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Arts & Culture

KPBS staff picks: Best movies of 2022

Graphic by Tony Zuniga
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KPBS
A graphic of several posters for movies released in 2022 with white text reading: KPBS staff picks best movies 2022.

The pandemic has impacted all our lives and this past year we saw a return to more of the in-person activities that we have been missing, including going out to the movies.

Movies have always provided an escape. During the trying times of the Great Depression people could at least enjoy movies in the community setting of a cinema where they could laugh and cry together. COVID-19 forced us to shelter at home and watch alone or with a few family members, which is a slightly different kind of cinematic experience. We could not go out to a cinema but we could stream movies or even pull out that physical media to enjoy.

In 2022, movie theaters fully reopened and people could return to watch movies on the big screen where they belong. But audiences did not flock back to cinemas. Throughout the year, movie theaters have still been struggling to entice people off of their couches and out of their home theaters. Attendance numbers have not returned to what they were in pre-pandemic times.

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There is nothing quite like the experience of entering a darkened theater with a group of strangers and watching the big screen light up with a story that we can all share together. And there were occasional films that did draw audiences into the cinema. A film like "Top Gun: Maverick" set post-pandemic records with its mix of nostalgia and high-flying action. But the highly hyped "Avatar: The Way of Water" is not proving to be a similar "event" film. While cinemas struggle, people are still consuming movies and binging on cable shows. So the appetite for entertainment is still huge.

To close out the year, KPBS decided to ask its staff what films topped their lists and the response was wonderfully diverse. Check out what KPBS employees were watching in 2022 and maybe there will be some titles to add to your year-end viewing.

Our Top Picks

'Everything Everywhere All at Once'

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I don't even know where to begin. This film was absurd and chaotic but it took you on a journey through every type of relationship and emotion. It also gave us a scene that had me laughing the hardest I have since before the pandemic. I was crying in laughter...and then later I was crying because of the repairing of relationships. I will never look at hot dogs the same, or everything bagels. Plus, Michelle Yeoh. Give her all the awards.
—Heather Milne Barger, Director of Communications

It was literally everything in one film and done perfectly.
—Mel Shaw, "I'm also everything, everywhere, all at once in TV Ops"

'Turning Red'

It's a sweet story told from the perspective of an Asian female protagonist (#representation). Plus, big fluffy red panda.
—Alexander Nguyen, Multimedia Producer

I love that the movie shined a spotlight on the awkwardness of growing up from a girl's point of view. It also dealt with the power of parental expectation, to which I think most people can relate. It is not limited to one culture, one area of life, nor one gender.
—Anonymous, KPBS staff member

'Mad God' and 'Crimes of the Future'

"Mad God" took Phil Tippett decades to complete and the result is a breathtakingly gorgeous and bleak stop motion animation about how utterly insignificant we all are and how nothing matters.

"Crimes of the Future" is David Cronenberg returning to body horror and offering a delicious commentary on the artistic process.
—Beth Accomando, Arts Reporter and Host of "Cinema Junkie"

'Top Gun: Maverick'

A lot of the movie was filmed in my hometown San Diego, and the stunts and storyline was second to none!
—Jay Jay Maniquis, Co-host & Co-creator of "Out of the Boondocks"

'See How They Run'

You can always count me in, when it comes to a fun whodunit movie. It was suspenseful with some awesome twists and turns. I loved that it was set in London in the 1950s. Really enjoyed the cast. I highly recommend it to movie-lovers of all ages.
—Debbie Cruz, News anchor

This film was a goofy spin on classic murder mysteries. Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan were a fun, oddball pairing.
—Roxy de la Rosa, TV Programming Coordinator

'Blonde'

A brutally honest film based on an icon. The cinematography is stunning. The storytelling is sharp and the cast is skilled. It’s not ‘enjoyable’ but it’s incredibly memorable.
—Parker Edison, Podcaster/Content Creator

'Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts'

Watching this reunion really brought me back to the first time I ever watched the very first Harry Potter film. Simply just magical!
—Dianna Gonzalez, Development Coordinator

'The Tinder Swindler'

This documentary is about a jet-setting Israeli "diamond mogul" that cons women into financially supporting his lavish lifestyle. While he's successful in conning many women, one of his girlfriends ends up conning HIM. Once she discovers his real MO, she sells his luxury clothing to recoup some of her losses. While she ignores his pleas for more money, our con man ends up having to eat leftovers while living in a youth hostel — a far cry from his luxury days.
—Lara Azevedo-McCaffrey, Web Producer

'Triangle of Sadness'

This is one of those rare films that will show you something you’ve never seen before on screen — yes, I’m talking about that 15-minute boat scene (#iykyk). "Triangle of Sadness" is a satirical black comedy from Director Ruben Ostlund ("The Square," "Force Majeure"). And if you’ve watched his previous films, you know the twists and turns in Ostlund’s films can be crazy and crazy relatable. I cringed, I laughed and I reflected on the relationship between power and social class. It was completely unexpected, and it may be my favorite movie this year. Go watch it!
—Elma González Lima Brandão, Digital Editor

'The Batman'

The superhero genre is oversaturated, as we all know. However, "The Batman" was a refreshing take on the Caped Crusader that struck the perfect balance between heroism and internal strife that makes Batman such an iconic comic book character. Robert Pattinson's performance brought a more realistic portrayal of Batman to life, one that ditched the rippled muscles and deep voice for something that seemed more credulous. Also, despite including several villains, the story never seemed weighed down. Finally, the score really enhanced the film. If you've lost faith in the superhero genre, "The Batman" is a great film to reignite anyone's belief.
—Brenden Tuccinardi, Web Producer