grade: A- (8.3/10)   

7. The Batman

Matt Reeves’ The Batman is a top-tier comic book film, primarily focusing on the title character’s detective skills as he solves crimes committed by The Riddler. Robert Pattinson fits the superhero role well as a young and moody version of Batman, Paul Dano is expertly creepy as The Riddler, and Colin Farrell steals scenes as he disappears behind makeup as The Penguin. The design work is The Batman is beautifully dark and the story is thematically rich. The film is a bit long at three hours, but it remains gripping during most of the runtime. Grade: A- (8.5/10) 

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

6. Top Gun: Maverick

The belated sequel Top Gun: Maverick managed to surprise the majority of moviegoers, surpassing the original ‘80s film and offering a rip-roaring time at the cinema. The aerial action sequences are simply amazing throughout, with the opening Mach 10 scene in particular being a standout. Tom Cruise is great as the returning Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, and he’s surrounded by a fun and fresh cast of characters; Glen Powell steals scenes as “Hangman.” The film won the Academy Award for Best Sound. Grade: A- (8.7/10) 


5. Navalny

Navalny is a riveting documentary that focuses on Alexei Navalny, from his opposition to Vladimir Putin’s administration to him trying to solve who poisoned him in 2020. The film is a case of truth being stranger than fiction at times, as Navalny even manages to dupe members of the assassination team who tried to kill him. Daniel Roher’s documentary is timely and thrilling throughout. Navalny won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Grade: A (9/10) 

4. Close

An emotional powerhouse, Lukas Dhont’s coming-of-age drama Close makes it nearly impossible not to shed a tear by the end of it. It follows two young boys in Belgium who share a deep bond that is challenged once classmates try to label them. This is a quiet, beautiful film that makes the audience think about childhood relationships and how small actions can have large consequences. Grade: A (9/10)

3. Tár

Nothing against Michelle Yeoh, but Cate Blanchett not winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Tár is one of the bigger cases of the Academy getting it wrong in recent years. Blanchett gives the performance of her career in Todd Field’s gripping film. It’s an intelligent look at how brilliant people can destroy themselves through their own actions, in this case a music conductor who “gets canceled” after making too many bad decisions. The Juilliard scene in particular (unfolding in one long shot) is masterful. Grade: A (9/10)

2. The Banshees of Inisherin

Martin McDonagh is a master of blending bittersweet situations and dark comedy. His latest example is The Banshees of Inisherin, which reteams him with his In Bruges (2008) duo Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. The film is simple on the surface, with one friend ending his relationship with his pal, but McDonagh mines deep truths out of it while the entire cast delivers remarkable performances. It’s a hilarious, sad, and beautiful film. Grade: A (9/10)

1. The Fabelmans

Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical film The Fabelmans tells the story of a boy trying to handle his growing passion for filmmaking and the splitting relationship of his parents. This is an honest and heartfelt project from Spielberg with great acting from top to bottom. He lets us glimpse his coming-of-age story, from the small triumphs of making student films to the quiet pain of realizing truths about parents. At 76, Spielberg proves he is still at the top of his game by adding yet another memorable film to his resume with The Fabelmans. Grade: A (9.5/10)

Written by
Daniel Rester is a writer for the We Live Film portion of We Live Entertainment. He is a Southern Oregon University alumnus and has a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Communication (Film, Television, and Convergent Media) and Emerging Media and Digital Arts. He has been involved with writing and directing short films for years. Rester also won 2nd place in the Feature Screenplay Competition in the 2015 Oregon Film Awards for his screenplay "Emma Was Here," which is currently in post-production and will be Rester's feature directorial debut.

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