The 22 most important movies of 2022
Some of the best movies. Some of the worst. Some of the most talked about. Some already completely forgotten about.
You might have seen some of these movies. Or all of them. Or none of them.
You might have liked some of these movies. Or hated all of them. Or have no opinions.
Regardless, these 22 movies had the biggest impact on movie lovers in 2022, for better or for worse.
A cast including Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Zoe Saldaña, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon, Timothy Olyphant, Andrea Riseborough, Taylor Swift, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alessandro Nivola, Rami Malek, and Robert De Niro. From the five-time Oscar-nominated writer/director of Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter and American Hustle.
And yet absolutely nobody went to see it ($31 million worldwide box office from an $80 million budget) and the critics hated it (33% on Rotten Tomatoes). Proof that packing your movie with some of the best actors in the world isn't enough to generate interest or for the finished product to be, y'know, good.
AN CAILÍN CIÚIN
While there have been some other Irish language releases that blipped on certain movie lovers' radar, An Cailín Ciúin (aka The Quiet Girl) is the one that put them firmly on the map. It is also the single best reviewed movie released in 2022, according to Rotten Tomatoes. Go Ireland!
AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER
Did you spend the last 13 years talking about how you didn't like Avatar and how it left "zero cultural impact"? Good for you. Now here comes the sequel, arguably the most-anticipated movie of the year, and likely to top the box office around the world for weeks on end.
And it stands out from pretty much every single other major blockbuster by not having to keep any big plot secrets from us, but is instead selling itself on being an absolute must-see in cinemas. Which, yes, it is.
THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN
Writer/director Martin McDonagh's output since 2008's In Bruges was ... varied. Nobody held Seven Psychopaths in much esteem, while Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri has as many lovers as it does haters.
So for his extremely Irish reunion with Farrell and Gleeson to hit so hard with world, to the point that it is a major Oscar frontrunner for many of the big categories... it truly is a heartwarming sight to behold.
No, you didn't see it. Because nobody did. An apparently fully finished movie, bringing back Michael Keaton as Batman, featuring comeback kid Brendan Fraser as the villain, and Warner Brothers completely pulled it from their release schedule.
A small, independent movie never seeing the light of day, we can almost - almost! - understand. But this one cost $90 million before any advertising had been done, and POOF!, gone forever. Still one of the most WTF moments of 2022 cinema.
A film so monumental in its awfulness, so staggeringly lacking in self-awareness, that you can't help but enjoy yourself. It is so rare that we get an immediate cult classic these days, so Michael Flatley's attempt to remake Casablanca (yes, really) should be cherished for what it truly is: so bad it's great.
Ahead of its release, this was one of the most talked about movies of the year. Ana De Armas, one of the hottest new talents around, portraying Marilyn Monroe herself in a very explicit, apparently hugely controversial tale involving all the big rumours, right up to her involvement with JFK. It would be Netflix's first self-produced adults-only movie!
And then the second it landed on the streaming service, practically all conversation around it evaporated. The irony of course being that the fantasy of the thing is so much more interesting than the reality...
There was so much hype around this rom-com, planting its flag as being the first LGBTQI+ romantic comedy made by a major production company. Universal did the right thing and put a lot of money behind it, critics were generous with their reviews... but it tanked. The $22 million production budget made less than $15 million back worldwide.
While there was an often very funny comedy at its core, it got lost in the noise of being "important" that it probably turned a lot of potential viewers off. It is likely - hopefully! - going to find a second life on home streaming.
This year was definitely the year we all felt the pinch of pandemic productions. Movies that were clearly created under the specific safety concerns of covid. The Bubble was Netflix's big budget comedy about making a movie under these conditions, thus making it both (A) something nobody wanted to watch during the pandemic, and (B) dating it the second the pandemic began to fade away.
It also didn't help that it was a 126 minute long comedy with barely 60 seconds of actually funny stuff in it.
DON'T WORRY DARLING
Forget about Dahmer. Forget about Harry & Meghan. We're going to need a six-part Netflix show on the behind-the-scenes madness that was going on around this big budget psychological thriller. From leaked conversations with "fired" actors, all the way up to Harry Styles "spitting" on Chris Pine... it was jaw-dropping drama at every turn.
The film was okay, too.
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
An inventive, modestly budgeted action sci-fi adventure with a 60-year-old, non-white leading actress, from writer/directors nobody has ever heard of. Historically, this is the kind of film that would disappear without trace.
This year, it was a huge box office success and is a Best Picture favourite. Even if you didn't love it, you can't deny the impression it has left behind.
THE GRAY MAN
The directors of some of the biggest movies ever made, working with some of the sexiest actors around. A globe trotting spy blockbuster, from the makers of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, with Ryan Gosling, Ana De Armas, Chris Evans and loads more besides.
But we're betting you've already forgotten that this movie even came out this year. This was Algorithm Film-Making at its finest, with Netflix spitting out what it perceives to be popular. It didn't work for last year's Red Notice, either.
A long-delayed sequel that has a huge box office and critical hit, despite arriving well after its perceived window of opportunity, and it worked out simply because it was, y'know, really entertaining. See also: Scream 5.
Pete Davidson voices the dog. J.K. Simmons and David Koechner (the "WHAMMY!" guy from Anchorman) are also in there. It is one of the ugliest animated movies ever made, and scored a stinking 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. While other lists of Worst Of 2022 will likely aim for the attention-grabbing bigger failures, something THIS bad needs pointing out.
Not only the biggest box office flop of 2022, but one of the biggest ever. A $140 million production budget - so that is without a penny of advertising spend on it - returned less than $70 million worldwide.
It is magnificently entertaining, but not on purpose.
Cratered upon initial release, both commercially and critically, the movie then began to pick up steam on the internet, mostly thank to some incredible memes, and an ever-present gif of Matt Smith doing some sexy topless dancing.
Thinking it was getting a new lease at life, Sony re-released Morbius in cinemas again, only for it to crater a second time. The lesson here being you can't trust the internet. For anything.
A three-hour-long Indian action period drama. How did this break through to international audiences? Well, it probably has a lot to do with immense action sequences that Hollywood blockbusters simply wouldn't have the cajones to attempt. A proper word-of-mouth giant on this side of the world, assisted by the fact that it is immediately available on Netflix.
Every year we get a great movie that seems to be undone by its own bad trailer. Blockers, Scream 5, Game Night, so many good movies all getting off on the wrong foot.
Smile was the latest victim to a bad trailer, but was then sorted out by some real-world promotion, which had creepy smiley folk appearing in the background of famous sporting events.
It was originally going to go straight to streaming, but Paramount took the risk on a big screen debut, and it paid off tremendously, becoming one of the top 20 money makers of the year.
When you hear that a movie is so scary that people are passing out and vomiting and stuff at the screenings... that is the kind of free publicity that you can't put a price on. While not everybody would be in a rush to actually watch it, chances are you've definitely heard about it by now.
THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER
The exact point when "is this good enough?" was no longer good enough for Marvel fans. It also didn't help that it was followed up by Wakanda Forever, a legitimately very good movie.
THE TINDER SWINDLER
Maybe Netflix should stop making $200 million budgeted action movies that nobody can pick out of a line-up, and focus instead on these "Did you SEE that??" documentaries that take a stranglehold on every water-cooler conversation for days and weeks on end afterwards. Just a thought.
TOP GUN MAVERICK
Nobody had much hope for this long-delayed sequel. Cruise reprising one his cheesiest roles, from an original movie that doesn't hold up to a modern-day rewatch. A director who hadn't actually made a great movie yet, and much of the supporting cast from the first movie weren't returning.
And then we get this absolute barnstorming blockbuster, completely revitalising the idea of "must-watch" cinema releases, and giving Cruise the biggest hit of his career. You love to see it.