The wonderful thing about popular culture is that everyone seems to have an opinion about something, and everyone’s opinions are correct. We all like what we like. So when, for example, I called The Menu the worst film of 2022, I was right, and those who put it at the top of their list were also right. Everybody wins! No wonder popular culture is so…well…popular.
Each year, instead of compiling that dreaded Top Ten List, I pay homage to a long-discontinued but influential annual column called “Moments Out Of Time” from Film Comment magazine. Their critics would cite their favorite scenes, images, or lines of dialogue, even from films they may not have liked. I may have hated The Menu, but it’s impossible not to laugh when Anya Taylor-Joy tells Nicholas Hoult to not say “mouth feel”. So, without further ado, these are my 100% correct favorite moments out of time, 2022 edition.
A hero leaps out of a truck in glorious slow motion along with a terrifying assortment of predatory creatures in order to ambush his oppressors (and the audience loses their shit…because, yes, there’s nothing like seeing this masterpiece with an audience) – RRR
After a gloriously kinetic display of sights, sounds, and vivid performances, the film goes quiet for a subtitled scene between two stones overlooking a panoramic vista. They contemplate their existence, giving Waiting For Godot a run for its money, and forced me to Dad Joke the hell out of the moment by saying, “This movie rocks!” – Everything Everywhere All At Once
A delusional, psychotic young woman (Mia Goth in the year’s best performance…fight me on this) smiles at the camera for an entire end credits sequence, going through a stunning range of emotions…all of them! – Pearl
“I will not accept a life I do not deserve” – Mia Goth not only co-wrote Pearl and played her as a young and elderly woman across two films, but she also played Maxine, who spoke this memorable line. The sequel, MaXXXine can’t come soon enough. – X
Dominic (an outstanding Barry Keoghan) asks Siobhán (Kerry Condon, also fantastic) if she would ever fall in love with a boy like him. When she gently rebuffs his advances, his response of “Well, there goes that dream” proved to be one of the most equal parts funny and heartbreaking moments in film last year – The Banshees Of Inisherin
In a film where it’s unclear of the period in which it takes place, the introduction of a famous pop chestnut forces you to reconsider everything that came before – Women Talking
The process of recording sound on film during the early days of talkies, with missed cues, interruptions, excessive heat, rising tensions, and at least one death, provides a master class in cinematic storytelling and would likely win an Oscar as its own self-contained short film – Babylon
One of the best visual jokes I’ve ever seen, just the slight readjustment of a movie shot, puts a sublime capper on the final moment, demonstrating so economically the power inherent in making cinematic choices – The Fabelmans
Two journalists having an intense conversation in a bar get interrupted by a man who tries to hit on them. Carey Mulligan’s explosive reaction and his misogynistic retort deftly illustrates a snippet of what Harvey Weinstein’s prey had to face – She Said
Unearthed Post World War II footage of female concentration camp survivors staring into the camera as they disembark a boat to freedom peaked my curiosity. It only intensified when it zeroes in on an Asian survivor in the crowd. Who was she and what was she doing there? The answers prove unforgettable – Nelly & Nadine
Have you ever been a car passenger in which the driver plays the music way too loud? You’ll think twice about speaking up after you watch the precise, well-observed power dynamics at play here. Or maybe you WILL speak up. Do what you want. It won’t make a difference in the end – Speak No Evil
I’m just gonna list a bunch of quotes from one of the year’s funniest, and yes, meaningful films, which didn’t get the recognition it deserves:
Bobby (Billy Eichner) to Aaron (Luke Macfarlane): You’re like a grown-up gay Boy Scout and I’m like whatever ends up happening to Evan Hansen.
Bobby: As some of you know, I wrote a series of children’s books to help parents teach kids about gay history, which no one bought. Turns out a four-year-old didn’t want to hear a bedtime story about Martina Navratilova. Hey, parents! Thanks for teaching your kids about Santa Claus, a straight man that doesn’t exist, and not Martina Navratilova, a lesbian who does.
Tina: Gay guys from your generation still have all these pent-up masculinity issues. You all need to get over it already. Half the kids in Brian’s class are non-binary.
Bobby: Well, it’s not fair, Tina. We had AIDS, and they had Glee.
Bobby: What app is this for again?
Henry: It’s this new hookup app my company is launching. We’ve got Grindr. We’ve got Tinder. This is Zellweger. It’s for gay guys who just want to talk about actresses, then go to bed.
Bobby: In all my years, I never thought I’d say this but, Debra Messing, it’ll have to wait.
Bobby: And between the weird sex with strangers that you don’t like, and conversations with friends you love, that you would never have sex with, you know you cobble together a version of a romantic single life. And it’s good, you know? It works. It’s a lot more than what a lot of other people have in this world. And you try to remember that – Bros
A lesbian film director played by Penelope Cruz, demonstrates in front of her two male stars (Antonio Banderas and Oscar Martinez) how to kiss their female co-star, who happens to be the daughter of the producer, who is also present. The actors weren’t showing the passion required for the scene, so she steps in and gets the job done and then some with intense, steamy smooching, grabbing, groping and ultimately rolling around on the floor for what seems like an eternity. It’s the most hilarious kissing scene ever committed to film – Official Competition
Tracy Letts screaming, “G-ddamn f*cking autocorrect!” as he careens his car down a treacherous path may just be the year’s most unintentionally campy moment – Deep Water
A father and son going on a hallucinatory trip may be the most Ken Russell thing Ken Russell never directed – The Northman
Giving us immaculately shot Close Encounters Of The Third Kind vibes, a UFO appears in the night sky and gives chase to our hero- Nope
A famous conductor, played by Cate Blanchett, teaches a Master Class, and in a wonderful single take, she simultaneously imparts her knowledge and annihilates the taste of one of her students, which will ultimately prove key to her career trajectory – Tár
Amber Midthunder, in an incredible performance as Maru listens to her brother’s words to literally “bring it home” in the film’s final moments – Prey
A wordless scene between two husbands , played by Jim Parsons and Ben Aldridge, as one photographs the other, said more and evoked tears more than 20 pages of dialogue ever could – Spoiler Alert
For those who prefer their buckets of crazy x2, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Nicolas Cage make out with Nicolas Cage – The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent
An adult film star falls asleep mid-interview, a lit cigarette still held in one hand, an early sign of his descent into addiction – Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life
Never before have I laughed so hard when the title of a movie gets explained than I did here. Extra points for the scene which precludes it in which a group of male models are asked to switch quickly between their high fashion and H&M facial expressions – Triangle Of Sadness
A young Swedish woman arrives in Los Angeles to pursue a career in adult entertainment, not because she has no other options, not because she comes from an abusive background, but because she really, really enjoys sex – Pleasure
An end credits dance scene in which the entire cast grooves to an LCD Soundsystem song in a grocery store’s aisles almost makes me want to reconsider everything which came before. Almost. – White Noise
The shock of that first, unexpected burst of violence provided enough nightmare fuel for me to keep my hands to myself for weeks – Bones And All
An innocent donkey marches with a triumphant soccer team, basking in the glory of a victory, before facing a vicious group of hooligans. Life, for better or worse, can always turn on a dime – EO
With limited screen time, Jalyn Hall brings Emmett Till to vivid life, especially when exuding confidence and humor in the moment in the store before everything goes so very wrong for him – Till
In the category of “A Scene Which Takes Fan Fiction and Credibility Too Far”, the award goes to JFK getting a blowjob from Marilyn Monroe while a Secret Service agent sits in the room with his back to them – Blonde
The never-ending, slow evolution (or is it devolution?) of the patriarchy as it reproduces itself one endless ooze at a time, finds its many crushing faces through a tour-de-force performance by Rory Kinnear as every single man in the film. This climactic sequence dares to slow down the action to beautifully make its point that no matter what you do, men will always keep coming for you – Men
Who knew that Val Kilmer hugging Tom Cruise could make me ugly cry? – Top Gun: Maverick
A former movie theater supervisor (Olivia Colman, blazingly great) experiences a challenging mental health episode as she crashes a film premiere. In the lobby, she publicly calls out the boss who has been taking inappropriate advantage of their power dynamic – Empire Of Light
Valérie Lemercier’s middle-aged head on a little girl’s body will ALWAYS be nightmare fuel to me, in the best possible way. Adding to the horror is that we’re watching a thinly disguised Céline Dion biopic – Aline
Not since It have balloons been so effectively used to terrify us – The Black Phone
Art The Clown, already one of the great screen villains, has company in the guise of an eternally smiling, creepy little girl. Her eerie frozen expressions will stick with me as much as Art’s coy, mimed tee-hee’s – Terrifier 2
I love a docudrama that gives you more than what you’ve heard on the news, and the fact that rescuers sedated the young Thai soccer players and pulled them along for hours underwater and through tiny crevices to rescue them from a flooded cave took my breath away. Ron Howard doesn’t always show the most personality as a filmmaker, but his reserve here worked wonders – Thirteen Lives
Do you remember the last time you saw your father? Did you know it would be the last? Charlotte Wells conjures up that heartbreaking feeling that you didn’t know it at the time, but you know it now, and it’s painful – Aftersun
Watching the wheels turning on Aubrey Plaza’s face as she first realizes that her financial desperation has led her to possibly commit multiple felonies boosts her to the top tier of actors in this screw-turning thriller – Emily The Criminal
Religious domination over a society coupled with patriarchal attitudes results in the most depressing yet powerful of final scenes. It’s hard to shake off the moment in which an Iranian serial killer, who targeted sex workers, attains mythic, heroic status in the most chilling way possible – Holy Spider
Despite disliking almost every moment that comes before, this film hilariously sticks its landing by turning the whodunit on its ear. It’s a reveal wholly unique to Gen-Z – Bodies Bodies Bodies
A 1950s style model housewife (Florence Pugh) goes about her chores when the window she’s cleaning starts to slide towards her and pins her against the wall. Her smashed face remains an indelible image of oppression more than anything else in this visually accomplished, well-acted yet muddled film – Don’t Worry Darling
“I need to know that I have done one thing right with my life!” – The Whale
A group of school children look out their classroom window to see the not-too-distant residual smoke from a bombing. It seems so banal, yet signified the onset of the Siege Of Beirut. This film beautifully gives that harrowing time a remarkably fresh and astute point of view – 1982
A woman comes home to find an unexpected guest, her friend and co-worker, playing with her children. It would seem innocuous yet still intrusive were it not for the fact that she has recently realized that he’s a serial killer – The Good Nurse
A gaggle of school children sing and deftly execute Ellen Kane’s stellar choreography as they hurl themselves at the camera, bouncing off the walls and straight into movie musical bliss – Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical
The first time we see him perform in front of a crowd, Austin Butler practically creates a new definition for the word “electric” as his seemingly possessed musician whips his audience into a frenzy – Elvis
As much as I disliked almost everything else about it, I could listen to Hong Chau on a continuous loop curtly saying, “We gel!” – The Menu
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, a gay son just cannot get the support he needs from a parent. Jeremy Pope’s reaction to Gabrielle Union’s harsh words put a surprisingly hopeful capper on a very sad moment – The Inspection
The dead-eyed look on the faces of the Sackler family when forced to hear testimony from those who lost loved ones to opioids is a chilling case study in “How Sociopaths React” – All The Beauty And The Bloodshed
You’ve seen this moment a thousand times before. A jealous husband confronts a man who appears to threaten his marriage. Perhaps he warns the other man that he’ll kick his teeth in or worse. But here, after a long setup which makes you think he will turn violent, he unexpectedly thanks him for looking after his family, thus turning a potential villain into an unexpectedly kind person – Cha Cha Real Smooth
“I know it’s hard to hear this, but your Dad and I had a long talk, and we agreed it would be best for all of us if you would just stop being who you are and doing the things you love” – Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
As much as I’m not a superhero kinda guy, there is no way you cannot sob the moment the late Chadwick Boseman’s image appears on screen – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Mariana Treviño’s wonderful portrayal of Marisol reaches its peak when she reacts hilariously to news of a serious medical condition – A Man Called Otto
I cried during “Ciao Papa”. I cried when Geppetto finally calls Pinocchio his son. I cried when Pinocchio makes a crucial decision about his mortality. So much crying. But I wept openly and for 20 minutes after that final, lonely image of such an innocent, sweet-natured character worked its way into my brain and heart – Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio
You won’t realize how much you’ve missed that specifically queer high kick that starts off the “How Will I Know” video until you’ve seen it meticulously recreated for posterity – Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody
After watching a group of people individually struggling to solve the riddle of a complicated puzzle box, Janelle Monáe’s blunt solution works the most memorably – Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
You haven’t lived until a drunken Santa Claus has puked all over your face from atop his magical reindeer-driven sleigh – Violent Night
By Glenn Gaylord, Senior Film Critic