We can hardly believe that we are in the final days of 2022, and yet here we are again! We reveal our choices for our favorite movies of year, along with more yearbook-style superlatives! Hold onto your heads as we dive into the year’s finest cinematic delights!
Movie Yearbook Superlatives!
Best horror movie
JOSH: C’mon Allison, I know you’re not the biggest fan of the horror genre as a whole, but you have to admit there was a surprising abundance of genuinely excellent scare flicks that emerged this year. I would say it was probably one of the genre’s best in a long time—even surprising gems like Choose or Die and Hatching managed to be memorable all the way to the end. In my opinion, five long-standing horror franchises had their best sequel in years emerge, with meta masterpiece Scream 5, kooky but emotional Halloween Ends, gory thrill ride Texas Chainsaw Massacre, mesmerizing cosmic terror Hellraiser, and sadistic killfest Terrifier 2. Nope had incredible imagery, and The Harbinger and Smile both gave me nightmares. My all-out favorite was definitely Scream 5, a movie that manages to perfectly weave old with new in a clever script that forces the viewer to acknowledge the excellence of that unbeatable Wes Craven original. At the end of the day, my girl Sidney Prescott remains the ultimate final girl. The one-two punch of X and Pearl though is probably my favorite piece of original horror throwbacks of the year. What were some ones you enjoyed?
ALLISON: Sissy and Fresh were my favorite horror movies this year. Honorable mentions go to several different titles. I loved Pearl even though I hated X; Barbarian was an absolutely crazy ride; Bodies Bodies Bodies was very fun but very stupid; Sadako DX tapped into my love of The Ring for the better; Dark Glasses was an entertaining ride with a great score; and Choose or Die was an original take on our obsession with technology and gaming.
Best action scene
JOSH: For me, I figured that not many stand-out action sequences emerged this year. However, when I look back, there were more than a few successful ones. Everything Everywhere All At Once had an epic finale battle sequence, as did The Northman‘s fight-to-the-death brawl between Amleth and Fjolnir. Top Gun Maverick‘s thrilling aerial combat and The Batman‘s eye-popping stunt work was magical. Uncharted soared to new heights when it depicted crate-dangling hijinks in midair. However, nothing else I saw this year compares to the spectacle of insanely hyper-realistic effects in Avatar: The Way of Water in High Frame Rate 3D. The showdown involving Jake Sully and his entire family against Avatar-Quaritch as a massive freighter begins to sink contain some images that will forever be seared into my brain.
ALLISON: The dildo fight in Everything Everywhere All At Once was the best by far, as I am not very much into action movies in general.
Funniest movie moment
JOSH: Honestly, nothing made me laugh as hard as a certain part of The Estate wherein the twisted family is trying to force someone to expose their genitals for their benefit. Actually, The Estate was exploding with hilarious moments, including Aunt Hilda’s final words. Track down this underseen comedy before the new year! Honorable mentions go to Sophie Turner’s scene-stealing “I don’t do COCAAAAAINE” tirade in Netflix’s teen comedy throwback, Do Revenge, Everything Everywhere All At Once‘s Raccacoonie gag, and Hocus Pocus 2‘s Walgreens moment.
ALLISON: During the dildo fight from the previous question that I mentioned, I remember my entire press screening laughing to the point of tears. Everything Everywhere All At Once has so many great moments like this. I also loved cringe screaming when father and son sext in I Love My Dad!
JOSH: This is tough to narrow down because there were an insane amount of phenomenal horrors in 2022. Barbarian‘s basement dwelling, Smile‘s sadistic conclusion, and the first moment the Plague Mask peeks out at the viewer in The Harbinger all sprung to mind. One film reigns supreme in this area, and that is because it disturbed me on every level. For days, I was haunted by what happens during the Star Lasso Experience in Jordan Peele’s Nope, as the film’s signature alien is revealed and sucks up a hoard of unsuspecting victims. We are then forced to watch uncomfortably as the group is savagely consumed by the creature’s insides. “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here!”
ALLISON: Smile was one of the few movies to scare me this year, along with Barbarian. However, the scariest thing of all was the moment I left my showing of Smile, and accidentally closed my finger in the door. My nail bled and I was genuinely horrified that my nail was going to fall off—I think that counts!
JOSH: Maybe my expectations were so low because I didn’t care for Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, but Clerks III proved to me that Kevin Smith has a real adoration for these characters. He channels his own experiences in surviving a major heart attack, developing a loving ode to his career and legacy. Dinner in America also subverted expectations, in that I had been waiting to see the film since 2020, and the roll-out of the release was puzzling. By the time I finally saw it, I fell in love with the outlandish humor and songs. Were there any big ones that surprised you, Allison? Obviously film festival releases don’t count unless they were actually released to the public this year.
ALLISON: I genuinely did not expect Spoiler Alert to be so good! It was emotional and well-written, and actually made me cry.
Really weird award
JOSH: As with last time around, one can interpret this prompt in two different ways: good-weird or bad-weird. It just so happens that several films meet either criteria here. For good-weird, I think I’ll go with Lena Dunham’s Sharp Stick, detailing an explosive sexual awakening unlike any other. Hypochondriac is also the queer horror Donnie Darko of your wildest dreams. For bad-weird, Bring It On: Cheer or Die has the oddest setup imaginable, and is probably one of the worst-written slasher films I have ever sat to watch in full.
ALLISON: I am cheating here because it’s technically a festival film without a proper release date. I loved Oink! Who thought to base an animated movie around pooping, but moreover who thought it could be so wholesome?
Favorite musical moment
JOSH: Even though few musicals really stood out this year (last year was far stronger in this regard, with West Side Story, tick, tick…BOOM!, In the Heights, and Dear Evan Hansen to choose from), singular musical sequences definitely did it for me. “My Girl’s Pussy” in Babylon takes the cake for the raunchiest number of the bunch. Hocus Pocus 2‘s “The Witches Are Back” was a rapturous way to reintroduce the world to the Sanderson Sisters. My favorite though has to go to “Unchained Melody” in Elvis. Representing the King’s final live performance, Austin Butler embodies this character with every fiber of his being. Try not to shed a tear as the tragic tale draws to a close.
ALLISON: Spirited was so much fun but had no real musical standouts. I felt the same with Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio.
JOSH: Unlike 2021, no obvious standouts jump out at me beyond the immaculate costume design through the decades of Elvis’s career. Each lavish new outfit appears in dazzling color, and perfectly imitates the real thing. The period-piece aesthetics of Babylon and The Fabelmans showcase attention to detail we do not often see.
ALLISON: In Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, it was a blast to see the making of a luxury dress dissected. On the flip side, Not Okay and Emily in Paris featured great Gen-Z fashion.
JOSH: So many options here, especially given the aforementioned surge of stunning horror films. Scream gives a legacy character the most fitting of sendoffs, Halloween Ends spins gold in the orchestration of its DJ slaughter, and who could forget the reward Barbarian pays to Justin Long for surviving until the end? The bedroom bone-crunching, back-splitting, salt-sprinkled demolition of one character in Terrifier 2 has to take the win here—what else could even hold a candle to it?
ALLISON: I really don’t like kills… I have to look away. I’ll pass on this one.
JOSH: Wow, and we thought last year was incredible! Who would have thought that 2022 would really set a new precedent for what animation can accomplish in terms of quality and breathtaking awe. With this in mind, the best animation movie and simply flawless piece of filmmaking in general is Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio. I felt the tears welling up as the familiar tale charged towards a tragic but fitting conclusion, reaffirming the meaning of life and the imprint we leave behind. Since the Academy considers it animated, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On also deserves mention as it spills over with charm and tenderness.
ALLISON: Oink, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, and Marcel the Shell are as close to perfection as one can get. I also enjoyed Strange World even though no one else did. Turning Red I loved mostly for the nostalgia.
JOSH: Andrew Garfield dominated 2021 with four outstanding performances. Though no actor came close to Garfield’s reign, the male acting category belongs to several captivating performances. My favorites were Austin Butler’s Elvis in Elvis, Daniel Kaluuya’s OJ in Nope, Rohan Campbell’s Corey in Halloween Ends, and Alexander Skarsgard’s Amleth in The Northman. Ultimately, Butler is who won my heart with his impressive range and obvious dedication to the role. Hearing him gush about the film during a Q&A I recently attended brought a whole new perspective to the character.
ALLISON: Three stuck out to me here… Brendan Fraser in The Whale was emotional and depressing; John Boyega in Breaking is not being talked about, but it was so stressful watching him in that scenario; and In A Man Called Otto, Tom Hanks has such great subtlety moving towards being solemn, heartbreaking, and angry.
JOSH: There is no correct answer other than Mia Goth. Two shockingly varied turns as Maxine and Pearl in Ti West’s X and Pearl prove that it doesn’t simply take unbelievable makeup and prosthetics to deliver a great performance. Goth goes above and beyond by crafting two characters that feel so different, yet complement one another with unexpected verve. Jenna Ortega also comes close, firmly establishing herself as a scream queen with Scream, X, Studio 666, Wednesday, and American Carnage all releasing in 2022. Runners-up for me are Sigourney Weaver in a singular, shockingly good motion capture performance of her new character Kiri from Avatar: The Way of Water; Keke Palmer’s fiery, hilarious Emerald in Nope; Jamie Lee Curtis for her super-charged final performance as Laurie Strode in Halloween Ends and villainous Deirdre in Everything Everywhere All at Once; and co-star Michelle Yeoh in arguably the best performance of her career as Evelyn.
ALLISON: I also chose three here. Mia Goth in Pearl was just a major wow; I was in awe of Naomi Ackie in Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody; and Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All at Once definitely takes it home playing a million versions of herself.
JOSH: Rob Zombie’s The Munsters received an unnecessary amount of hate for such a simple, sweet flick that is clearly meant to be a loving ode to the original series. The movie I would go to bat for in this category is Halloween Ends. A curious, reflective, and daring meditation on the ripple effects of trauma on Haddonfield, those who decried the lack of Michael Myers entirely missed the point. Myers is soaked into every unnerving second of this surprising character study, rooting his evil in the town like an aggressive cancer. Halloween Ends remains an underrated series finale that is sure to be reexamined and reappraised in the years to come.
ALLISON: I have to choose Not Okay. Why has no one seen it? It has quickly evolved into one of my favorites of all time now.
JOSH: Several films this year were not up to snuff. Who could forget sitting in my screening to the various boos that accompanied Morbius? Without a doubt, the worst of the worst was Jeepers Creepers: Reborn. Practically an insult to the decades-old fanbase, this sequel/reboot goes out of its way to break series mythology, and has some of the poorest greenscreen effects I have ever witnessed put to film. It is truly an abomination, and rather unfortunate considering that the first two Jeepers Creepers flicks are among my favorite horror movies. Disenchanted, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, Men, and Jurassic World: Dominion also failed to meet my lofty expectations, though Dominion was the least awful of this bunch.
ALLISON: Disenchanted and Hocus Pocus 2 were built up for so many years, and I found both to be terrible; The Son was literally nowhere near the quality of The Father, one of my favorites that year; and Falling for Christmas, Lindsay Lohan’s overly-marketed comeback, was one of the worst holiday movies I have ever seen. As you can tell, I was definitely disappointed more than a few times.
Best performance of the year
JOSH: For all-around best performance of the year, I’m sticking with Mia Goth. In Pearl specifically, Goth’s manic energy bleeds through to an unforgettable horror performance. She truly believes she’s a star, and god help anyone who stands in her way.
ALLISON: I simply cannot choose—it is a tie between Mia Goth in Pearl and Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Josh’s Favorite Films of the Year
Where to watch: Hulu
Yes, I was just as shocked as the next person that David Bruckner’s Hellraiser managed to dig itself out of the crater created by two awful sequels in a row. This reimagining presents Jamie Clayton as Pinhead, buoyed by a veritable Thirteen Ghosts-esque lineup of horrifying cenobites. The injection of LGBT+ themes fit perfectly thanks to the series creator’s own background as a queer author, and the gory delights are utterly sublime.
Where to watch: Paramount+
If I was ranking technical filmmaking skill over genuine favorites, this would have placed much higher, but there is still no underscoring just how much of a marvel Top Gun: Maverick truly is. The 80s original is filled with tropes and generally outdated, whereas Maverick personifies everything we love about Tom Cruise and fist-pumping popcorn entertainment. A wholesome and moving film whose very own “volleyball” scene is one of the year’s best.
hocus Pocus 2
Where to watch: Disney+
1992’s Hocus Pocus is the first film I ever watched in theaters, and since then the Halloween-themed flick has been on a regular rotation. After years of false starts and hoping against hope, Kathy Najimy, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Better Midler have come back together again! The results are as magical and silly as one would hope. Powered by strong performances, vibrant musical numbers, and a surprising amount of emotional depth, Hocus Pocus 2 is the rare years-later sequel that actually works. I would love a third entry while the iron is hot, and extra points if they manage to bring back Taylor Henderson as Young Winifred or any of the original cast.
Where to watch: Netflix
A sequel better than the original in nearly every conceivable way, Glass Onion is making waves for its searing takedown of the rich elite (like many other movies this year, honestly). It may not be the king of the “rich people suck” genre, but it is certainly up there. Give me twenty more Benoit Blanc mystery movies, and I’ll be there in a heartbeat.
Where to watch: Netflix
A Sundance horror/romance/comedy gem, Fresh is significant in being that other cannibalism movie (not Bones and All), and in my opinion, the better one of the two. Both are very different, but one takes itself rather seriously, while the other features a hunky Sebastian Stan dancing to Animotion’s “Obsession” as he plays with body parts. Daisy Edgar-Jones makes for a great lead, and I instantly wanted to watch the film again once it ended.
Where to watch: Theaters/VOD
A master storyteller masterfully retelling his very own story is a statement that few filmmakers can claim as their own, and yet Steven Spielberg accomplishes this feat with an assured hand by way of The Fabelmans. If last year’s West Side Story was Spielberg’s musical passion project, this drama is a tender recounting of his love for film. Buoyed by excellent performances, breathtaking cinematography, and exquisite writing, I adored The Fabelmans.
Where to watch: Disney+
An adorable Pixar movie that carries messages about parenthood and heavy doses of nostalgic boy band glee, Turning Red stuck with me for months after my viewing. The animation is lush and decidedly different coming from this animation studio. One gets the sense that this was something quite special for everyone involved, and could present a promising potential future for the types of animated features we see from the company going forward.
Where to watch: HBO Max
I am not sure that I have ever said “what the fuck” out loud quite as many times as I did while watching Barbarian. Justin Long firmly slides into Scream King category in yet another iconic performance. Brilliantly structured to have three booming crescendo moments, this horror gem is as bonkers and unpredictable as it is well-written and gory.
Where to watch: Prime Video
Visually stunning and relentlessly brutal, The Northman is perhaps the best film yet from visionary director Robert Eggers. Alexander Skarsgard’s career is filled with wonderful roles and signature characters, but I could not help feeling this was the role he was truly born to play. The atmospheric tension is unparalleled, as are the visuals—what initially appears to be a simple revenge tale is hiding a morally ambiguous magnum opus.
Where to watch: Showtime/VOD
Technically, this is a slight cheat, but we make the rules around here. X and Pearl are so intertwined that to separate them in a ranking would feel bordering on criminal. One is a Texas Chainsaw-style slasher throwback, while the other is a Wizard of Oz-style dark horror fairytale. They would make for a great double feature, and with Maxxxine coming in 2023, we won’t have to wait long to see Mia Goth back on our screens where she belongs.
Where to watch: Peacock
I simply cannot get enough of this final entry in David Gordon Green/Danny McBride’s Halloween revival. Essentially, Halloween Kills served as the crazy climax and peak of Michael’s power, whilst Ends focuses on the traumatic emotional fallout and a town poisoned by evil. The concepts here are fascinating and soar with originality. Rohan Campbell’s Corey emerges as one of the most complex characters in the series. While some may take issue with a final entry taking big swings like this, every bit of the movie worked for me. Even the most cynical of fans had to at least appreciate the voracity and finality of that final Michael/Laurie confrontation.
Where to watch: HBO Max
Each viewing of Elvis peels back another layer of the attention to detail and kinetic energy, as only Baz Luhrman could pull off. Austin Butler’s devotion to this role is something tangible that the viewer can feel in every frame. Tom Hanks is nearly unrecognizable, yet almost as good as Butler in terms of his committed performance. Obviously, aspects of Elvis’s life or career are overlooked (this is already pretty long, so any longer would plunge it into miniseries territory), but this bothered me less and less on a rewatch. The connection Elvis had to music was unlike any other, and in his final performance, it hangs heavy. A tragedy of cosmic proportions, Elvis also serves to remind us of a time where it was okay for managers to maintain full control of their clients.
Where to watch: VOD
Catching Triangle of Sadness at the New York Film Festival premiere screening was a theatrical experience from this year that I will never forget. Gross-out humor and social commentary assault the viewer at every angle. An ensemble cast led by Harris Dickinson and Woody Harrelson ends up being a showcase for its female talents, too. In the final act, Dolly de Leon steals the show, and is deserving of any and all awards she may achieve after this. Neatly divided into three distinct acts, Triangle of Sadness is one of the year’s finest dramedies. An epic takedown of the social elite may still find one reaching for a nearby barf bag.
Where to watch: Theaters
Out of the many takes on snobby rich elitists, The Menu takes the cake as being the most potent and searing of them all. The mystery blends wonderfully with dark comedy, but the proof in the pudding is Anya Taylor-Joy. Holding her own opposite Ralph Fiennes’s version of Gordon Ramsey, Joy plays a fierce final girl with a mind of her own. Another key ingredient here is the general ensemble—the movie manages to cover ground including food critics, snobby D-list actors, unloving couples, and business execs. Each actor is carefully plucked and prepared for a feast that must be seen to be believed. If The Menu doesn’t leave one craving a cheeseburger afterward, they must be vegan.
Where to watch: Showtime/VOD
From dildo fights to statuettes up the bum to Everything-bagel vortexes and everything in between, Everything Everywhere All At Once is a revelation. The Daniels have done weird before (see: Swiss Army Man), but never quite like this. Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis copulating with hot dog fingers is a sight that can neither be explained, nor derided. What surprised me is that underneath the muchness, a tender story about the love a mother has for her daughter is poking through. One thing is perfectly clear: there is nothing else like Everything Everywhere All At Once.
Where to watch: Netflix
Pinocchio tales have been done dozens of times before, but never approaching what Guillermo del Toro has brought to the table with Netflix’s stop-motion animated masterpiece. As the disturbing story unfolds, it already had me in tears when we follow a grief-stricken Geppetto. Pinocchio himself is charming and sweet, yet naive and childlike. This is what we should take away from the movie for sure, not finding the character to be annoying. Musical numbers are sparse but effective, yet its ending is what truly left a mark on me. The storyline brings forth wonderful messages about legacy and what it means to live life to the fullest. I wept.
Where to watch: Theaters
Who would have thought that returning to the world of Pandora would be quite this breathtaking? I should have learned a long time ago never to underestimate James Cameron. In the decade-plus since the original Avatar, he has clearly learned from the minor criticisms. The Way of Water places character work and the bonds of family over spectacle and special effects—though those are both notably here in spades. The final hour, an impressive, tense, and stunning action-packed ordeal, is Cameron in his purest form. By building up the family unit and getting us to care for the Sully tribe, we obsess over their well-being. The Way of Water has the best visuals of the year, bar none.
Where to watch: Peacock
Is Nope Jordan Peele’s best movie yet? Yep! Color me shocked that a mysterious, sci-fi horror flick heavily inspired by Jaws ended up being quite this good. The movie contains no less than three instantly-classic sequences of true terror. Not only is Nope a phenomenal horror, but it has potent messaging about what it means to become a spectacle strictly for the amusement of others. Led by Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer, Nope is black excellence personified. This title had me thinking more than anything else I watched this year, and left an impression that maintains far beyond the uplifting closing moments.
Where to watch: VOD
A half-animated film about a talking shell with googly eyes being one of the best of the year was a scenario I truly did not see coming, and yet here we are. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is so clever and so intricately constructed from top to bottom. Few films manage to succeed with a mockumentary device, so I was doubly surprised that Marcel maintains the same look and feel as the numerous shorts created over the years for this character. Having an attachment to these silly little shorts for years now, I still did not anticipate the depth of emotionality that would be brought to the table. By taking a meta approach, the script from Fleischer-Camp, Paley, and Jenny Slate is a joy even as it drove me to tears. Rare is a film that allows both adults and children alike to be in on the joke.
Where to watch: Showtime/VOD
What more can I saw about my favorite movie of the year? Radio Silence, who already proved they can excel in horror with 2019’s Ready or Not, honor the legacy of Wes Craven’s creation by crafting a love letter to this franchise. Everyone involved in this realizes the iconic and perfect original 1996 movie is unbeatable, so what better way to pay tribute? Testing the audience’s knowledge of Scream is a stroke of genius worthy of the horror hall of fame. There is a particular reason this is called Scream and not just Scream 5, but I do wish it had a subtitle to it that would help differentiate. Seamlessly weaving legacy characters in against memorable new ones with distinct personalities is no easy feat, but Scream makes it effortless. Over the many months since release, this fifth entry in the series became a comfort watch that I cannot resist. In the words of Richie, “this is my boner pills.”
Editor’s Picks: Allison’s Favorites of 2022
Thank you for reading, and we look forward to the movie magic of 2023!