Top 10 Films of 2022 – Thomas’s Picks

It’s the most wonderful time of the year yet again. The time for the Moviescramble team to list their top ten films. A yearly tradition that is likely to cause more arguments than when your great-uncle brings up his views on immigration at the dinner table.

As cinemas still struggle to recover from the pandemic, we were treated to some proper blockbuster films in 2022. The sort of film you tell people they need to see in the cinema.

Before we start, some honourable mentions go to Orphan: First Kill (deserves an Oscar for one scene alone), Bullet Train (so much fun) and Boiling Point (an incredible achievement of a film).

So, as Pinhead once famously said, “Shall we begin?”

10. Belfast

Kenneth Brannagh makes his more personal film to date in this tale of a working-class family caught up in The Troubles.  What could have been a politically bogged-down dirge of a movie is instead an uplifting social tale about family and identity. The film is told from nine-year-old Buddy’s (Jude Hill) point of view as he navigates the violent struggles of a torn community. Where there is darkness, Brannagh shines light by focusing on a childhood innocence in danger of being lost and what parents will do to keep their family safe. Jamie Dornan proves yet again that he’s a wonderful actor and Judy Dench’s supporting role, lends further gravitas to the film.

9. Studio 666

There have arguably been better films this year. There have easily been better horror films. Nope and Pearl may be more deserving of a slot however for sheer entertainment, Studio 666 beats them both. When the Foo Fighters need the inspiration to record their new album, they find the haunted murder house they pick turns out to be…well, haunted and a little murdery. Based on a story by Dave Grohl, the legendary frontman showcases his comic talent in front of the camera as he chews every bit of scenery he can. Other performances (Hi Pat) are questionable at best, but the authenticity of the band playing themselves adds a charm to the movie that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Gorey, inventive, spooky and hilarious; director BJ McDonnell successfully merges horror and comedy in a way that more prominent filmmakers have tried and failed.

The Northman8. The Northman

Robert Eggers three feature films are very unique yet all of them carry his distinct style. The Northman is much grander in scale yet contained within is an intimacy that isolates characters. Part arthouse, part blockbuster, it is Eggers most accessible film to date yet still intertwined with folklore and depth that makes for an engaging, if not exhausting, watch. Alexander Skarsgård transforms himself into Amleth, a Viking warrior out for revenge. The film is a beautiful yet grim spectacle with violent imagery not designed to be fun.

7. Avatar: The Way of Water

Audiences would have been forgiven for thinking there would be no follow-up to James Cameron’s Avatar. 13 years had passed, a time which saw the 3D cinema boom explode only to die off. 3D films still exist, but usually as a special attraction as opposed to studios post-converting any blockbuster to induce headaches in people. Did we need another Avatar? Probably not but you’d be foolish to write off the man that made Aliens and Terminator 2. Plot-wise, we have revenge, family and forgiveness while Cameron presents yet another cinematic achievement. Thrilling and wonderful to look at, this is one film, or series for that matter, best viewed on the big screen.

The Banshees of Inisherin6. The Banshees of Inisherin

Director Martin McDonagh reunites Colin Farell and Brendan Gleeson for a tale of friendship gone sour as two men find themselves at an impasse. The Banshees of Inisherin is a gloriously understated film with a cutting depth that is relatable if a little absurd. The plot is simple in its telling yet the themes that run throughout are both subtle and bold as the film continues to punch you in the gut while telling jokes.

The Black Phone5. Black Phone

Ethan Hawke has become somewhat of a horror icon in recent years thanks to Sinister and The Purge. In Black Phone, he puts in a physical performance as a child killer keeping watch over his latest soon-to-be victim. After leaving Doctor Strange 2, Scott Derrickson returns to his horror roots to deliver a chilling tale with an unnerving tone that creeps over your skin throughout. Marvel’s loss is our gain as the director gives us one of the year’s best horror films in both story, performances and atmospheric scares.

  4. Scream (2022)

You’d think after four scream films, the franchise would have lost its edge. What started as a meta-commentary on horror films, the series tried to reinvent itself while staying true to its Ghost Face roots with inconsistent results. With Wes Craven sadly no longer with us, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett take over director duties and look to do the master proud. They succeed in navigating a film with so many boxes to tick while channelling the spirit of the original. Part remake, part legacy sequel, it provides an excellent commentary on modern horror, providing plenty of shocks, twists and laughs along the way.

3. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Netflix reportedly outbid competitors for Glass Onion and a future sequel to the tune of $489 million. One of the losing bidders told Variety: “The math doesn’t work. There’s no way to explain it. The world has gone mad. It’s a mind-boggling deal.” Still, that’s neither here nor there for this cinephile who, rather than wait for Netflix to release it, caught it on the big screen. It’s a fantastic sequel that is almost on par with the first one but just doesn’t get there. That it only pales compared to the brilliant Knives Out is reason enough to watch it. Full of twists and diabolical murders, Rhian Johnson proves there’s room for original content on the silver screen as he assembles a star-studded cast who look like they’re having a ball hamming it up. Maybe get off his back about The Last Jedi now, eh?

Barbarian movie2. Barbarian

It’s been a great year for horror and not much kept Barbarian from clinching the top spot. The marketing strategy for the film tried to mask as much of the plot as possible, including a trailer starring Justing Long that gives little, if anything, away. The opening act is a terrifying study in the art of suspense as we cringe with every awkward interaction between Georgina Campbell and Bill Skarsgård. The tension ramps up before director Zach Cregger sideswipes the audience with a change in tone before slowly introducing the horror back into proceedings. Scary, humorous, off-the-wall and ultimately brilliant.

1. Top Gun: Maverick

Confession time: I am not a fan of Top Gun. It’s dull, outdated and despite many memorable one-liners, is fairly forgettable overall. Needless to say, I didn’t see the point of making a sequel over thirty years later. And that’s why I write about films rather than greenlight them. Top Gun: Maverick finds its titular character (Tom Cruise, obvs) assigned to prepare young pilots for a potential suicide mission. Cruise brings his trademark swagger and charm to the film with a subdued sense of responsibility, especially over the guilt of seeing his former wingman’s son, Rooster (Miles Teller). Naturally, the two clash, as does Rooster with this generation’s Iceman, Hangman (Glenn Powell). It’s an astonishing marvel of a movie as director Joseph Kosinski throws us into the cockpit of the fighter jets; utilising as little CGI as possible to deliver the action. Action aside, the movie hits the right emotional notes and will make you question if anyone is cutting onions near you. It’s Cruise’s best performance in years in a film that outdoes the original in every way. As good as a film can be from the comfort of your own home, movies like Top Gun: Maverick are why cinemas exist and it would be such a shame to lose them.

Thomas Simpson
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