We have reached the halfway point of the year, and with that is the plethora of mid-year top ten lists. Here’s mine!
By Sean Blanford
A Note From the Editor: Hi! Have you missed me? I have missed all of you. I’ve missed writing about movies and other random stuff. My apologies for the two-plus month hiatus. Actually, I think I am more sorry than the last review I left you with was for The Secrets of Dumbledore. Anyway, I am back with my first article in a while, and more reviews and articles will come in the future. Now with this out of the way, please enjoy my fun yet obligatory top ten list. With love, Sean, the moviebirb :).
So far this year, I have viewed with various degrees of enjoyment 49 films with US release dates in 2022. While I haven’t had the chance to see everything, I feel I have viewed enough to come up with a solid top ten list. A friendly reminder as always that this is just one person’s opinion, and I look forward to your respectful commentary either in the comments or on social media. With that, here are some four-star honorable mentions that just missed out on the coveted top ten in no particular order.
Marvelous and the Black Hole: Kate Tsang, writer-director
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande: Sophie Hyde, director
The Survivor: Barry Levinson, director
After Yang: Kogonada, writer-director
See for Me: Randall Okita, director
On the Count of Three: Jerrod Charmichael, director
The Northman: Robert Eggers, cowriter-director
Poser: Noah Dixon and Ori Segev, codirectors
Scream: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, codirectors
Hatching: Hannah Bergholm, cowriter-director
Congratulations to all of the aforementioned honorable mentions. Who knows? Some of them may make it into the end-of-year top twenty if the second half of the year ends up being underwhelming. So now, without further ado, here are my top ten films for the first half of 2022.
#10: Top Gun: Maverick– Joseph Kosinski, director. US Release Date: May 27th, 2022
The biggest blockbuster of the Summer is yet another in the long line of Tom Cruise action dramas and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. Cruise is the headliner and star, but Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Val Kilmer, and the entirety of the new class of Top Gun recruits more than hold their weight (and yes, that includes Miles Teller). While it may be a bit formulaic to the point of unsurprising, the action sequences and terrific third act make this a much-watch on the biggest screen possible.
As of July 1st, Top Gun: Maverick is only in theaters.
#9: Happening– Audrey Diwan, cowriter-director. US Release Date: May 6th, 2022
From France, the Golden Lion winner of the 2021 Venice Film Festival is as timely as a film, given the current circumstances in the United States. One of several films on this list that succeeds or fails on the performance of the lead actress, Anamaria Vartolomei gives a heartwrenching, gut-punch performance as Anne, a college student in 1960s France seeking an abortion after an unplanned pregnancy. Happening is a difficult watch given its subject matter, but rewarding for its beautiful filmmaking and performances.
As of July 1st, Happening is available to rent or own digitally.
#8: Pleasure– Ninja Thyberg, writer-director. US Release Date: May 13th, 2022
From its humble beginning as one of the breakout films of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival to being a multi-time Spirit Award nominee, there isn’t much more I can say about the film that I haven’t already gushed over the last 18 months. For my full thoughts on Pleasure, please check out my full review from Sundance here.
As of July 1st, Pleasure is available to rent or own digitally.
#7: X– Ti West, writer-director. US Release Date: March 18th, 2022
A film I first viewed at its world premiere at the 2022 SXSW Festival, Ti West’s love story of 1970s horror is elevated by the performances of the ensemble cast, most notably Mia Goth. Get my full thoughts on this bloody good show by clicking the link here.
As of July 1st, X is available to rent or own digitally.
#6: Fresh– Mimi Cave, director. US Release Date: March 4th, 2022
Another stellar horror film in a year chock-full of them, Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan are a dynamic duo on opposite ends of the cool/creepy spectrum. A marvelous directorial debut from Mimi Cave. Please give a read of my full review out of Sundance right here.
As of July 1st, Fresh is available to stream exclusively on Hulu.
#5: Memoria– Apichatpong Weerasethakul writer-director. US Release Date: April 2022 (roadshow release schedule)
Beginning its journey at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival and ending its multi-month run in New York this upcoming October, the latest film from renowned Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul is a must-watch on the big screen because of its lush cinematography and stellar sound design. Please check out the film’s website at this link here to see if and when it will be coming to a city near you.
As of July 1st, Memoria is only available on its roadshow theatrical release schedule.
#4: The Batman– Matt Reeves, cowriter-director. US Release Date: March 4th, 2022
It’s sad now, thinking with a bit of hindsight, that the main talking point leading up to the release of Matt Reeves’ vision of the Dark Knight was that it was **gasp** almost three hours long. It has been a while, but this is a Batman series that I am looking forward to its next chapter. Check out my full review of The Batman here.
As of July 1st, The Batman is available to stream on HBOMax and rent/own digitally.
#3: Marcel the Shell with Shoes On– Dean Fleischer-Camp, cowriter-director. US Release Date: June 24th, 2022
Premiering at the 2021 Telluride Festival, I was sad when I missed the opportunity to screen the film at South by Southwest. Then it was placed on the schedule for Minneapolis/St. Paul and there was much rejoicing in the world. There is a definite theme to the top three films on my list, with Marcel being a delightfully sweet full-length “documentary” based on the well-renowned YouTube series.
As of July 1st, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is only in theaters.
#2: Cha Cha Real Smooth– Cooper Raiff, writer-director. US Release Date: June 17th, 2022
For the second straight year, Apple was the big acquisition winner from Sundance. In 2021, they acquired a multi-time Oscar winner. Will lightning strike twice? Only time will tell. I loved this film enough to see it four times across three different film festivals before it was even released, singing its praises to any discord group I could get my hands on (shoutout to the MAM-Fam and the Rank Kingdom, whoop whoop)! Check out my full review from Sundance by clicking here.
As of July 1st, Cha Cha Real Smooth is available to stream on AppleTV+ and in select theaters.
#1: Everything Everywhere All at Once– Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, cowriters-codirectors. US Release Date: March 25th, 2022.
A film I loved when I saw it at its SXSW premiere that keeps getting better with subsequent viewings, EEAAO proves that Michelle Yeoh is the queen, and we should all bow down. My only five-star rated film of the year so far, it will take a movie of other-worldly greatness to take the top spot away from this delightfully quirky dramatic/comedy. Check out my full review from SXSW here.
So, what do you think? Is there something missing from my list I should have in my top ten? What is your favorite film of 2022 thus far? Leave a comment below or find me on Twitter @moviebirb.