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Ars Technica’s favorite films in 2022

Ars Technica’s favorite films in 2022

Aurich Lawson | Getty Images

In 2022, film lovers weary of two years of a raging pandemic started gingerly dipping their toes back into the theatrical movie experience. And while the pickings might have been a bit slimmer than in pre-pandemic years, there were still plenty of tantalizing options, from the usual blockbuster superhero movies from the Marvel and DC cinematic universes, to quirky indie features and surprise gems from Netflix.

We’re once again opting for an unranked list, with the exception of our “year’s best” vote at the very end so you might look over the variety of genres and options and possibly add surprises to your eventual watchlist. As ever, we invite you to head to the comments and add your own suggestions for films released in 2022.

Things get weird when two strangers double-book a rental home in <em>Barbarian</em>. 
Enlarge / Things get weird when two strangers double-book a rental home in Barbarian

20th Century Studios


Don’t watch the trailer, don’t even read a synopsis—just watch this movie.

Such was the advice I got before watching this year’s buzzy horror film Barbarian, and I’m glad I took it. It’s advice I’d extend to anyone reading this—if you enjoy horror, don’t even read the rest of this blurb. Just watch it—you can stream it on HBO Max right now.

But okay, for those who need a little more convincing, I’ll give the lightest of introductions. The film opens on a woman checking into a rental home in Detroit—until she realizes it has been double-booked and is already being occupied. She decides to stay the night anyway. Things get weird. Then they get weirder.

That’s about all I’m willing to give up here. At no point during my viewing did I know where the film was heading next, and I think that’s the best way to experience this movie. Barbarian is one of those wild-ride horror romps that’s best enjoyed with similarly uninitiated friends—everyone squirming and exclaiming and jumping out of their seats together as the craziness unfolds.

The movie has its fair share of chills and thrills, sure, but it’s also hilarious—it gave me the biggest, most genuine belly laughs of any film I saw all year. A respectable amount of good horror films came out in 2022, but if you’re looking for the best, look no further.

Aaron Zimmerman

Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz) and Batman (Robert Pattinson) lead the long-but-enjoyable proceedings of <em>The Batman</em>.
Enlarge / Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz) and Batman (Robert Pattinson) lead the long-but-enjoyable proceedings of The Batman.

The Batman

The Batman is a DC Comics film for people who watch way too many movies. Director and co-writer Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes) has concocted an intoxicating mix of indulgence, pulp, bombast, and vulnerability that absolutely answers the question of why the world needs another Batman film. Even better, Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse) resurrects a role that has been otherwise run into the ground. Better than Michael Keaton? Oof, that’s a coin flip. Best Batman actor since Keaton? Absolutely.

What Reeves is really interested in is showing us a very different kind of Bruce Wayne than in other films: millennial, rich, sullen, ineffectual, and bewildered. Other Batman actors have shrugged off the weirdness of a rich man turned masked vigilante, but Pattinson convincingly wrestles with his inherited privilege—making Wayne more likable and empathetic as a result.

It’s not a perfect Batman production. You’ll have to endure roughly 15 minutes of aggressively grim, dark tone setting before Reeves and Pattinson settle into their vengeance-filled Batusi dance. And Reeves absolutely loses control of his Batmobile by the film’s end, especially as he fakes viewers out with one ending in order to lead them through an overlong, undramatic coda. But I’m not sure a “producer’s cut,” which would strip The Batman of its most indulgent tendencies, would make this a better film, and I applaud DC for letting Reeves go wild. The result makes Batman fascinating and tangible all over again, much like when filmmaker Tim Burton and Keaton reimagined the character in the wake of the over-the-top ’60s TV series.

—Sam Machkovech

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