LeavittLens’ Top 10 Films of 2022

In a post-2020 world, the landscape of the film industry continues to evolve: streaming remains the dominant form of film consumption, with many of our most accomplished filmmakers opting for straight-to-VOD releases all year long; theatres have nearly fully transformed into event-hubs, centers for a few large-scale, theme-park like experiences rather than for the discovery of original, new, or noteworthy releases; and the creative “middle class” of film has all but disappeared as we live in a market driven by previous intellectual property and small, indie films hoping to make their way into wider distribution and cultural awareness. While a few esteemed directors continue to hold out with some of their own original work, they are becoming less and less feasible to fund in a world where people only go to the movies for tights, capes, or franchises.

Yet in the middle of such shifting cinematic sands, 2022 remained a year full of terrific releases, with numerous international features standing out amidst a genre-rich and intelligent menu of movies, all of which can be accessed through unique and new platforms. It’s a new movie-watching world, and we’re here for every bit of it! Just some reminders of the way we format our Top 10 list here at LeavittLens:

  1. My top 10 films of the year are featured based on their LeavittLens rating. More in-depth reviews may be coming in the near future for some of these films. Keep in mind: the top 10 list only includes films that have been released in 2022.
  2. My film journal for the year, which includes ratings for all of the 68 films I saw this year (released in 2022 or otherwise), is also listed below. This list features not only my ratings, but my wife Emily’s ratings of the films we watched (where applicable), and even a one-sentence thought from Emily in reflection upon some of the films. I am fully aware that these ratings may interest the reader more than my own ratings and reviews.
  3. I also want to be sure to include a link to my Letterboxd profile, where I log and track my film watching. Be sure to follow me there to keep up in the new year.

10. The Batman | Director: Matt Reeves | LeavittLens Rating: 8/10

Batman has famously been called the “World’s Greatest Detective,” but until Matt Reeves’ latest installment of the caped crusader released earlier this year, we had never seen that moniker fully realized. This slow burn neo-noir harkens back to some of the greatest detective films ever made, with its lighting, music, and atmospheric weight descending into the darkness not only of urban crime and debauchery, but also into the psyche of those forced to reckon with and fight against such things. Robert Pattinson continues in his recent string of terrific performances, playing the titular haunted detective; Zoe Kravitz is excellent as Catwoman; Paul Dano turns in as superb a comic-book antagonist as we’ve seen since Heath Ledger’s Joker; and the subtext of an internet-driven, underground, conspiratorial plot of insurrection makes this one just as timely as it is well-executed.

9. Decision To Leave | Director: Park Chan-wook | LeavittLens Rating: 8/10

From one of the most esteemed Korean filmmakers of the 21st century, Decision To Leave is a patient and confounding examination of mortality, love, and loss. Weaving together thematic richness connected to its own cultural sensibilities, driven by central performances that are at once subtle and poignant, and featuring some of the best cinematic moments of the year, this is an excellent entree for Americans into the wealth and wonder of movie-making around the world.

8. “Sr.” | Director: Chris Smith | LeavittLens Rating: 8/10

While a documentary like this has the potential to devolve into celebrity self-indulgence, Robert Downey Jr.’s exploration of the life of his father and their relationship, documented expertly by Chris Smith (he of the Emmy-award winning Fyre), remains adequately heartfelt and genuine throughout. An exploration of the nature of fathers and sons, of generational sin, and of the complicated nature of navigating who we are in light of who has come before us, this film explores with profound simplicity timeless themes through the lens of one of Hollywood’s most noteworthy celebrity families of the last few decades. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll feel more human by the end of this one.

7. RRR | Director: S.S. Rajamouli | LeavittLens Rating: 8/10

Another international installment on the Top 10 list, RRR is an epic tale of revolution, family, and friendship. More than three hours long, there is little this Indian-made movie doesn’t have: from sprawling jungle set pieces to thematic dance battles to tales of romance and heartbreak to social commentary on the evils of colonization, every moment is a de-pinned grenade packed with visceral thrills exploding through the screen. Brutally violent at points and boisterously upbeat at others, it has a little of everything, and includes maybe the best original song and dance of the year.

6. Top Gun: Maverick | Director: Joseph Kosinski | LeavittLens Rating: 8/10

Speaking of visceral thrills, it’s hard to top what Joseph Kosinski’s legacy sequel brought to the table this year. You can read my full review of Top Gun: Maverick here.

5. Everything Everywhere All At Once | Director: The Daniels | LeavittLens Rating: 8.5/10

One of the most unexpected hits of the year came from the directing duo Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert). A multiversal romp full of martial arts action, irreverent humor, and existential reflection, Everything Everywhere All At Once is zany fun packed with genuine spiritual and emotional insights, fine-tuned for our fast-paced internet age.

4. The Fabelmans | Director: Steven Spielberg |  LeavittLens Rating: 8.5/10

I’m not sure there’s anyone else more equipped to make a movie about the wonder of making movies than Steven Spielberg, and I’m not sure there’s another movie-maker whose own artistic journey is more worth exploring in the last few decades than Steven Spielberg’s. The Fabelmans gives us both: an autobiographical exploration from one of the greatest artists in film history that simultaneously reminds us of the joy and wonder of the silver screen, all while exploring the pains of his fractured family and the ways in which his own personal hardships informed his cinematic sensibilities. Only Spielberg can make a movie featuring a fractured home and have us walking out the doors of the theatre with a glimmer of hope in our hearts and eyes. Just sit back and let one of the masters take you on an emotional and visual ride through his own life.

3. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery | Director: Rian Johnson | LeavittLens Rating: 9/10

Rian Johnson’s follow up to the Agatha Christie tribute Knives Out!, Glass Onion furthers the legend of detective Benoit Blanc, this time amidst a similarly unlikeable crew of suspects, all isolated on a private island together. Beyond serving as another cleverly subversive take on well-worn genre tropes, Johnson’s plot poignantly critiques the predominant responses to many of the recent crises of our culture. As Blanc quips part way through this mystery: “It’s a dangerous thing to mistake speaking without thought for speaking the truth.” Such a sentiment perfectly encapsulates public discourse in our culture, and his not-so-subtle characters (A “men’s rights” activist? A tech billionaire who appears smarter than he actually is? I think I know these people…) draw perfect parallels to many of the unhealthy, misinforming, and self-focused characters of our own real world. Beyond the social commentary, Glass Onion’s expert production design, costume work, ensemble performances, and cinematography make it a perfect Christmas bow to wrap up the 2022 movie year.

2. Nope | Director: Jordan Peele | LeavittLens Rating: 9/10

Increasingly rewarding on multiple rewatches, Jordan Peele’s third feature film is perhaps his most ambitious yet, working both as a tense sci-fi thriller and as a prophetic critique of Hollywood and the film industry at large. Read my full review of Nope here.

  1. The Banshees of Inisherin | Director: Martin Mcdonagh | LeavittLens Rating: 9/10

Featuring sharp, insightful dialogue, gorgeous cinematography and camera work, and all the spiritual and philosophical wrestling that the coast of Ireland can prompt, Banshees gives us Martin Mcdonagh at his peak. Darkly humorous, enticingly sad, and thematically resonant, it explores friendship, the meaning of life, and the human condition with expert brevity and wit. Can we get Colin Farrell an Oscar for this one?! Only time will tell…Read my full review for The Banshees of Inisherin here.

While I was able to catch many of the best releases from 2022, a few slipped my ability to watch, and thus cannot be included in contention for Top 10 consideration. These include: Tar, Babylon, White Noise, Aftersun, and The Whale. Check out my Letterboxd profile for updates on these in the coming weeks as I see them!

LeavittLens’ Film Journal | 2022

2022

  1. Promising Young Woman
  1. Clints Rating: 81%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 65% (“That one was weird”)

2. The Tragedy of Macbeth

  1. Clints Rating: 93%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

3. Pig 

  1. Clint’s Rating: 91%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 87% (“Makes me think twice about how much I like to eat bacon”)

4. The Last Duel

  1. Clint’s Rating: 56%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

5. Phantom Thread

  1. Clints Rating: 78%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

6. The Green Knight

  1. Clints Rating: 94%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 70% (“I know there’s a big tree…It’s like the BFG meets The Giving Tree”)

7. 2 Guns

  1. Clint’s Rating: 68%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

8. Isle of Dogs

  1. Clint’s Rating: 89%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 83% (“Owning a dog makes the rating higher”)

9. Reservoir Dogs

  1. Clints Rating: 84%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

10. The Big Lebowski

  1. Clints Rating: 89%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

11. Nightmare Alley

  1. Clint’s Rating: 85%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 73% (“What happened in this one again?”)

12. Coda

  1. Clint’s Rating: 84%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 96% (“This is everything that everyone needs to see”)

13. The Eyes of Tammy Faye

  1. Clints Rating: 64%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 52% (“More like the hair of Tammy Faye”)

14. Summer of Soul

  1. Clints Rating: 92%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

15. Death on the Nile

  1. Clints Rating: 54%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 70% (“Eh…”)

16. The Rescue

  1. Clints Rating: 90%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 100% (“This was awesome!”)

17. Tombstone

  1. Clint’s Rating: 71%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 64% (“I don’t think I saw Tombstone…”)

18. Soul

  1. Clints Rating: 97%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

19. Red Eye

  1. Clints Rating: 71%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 83% (“Nothing good happens after midnight”)

20. Before Sunrise

  1. Clints Rating: 82%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 87% (“Love before technology”)

21. Inside Man

  1. Clint’s Rating: 91%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 88% (“This one’s dope”)

22. Get Out

  1. Clint’s Rating: 98%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 94% (“The importance of flash photography”)

23. Nope

  1. Clint’s Rating: 90%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 82% (“I like those inflatable rubber arm things…”)

24. There Will Be Blood

  1. Clint’s Rating: 98%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 50% (“I drink your milkshake”)

25. Bullet Train

  1. Clint’s Rating: 57%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 55%

26. Hustle

  1. Clint’s Rating: 71%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

27. Ambulance

  1. Clint’s Rating: 57%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

28. Nine Days

  1. Clint’s Rating: 87%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 70% (“Slow…wasn’t it slow?)

29. The Godfather

  1. Clint’s Rating: 97%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 97% (“Make me an offer…wait…”)

30. The Card Counter

  1. Clint’s Rating: 64%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

31. Under The Banner of Heaven

  1. Clint’s Rating: 81%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 63%

32. Top Gun: Maverick

  1. Clint’s Rating: 88%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 98% (“This is the best movie of the year”)

33. Men

  1. Clint’s Rating: 74%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

34: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

  1. Clint’s Rating: 91%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 87% (“What’s the creature’s name? Dobby?”)

35. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

  1. Clint’s Rating: 93%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 87% (“Is it a bad sign that I don’t remember the towers?”)

36. Collateral

  1. Clint’s Rating: 83%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

37. This is 40

  1. Clint’s Rating: 43%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 72% (“Me in 10 Years”)

38. Doctor Sleep

  1. Clint’s Rating: 74%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 62% (“Just reminds me of Dr. Funk…which I want to be drinking…”)

39. The Descendants

  1. Clint’s Rating: 89%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 85% (“Any movie in Hawaii automatically earns 10 extra points”)

40. Michael Clayton

  1. Clint’s Rating: 86%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

41. The Banshees of Inisherin

  1. Clint Rating: 93%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 67% (“The Phalanges of Inisherin”)

42. Armageddon Time

  1. Clint’s Rating: 84%
  2. Emily’s Rating:  N/A

43. See How They Run

  1. Clint’s Rating: 68%
  2. Emily’s Rating: (“I fell asleep…What was the point?”)

44. The Menu

  1. Clint’s Rating: 81%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 84% (“The Schmenu”)

45. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

  1. Clint’s Rating: 96%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 86% (“I just liked his striped clothing”)

46. The Fabelmans

  1. Clint’s Rating: 88%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 95% (“I keep thinking about the train scene and the train tracks”)

47. RRR

  1. Clint’s Rating: 79%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

48. “Sr.”

  1. Clint’s Rating: 91%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 94% (“I love him for the things he did, and I love him for the things he didn’t do.”)

49. Licorice Pizza

  1. Clint’s Rating: 88%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

50. Before Sunset

  1. Clint’s Rating: 90%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

51. The Gentlemen

  1. Clint’s Rating: 75%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

52. Encanto

  1. Clint’s Rating: 81%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 85% (“Oh I liked that one!”)

53. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (twice)

  1. Clint’s Rating: 77%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

54. The Staircase

  1. Clint’s Rating: 71%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 50%

55. The Northman

  1. Clint’s Rating: 81%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

56. The Tinder Swindler

  1. Clint’s Rating: 65%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 71% (“I mean…c’mon ladies)

57. The Outfit

  1. Clint’s Rating: 78%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

58. Everything Everywhere All At Once

  1. Clint’s Rating: 92%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

59. Minority Report

  1. Clint’s Rating: 83%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 88%

60. Dog

  1. Clint’s Rating: 72%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 72%

61. West Side Story

  1. Clint’s Rating: 81%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

62. The Worst Person In The World

  1. Clint’s Rating: 80%
  2. Emily’s Rating: N/A

63. The Batman

  1. Clint’s Rating: 85%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 92%

64. Kimi

  1. Clints Rating: 81% 
  2. Emily’s Rating: 65%

65. It’s A Wonderful Life

  1. Clints Rating: 90%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 85% (“Ironic that the abridged version cuts out much of the bridge scene”)

66. Avatar

  1. Clints Rating: 78%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 86%

67. Avatar: The Way of Water

  1. Clint’s Rating: 70%
  2. Emily’s Rating: 73%

68. Decision To Leave

  1. Clints Rating: 89%
  2. Emily’s rating: 80% (“I knew I didn’t like hiking”)

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