Public Media Arts Hub

Santa Barbara International Film Festival's 15th Annual Kirk Douglas Award For Excellence In Film Honoring Michelle Yeoh
Honoree Michelle Yeoh attends Santa Barbara International Film Festival's 15th annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film in Santa Barbara, California. Photo by Ruby Wallau/WireImage

7 most exciting movies of 2022

Which movies from this year did we not want to end?

The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday and The Los Angeles Times' Justin Chang joined the PBS NewsHour's Jeffrey Brown to share some of their favorite movies and performances of 2022. Here, they discuss a few of the films they loved.


A brilliant study of a fictional world renowned classical conductor played by Cate Blanchett in one of the great performances of her career. … The character of Lydia Tár, her world is just so fully realized that it feels more real than some actual biopics. It's just a brilliant, mesmerizing film.

– Justin Chang


A first feature directed by … Charlotte Wells, and it's a semi-autobiographical drama loosely based on an incident that happened with her and her father when they went on vacation when she was just a pre-adolescent. And it falls in line with quite a few semi-autobiographical films this year, like Steven Spielberg's "The Fabelmans" [and] James Gray's "Armageddon Time." … And this one … is just so piercing and haunting.

– Justin Chang

Top Gun: Maverick

That was the movie that I had the most fun. I went in with lots of skepticism. … And I was utterly disarmed almost immediately. Those elbows that had been sharply out collapsed. And it was just so much fun to see it, and the audience was having such a good time.

– Ann Hornaday

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

It's a little chamber piece starring Emma Thompson and a newcomer named Daryl McCormack. And it's about a middle-aged widow who wants to sort of reignite her sex life. And she hires a sex worker played by Mr. McCormack to help her do that. … It is an absolutely charming film.

– Ann Hornaday

Avatar: The Way of Water

It is very immersive. The worldbuilding is extraordinary; you feel like you are swimming. There were times when I wanted it to just be a great underwater hangout movie, you know, no a ction. But the action is great when it kicks in … Is it a perfect movie? No, but … I think that it's encouraging … at a time when movies have been so challenged by the COVID pandemic. Yes, people have gone back to movies.

– Justin Chang

She Said

I will mention a movie that I think deserved a bigger theatrical audience. And that's "She Said," which is about The New York Times reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein story. It is a really terrific journalistic procedural, you know, in that great tradition of "All The President's Men" and "Spotlight." But there's a performance at the center of this movie by Samantha Morton. It's a supporting performance. … And she dominates and commands it in a way that is just — it's just devastating.

– Ann Hornaday

Everything Everywhere All at Once

This was a rare … original film that did very well in theaters. And it had the kind of premise that … could furnish a Marvel or a superhero movie, but was taken in an original direction. And Michelle Yeoh gives a wonderful performance in it, and the movie is very much a love letter to her. … I can't think of another movie this year, save maybe "Tár" and Cate Blanchett, that just calls on an actor to do so many things, and to make you believe her doing all of them … Those two performances, I think, are maybe on a different level this year from most everything else.

– Justin Chang

Support Canvas

Sustain our coverage of culture, arts and literature.

Send Us Your Ideas
Let us know what you'd like to see on ArtsCanvas. Your thoughts and opinions matter.