If my list of favorite films told a story, it would not be a favorable one for the theatrical experience. Only three of the films received a wide theatrical release and my #1 choice barely got any attention on the big screen. By contrast, five of the films went straight to Netflix, two of the twelve were Shudder releases, and Thirteen Lives was criminally released on Amazon Prime when it should have been one of the biggest films of the year. What does all this mean? I’m not one to prophesy the end of the theatrical experience because I think movie theaters will live on, however it does mean that the best cinematic storytelling can be found in other places. Still, most of these are not the most popular releases on those platforms. You might say that you’d have to dig a little to find them. And that’s what I am, a digger for great films.

Below you’ll find the list of my favorite 12 movies of 2022 along with a list of my favorite older movies I saw for the first time during 2022 and, finally, the list of every movie I watched this year.


My Favorite 12 Movies of 2022


1. Crimes of the Future

It’s no surprise that it took David Cronenberg to give us the most original science fiction film in recent memory. This movie is a number of other things: 1. Cronenberg’s weirdest and most sexual film since Crash. 2. For those (like me) who missed the body horror focus of the filmmaker’s previous work during his “realistic” period of the last twenty years, you’ll be delighted that this film returns to the themes and style of Videodrome, Naked Lunch, and Existenz. 3. It’s my favorite film of the year so far. The film moves along at a slow but steady pace as Cronenberg explores this incredible, bizarre future world he’s created. I loved every aspect of it, from the variety of characters to the organic furniture/equipment. This movie is only for those can appreciate indulging in the super weird and I fall into that category. 

2. Hellbender

Hellbender reveals how easy (though I am not discounting the incredible effort behind the movie) it is to make an original horror film instead of regurgitating the same dumb plots over and over again (a recent Netflix film comes to mind). Everything about this movie from the screenplay to the visuals and performances feels fresh and full of passion. The first few minutes alone are more powerful than anything I saw in the entirety of The Witch. The proceeding spooky drama plays out with so much mystery, so much intrigue that the film captured my imagination both while watching and long after into the night. 

3. Operation Mincemeat

The writing and acting are top notch, from the grounded Firth to the complex subtlety of Matthew Macfadyen (a new discovery for me) to the wit and vulnerability of Kelly Macdonald, who I feel like I haven’t seen on screen in a long time. Along with Penelope Wilton, they make up one of the best ensembles in recent memory. The story is a fascinating untold tale and a reminder that the smallest actions can have great consequences. It has inspired me to return to one of my own stories, also based on a real war, that explores the same theme.

4. Thirteen Lives

The Hollywood craftsman has never been one of my favorites. He rarely surprises or astounds me but now and then has delivered some solid work. Every once in a while, he achieves greatness (with A Beautiful Mind especially). Thirteen Lives may be one of his finest achievements. Howard is wise not to over-dramatize the rescue of the Thai soccer team. He uses very little music throughout this long but never boring film and when he does, it’s a minimal hypnotic score. The cinematography is purposefully bland, almost like news footage, and this cleverly places us even more in the footsteps of the amazing individuals who went through the experience. 

5. The Banshees of Inisherin

The Banshees of Inisherin is Martin McDonagh’s best film to date, surpassing his pretty damn good Three Billboards from a few years back. Like that film it plays with dark comedy and even violence, but it is also more of a grounded piece. It has been a while since I saw a film so focused on people, their friendships, their simple emotions. It’s also been a while since I laughed this hard during a movie, the result of McDonagh’s witty, effectively repetitive dialog in the hands of performers who play it all without a wink. The cast is superb, carrying the film with sincerity and vulnerability. Something that plagued the Coen Brothers later work was self-conscious quirkiness. McDonagh and his actors don’t fall into that trap. 

6. Hustle

Is it possible that Adam Sandler could be one of the best American actors working today? I’d argue that case based on his jaw-dropping performance in Uncut Gems and his grounded, emotional work here. This one features less showy acting but is equally impressive. The actor carries the picture from beginning to end and more than once moved me to near-tears. I love subtle, steady performances like this. It doesn’t hurt that he’s backed by a great supporting cast including the never-better Queen Latifah and an ensemble of actual basketball players, coaches, and commentators. Whether it was Sandler’s idea or someone else’s, the inclusion of these professionals was a brilliant idea. It gives the movie, which sometimes flirts with Hollywood-cheesiness, a sense of realism. 

7. Speak No Evil

Whereas many horror films pretend to be a comment on society, Tafdrup’s movie doesn’t posture, it produces. Through a careful, tense build up, he explores different lifestyles and ways of seeing the world. He doesn’t simplify and the portrayals of these characters only get more complex as the film goes along. Unlike the recent Watcher (also on Shudder), he successfully plays with paranoia, making us wonder if the couples’ suspicion of their hosts is well-founded or just middle class hysteria. The acting in the picture is phenomenal, especially from Morten Burian who I hope to bring stateside someday. But the entire cast, adults and children, reminded me that European performances approach acting in a far more grounded, naturalistic way. This makes the horror of the story all the more real and terrifying. 

8. Munich: The Edge of War

The film feels incredibly relevant right now with all the mounting tension surrounding Ukraine and Russia. Once again, we have the story of WWII and how it might have been prevented. It has been done before but that does not seem to lessen the effect as the narrative plays out with suspense and great concern for its characters. Both male leads are solid but its Jeremy Irons who really shines. As Chamberlain, he creates a complex character who is not easy to judge. It might be the actor’s best performance since his heyday. 

9. The Fire Within: Requiem for Katia and Maurice Krafft

Though he barely touches on the romantic relationship of the Kraffts and instead chooses to focus on their work itself, the admiration and awe he has for his fellow filmmakers turns his film into a touching, love letter. In the end, his pure respect and enthusiasm for their cinematic creations moved me to tears. Herzog’s vision of this story is also simple compared to Dosa’s. His minimalist approach features very little new material, relying almost exclusively on the Krafft’s archive, music, and his own voice which he does not employ excessively. There are long sequences with only the Krafft’s images, which sometimes evoke the past and other times the future end of the world, accompanied by Herzog’s soundtrack selections, some of which are typical of the Bavarian’s taste and others which come as a surprise. 

10. Emily the Criminal

Regardless of inspirations, director John Patton Ford blasts his way on the film scene with his first feature. He avoids flashiness and an overt style, instead letting the story and performances speak for themselves. His striking debut shows the confidence of a veteran filmmaker; let’s just hope that he isn’t ruined by the industry in future efforts. And his leading lady, Aubrey Plaza (new to me since I am so out of touch with modern moviemaking) shows she can carry a picture and deliver a complex, nuanced performance. I am excited and hopeful to see what each of them do next. 

11. Against the Ice

As these Danish explorers traverse Greenland on what seems like a foolish mission, director Peter Flinth captures the brutal reality of making such a journey. With little to no CGI, it feels like the actors are actually experiencing all of the dangers these men went through. The landscapes are both beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Even the scene with the bear is masterfully done. So often these kind of sequences become exaggerated moments of action but Flinth keeps it brief and effective. The threat of the bear then becomes a real danger that both the audience and characters are haunted by the rest of the film. 

12. Top Gun: Maverick

As for the film itself, I found it mostly successful though wasn’t quite as enamored as many of my peers. The first third didn’t completely work for me. After a stunning opening with the plane test, the movie bumps along in an adequate but unimpressive way. For this viewer, that changed when Cruise’s relationship with Connelly began to mature. No spoilers, but that scene of intimacy not only serves as the take off for what turns out to be an astonishing last half but it also shows the way the character Maverick and Cruise himself have matured over the years. From then on, the movie struggles to do anything wrong. It’s propelled with great character relationships (the key to any Hollywood classic) and some of the best action since… well, since the last time Tom Cruise had a movie in theaters. Like the last Mission Impossible, the finale action scene is breathless. Cruise seems to understand action on a new level now, getting that it isn’t about looking cool but about danger. In these last two blockbusters he’s successfully achieved something quite incredible: convincing audiences that Tom Cruise could die on screen. That element along with the incredible craftsmanship on display makes this film and everything Cruise releases a must see. 

P.S. I watched Top Gun: Maverick for the second time last night and would probably rate it higher on this list after doing so but have kept it at #12 for two reasons: 1. I didn’t rewatch any of the other top twelve films. 2. Some of the others on this list deserve more attention, whereas the great Tom Cruise film has certainly received its fair share.

Several films I had a lot of admiration for which didn’t quite make the top twelve cut: This is Gwar, Woodlands and Days Bewitched, The Black Phone, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, Mad God, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Dead for a Dollar, Shut In, and The Hyperions.


My Favorite 12 Older Movies I Watched for the First Time During 2022

1. Farewell to the King (1989)
2. Trancers (1984)
3. Tommaso (2019)
4. God Told Me To (1976)
5. Clearcut (1991)
6. Bastards (2013)
7. The Bounty Hunter (1954)
8. Heartland (1979)
9. Kiss of Death (1947)
10. Rachel and the Stranger (1948)
11. Ms. 45 (1981)
12. The Canadians (1961)


Every Movie I Watched During 2022

Red Dawn (1984)
Windprints (1989)
The Presidio (1988)
King Solomon’s Mines (1985)
Underwater (2020)
Criminal (2016)
Rachel and the Stranger (1948)
Farewell to the King (1989)
Running with the Devil (2019)
Humanity Bureau (2017)
Grand Isle (2019)
Tenet (2021)
Dying of the Light (2014)
Steel Dawn (1987)
Being There (1979)
Flight of the Intruder (1991)
West of the Pecos (1945)
Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)
The Sundowners (1960)
Rough Riders (1997)
True Grit (2010)
The Lusty Men (1952)
Stand and Deliver (1988)
News of the World (2020)
Nightmare Alley (1947)
Munich: The Edge of War (2022)
Witchfinder General (1967)
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched (2022)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
The Bridges of Madison County (1995)
The Couch Trip (1988)
Young Billy Young (1969)
Children of the Corn (1983)
Classes Tous Risques (1960)
Revolution (1985)
Nightmare Alley (2021)
God Told Me To (1976)
The Way West (1967)
Downhill Racer (1969)
King Cohen (2018)
Eyes of Fire (1983)
Ghosts of the Ozarks (2022)
Shut In (2022)
The Stuff (1985)
Dark Angel (1990)
What Happened Was (1994)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
Nevada (1944)
Licorice Pizza (2021)
Bright Lights Big City (1988)
Denver & Rio Grande (1952)
Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1987)
Hellbender (2022)
Hellgate (1952)
Darkman (1990)
Trancers (1984)
Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2022)
King of the Underdogs (2017)
Kansas Pacific (1953)
Man in the Saddle (1951)
Trancers 1.5 (1988)
Directed by William Wyler (1986)
The Hyperions (2022)
The Quiet American (1958)
Clearcut (1991)
There was a Crooked Man… (1970)
Pasolini (2014)
Trancers 2 (1991)
The Last Command (1955)
Deep Water (2022)
All About Mankiewicz (1983)
Gorky Park (1983)
Rudy: The Rudy Giuliani Story (2003)
Terror in a Texas Town (1958)
Trancers 3 (1992)
A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014)
Charro! (1969)
The Missing (2003)
Blue Steel (1990)
Pharos of Chaos (1983)
Jug Face (2012)
Eyewitness (1981)
The Stranger Wore a Gun (1953)
Against the Ice (2022)
Lost Soul (2013)
Doctor Bull (1933)
Judge Priest (1934)
Trancers 4 (1994)
Sunset (1988)
Rifkin’s Festival (2022)
Day of the Outlaw (1959)
Blue Steel (1934)
Krull (1983)
Running on Empty (1988)
Satanic Panic (2019)
Lake Consequence (1992)
The Bounty Hunter (1954)
The Pelican Brief (1993)
Hitchcock/Truffaut (2015)
Tommaso (2019)
Butch and Sundance: The Early Days (1979)
Trancers 5 (1994)
Halloween 3 (1982)
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022)
Martyrs (2008)
The Batman (2022)
Thieves of the Wood (2019)
Visions of Light (1992)
Driller Killer (1979)
Heartbreakers (2001)
Cat Chaser (1989)
The Amusement Park (1975)
Whitewater Sam (1982)
Carson City (1952)
The Boys in the Band (1970)
No Way to Live (2017)
The Veil (2016)
Ms. 45 (1981)
Ramrod (1947)
Bad Milo (2013)
Siege (1983)
Last of the Comanches (1953)
The Northman (2022)
The Tomorrow War (2021)
The Visit (2015)
Top Gun: Maverick (2022)
Riding Shotgun (1954)
Fear City (1984)
Thunder Over the Plains (1953)
Rules of Engagement (2000)
Men Without Women (1930)
Operation Mincemeat (2022)
Crimes of the Future (2022)
Only the Brave (2017)
The Client (1994)
Springfield Rifle (1952)
The Black Watch (1929)
Alison’s Birthday (1981)
Gladiator (1986)
Terror on the Prairie (2022)
Return of the Seven (1966)
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)
Let Him Go (2020)
Black Caesar (1973)
The Deserter (1970)
Hell Up in Harlem (1973)
12 Angry Men (1997)
Original Gangstas (1996)
3 Bad Men (1926)
The Black Phone (2022)
Richard Pryor: Here and Now (1983)
Postcards From the Edge (1990)
The Changeling (1980)
Where the Hell’s That Gold? (1988)
Mad God (2022)
Cursed Films (2020)
The Shooting (1966)
In the Mouth of Madness (1995)
Falling in Love (1984)
The Gift (2015)
They Live (1988)
Hustle (2022)
Hannie Caulder (1971)
Run Hide Fight (2020)
The True Adventures of Raoul Walsh (2019)
Murphy’s Romance (1985)
Shootout in a One Dog Town (1974)
The Toy (1982)
Friedkin Uncut (2018)
The Evil That Men Do (1984)
The Hunted (2003)
The Professionals (1966)
The Reckoning (2021)
The Bravados (1958)
Support Your Local Sheriff (1969)
China Girl (1986)
Trouble Every Day (2000)
Nope (2022)
The Shadow Riders (1982)
Down the Long Hills (1986)
Bastards (2013)
Killer Joe (2012)
Old (2021)
Round Midnight (1986)
Heartland (1979)
King of New York (1990)
Full Moon High (1981)
The Reef: Stalked (2022)
The Badlanders (1958)
Trancers 6 (2002)
The Best of Times (1986)
The War Wagon (1967)
The Sea Wolf (1941)
True Believer (1989)
Kings of Cult (2015)
Silverado (1985)
Conversations with Fritz Lang (1975)
Thirteen Lives (2022)
Source Code (2011)
Black Bird (2022)
Welcome to Hard Times (1967)
The Train Robbers (1973)
Mephisto (1981)
The Anarchists (2022)
Dollman (1991)
Bad Lieutenant (1992)
This is Gwar (2022)
The General’s Daughter (1999)
Tango & Cash (1989)
Knife + Heart (2019)
Destry Rides Again (1939)
Flesh + Blood (1985)
The Head Hunter (2019)
Blue Collar (1978)
The Rounders (1965)
The River Wild (1994)
El Diablo (1990)
Heavy Metal (1981)
Harry Tracy, Desperado (1982)
Hardcore (1979)
Them (2005)
Paul Schrader: Man in the Room (2020)
Concrete Cowboys (1979)
The Canadians (1961)
Salem’s Lot (1979)
Body Snatchers (1993)
The Survivor (2022)
12 O’Clock High (1949)
Sidekicks (1974)
Rio Diablo (1993)
Fire and Ice (1983)
Dirty Dingus Magee (1970)
Niagara (1953)
Gone with the West (1975)
Kate Bliss and the Ticker Tape Kid (1978)
Watcher (2022)
Talent for the Game (1991)
Dead for a Dollar (2022)
The World of Suzie Wong (1960)
Mail Order Bride (1964)
Speak No Evil (2022)
Switching Channels (1988)
Arizona (2018)
42 (2013)
The Duke of Burgundy (2015)
See How They Run (2022)
Mr. Harrigan’s Phone (2022)
The Outfit (2022)
The Good Guys and the Bad Guys (1969)
The Hidden (1987)
Rider on a Dead Horse (1962)
Dangerous Game (1993)
The Catcher was a Spy (2018)
The Addiction (1995)
Alias Jesse James (1959)
American Gigolo (1980)
Cat People (1982)
Return to Salem’s Lot (1987)
Trooper Hook (1957)
South of Heaven, West of Hell (2000)
Prince of Darkness (1987)
A Banquet (2022)
Cattle Empire (1958)
The Keep (1983)
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
Near Dark (1987)
Seven Men From Now (1956)
Where the Rivers Flow North (1993)
Little Big Horn (1951)
The Tall T (1957)
Ride A Violent Mile (1957)
McBain (1991)
To the End of the World (1989)
The Big Trail (1930)
Corsicana (2022)
Gun the Man Down (1956)
Alone in the Dark (1982)
Let’s Get Harry (1986)
The Black Whip (1956)
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)
Flux Gourmet (2022)
The Soldier (1982)
The Dark Corner (1946)
Ride Lonesome (1959)
The Stone Killer (1973)
Rituals (1977)
Decision at Sundown (1957)
Seven Angry Men (1955)
Q: The Winged Serpent (1982)
Tin Cup (1996)
Suspect (1987)
The Third Miracle (1999)
Copper Sky (1957)
Call Northside 777 (1948)
The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)
Kiss of Death (1947)
Tension at Table Rock (1956)
Buchanan Rides Alone (1958)
The Sea Wolf (1993)
Light of Day (1987)
The Yakuza (1974)
Phantasm (1978)
Deadly Illusion (1987)
Night of the Comet (1984)
The Secret of Convict Lake (1951)
Charro! (1969)
Ebenezer (1998)
Barbarian (2022)
Samaritan (2022)
Someone Behind the Door (1971)
Devotion (2022)
The Banshees of Inisheerin (2022)
The Funeral (1996)
Never Cry Wolf (1983)
Emily the Criminal (2022)
The Wild North (1952)
The Fire Within (2022)
Death Line (1973)
Fire of Love (2022)
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Willow (1988)
Dragonslayer (1981)