The Phoenix’s Top Films of 2022

Members of The Loyola Phoenix’s Arts & Entertainment section picked some of their favorite movies of the year

From superheroes to policemen, 2022’s film catalog had no shortage of hits. Here are The Phoenix’s favorite films of the year. 

“The Batman” directed by Matt Reeves – Austin Hojdar

Over the past 30 years, many have worn the cowl of the Dark Knight, and it could be argued the world didn’t need another Batman.

But Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne was unique from these past iterations. He was broken by the world, but didn’t care to play into the playboy persona.

Pattison’s vigilante was thrust into a Gotham City that reflected this perspective. With “The Batman,” director Matt Reeves built a world that was dark and grungy — making the Nirvana song “Something In The Way” a fitting anthem.

Within the city, Reeves set up a wealth of Batman characters that all added something to the story.

Zoe Kravitz’s Selina Kyle, or Catwoman, brought out a warmth and compassion from Pattinson’s otherwise hardened portrayal. Paul Dano’s Riddler is also an orphan like the titular character and represented what Batman could have become were he not the heir to his family’s fortune. 

Trading in Jim Carey’s bright green spandex from 1995, this villain’s garb and actions parallel those of the Zodiac Killer, further cementing the film’s horror-noir-crime genre.

“The Batman” can be streamed on HBO Max.

“The Black Phone” directed by Scott Derrickson – Brendan Parr

“The Black Phone” rings with suspense and tension.

Directed by Scott Derrickson, the movie is both a paranormal thriller and coming-of-age drama.

The story follows a masked kidnapper known as The Grabber, as his latest victim Finney attempts escape while his sister Gwen searches for him on the outside.

Locked away in The Grabber’s home, Finney communicates with the ghosts of his previous victims via a broken black phone while Gwen experiences supernatural dreams that allude to Finney’s location.

Ethan Hawke as The Grabber is nothing short of terrifying, deluded and childlike — his bursts of violence are unhinged tantrums. Mason Thames as Finney and Madeleine McGraw as Gwen likewise bring out incredible performances as the resilient siblings.

Despite being a horror film, “The Black Phone” features few jump scares. Instead, it focuses on situational dread and tension when violence is imminent.

The underlying theme of the film is self-advocation. Finney starts off a push-over needing others to help him, but overcomes his fears and finds confidence by the end.

The supernatural elements aren’t explained but help add mystery to an already cryptic film. Those elements combined with a stylistically brash presentation and emotional heart makes “The Black Phone” an arresting feature for fans of thrillers.

“The Black Phone” can be streamed on Peacock.

“Where The Crawdads Sing” directed by Olivia Newman – Maura Green

“Where the Crawdads Sing” was a cinematic spectacle of Delia Owens’ novel of the same name. 

The movie is a combination of a slow-burning love story and a horror film — the best of both worlds for some viewers. Daisy Edgar-Jones was perfect for the role of Kya Clark, the mysterious and riveting “Marsh Girl” throughout the film. 

Edgar-Jones (“Normal People,” “Fresh”) delivers a multi-layered performance which is a large part of what makes the movie worth the watch. 

Production designer Sue Chan, who also worked on “Shang Chi” and “Gone Girl,” created an ethereal sight out of Kya’s marsh, making it easy to understand the allure Kya felt towards the wildlife.

Besides its beautiful landscape, “Where the Crawdads Sing” blessed its viewers with Taylor Swift’s mesmerizing original track “Carolina.” 

“Where the Crawdads Sing” can be streamed on Netflix. 

“Bodies Bodies Bodies” directed by Halina Reijn – Audrey Hogan

Acclaimed studio A24 finally released the film indie lovers have always wanted — a frivolous and terrifying romp through the lives of rich, oblivious twenty-somethings. 

“Bodies Bodies Bodies” is perfectly deceptive, leading the audience to believe it would be a clear-cut horror movie about a children’s game gone wrong in the dark only to turn those assumptions on their head by the end of the movie. Shot amidst hurricane rains and the shaking flashlights of terrified hands, “Bodies Bodies Bodies” sets the mood perfectly.

Writers Kirsten Roupenian (“Cat Person”) and Sarah DeLappe (“The Wolves”) perfectly parody the verbiage of the Internet’s finest vape-toting influencers, down to the misused  TikTok psychobabble. 

The cast was also incredibly perfect for the movie, featuring the likes of Pete Davidson and Amandla Stenberg. In a now-viral confrontation at the end of the film, Alice (Rachel Sennott) and Jordan (Myha’la Herrold) duel back and forth until Alice finally snaps and shouts, “A podcast takes a lot of work, ok?”

“Bodies Bodies Bodies” is available for purchase on multiple platforms.

“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” directed by Eric Appel – Mao Reynolds

“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” is a breath of funky air amidst the tired trope of celebrity biopics.

Daniel Radcliffe stars as the titular Weird Al, the singer-satirist known for hits like “Eat It,” “Amish Paradise” and “My Bologna.”

Radcliffe (“Harry Potter,” “Kill Your Darlings”) embraces the role with a boyish glee missing from most comedies today. Besides Radcliffe, “Weird” is stacked with celebrity cameos, almost as abundant as Yankovic’s stash of Hawaiian shirts.

Even comedy connoisseurs who only stick to classics like “Airplane” and “The Naked Gun” will love the puns and pranks of “Weird.” Callbacks to running gags, like Yankovic’s necklace of CDs, are the cherries on top for this treat of a film.

It’s more than just a silly plot, though. The deep gold hues glue the story together, maybe symbolizing greed or the twisty path to fame — or maybe nothing at all. 

After all, in the end, “Weird” has the last laugh.

“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” can be streamed on The Roku Channel. 

“My Policeman” directed by Michael Grandage – Ella Govrik

Based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Bethan Roberts, “My Policeman” tells the devastating story of a forbidden love in 1950s Britain. 

The Oct. 21 release stars Harry Styles as Tom Burgess and Emma Corrin as Marion Taylor. As Tom and Marion’s romantic relationship quickly develops, art museum curator Patrick Hazelwood (David Dawson) becomes a close friend to the couple. Patrick and Tom eventually fosters a secret romantic relationship of their own, despite the illegality of queer relationships at the time.

Styles (“Dunkirk,” “Don’t Worry Darling”) and Dawson’s (“The Last Kingdom”) acting demonstrates the dichotomy of inspiring love and bitter heartbreak. Tom’s reservation compared to Patrick’s openness serves as a testament to the power of self-discovery.

Corrin’s (“The Crown”) compelling depiction of the intersection between grace and rage leaves viewers feeling simultaneous anger and compassion towards her character. Delicacy and kindness in the face of betrayal brilliantly contrast with raw emotion and anger when she seeks to absolve her pain, making Corrin’s role as Marion an unforgettable and moving watch.

“My Policeman” portrays a powerful story about love, betrayal and freedom, and provides a thought-provoking illustration of what it means to pursue genuine authenticity. 

“My Policeman” can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video.

Featured image courtesy of Warner Bros.

The Phoenix Staff

The Phoenix Staff