1) Aftersun

Directed by Charlotte Wells

Decades after their vacation together, adult Sophie finds herself reflecting back on the time she last spent with her dad when she was eleven-years-old. With the help of mini-DV footage from their vacation, interspersed with dream-like rave sequences, the film is a playback of Sophie’s recollection of the father she knew and the man she wished she’d had a chance to. Beautifully filmed, with nuanced performances from its leads, “Aftersun“ is a poignant meditation on memory and loss, and a profound feature film debut by director Charlotte Wells.

2) Decision to Leave

Directed by Park Chan-Wook

Chan-Wook’s tantalizing murder mystery is one of his best and more restrained works. As a police detective investigates a woman who may have murdered her husband, romantic tensions build, leading to one of the year’s most disturbing denouements. With story elements reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”, and a slow-burn romance influenced by Wong kar-Wai aesthetics, “Decision to Leave” is a seductive thriller that gradually pulls you in and leaves you as haunted as it leaves its protagonist.

3) Emily the Criminal

Directed by John Patton Ford

John Patton Ford’s directorial debut is a commentary on survival and the familiar tension between wanting to do what you’re good at vs. the reality of what you need to do to get by. Anchored by a sizzling performance from Aubrey Plaza as the film’s anti-hero, Ford’s absorbing crime drama is an edge of your seat thriller that doesn’t care to make excuses. “Want to make $200 in an hour?” Who wouldn’t entertain the notion for a moment.

4) Everything Everywhere All at Once

Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert

This year’s “WTF did I just watch” film is without a doubt “Everything Everywhere All at Once“. An orgasmic, mind-bending swirl of universes and film genres with a familiar mother-daughter / husband-wife story at its core. Showcasing a range of talents by the wonderful Michelle Yeoh, the still-sharp comedic timing of former-childhood star Ke Huy Quan, and a glorious blend of visuals and film editing, “Everything Everywhere All at Once“ is this year’s most inventive film about love and acceptance.

5) The Fabelmans

Directed by Steven Spielberg

“The Fabelmans“ is an uplifting, coming of age story of a Jewish boy whose passion for art becomes a journey of self-discovery – all while his family begins to fracture. But what gives “The Fabelmans“ a magical reality is said boy is Steven Spielberg, reflecting on his own childhood experiences and pains, and his passion for filmmaking. Offering a window into the memories that have shaped many Spielberg classics, and self-referential moments that will endear viewers, “The Fabelmans“ is a personal love letter to film, youth, and family.


Directed by Steven Soderbergh

This pandemic-era thriller finds an agoraphobic technologist who is forced to step outside her apartment after discovering evidence of a violent crime. Drawing unabashed inspiration from Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”, Coppola’s “The Conversation”, De Palma’s “Blow Out”, and Fincher’s “Panic Room”, Soderbergh’s lean, taught, and well-paced effort (grounded by a stellar performance from Zoë Kravitz) offers a timely reflection on isolation and surveillance that is perfect for the COVID-19 and Alexa era.

7) Navalny

Directed by Daniel Roher

“Navalny“ is an electrifying documentary about anti-corruption activist, Alexei Navalny, and his efforts to confront Vladimir Putin. Facing death threats, assassination attempts, and imprisonment, “Navalny“ plays like an edge of your seat thriller as we witness historical events unfolding on screen – a scene involving a revealing phone call is so riveting, you can only watch in disbelief that it was caught on film. An exposé that has more to do about truth than justice, “Navalny“ is this year’s most overlooked documentary.

8) Petite Maman

Directed by Céline Sciamma

“Petite Maman” is an enchanting fairy tale about Nelly, a little girl who, while wandering the woods behind her mother’s childhood home, discovers a connection to a younger form of her mother. Running a tight 72 minutes, Sciamma achieves a magical realism that feels effortless for its simplicity, and a sense of wonderment reminiscent of a Hayao Miyazaki tale. Do not expect details to be explained. As with most fairy tales, many elements remain mysterious, which feels just right.

9) Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me

Directed by Alex Keshishian

This bold and intimate portrait of popstar Selena Gomez humanizes its subject in one of the most soul baring and unguarded documentaries about fame and mental health issues. Wisely side-stepping a lot of celebrity fluff, “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me” squarely focuses on the pressures surrounding Selena as she works through self-esteem issues, lupus, and a void of genuine connections in life. Although it doesn’t rise to the height of Keshishian’s groundbreaking doc “Madonna: Truth or Dare”, his effort here is another raw and compelling entry into the musical doc genre.

10) Top Gun: Maverick

Directed by Joseph Kosinski

Simply put, “Top Gun: Maverick“ is what the big screen was made for. Big spectacle, big movie star, and big entertainment. Although the story is kept simple and played safe, the action in the skies are as thrilling as you can get, and the performances from the entire cast sell this thrill-ride as one of the most rewarding popcorn moviegoing experiences of the summer. “Top Gun: Maverick“ is not only one of the best movies of the year, but one of the best blockbuster sequels ever made.