A multiverse, a mollusk, Mennonites and more fill the best movies of 2022

Family relationships and feminist dramas dominated the year’s best films.

(A24) Michelle Yeoh plays Evelyn, a laundromat owner who finds herself at the center of a battle spanning multiple universes, in the comedy "Everything Everywhere All at Once." The movie was named the best picture of 2022 by the Utah Film Critics Association, which also awarded it in nine other categories.

The nation’s movie lovers, huddled in their homes for two years, finally started to venture out to the theaters in 2022. What they found, usually, were blockbusters and franchises.

But there were some gems out there, if one knew where to look. The best movies of 2022 explored fractured family dynamics, the oppression of women, and an epic struggle fought with wild animals and dance moves.

Here are, in my opinion, the best movies of 2022:

1. ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’

The most accurate title of any movie this year, because the directing team of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert — known collectively as Daniels — made a movie that was everything all at once. The story tells of Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), a laundromat owner in tax trouble, who learns she’s the central figure in a battle spanning multiple universes. The movie crosses into comedy, science fiction, family drama, romance and surrealism, with playful homages to Jackie Chan, Wong Kar-Wai and “Ratatouille.” The stellar cast — which includes Ke Huy Quan (from “The Goonies”), newcomer Stephanie Hsu, Jamie Lee Curtis and James Hong — is led by the fearless Yeoh, who juggles the crazy demands of the character with grace and wit. (Streaming on Showtime+, for rent on Prime video.)

(Orion Releasing) Agata (Judith Ivey, left) and Salome (Claire Foy) commiserate during a difficult decision for the women in a Mennonite community, in writer-director Sarah Polley's "Women Talking."

2. ‘Women Talking’

In a Mennonite community, so isolated that it’s not clear what year it is, the women discover that one of the men has been drugging and raping women for years. Meeting in the hayloft, the women have three choices: Do nothing, stay and fight, or leave. The women — who include Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley and Rooney Mara — debate their options while the men are away. Writer-director Sarah Polley adapts Miriam Toews’ novel into a tough, thoughtful drama that opens up discussions about the difference between one’s religion and one’s faith. (In Utah theaters starting January 13.)

(A24) Marcel (voiced by Jenny Slate) puts on some music, in a scene from the animated "Marcel the Shell With Shoes On."

3. ‘Marcel the Shell With Shoes On’

A mollusk with a googly eye (voiced by Jenny Slate) lives in a house with an unemployed filmmaker (Dean Fleischer-Camp), who decides to make a documentary about Marcel’s life with his grandmother (voiced by Isabella Rossellini). The movie — directed by Fleischer-Camp, written by Fleischer-Camp, Slate, Nick Paley and Elisabeth Holm — is both whimsical and heartfelt, as it follows Marcel as he contemplates family, biological and otherwise. (For rent on Prime video.)

(Netflix) Rama (Ram Charan Teja, right) jumps to fend off a tiger in director S.S. Rajamouli's epic Indian action drama "RRR."

4. ‘RRR’

Even by the genre-crossing standards of India’s Bollywood movies, “RRR” is special — an epic action drama about two rivals, a revolutionary (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.) and a loyalist (Ram Charan Teja), who become friends, enemies, and friends again in the years before India’s independence from the British empire. There are fight scenes where the heroes toss around motorcycles and a cheetah (computer-generated), and there are musical numbers where the stars dance for their lives. How director S.S. Rajamouli keeps it all going is a delightful mystery. (Streaming on Netflix.)

(Reid Davenport | PBS) Filmmaker Reid Davenport captures a reflection of himself and a massive circus tent near his home in Oakland, Calif., which is the basis for the documentary "I Didn't See You There," directed by Davenport.

5. ‘I Didn’t See You There’

Documentarian Reid Davenport darts around Oakland in his wheelchair, which becomes his camera dolly as he meditates on disability — when a circus tent pops up near his apartment, and he explores the history of P.T. Barnum and sideshow freaks (many of whom were just people with disabilities). Davenport’s observations and his experimental camerawork create an expressionistic film that puts viewers in the director’s point of view. (Debuts on PBS’s “Independent Lens” on January 9.)

(Universal Pictures) Young Sam Fabelman (Mateo Zoryon Francis-DeFord, center) goes to his first movie with his parents, Burt (Paul Dano) and Mitzi (Michelle Williams), in director Steven Spielberg's "The Fabelmans."

6. ‘The Fabelmans’

The story Steven Spielberg has waited to tell for half a century is his own, a fictionalized look at his childhood. Sam Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) discovers filmmaking as he navigates life with a science-minded dad (Paul Dano) and an artistic mom (Michelle Williams), as well as antisemitism in his high school. Spielberg and co-screenwriter Tony Kushner organize the director’s memories into a propulsive story of how art and family are a combustible mix. (In theaters.)

(Focus Features) Cate Blanchett stars as symphony conductor Lydia Tár in director Todd Field's "Tár."

7. ‘Tár’

Cate Blanchett gives a stunning performance as symphony conductor Lydia Tár, imperious leader of the Berlin Philharmonic, whose career and life start to crumble because of out-of-context videotaped comments and her own hubris. Writer-director Todd Field, making his first movie in 16 years, shoots long, fluid takes that let Blanchett roam free as she takes command of every moment. (In theaters.)

(IFC Films) Anamaria Vartolomei stars as a college student seeking an abortion in 1963 France, when the practice was illegal, in the French drama "Happening," directed by Audrey Diwan.

8. ‘Happening’

A period piece that plays like front-page headlines, director Audrey Diwan’s drama tells of a Paris college student (Anamaria Vartolomei) in 1963, as she discovers she’s pregnant and seeks to have the pregnancy terminated — at a time when abortion was illegal in France. Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Annie Ernaux (who received this year’s Nobel Prize in literature), Diwan’s spare, harrowing movie recalls the bad old days where a woman didn’t have autonomy over her body, something that looms in many parts of the United States. (Streaming on AMC+, for rent on Prime video.)

(Universal Pictures) New York Times reporters Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan, left) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) dig into allegations of sexual abuse by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, in "She Said," directed by Maria Schrader.

9. ‘She Said’

Speaking of front-page headlines, this journalistic procedural follows New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) and Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) as they work to uncover the truth about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, and seek out the women he sexually abused for decades — as they try to break down the wall of fear and nondisclosure agreements that keep the women from talking. Director Maria Schrader and screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz don’t sensationalize the story, but they humanize it by showing Kantor and Twohey as reporters and moms. (Available to rent or buy on Prime video and Apple TV+.)

(Variance Films) Park Hae-il, left, and Tang Wei star in South Korean director Park Chan-wook's noir mystery "Decision to Leave."

10. ‘Decision to Leave’

Film noir doesn’t get more seductive than in South Korean director Park Chan-wook’s tale of a Busan detective (Park Hae-il), investigating the death of a businessman, a fall from a mountain, and finding that the victim’s Chinese wife (Tang Wei) is both very beautiful and maybe the prime suspect. The movie is a potent blend of murder mystery and tragic romance, loaded with surprises and heartbreak. (Streaming on Mubi, for rent on Prime video.)

The second 10

Just out of the running: Jordan Peele’s clever alien encounter “Nope”; Laura Poitras’ “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,” profiling artist Nan Goldin and her fight against big pharma; Martin McDonagh’s dark Irish comedy “The Banshees of Inisherin”; Rian Johnson’s fiendish mystery “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”; the stop-motion beauty of “Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio,” directed by Del Toro and Mark Gustafson; Dan Trachtenberg’s clever and scary “Predator” prequel “Prey”; Daniel Seller and Dayna Goldfine’s moving documentary “Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song”; Domee Shi’s charming Pixar coming-of-age tale “Turning Red”; Gina Prince-Bythewood’s bloody epic “The Woman King”; and Jim Archer’s whimsical man-makes-robot comedy “Brian and Charles.”