2022 was a year of movies with a broad variety of cinematic entertainment. After the uncharted territory of the Covid-19 pandemic impacting movies in 2020 and 2021, this past year managed to be one with a full throttle of movie magic. I covered many press screenings in 2022, and I attended the Chicago Critics Film Festival in May and the Chicago International Film Festival in October. The films I reviewed this year included many great films, and a number with connecting elements. These are my top ten films of 2022.
The film at the top of my list for 2022 is Tar, a film about owning one’s craft. Director Todd Field brings us an immersive and compelling vision of a prestigious person, Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tar, a musical philanthropist who stops at nothing to pursue her passion, including being deceitful if needed. Tar is daring and spellbinding, and the film made me realize how far people will go to advance what they are passionate about.
My second film is Guillermo del Toro’s Pinnochio. Del Toro has a creative mind that exudes positive imagination and love. The animation and storyline of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinnochio is touching, and audiences feel the love and connection of Pinocchio and Geppetto through the astonishing animation and the music. Pinnochio is voiced by Gregory Mann, Geppetto is voiced by David Bradley, and Ewan McGregor brings lots of fun and humor as the voice of Cricket. This is del Toro’s most captivating story and the animation is epic.
Third on my list is The Banshees of Inisherin. If there is any director who can depict relationships falling apart with meaning and seriousness, it is Martin McDonagh. The Banshees of Inisherin is a film about hatred, connection, cultural beliefs, and friendship gone awry. Colin Farrell plays Padraic, and Brendan Gleeson plays Colm, two people on harsh terms. The film takes place in Ireland, and is a fascinating look at Irish cultural perspectives and irreparable consequences. The chemistry between Farrell and Gleeson makes The Banshees of Inisherin a surreal masterpiece.
The fourth film on my list is Avatar: The Way of Water. The world has waited thirteen years for this film. The wait is over, and James Cameron, the mad man of extreme directing, brings us a wild technological ride. Avatar: The Way of Water blows its audience away with its 3D magic. The underwater sequences are extraordinary and mesmerizing. Avatar: The Way of Water is an unforgettable ride.
My fifth film, Empire of Light, from Director Sam Mendes, is about finding love and connection in a cinema. I’ve worked in movie theaters for many years, so this was a film that I related to very much and it touched my heart deeply. Cinema nostalgia and empathy are on full display in Empire of Light, and Olivia Colman gives probably one of her best performances.
My sixth film is Hustle. I grew up loving basketball. In my younger days I was captivated by Michael Jordan and other basketball icons. Hustle is a film displaying the personal and political complications of organized basketball. Adam Sandler is at his best in Hustle, playing a man who recruits a future professional played by Juancho Hernangomez. Both Sandler and Hernangomez deliver performances that soar and shine with persistence and passion in Hustle.
My seventh film is Cha Cha Real Smooth. This film was a very meaningful experience for me, since I am on the autism spectrum and I am always trying to advocate and encourage others on the spectrum. Cooper Raiff is the director, writer, and lead of the film, and he is wonderful. He plays a deadbeat with a negative attitude, but he forms a friendship with a mother, played by Dakota Johnson, and her autistic daughter. Cha Cha Real Smooth reminded me that I can inspire others who are on the spectrum, and also people who are not on the spectrum, to be their own selves and have a good attitude.
My eighth film is Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. The fun of Knives out from 2019 is back. Glass Onion: A Knives out Mystery takes the detective entertainment to a whole different level of creativity, suspense, and laughs. The mystery takes place in the Covid era, which added to the fun of the film. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is an enthralling, funny, and lethally charged mystery. Daniel Craig is back as the detective the world loves in his role as Benoit Blanc. With many stars ranging from Edward Norton and Kate Hudson, to Kathryn Hahn and more, there are great surprises to be discovered in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.
My ninth film is Top Gun: Maverick. Thirty-six years later, the Top Gun franchise still lives with Top Gun: Maverick. Tom Cruise is back as Captain Pete ‘Maverick’ and the film brings back the fighter jet nostalgia the world has waited for. With the brilliant characterizations and lots of “Need for Speed,” Top Gun: Maverick is a ride for the ages. The legacy is strong and compelling and Top Gun: Maverick is a ride of flying and cinematic thrills to remember, especially with Miles Teller as Lt. ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw, and Val Kilmer back as Adm. Tom ‘Iceman’ Kazansky. Top Gun: Maverick is a nostalgic masterpiece.
The tenth and final film is Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths. Director Alejandro G. Inarritu knows character development. Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths takes one man’s life and turns it into a rollercoaster of reality. Daniel Gimenez Cacho plays an accomplished journalist and documentary filmmaker, and his performance blows viewers out of the water. The film tests the limits and frustrations of one man’s life. Inarritu knows the depths of both serious and funny. Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths has its viewers excited, curious and intrigued.
Despite the interferences with Covid-19, 2022 was one of my best years of film experiences and reviews. It was also a year where movies were great in both the cinemas and virtually, but I prefer the big screen experience any opportunity I get. The darkness of being a screenings room, the projectors running, the smell of popcorn, and the movie playing in front of me is what I love most.
I want to thank all my critic friends, my family, and anyone around the Chicagoland who has helped the cinema be an amazing year. Also, thanks to all my readers, followers, and mentors. I cannot wait to see what 2023 has to offer.
I am Tarek Fayoumi of Movieswithtarek.com, Medium.com, columnist with Positively Naperville, approved critic of Bananameter, and member of Chicago Indie Critics.