Top movies of 2022

After two years of disruption, movie-going in Australia pretty much got back to normal in 2022. After a slow start, loosening of COVID-related restrictions saw audiences coming back to the big screen. Box office receipts were up according to BoxOfficeMojo, though the increase over the pretty miserable 2021 figures was perhaps smaller than studios and exhibitors would have hoped. By and large, audiences wanted to see one film: Top Gun: Maverick. Its $65 million gross in 2022 easily outstripped the $54 million racked up by the top movie of 2021, Spider-Man: No Way Home. Despite being released later in the calendar year, a strong showing from Avatar: The Way of Water has buoyed hopes for a return to pre-pandemic levels in the coming 12 months.

The stronger box office also came on the back of fewer films being released (around 230 compared with about 260 in 2021). And some of those (like Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery) had very limited cinema runs before finding their way to streaming. So the films that were released – on average – did much better than those released the year before.

Apart from Top Gun: Maverick, 2022 maintained the now-longstanding trend of box office gold for sequels and franchises. Apart from Elvis at no. 7, the top 10 highest-grossing movies were all either sequels or part of an established franchise. Indeed, only another three films in the top 20 (Uncharted, Ticket to Paradise and Bullet Train) didn’t fit into those categories. So I guess you could say that nostalgia – in one form or another – was the big winner this year (and I include Elvis in that). But some smaller films managed to make dents. Perhaps fuelled by the publicity/social media storm around it, Don’t Worry, Darling probably exceeded expectations for such a high-concept film. And it was heartening to see really innovative films like Everything, Everywhere, All at Once and Nope in the top 40.

It was another strong year for genre films, particularly in the horror category. The fact several “big” properties – including from Marvel and DC – incorporated horror elements into mainstream fare. It was also an important year in Asian cinema, with RRR a box office hit and several films by Asian directors (including Kogonaga’s After Yang) enjoying critical success.

So, all of that being said, here are our critics’ lists of the top 10 films of 2021

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