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Tom Cruise plays Capt. Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick.Paramount Pictures/Paramount Pictures

Canada’s summer movie season has so far proven to be far less complicated than this time last year. But even with the jet-blasted thrills of Top Gun: Maverick and the cash-conjuring skills of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (the latter already set to stream on Disney+ starting next week), theatres still feel neglected. In 2019, there would be two or three new high-profile titles duking it out each weekend. This time around, openings are more spaced out, studios and distributors nervous to overcommit. Which means that now is the perfect opportunity to catch up on all the excellent 2022 films that you might’ve missed while binging Stranger Things. Here are the 10 best films of 2022 so far and how you can watch them right now.

1. Top Gun: Maverick

Oh right, this little movie. Tom Cruise’s love letter to speed/himself is not exactly an under-the-radar title, but pound for perfectly sculpted pound, there isn’t a slicker, more entertaining, bombastic blast than this magnificently expensive piece of rah-rah propaganda. A potent combination of star power and sky-high cinematic craftsmanship, director Joseph Kosinski’s sequel is a tremendous ride. (Now playing in theatres.)

2. Happening

The exact opposite in tone, style, sensibilities, budget and politics of Top Gun: Maverick, director Audrey Diwan’s French drama Happening is a small-scale story that also might be the most important film of the year. Unintentionally timely, the adaptation of Annie Ernaux’s novel follows one young woman’s search for an abortion in 1960s France, where such a procedure will not only land patients in serious legal trouble, but threaten jail time for anyone who even comes close to aiding them. Featuring a devastating lead performance from Anamaria Vartolomei and a careful, unblinking directorial eye, Happening is a film of international importance, told with empathy, sincerity and anger. (Available on-demand.)

3. Petite Maman

After going big, in the historical period romance sense, with 2019′s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, French filmmaker Céline Sciamma goes small in all the right ways for her epic-in-miniature follow-up, which finds comfort in the space between love and grief. Shot with a small cast in just a handful of locations, Petite Maman represents both the absolute apex of pandemic-era filmmaking, as well as proof that between this, 2014′s Girlhood and 2011′s Tomboy, Sciamma is one of contemporary cinema’s most astute chroniclers of adolescence. (Now playing in select theatres, coming soon on-demand.)

4. Everything Everywhere All At Once

If you only see one movie this summer, why not make it a movie that is actually every movie: Everything Everywhere All at Once, the “multiverse” masterpiece from directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. Overwhelming and thrilling, the story of a humble laundromat operator (Michelle Yeoh), who one day becomes responsible for saving the universe, is exhausting in the best of ways. At various times a scatological Jackass comedy, a Matrix-y thriller, a Wong Kar-wai-esque melodrama, a Crouching Tiger-influenced martial arts spectacle and an unknown number of other kinds of movies (even, at one point, a Pixar-style kiddie flick), Everything Everywhere represents either the end point of genre cinema or the beginning of something startlingly new. (Now playing in theatres and available on-demand.)

5. RRR

Telugu filmmaker S.S. Rajamouli has been enchanting Indian audiences for a while now – anyone who watched his two Baahubali movies already knows that the director has a mad talent for action and melodrama. But with RRR, the most expensive Indian film ever made, Rajamouli taps into something on a global scale, delivering a story specific in its historical and cultural context, but with an appetite for international explosiveness. Hypnotic, hilarious, beautiful and rousing, RRR is a true feast for the cinematic senses. (Streaming on Netflix, with a special one-night Telugu-language, English-subtitled screening at Toronto’s Royal Theatre June 26.)

6. Crimes of the Future

David Cronenberg’s first film in eights years is many things: a climate-change cri de cœur. A tender love story in which matters of the heart involve other, less traditionally sexy internal organs. A darkly hilarious satirical riff on the ineffable power of art in the face of tragedy. A self-referential noir-tinged tour through the sicko-cinema Cronenbergian canon, with its obsessions on the limits of both the human body and audiences’ stomachs. But mostly, Crimes of the Future is a testament to the twisty, squishy, uncompromising vision of a brilliant filmmaker whose imagination is endless, and endlessly terrifying. (Now playing in theatres.)

7. Scarborough

Heartbreaking without being manipulative, compassionate without being overbearing and authentic without being sentimental, the micro-budget Canadian drama Scarborough stands as a shining example of how, when everything lines up just so, our country’s film industry can produce powerful works of art that can transform the way that you see the world. Based on Catherine Hernandez’s 2017 novel following three families from the blighted Toronto neighbourhood, co-directors Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson’s film soars on the strength of its specificity. (Available on-demand, including the digital TIFF Bell Lightbox.)

8. Ambulance

If Netflix-sized action cinema has left you bored, restless or exhausted, then Michael Bay’s Ambulance is here to remind you of the head-spinning delights of watching a genuine cinematic madman at work. This is eye-popping, ear-splitting, guffaw-inducing stuff that makes Red Notice look like the dumpster juice it truly is. A remake of the 2005 Danish film of the same name (which Bay has proudly never seen), Ambulance is what its director considers a “small” project. I suppose that’s true: There are no soaring military jets or fighting robot dinosaurs. But there is enough twisted-metal destruction to send even the most insatiable action junkie into a state of blissful cinematic overdose. (Available on-demand.)

9. The Northman

A funny thing happened during the week after Robert Eggers’s Viking epic hit theatres: At nearly every party, get-together, social obligation or screening (I had an unusually large number of events that week, what can I say), people would come up and ask me about The Northman. The brutal, bloody and bare-chested Hamlet retelling is one big, long war cry – a guttural, primal grunt of a movie that is all raging testosterone and incendiary machismo, which I guess fires audiences up, especially those who are just returning to theatres after an extended break. Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of The Northman’s war. (Available on-demand.)

10. Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers

This was a genuine surprise: Think Who Framed Roger Rabbit? crossed with Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. This is not only the best Disney reboot ever made, but one of the company’s best productions in ages, too. Kids who have no idea who Chip or Dale are will get an extreme kick out of the fantastical world – a colourful blend of hand-drawn animation, CGI, live-action and even clay-mation – while adults will be nourished by both the metric ton of cultural nostalgia and the quippy voice work by Andy Samberg, John Mulaney, Seth Rogen and more. (Streaming on Disney+.)

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