The Best (and Worst) Films of 2022

It’s that time of year again, when I add on to the “best of” lists I have already published at Film Festival Today (where I am editor) and Hammer to Nail (where I am lead film critic). The past year turned out to not quite be the salve that Hollywood wished for, in terms of box-office receipts, though certainly some films did well enough in theaters (even if others did not). Still, this was the year where I—for better or worse—decided to start going to see movies once more with a vengeance, whether they were at film festivals, press events, or public screenings where I actually bought my ticket. Despite that, there are still some films I have managed to not yet see, even if I have end-of-year access to them via “for your consideration” screeners (I promise to get to you soon, Moonage Daydream!). 

So, given that, If there are films you saw and loved this year which are not included on my list, then it is possible that I either did not see them (yet) or saw them and maybe liked them but not quite enough to include among my favorites(there are a lot like that). I also may have seen them and not liked them at all (the films I actively hated are listed at the end, under “worst of the year”). Some of my choices have not been given any kind of public release at the time of this writing—I may have seen them at a film festival and they are not currently in distribution—but many, if not most, of these should be available in some way. If I reviewed a film (whether for Film Festival Today or Hammer to Nail), I hyperlink the title of the movie to that review. This year, all movies in my top 20 for both documentaries and fiction films are ones that I reviewed, so you will only see un-hyperlinked titles among my honorable mentions and “worst of the year” choices. Enjoy!

TOP 10 DOCUMENTARIES (in alphabetical order):

TOP 10 FICTION FILMS (in alphabetical order):

  • All Quiet on the Western Front (Edward Berger)
  • Bones of Crows (Marie Clements)
  • Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (Dean Fleischer-Camp)
  • Murina (Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic): B+
  • No Bears (Jafar Panahi)
  • Private Desert (Aly Muritiba)
  • Return to Seoul (Davy Chou) – review pending at HtN. Once the review goes up, I will hyperlink the title. Here is first paragraph, which I will remove once the review is published: Not since Ann Hui’s criminally underseen 1990 Song of the Exile has a movie so eloquently explored the poignant heartbreak of cultural displacement as does Davy Chou’s latest feature, Return to Seoul. Whereas the former saw its protagonist struggle between her competing Chinese and Japanese roots, the latter looks at the challenges that face Frédérique Benoît—a South Korean adoptee raised in France—when she travels to her birth country on a whim and seeks out her biological parents. Firmly Western in behavior and mannerisms (and very Gallic at that), “Freddie” (as she prefers to be called) explores, over the course of 8 fraught years, her identity and place in the world. The result is an always-stirring journey through an existential crisis worth of Odysseus.
  • She Said (Maria Schrader)
  • Till (Chinonye Chukwu)
  • Women Talking (Sarah Polley)

10 DOCUMENTARY RUNNERS-UP (in alphabetical order):

10 FICTION FILMS RUNNERS-UP (in alphabetical order):

HONORABLE MENTIONS (in alphabetical order):

WORST MOVIES OF THE YEAR (in alphabetical order):

Happy New Year, and may 2023 prove even more “post-pandemic” than 2022!


    1. That’s fine! I am the editor there, so all the comments come my way, anyway. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to reach out. As I wrote in my reply to you over at FFT, I wish I had seen “The Quiet Girl” in 2022 so I could have added the movie to this list.

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