Well, folks, the year is already half over, so we here at JoBlo figured now would be a good time to look back at some of the year’s movies and figure out what ones are sitting at the top of the heap as far as the first half of 2022 is concerned. One thing to note is that films are back in business, with Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World: Dominion, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and more opening to the boffo box office. Indeed, the theatrical experience isn’t as dead as people thought, and hopefully, this trend continues as the year goes on.
But, without any further ado, here are the movies we think are the best of the year (so far):
Top Gun: Maverick
Joseph Kosinski’s long-delayed Top Gun sequel was everything fans have been hoping for – and then some. Unabashedly old-fashioned, in that it focuses on telling a story by adopting a classic three-act structure instead of checking the boxes Twitter tells us need to be checked, the film has turned out to be a game-changing success. It’s the biggest moneymaker of Tom Cruise’s career, reinvigorated the legacy sequel genre, and proved that if you want to make a billion bucks at the box office, superheroes aren’t your only option.
As much as the success of Top Gun: Maverick has us optimistic about the state of non-superhero movies in theaters, the underperformance of Robert Eggers’ The Northman has us worried. We pushed this movie hard on JoBlo, and I stand by the fact that it’s the greatest Viking movie ever made and perhaps the best historical action movie since Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven (director’s cut, of course). This should have been Alexander Skarsgård’s Gladiator, but it’s kicking ass on VOD. Still, it’s best appreciated in a theater, so if you can see it that way, please don’t miss out. It’s a masterpiece.
All due respect to our other resident film critic, JimmyO, who gave Elvis a mixed 6/10, but Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic is a stunner. While I have a few caveats, namely that Tom Hanks plays Colonel Parker like Gollum in Lord of the Rings, Austin Butler’s performance as The King is the acting job of the year so far. He nails the voice and does all of his own singing in the part of the movie that takes place in the fifties. I was especially moved by the third act, depicting his downfall and addictions, but I also loved that Luhrmann draws allusions between superheroes and Elvis, plus the soundtrack is incredible. I wish it were a bit longer as they gloss over his acting career (which was substantial), but then again, we may get a director’s cut one day.
Everything Everywhere All At Once
This A24 charmer came out of nowhere to become the year’s biggest sleeper hit. Michelle Yeoh stars as a woman forced to navigate the multiverse (and do her taxes), and the movie-making duo The Daniels have made something that will probably be called a classic in the years to come. Yeoh is outstanding in a role that takes advantage of her martial arts prowess, but for me, the show was stolen by former Indiana Jones sidekick Ke Huy Quan as her harried and good-hearted husband.
While I still think it’s a half-hour too long, Matt Reeves’ noirish take on The Batman was one of the movies to pump air back into the box office, and as expected, Robert Pattinson made for the perfect detective-style Batman. The score by Michael Giacchino is the best of the year (so far), and I loved the world Reeves’ built with this one. While I maintain this is far from the best Batman movie, I still think that Reeves and Pattinson, with the sequels, have the potential to make the movie that finally unseats The Dark Knight…but it hasn’t happened yet.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
This one wasn’t quite the bonkers phenomenon everyone expected, with this meta-comedy starring Nicolas Cage as Nic Cage more…normal…than anyone expected. Still, it’s Nic Cage at his most knowingly weird, but Pedro Pascal comes perilously close to stealing the movie as the world’s biggest Nicolas Cage fan (after me, of course).
The Chris Pine action movie came and went with nary a peep, getting a tiny theatrical release alongside an on-demand VOD release. That’s too bad because this character-driven action thriller offers us Pine’s best role since Hell or High Water and effectively re-teams him with his co-star from that movie, Ben Foster. For a double dose of Pine, also check out his Prime Video movie, All the Old Knives, although, for my money, this one is the better of the two.
The Black Phone
I’m hit and miss on horror movies, but Scott Derrickson’s The Black Phone, based on the story by Joe Hill, blew me away. Ethan Hawke is terrifying as “The Grabber,” a serial killer preying on children, but alas, he chooses the wrong one when his latest victim can communicate with the spirits of the other kids he killed – all of whom want payback. It’s simultaneously nostalgic (it’s set in the seventies), scary and even touching. It’s a gem and one of the best movies Blumhouse has ever made, which is good because their recent Firestarter remake was BAD.
The box office failure of Michael Bay’s Ambulance scared me, as this is precisely the kind of turn-your-brain-off popcorn movie I like. It tanked utterly, but I maintain that if you’re looking for a dose of adrenaline, you can’t go wrong with this awesome action flick, which features a scenery-chewing Jake Gyllenhaal in a rare action role.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
While I’m hit and miss on Marvel movies, it can’t be denied that Sam Raimi re-established himself as an A-lister by bringing some horror-tinged anarchy to the MCU. We also got a few tantalizing glimpses of the multiverse, promising big things to come. I didn’t love it – but I liked it.
Anyway – that’s our top 10. Let us know in the comments what you think the best movies of 2022 are so far!