Here is my obligatory/traditional annual top 10 list of movies, ranked according to mainstream standards. In other words, weird movies are allowed on this list, but I attempt to rank the 2022 releases according to their general cinematic merit, intended for people who don’t specialize in the surrealer genres. Don’t worry, the top 10 weird movies of 2022 are coming (and early adopters of the 2022 Yearbook already know what they are).

I’ve been prioritizing the smaller/rarer/weirder movies in my screenings, so there are a fair number of contenders that might have made this list but for the fact that I didn’t have time to get to them in 2022. In particular, I didn’t get to see All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: The Way of Water, Emily the Criminal, Glass Onion, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, RRR, Tar, or The Whale before drafting this list. I expect to see all or most of these before awards voting season concludes, and some of them may end up deserving inclusion here.

Before the official top ten starts, here are 2022’s numerous honorable mentions (it was a particularly rich cinema year), in alphabetical order: The Adult Swim Yule Log [AKA The Fireplace], Apples, Bardo, a Chronicle of a Handful of False Truths, The Batman, The Black Phone, Bodies Bodies Bodies, Crimes of the Future, The Fablemans, The Fire of Love, Flux Gourmet, Hatching, The House, Inu-Oh, The Long Walk, Mad God, Masking Threshold, Men, The Quiet Girl, Resurrection, Ultrasound, Vengeance, Wildcat, and Wyrm.

And now, the official list:

10. Moonage Daydream: A moonage montage showcasing the work of , with previously unseen concert footage, vintage interviews, and Bowie’s own reflections on his artistic process. Director Brett Morgan embraces Bowie’s aesthetic of chaos and paces the film like he’s found the Thin White Duke’s private coke stash, filling the screen with overlapping images of concert footage, random film clips, ephemera, and psychedelia, cramming four hours of visuals into two hours of movie. It’s an impressive audiovisual assault, although it can be overwhelming at times. Arguably the #1 movie of the year for people who’ve taken too many edibles. Morgen sneaks clips from nine separate Canonically Weird movies into the mixtape (only one that you can guess for sure).

9.  Marcel the Shell with Shoes On: A fictional documentarian films Marcel, a shell with shoes on, and his grandmother (voiced by , also a shell with shoes on) as they make do living alone in an airbnb after being accidentally left behind when their former owner relocated his shell collection. Totally charming, funny and unforced, sweet without being treacly, it’s like an completely unlikely combination of The Borrowers and Grey Gardens. Although it’s a mix of animation and live action, it will probably get an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature.

Still from Marcel the shell with shoes on

8. The Northman: A Viking prince swears revenge on the uncle who killed his father and usurped the throne, and years later returns to Iceland to wreak his revenge. This visionary film may run a bit long and sometimes have trouble striking the proper balance between the hallucinatory and the lucid, but still places you inside an alien culture better than anyone. Valkyries and threads of fate are tangible things in this gloomy reality. A mild disappointment considering Eggers’ first two films were unqualified masterpieces, but it’s the kind of disappointment that would be the crown jewel of another director’s oeuvre.

Still from the Northman

7. The Menu: Twelve guests, including a skeptical , dine on an island with an ultra-exclusive restaurant run by a stern and eccentric chef () whose meals are equal parts haute cuisine and performance art. Will this be their last meal? A rare, tasty thriller with a savory cast and a light sprinkling of satire. Also, this movie will teach you how to make the perfect cheeseburger: a real life saver.

Promotional still from The Menu

6. No Bears: An Iranian director (played by director Jafar Panahi) forbidden from making movies in his homeland becomes embroiled in village politics in a border city while remotely directing his latest film, which is being shot a few miles across the border in Turkey. A bit of ethnography, a bit of sedate suspense, a bit of meta-movie philosophizing, and a lot of implicit regime criticism in the latest from the world’s bravest director, who was arrested by Iranian authorities a few months after completing this for “propaganda.” It’s a  rare case where the backstory behind the film’s making immensely enhances the artistic effect. Won a special prize at the Venice Film Festival.

From the CBC: ‘No Bears’ is one of year’s most acclaimed films. Its director is behind bars for defying Iran’s regime

5.  The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent: After losing a major role, (playing the actor Nicolas Cage) reluctantly accepts a million dollar gig to appear at a wealthy superfan’s birthday party; on his way there, the CIA informs him his patron is a kidnapper and arms dealer, and recruits the actor to investigate. An action-comedy celebrating the persona of our ages’ greatest ham actor, with great chemistry between Cage and Pedro Pascal and in-jokes for fans. I’m not sure the ending takes the right lessons from Adaptation, but as a whole it’s much more clever than a popcorn movie has a right to be. Cage has a small cadre of boosters on this site.

4. “Sr.”: Read Giles Edwards’ review! makes a documentary about his father, maverick underground filmmaker , as he’s dying of Parkinson’s disease; simultaneously, the bedridden Sr. can’t resist directing his own cut of the film as an absurdist autobiography. A great documentary, simultaneously a tribute to a fascinating and flawed man, a lesson in film history, a real-time illustration of the creative process, and a touching glimpse of a son dealing with the imminent death of his father. “I believe in you people. I believe you can do the job. I believe you can help each other. I believe you can make this world a better place to live in. That’s it.” Release the Sr. cut!

3. Nalvany: Alexei Navalny runs for President of Russia on an anti-corruption platform, gets poisoned but survives (Rasputin-style), and is then imprisoned for his efforts. Watch investigators uncover the truth and identify the culprits, virtually in real time. Inspiring true story of a man using brains and bravery to fight the world’s most powerful bully. Nalvany was arrested upon returning to Russia in January 2021, where he remains incarcerated to this day. Putin invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

2. The Banshees of Inisherin: Colm abruptly decides he no longer wants to be friends with Pádraic, leading to a cascading series of tragedies. Set on an island of a few hundred people during the Irish Civil War, ‘s script wrings the maximum consequence and the darkest humor from the simple premise. It’s an acting masterclass with , , Barry Keoghan, and Kerry Condon. The Academy will have a time sorting this one: Farrell and Gleeson are really co-leads, but the conventional wisdom is that they’ll shift Gleeson to Supporting Actor so the stars don’t go head-to-head; bad news for Keoghan, who really is in a supporting role as the dim-witted sergeant’s son and very much deserves the award.

1. Everything Everywhere all at Once: Read Gregory J. Smalley’s review! Evelyn Wang is always harried, juggling her laundry business, neglected husband, lesbian daughter, and conservative Chinese father while being audited by the IRS; then, a man from an alternate universe possesses her husband and tells her the fate of the multiverse lies in her hands. What follows is a nonstop blend of action, comedy, philosophy, pathos, and endless imagination as Evelyn jumps from universe to universe, finding different versions of herself (and of reality).  A shocking triumph for , who kept plenty of the weirdness and scatology of their debut Swiss Army Man, but transmuted it into a crowd-pleasing, heart-warming, pulse-pounding spectacle that far surpasses anything Marvel could come up with. Hot dog fingers forever!

Still from Everything Everywhere all at Once

2 thoughts on “TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2022: MAINSTREAM EDITION”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *