After the second of our three pandemic years, when we created last year’s preview of 2022 movies we could see Hollywood finally making its comeback to the big screen even if the final product was now more likely to be first viewed on a TV instead of a movie screen. Thanks to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Disney, Paramount, Peacock, HBO Max, and others, it all came streaming our way again. Studios can no longer rely on simply big (literally) explosions to keep audiences’ attention. It’s far easier to flip our remotes to another movie at home. So great storytelling–writing–is more important than ever.
The Best Movies of 2022 means the best of Genredom. For years we’ve stressed what that means here: the content that leans into one or more genres over basic dramas. There are thousands of other places that cover plain vanilla dramas and the rest of the film world, but here we’re looking for movies we want to watch and watch again.
Come back this week for our best print media picks and our annual borg Hall of Fame inductees. And if you missed it, check out our Best Kick-Ass Genre Heroines of 2022 here and Best TV of 2022 here. Wait no further, here are the Best Movies of 2022:
Best Film, Best Retro Fix, Best Horror Film, Best Suspense/Thriller, Best Director (Scott Derrickson), Best Cinematography (Brett Jutkiewicz), Best Musical Score (Mark Korven), Best Costumes (Amy Andrews), Best Art/Production Design (Patti Podesta, Jonathan Guggenheim) – The Black Phone (Universal Pictures). No movie this year compared to this breathless thriller, a faithful recreation of the 1970s that mixed non-traditional horror with the traditional coming-of-age neighborhood survival story, only this wasn’t only about surviving the neighborhood bullying. It featured pristine acting, especially by the kid actors, but it was Derrickson conjuring the look and feel of the past and methodically carving a chilling path to the end of his story with all the interconnected elements of the supernatural that made this the year’s easy winner. Runners-up for Best Horror Movie: Orphan: First Kill (Paramount), Scream (Paramount). Honorable mention for Best Horror Movie, Honorable Mention for Best Cinematography: Werewolf by Night (Disney).
Best Superhero Movie, Best Sci-Fi Movie, Best Visual Effects, Best Makeup, Runner-up for Best Musical Score (Danny Elfman) – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Disney). If there ever was a movie that proved Hollywood execs should sometimes just go with their gut and try something new, this is it. Sam Raimi put his own signature on the MCU here, but he also introduced new things, like the best superhero scene of the year with Doctor Strange battling… musical notes?! Adding in a dark mirror universe, the MCU’s biggest and best look at what makes a super-villain, and zombies, the superhero genre saw one of its biggest, most layered, and satisfying movies ever this year. Plus all those cameos. Runners-up for Best Sci-Fi Movie: Free Guy (20th Century Studios), The Adam Project (Skydance).
Best Drama, Best Action Movie, Best War Movie, Best Writing – The King’s Man (20th Century Studios). The third entry in a solid fantasy universe arrived as the best of them all, a standalone adventure that doubles as a lesson in the history we all should not forget. The first World War has not yet received a worthy film in genre fiction that reflected the heroism of the leads and the supporting characters. Movies like this can only elevate the historical fiction genre. Runner-up for Best Action Movie: Ambulance (Universal), The Man from Toronto (Netflix), Day Shift (Netflix). Honorable mention for Best Action Movie: Bullet Train (Sony Pictures). Honorable mention for Best Drama: The Outfit (Focus Features).
Best Comedy Movie, Best Mystery Movie – See How They Run (Searchlight Pictures). It’s not Agatha Christie, it’s Agatha Christie adjacent. It’s also exactly how you do a mystery mayhem dramedy in the style of Clue/Cluedo or Scooby Doo exactly right. From the smarmy villain as narrator to the disinterested investigator, to the exuberant rookie, and the theater troupe full of suspects, director Tom George and writer Mark Chappell showed the studios how it’s done. Runners-up for Best Comedy: The Man from Toronto (Netflix), Free Guy (20th Century Studios).
Best Animated Film, Best Fantasy Movie, Best Adventure Movie – Luck (Skydance). The laugh-out-loud, endearing humor of this show begins with a young woman trying to go about her day when she is the unluckiest person anywhere. But the movie opened up a wider world of fantasy characters we’d never seen anywhere before, like the Roots. You can’t do better than a great talking cat, but the German unicorn should be somewhere on everyone’s favorite fantasy hero list from here on out. As for adventure, the Rube Goldberg/Mousetrap antics in the major action sequences were the most fun part of any movie this year. Runner-up for Best Adventure Movie: Free Guy (20th Century Studios).
Runner-up for Best Animated Movie, Runner-up for Best Superhero Movie – DC’s League of Super-Pets (Warner). Not only did it present the year’s best Batman, and Batman movie, it updated and improved on a long history of animated super-shows. Its anthropomorphic heroes were both moving and funny, and as superhero shows go it had all the heart and spirit of the genre’s best entries. The voices of Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, and Keanu Reeves were inspired choices. A great show to continue in the footsteps of the LEGO movies, too.
Best Borg Movie, Best Borg – Spider-Man: No Way Home (Disney). Alfred Molina returns as Doc Ock. Doc Ock has been a part of our borg Hall of Fame for years, but the best part of this year’s Spidey entry was his return in a decade with better CGI than when we last saw him. Both Tom Holland’s latest Spidey suit and Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin come close to the cyborg realm, too–maybe it’s time the MCU integrates those costumes with the humans within?
Best Actress – Madeleine McGraw (The Black Phone). As much as audiences were scared for her character, you’ve got to be scared for the young actress only playing at being punished by her father, being questioned by the authorities, being haunted by vivid dreams, defending and rescuing her brother, and arguing with God himself. If she’s this good now, watch out for what she can do with that kind of talent down the road. Runner-up: Sandra Bullock (Lost City). Honorable mention: Isabelle Furhmann (Orphan: First Kill), Eiza González (Ambulance).
Best Supporting Actress – Saoirse Ronan (See How They Run). Here Ronan split from the kid roles into the kind of British thespian role that Redgraves and other Dames get to do. Incredibly focused, her straight-man character had perfect comedy timing and her intuition on when to use subtle smirks was spot-on. Runner Up: Anya Taylor-Joy (Amsterdam), Jenna Ortega (Scream), Julia Stiles (Orphan: First Kill).
Best Actor – Ralph Fiennes (The King’s Man). Fiennes continues to impress as the actor who can do anything. Here he reinvented a backstory of sorts for his character in the Bond series, while balancing the action hero role with the dramatic actor in a historical fiction environment. As a bonus his action hero card got all of the punches as he took on every type of action sequence from a stunt coordination perspective. Runner-up: Mark Rylance (The Outfit). Honorable mention: Yahya Abdul-Mateen (Ambulance).
Best Supporting Actor – Woody Harrelson (The Man from Toronto). On the one hand, you have a fixer or bounty hunter on par with the best movie lead tough guys, think Dirty Harry or, with that hat, Yul Brynner in The Magnificent Seven. But because it’s Harrelson you got both sides–the one you wouldn’t want to mess with, and the sweeter fellow at the end who gets a girlfriend and becomes more domestic. Harrelson always surprises. Honorable mention: Rami Malek (Amsterdam), Tom Hollander (The King’s Man), David Oyelowo (See How They Run), Harris Dickinson (The King’s Man), Dave Franco (Day Shift).
Best Movie Villain – Tom and Libby Vose (Amsterdam). The worst kind of villain smiles to your face and makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the world before they push you out in the street and run you over with their car. Rami Malek and Anya Taylor-Joy stole every scene they were in in this genre mash-up of historical fiction, mystery, melodrama, and whirlwind craziness–even in the face of some of Hollywood’s biggest actors. Their characters mixed clever repartee with seething villainy.
Best Sidekick – Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder (Thor: Love and Thunder). The best thing to happen in air travel since Rudolph: Screaming goats! For a movie that was often serious and dramatic compared to prior Thor entries, audiences certainly could have used more of these two fabulous additions.
Best Cameo Star of the Year – Channing Tatum (Bullet Train, Free Guy). Bullet Train alone was worth seeing to catch Tatum’s straight-faced goofs. Going back to his short roles in G.I. Joe: Retribution and Hail, Caesar!, the guy just makes movies funnier.
C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg