With hundreds of new movies released each year, many of us depend on the expertise of film critics to help curate our own watching — a thoroughly communal yet deeply personal experience.
To honor the supporting role that entertainment journalism can play in this beloved pastime, The Associated Press on Thursday unveiled its inaugural AP Top 25 Movies list.
The AP Top 25 Movies ranking is a distinctive honor roll of films released in 2022, as determined by a truly representative panel of 26 of the U.S.' smartest movie experts working for AP-affiliated news outlets.
Here, we explain what it is and how it works:
The AP Top 25 Movies ranking is a new initiative adapted from a rich legacy. The global not-for-profit news cooperative’s AP Top 25 college football poll has been the authority in the sport since the all-media survey began in 1936.
The sports poll has since expanded, including men’s college basketball in 1949 and women’s college basketball in 1977. The AP Top 25 Movies ranking now joins this storied tradition.
The sports polls are a weekly tally tracking the evolving dynamic throughout each sport's season of play. In contrast, the AP Top 25 Movies ranking is a single definitive list reflecting the entire 2022 calendar year.
“I’ve been mimicking the AP College Football poll since I was 6 years old and ranking my favorite movies every year,” said Shawn Edwards, film critic at WDAF-TV in Kansas City. “I’m thrilled that AP wanted a diverse group of individuals from various parts of the country to share their perspectives and viewpoints.”
For the AP Top 25 Movies ranking, the AP researched the nation’s best film writers, reporters and critics, seeking a diverse panel of journalists from all formats who cover films as a significant part of their role at their news outlet. To be eligible, their news outlets must be AP members or customers.
Among the 26 selected to vote in the inaugural ranking are a mix of platforms and audiences — from National Public Radio, Univision and IndieWire, to The Chicago Tribune, San Diego’s KPBS-FM radio station and KSNV-TV in Las Vegas.
The demographic makeup of the voters — 54% white and 65% male — stands out as more inclusive when compared to the overall industry: Research from USC in 2018 found the film critics industry to be 83% white and 78.7% male.
The AP Top 25 Movies panelists also ranged in age from 29 to 68, and are based across the country — from Detroit to Memphis, Tennessee, and Houston to Philadelphia — though there is heavy representation in the film industry hubs of New York and Los Angeles.
Each voter submitted their own list ranking 25 movies that premiered to the public during the 2022 calendar year. The AP encouraged each panelist to exercise their own interpretation of “best films,” which did not need to align with predictions for awards or even movies' Oscars eligibility.
The 26 lists that ensued yielded a collective of 176 different movies. The individual rankings were then combined to produce the national ranking using a Borda count, in which a first-place vote was worth 25 points, a second-place vote was worth 24 points, and so on. Ties were allowed and occurred at No. 16, in which both “Avatar: The Way of Water” and “The Whale” each received 130 points in the AP's cumulative weighted system.
Each panelist’s identity and full ballot are public.
In a cinematic landscape where it seems only franchise films have a shot at traditional box office success, the top five films on the AP Top 25 Movies ranking were all original — and most found robust audiences in theaters, despite the fact that moviegoing has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.
Fiercely original films, female-focused stories and theatrical-first releases had the clear edge.
The fight for the top movie of the year was extremely close, separated in the ranking by a mere 8 points. While “The Banshees of Inisherin" won the title with 392 points, it's the Michelle Yeoh-fronted “Everything Everywhere All at Once” that earned the most first-place votes. The indie sci-fi hit — currently enjoying a Cinderella run during awards season — came in second in the AP rankings with 384 points but was the first choice on six different ballots. Meanwhile, the Irish dark comedy was ranked the top movie of the year on just two different ballots.
And while the final list of 25 movies reflected the year's critical darlings, individual panelists' ballots took a distinct turn toward, shall we say, approachability in the bottom half. Movies toward the end of the full list of 176 movies ranged from “Lightyear” and “The Bob's Burgers Movie” to “Jackass Forever” and “Love, Lizzo.” There were 76 movies that each were only endorsed on one ballot.
THE FULL LIST
1. “The Banshees of Inisherin,” 392 points
2. “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” 384 points
3. “Tár,” 346 points
4. “Nope,” 304 points
5. “The Woman King,” 267 points
6. “RRR,” 263 points
7. “Top Gun: Maverick,” 252 points
8. “The Fabelmans,” 238 points
9. “Women Talking,” 222 points
10. “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” 209 points
11. “Aftersun,” 201 points
12. “Decision to Leave,” 200 points
13. “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,” 147 points
14. “Elvis,” 145 points
15. “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,” 141 points
16. “Avatar: The Way of Water,” 130 points
16. “The Whale,” 130 points
18. “Babylon,” 129 points
19. “She Said,” 125 points
20. “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,” 122 points
21. “Triangle of Sadness,” 121 points
22. “Till,” 116 points
23. “EO,” 98 points
24. “Turning Red,” 95 points
25. “No Bears,” 89 points