The Top 10 Best Movies I Saw in 2022

As the sun begins to set on 2022, it’s time to publish my best and worst movies of the year lists! Last year, every film on my best list had been reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane. But that’s not the case this time around. For this list, only two movies were not reviewed, while another movie served as an editorial subject. Any film I covered on my blog will have a link included in this post. I’m thankful another year was filled with more good movies than bad. I’ll even have more titles in my Honorable Mentions! While these lists have become great traditions on their own, the variety of this collection of films has become another tradition. So, without any delay, let’s begin the list of the best movies I saw in 2022!

Honorable Mentions

Cut, Color, Murder, Sailor Moon S: The Movie, Cyrano de Bergerac (1950), Children of a Lesser God, Sweet Revenge: A Hannah Swensen Mystery, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Honeymoon, Honeymurder, The Princess and the Pirate, Dirty Little Secret, Singin in the Rain, McBride: Tune in for Murder, McBride: Dogged, McBride: Requiem, Hugo, Akeelah and the Bee, The Shoplifting Pact, and Secrets at the Inn

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10. Fiddler on the Roof

When I reviewed the 1971 musical back in February, I said it was too early to say whether it would be one of the best movies I saw this year. But Fiddler on the Roof captivated me so much, the film ended up on my annual top ten list! I described the movie as a well-made quilt, with each of the film’s strengths representing a different quilt piece. The inclusion of Jewish faith/culture also gave the project a unique identity by asking questions and discussing topics that aren’t often found in musicals. Looking back on this movie, Fiddler on the Roof was three hours well spent. It’s a special project in both the world of musicals and cinema. I hope to check out more Jewish cinematic stories in 2023!

Take 3: Fiddler on the Roof Review

9. The Lost Empire/The Monkey King

Out of all the movies on my best list for 2022, The Lost Empire/The Monkey King is the most unique one! A fantasy film based on Chinese folklore, this was an imaginative production I enjoyed watching. The story was sometimes thought-provoking and even somewhat educational, as it included literature related discussions. Strong acting performances brought to life characters who seemed believable. The set designs boasted a realistic and fantastical setting, which effectively presented the illusion of an immersive world. I wish Hallmark created more movies like The Lost Empire/The Monkey King, where the stories and ideas are more creative. With the network prioritizing rom-coms and dramas, though, I don’t know what their decisions will be in the new year.

Take 3: The Lost Empire/The Monkey King Review

8. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Haunted by Murder

Talking about this movie is bittersweet, as it is the last film in the Aurora Teagarden series. I’ve thought about all the moments the fans will never get to see, such as Aurora and Nick’s first Christmas, Phillip’s college graduation, and Sally falling in love. But if this is where the story must end, at least it ended on a strong note. The realistic and supernatural elements of the story complimented each other nicely. Supernatural elements being incorporated at all gave this chapter a more creative approach to the series. It was nice to spend time with Lawrenceton’s favorite residents; the acting performances and on-screen camaraderie remaining consistent. Even though I would have loved to see the Aurora Teagarden series continue for many more years, I know nothing lasts forever. But as the saying goes “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened”.

7. Redwood Curtain

There are very few movies I found better than their source material. Redwood Curtain just so happens to be one of them! The creative team behind the Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation took advantage of the expansive nature of film by providing the story with more locations. Allowing characters like Julia and Laird to appear in the movie showcase the Riordan family dynamic not present in the play. I found Geri more likable as a character in the movie. Lea’s performance paired with the screenwriting gave Geri an empathetic and understanding personality. Redwood Curtain is a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation I wish was re-released on DVD.

‘Redwood Curtain’: From Stage to Screen

6. The Pit and the Pendulum

The Pit and the Pendulum was one of the biggest pleasant surprises of 2022! Despite the film not being my first choice for its respective blogathon, I thought it was engaging and entertaining. Vincent’s performance didn’t disappoint, as his portrayal of Nicholas was versatile and fueled on emotion. The mystery not only started right away, but it also allowed the audience to experience the journey alongside Francis, the main character. The Pit and the Pendulum is, to me, one of the more effective horror movies, like 1962’s Cape Fear. While this film would be a perfect choice to watch on Halloween, I’m glad I had the opportunity to see it around Vincent’s birthday!

Take 3: The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) Review

Redwood Curtain poster created by Chris/Rose Productions, Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, American Broadcasting Company (ABC), and Republic Pictures (II)

5. The Song of Bernadette

And another film of Vincent’s joins my list! Faith based films come in two forms; those that emphasize a message and those that emphasize a story. The Song of Bernadette falls into the latter category, as it revolves around religious phenomena affecting a small town. What I like about the 1943 film is how different perspectives relating to the phenomena are explored, highlighting how various members of the town view the events unfolding. The story doesn’t choose sides on the main topic, allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions about what is taking place in the movie. Even though The Song of Bernadette was released during the Breen Code era, the film is a good representation of the quality from that period in cinema. As I said in my review, Easter would be an appropriate time to watch the movie!

Take 3: The Song of Bernadette Review

4. Heaven Is for Real

Heaven Is for Real shares a major similarity with The Song of Bernadette. The 2014 film also revolves around religious phenomena affecting a small town. But what Heaven Is for Real does differently is encourage the audience to have a conversation about their beliefs on Heaven. Like I previously stated, faith based films come in two forms; those that emphasize a message and those that emphasize a story. However, I’ve rarely seen a movie of this nature start a discussion about one of their themes. This creative decision brings something new to the table and gives Heaven Is for Real a unique identity.

3. Words on Bathroom Walls

It seems like I’ve been talking about this title for as long as my blog has been around. But I’m glad I finally got the chance to see Words on Bathroom Walls this year, as it was such a good adaptation! There were changes between text and film. Despite that, the adaptation was, for the most part, respectful to its source material. The visual presentation of the story gave the audience a glimpse inside Adam’s mind. Interactions between the characters were believable, thanks to the actors’ performances and screenwriting. As I mentioned in my review a month ago, the adaptation for Words on Bathroom Walls seems more underrated. Based on the response my review received, my statement may be wrong.

Take 3: Words on Bathroom Walls Review

2. Top Gun: Maverick

I’m going to be honest; I had low expectations for Top Gun: Maverick. That’s because sequels released over ten years after their predecessor can be hit or miss. Top Gun: Maverick ended up surpassing my expectations, making it in the top three of my best of the year list! From what I know about Top Gun, the sequel respected what came before it. At the same time, new elements were added to the story, like focusing on an overarching mission. In a cinematic landscape where a film receiving over a billion dollars has become a rarity, Top Gun: Maverick achieved what some studios only dream of. As the 2020s move forward, maybe more filmmakers will turn to this film as an example of what can be cinematically possible.

Take 3: Top Gun: Maverick Review + 450 Follower Thank You

1. A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love

When it comes to “Godwink” stories, I prefer those that focus on a conflict. While that is the case for A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love, I found the overall production impressive! The interactions among the characters, as well as each volunteer’s talent being showcased, provided a nice amount of character development. Christmas activities were incorporated in more unique ways, such as the Romero family’s gift exchange. The inclusion of Advent was a newer approach to the Christmas movie genre. I don’t know what’s in store for the Godwink series. But I’d love to see more adaptations of these stories!

Take 3: A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love Review

A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love poster created by Crown Media Productions and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

Have fun in 2023!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Top Gun: Maverick Review + 450 Follower Thank You

A few days ago, 18 Cinema Lane received its 450th follower! With that achievement comes a Blog Follower Dedication Review! A few of my recent movie reviews were for films released in the 2020s. I recently saw Top Gun: Maverick, the sequel to Top Gun. Therefore, I will continue this momentum by writing about the 2022 blockbuster! While I’ve only seen pieces of Top Gun, I am familiar with its general premise. I’m also aware of how Top Gun: Maverick is the second film about the United States Navy I’ve reviewed this month. About a week ago, I wrote about the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Christmas film, USS Christmas. In that review, I said the 2020 title was a nice, pleasant film. Even though USS Christmas was fine, it wasn’t an instant classic for me or a new favorite movie. How will Top Gun: Maverick compare to the aforementioned Hallmark project? Keep reading this review if you have a need, a need to find out the answer!

Top Gun: Maverick poster created by Skydance Media, Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer Films, and Paramount Pictures

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Jennifer Connelly portrayed Penny, a character who was not in Top Gun. Despite being a sequel exclusive character, it felt like Penny was always meant to be in the story. The on-screen chemistry between Jennifer and Tom Cruise is an example of this statement. When Maverick visits Penny’s bar for the first time in years, he reconnects with Penny. Their interactions are friendly, a camaraderie that appears natural between them. This on-screen chemistry was consistent, which allowed Maverick and Penny’s interactions to be pleasant to watch! Speaking of Maverick, let’s talk about Tom’s performance! Since the story of Top Gun: Maverick takes place over thirty years after its predecessor, Maverick’s personality has matured in that time. However, it still contained that “prove ‘em wrong” spirit that makes him such a beloved character. In a scene where Maverick is seeking advice from Iceman, he reflects on the loss of his friend, Goose. As the past collides with the present, Maverick becomes emotional, tears quickly filling his eyes and his bottom lip quivering. This scene shows how, even though Maverick carries himself with a sense of professionalism, emotion still shines through, thanks to Tom’s strong acting abilities!

I’m not familiar with Miles Teller’s filmography or acting talents. However, I really liked his performance in Top Gun: Maverick! Miles portrayed Rooster, Goose’s son. Rooster’s involvement with the Top Gun program causes tension between Rooster and Maverick. During a disagreement between these two characters, Rooster has a lot to get off his chest. He starts yelling at Maverick, the anger felt, seen, and heard in Rooster’s voice and face. Even though Rooster’s anger is explosive in this scene, Miles displays control over his character’s emotions. He also has potential to be the lead actor in a future film!

The cinematography: Sometimes, action films can be plagued with “shaky cam”. This causes the events on screen to be indistinguishable, which can impact an audience member’s enjoyment of a movie. Fortunately, this is not the case for Top Gun: Maverick! During the scenes where characters are flying, there are many shots of them within their respective planes. There are also shots of the planes in various positions, directions, and angles. These shots are captured with a steady camera, delivered with crisp precision and clarity. One of my favorite scenes was when Maverick is racing his motorcycle alongside a plane. Showcased in a medium shot, this race contains the spirit Maverick has exuded since the first film. With a steady camera, the shot is presented from Maverick’s right side, with Maverick in the fore-ground and the plane in the background.

Including a mission: From the pieces of Top Gun I’ve seen, I recall the story heavily revolving around the training within the Top Gun program. While there is training in Top Gun: Maverick, the story prioritized an overarching mission instead. Each step of the mission is presented with the use of modern technology, such as computerized images on a television monitor. The inclusion of this mission gave the characters something to work towards. It also gave them a conflict to resolve. From an audience perspective, the mission keeps them invested in the story as it unfolds.

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What I didn’t like about the film:

No inclusion of the quote, “I have a need, a need for speed”: One of the most iconic parts of Top Gun is the quote; “I have a need, a need for speed”. That quote is not only the most recognizable one from the 1986 movie, it’s one of the most famous quotes of all time. With the amount of respect given toward the predecessor in Top Gun: Maverick, I expected the aforementioned quote to be included somewhere in the 2022 film. Unfortunately, this quote was never spoken or referenced. I know this seems like a trivial flaw. But I think not including the quote is a missed opportunity.

Iceman’s fate: For this part of my review, I will spoil Top Gun: Maverick. If you have not seen this movie and plan on watching it, skip this portion and go straight to where it says “A limited distribution of character development”.

Iceman makes an appearance in Top Gun: Maverick. Even though he has become an Admiral and the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Iceman is dealing with medical related issues. These issues lead to his death around the film’s half-way point. I am aware the story needed a conflict. But having one of the “legacy” characters die felt, to me, like the film was giving mixed messages. As I already mentioned, Top Gun: Maverick was respectful toward its predecessor, emphasizing the idea of honoring the past and respecting what came before you. If this sentiment is true, then why would the movie’s creative team allow Iceman to be written out the way he was? Couldn’t Iceman be allowed to live his life as peacefully as possible? I know the Top Gun story wasn’t intended to become a franchise. However, I don’t believe Iceman should have died, especially since Goose already died in the first film.

A limited distribution of character development: When a story involves a group of people, it can, sometimes, be difficult to evenly distribute character development to every character in that group. In Top Gun: Maverick’s case, this flaw wasn’t avoided. Among the group of young lieutenants, the two that receive the most character development are Hangman and Rooster. Some of the lieutenants get a little bit of character development, while the rest don’t receive any. Besides Rooster and Hangman, I felt like I truly didn’t get to know the lieutenants, just simply became familiar with them. Like I’ve mentioned before in this review, I have only seen pieces of Top Gun. Therefore, I don’t know if this flaw was in that film. But since a part of Top Gun: Maverick’s story focuses on a team working together, I wish I had gotten to know more than just two lieutenants.

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My overall impression:

During the overarching mission in Top Gun: Maverick, there are two miracles that are discussed. While I won’t be revealing these miracles, as I don’t want to spoil the film, I will be talking about the two miracles this movie produced. The first miracle is the amount of reverence and respect Top Gun: Maverick displayed for its predecessor. Creating a sequel to a beloved movie, especially after a thirty plus year time frame, is a challenging feat. I can only speak for myself, but I think Top Gun: Maverick’s creative team pulled off this feat better than expected! The second miracle is how successful Top Gun: Maverick has become since its release. In a post-pandemic cinematic landscape, having a film garner over a billion dollars has become rarer than it was a decade ago. Even if a movie does acquire that much money, it may not receive critical praise. Top Gun: Maverick not only acquired a large profit, but also achieved critical acclaim. With all that said, this movie truly pulled off the impossible. Before I end this review, I’d like to point out how this review represents a miracle. That miracle is the success of 18 Cinema Lane, which would not be possible without my blog’s followers. Therefore, I would like to thank each and every one of them!

Overall score: 8.3 out of 10

Have you seen Top Gun and/or Top Gun: Maverick? Which movie do you think deserves a sequel? Please tell me in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen