Rea Reviews: The Top Movies of 2022


2022 has come and gone, and the third year of our decade has been the best one for cinema yet. No critic can ever truly claim to have a definitive ranking for the best films in a given year. For one, it’s impossible to see everything, especially when one does not work professionally to do so. This year, Rea Reviews has seen a mere sixty films and counting, with movies that Rea Reviews has regrettably not seen including

  • Bones and All
  • Pearl
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
  • Violent Night
  • The Whale
  • White Noise
  • Women Talking

Luckily, there is a plentiful crop of dazzling movies that more than deserve a place on a list like this. So without further ado, here are those top movies of 2022!

20. The Woman King

  • Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
  • Composite Score: 80.67 (composite score explained!)
  • Available to Watch: Netflix
  • Plot: An all-female group of warriors protects the African kingdom of Dahomey.

The Woman King promises all that one could desire from an action-packed historical epic. Filled to the brim with fantastic acting and immersive action, the film follows an all-female war party called the Agojie led by General Nanisca (Viola Davis).  The Agojie, whose ranks include Thuso Mbedu’s Nawi, protect the way of life of the Dahomey kingdom from European slavers and their allies. The film is somewhat historically inaccurate, seeing as the Dahomey kingdom was intimately involved with the slave trade, rather than violently opposed to the notion. However, the moral conflict – profit off people’s absence in the short-term, or stand to lose humanity from it in the long-term – is nonetheless compelling and well-directed. And the ensemble is truly excellent, with Davis and Mbedu being clear standouts.

19. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

  • Director: Ryan Coogler
  • Composite Score: 72
  • Available to Watch: Disney+
  • Plot: Wakanda protects its borders in the aftermath of King T’Challa’s death.

There’s no doubt that the perception of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is shifting – the opinion that Marvel is on a downward slope is widespread and only confirmed by the negative reviews for the newest entry, Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. However, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a rare exception. An original, emotional sequel that pays proper tribute to the real-life passing of Chadwick Boseman, Wakanda Forever tugs at the viewer’s heartstrings. The film effectively strips away all hindrances of the superhero genre to tell a compelling, dramatic story about a nation grieving for its ruler. Letitia Wright and Angela Bassett’s performances as the character’s wife and sister are extraordinarily powerful, their grief for his loss being felt through the screen. Bassett especially is exemplary of Wakanda Forever‘s affecting empathy – a force of nature already the subject of awards consideration.

18. Causeway

  • Director: Lila Neugebauer
  • Composite Score: 70.57
  • Available to Watch: Apple TV+
  • Plot: A veteran and mechanic with traumatic pasts forge a bond.

Causeway is a hidden gem, a quiet character exploration not nearly as stylish or sweeping as most movies. And yet, there’s something silently beautiful about how it moves from scene to scene in hushed procession, making its way through a character’s state of mind using only melancholic dialogue. Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry play two broken, traumatized people that find that their company fills the void that is inhaling their lives. Their conversations more like a joint therapy session than anything else, Lawrence and Henry’s solemn performances have a stunning chemistry that prove to be the voice for Causeway‘s equally excellent screenplay. The relationship is not romantic, but is much more than mere friendship – not a bridge, but a causeway.

17. TÁR

  • Director: Todd Field
  • Composite Score: 79.86
  • Available to Watch: Peacock
  • Plot: A preeminent female conductor struggles with power.

From long-dormant director Todd Field, TÁR follows Cate Blanchett as fictional composer Lydia Tár, the world’s leading expert in ethnomusicology (analyzing music through a social and cultural lens). TÁR is a film about image, about crafting a persona in order to manipulate perception and use your power to influence the people around you. And it’s also a movie about the ideological debate over separating the art from its artist. TÁR wouldn’t be as brilliant as it is without an utterly destructive performance from Cate Blanchett, who – as always – proves she understands the art of portraying a character better than most of us know how to brush our teeth. It may be the most pretentious film of the year, but TÁR bursts with enthusiastic intellectualism and certainly belongs on this list.

16. On the Count of Three

  • Director: Jerrod Carmichael
  • Composite Score: 75.14
  • Available to Watch: Hulu
  • Plot: A pair of best friends vow to end each other’s lives at the end of the day.

On the Count of Three is another fantastic film about the strangely pure and therapeutic relationships formed out of shared experience. However, Causeway deals with two people trying to overcome their bruises and live a happy life again, whereas On the Count of Three is about two people trying to remedy that horrid trauma before they kill themselves. The twist with On the Count of Three is, it’s also a comedy. The dark jokes that are sprinkled in add satirical value to the character’s situations while Jerrod Carmichael’s Kevin (Carmichael also writes and directs) and Christopher Abbott’s Kevin serve as excellent comedic foils who compliment one another’s suicidal tendencies in fascinating ways. Dramatic moments are also still able to hit, making On the Count of Three a haunting yet entertaining watch.


  • Director: Romain Gavras
  • Composite Score: 71.14
  • Available to Watch: Netflix
  • Plot: Three men lose a brother amidst an urban revolution in the Athena banlieue.

ATHENA and RRR may both be high-budget Netflix foreign-language spectacles that enrapture the audience in a distinctly compelling atmosphere, complete with the obligatory capitalized title that informs the viewer of the intensity of the film they’re about to watch. But aside from that, ATHENA couldn’t be more dissimilar than RRR – no film this year is more angry. ATHENA follows three brothers who lost a fourth to police violence, and are caught in the midst of a violent, war-like movement against police violence in their banlieue (French for suburb). Everything about ATHENA is impressive, especially the truly enrapturing score and cinematography – breathtakingly powerful technical work that transforms ATHENA into far more than the sum of its parts.

14. Top Gun: Maverick

  • Rea Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Director: Joseph Kosinski
  • Composite Score: 84.57
  • Available to Watch: Paramount+
  • Plot: A naval aviator must face the death of his friend while completing a mission.

Unlike many films on this list, no reader is unfamiliar with Top Gun: Maverick, the highest grossing film in North America this year, and one of the very best. Maverick brilliantly utilizes nostalgia to create a warm atmosphere in which feats of action are as impressive and spectacular as they’ve ever been, and kinship between characters can quickly morph into brotherhood. The theatrical experience of watching Top Gun is hard to match: a thrilling, immensely enjoyable flight full of non-stop entertainment that had audiences returning to the theaters over and over again. Not only is Maverick technically stunning, but its atmosphere is undeniably exciting, making for a soaring success.

13. RRR

  • Director: S.S. Rajamouli
  • Composite Score: 86
  • Available to Watch: Netflix
  • Plot: Two revolutionaries bombastically counteract British oppression in 1920s India.

There’s no way to better describe RRR than “over the top”. It’s a high-octane musical Bollywood blockbuster that aims to please, going farther with its concepts than any American action film would ever deign to. Over the course of three hours and change, RRR‘s audience is put through a gauntlet of impossible feats of human nature and hilariously orotund dance numbers. Each set piece more massive than the next, each moment more cheer-worthy. The immense entertainment director S.S. Rajamouli and soundscape designer M.M. Keeravani – composer of the film’s six original songs, its original score, and its sound design – are able to provide is a simply undeniable feat, leaving their film brewing with effortless charisma and power.

12. Aftersun

  • Director: Charlotte Wells
  • Composite Score: 84.86
  • Available to Watch: Amazon Video (rent for $5)
  • Plot: A woman recalls her last memory of her father, in an attempt at reconciliation.

Aftersun is devastatingly beautiful, a gorgeous piece of cinema ringing with subtextual soliloquy; a tale of fatherhood and of childhood and of memory. Following a young girl on vacation with her father, revealed to be the last time she saw him, she tries to capture what she failed to understand about him all those years ago. Frankie Corio delivers one of the foremost child performances of all time, exuding true emotional depth not present in many her age. Easily the most emotional film of the year, even if it’s one of those unfortunate movies that may be difficult for a plebeian cinephile (this author included) to fully grasp on first watch – rewatches are certainly encouraged if you weren’t in tears as the credits rolled.

11. The Menu

  • Director: Mark Mylod
  • Composite Score: 75.14
  • Available to Watch: HBO Max
  • Plot: A chef prepares a surprising menu for guests at an exclusive restaurant.

The Menu plays with genre to an extent that is undeniably entertaining to behold. Combining ingredients from a horror, thriller, and comedy, it quickly establishes itself as one of the most delicious satires of the decade. The way it mocks the pretentious nature of art criticism (read: what I’m writing right now), as well as the absurdity of the ultra-rich, is easily some of the funniest cinema of the year. Ralph Fiennes’ chef is one of the most brilliant comedic performances out there, portraying genuine menace in a notably hysterical manner. Quite frankly, he’s why The Menu is such an all-around blast – a perfect combination of ingredients that culminates in some of the best laughs – and best thrills – you can find. I ate it up.

10. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

  • Director: Dean Fleischer-Camp
  • Composite Score: 85.29
  • Available to Watch: Amazon Video (rent for $5)
  • Plot: A documentary filmmaker helps a young shell search for his lost family.

Failing to cry in raw adoration at Marcel the Shell with Shoes On essentially amounts to a condemnation of your soul. Almost no film on this list is more agreeable – how one could possibly dislike this wholesome and uplifting piece of art is beyond me. There’s something so wonderfully human about this inanimate object coming to life, a pure and powerful synopsis of kindness and innocence. Marcel the shell is a character that can appeal to more than just children… his story may strike a chord with parents more than anybody else, a tale of passing on your wisdom, of accepting and understanding the change in life. One of the most sensitive and gut-wrenchingly cute movies of the year, and one of its best despite the PG rating.

9. Till

  • Director: Chinonye Chukwu
  • Composite Score: 82.86
  • Available to Watch: Amazon Video (rent for $6)
  • Plot: Mamie Till grieves for her son, lynched for whistling at a white woman.

Till is more than a tragic Civil Rights story – it’s about motherhood and grief, a story of loss and love that just happens to have crucial history behind it. Yes, without provocation other than a wolf whistle, 14 year-old Emmett Till was killed for whistling at a white woman at her request – but Till is really the aftermath of relational torment that writer-director Chinonye Chukwu aims to capture. Danielle Deadwyler delivers a powerhouse performance as Emmett’s mother Mamie, embodying a sense of parental protection and loss that is difficult to even fathom. Her anguished sentiment is affecting no matter how invested you are in Till, and when you combine that anguish with the enthralling and empathic direction from Chinonye Chukwu, the misery of Till reaches through the screen and grabs its viewers with shocking ease.

8. Decision to Leave

  • Director: Park Chan-wook
  • Composite Score: 81.86
  • Available to Watch: MUBI
  • Plot: A detective begins a relationship with his prime suspect in a murder case.

Park Chan-wook’s Decision to Leave is a display of pure auteurism. A return to the suspenseful noir films of old while being simultaneously and refreshingly modern, it’s a mysterious and austere movie that manages to avoid coming off as stiff or cold. Its edges may be as sharp and jagged as a harsh winter storm, but it is far smoother in the middle, like a petal before it blossoms in the spring. Tang Wei and Park Hae-il, our two leads separated by a mysterious criminal act, give the performances of a lifetime as their characters find themselves increasingly entwined in one another. More than anything, Decision to Leave is an atmospheric display of intrigue, a mysterious Hitchcockian journey imbued with mystique and passion.

7. The Fabelmans

  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Composite Score: 82.86
  • Available to Watch: Theaters, Amazon Video (buy for $20)
  • Plot: A young Spielberg comes of age in a shifting familial and cinematic landscape.

The Fabelmans is the absolute pinnacle of the coming-of-age movie, especially for any fan of cinema. The film follows Sammy Fabelman, a surrogate character for the young Spielberg, as he grows to love cinema and becomes inspired to create movies. Everything about The Fabelmans directly parallels Spielberg’s childhood, including the tumultuous and complex relationship held by his parents. A movie about a young man’s journey to become a filmmaker has the potential for being saccharine, but the passion Spielberg puts into the film can be felt through the screen, an intimate experience that aims to make its viewers love movies as much as he. A dream, as Sammy’s mother describes movies as, that I will never forget.

6. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

  • Director: Rian Johnson
  • Composite Score: 80
  • Available to Watch: Netflix
  • Plot: Benoit Blanc must solve a murder on a billionaire’s secluded Greek island.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery has to be the film on this list I would recommend the most to the average person. It’s an entertaining and hilarious murder mystery that brilliantly capitalizes on the success of Knives Out, the 2019 mystery featuring the same lead detective, Benoit Blanc. Daniel Craig’s Blanc is written in a manner that could not possibly be more fun, a shrewd Southerner who loves to let a web of mistruthin’ and vaingloriousness (as he describes it) unfold before him, and then excitedly explain it to us at the movie’s end. Glass Onion is one of the best blockbusters of the year – smart enough to concoct something fantastic, yet dumb enough to keep its audience entertained.

5. The Batman

  • Rea Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½
  • Director: Matt Reeves
  • Composite Score: 81.29
  • Available to Watch: Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max
  • Plot: A deeply troubled Batman delivers vengeance on the villains of Gotham City.

A darker character study than I would have ever expected, The Batman is about coalescence, about a man whose heart is broken and knows no way to mend it. It’s about a vigilante who strikes his blows using fear and rage, desperately chasing vengeance that he will never be able to claim. We know this person all too well as a society, for it is the iconic character of Bruce Wayne, and yet The Batman manages to explore Wayne’s essence in an authentic, original way. Complete with stunning cinematography, immersive production design, and an inventive score, The Batman transforms the city of Gotham from a place of mere crime to the setting for a noir story, a transformative and investigative superhero tale.

4. All Quiet on the Western Front

  • Director: Edward Berger
  • Composite Score: 83.71
  • Available to Watch: Netflix
  • Plot: A young man fighting for his country in World War I learns the reality of war.

A film that aims to immerse the viewer in war itself, All Quiet on the Western Front is the bleakest movie of the year. It is a battle within a war just to keep watching, for each moment grows more horrible, soot and blood caking the protagonist’s face as the German military forces him to battle on their behalf. It’s one of the most provocative war films of all time, carrying a bold message expertly told through an orchestra of technical supervisors, an ensemble of talented actors, and filmmaker Edward Berger. All Quiet is distinctly anti-war, mocking the absurdity of armed conflict and the countries who instigate it, while simultaneously portraying its treacherous dangers. Even the film’s title is profoundly depressing: for the men who have to endure these horrors, and for the nations willing to create them for superficial reasons, it is hard to imagine anything will ever be quiet again.

3. Nope

  • Director: Jordan Peele
  • Composite Score: 75.57
  • Available to Watch: Peacock
  • Plot: Two siblings and a nearby businessman discover something sinister in the sky.

Nope is, without a doubt, the most gripping film of the year – a “creature feature” extraterrestrial flick that features a thoughtful and layered message while also being a horrifying film, both existentially and viscerally. Writer-director Jordan Peele’s latest script is about spectacle, about intently watching our fears, obsessively focusing on the moving image – even when watching a beast who can end our lives in a second. It is about the picture, the capturing of an event, prevailing over everything else in life, including the event itself. It is a slap in the face to filmmakers, film viewers, and the pursuit of media. And, in typical fashion for Peele, the ensuing spectacle couldn’t be more cinematic. He dares his viewers to look away, but we don’t – and that may say something about us just as much as the film itself.

2. Everything Everywhere All at Once

  • Rea Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Directors: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
  • Composite Score: 87.29
  • Available to Watch: Paramount+
  • Plot: A Chinese immigrant must fix her taxes and an interdimensional breach.

Though it may be the third time Rea Reviews has discussed it, though it has been discussed ad nauseum in the sphere of film criticism, and though it is about to win the Oscar for Best Picture, Everything Everywhere All at Once will never get old. Everything Everywhere subversively tackles the growing feeling – in a world increasingly taken over by new stimuli, occurrences, and ideals – that none of it has worth or meaning. This philosophy is called nihilism, and it manifests itself literally in Everything Everywhere, in the form of a multiverse-hopping witch who wants to put everything (everything!) on a bagel. The absurdity of this concept is exactly what makes it work, and is exactly what makes everything about Everything Everywhere All at Once work on, well, every level.

1. The Banshees of Inisherin

  • Director: Martin McDonagh
  • Composite Score: 84.86
  • Available to Watch: HBO Max
  • Plot: A man cuts ties with his lifelong friend on an island off the coast of Ireland.

Boredom. Purpose. Loneliness. Kindness. Complacency. Devotion. The themes The Banshees of Inisherin explores thoughtfully, beautifully, and with enormous dramatic and comedic dexterity over the course of a tight 110-minute run time are countless and complicated. The film’s creator, Martin McDonagh, weaves a simple yet absurd narrative that serves as a canvas for some of the cinematic year’s best characters to convey their desires and emotions. Colin Farrell, Kerry Condon, Brendan Gleeson, and Barry Keoghan as our four main ensemble members deliver some of the finest performances of all time – accompanied by one of the best screenplays ever written. Absolutely nothing would give this writer more joy than explaining The Banshees of Inisherin‘s metaphors, symbolism, and the complex motivations of our four main ensemble members… but that might take another full newspaper to do. And even then, it still wouldn’t matter, because I love this movie more than words can say.

The cinema of 2022 was powerful and brilliant, from estranged friends in Banshees of Inisherin to multiverse-hopping family in Everything Everywhere All at Once. It’s the hope of Rea Reviews that you’ll get to see all the year had to offer. And with that, this list is – as they say in the movie business – a wrap!

Previous articleMorro Bay High School Photo-Journalism Ranking
Next articleThe Mountains
Editor for Culture | Writer for the MB Spyglass


Leave a Reply