As we close out this year, we take a look back at the best entertainment of 2022.
From music to movies and anime, we have you covered with all our favorites.
Kenan Hubble joins critics Phil Villareal and Sean Newgent to provide his takes.
We start with:
Best Movies of 2022
Sean Newgent: This was an excellent year for small studios like A24 but not a great one for bigger releases. That said, one big-budget superhero movie managed to become one of my favorite films of the year against all odds. "The Batman" has some minor issues in its final act, but I was glued to my screen for the entire three-hour run. A well-written detective script combined with the best film interpretation of Gotham and fantastic performances from Paul Dano and Robert Pattinson makes it not just the best comic book movie of the year for me but one of the best in recent years altogether. "The Northman" joins pop culture's sudden obsession with all things Norse and stands out by being the most accessible of director Robert Eggers's films while still having his signature weirdness. The finale alone is still etched in my mind, perhaps the best scene of any movie this year. But my movie of the year goes to "Everything, Everywhere, All at Once." Michelle Yeoh delivers a fantastic performance in a two-hour cornucopia of Chinese film references, irreverent comedy, and a touching family story at the core of all the insanity.
Phil Villareal: My favorite of the year was "Clerks III," a nostalgic and hilarious return to form for writer/director Kevin Smith. I could probably watch the movie once a week and never get tired of it. I was also impressed with Guillermo del Toro's "Pinocchio" on Netflix. The brilliant stop-motion animation and heartfelt storytelling swept me away, putting the Disney+ live-action remake of the same story to shame. On the documentary front, I was moved by "Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down," which told her story of recovery from a gunshot to the head in an intimate way that had never before been attempted.
Kenan Hubble: In my opinion, 2022 was one of the strongest years for film in recent memory. My top movie is "Everything, Everywhere, All at Once." Michelle Yeoh delivered one of the best performances of her career in this emotional roller-coaster that made me tear up at a rock with googly eyes. I would be remiss if I didn't give a shoutout to another outstanding movie titled "Pearl." The sequel to A24's hit "X" clicked on all cylinders. Mia Goth gave a bone-chilling performance as the titular character. There are scenes from the film that have stuck with me all these months later, and I hope Goth gets recognized for her stellar performance.
Sean: The year started strong, and nothing could match up with "Peacemaker" after. Based on John Cena's character from "Suicide Squad," this was a surprising emotional rollercoaster with John Cena giving the best performance of his career as this scummy, broken, yet totally likable anti-hero who must face a giant space alien and his racist supervillain father. Speaking of giant musclemen beating people up, "Jack Reacher" was one of the most entertaining shows I watched all year, bingeing it all over a weekend. Though having some lulls, it was nice to see an interpretation of Lee Child's wildly popular series that was true to the books. We got two seasons of "Cobra Kai" this year, but the fifth was the one that had my jaw on the ground. "Cobra Kai" is popcorn entertainment to the nth degree and the escalation of season five to swordfights to the death over karate school...it's pure 80's schlock. "Winning Time" won me over despite having no interest in basketball — as a dramedy, it was memorable, with John C. Reilly giving a killer performance. As we close out the year, "Alice in Borderland" has dropped a second season. While it lacks the emotional or character depth of its Korean contemporary, "Squid Game", if you want pure nonstop action with a hint of tongue-in-cheek humor, it's well worth picking up.
Phil: I'm with Sean on "Cobra Kai" and "Peacemaker." Both shows are incredibly fun, masterfully cheesy and pulse with all the outrageous qualities that made 1980s TV and film stand out. I also appreciated the final season of "Better Call Saul," which stands alongside Breaking Bad as one of the most impressive TV series of the century so far. I was also entranced by HBO's murder mystery comedy "The White Lotus" and the train-wreck appeal of watching my favorite team go down in flames in "Hard Knocks in Season: The Arizona Cardinals."
Kenan: Phil and Sean hit the nail on the head with "Peacemaker." The show delivers a great performance from John Cena. I can not speak highly enough of "The White Lotus." The second season of the dark comedy delivers laughs and features beautiful shots of all Italy has to offer. My top show of the year has to be "Under the Banner of Heaven," with a deeply emotional performance from Andrew Garfield. The true crime show has all the twists and turns you could ever want and will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Best Video Games
Sean Newgent: Phil, I guess for some, it was a great year for games. For me, who isn't a big fan of Souls games and was kind of disappointed by "God of War Ragnarok," we didn't get to play much of note. "God of War Ragnarok" is a fantastic game, don't get me wrong, and one of the best of the year, but the further you play, the more you see the story losing forward momentum and the final act is a massive disappointment that works in the character development of Kratos...but doesn't translate to a fun or satisfying video game experience. "Stray" and "Cult of the Lamb" represented the indies real well. "Cult of the Lamb" especially has shown the roguelike is still full of possibilities for innovation. The only other game I can remember having fun with is "Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga." Perhaps the best Lego game I've ever played, it has so much content and will appeal to kids and adults of all ages.
Phil Villareal: I'm all-in on "God of War Ragnarok," which was a majestic achievement and one of the greatest games ever crafted. Its storytelling, sense of immediacy and awe-inspiring combat had me hooked. While I was floored by "Stray" and plugged tons of hours into "Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga," I found myself thoroughly hooked by much simpler creations. I found the organization sims "Unpacking" and "Save Room" to both be thoroughly satisfying light puzzle games. It was therapeutic to plug through the easygoing challenges. It was also a solid year for Switch exclusives, with the over-the-top soccer sim "Mario Strikers: Battle League" and the wild combat of "Bayonetta 3" at the top of my list.
2022 was an excellent year for music of every genre. I really enjoyed DAWN FM from The Weeknd. The album features incredible vocals and is a triumph for synth-pop. Smithereens by Joji is an emotional punch to the gut. The album features heart-wrenching breakup songs that will have tears welling in your eyes while also providing more upbeat tunes to bring your mood back up.
Sean Newgent: I wrote a whole article on my favorite music of the year and I'll reiterate a couple that I really love. Black Country, New Road's Ants from Up There combines the musicianship of Sufjan Stevens with the vocals of a forlorn David Bowie. Meanwhile, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard dropped more albums than most artists do in a decade, with "Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms and Lava" being my favorite of the bunch. The London Suede and Johnny Marr had some great albums that recall the sad boi music of the late 80s. Black Midi's sophomore album recalls Primus while also having a kind of theater-quality that is refreshing and weird. As far as rap goes, Danger Mouse and Black Thought deliver with the amazing album Cheat Codes.
I didn't think this was a particularly good year for anime — until the very end.
"Chainsaw Man" is easily my anime of the year. An absolutely insane romp of hyperviolence, bizarre but loveable characters and directing and animation that are above and beyond anything else out there, "Chainsaw Man" is pulling in not just anime fans but even anime agnostics.
"Spy x Family" offers the opposite of "Chainsaw Man" with comfy vibes and a hilarious story reminiscent of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith". Everything about this series is pure bliss.
"Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury" is not over yet, but it is definitely worth diving into now.
"Kaguya-Sama: Love is War" rounds out my list with season three, which was not only absolutely hilarious but had a heartfelt tear-jerker finale. Hopefully, we get the rest of the manga adapted, as this is one of, if not the best, anime romcoms of all time.
Kenan: Anime has been really strong this year. I agree with Sean that Chainsaw Man is brilliant. The action sequences are well choreographed and the unorthodox story will have you rooting for a man with a chainsaw for a head as he takes on the world. For me, Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War is the cream of the crop when it comes to anime this year. I have been a fan of the series for my entire life, and to see where the animation has grown from back in 2004 when the first episode aired is jaw-dropping. The care the team has for Tite Kubo's source material is felt in every frame of animation, I can't wait for the second part of the season to air, hopefully sometime next year.