10. Prey (20th Century Studios – Disney Plus)
Director: Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane)
Going back to basics reversed the downslide this series was starting on after Shane Black’s misstep The Predator, and it performed so well at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 71 on Metacritic. The only way it could have done better was if Disney actually released it in theaters during the incredibly barren August month. Prey is a rip-rolling fun ride.
Available on Disney Plus in Canada – Hulu in the U.S.
9. Turning Red (Pixar – Disney Plus)
Director: Domee Shi (Bao)
Pixar the last decade has been really hit-and-miss for me but a shrewd move was hiring the Academy Award-winning director of Bao who represents Toronto here again and offers a gentle coming-of-age tale that was again academy award nominated. Following the fellow Disney entry on this list, Turning Red was sent to streaming much to the chagrin of theater owners where it could have opened to zero competition and done better (thanks to since ousted Disney CEO Bob Chapek). Nonetheless Turning Red is a very good film that makes a valuable contribution to Canadian, Asian, and 00’s representation in media.
8. Jackass Forever (MTV Films – Paramount Pictures)
Director: Jeff Tremaine (Jackass 3D)
I have always liked the Jackass films, even as they got more gross-out as the series progresses. But this one feels more sentimental than most with a great new generation of cast members and the older ones looking back. It even takes the time to film its pratfalls with thoughtful cinematography. The movie opening in theatres dethroned Spider-Man: No Way Home and beat a $100 million Roland Emmerich disaster picture. And that’s even with cutting out so much footage that was enough to make a whole other film.
7. I Want You Back (The Safran Company- Amazon Studios)
Director: Jason Orley (Big Time Adolescence)
Unlike the previous movies on this list, this movie was not on my radar at all. This is a nice, funny, soft romantic comedy that does something no other romcom I’ve seen lately it is actually romantic and it is actually funny. It also makes good use of multiple actors who often try too hard or not hard enough: Gina Rodriguez, Scott Eastwood, and a surprise cameo by Pete Davidson. They all work. And the film ends on a meaningful satisfying note. It is the best execution of the standard romcom formula: break up each other’s exes, that you’re likely to see in the last 10 years.
6. Ambulance (Bay Films, Universal Pictures)
Director: Michael Bay (6 Underground)
Unlike the previous entry on my list, this was totally on my radar the day the trailer dropped. Nobody makes things go boom better than Michael Bay and he brought his A-game to this one achieving his best-reviewed film. He also brought along an untamed Jake Gyllenhaal with an unhinged movie star performance. This story is about a group of bank robbers who take an audience hostage with a wounded cop onboard. It is relentless fun and the #6 best film of the year.
5. Beavis and Butthead Do the Universe (MTV Films, Paramount+)
Director: Albert Calleros (Bless the Hearts), John Rice
I had never seen Beavis and Butthead before; I was too young, it was considered too inappropriate, and it didn’t even air in Canada. So watching this movie was like checking off a major pop culture touchstone. To my delight, the story of two illiterate idiots was delightfully funny, even at times sensitive, all while being hilarious. It’s about two teenagers who go to space after a series of cosmic misunderstandings and end up traveling from 1998 to the present day, 2022. I recently watched the first film, 1996’s Beavis and Butthead do America and let me tell you the time and skill honed on the part of creator Mike Judge has improved the franchise. A second revival season is on the way.
4. Scream (Spyglass Media, Paramount Pictures)
Directors: Radio Silence (Ready Or Not)
Eleven years after the last Scream which was #4 in the series, and following the disgrace and fall of Harvey Weinstein and his company, the rights to the series changed hands and surprisingly went smaller and more effective. I’m still not sold on the movie being called the same as the original even if it perfectly replicates the same setting and themes of the original while having something new to say. The most annoying contribution of this film to culture is re-introducing the phrase “elevated horror”. A meaningless designation for pretentious dweebs to flag the most annoying films made by a single film distributor. But the pacing and script (by Zodiac scribe James Vanderbilt) are uncommonly good for a slasher film and might even surpass the original in that craft. Of course, because of its fundamental unoriginal nature, I can’t put it at #1, but it is still very good.
3. Top Gun: Maverick (Skydance, Paramount Pictures)
Director: Joseph Kosinski (Only the Brave)
It was very nice of Jim Gianopoulos to greenlight 4 of the best movies of the year on this list before getting fired. Ironically after he was canned from Paramount beginning with Scream and Jackass Forever, and continuing with The Lost City, Sonic 2, Top Gun, all the way to Smile in September were all big hits. The biggest of which was this 36 year later sequel to the eighties Tom Cruise hit. Cruise, for his career, hadn’t had a big non-Mission Impossible hit since War of the Worlds in 2005, and it may be another franchise film but the movie doesn’t rest on nostalgia, it’s actually very good. It is well constructed, edited, shot, and mostly acted. [For me Cruise’s last great performance was in Edge of Tomorrow where it last felt like he was playing someone other than himself. But you know the movie, it made almost $1.5 Billion, won an Oscar, and is the only movie in recent memory that people can actually name. It
2. The Fabelmans (Amblin Entertainment, Universal Pictures)
Director: Steven Spielberg (West Side Story)
I had the privilege of seeing The Fabelmans at the Toronto International Film Festival where it had its premiere and Steven Spielberg and the rest of the cast were on hand to show it where it won the coveted Audience Award. Because it was one of the few movies on here to get a theatrical release Fabelmans is an interesting case because it was critically acclaimed: 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and 84 on Metacritic, 7 Academy Award nominations, and yet it was a bigger bomb than West Side Story (this makes back-2-back bombs for quantifiable hit-maker Amblin). Maybe because it had a generic and safe ad campaign where unless you were told the plot ahead of time, you would not be able to tell specifically that it is a Steven Spielberg origin story. The movie is great. The only caveat is that the Michelle Williams performance is a little too big, and the Paul Dano performance is a little too small. It’s the best-directed film of the year and I’ll leave it at that.
(Available to buy on Home Video)
1. Barbarian (New Regency, 20th Century Studios)
Director: Zach Cregger (Miss March)
Barbarian is a timely film that only could have been made in the last 5 years. Brilliantly original, scary, and an unexpected Box-Office hit, my #1 favourite film of 2022 is surprising and funny with a great supporting performance by Justin Long. Go in knowing as little as possible and enjoy being scared. 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, 78 on Metacritic. This movie is a step forward for horror. But you wouldn’t know it from its purposefully generic trailer. I tried watching this film in theaters but my viewing partner wasn’t in the mood to be scared. Don’t make that mistake, watch it.
Emily the Criminal – Available on Netflix
Uncharted – Available on Amazon Prime
Catch the Fair One
Kimi – Available on Crave
Sisu – Opens in theatres on April 28th (seen at TIFF)