Best of 2022: Top 10 Movie Scenes

This has to be my favourite edition of this list ever.

So many great 2022 movies, so many great scenes, not enough space. There’s no slot for that haunting Riddler scene that opens The Batman, for example, or the water bottle backstory from Bullet Train. Zoe Saldana nailed two completely different all-too-short sequences in two wildly different movies this year, and I couldn’t find room for either of them here. I’d also normally have space to have fun with ludicrous moments like that crab dance from the third Fantastic Beasts movie – which is played completely straight – or that cooked out-of-body tiny cave meet-up from the beginning of The Northman – or that final shot from The Menu. But alas, only ten slots on this one. Here are the movie moments that fill them:

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VR BEST OF 2022 DISCLAIMER

This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. To agree with me 100% is as likely as avoiding MCU fatigue. Respectful disagreement is most welcome.

MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

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10. Sea Showdown – Avatar: The Way of Water

The trademark James Cameron Action Finale is present and accounted for in his spectacular 2022 Avatar sequel, and how. A few prior action beats go off spectacularly in 3D and 48 frames per second – starting with a stunning train derailment and moving through countless gorgeous water-borne shenanigans – but the climactic battle on open water is somehow greater than the sum of its technically-impressive parts, largely thanks to an ocean of earlier ensemble character work with and an armada of Chekhov’s gunfire ignited surgically by a master of the craft.

9. Field Operation – Ambulance

The constant complication conga faced by the desperate criminal characters at the centre of Ambulance’s white-knuckle ride-along would probably make for a pretty decent black comedy if the film was shot differently – but that hypothetical version probably wouldn’t include this visceral scene. I’d wager only medical professionals would find the exaggerated luck and Hollywood-accurate medical terms at the heart of this impromptu video-call surgery funny in any way. For the rest of us, it’s just a nail-shredding tension tornado not for the squeamish.

8. Fanservice Massacre – Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Speaking of squeamish, Sam Raimi’s ability to portray horrific acts of violence and gratuitous scares without sacrificing the golden Marvel US PG-13 rating deserves some kind of special award. After Multiverse of Madness’ slow opening act gets out of the way and the Scarlet Witch is unleashed, the creepy factor cranks way up and Raimi gets plenty of frames to flex his camp horror skills, sending the contorted witch through a first-person body heist, a dimension of spines, a corridor of conspicuously dark-red oil and more en route to a genuinely shocking 5v1 battle that scuttles the feel-good vibes from the poor fan-favourite victims who showed up minutes earlier. It’s a hell of a thing to see.

7. Trip – The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Not since that one scene in The Wolf of Wall Street has a drug trip with two characters been this much fun, and it turns out it’s still a great way to lock in those characters as the best friends ever. Nick Cage and the wonderfully gold-hearted Javi taking LSD for the sake of the creative process is not only side-splitting (the brick wall shot is perfect), it eliminates all ambiguity about who the audience should be rooting for and sets up the battle lines for the over-the-top finale. But mainly it’s just really funny.

6. Dance Titles – After Yang

I live my life by only three rules: a grappling hook always improves a videogame; a melodic whistle always improves a song; and a dance sequence always improves a movie. Bonus points if that movie is otherwise a slow burn or the dance sequence lasts for an entire song, both of which definitely apply to the philosophical smorgasbord After Yang. There is nothing like this sequence in the entire rest of the movie – extra spicy because it literally serves as the backdrop for the opening titles. Framed as a sort of co-op Just Dance pitting households against one another, the scene stars just about every character with a significant role in the film reacting with deep focus to ludicrous robotic prompts like “the hitchhiker”, “detonate”, and “tornado time”. Equal parts hilarious, wholesome, and stunningly efficient, the neon-soaked number churns through buckets of foreshadowing and ends with the story’s inciting incident. Simply fabulous.

5. Naatu Naatu – RRR

If you thought I’d serve up that last paragraph without also including this scene on the list, you probably haven’t seen RRR yet. The only choreographed dance number within the story itself is sold as completely diegetic and manages to elicit the same kind of fist-pumping cheers you get from the rest of the movie’s more violent contending sequences. Like most of the scenes in that truly sky-high pile, the Naatu Naatu dance-off is ultimately about sticking it to a cocky spoiled Englishman, and the ridiculously sharp execution of its scale and execution only magnifies the fun on that count.

4. The Wedding – Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Unquestionably the most surprising quirk about the second Sonic the Hedgehog movie is how uproarious the wedding scene is, especially given how much focus the film otherwise gives to the CGI trio of Sonic, Tails and Knuckles – and how little the rest of the film seems to care about any human character not named Dr Eggman. Ultimately revealed to be a military-backed farce, the lavish ceremony gives returning character Rachel a massive relevance upgrade and allows Natasha Rothwell to really show off, stealing multiple shots with righteous fury. Maybe the scene has been elevated in my mind by just how bizarre it looks within all possible contexts, but here it is. I had an absolute blast watching the chaos unfold.

3. Curtains Up – Cyrano

There are theatrical, charisma-led main character introductions, and then there’s this scene. It’s obviously important to any retelling of the Cyrano de Bergerac story (and there have been many) to showcase just how witty and likeable the protagonist is despite his self esteem hang-ups, and I could scarcely imagine a finer example of this – nor a better vehicle for Peter Dinklage’s well-documented charm. Practically swinging in from the rafters to verbally skewer – and eventually literally skewer – those who would slight him, Dinklage’s Cyrano is a titan of poetic barbs and rhythmic showmanship, and the direction of his introductory scene is well and truly up to the standards you’d expect from verbose period piece adaptation expert Joe Wright.

2. Just Be a Rock – EEAAO

What, you want me to pick another scene from Everything Everywhere All at Once? Go ahead, pretend I picked the hot dog finger scene, or the martial arts plug battle, or the bit where the raccoon is revealed – all three of those had me literally shedding tears in the cinema from laughing so hard. Pretend I picked the Waymond monologue, or any of his fight scenes, or the ominous Jobu Tupaki hallway introduction – they’re all fabulously well-staged. But for me the crown has to go to the scene where the relationship at the emotional core of the story clashes headlong into the sheer googly-eyed absurdity of this movie’s borderless mission statement. Rock on.

1. 2:15 – Top Gun: Maverick

You ever just like, forget to breathe?

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Honorable Mentions

–Bullshit – No Exit

A handful of characters trapped in a building sit down to play a card game literally all about deceit; some hide secrets the audience knows about, some hide secrets they don’t yet. It’s a simple setup in an underrated movie but it is absolute dynamite.

–Benoit Immediately Solves the Murder – Glass Onion

Hard to pick out one standout sequence in a film that doesn’t let up from second act to finale, but this hilarious obsessive-detective flex, played with wound-up glee by Daniel Craig, is a Rian Johnson surprise special that clears tropes off the playing field so the real fun can begin.

–“This is as far as you go” – Prey

When you hear the pitch for a distant Predator prequel pitting a Comanche warrior against an alien super-hunter, this is the scene you want to see – and it does not disappoint.

–The Shadow Realm – Thor: Love & Thunder

The awful CGI compositing that has come to define this decade’s MCU showings is finally used for good when Love & Thunder leans into the skid with a bold greyscale filter, a few nightmarish creature designs and tons of slow-mo, birthing an action sequence with a distinct Sin City-meets-Limbo aesthetic.

–The Seven Minute Training Montage – Hustle

Yep, and I timed it too. The audacity of the Hustle filmmaking team is staggering, but it works; where a normal let’s-work-hard-to-get-stronger sequence would stop, this movie instead elegantly winds down for the equivalent of a few deep breaths before taking off for another several conventional training montages worth of movie.

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