The Best Movies of 2022 (So Far)

So many great movies have already come out this year.

tom cruise in top gun maverick
'Top Gun: Maverick' | Paramount Pictures

In 2022, with the pandemic still reshaping Hollywood’s release strategy, new movies have a tendency to sneak up on you. On the indie side of things, it’s not uncommon for small films to briefly play into theaters before quietly landing on a streaming service that you may or may not already be paying for. On the big studio level, huge releases, some of which have been delayed for years by the pandemic, can feel like they already came and went regardless of quality. Knowing what’s available is half the battle. That’s where this list comes in.

Keeping tabs on the latest horror freak-out or long-awaited sequel shouldn’t have to feel like a full time job. As we have in years past, we’ll be updating this list of the best movies throughout the year, adding our favorite titles as they premiere in theaters and online. From festival gems to star-packed blockbusters, this list will hopefully give you a clear-eyed view of what remains a fractured landscape. These are the films that wowed us, moved us, and had us laughing so hard tears came out of our eyes. Read on to discover the best movies of 2022 so far.

ALSO READ: The 40 Best Movies of 2021 and The Best TV Shows of 2022 (So Far)

colin farrell in after yang
A24

Release date: March 4
Director: Kogonada (Columbus)
Cast: Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Justin H. Min, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja
Why it’s great: “What’s so great about being human?” a character asks in After Yang, wondering why a clone like her would be deemed second-rate. She’s raising a vital, endlessly human quandary: Why do people assign a higher value to some identities than others? After Yang is a futuristic sci-fi parable that poses big questions on an intimate scale. It is also, more than anything, the story of a family who happen to live in a world where cognizant robots known as techno-sapiens exist alongside everyday mortals. Jake (Colin Farrell) and Kyra (Jodie Turner-Smith) acquired one named Yang so their young Chinese daughter (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja) could have a sibling, and the pair have become the ultimate companions. When Yang’s system malfunctions, it feels tantamount to a death, sending Jake on a path to restore Yang, or at least better understand his reality. Directed by the Korean filmmaker Kogonada (Columbus), After Yang is an existential drama that manages to be both joyous and heartbreaking. —Matthew Jacobs
Where to watch it: Stream on Showtime (Watch the trailer)

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in ambulance
Universal Pictures

Release date: April 8
Director: Michael Bay (Armageddon)
Cast: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jake Gyllenhaal, Eiza González
Why it's great: I wish I loved anything as much as Michael Bay loves nauseating drone shots in Ambulance, a movie that pumps his style into a ridiculous car chase resulting in an absolutely grand time at the theaters. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II plays a vet whose wife needs an emergency operation. Ignored by the VA, he looks to his crime lord adopted brother, Jake Gyllenhaal, for help. When a bank robbery goes very, very wrong, they steal an ambulance containing an EMT (Eiza González) and a wounded police officer. What follows is an elaborate chase through the streets of LA and a bananas Gyllenhaal performance that proves you have to hand it to a filmmaker as bombastic as Bay. —Esther Zuckerman
Where to watch it: Stream on Showtime (Watch the trailer)

apollo 10 and a half
Netflix

Release date: April 1
Director: Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
Cast: Milo Coy, Jack Black, Glenn Powell, Zachary Levi
Why it’s great: Consumed with the delicate process of how memories refract and distort history, Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood is one of the most poignant movies ever made about falling asleep in front of the television. Looking back at his own quiet Houston childhood in the late ‘60s, an era of social and political upheaval, director Richard Linklater tells the story of a young boy named Stanley (Milo Coy) who has a father who works for NASA, a bunch of pop-culture obsessed older siblings, and an overactive imagination. Filmed with the rotoscope animation style Linklater previously used on features like Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, the movie first feels almost like a plucky kids show you might find on PBS. But Linklater takes an almost essayistic approach to the material, leaning heavily on wry narration from Jack Black as the adult Stanley, to make this a tricky, playful memoir, one that’s less proudly nostalgic than it might appear. At times, it plays like Linklater’s answer to Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life or a prequel to his own coming-of-age saga Boyhood. If your mind starts to drift at times, that’s just part of the movie’s low-key charm. —Dan Jackson
Where to watch it: Stream on Netflix (Watch the trailer)

belle
GKIDS

Release date: January 14
Director: Mamoru Hosoda (Mirai)
Cast: Kaho Nakamura, Takeru Satoh, Kōji Yakusho, Lilas Ikuta
Why it’s great: Suzu Naito is a lonely schoolgirl in a small rural Japanese town, but inside the virtual world of U, Suzu goes by a beautiful and striking pink-haired pop singer alter ego she names Belle. When her performance becomes a viral sensation, the world is obsessed with finding out who Belle could be in real life, and inside the world of U things take a similar turn when Belle, during a performance, encounters the Dragon, a beastly figure that terrorizes the virtual world and flees from the police force bent on exposing his identity and banning him from the platform. But Suzu sees something different in the Dragon, a pain that she also recognizes within herself. If you think by now you know where this story is going, you don't. Mamoru Hosoda (Mirai, Wolf Children, Summer Wars) brings us a fairytale adaptation that turns the story of "Beauty and the Beast" inside out. —Emma Stefansky
Where to watch it: Rent on Amazon and Apple TV+ (Watch the trailer)

viggo mortensen in crimes of the future
NEON

Release date: June 3
Director: David Cronenberg (Videodrome)
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, ​​Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, Scott Speedman
Why it's great: Canadian body-horror master David Cronenberg's first film in almost a decade is set in a chillingly near future where human bodies are losing the ability to feel physical pain and, as such, a cottage industry of surgical performance artists are growing their own underground scene. Two such artists, Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) and his lover Caprice (Léa Seydoux), find themselves wrapped up in a strange conspiracy involving a shocking murder, a global organ harvesting network, and whispers about the future of human evolution amidst a catastrophically polluted world. It fits meditations on the art world in between depictions of mangled and mutated organs and delightfully fleshy machines, asking what happens if our notions of what makes us human are altered beyond recognition. —ES
Where to watch it: In theaters (Watch the trailer)

michelle yeoh in everything everywhere all at once
A24

Release date: March 25
Directors: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Swiss Army Man)
Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, James Hong
Why it’s great: Directing duo Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) are back at it again with the phantasmagorical genre-bending action-sci-fi-romcom-absurdist-fable Everything Everywhere All at Once, which hurls superstar Michelle Yeoh into her own multiverse of madness. Chinese American laundromat owner Evelyn Wang (Yeoh) finds out she is at the center of a catastrophic conspiracy across parallel universes that could potentially end every world ever created unless she finds out how to harness the powers of all of her alternate selves and save her family from oblivion. The film is a little bit of everything: a martial arts popcorn movie, a Wong Kar-wai-inspired tragic romance, a cosmic science-fiction smorgasbord, a rom-com about people with hot dogs for fingers, the list goes on. To put it simply, it must be seen to be believed. —ES
Where to watch it: In theaters (Watch the trailer)

happening
IFC Films

Release date: May 6
Director: Audrey Diwan (Losing It)
Cast: Anamaria Vartolomei, Luàna Bajrami, Louise Orry-Diquéro
Why it's great: Audrey Diwan's film was the surprising winner of the prestigious Golden Lion prize at the Venice Film Festival late last year, and it's an unflinching story of a young woman trying to get an abortion despite the draconian illegality of the procedure in 1960s France. Anamaria Vartolomei's intensity fills the screen as Anne, a focused and ambitious student who doesn't seem to care what others think of her. When she finds out she's pregnant, she's resolute in her decision to terminate despite the risks of death or prison. Diwan's camera stays focused on the most harrowing moments of Anne's experience, which makes Happening a difficult but often remarkable watch. —EZ
Where to watch it: In theaters (Watch the trailer)

hatching
IFC Midnight

Release date: April 29
Director: Hanna Bergholm
Cast: Siiri Solalinna, Sophia Heikkilä, Jani Volanen, Reino Nordin
Why it's great: Get ready to fall in love with the decrepit half-bird, half-human creature that vomits slime in Hanna Bergholm's debut feature Hatching. In this creepy and wonderful Finnish fable, a young gymnast named Tinja finds an egg outside the home where her mommy-blogger mother pretends she's leading the perfect pastel life. The girl warms the egg inside her teddy bear until out pops a creature she calls Alli. Brought to life by animatronic wizards, Alli becomes Tinja's pet and protector, until it starts to morph into a mirror image of her. An alternately beautiful and disgusting metaphor for the grossness of girlhood, Hatching is somehow a mash-up of Eighth Grade, Gremlins, and E.T. EZ
Where to watch it: Rent on Amazon and Apple TV+ (Watch the trailer)

johnny knoxville in jackass forever
Paramount Pictures

Release date: February 4
Director: Jeff Tremaine (Jackass 3D)
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Dave England
Why it’s great: The question going into Jackass Forever, the fourth film that has only grown in estimation since its inception as an MTV series, was: How would this all age? The answer: Pretty spectacularly. Jackass Forever reunited director Jeff Tremaine with Johnny Knoxville and his merry band of prankster sweetie pies, who have no shame and a seemingly endless tolerance for pain. The bits are inspired—from the opening which recreates a Godzilla-type scenario using Chris Pontius’ penis to “the Silence of the Lambs,” an ingenious use of night vision to stoke terror and laughs. The new cast members, including a dude named Poopies, fit in perfectly, but the joy of Jackass Forever is the camaraderie emanating from these friends who have been into self mutilation for maybe a little too long. You cringe along with Danger Ehren and hear Steve-O’s special rasp and you’re wrapped in a warm, disgusting blanket. —EZ
Where to watch it: Stream on Paramount+ (Watch the trailer)

zoe kravitz in kimi
Warner Bros.

Release date: February 10
Director: Steven Soderbegh (No Sudden Move)
Cast: Zoë Kravitz, Rita Wilson, India de Beaufort, Byron Bowers
Why it’s great: Leave it to Steven Soderbegh—who made the best speculative movie about the pandemic before it was even on the horizon—to make the best piece of vaguely pandemic-themed entertainment in a genre that is sorely lacking. Kimi stars Zoë Kravitz as Angela, an agoraphobic employee at a tech company, whose fear of the outdoors has only been exacerbated by COVID. Her desire to stay inside, however, is tested when she comes across a feed from an Alexa-type AI called Kimi that implies a grievous crime may have taken place. Soderbergh plays with styles, switching to handheld jitters outside of the comfort of Angela’s loft. David Koepp’s screenplay is taut, while Kravitz is a natural match for the hyper-focused energy of her character. Soderbergh and Koepp set out to make the ideal movie to watch on Saturday night with a bottle of wine and they succeeded. —EZ
Where to watch it: Stream on HBO Max (Watch the trailer)

alexander skarsgaard in the northman
Focus Features

Release date: April 22
Director: Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse)
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe
Why it's great: Anticipation was high for The Witch and The Lighthouse filmmaker Robert Eggers' big-budget Viking saga, and with Alexander Skarsgård's prince Amleth muttering and growling on his life's quest to avenge father, save mother, kill Fjölnir, The Northman delivered on the bloody, reeking, sweaty promise of Norse lore. In its classical story, based in Viking legend, of revenge and fate, Eggers takes us into sludgy caverns where men become men by becoming dogs, over angry seas, and through verdant Icelandic vistas, as Amleth loses himself in the wake of his father's (Ethan Hawke) coup at the hands of his uncle (Claes Bang). His love with the witch Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy) is beautiful, the betrayals he faces are perverse and cruel, and his vengeance, found naked on the top of an active volcano, is an enrapturing end worthy of Valhalla. —Leanne Butkovic
Where to watch it: Stream on Peacock (Watch the trailer)

petit maman
Neon

Release date: April 22
Director: Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire)
Cast: Joséphine Sanz, Gabrielle Sanz, Nina Meurisse
Why it's great: Director Céline Sciamma, fresh off the success of Portrait of a Lady on Fire, brings us this gorgeous small-scale gem of a movie about the ways parents and children attempt to understand one another. Nelly (Joséphine Sanz) is an 8 year old whose grandmother has just died. With her parents, she goes to her mother's childhood home in the woods to clear out the rest of the deceased's belongings. Nelly's mom abruptly leaves to process her grief, and the girl is left to her own devices while her father finishes the rest of the tasks. Playing in the woods, she encounters another child her age, who she quickly realizes is the younger version of her own mother, Marion (Gabrielle Sanz—yes, the actors are sisters). As Nelly and Marion bond, Nelly gains a new respect for her mother's dreams and sorrows. It's a short movie, but one that carries a deep weight. —EZ
Where to watch it: Rent on Apple TV+ (Watch the trailer)

Ram Charan in rrr
Sarigama Cinemas/Raftar Creations

RRR

Release date: March 24
Director: S. S. Rajamouli
Cast: N. T. Rama Rao Jr., Ram Charan, Ajay Devgn, Alia Bhatt
Why it's great: If given the chance to see S. S. Rajamouli's three-hour Telugu-language epic in theaters, leap at the opportunity without hesitation. Frankly, it's best to go in as blindly as possible to be swept up in its magnitude and spectacle that breezes by as it constantly outdoes itself even—especially—when you're convinced that there couldn't possibly be anything that could one-up the fist-pumping action that came before. Loosely, RRR is about two men following their entwined destinies and rage against the British colonial rule in Northern India, but understanding the context is secondary to the experience itself. Compared to the bravado of RRR, even the thrills of Top Gun: Maverick (a movie we all love!) feel small. —LB
Where to watch it: In theaters or stream on Netflix (Watch the trailer)

scream jenny ortega
Paramount Pictures

Release date: January 14
Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (Ready or Not)
Cast: Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Melissa Barrera
Why it’s great: When Scream was announced, I was immediately apprehensive. The Kevin Williamson/Wes Craven films hold such a special place in my heart—obviously because they are modern classics following final girl Sidney Prescott (the great Neve Campbell) as a Ghostface killer stalks her throughout her whole adult life. It seemed like a risk to bring in a whole new crew to revitalize the franchise after Wes Craven's death in 2015, but it turned out to be a gamble that worked. Twenty-five years after the original killings, a new Ghostface begins stalking Woodsboro teens, and when the first victim Tara (Jenna Ortega, a new scream queen in her own right) survives, her sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) comes back to her haunted hometown only to find that the killer is targeting people who had ties to the original killings (a slew of new young Hollywood ingenues, including Jasmine Savoy Brown and Jack Quaid). It captures the spark of the original by being funny, gory, timely, and packed with charisma including bringing back Sidney, Deputy Dewey (David Arquette), and Gail Weathers (Courtney Cox). Who says you can't go back home again? —Kerensa Cadenas
Where to watch it: Stream on Paramount+ (Watch the trailer)

tom cruise in top gun maverick
Paramount Pictures

Release date: May 27
Director: Joseph Kosinski (Only the Brave)
Cast: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Glen Powell, Jon Hamm, Val Kilmer
Why it's great: It's hard to think of any movie in recent years that fulfills the definition of "crowd-pleaser" more than Top Gun: Maverick. As in, I haven't heard of anyone who doesn't like Top Gun: Maverick. And for good reason. The film—starring, of course, Tom Cruise, and directed by Joseph Kosinski—hits every single button. The plot is simple, but invigorating: Maverick has to head back to Top Gun to teach a group of hotshots how to fly a near impossible mission. The in-air action is flawless, using Cruise's skill and death drive for stunning sequences. The narrative is surprisingly emotional, drawing on nostalgia in a way that feels earned rather than dialed in. And on top of all of that, it's sweaty and there's a banger of a Lady Gaga song. This is euphoric blockbuster cinema. —EZ
Where to watch it: In theaters (Watch the trailer)

turning red
Disney

Release date: March 11
Director: Domee Shi
Cast: Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan
Why it's great: Thirteen-year-old Chinese Canadian Meilin "Mei" Lee (Rosalie Chiang) lives in Toronto with her close-knit multicultural group of friends, acing her classes and swanning around town like the independent spirit she is—except when it comes to her family, particularly her mother Ming (Sandra Oh), who keeps close watch over every aspect of Mei's life. The morning after Mei and her mom have a particularly bad argument (sparked by, it's implied, Mei drawing sexy pictures of crushable boy band singers as mermen), Mei awakens to find herself, like a cuddly version of Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis, transformed into a giant red panda—poofy tail and all. When her mother figures out what's going on, she reveals the true reason for her overprotective nature, and that they have less than a month to fix it. Domee Shi's feature debut is a beautifully animated, hilarious, and emotional coming-of-age story that explores the equal importance of family and friendship in the lives of teen girls who find themselves growing up faster than they were prepared for. —ES
Where to watch it: Stream on Disney+ (Watch the trailer)

anna cobb in we're all going to the world's fair
Utopia

Release date: April 15
Director: Jane Schoenbrun
Cast: Anna Cobb, Michael Rogers
Why it's great: For those expecting something like screenlife horror movie Host, We're All Going to the World's Fair is a different creature entirely, focusing instead on the bizarre, grimy, beautiful, and fascinating culture of the internet rather than supernatural scares. Young Casey (Anna Cobb) begins the film by reciting the words to an internet challenge, promising to document any "changes" she senses in herself in the coming days. When a stranger finds her videos online, the two enter into a strange relationship that takes place entirely over video chat as they discuss and create and warp the mythos behind the sinister "game." More than a horror movie, the film focuses instead on how we use the language of the internet to alter our perceptions of our own reality. —ES
Where to watch it: Rent on Amazon and Apple TV+ (Watch the trailer)

x mia goth
A24

X 

Release date: March 18
Director: Ti West (House of the Devil)
Cast: Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Martin Henderson, Scott Mescudi
Why it’s great: At last, a movie that asks what might happen if you rent a farmhouse to make a porno with your friends but the owners turn out to be murderous weirdos. X transforms this spellbinding premise into a ‘70s-set horror gem, nasty in all the right ways; think The Texas Chain Saw Massacre meets Boogie Nights with a splash of M. Night Shyamalan’s Old. The aspiring smut crew—played by Mia Goth, Brittany Snow, Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, and Jenna Ortega—find themselves face-to-face with a gun-wielding, semi-reclusive elderly couple who’ve grown bitter at their sexless existence and can’t stand the sight of the pretty young things roaming their property. Hell (or is it slasher-movie heaven?) breaks loose, and director Ti West captures the rustic intergenerational battle with both formidable dread and ample humor. —MJ
Where to watch it: Rent on Amazon and Apple TV+ (Watch the trailer)

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