Dan Tabor’s Top 10% of 2022

I watched 260+ films total in 2022 and I’m still counting.

When it comes to awards season, I am not the biggest fan of top 10 lists. While the cream tends to rise to the top, most critics ignore or forget about films that are memorable due to their theatrical experiences, re-watchability, or sheer audacity.

It’s one thing to recognize the films that are great and well-crafted, but I feel really passionately about everything on this list. Sure, Barbarian will never be the prestige favorite that Everything Everywhere All at Once became, but to be honest, I would give almost anything to walk into a theater on a Friday night and experience that madness with a crowd again. Same goes for something like Orphan 2, a film that most probably ignored but somehow trumped the original in its insanity, with Julia Stiles turning in a striking performance that I would almost put up there with Nicole Kidman’s amazing take in The Northman.

I watched 260+ films total this year and I’m still counting, so this is my top 10%.

30. Halloween Ends

I have to admit I am partial as a massive Halloween fan. But this film is here because it’s super divisive and took some big swings and I very much appreciated that. I personally dug this direction and think it took the made the franchise feel fresh.

29. Shin Ultraman

This film is fun and I love its updated take on the original TV series. It’s full of hope and wonder and it’s what we need right now.

28. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Sam Raimi made the most Sam Raimi MCU film he could, and it was everything I could have wanted.

27. Pearl

Mia Goth is an amazing actress and it’s about time more folks figured it out. Her performance alone makes this technicolor nightmare endlessly rewatchable.

26. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Nic Cage stars as Nic Cage and he nailed it. Pedro Pascal is also just so damn great here and everyone deserves a best friend like him. This film quickly became my comfort film of the year for its humor and heart.

25. Project Wolf Hunting

Con-Air at sea, mixed with Predator: This film is batshit crazy and I think I ascended to a higher level of consciousness at some point during my screening at Fantastic Fest.

24. Violent Night

What starts out as a stunt-cast SNL skit on steroids turns into the most heartwarming Christmas action film of all time.

23. Orphan: First Kill

If you have to make a horror sequel, this should be the bar to shoot for every time. First Kill surpasses the original in cleverness and audacity and has Julia Stiles turning in a great performance.

22. Barbarian

The lauded film was one of my favorite theatrical experiences of the year.

21. Emergency

This film is as hilarious and relevant as it is tragic. Two Black men try to take an incapacitated, underage white girl to the ER to get her help, risking their lives to save hers. Emergency is an unrelenting nail-biter.

20. Ambulance

Michael Bay unleashes the Bayhem. Ambulance features some of the most riveting cinematography and action of 2022. In this film, I learned drone shots can be engaging.

19. Scream

A truly smart sequel that reinvigorated the slumbering franchise and features everything that was good about the original. An immaculate script and a cast up to the challenge has returned Scream to its once and former glory. But can they replicate this success?

18. Crimes of the Future

From the master of body horror, David Cronenberg, came a poignant film on environmental issues that stuck with me long after I left the theater. Kristen Stewart is simply a gift here as the creepy fangirl, and that alone is worth the watch.

17. Avatar: The Way of Water

Jimmy Cameron shows us how it’s done, turning in an action spectacle that only he could deliver. Sure, it’s derivative, but Cameron has the same gift that Tarantino has: being able to create these collages of cinema that are as engaging and entertaining as the films they are sourced from.

16. Bones and All

Cannibals in love. A film as audacious as Timothée Chalamet’s wardrobe.

15. TÁR

Only Cate Blanchett with her BDE could pull a character like Lydia Tár off the way she does, making her as engrossing as she is horrifying to watch. Blanchett delivers one of my favorite performances of the year because of how she crafts such a complex creature, an unhinged EGOT monster who is haunted by something—but what?

14. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Rian Johnson does it again with another razor-sharp whodunnit with its sights set firmly on the upper class. (Elon Musk, is that you?)

13. Pinocchio

Guillermo del Toro is the director Tim Burton thinks he is, and Pinocchio proves it.

12. The Menu

I love that folks loved The Menu so much. It’s a whip-smart horror film that has some great performances, led by Anya Taylor-Joy verbally sparring against Ralph Fiennes, which is no easy feat and a joy to behold. (Sorry.)

11. Top Gun: Maverick

I saw this twice in AMC’s Dolby Theater. This is (ironically) exactly the kind of movie Nicole Kidman’s talking about.

10. Holy Spider

A film about a serial killer in Iran who is largely ignored and even celebrated because he believes he is on a holy crusade of killing sex workers—until a female journalist comes to investigate the story. Holy Spider is suspenseful, relevant, and masterful.

9. The Attachment Diaries

This super relevant Argentinian genre piece takes place in the 1970s, when abortion is illegal. A doctor does black market abortions in her home practice until one day, a troubled woman shows up at her door and says she can’t afford the procedure. The narrative of this psychological thriller is put into motion when the doctor tells the woman she is too far along for an abortion and they decide to sell the baby illegally instead. Once the woman gives birth, the fee from selling the child will help pay the doctor for its delivery, but the drama lies in the woman’s decision to stay with the doctor until that time.

8. Resurrection

I still remember watching this film and yelling at the screen for the last 15 minutes. It was literally turning my mind to jelly. While most will shower very deserved praise on lead Rebecca Hall, who just fills every frame with dread in a tour de force, it’s Tim Roth that makes this narrative truly unhinged.

7. Emily the Criminal

Just give Aubrey Plaza an Oscar already.

It seems like every year, she produces an amazing star vehicle that keep pushing her in ways most actors will never come close to in their careers. This film is no different and has Plaza giving a very vulnerable take on a smart young woman who is forced into a life of crime because of her student debt.

6. The Northman

Robert Eggers unleashes a poetically brutal and nuanced tale of vengeance in his most broad film yet. Nicole Kidman just steals this film with a unexpected turn and a monologue that was worth the price of admission alone.

5. The Whale

Though gut-wrenching and upsetting, The Whale is Darren Aronofsky’s most hopeful film and features a career-redefining role for star Brendan Fraser. A book is waiting to be written on Aronofsky’s relationship with religion seen through his films.

4. Hunt

Not enough people are talking about this Korean political thriller that feels like Infernal Affairs turned up to 11. Written and directed by Lee Jung-jae, the star of Squid Game, Hunt is a masterclass in intrigue and espionage. The film is dense with double crosses and false flags. I feel like there’s a dozen or so essays to be written unpacking the film’s geopolitical underpinnings as well.

3. RRR

This Tollywood action spectacle is a feel good crowd pleaser in every sense of the word, that has as much heart as it does political commentary on the British Raj. I’ve never had three hours pass faster than while watching this story of friendship and redemption.

2. Nope

Nope is one of those films that could easily be described in one breath as a fun sci-fi adventure, but also as a dense look at spectacle and the price of exploitation. From the religious subtext to the idea that UFOs have simply been cryptids living with us all along, there is just so much in Jordan Peele’s film to unpack and examine. There’s easily a dozen rabbit holes this film inspired that had me looking at the film and its themes over and over again. That’s not an easy feat for any filmmaker to pull off, but Nope is just ripe with so much to say that volumes could be written about what Peele has conjured here on celluloid. Nope is also populated by some of the most nuanced and entertaining characters I’ve witnessed all year.

1. Everything Everywhere All at Once

For a film that premiered in the beginning of the year, it speaks volumes that this snapshot of the Asian American experience, which is also a sci-fi masterwork with comparable complexity and depth with something like The Matrix, hasn’t lost one iota of steam. This is probably because as intelligent as this film is, at its heart it’s the story of a mother (played immaculately by action legend Michelle Yeoh) who just wants to connect with her daughter and save her family business. It’s that warmth that imbues this complexity with a soul as well as a mind that keeps fans coming back over and over again to pour over the many narratives that are culled together to make the film’s singular story.

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