Best movies of 2022 (so far). And where to find them

The year-end film critic’s favorites list has always struck me as a tentative endeavor at best, a flawed but essential attempt to frame a year’s cinematic excess in a coherent manner. Any honest list, no matter how extensive its momentum or authority, is made with full awareness of possible mistakes, blind spots, and, yes, momentary misjudgments.

The following mid-term report for 2022 must therefore be felt to be even more hasty, unreliable and premature. With the spate of films to be revealed over the next six months – many of them slated for release during that competitive annual scourge we call awards season – I have no idea how many of December’s awesome 12 are among my top picks will land. Still, while every year is invariably reloaded cinematically, I’m satisfied with how many good and even great movies I’ve seen released in the first half of 2022 alone.

I’m also disheartened, though hardly surprised, at how quickly so many of them have disappeared from theaters, assuming they ever played in theaters at all. The speed at which independent films are now moving through venues en route to their hopefully long VOD shelf life is nothing new. What is particularly alarming now is how many art house cinemas, which have been hit hard by the pandemic closures of the past two years, are exiting the struggle themselves.

The permanent closure of Arclight Cinemas/Pacific Theaters last year continues to hurt, even as some of their locations have reopened thanks to big chains like AMC Theaters and Regal Cinemas. In May, the Landmark Theaters chain closed its 12-screen Westside Pavilion location, a major loss for LA moviegoers. A small but real source of relief: knowing that my own neighborhood art house, Pasadena’s Laemmle Playhouse 7, will survive and reopen later this year under Landmark ownership.

But no film lover — and no lover of going to the cinema — can afford to take this cherished pastime or favorite haunt of the world for granted. I’m as encouraged as anyone by the record-breaking box office for Top Gun: Maverick, but movies without blockbuster budgets, franchise hooks, and/or Tom Cruise are in for as tough a fight as ever.

Here are just some of the best of recent times, listed in (roughly) alphabetical order:

Two stacked split photos. Above two men in tuxedos, below two men with their faces put together

Above: Jeremy Irvine, left, and Jack Lowden in Benediction. Below: Franz Rogowski, left, as Hans and Thomas Prenn, left, as Oskar in “Great Freedom”.

(Top: Laurence Cendrowicz / Roadside Attractions; Bottom: MUBI) Best movies of 2022 (so far). And where to find them

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