The Top 10 Best Films Of 2022

Old Man (2022) via XYZ Films / Top Gun: Maverick (2022) via Paramount Pictures / RRR (2022) via DVV Entertainment

In a sea of mediocre comic book movies and woke box office bombs, 2022 was a surprisingly strong year for character-driven films, and some movies managed to stand out much stronger than others.

The Old Man (Stephen Lang) tells Joe (Marc Senter) a chilling story about the Bible Salesman (Patch Darragh) in Old Man (2022) via XYZ Films

Having seen over 127 movies this year, it was all well worth it after finding some of the best hidden gems of the year. Now that I have dug through all the trash, we begin 2023 with the best films of 2022.

Most people reading this will be unfamiliar with a few of these movies so I suggest you check them out as they are worth the watch. Character Studies, foreign films, Americana, and narrative films led the pack in this year’s best of so let’s start with #10.

Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller) tests his skills against Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick (2022) via Paramount Pictures

10. Hustle

A film about a basketball scout who discovers a phenomenal street ball player while in Spain and sees the prospect as his opportunity to get back into the NBA.

Stanley Sugerman (Adam Sandler) attends an NBA scouts meeting in Hustle (2022) via Netflix

As someone who was a major fan of the old-school 1980s/1990s NBA — and personally can’t stand what the NBA has become in 2022 — Hustle is genuinely one of the best films about the ins and outs of the league that I’ve ever seen. Sandler gives one of the strongest performances of his career as his character builds a relationship with a prospect who lacks discipline but has a massive upside.

The film is packed with real NBA players either playing themselves or characters based on themselves, which gives story an extra layer of authenticity to hang on. Hustle is a solid window into how life in the front office of the NBA actually works, making the movie one of the best sports dramas in recent years.

Stanley Sugerman (Adam Sandler) has a heart-to-heart chat with new recruit Bo Cruz(Juancho Hernangómez) in Hustle (2022) via Netflix

9. Seoul Vibe

A South Korean film about the Sangye-dong Supreme Team of drivers who become mired in the slush fund investigation of a powerful person on the very day of the 1988 Seoul Olympics opening ceremony.

Park Dong-wook (Yoo Ah-in) shows his friends what a real vibe looks like in Seoul Vibe (2022) via Netflix

Seoul Vibes has all the makings of a big-budget Summer movie. Many films struggle with balancing the tone of having a campy entertaining group with the more serious dips in the storytelling but the best part about this film is its cast and their portrayal of a group blinded by the riches of the criminal underworld. Style and Fashion are two big elements of the story showing just how consumed with American culture South Koreans were during the time.

Without making it its central theme, the film makes very good use of nostalgia with ’80s hip-hop and fashion, which are on full display all throughout; making for a cool aesthetic. Seoul Vibe is one of the best films of the year and one of the most downright entertaining films of 2022, and one that could be the start of a franchise if its cast keeps the same mojo in the future.

Park Dong-wook (Yoo Ah-in) makes a deal with Chairwoman Kang In-sook (Moon So-ri) in Seoul Vibe (2022) via Netflix

8. Pearl

A film set in 1918 about a young woman on the brink of madness who pursues stardom in a desperate attempt to escape the drudgery, isolation, and lovelessness of life on her parents’ farm.

A visibly disturbed Pearl (Mia Goth) opens up to Mitsy (Emma Jenkins-Purro) in Pearl (2022) via A24

Pearl is a story about the dangers of obsessing over fame and the cost of attaining it. We have seen many young girls glamorize the idea of becoming a star. Many of them will destroy their lives in an attempt to become famous at any cost, and the story of Pearl is no different. Mia Goth is a standout in the movie, with her twisted and sympathetic performance as a small-town girl who just wants to escape. The actress brings to life one of the best character studies of the year but gives a performance that is over the top in presentation but grounded in reality.

Tandi Wright gives a great performance of Pearl’s mother; a loving but stern paternal figure who pushes her daughter too far off the edge by depriving her of a life outside their home. Pearl is a film that may muddy the waters of an existing trilogy but, as a standalone film, it is one of the features the US has released this year with a closing monologue that is worth the price of admission.

Pearl (Mia Goth) seems to force a smile upon seeing a loved one in Pearl (2022) via A24

7. Decibel

In simple words, Decibel is a film about a terrorist who used sound activated bombs to expose a cover up about a incident that happened one year ago in a Navy submarine.

Captain Jeong Tae-Seong (Lee Jong-Suk) in Decibel (2022) via East Dream Synopex

It takes a strong man to make a difficult decision, it takes an even stronger man to deal with the fallout of his decisions. Sometimes life requires impossible choices but that doesn’t mean everyone is going to be accepting of the decisions one makes.

The beautiful thing about this film is that it could have easily taken the route of being just another run-of-the-mill terrorist movie about a guy whose evil for the sake of being evil. But Decibel is so much more than that, as it creates a multitude of character motivations based on one tragic event that is slowly reviewed throughout the course of the movie.

The selling point of the film is a madman with a sound-activated bomb, though one could argue the explosive device is just a distraction from the real story. Decibel is well written, the characters are well thought out, and the film hits audiences with a very emotional third act that prompts them to sympathize with everyone involved — thus leaving a lasting impression after they’ve left the theater.

Commander Kang Do-Young (Rae-won Kim) finds out where the next bomb has been planted in Decibel (2022) via East Dream Synopex

6. Hansan: Rising Dragon

Set in 1592, admiral Yi Sun-sin and his fleet face off against the might of the invading Japanese navy and its formidable warships.

Yi Sun-sin (Park Hae-il) looks determined to win the war in Hansan: Rising Dragon (2022) via Big Stone Pictures

As the Korean forces fall into crisis, the admiral resorts to using his secret weapon — the dragon head ships known as Geobukseon — in order to change the tide of this epic battle at sea. Hansan: Rising Dragon is an absolute spectacle of a movie, with a thrilling final act that showcases a massive all-out war on the sea that is visually engaging and stunning for audiences.

The production values of  the film are stellar; from its seamless CGI and choreography to its beautiful cinematography, Hansan: Rising Dragon is an all-around stellar film and is certainly a top pick for the year. It is worth noting that the scale of this battle was done with a budget of only $24 million US dollars.

Yi Sun-sin (Park Hae-il) contemplates on distressing news about the Wakisaka army in Hansan: Rising Dragon (2022) via Big Stone Pictures

5. Old Man

A film about a lost hiker who stumbles upon an erratic old man living in the woods and he could never have imagined the nightmare that awaits.

The Old Man (Stephen Lang) demands Joe (Marc Senter) answer some questions in Old Man (2022) via XYZ Films

A small-budget film that doesn’t rely on a blue screen to keep an audience entertained, Old Man combines everything that I love about the art of filmmaking. A handful of actors put the focus on storytelling and character work to sell a film.

How do you make an entertaining film using the minimum given to you? Old Man answers that question with flying colors — as one of the best psychological horror films of the last few years. A movie that doesn’t rely on jump-scares to engage its audience and smartly focuses on storytelling and character progression.

The Old Man (Stephen Lang) tortures the Bible Salesman (Patch Darragh) in Old Man (2022), XYZ Films

Old Man is bare-bones filmmaking at its finest. Stephen Lang’s performance is phenomenal as an unstable yet emotionally broken old man who isn’t fond of visitors. The bread and butter of this movie is the famous dialogue between the two characters, dialogue that slowly reveals the bigger story at play and succeeds at keeping audiences engaged.

A low budget doesn’t mean low quality and Old Man is a brilliant film that tackles the topics of loneliness, sanity, and guilt.

Joe (Marc Senter) looks concerned after The Old Man (Stephen Lang) asks him to remember how he got there in Old Man (2022) via XYZ Films

4. Infinite Storm

Based on the true story of climber Pam Bales — who gets caught in a blizzard, encounters someone who’s stranded, and must get herself and this stranger down the mountain before nightfall — Infinite Storm will take many by surprise.

Pam Bales (Naomi Watts) makes a last minute stop before going on a hike in Infinite Storm (2022) via Maven Screen Media

Watching the trailer won’t do this film justice. This is not the typical movie featuring a protagonist, antagonist, and climax. Instead, the film is a story of emotionally damaged people trying to cope with everyday life. Infinite Storm is a bare-bone film that excels with a limited cast and excellent filmmaking techniques. The performance of Naomi Watts is the central focus of the film that follows her day-to-day life in a small mountain town.

The film is nearly a pure character study that replaces dialogue with the slow progression of her internal struggle. Its cinematography adapts to the physical state of Pam (Watts) in a way that first-person vision from a third-person perspective. Visually capturing the effects of ice, freeze, and pain goes a long way in selling the story without dumbing down the content of the movie. Infinite Storm is a cinematic experience and one of 2022’s must-see.

Pam Bales (Naomi Watts) finds herself in a dire situation in Infinite Storm (2022) via Maven Screen Media

3. Top Gun: Maverick

After thirty years, Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is still pushing the envelope as a top naval aviator, but he must confront ghosts of his past when he leads TOP GUN’s elite graduates on a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those chosen to fly it.

Tom Cruise as Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick (2022) via Paramount Pictures

Top Gun: Maverick is a near-perfect movie. With Tom Cruise as the producer, the renowned actor spares no expense on making this film as authentic as possible. It is a film that was delayed for years in order to perfect the high octane stunts and visuals, and the extra mile in effort pays off.

Real aircraft, real actors, and real stunts that are so impressive you might think that you are watching a Mission Impossible movie. From top to bottom, the cast is also deserving of recognition.

Tom Cruise plays Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick from Paramount Pictures, Skydance and Jerry Bruckheimer Films.

Despite pushing 60, Cruise is still Maverick. The actor played his role to perfection with unrivaled respect for the both the character and source material. Given the limited screen time they have, the new members of the cast play their roles well — Glen Powell being the standout with a next-level arrogant level of charisma.

Tom Cruise may be an insane perfectionist but, without him, we wouldn’t have gotten what amounts to one of the best films of 2022.

Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) wakes up behind enemy lines in Top Gun: Maverick (2022) via Paramount Pictures

2. The Girl on a Bulldozer

A film about a young girl whose father has a mysterious accident, forcing her to look after her younger sibling, their restaurant, and an investigator to find the truth about the her father’s death.

Gu Hye-Young (Kim Hye-yoon ) shows her arm tatto to her younger brother Hye Jeok (Si-Woo Park) in The Girl on a Bulldozer (2022) via Little Big Pictures

The Girl on a Bulldozer, which is one of the most fascinating character studies I have seen in quite some time, is simply one of the best films to come out this year. Playing a very nuanced protagonist, the film lives on the performance of actress Kim Hye Yoon. Under anyone else’s lead, this would be a character that would work the impatience of the audience rather than have them sympathize with her.

Kim Hye Yoon’s performance as a teenage girl who has been forced to deal with the harsh reality of growing up — and taking the workload of responsibility far bigger than someone her age can handle — makes her a very complex character. Life comes at us hard but The Girl on a Bulldozer is just the captivating mystery film we need in the current age of cinematic creative bankruptcy.

Gu Hye-Young (Kim Hye-yoon ) receives news from the insurance company in The Girl on a Bulldozer (2022) via Little Big Pictures

1. RRR

A film about two legendary revolutionaries and their journey away from home before they started fighting for their country in the 1920s.

Raju (Ram Charan Teja) looks determined during a demanding training session in RRR (2022) via DVV Entertainment

The #1 movie of the year comes from the country of India. The overwhelming majority of Hollywood films and television that are produced today are created by a handful of multinational corporations who only see the quality of the product as a small mark on their bottom line.

RRR redefines what it means to be a cinematic Epic Movie. This is a film that has everything you can possibly ask for in a cinematic experience. It’s is over the top, action-packed, has great storytelling, attention to detail, and a wonderful cast of characters who played their roles of perfection.

Akhtar (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.) and Raju (Ram Charan Teja) get acquainted as their lives hang by a thread in RRR (2022) via DVV Entertainment

RRR is a home run for one reason and one reason only, it is the one thing movies today aren’t: fun. RRR has an intense level of passion put into the filmmaking aspects behind the camera.

A movie that only cost 75 million dollars to produce is able to pull off impressive visual stunts that American films such as Disney’s Thor: Love and Thunder couldn’t pull off with nearly 300 million dollars put behind the budget.

Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan Teja) has an intense training session in RRR (2022) via DVV Entertainment

A loud patriotic tale that is the type of movie that will hopefully inspire American audiences to demand better from their filmmakers — RRR truly is a one-of-a-kind film.

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