It’s that time of the year folks – the end. It’s that time where we all look back, take a hit of recency bias and make our top (insert number here) films of the year. I do mine a little differently than others. I pick a large number in 25 because I see a lot of great films each year, and if I just did a top 10 then I’d have a long “honorable mentions” section which is pointless – just make the list longer. Please note, this is a list of my favorite films of the year, not a list of what I think are the best films of the year – that’s a completely different list and it’s not as much fun to make so I’m not gonna do it. There is simply no joy in making that list. Also please note, if I have written about the film I will embed a link to said writing in the title of the film.
But before all that, a bit of housekeeping. It’s clear to the three people that read this site that I don’t write that often anymore. I’m like a pitcher that just doesn’t have the heat anymore, and my off-speed stuff just hangs over the plate. I’m washed, and that’s okay. I have been for years. I’m always going to keep this website up, I always wanted a place to have as much of my writing as possible, but going forward I really don’t know how much I’ll be updating it. I just feel like I have nothing to say anymore, so just don’t expect much. The writing will be even more infrequent from here on out. But thank you to those three people that do read this website, it means a lot.
And a goal of mine I’d like you to join me on, is to go to the theater more often. It’s become so easy to just wait a few weeks for a film to hit VOD, but recently I’ve just been reminded how sacred and important the theatrical experience is, so I’m just going to do my best to not wait for VOD so much anymore. I hope you do the same, and as I think Tom Cruise says, “I’ll see you at the theater.”
Enough of that now, let’s count them down!
Adrien Brody has writing, producing, acting and even original score credits on this film. This is his passion project. It rocks that his passion project is on one hand trying to be a gritty Taxi Driver type film but it’s also just a dumb straight to dvd action movie. It’s awesome. There’s a part where Adrien Brody knocks on a traphouse door and the guard says “we’re closed” and Brody goes “I’m gonna open you up.” then beats him to death with a wrench. Shit rocks.
24. Halloween Ends
I must stress that this is by no means whatsoever a good movie. But god dammit I cannot stop thinking about it. What a way to cap off a trilogy/franchise by telling the studio and the audience to go fuck themselves. I’m convinced that after covid delays the studio nixed the idea of having the whole trilogy take place in one night so David Gordon Green and Danny McBride just said “cool then we’re going to make the dumbest movie we can.” And the whole cast is game for it. I was laughing so hard nearly the entire film. This film has to be seen to be believed, and that’s up to you if it’s a compliment or not. Unfortunately if I watch this movie enough times I’ll be convinced it’s a masterpiece.
23. The Northman
I’m just glad we got to see what Robert Eggers can do with a large budget, because it’s never happening again.
22. The Autopsy
“Dylan, this isn’t a movie” shut the fuck up. I don’t care. We decided a whole season of television was a movie when Twin Peaks season 3 aired, I don’t want to hear it. The Empty Man is one of my favorite films of the decade so far, and David Prior brings more of that magic to his episode of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities. I love how the opening shot of a galaxy turns into a rock. Later when we go into the nerves and atoms of the main character’s body and it looks like a galaxy? I was high as shit during that, it was awesome.
21. Crimes of the Future
Nobody does this better than the maestro himself, David Cronenberg. Great to have him back and I hope he keeps coming.
20. Decision to Leave
Just an absolutely deliciously shot banger by Park Chan-wook. Wish more films were made with as nutty ambition as he has. Just an absurd amount of impossible shots in this thing.
Angel is one of my favorite characters of the year. Also rocks that Jordan Peele is a fan of Signs too.
18. The Viewing
Mandy is a once-in-a-generation film, so anything Pano Cosmatos does I’m there for. His entry for Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities was a real highlight, providing the gooey, gory, cosmic magic that he can do like nobody else. Watch this shit high as hell, perhaps on space cocaine.
Shit fucking ripped.
Ti West’s funniest film to date. The fact there’s a Ti West franchise in my lifetime is one of the best things to ever happen to me.
15. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
What an absolutely lovely film, at this point I’m just convinced del Toro can truly do no wrong. Just a beautiful work of art.
14. Orphan: First Kill
About halfway through, this film takes an absolutely wild turn that I was just so thrilled it took. This movie goes to 11. Don’t look up a thing about it, just watch it.
I’m a proud Baytheist, and I had a fucking blast watching this film. He leans right into the drone photography and it’s just so exhilarating and fun.
12. The Big 4
With this film, I truly believe Timo Tjahjanto has cemented his status as one of the best action filmmakers around. It’s been fun to watch him evolve from a good horror director to a great action director. The Big 4 is just so much goddamn fun. It’s truly hilarious and still features the gonzo, violent action sequences that you’d expect from the guy who made The Night Comes for Us. As you watch this film you realize that Tjahjanto can do any style of action, cycling through different ones scene by scene. In a better world studios would be begging to fund his films.
One of the most pretentious things I’ve ever seen. I fucking loved it.
10. Glass Onion
One of the best theatrical experiences I had this year. Just like Knives Out, this crushed with an audience. Every single performance was great. Dave Bautista deserves an Oscar. For me it really stressed the importance of watching films theatrically, seeing how muted the response was from people who only saw it on Netflix. Streaming will never beat the theatrical experience. You’re just missing so much. Fuck Netflix for only putting this in theaters for one week and then even though it was raking in money they refused to let people continue to see it with an audience. Rian Johnson forever.
Most glorious bit of acting this year belongs to Mia Goth, and I’m not talking about the 10 minute single take monologue, as awesome as that is. I’m talking about the final shot, where Goth holds a ludicrous smile for like 2 minutes, somehow adding a new dimension to it every few seconds. Glorious.
8. Everything Everywhere All At Once
Had an absolute blast in the theater with this one. I loved Swiss Army Man and it’s great that Daniels could up the ante on their own manic creativity. Probably the hardest I laughed in the theater this year.
7. The Fabelmans
The more I think about this film, the more I love it. The last 15 minutes of this film is just what the movies are all about. Paul Dano made me misty eyed in his final scene, the shot above absolutely destroyed me. The final shot of the film gave me the biggest, ecstatic smile. This film continues to rise up my personal Spielberg rankings every time I think about it.
Every single scene of this film is somehow more insane than the previous one, and it does this for 3 hours. Some of the most transcendent cinema you’ll ever find. It belongs in the Criterion collection.
5. The Batman
You see so much absolute shit from the superhero industrial complex that when something like Matt Reeves’ The Batman comes along you’re just amazed at how incredible it is, you almost forget they can be actual films. You almost forget that they can be true cinema. Matt Reeves forever, it’s the Batman movie I always wanted to see and didn’t think was possible anymore.
I saw this back at Sundance 2021, and I’ve been waiting patiently for it to be released so the rest of you could finally see it. I knew back then it would be one of my favorites of whatever year it got released. What a remarkable, haunting debut from Jane Schoenbrun, I’m there for whatever other movies she does. The shot of Anna Cobb smiling in her sleep is one of the most unsettling things I’ve seen in a minute.
No hyperbole, I believe Cate Blanchett gives one of the greatest performances in film history in Todd Fields’ remarkable Tár. 50 years from now we’ll still be talking about her masterclass she puts on here. Every single line delivery, every little tick and movement, every decision just blew me away. The Juilliard scene is a true highlight, a whizzing one-take sequence that encompasses everything the film is about. In the theater it was like I just watched an all-time slam dunk, I was ecstatic. This film also has my favorite ending of the year for what it’s worth.
2. Top Gun: Maverick
One of the greatest theatrical experiences you could have not just this year, but perhaps this century. An absolute miracle of a film, an ode to all good things – the theatrical experience, practical effects, authenticity, movie stars, joy, pure cinema – that will soon be gone. Tom Cruise is one of the greatest soldiers of cinema, reminding us all of the true meaning of the word “cinematic” in regards to big films. Now this is a fucking picture.
I just can’t get enough of this film. Each time I watch there’s just new little things about it I love. The way Justin Long goes “Oh hell yeah….Yeah, bitch.” when he googles about square footage listing. The way the gunshot at the end is the first bass drum kick of The Ronettes “Be My Baby”. Justin Long has perhaps the funniest delivery of the F-slur in film history. The way Georgina Campbell just goes “NOPE” upon first opening the door in the basement. The way the score kicks in as she enters beyond the basement door. The character Andre going “Shit. I’ve been living in this place more than 15 years, and she ain’t never came in this motherfucker” then boom she comes in the motherfucker. The very storytelling concept of having a plot unfold through the view of someone very intelligent and self-reliant and then retelling the same plot points through the view of someone extremely stupid is just brilliant. The whole thing is just shot and edited so intelligently, with such propulsion and purpose. I saw it in theaters opening weekend and haven’t looked back, watching it 4 more times since it got added on HBO Max. I will never get sick of this film, it just continues to climb up my all-time personal favorite rankings. Bravo, Zach Cregger.