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  • Jeff Beck

The Top Ten Films of 2022

Another year down and another year-end list assembled, so as usual, let's dive right into the countdown...

10. All Quiet on the Western Front - Edward Berger's new adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front" makes for a compelling epic that does a great job of depicting the horrors of World War I. It may not get particularly far with character development, as can be a problem with war films, but with its powerful narrative, effective performances, excellent production & costume design, and, of course, its thrilling war scenes, this is an epic that is easily worth the two and a half hour investment.

9. Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness - Here we have a film that was unfortunately majorly misjudged by many critics, "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" was that rare entry in the MCU that dared to do something a little different than the usual standard, carbon copy entries that we typically get. Integrating far more horror elements than ever before (and skillfully & appropriately directed by horror maestro Sam Raimi), the film is very peculiar, but fascinatingly unique, delivering a wild, universe-hopping experience that comes with a great emotional touch. What we end up with is one of the most memorable films in the entirety of the MCU, and easily the best entry in Phase Four. Sometimes attempting to do something different can pay off greatly, and there's no doubt that that's exactly what happened here. It's just a shame that the attempt rubbed so many people the wrong way, which probably means Marvel will simply go back to their tried & true cookie-cutter format.

8. Bullet Train - Speaking of films that were majorly misjudged by critics, David Leitch's "Bullet Train" is one of the most wildest, entertaining, and unabashedly over-the-top films of the year. Featuring a fascinating group of eccentric characters, we sit back and watch how several storylines collide aboard a bullet train in Japan, all centering around their relationship to a crime boss and the contents of a briefcase. Packed with innovative fight sequences, "Bullet Train" is that rare action flick that not only delivers when it comes to excitement, but also in the key areas of story and characters, elements that are too often overlooked in the genre. This is one crazy ride you won't soon forget.

7. Navalny - Here we have what was easily the best documentary I saw this year. Daniel Roher's "Navalny" tell of the poisoning/attempted murder of Alexei Navalny, a political opponent of Putin, covering the incident, the fallout, and his team's investigation of the crime. My favorite kind of documentaries have always been the ones that have an engrossing story to tell, and Navalny certainly has that covered, working not only as an informative look at the events, but also as a gripping political thriller. If you're looking for a documentary that'll keep you glued to the screen, this is one you most definitely need to seek out.

6. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery - When writer/director Rian Johnson announced he was working on a sequel to his delightfully marvelous "Knives Out," it immediately became questionable as to whether he would be able to come anywhere close to the brilliance of his original film. With "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery," he may not have quite equaled it, but he still delivers a damn fine murder mystery with a new fascinating group of characters, and plenty of twists and turns to keep us wondering how it will end. Daniel Craig gives another splendid performance as detective Benoit Blanc, while the new supporting cast (including Edward Norton, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Janelle Monae, Leslie Odom Jr., and Kathryn Hahn) makes for a grand assortment of suspects. It's fun, highly-entertaining, and once more proves that Johnson has a hell of a knack for sharp writing.

5. Living - What a sheer act of madness, audacity, and hubris to even consider remaking one of Akira Kurosawa's films... and yet, with "Living," director Oliver Hermanus (working from a screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro) has made a touching, heartfelt, and wonderful homage to the master filmmaker's "Ikiru." Transporting the story to 1950's London, Bill Nighy steps into the role originally played by the incomparable Takashi Shimura, giving a fantastic performance as a man who wants to accomplish something special before he dies of cancer. Trimming a good 45 minutes from the runtime of Kurosawa's classic (my sole complaint about the original film is that it does run a bit long at 143 minutes), "Living" tells the story extremely well, covering the story points efficiently and giving it the emotional punch it requires without getting too heavy-handed. It did indeed seem crazy to try and remake such a classic, but it just might be even crazier that it turned out so well.

4. The Whale - Darren Aronofsky's "The Whale" (based on the play by Samuel D. Hunter, who adapted) is a surprisingly compelling and emotional experience. Brendan Fraser, who's been getting all of the attention as an overweight teacher trying to reconcile with his daughter, gives a very good performance, but the true standout of the film is Sadie Sink as the daughter. She had already shown that she's a great actress on "Stranger Things," but here she gets to show us just how good she really is, while Hong Chau also delivers some excellent supporting work. Yes, the film kind of feels like you're watching a play (duh), and like many plays, it's set in a single location, but the writing and the characters are strong enough to where you forget about that and become completely engrossed in the story. This is yet another film where the reaction was strangely mixed, but if you look past that and give it a try, you'll likely find it to be the captivating film that it is.

3. RRR - S.S. Rajamouli's "RRR" is a wild, outlandish, and highly-entertaining Indian epic filled with action (spectacular stunt work), drama, romance, and a little singing & dancing. Telling a compelling tale of two friends on opposite sides of a conflict during colonial rule, this is a story that could've easily tipped over into melodrama, but Rajamouli's excellent script maintains an impressive balance of its elements to deliver an engrossing tale that makes grand use of its lengthy three-hour runtime, with the impressive co-leads (N.T. Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan Teja) being no small part of its success as well. The runtime may indeed be a bit daunting, but this is one of those films where, once you get into it, you'll find yourself getting caught up in its marvelously-told tale.

2. Everything Everywhere All at Once - Writer/director duo Dan Kwan & Daniel Scheinert, who previously brought us the intriguing "Swiss Army Man" (aka "The Farting Corpse Movie"), delivered one of the most daringly original films of the last several years with their latest project "Everything Everywhere All at Once," a film that has a woman trying to save reality by hopping to and utilizing abilities from a multitude of other realities. This is a dazzling and stunning film that features outstanding technical components (top-notch directing, editing, visual effects, cinematography, and sound) and a marvelous ensemble, including Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, Jamie Lee Curtis, and James Hong. It's wacky and utterly bizarre, and is really something that has to be seen to be believed. This is one of those films that could have so easily gone off the rails, but as it turns out, it ends up doing just that in the best way possible.

1. The Banshees of Inisherin - This should come as absolutely no surprise as I've been singing this film's praises ever since I first saw it merely a few weeks ago. Renowned playwright Martin McDonagh, who previously brought us outstanding films like "In Bruges" and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri," delivers another triumph with "The Banshees of Inisherin," a film that tells of the sudden ending of a friendship on a small Irish island. Utilizing his incredible ability to give us fascinatingly eccentric characters and placing them in compellingly bizarre situations, the film delves into intriguing themes of life, death, and friendship, all brought to life by a marvelous ensemble that includes Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, and Barry Keoghan. Add to that its gorgeous design & technical elements, and you have a film that easily stands as the best of the year, one that becomes just as immediately rewatchable as the two aforementioned brilliant McDonagh works.

Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.


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