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The best movies of 2022

Elvis, Everything Everywhere All At Once, and Top Gun: Maverick are among the best movies of 2022 (Warner Bros./A24/Paramount)
Elvis, Everything Everywhere All At Once, and Top Gun: Maverick are among the best movies of 2022 (Warner Bros./A24/Paramount)

What were the best movies of the last twelve months? Cinema returned to full strength in 2022 with Covid closures and social distancing a distant memory. And while box office may still be lagging behind, the quality of movies on offer definitely hasn't.

Long-awaited legacy sequels, fresh instalments to long-running franchises, biopics, and animations jostled with original dramas and gripping thrillers for our attention, but some movies were just better than other.

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Read more: The best horror movies of 2022

We polled fourteen of Yahoo UK's most trusted entertainment writers for their favourite movies of 2022, and from the 59 long-listed, these were the 20 movies that garnered the most votes.

=17 All Quiet on the Western Front

Felix Kammerer takes on the lead role in All Quiet On The Western Front. (Netflix)
Felix Kammerer takes on the lead role in All Quiet On The Western Front. (Netflix)

Set during the closing days of The Great War, this German-language adaptation of the Erich Maria Remarque novel is both timely and timeless. It does not pull any punches, and its anti-war message is powerfully and indelibly delivered.

All Quiet On The Western Front is streaming on Netflix.

=17 The Batman

The Batman (Warner Bros.)
The Batman (Warner Bros.)

Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves rebooted Gotham's Dark Knight for a new generation in The Batman, delivering a sprawling crime saga with Robert Pattinson leading the charge as an emo Bruce Wayne. The depth of characters bode well for future instalments, with Colin Farrell's unrecognisable Penguin set to return in a TV spin-off.

The Batman is streaming on NOW.

=17 Decision To Leave

Decision to Leave (MUBI)
Decision to Leave (MUBI)

South Korea's entry for the Best International Feature at the 2023 comes courtesy of Park Chan-wook, the filmmaker behind Oldboy and The Handmaiden. The romantic thriller, about detective investigating a mysterious death who falls for the dead man's widow is a remarkable and exquisitely directed movie and is streaming on MUBI now.

=17 Nightmare Alley

Cate Blanchett and Bradley Cooper in Nightmare Alley (20th Century Studios)
Cate Blanchett and Bradley Cooper in Nightmare Alley (20th Century Studios)

The first Guillermo Del Toro-directed movie on our list represented a change of pace for the fantasy director. His period noir thriller was nominated for four Oscars, but sadly stalled at the box office.

Read more: The best movies on TV over Christmas

Don't let that put you off, this is a sumptuous piece of work featuring top class talent (Cate Blanchett, Bradley Cooper and more) from a master filmmaker, and it's streaming on Disney+.

16 She Said

(from left) Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan), Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan), Matt Purdy (Frank Wood), David McCraw (Gregg Edelman), Dean Baquet (Andre Braugher) and Rebecca Corbett (Patricia Clarkson) in She Said, directed by Maria Schrader.
Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan), Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan), Matt Purdy (Frank Wood), David McCraw (Gregg Edelman), Dean Baquet (Andre Braugher) and Rebecca Corbett (Patricia Clarkson) in She Said, directed by Maria Schrader. (Universal)

This vital movie, with an inspired script from Rebecca Lenkiewicz, told the story of the New York Times exposé that brought down Harvey Weinstein. It's a stirring tribute to journalistic integrity in the vein of The Post and Spotlight, with great performances across the board.

=14 Elvis

Austin Butler and Tom Hanks star in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis. (Warner Bros.)
Austin Butler and Tom Hanks star in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis. (Warner Bros.)

Baz Luhrmann's Elvis biopic, starring Austin Butler in the lead role, was a barnstorming hit this summer following its debut at Cannes, earning three Golden Globes nominations including best actor for Butler.

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By not following the rules of the average rock biopic, Luhrmann's hip-swivelling movie reinvigorated an interest in The King just when it seemed like his star was on the wane.

=14 Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

Weird imagines a sexual relationship between Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood) and Yankovic (Daniel Radcliffe). (Roku)
Weird imagines a sexual relationship between Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood) and Yankovic (Daniel Radcliffe). (Roku)

We go from one genre-defying biopic to another with Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, in which Daniel Radcliffe plays the legendary musical satirist. This Roku Channel original may not have played in cinemas, but it was still one of the most riotously enjoyable and funny movies of the year.

=12 Living

Living (Lionsgate)
Living (Lionsgate)

Directed by Oliver Hermanus from a screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro, this English-language remake of Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru starred Bill Nighy as a bureaucrat facing a terminal illness in the 1950s.

It's the role of a lifetime for the Love Actually star, who won Best Actor at the LA Film Critics Association for it, and it deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. Catch it while it's still in cinemas if you can.

=12 Nope

Daniel Kaluuya in Nope, written and directed by Jordan Peele. (Universal Pictures)
Daniel Kaluuya in Nope, written and directed by Jordan Peele. (Universal Pictures)

After proving himself to be one of the best horror directors of his generation, Jordan Peele upped the budget for this UFO thriller set on a remote horse ranch, and gave Steven Spielberg a run for his money.

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Featuring standout performances from Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer, Nope asked questions about human nature and spectacle, while thrilling audiences from start to end.

=10 The Northman

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Alexander Skarsgård stars as Amleth and Anya Taylor-Joy as Olga in director Robert Eggers’ Viking epic THE NORTHMAN, a Focus Features release.  
Credit: Aidan Monaghan / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC
Alexander Skarsgaard stars as Amleth and Anya Taylor-Joy as Olga in director Robert Eggers' Viking epic The Northman. (Focus Features)

The Witch director Robert Eggers also expanded his scope in 2022 with The Northman, a bloody viking epic inspired by the same tale that Hamlet is based on. Alexander Skarsgaard plays a Scandinavian prince born into revenge after his father is murdered and his mother kidnapped by his usurping uncle. It's smart, brutal, and utterly absorbing.

=10 The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent.  (Lionsgate)
The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent. (Lionsgate)

Nicholas Cage played Nicholas Cage in this bizarre meta comedy from director Tom Gormican which saw Hollywood's most mercurial talent poking fun at his eclectic career, while saluting the merits of Paddington 2. It could be 2022's most bizarre movie.

"This could and should have been terrible," writes Ben Falk, "but a funny, surprisingly poignant script and a genuinely brilliant (Oscar-worthy, honestly) performance by Nic Cage means it’s a meta movie that really works."

9 Turning Red

'Turning Red' has been praised for dealing with the idea of puberty, through the lens of a girl who turns into a red panda. (Disney/Pixar)
'Turning Red' has been praised for dealing with the idea of puberty, through the lens of a girl who turns into a red panda. (Disney/Pixar)

Of the two films released by animation giant Pixar in 2022 — the other being Lightyear — Turning Red proved to be the more critically acclaimed. In focussing on the hyper-specific childhood experiences of its director and co-writer Domee Shi, its story of familial pressure and puberty in the early noughties proved to have universal appeal. Its boy band soundtrack, provided by fictional group 4*Town, was also genius. You can stream it on DIsney+.

=7 Boiling Point

Stephen Graham stars as a frazzled chef in high-octane kitchen thriller 'Boiling Point'. (Vertigo Releasing)
Stephen Graham stars as a frazzled chef in high-octane kitchen thriller 'Boiling Point'. (Vertigo Releasing)

Released to minor fanfare at the start of 2022, Philip Barantini's kitchen-set drama Boiling Point was a one-take wonder, with Stephen Graham's stunning performance as a chef on the verge of breakdown the delicious centrepiece main course. It found a whole new audience when it landed on Netflix, and a spin-off series has already been commissioned. Time to tuck in.

=7 The Worst Person In The World

The Worst Person In The World (MUBI)
The Worst Person In The World (MUBI)

Loosely billed as a romantic comedy, this Norwegian drama from Joachim Trier is not that simple to pin down, genre-wise. From gut-bustingly funny to heartbreakingly sad, The Worst Person In The World centres on the mercurial Julie, a 30-something millennial (Renate Reinsve), who is suffering an identity crisis and stumbles through her life in a painfully relatable manner.

6 Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio

Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio - (Center) Pinocchio (voiced by Gregory Mann). Cr: Netflix © 2022
Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio - (Center) Pinocchio (voiced by Gregory Mann). (Netflix)

Guillermo Del Toro’s take on Pinocchio finally arrived in 2022, 14 years after it was first announced, and it proved to be well worth the wait.

"Del Toro's uniquely masterful stop motion creation captures the darkness and the light of the original fairy tale to make this a film for the ages," writes Freda Cooper.

=4 Aftersun

Pasul Mescal stars in Aftersun. (MUBI)
Paul Mescal stars in Aftersun. (MUBI)

Aftersun is 'a spellbinding debut from Charlotte Wells' writes Chris Connor. The film, about a father and daughter who take a trip to Turkey together is "full of raw emotion, evoking a place and time, wonderfully capturing its 90s setting.

Heart-wrenching lead performances from Paul Mescal and debutant Frankie Corio led to Aftersun receiving universal acclaim from critics, and it's already won a heap of awards including best British Independent Film at the Bifas.

"I cry a lot at films,ut weirdly I didn’t cry watching Aftersun," adds Stefan Pape. "I went to the pub after a few hours screening and met some friends and they asked me how the film was, and I just burst into tears. This one is profoundly affecting, even if you don’t know it right away."

=4 Licorice Pizza

A still from Licorice Pizza (Universal Pictures)
A still from Licorice Pizza (Universal Pictures)

Boogie Nights director Paul Thomas Anderson returned to the 1970s for this heartfelt and freewheeling exploration of young love. Two naturalistic performances from Alan Haim and Cooper Hoffman brought genuine emotion to this flawlessly soundtracked drama, which was ably supported by Sean Penn, Bradley Cooper and Tom Waits.

"This film is love and it's soundtracked by Paul McCartney," summarised Sam Moore.

3 Everything Everywhere All At Once

Everything Everywhere All At Once (A24)
Everything Everywhere All At Once (A24)

While Marvel was muddling its multiverse in 2022, indie heavyweights The Daniels' showed them the true possibilities of infinite universes with the genre-defying Everything Everywhere All At Once which is being tipped as a serious awards contender.

"No other film has combined bawdy comedy, surreal sci-fi, ingenious action sequences, and tear-jerking emotion quite like this one," says Oumar Saleh.

"A stunning film that mixes out-there concepts with powerful humanity, a balance that is really hard to master," adds James Luxford. "I haven't seen a film quite like this in years."

More of our writers (five) chose Everything Everywhere All At Once chose as their number one movie of 2022 than any other title, such is the passion for the film Mark Harrison called 'a multiversal masterpiece'.

2 Top Gun: Maverick

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick (Credit: Paramount)
Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount)

Legacy sequels are ten a penny these days, so when Tom Cruise declared he was dusting off the flight suit to play flying ace Pete 'Meverick' Mitchell again, only die hard Cruise fans could muster more than a shrug. How wrong we all were.

Dialling back any gimmicks or stunts in favour of good old-fashioned storytelling, and dazzling, practically-achieved set pieces Cruise — with director Joseph Kosinski — delivered one of the all-time great cinematic experiences in Top Gun: Maverick.

Audiences and critics agreed: Maverick was a soaring success, and it's streaming on Paramount+ from 22 December.

1 The Banshees of Inisherin

Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell in the film THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN. Photo by Jonathan Hession.  Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.
Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell in The Banshees of Inisherin. (Searchlight Pictures)

The In Bruges team of writer-director Martin McDonagh, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson reunited for another portrait of fractious masculinity, this time on a remote Irish Ireland in the 1920s. The deceptively basic plot of a friendship breakdown is richly realised with a streak of irresistible humour: you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wince. You'll probably say 'feck' at least twice.

"The Banshees of Inisherin is a film that encapsulates the complexity of the human condition while presenting a work of profound emotional expression about what it feels like to be pushed to one’s limits." writes Linda Marric.

"Not a single shot here is left to chance and in the end we are left bereft, changed for ever by this simple, yet hugely effective story."

And, thanks to Disney+ The Banshees of Inisherin will be streaming over Christmas from 21 December.

Thanks to Steve O'Brien, Tilly Pearce, Sam Moore, Clarisse Loughrey, Chris Connor, Freda Cooper, Linda Marric, Tom Beasley, Mark Harrison, Stefan Pape, James Luxford, Oumar Saleh, Ben Falk

Watch: Go behind the scenes of The Banshees of Inisherin