The 25 Best Films of 2022 – slantmagazine

If cinema is in a state of identity crisis, we’re all the beneficiaries.
One would need look no further than the still seething reaction to Sight and Sound’s latest Greatest Films of All Time poll to see just how many people seem to believe that cinema’s greatest days are well behind us. Three years into a pandemic and with movie theaters still on the ropes, Tom Cruise’s long-deferred rescue act aside, even we admit that the scope of cinephilia’s uphill battle does seem insurmountable. Then we remember that not one, not two, but three Hong Sang-soo films were released in the U.S. in 2022 and all seems well again.
No, movies aren’t dead. They merely remain in a state of, to borrow from Jonathan Rosenbaum, mutation. Chiefly mutation in terms of distribution, promotion, and profit margin, but, yes, also in regard to the role that they play in pop culture. When one Sight and Sound voter, sharing their ballot on Twitter, suggested just how close they might have come to including Kojima Hideo’s Metal Gear Solid 2, we felt the cognitive dissonance on an almost existential level.
If the entire art form is in a state of now-permanent identity crisis, we are all, indeed, the beneficiaries. Our yearly roundup of the titles that gave us fits, starts, and hope is no less fruit-flavored for belying the proverbial center that did not hold. In fact, taken from the 10,000-foot view, our best of 2022 offers the reassurances that any multiverse offers to those who are receptive. Our shared experience has, in a sense, never been more democratically aware of the individuality, the curiosity, the inclusivity of how a supposedly dying medium can still be harnessed for two—or three, or four—hours of presuppositional submission.
And the opposite. If Todd Field’s Tár proved nothing else, and our panel is somewhat bitterly divided on that front, it’s that being willing to, as Cate Blanchett’s Lydia Tar herself insisted, surrendering one’s identity in this economy can sometimes be a willful act for an unreceptive audience. Some of the films below reckon with that in ways that might, in a few years time, make us feel like the tribunal caught in the web at the end of Radu Jude’s Bad Luck Banging, or Loony Porn. But at least we weren’t unentertained.
Which is all to say, it surprised but heartened almost everyone involved in our annual filmic communion that the film we collectively endorsed as the best of 2022 somehow communicates with the journey we all share in this thing we call life as it simultaneously stays resolutely concomitant with the ghosts of our predecessors. Eric Henderson

The Cathedral
Throughout The Cathedral, a collection of moments that resemble less conventionally molded scenes than poetic shards of memory, Ricky D’Ambrose allows the past to feel intensely present and alive in its sense of openness and uncertainty. Piercingly small and detailed moments accumulate to offer a portrait of a family in crisis against the backdrop of an America in a state of turmoil that continues to ripple into contemporary life. D’Ambrose boils a family’s vast heartbreaks, disappointments, and resentments down to tangible, singular images, occasionally breaking the cool objectivity of his touch with bursts of melodrama that cauterize the unprocessed emotion roiling under the surface of domestic life. The film contrasts fascinatingly with Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood, as both are intensely textural works that portray the macro of society via the micro of fleeting human gestures and possessions and news programs that exist as white noise at first only to achieve profound meaning in hindsight. They are reminiscences charged with that old adage: “You can never go home again.” Fittingly, then, the final word spoken in The Cathedral is “goodbye.” Chuck Bowen

Funny Pages
In capturing 17-year-old Robert (Daniel Zolghadri), a budding underground comic book artist, as he confronts the truths of his heroes and the noble profession that he’s set out to conquer, Owen Kline’s feature directorial debut eschews the platitudes and carefully scripted character arcs that often cause coming-of-age tales to feel not only predictable but coated in a sheen of nostalgia. Arguing with the irascible Wallace (Matthew Maher) at one point in support of one of Robert’s drawings, the latter’s awkward best friend, Miles (Miles Emanuel), sardonically asks, “Form is more important than soul?” By the end of the film, Robert is still unsure of the answer, and Kline wisely leaves him in a state of stasis and uncertainty that feels genuine, especially given the period of life that the character is in. Funny Pages, on the other hand, resoundingly commits to soulfulness. Form is a critical part of art, yes, but it’s soul that so often gives it, and life, that ineffable quality that makes it unique and worth the struggle. Derek Smith

Armageddon Time
The challenges of turning life into fiction are legion, yet writer-director James Gray avoids almost all pitfalls in his gently provocative cine-memoir Armageddon Time. Based on his own experiences growing up as a sixth grader in Queens, New York, circa 1980, the film has the wispy and delicate feel of memory, though its dexterous narrative architecture provides a sturdy framework atop which Gray’s masterfully conjured remembrances can freely drift. The film builds to a quietly heartbreaking sequence that juggles a multiplicity of perspectives as it visualizes the permanent implosion of a friendship. The way that Johnny (Jaylin Webb) is effaced from Paul’s (Banks Repeta) life, the architecture of the room he’s in effectively wiping him from existence, is especially brutal, and a testament, too, to the keen eye throughout of Gray’s frequent cinematographer, Darius Khondji. Keith Uhlich

Laura Wandel’s Playground is an unmooring account of bullying in an elementary school that’s witnessed by the young Nora (Maya Vanderbeque), who shares in, and intensifies, our sense of impotence. Above all, Playground is an unwavering expression of point of view: We never leave the school setting, and the faces of adults are often obscured, as they hover out of the frame, out of the empathetic periphery of the children at the center of the narrative. As the violence escalates, Wandel renders it more subliminal, relegating violations to terrifying blurs on the peripheries of compositions. When we feel as if we can’t take it anymore, when we need to see the violence to hopefully confirm it to be less awful than we’ve imagined, Wandel springs a climactic shard of incident that reveals school to be an all-too-common hornet’s nest. It’s the kind of place we might remember ourselves, a wellspring of institutional psychosis that inspires us to flock to more soothing movies, so as to avoid a reckoning with the brutality, and emotional brokenness, that exists off to our sides, under our feet. Bowen

Jordan Peele’s three films to date have followed a kind of Goldilocks pattern. Get Out was conceptually bold but executed with a relatively generic aesthetic sense, closely adhering to contemporary trends in horror cinema. With Us, Peele showed off his evolving visual style and mastery of atmosphere but struggled to stitch together the film’s plot reversals and thematic undercurrents into a cohesive whole. With Nope, he got it just right, laying out stakes, mood, and reversals of expectation with a patience that’s become foreign to American cinema. Peele gradually fills in layers of character, history, and commentary to the point that the intrusion of a voracious and unfathomable alien is just one more data point in the multivalent story. The filmmaker takes seemingly unrelated ideas—the racial privilege of cinema, the folly of humans thinking they can understand and tame other creatures, the rampant desire to reduce everything to “content”—and yokes them together in a coherent, captivating narrative with direction that maintains a constant ambient unease while making much space for humor and the individual, humanizing touches that each actor brings to their parts. Jake Cole

No Bears
If an actress who posts an unmodified photo of themselves on Instagram is considered “brave,” another word surely must be invented for Jafar Panahi, the filmmaker who’s put his livelihood on the line for his politically incendiary cinema. Currently serving a six-year prison sentence, Panahi has had to consistently reinvent his art, fusing the personal with the political and fiction with documentary on the fly. With No Bears, Panahi fashions a series of nesting thrillers and dashed romantic tales that cumulatively underscore the insidious reach of the Iranian government into every element of life, from marriage to property rental to travel to domestic squabbles to filmmaking to everyday manners, the latter of which are charged with a terrifying innuendo that demands one to obey. Panahi opens the film with an autocritical joke in the key of Brian de Palma, leading us to think that we’re watching a conventional thriller only to pull back the curtain to reveal a greater story: that of the film’s creation, with Panahi serving as protagonist and master of ceremonies. Panahi’s sophisticated empathy and epically intimate images shame the preaching of Hollywood’s recent sociopolitical diatribes. Bowen

Jackass Forever
The most immediately arresting sight in the fourth Jackass film is how the actors have aged since Jackass 3D. The Jackass crew speaks honestly about the toll that this franchise has taken on them, and Jeff Tremaine’s Jackass Forever has the feeling of a farewell in its unabashed nostalgia, with the performers updating a number of gags from the TV show and prior films. Created by Tremaine, Spike Jonze, and Johnny Knoxville, Jackass has always existed in a larger tapestry of entertainment history that links high- and low-culture touchstones as disparate as silent film comedy, performance art, and backyard wrestling, and there’s even a gag here that’s right out of Looney Tunes. To see the old-timers pass the torch to their acolytes cements the improbable importance of Jackass in American pop culture, twisting a property that was once considered proof of a nation’s budding nihilism into maybe the strangest-ever celebration of human ingenuity and the lengths that we go to in order to amuse ourselves and others. Cole

Resignation to fate is the dominant affect of Gaspar Noé’s Vortex. Other films about the onset and advancement of dementia have rarely been as steadfastly bleak or as full of futile despair as this tale of an elderly couple whose bond is dissolved by the disease. Noé uses split screen to represent the divide between the characters, and in the opening minutes of Vortex, the filmmaker shows us the moment that the disease comes between them by having the black bar that will separate the screen for the rest of the film slowly inch down the middle of the frame as the couple lies in bed. The film takes place in a universe indifferent and unresponsive to its characters’ hopes—in which, at one point, plans are literally flushed down the toilet. In other words, it’s set in a world emptied of the usual sentimental pieties about aging and death. As the possibility not only of a happy ending, but of any real resolution, of any reconciliation with the fact of death that we might hope the characters will make, becomes remote, the film evokes that familiar but unshakeable cliché that everybody dies alone. Pat Brown

Mad God
A humanoid referred to in the credits as the Last Man (Alex Cox), costumed in a kind of warrior outfit that resembles a fusion of deep-sea diving gear and WWII-era military regalia, descends into a strange world on a corroded diving bell. Upon landing somewhere in the recesses of a valley, after passing by relics and dolls and bric-a-brac that suggest life as lived in a giant attic from hell, the Last Man consults a map. He intends to do…something. That’s the entire plot of Mad God, as Phil Tippett cannily turns our familiarity with post-apocalyptic lone-hero clichés against us. As the Last Man traverses this world, he becomes acquainted with overlapping food chains defined by subjugation and slaughter. There’s no beauty here, and not even any speech, and so the straw people, the only creatures designed with a sense of sympathy, zone out in front of TV sets. Like these people, our eyes are tickled by the sensory stimulation that Tippett offers, while our souls are sickened by the carnage and unrelenting hopelessness. Which is to say that Mad God is a compact, despairing, wildly inventive song of mourning. Bowen

Stars at Noon
Claire Denis’s adaptation of Denis Johnson’s 1986 novel is a true neo-noir, one in which the specifics of character behavior and a filmmaker’s impressive act of genre revisionism supersede the socio-political entanglements unfolding in the shadows. Stars at Noon updates its source material to present-day Nicaragua, where money is scarce, the rum is strong, and the sex is prolonged and sweaty. Two expats, variations on the femme fatale (Margaret Qualley) and the dupe (Joe Alwyn), are stuck in limbo as they aimlessly eat, drink, and fuck. The script, by Denis, Andrew Litvack, and Léa Mysius, denies us so much context, but we can draw a straight line between the images of empty public spaces scored to low-key jazz noodling and the ravages of a pandemic. As in the best noirs, the main characters are consumed by their pursuit of pleasure, but Denis regards Trish and Daniel with tenderness and compassion. Unmistakable is her understanding of their self-harming behavioral traits as being the result of confusing, tumultuous times. Stars at Noon is another remarkable entry in Denis’s always evolving oeuvre: a tonally leisurely but still formally and thematically ferocious thriller. Clayton Dillard

Il Buco
To watch Michelangelo Frammartino’s Il Buco is to be reminded that, for all the billions of dollars that Hollywood spends on creating fantasy universes, the most wondrous sights can be found in our physical world, if we care enough to look for them. Looking is certainly what the speleologists at the center of the film do as they descend deeper into the Bifurto Abyss in the Pollino mountain system in Calabria in southern Italy in 1961—a real-life journey of discovery that Frammartino recreates with the textures of a documentary and the zeal of an explorer. Throughout, Frammartino intercuts his astonishing cave imagery with fragments from life in a neighboring village, particularly zeroing in on an elderly shepherd whose health deteriorates in tandem with the downward journey of the speleologists. But though the alternating threads suggest the passing of an older way of life, Frammartino is too alive to both the wonders of natural beauty and the possibilities of an encroaching modernization to allow us to rediscover such beauty for his meanings to be so easily reduced. Kenji Fujishima

A watershed for Indian cinema, director S.S. Rajamouli’s RRR is a feverish blend of historical epic, mythological allegory, and superhero blockbuster. A blisteringly anti-British, pan-Indian action extravaganza whose politics have been both attacked and defended from accusations of nationalism, RRR is at heart a buddy movie. Two men on ostensibly opposite sides of the British Raj during the early 1920s, a Gond tribe warrior named Bheem (Jr NTR) and a police officer named Ram (Ram Charan), become friends first through deception and thrilling derring-do, then a common cause. Throughout, the delirium of Rajamouli’s aesthetics is felt in everything from the extravagant dance numbers—which includes a suspenders bit that’s been justly celebrated as one of the greatest cinematic dance sequences of all time—to the florid colors, swooning camera movements, and slow motion that elevate the brutal fighting scenes to the level of melodrama. It’s been a surprisingly decent year for American tent poles, but none hold a candle to this Telugu-language epic’s myth-making machinery. Cole

Great Freedom
Sebastian Meise’s Great Freedom centers on Hans (Franz Rogowski), a Jewish man living in post-war Germany who goes from a concentration camp straight to prison for engaging in homosexual acts in a public bathroom. Throughout, we follow his many stints in that prison, and the film sees his recidivism as an addiction-like symptom of his desires. Great Freedom implies as much by it pairing Hans with a junkie cellmate, Viktor (Georg Friedrich), who develops a visceral relationship with Hans over the course of decades after being initial repulsed by his sexuality. The film, fortunately, never insists on an equivalence between drug dependence and gay sex. It simply evokes a common link between Hans and Viktor around the question of unescapable patterns. Love, like gay sex, finds a crack to slip through and manifest itself. Great Freedom sees gay sex and love, too, as weapons for emotional and institutional survival, enacting themselves through a kiss, a public embrace to soothe a weeping other, and the tattoo that covers up the evidence of genocide. Diego Semerene

The Banshees of Inisherin
Deeply attuned to people’s feelings of anxiety and alienation, Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin is a soulful, mournful, and mordantly funny treatise on that cliché that familiarity breeds contempt. The gunfire from the Irish Civil War remains persistently within ear shot, but the increasingly combative division that McDonagh sets his sights on is smaller in scale, much like the community on the fictional island of Inisherin, which is tight knit only in as much as everyone is firmly up in everyone else’s business. What begins as a tragicomic film tracing the dissolution of a lifelong friendship, and the psychological mess that this disentanglement leaves behind, gradually takes on the tenor of myth, with absurdist bursts of violence and gore slyly reflecting a different kind of skirmish simultaneously occurring on the mainland. The Banshees of Inisherin thrives on emotional intimacy and regional specificity, spinning a yarn that fuses sorrow, humor, and acrimony in a distinctly Irish fashion. Smith

In Front of Your Face
Hong Sang-soo’s In Front of Your Face is an obsessive rumination on the little squabbles and inconveniences and pleasures that add up to the bulk of our lives. Throughout this spritely and elegiac production, Hong lingers on details that most filmmakers would either take for granted and entirely disregard. Characters talk about whether to get coffee, a small stain on a dress becomes an existentialist symbol of control, and, of course, there’s a prolonged soju-drinking session with a blinkered male artist in which a few emotional cards are finally laid on the table. Hong’s gift resides in part in his ability to inform potentially tedious tangents with a rapturous and seemingly effortlessly achieved intensity. He returns to the same ground throughout his films and justifies the repetition, which becomes resonant in its own right. Like Rainer Werner Fassbinder claimed to be doing, Hong is building a house—an interconnected series of films about the collision between day-to-day nonsense and private artistic realms. Bowen

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
After centering films around people ranging from a former bodyguard for Osama bin Laden in The Oath to Edward Snowden in Citizenfour and Julian Assange in Risk, Laura Poitras’s All the Beauty and the Bloodshed focuses on an artist: photographer Nan Goldin. But there’s still a strong political dimension to the film, since Goldin was a major force in bringing down the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, one of the global pharmaceutical companies largely responsible for the opioid epidemic in America. The warmth, ruefulness, and occasional anger with which Goldin recounts her experiences is moving in and of itself. In addition, hearing her talk openly about not only her past but about how her experiences affected her frank, intimate, and vulnerable art offers an illuminating window into her photographic art. Fujishima

Both Sides of the Blade
Claire Denis’s cinema is a poetry of seeing beyond what is said. Ostensibly about the sudden disintegration of a healthily erotic marriage between a middle-aged, upper-class couple, Both Sides of the Blade also features prominent allusions to the struggles of Francophone populations in former and current colonial spaces. It’s as if both the serenity and the travails of Paris’s comfortable class were dependent in some way on an infrequently acknowledged past. The film’s approach to melodrama isn’t quite in the key of high camp, but its deconstructive edge is difficult to miss—closer in tenor to Gone Girl than Caché. The studied ambiguity of what’s going on here doesn’t keep the film from often achieving the suspense of an accomplished erotic thriller. There’s an unnerving sense of escalation even as it becomes clear that whatever happened between the three main characters is both more banal and more inaccessible than the viewer might expect. In coordinating the obvious codes of the melodrama with Denis’s propensity for enigma and irresolution, the film cuts with both sides of its blade. Brown

Mr. Bachmann and His Class
Maria Speth’s Mr. Bachmann and His Class taps into the space where knowledge is collaboratively constructed, not transferred, and stays there, basking in its magic from start to finish. Speth contemplatively trains her camera on an elementary school class, mostly comprised of the children of immigrants, in the provincial German town of Stadtallendorf. Dieter Bachmann is their maestro, not master, conducting the quiet spectacle of progressive pedagogy with the most tender of grips. Throughout the film, the students’ grades are discussed, one by one, among the entire class. The process makes it clear that students aren’t defined by the provisional result of their efforts. Clashes are resolved through listening. The rigidity of math is punctuated by music, cooking, and drawing once the teacher senses that boredom and crankiness have surfaced. The documentary exists within the very restricted pantheon of films that successfully reap the cinematic potential of pedagogy. The obvious comparison is to Peter Lataster and Petra Lataster-Czisch’s Miss Kiet’s Children, but Mr. Bachmann and His Class isn’t so much a portrait of a class, but a masterclass in portraiture. Semerene

Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood
With Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood, Richard Linklater points his auto-anthropological eye toward the social environment of his own upbringing: the ever-sprawling suburbs of late-’60s Houston, where Spam is for dinner, touch-tone phones are an exciting novelty, and seemingly everyone’s dad works for NASA. Though it reflects the forward-thinking optimism of the space age, when domed stadiums and astroturf seemed to prefigure an imminent techno-utopia, the film provides constant reminders that the late ’60s weren’t such a rosy time for everyone. Eschewing the hypnotic rotoscoped fluidity of his prior animated work, Linklater opts here for a gorgeous picture-postcard hyperrealism. Based on hours of home movies sourced from Houston locals, the film’s style is at once a loving reconstruction of the past as well as a layered attempt to distance the audience from the idea that any of this, even the most mundane details, happened exactly as they’re depicted. Keith Watson

In Benediction, British cinema’s laureate of self-loathing sets his sights on Siegfried Sassoon, the English poet and writer whose antiwar verses brought him great acclaim in the aftermath of WWII. It’s a film that’s both elliptical and caustic, a rhapsodic portrayal of an upper-crust milieu in which words are wielded like weapons by people who might otherwise be pariahs. Evocative temporal transitions are a hallmark of Terence Davies’s work, though Benediction’s high-def look takes getting used to. Cinematographer Nicola Daley often goes for a harsh flatness that initially seems at odds with what one expects in a Davies film. There’s purpose in this approach, though, as Sassoon—who’s played in youth by Jack Lowden and as an older man by Peter Capaldi—and his gay coterie are mostly moving in shadows internally. The world outside is, by contrast, brightly, glaringly lit, its every feature apparent, whether beautiful or ugly, exalted or debased. There’s nowhere to hide. The only option is to deflect. Uhlich

Saint Omer
Alice Diop’s Saint Omer brings the filmmaker into the realm of fiction for the first time, but preserves her documentary respect for the evidence of our eyes. A sober, pared-down courtroom drama, Saint Omer initially makes little effort to comment on its action, at times feeling more like presentation than representation. But in the film’s riveting latter part, Diop moves from the pointedly cold presentation of the first half to slightly more expressive cutting as the drama moves from beyond the benches and involves Rama (Kayije Kagame), a novelist and academic attending the central trial in order to adapt Coly’s (Guslagie Malanda) story into a modern retelling of the Greek myth of Medea, in a series of implicit, fraught psychological transferences. Diop balances the generic (not to mention legal) expectation that the trial will offer answers with Coly’s conviction that neither what happened nor what’s going on in the courtroom can really be put into words. If courtroom dramas are usually about taking a stand, here Diop shows us that the most impactful truths often go unspoken. Brown

Crimes of the Future
Given his lifelong obsession with the merging of man and machine, it’s perhaps fitting that David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future could have been concocted by feeding his most celebrated films through an AI algorithm. Bringing together elements of Videodrome, The Fly, and eXistenZ, his triumphant return to body horror after more than two decades stars Viggo Mortensen and Léa Seydoux as a performance artist couple who carry out invasive biological modifications in front of live audiences. Genetic mutations have greatly diminished the capacity to feel pain for much of humanity, ushering in a brave new world where “surgery is the new sex.” Cronenberg is certainly playing the hits here, revisiting his most familiar themes: metamorphosis, voyeurism, and the blurred line between trauma and erotic transcendence. But his imagery retains its uniquely grotesque beauty, and the film’s haunting, gothic prologue stands out as one of his most memorable sequences. If he’s lost some of his power to shock, it’s only because society seems to be finally catching up with the unsettling post-human future that he’s so often predicted with a greedy anticipation. David Robb

An examination of high-culture malignity every bit as acidly entertaining as Preston Sturges’s Unfaithfully Yours, Tár marks a much-belated comeback for its writer-director, Todd Field, and a kind of cumulative statement for its star, Cate Blanchett, who together have devised one of the more captivating villains in recent cinematic memory. World-renowned composer-conductor Lydia Tár, a female pioneer in the male-dominated field of classical music, may wield her talent, intelligence, and eminent social position as instruments for acquiring a rotating cast of fresh young female bedmates. With the escalating intensity of a thriller and the acerbic bite of a dark satire, the film scrutinizes the way in which Lydia’s carefully crafted public persona has come to supplant whatever person she was before achieving the heights of cultural significance. What, the film asks, truly resides in the heart of a woman whose entire sense of self can be summarized by her own meticulously cultivated Wikipedia entry? Drawing on her penchant for playing both eminent, powerful women and neurotic basket cases, Blanchett’s hilariously high-strung performance provides the answer: Beneath Lydia’s erudite and self-possessed façade lies little more than the all-consuming fear of losing her power and status. Watson

Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO feels wrested from urgent dreams, as if the veteran Polish filmmaker is dramatizing the fragments that he remembers of Robert Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar. Though their narratives are similar, the films oppose one another: Au Hasard Balthazar has a controlled, tamped-down beauty that builds to an ending of profound catharsis, while EO is lurid and overheated with emotion, before gradually cooling off to arrive at the tough matter-of-factness that informs Bresson’s film from the outset. It’s as if Skolimowski is offering a primer on how one evolves into a transcendentalist. Or if EO has been conceived as the intemperate grandchild of a cinematic milestone. One of EO’s great accomplishments is one of simple yet desperate earnestness. The film suggests a vision that the 84-year-old Skolimowski had to get it off his chest before retirement or death. Seemingly freed of plot and expectation, EO is driven, above all else, by the need to honor its own internal, poetic drive. Bowen

The Fabelmans
Steven Spielberg’s finest and most misunderstood movie since A.I. Artificial Intelligence, The Fabelmans shares with that 2001 masterpiece the uncanny spectacle of Hollywood’s most purely talented craftsperson giving himself over to material that consistently threatens to escape his control. Easy enough to understand in the case of the earlier film, given it was bestowed upon him by another legendary auteur, noted control freak Stanley Kubrick, but here he delves even further into the deep end, recreating the pain of his parents’ divorce. Working with co-screenwriter Tony Kushner, Spielberg transposes the bildungsroman format to a psychological Z-axis, exorcising his demons through the magic of movies, both explicitly and figuratively. If it all sounds like exactly the star-dusted sentiment Spielberg’s detractors have accused him of peddling for decades, The Fabelmans emerges as the exact opposite of a great director entering his home stretch “playing the hits.” Instead, it’s the omniscient apotheosis of Spielberg’s cross-generational humanism, the sort that could only come from the gloaming end of one’s career, much like Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Gertrud, Ozu Yasujirô’s An Autumn Afternoon, and Edward Yang’s Yi Yi before it. And in the final five minutes, the transference of cinephilia from a chance encounter with an American icon announces itself in the most loose-limbed and thrilling visual gesture that Spielberg has ever achieved, a legitimate neologism in cinematic form. Henderson

Decision to Leave (Park Chan-wook), Holy Spider (Ali Abbasi), The Novelist’s Film (Hong Sang-soo), One Fine Morning (Mia Hansen-Løve), The Eternal Daughter (Joann Hogg), Aftersun (Charlotte Wells), Rock Bottom Riser (Fern Silva), Saturday Fiction (Lou Ye), Babi Yar. Context (Sergei Loznitsa), Fabian: Going to the Dogs (Dominik Graf), Everything Everywhere All at Once (Daniels), Neptune Frost (Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman), Kimi (Steven Soderbergh), God’s Creatures (Saela Davis and Anna Rose Holmer), We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (Jane Schoenbrun), Turning Red (Domee Shi), Friends and Strangers (James Vaughan), Compartment No. 6 (Juho Kuosmanen), Return to Seoul (Davy Chou), My Imaginary Country (Patricio Guzmán), Athena (Romain Gavras), Dog (Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin), Amsterdam (David O. Russell), Flux Gourmet (Peter Strickland), and After Yang (Kogonada)

1. Tár
2. Retrograde
3. All That Breathes
4. Triangle of Sadness
5. Fire of Love
6. Everything Everywhere All at Once
7. Decision to Leave
8. Navalny
9. Holy Spider
10. The Eternal Daughter
Honorable Mention: Athena, The Banshees of Inisherin, The Fabelmans, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, God’s Creatures, The Janes, The Menu, My Imaginary Country, Nope, Three Thousand Years of Longing

1. The Cathedral
2. The Eternal Daughter
3. In Front of Your Face
4. Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood
5. Vortex
6. No Bears
7. EO
8. Benediction
9. RRR
10. Funny Pages
Honorable Mention: Both Sides of the Blade, Introduction, Mad God, Mr. Bacchman and His Class, The Novelist’s Film, Pearl, The Sadness, Strawberry Mansion, Sundown, To Leslie

1. Fabian: Going to the Dogs
2. Aftersun
3. Kimi
4. The Novelist’s Film
5. Vortex
6. One Fine Morning
7. Both Sides of the Blade
8. Compartment No. 6
9. The Fabelmans
10. Saint Omer
Honorable Mention: Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood, All That Breathes, The Batman, Confess, Fletch, Crimes of the Future, Funny Pages, In Front of Your Face, Nope, Pleasure, Three Thousand Years of Longing

1. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
2. Benediction
3. Crimes of the Future
4. RRR
5. The Fabelmans
6. Decision to Leave
7. Saint Omer
8. No Bears
9. Nope
10. Neptune Frost
Honorable Mention: Aftersun, Armageddon Time, Both Sides of the Blade, The Eternal Daughter, Inu-Oh, The Novelist’s Film, Mad God, One Fine Morning, Tár, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair

1. Jackass Forever
2. Tár
3. Stars at Noon
4. EO
5. The Fabelmans
6. Vortex
7. Dog
8. Saturday Fiction
9. Blonde
10. Benediction
Honorable Mention: The African Desperate, Amsterdam, Babi Yar. Context, Il Buco, Fabian: Going to the Dogs, The Munsters, Neptune Frost, A New Old Play, Soft & Quiet, Watcher

1. Il Buco
2. In Front of Your Face
3. Crimes of the Future
4. Tár
5. Turning Red
6. Nope
7. Rock Bottom Riser
8. Kimi
9. Belle
10. Playground
Honorable Mention: All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, After Yang, Amsterdam, The Fabelmans, Great Freedom, Mad God, The Novelist’s Film, One Fine Morning, Top Gun: Maverick, X

1. Mr. Bacchman and His Class
2. Playground
3. The Fabelmans
4. Saint Omer
5. Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood
6. In Front of Your Face
7. Benediction
8. Both Sides of the Blade
9. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
10. Fabian: Going to the Dogs
Honorable Mention: Ali & Ava, Il Buco, Funny Pages, Great Freedom, Holy Spider, Jackass Forever, Nope, One Fine Morning, Petrov’s Flu, Tár

1. Friends and Strangers
2. Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood
3. Saint Omer
4. The Fabelmans
5. Armageddon Time
6. Crimes of the Future
7. The Cathedral
8. A Night of Knowing Nothing
9. Benediction
10. Stars at Noon
Honorable Mention: Ali & Ava, Amsterdam, Both Sides of the Blade, A Couple, Kimi, Nope, One Fine Morning, Rock Bottom Riser, Sundown, Turning Red

1. Tár
2. EO
3. The Banshees of Inisherin
4. Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle
5. Saint Omer
6. Rock Bottom Riser
7. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair
8. Holy Spider
9. Aline
10. The Sadness
Honorable Mention: Both Sides of the Blade, Il Buco, Emergency Declaration, The Eternal Daughter, El Gran Movimiento, House of Darkness, Master, Resurrection, Soft & Quiet, Sundown

1. Benediction
2. EO
3. The Fabelmans
4. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
5. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair
6. Vortex
7. Both Sides of the Blade
8. Jackass Forever
9. Introduction
10. Tár
HM: Aftersun, Barbarian, Decision to Leave, Expedition Content, Fire Island, Flux Gourmet, Great Freedom, Lux Æterna, Nope, Playground
1. Crimes of the Future
2. Saturday Fiction
3. Stars at Noon
4. Saint Omer
5. Benediction
6. The Fabelmans
7. Armageddon Time
8. Detective v. Sleuths
9. Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood
10. Turning Red
Honorable Mention: Amsterdam, The Batman, Confess, Fletch, Decision to Leave, Funny Pages, In Front of Your Face, A New Old Play, One Fine Morning, Only Fools Rush In, Three Thousand Years of Longing

1. Crimes of the Future
2. Benediction
3. Stars at Noon
4. Fabian: Going to the Dogs
5. Three Thousand Years of Longing
6. EO
7. The Novelist’s Film
8. Armageddon Time
9. A Couple
10. The Eternal Daughter

1. Petrov’s Flu
2. Compartment No. 6
3. Neptune Frost
4. King Car
5. Pleasure
6. Decision to Leave
7. Tár
8. Triangle of Sadness
9. Banshees of Inisherin
10. Mad God
Honorable Mention: Aftersun, Flux Gourmet, Something in the Dirt, Bones and All, Crimes of the Future, Lux Æterna, Nope, The African Desperate

1. Crimes of the Future
2. Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood
3. No Bears
4. Decision to Leave
5. EO
6. Mad God
7. Kimi
8. Aftersun
9. Stars at Noon
10. The Novelist’s Film
Honorable Mention: Armageddon Time, Barbarian, Confess, Fletch, Il Buco, Elvis, Nope, Pleasure, RRR, Tár, Triangle of Sadness

1. Mad God
2. Tár
3. After Yang
4. RRR
5. The Fabelmans
6. Ambulance
7. Benediction
8. Crimes of the Future
9. Saloum
10. Detective vs. Sleuths
Honorable Mention: The Banshees of Inisherin, Barbarian, Il Buco, Catch the Fair One, Inu-oh, Jackass Forever, Nope, Smile, Vengeance Is Mine All Others Pay Cash, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair

1. Babi Yar. Context
2. Great Freedom
3. God’s Creatures
4. Holy Spider
5. My Imaginary Country
6. Mr. Bachmann and His Class
7. Il Buco
8. No Bears
9. Speak No Evil
10. Both Sides of the Blade
Honorable Mention: The African Desperate, Armageddon Time, Bones and All, Expedition Content, Mad God, The Novelist’s Film, One Fine Morning, Playground, Rock Bottom Riser, Turning Red

1. The Banshees of Inisherin
2. Athena
3. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
4. Saint Omer
5. Causeway
6. Everything Everywhere All at Once
7. Crimes of the Future
8. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
9. EO
10. Great Freedom
Honorable Mention: After Yang, Armageddon Time, Bones and All, God’s Creatures, Jackass Forever, The Eternal Daughter, Fire of Love, Fire Island, The Fabelmans, Pearl

1. EO
2. Mr. Bachmann & His Class
3. The Fabelmans
4. Return to Seoul
5. The Banshees of Inisherin
6. Great Freedom
7. Tár
8. Funny Pages
9. Neptune Frost
10. Everything Everywhere All at Once
Honorable Mention: All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Benediction, Both Sides of the Blade, Fire of Love, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Jackass Forever, Mad God, One Fine Morning, Playground, Riotsville, U.S.A.

1. The Novelist’s Film
2. EO
3. Il Buco
4. The Fabelmans
5. A New Old Play
6. RRR
7. Decision to Leave
8. The Girl and the Spider
9. Crimes of the Future
10. In Front of Your Face
Honorable Mention: Armageddon Time, Benediction, The Cathedral, Los Conductos, Fabian or Going to the Dogs, El Gran Movimiento, Introduction, Nope, Tár, Wood and Water

1. EO
2. Crimes of the Future
3. RRR
4. Tár
5. Aftersun
6. Flux Gourmet
7. Mad God
8. Saint Omer
9. Compartment No. 6
10. Funny Pages
Honorable Mention: The African Desperate, Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood, Benediction, Both Sides of the Blade, The Girl and the Spider, Nanny, Nope, Rock Bottom Riser, Riotsville, U.S.A., We’re All Going to the World’s Fair
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