This year, our movie-watching experience continued to be a mix of theater-going and at-home streaming, whether we joined the masses who made Top Gun: Maverick a box office smash, or we gathered on the couch with friends to click play on Fire Island. But, no matter what the venue, 2022 was defined by a slew of phenomenal movies, from Jordan Peele's highly-anticipated return as director, to career-defining performances from stars like Cate Blanchett. So, here at PureWow, we decided to round up the top 10 movies (unranked) that our editors simply couldn't stop talking about.
The Top 10 Movies of 2022, According to PureWow’s Editors
In a year full of buzzy horror movies, from the reboot of Scream to the shocking Smile, it was Zach Cregger's Barbarian that won out as the best chiller. With twists around every turn and a stellar performance from lead Georgina Campbell, this horrific ride had us glued to the screen until the very end. Now, we'll never be able to look at a rental house quite the same.
There was a lot of anticipation around Black Panther: Wakanda Forever following the untimely passing of Chadwick Boseman in 2020. However, this Marvel title did not disappoint, acting as a fitting tribute to the late star, while also functioning as a gorgeous portrait of its female characters. With plenty of action, drama and heart, this sequel expertly weaved a story of Black women supporting each other in the wake of loss. It was one of Marvel's finest releases yet (if not their best).
This A24 film became a surprise box office smash when it was released back in March, and it's easy to understand why. Starring Michelle Yeoh, the movie focuses on a Chinese-American immigrant who is questioning her life choices as she gets audited by the IRS. However, everything changes when she is suddenly thrown into a multiverse in order to stop a powerful being from destroying life as we know it. This film not only jumps between genres—from science fiction to black comedy—but it also covers a variety of themes, from the relationship between mother and daughter to theories like the butterfly effect. And the experience is utterly breathtaking.
4. Fire Island
2022 was a banner year for LGBTQ+ cinema, from the release of Billy Eichner's Bros to smaller streaming movies like Hulu's Crush. However, the title that really stole our hearts was Fire Island, starring Loot's Joel Kim Booster, Saturday Night Live's Bowen Yang and How to Get Away with Murder's Conrad Ricamora. Not only did the rom-com break ground for its Asian lead cast, but this spin on Pride and Prejudice worked because of its clever writing, winning performances and its frank depiction of gay life. Just like the titular vacation getaway, Fire Island was a sexy and messy romp that we wanted to return to again and again.
Emma Thompson gives a riotous (and sex-positive) performance in the Hulu original, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, where the Academy Award-winning actress plays a retired teacher who hires a sex worker in order to try to achieve the first orgasm of her life. The results are not only funny, but surprisingly emotional, as the pair slowly share slices of their life with one another, while also sharing intimate moments in the bedroom.
If this title sounds familiar, that's because it's a feature-length expansion of a former viral YouTube sensation. However, even if you've seen the stop-motion shorts that inspired it, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On was one of the most moving films of the year. You may wonder how much emotion can be pulled from a story about an anthropomorphic shell who cares for his grandmother, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a dry eye once the credits roll.
7. The Menu
Food-lovers who sat down for this film quickly realized that it was no Chopped. In The Menu, Ralph Fiennes plays a posh celebrity chef who hosts a group of guests for a special evening of dining on a private island. However, when a surprise guest (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) throws a wrench into the evening's festivities, lots of surprises and scares ensue.
With Get Out and Us under his belt, Jordan Peele set the bar ridiculously high for his third directorial effort, Nope. But, the Key & Peele creator knocked it out of the park once again, with a spooky and captivating story about two siblings who train horses for Hollywood productions. Led by Get Out's Daniel Kaluuya and a scene-stealing Keke Palmer, this film examines the Black experience in the U.S., all the while touching on themes of exploitation, family, legacy and more. And as per usual, Peele made this balancing act look easy.
In Tár, Academy Award-winning actress Cate Blanchett gives one of the best performances of her career, playing a highly-esteemed conductor who finds her career spiraling following a series of misconduct allegations. Not only was Blanchett's performance so realistic that viewers were convinced the fictional Lydia Tár was a real person, but the movie covers topics of cancel culture, power dynamics and education with a stunning nuance unlike anything we've ever seen before. Praising Tár is easy, even though the movie never settles for easy answers.
It was almost impossible to avoid the pop culture wave brought on by Top Gun: Maverick. 36 years after the original Top Gun was released, this sequel jetted into theaters and smashed expectations, garnering over a billion dollars at the box office and winning over critics (all the while causing mustaches to become the new trending look). In a year full of sequels, reboots and remakes, Top Gun: Maverick easily took the nostalgia cake.