With 2022 done and dusted, our resident film buffs Stefan Bradley and Tom Parry reflect on the cinematic year that was.

TP: What an extraordinary 12 months it has been for movies, Stefan. 2022 was a particularly strong year for cinema, especially considering we’re still coming out of a pandemic. What do you reckon?

SB: Yes, it has been a good year. I think Spider-Man: No Way Home was the film that started the pandemic recovery at the beginning of the year. It’s technically a mid-December 2021 release, but still made plenty of money over January and February, proving that cinemas were back. This continued with Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water in particular. Those films reminded us of what we were missing: Going into a theatre, sitting down, not looking at your phone or pressing pause, sitting in front of a big screen, and enjoying an event with friends.

TP: You’ve nailed it with the term ‘event’. Cinema is not just about seeing a movie – it’s an experience. The feeling you get sitting in a dark room, eagerly anticipating what’s about to appear on screen is a feeling you can’t replicate sitting at home on the couch. It’s something we discovered ourselves when revisiting the first Avatar for its theatrical re-release in September by watching it on DVD instead.

‘Avatar: The Way of Water’, now the top-grossing picture of 2022, divided our film buffs.
Image: 20th Century Studios

SB: Usually when I watch a film at home it’s not a big deal that’s it on the small screen, but Avatar on DVD absolutely left me wanting for the theatre. I can’t imagine The Way of Water will feel the same on Disney Plus. Let’s discuss our Top Five lists now, and it’s good to see we’ve had some crossover. I have The Batman, which we saw in March, in my honourable mentions, whereas you have it as your top film of 2022.

TP: Indeed I do. I really appreciated its gritty tone crossed with the gothic visuals; the score of Michael Giacchino, which was really powerful; and the mystery element in the screenplay. This might be sacrilegious to say, but I enjoyed The Batman more than I did The Dark Knight.

SB: That’s a bold statement. It’s very good, but I don’t love it as much as you do, because it’s just hard for me to be excited by another Batman movie.

TP: That’s fair – the character has received a reboot three times in the past 20 years. Anyhow, Top Gun: Maverick is in both of our Top Fives. This film is the biggest surprise of 2022 for me – I did not anticipate it would be as enjoyable, nor as heartfelt as it turned out to be. It’s got captivating flying sequences, of course, and a great soundtrack, but I do miss the cheese of the original Top Gun.

SB: I think it’s a credit to the producers for not only greenlighting a big-budget sequel to a decades-old blockbuster, but for utilising real-life military aircraft for the flying sequences. If cinemas disappear, you would probably have to say goodbye to that kind of film-making, because most TV shows wouldn’t be able to afford it.

TP: Agreed. One movie we didn’t review was The Bob’s Burgers Movie. I’m an enormous fan of the television series, so seeing the characters on the big screen just had me grinning from ear to ear. It had catchy musical numbers, bright and lively animation; the only downside is that the film lost its energy and momentum heading into the final act – it was building up to be this thrilling climax and it instead ended up feeling like a bit of a bummer.

Tom and Stefan both enjoyed ‘The Bob’s Burgers Movie’, released theatrically in May.
Image: 20th Century Studios

SB: It did feel like four episodes stuck together, which has been a criticism of The Simpsons Movie and the South Park film, but I think those two did a better job of justifying their own existence on the big screen. I liked the movie a lot, because I enjoy the Bob’s Burgers TV show as well, but it does little to alter the course of the show.

TP: Anyhow, we’ve also got Jordan Peele’s Nope on both our lists. It is a genuinely terrifying movie – I never expected I would be afraid of clouds!

SB: It’s definitely great, and another movie that hits differently in a cinema. On another note, I gave Thor: Love and Thunder a good review when we watched it, and said it was almost as good as Thor: Ragnarok, but that’s not really true the more I think about it – it’s nowhere near as rewatchable as Ragnarok. Then there’s Halloween Ends, which was a disappointing end to a legacy horror franchise. My worst experience at the cinema this year was probably watching The Invitation, but to be fair, compared to a certain blockbuster we’ll discuss in a bit, it had a much smaller budget and at least tried to do something different.

TP: It had a campy quality to it, but it’s definitely not something I want to revisit any time soon.

Steven Yeun in ‘Nope’, another favourite film of our critics.
Image: Universal Pictures/Monkeypaw Productions

SB: I’ll say it – most of it was boring, but my pick for worst movie of the year is Jurassic World: Dominion, a textbook cash-grab. And it worked – it made a billion dollars worldwide! It brought back the original cast from Jurassic Park and did absolutely nothing with them. You can do two things with a heritage sequel: You can make Dominion, or you can make Maverick.

TP: I think you’re being overly negative – there’s a lot to appreciate about Dominion, but for now let’s agree to disagree. My least favourite from 2022 is Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. This takes a franchise which had so much promise and just wrings all life out of it. Almost every element of the movie is underwhelming – it was as if they were running on auto-pilot.

SB: You’ve summarised my thoughts on Dominion perfectly there. Here’s some interesting news – Avatar: The Way of Water has overtaken Maverick as the highest-grossing movie released in 2022. Obviously, you didn’t like The Way of Water, as you made clear in our recent review, but at least it brought people back to the cinema.

TP: You could say the same about Dominion

SB: Well, yes. At the very least, people are willing to see these big-budget movies in theatres again, and that’s definitely a good thing.

Be sure to read next Tuesday’s Gippsland Times when Stefan and Tom reveal what films they’re most looking forward to in 2023.


Stefan’s Top Five Films of 2022

– Top Gun: Maverick

– Sonic the Hedgehog 2

– Nope

– Avatar: The Way of Water

– Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Honourable Mentions: Puss in Boots: The Last WishThe BatmanLightyearDoctor Strange in the Multiverse of MadnessThe Bob’s Burgers Movie.

Tom’s Top Five Films of 2022

– The Batman

– Top Gun: Maverick

– The Bob’s Burgers Movie

– Nope

– Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Honourable Mentions: Black Panther: Wakanda ForeverThe Bad GuysBullet Train