The Best 2022 Film Festival Movies So Far (and Where To Watch Them)

·32 min read
Graphic for multiple films

Film festivals are the lifeblood of the movie industry. Thousands of people descend upon a town for a week to watch dozens of films that are brand spanking new and looking for adoring fans. Some independent films are there looking for distributors to put them in theaters or on streaming platforms. Others are there to compete for prizes, in hopes that a glitzy win will launch the flick into the Oscar conversation or a hefty box office. Still more are there just for publicity. After all, the most coveted eyes of the industry will all be gathered in one place, so why not bring your film for them to see? Journalists are scuttling around town, frantically filing reviews in between screenings. Studio executives are whispering into their phones, deciding which movies to buy and for how much. Filmmakers, actors, and publicists are attending after-parties and premieres, selling their work to the masses. And then, of course, there are the festival-going cinephiles there to take in as many movies as they can in a few short days.

While the fall boasts a quartet of high profile festivals primarily used to launch Oscar campaigns (Venice, Telluride, Toronto, and New York), the four prominent festivals of the spring are each unique in what they bring to the film world. The earliest, Sundance, set in snowy, winter Park City, Utah, is the US's largest independent film festival. Founded by Robert Redford, it tends to birth indie darlings and documentaries. Whiplash, Palm Springs, and last year's CODA all got their start at Sundance. Typically in March, South by Southwest (SXSW or "South By" if you're cool) arrives, and unlike most of the other festivals that are film-specific, this is also a television, music, and interactive media festival. It's usually got some Sundance repeats along with new indies and a few big budget premieres. Films as different as A Quiet Place, Ready Player One, and Booksmart have all entered the world at the Austin-based fest. The Tribeca Festival (previously Tribeca Film Festival, but the "film" was dropped as the event has expanded into other media spheres) has typically run in April in NYC. Started by Robert De Niro to revitalize lower Manhattan post-September 11, the festival is a celebration of indie film. This year post-COVID, it was moved to June, and became a launchpad for summer indies in addition to its competition and acquisition titles. And last, but certainly not least, there is the prestigious French competition the Cannes Film Festival. This primarily international auteur-driven event brings the world's best to compete for the coveted Palme d'Or, and while fewer buzzy US titles come out of this festival (as with the Berlinale), it is certainly the height of global cinema and often launches the Oscar contenders for Best International Film.

Because each of these festivals produce hundreds of films, many of which don't have distributors at the time they premiere or have release dates much later, it can be hard for non-industry cinephiles to keep track of what to watch (and where/when you can get your hands on it). To that end, I've compiled this handy dandy list of the biggest, buzziest titles form Sundance, South By, Cannes, and Tribeca and where you can watch them. I'm here to make you seem very in the know at dinner parties, so check out the list, watch some of these great films, and prepare to dazzle as the cinema expert you are!

Photo-illustration: Ryan Pattie/BuzFeed; Images: Everett Collection (Patti Perret/Focus Features, Quantrell Colbert/Amazon Studios, Searchlight Pictures, Apple TV+, Amazon Studios), Alamy Stock Photo (Plattform Produktion/arte France Cinéma)

Warning: This post contains discussions of sexual assault, child abuse, and violence.

Sundance Film Festival

1.After Yang

Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, and Justin H Min pose for a photo

Non-blockbuster films often make some sort of "festival circuit" before they debut in order to build hype and shore up positive reviews. This A24 film about a family trying to find a way to repair their robotic son, Yang, had its world premiere at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, where it played outside of the main competition in a section titled "Un Certain Regard" (or "a certain glance") which is for more experimental films. Receiving strong reviews, it made its North American debut at Sundance a few months before its release in March. It's a quirky little sci-fi family drama, very much in the vein of other A24 titles, so if you're a member of their growing cult (as I am), you should investigate. At the very least, please go watch the opening title sequence half a dozen times.

Watch it on Hulu.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

2.Am I OK?

Dakota Johnson and Sonoya Mizuno lay in bed together

Dakota Johnson was the belle of the ball at Sundance this year. Her first breakout role was in the lesbian comedy from directors Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne based on a semi-autobiographical screenplay from Lauren Pomerantz. Like Pomerantz, Johnson's character Lucy realizes in her 30s that the reason she's had little success in dating is because she's been dating men when she's attracted to women. Many praised the actor (who did invite Ellen to her birthday party) for her performance, and the film was snatched up by Warner Bros. at the festival for a release sometime later this year. But that wasn't Dakota Johnson's only film at Sundance...

Coming to HBO Max later this year.

Emily Knecht/Courtesy of Sundance Institute

3.Cha Cha Real Smooth

Cooper Raiff and Dakota Johnson inn a hallway

The biggest revelation of this year' Sundance was Cooper Raiff's follow up to Sh*thouse (another incredibly sweet comedy). The indie about an aimless college grad who becomes a Bar Mitzvah hype man and forms a relationship with a middle school mom, was acquired by Apple TV+ for a whopping $15M. The film then went on to play both SXSW and Tribeca before its release in theaters and on the streaming platform. Both writer/director/actor Cooper Raiff and Dakota Johnson give pitch perfect performances, and it's been drawing comparisons to CODA, last year's Best Picture winner that Apple also acquired out of Sundance for a pretty penny. It's a testament to the film's populace success that several top critics have written especially vicious reviews that go out of their way to shred a movie that in general seems inoffensive and pleasant. Well worth the watch!

Watch it on Apple TV+.

Apple TV+/Courtesy Everett Collection


Sebastian Chacon, Donald Elise Watkins, and RJ Cyler stand together behind a car

Back in 2018, a short film called Emergency from Carey Williams and KD Davila won jury prizes at both Sundance and SXSW. Now four years later, the feature-length version returned to the pair of festivals with Prime Video's backing. If someone pitched me a movie by saying "It's like Booksmart meets The Hate U Give", I would immediately say, "No thanks. That sounds awful." And yet, that is exactly how I'd pitch Emergency, which is shaping up to be one of the best films of the year. The film follows a trio of POC college seniors whose typical "get to the party" comedy shenanigans are cut short when they find a white girl passed out in their living room. Equal parts horrifying and hilarious, it never pulls punches for the sake of the audience, but still somehow manages to be an incredibly watchable romp. It had great buzz out of the festivals and won a well-deserved screenplay prize at Sundance. Really makes you pray you never get an unwanted guest at a pre-game.

Watch it on Prime Video.

Quantrell Colbert/Amazon Studios/Courtesy Everett Collection

5.Fire of Love

A woman wearing an aluminum suit on a volcano

Growing up, my mom read me a book about Pompeii, and let's just say I have not had any interest in visiting a volcano since. Apparently, the same thing did not happen to Katia and Maurice Krafft, French volcanologists who studied volcanos and then died in one in 1991. This documentary reaffirms my belief that humans shouldn't mess with lava, but it is riveting nonetheless as it follows the pair using exquisite archival footage. It was one of the buzziest documentaries to come out of the festival, and is arriving at theaters now by way of Neon. The savvy distributors will certainly be pushing this film for Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars later this year, so you might as well watch it now.

Buy tickets from Fandango.



Daisy Edgar-Jones counts money at a diner

Sundance and SXSW are great festivals for horror fans, comedy fans, and horror comedy fans. Thus, the Sebastian Stan/Daisy Edgar-Jones cannibalism horror comedy was right at home with its Sundance premiere, where it debuted as part of the horror-focused "Midnight" section. The film is not one for people with sensitive stomachs (it had a pre-party rather than an after-party at its premiere), but is delightfully grisly if you're into a little gore. This was acquired by Searchlight (a devision of Disney thanks to the Fox merger) and was released on Hulu this spring.

Watch it on Hulu.

Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

7.Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

Daryl McCormack and Emma Thompson sit in a bed together

I adore this film. It's an intimate dramedy staring Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack as a sexually inexperienced widow and her hired sex worker who get to know one another during a series of hotel room encounters. The dialogue is TIGHT. The performances are magnificent and nuanced and giving the full gamut of emotion needed to breeze through next year's Emmy season. And despite a limited set (in part due to its COVID production), the directing is dynamic. The film launched at Sundance before making appearances at Berlin, Sydney, and Tribeca, in what I assumed was a The Father-styled rollout of festival appearances before a strong awards campaign this fall. I was GUTTED to find out that the team at Disney have inexplicably opted to forgo a theatrical release meaning this film will be needlessly struck from Oscar contention and instead relegated to the much less prestigious TV Film Emmy category for 2023 (at which point, it will sadly be a distant memory). Who was in charge of this ridiculously negligent move? I'm not sure, but I'd like wish them a lifetime of hotel rooms without Mars bars in the minibar.

Watch it on Hulu.

Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

8.A Love Song

Dale Dickey looks out in the distance

Like Cha Cha Real Smooth and Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, A Love Song also premiered at Sundance before making a stop at Tribeca. The quiet indie is a touching rumination on love and grief as Faye, a widow, waits on a campsite for the arrival of a childhood friend (and now widower) Lito. Directed by Max Walker-Silverman, it's shot in a sort of naturalistic Wes Anderson vibe that feels homey and quaint in the best way. It's also a real showcase for veteran character actors Dale Dickey (Winter's Bone) and Wes Studi (Dances with Wolves) who don't get to shine in lead roles often enough. Bleecker Street bought the distribution rights post-Sundance, and it's headed to theaters shortly. The soundtrack here is also phenomenal, and made me want to run out and buy a little portable radio for myself.

In theaters July 29. Buy tickets from Cinemark.

Alfonso Herrera Salcedo/Courtesy of Sundance Institute


Regina Hall stands on a campus at night

2022 Sundance was ruled by Regina Hall, who after decades of strong work in films like Scary Movie and The Best Man finally seems to be breaking through into prestigious lead roles like this, and those in Support the Girls, Black Monday, and Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul (which debuted at Sundance but is being saved for a fall release). In this horror film (which also played SXSW before its Prime Video release), Hall plays the first Black master at a largely white New England private college. The campus is supposedly haunted by the ghost of the first Black student ever admitted, BUT, hear me out, perhaps it is mostly haunted by a lot of racists. Hall, of course, is the consummate professional and plays her role as the conflicted, haunted, horrified academic perfectly. Hopefully, this MASTERful (get it?) performance will get her into that Oscar conversation sooner rather than later.

Watch it on Prime Video.

Amazon Studios/Courtesy Everett Collection


Protesters in a street

To win the audience prize at a festival is a huge honor and a bellwether for the hopeful success of the film. This documentary about the poisoning of Russian opposition leader and activist Alexei Navalny (at the hands of Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin according to Navalny [although they deny the allegations]) garnered the love of Sundance festival goers as it won both the Festival Favorite and Documentary Competition audience prizes. The doc was snapped up by Warner Bros., who then debuted it on CNN before moving it to their streaming platform. It's one of this year's breakout documentaries, and a timely look at how the Russian government runs as the Ukrainian conflict continues.

Watch it on HBO Max.

Fathom Events/Courtesy Everett Collection

11.You Won't Be Alone

Sara Klimoska lies on the ground

One last ode to Sundance horror. While the festival isn't necessarily known for its international films, this Macedonian/Australian/British co-production set in 19th century Macedonia fits perfectly into their moody, prestige horror crop. Sara Klimoska plays a woman turned into a shape-shifter by a witch who then takes on several different lives while the witch continues to intervene cruelly. After its Sundance premiere, it opened in theaters in April to modest success before heading to Peacock. This film is also just another warning to us all to avoid witches, dead donkeys, the intestines of peasant women, and of course, satanic rituals involving spitting blood.

Watch it on Peacock.

Branko Starcevic/Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

South x Southwest

12.Bodies Bodies Bodies

The cast of Bodies Bodies Bodies stand together in a corner

In addition to a smattering of repeats from other festivals and several big budget premieres like The Lost City and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, the Austin-based festival served as a showcase for A24's impressive slate of 2022 films. While their slasher comedy won't hit theaters until August, its SXSW premiere garnered plenty of attention and rocketed the level of anticipation. The film is about seven friends who decide to play a Murder in the Dark/Mafia-style game but then must determine who among them is a literal killer once a body (body body) surfaces. The impressive cast includes Kris Jenner's future son-in-law Pete Davidson, Oscar-nominated Rudy Giuliani interviewer Maria Bakalova, funeral sexter Rachel Sennott, hot boat sitter/pie maker Lee Pace, and iconic whistler Amandla Stenberg. It's a delightfully funny horror film that satirizes Gen Z privilege while delivering gruesome kills, and Rachel Sennott steals scene after scene after scene.

In theaters August 5. Buy tickets from Fandango and Cinemark.


13.Everything Everywhere All at Once

Screen shot from "Everything Everywhere All at Once"

The hottest film out of SXSW, and honestly the hottest film of the year IMHO was another A24 play. This genre-bending spectacle follows a Chinese-American immigrant woman with mother/daughter drama, father/daughter drama, marriage drama, and IRS drama who must fight through multiple dimensions to save the world from a sinister, fashionable, bagel-wielding force. Of all the films to premiere in the first half of 2022, this is the one with the most Oscar potential. It got RAVE reviews coming out of its South By premiere and has been chugging along ever since becoming a massive word-of-mouth hit for A24, the studio's highest ever grossing film domestically. Fingers crossed that this bad boy gets a dozen plus Oscar nominations come 2023, and while it arrived in theaters back in March, it is still available in many places as demand remains high. Long live Jobu Tupaki, Raccacoonie, and the butt plug accounting award.

Rent it on Prime Video.

Allyson Riggs/A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

14.Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

A one-eyed shell crying

Marcel the Shell has been on a long road to the big screen (and even with his tennis ball car, traveling a long road with those tiny shoes takes a lot of time and effort). The feature film is based on a series of short films that began back in 2010 about an anthropomorphic shell with one eye, two shoes, and no hands. The feature, with voice talent from Jenny Slate and Isabella Rossellini, premiered last fall at the Telluride Film Festival before making its reemergence in Austin and grand national rollout in June. The film is meltingly sweet and heartwarming, and if you don't openly weep in the theater, you are a monster who probably doesn't even like Lesley Stahl. Yet another A24 title, Marcel proves that it is a force to be reckoned with.

Buy tickets from Cinemark and Fandango.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

Cannes Film Festival

15.Armageddon Time

Jeremy Strong and Anne Hathaway sit at a table together

While traditionally Cannes follows Tribeca in the festival lineup, this year due to Tribeca's later start, the French international festival came first. One of the festival's standouts, and one that is presumably being saved for a second rollout in the fall festivals before a hearty Oscar campaign is James Gray's Armageddon Time. Starring Jeremy Strong and my beloved Anne Hathaway, the film is the latest in a string of nostalgic, autobiographical musings from auteur directors focused on their childhoods (Roma and Belfast both got plenty of Oscar attention). Gray has premiered five of his films at Cannes, so it was no surprise that he returned with this piece, and given the warm reception it received, I'm excited to see it this fall. (TBH though, because it's got Anne in it, I'd have been excited to see it even if the reception was frigid).

Coming to theaters this fall.

Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection


Song Kang-ho at a sewing machine

Another Cannes title that will likely be in Oscar contention this fall is Broker from Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda, whose 2018 film Shoplifters took home Cannes's top prize, the Palme d'Or, before coming up short of Roma at the Oscars. While Kore-eda has worked primarily in Japanese cinema, this film is Korean, as the director wanted to work with Parasite actor Song Kang-ho, and had stumbled upon the Korean phenomenon of baby boxes, boxes where people can anonymously leave babies for adoption. Broker, which won Kang-ho Best Actor at Cannes, focuses on a group of people who steal babies from the box at a church and sell them on the black market. With the Academy growing increasingly international, previous Oscar nominations for Kore-eda, and love for Kang-ho (not to mention great reviews), this film is sure to make a splash when it premieres state side.

Coming to theaters this fall.

ZIP Cinema & CJ ENM Co. Ltd.

17.Crimes of the Future

Screen shot from "Crimes of the Future"

A Cannes title that is already readily available to watch stateside is David Cronenberg's futuristic body horror film. In a near-apocalyptic future where climate change and environmental issues have caused the human body to begin to mutate and evolve, a pair of performance artists played by Viggo Mortensen and Lea Seydoux conduct surgeries for spectacle. The film is much grislier than its other 2022 Cannes counterparts and includes numerous grotesque scenes of mutilation and mayhem. Kristen Stewart is also back post-Spencer to prove she is as delightfully weird as ever as a whispering ticklish government official who begs to be sliced open as "surgery is the new sex." The bonkers film didn't receive any awards at Cannes, but is a must see for anyone who loves body horror, K-Stew, or vibrating chairs made of bones. (Vibrating chairs made of bones hive RISE UP!)

Rent it on Prime Video.

Neon/Courtesy Everett Collection

18.Decision to Leave

Park Hae-il aims a gun

Another perennial Cannes competitor is South Korean director Park Chan-wook, who has premiered four of his thrillers at the festival. His latest, about a detective who falls for a mysterious widow involved in a murder case. (I feel like rule number one of being a detective has to be don't fall in love with hot suspects, but somehow, they never seem to learn.) Chan-wook took home Best Director at the festival, and the film, which has already premiered in South Korea, has got nothing but rave reviews. As with Broker, this is sitting pretty as a strong contender for the Best International Film Oscar, and with the ever growing swath of international members in the Academy, this could easily be the breakout hit that finds its way into other categories including Best Director (following other recent Cannes darlings Bong Joon-Ho and Ryusuke Hamaguchi who also landed nominations).

In theaters October 14.

MUBI/Courtesy Everett Collection


A donkey with carrots around its neck

Here's a fun fact that perhaps you were smart enough to figure out way earlier, but the reason why Eeyore the donkey from Winnie the Pooh is named "Eeyore" is because in certain cultures, that is the sound that donkeys are believed to make rather than the "hee haw" that I was taught. This film's title EO is another version of the donkey's bray, which you will hear plenty as this Cannes crowdpleaser is about the life of a donkey. The Polish film from the festival's oldest director, the 84-year-old Jerzy Skolimowski, got rave reviews for being a warm-hearted piece of levity in the mix of much more dower dramatic fare. EO took home a Jury Prize with Skolimowski, thanking all the donkeys that acted in his film during his acceptance speech. There is no US release date at the moment, but it appears to be a frontrunner for the Polish Oscar submission, which will mean a release later this year.

Coming to theaters this fall.

Skopia Film

20.One Fine Morning

Pascal Greggory and Lea Seydoux sit together

Lea Seydoux seems to be working full time acting in only films that will appear at Cannes. She had two this year, four the year before, one in 2019, and made her initial splash in Blue Is the Warmest Color, which won the Palme d'Or back in 2013. This film, from Cannes darling Mia Hansen-Love (who had Bergman Island at the festival last year) stars Seydoux as the daughter of an ailing man and is attempting to get him to move into a home. While having her hands full with that, she also stumbles into an affair with a married man. One Fine Morning will be released in the US this fall via Sony Pictures Classics and is no doubt pushing for some Oscars. Shocking that Seydoux has yet to be nominated herself given how prolific she's been so far.

Coming to theaters this fall.

Les Films Pelleas

21.Showing Up

Michelle Williams sculpting

It's rare that a true comedy makes its way into the Cannes Festival lineup often reserved for heavy dramas, but this year Kelly Reichardt broke into the main competition with her humorous musing on the Portland art scene. Frequent collaborator Michelle Williams stars as a sculptor from the Pacific Northwest in the playful film, and in comparison to Reichardt's typical "slow cinema" which is often light on plot, this feels like a swing into something a bit more commercial. The film is set to be released later this year from A24, so it will be interesting to see how it fares commercially and with awards as the much beloved director has yet to make a breakout hit despite a number of great films. Will the lack of a cow hurt or help this film? Only time will tell.

Coming to theaters this fall.

Allyson Riggs/A24

22.Triangle of Sadness

A couple lounge on beach chairs

The big winner at Cannes this year was Ruben Ostlund's dark satire about two celebrity models on a cruise for the uber wealthy. The film took home the festival's top honor, the coveted Palme d'Or, beating out a strong slate of competition. While the Palme doesn't necessarily mean instant success stateside, it certainly can be a nice publicity push. Parasite, Pulp Fiction, and The Tree of Life all took the prize. While Ostlund is Swedish, the film is in English and stars familiar faces Harris Dickinson and Woody Harrelson. While the film was a bit more prickly and divisive than some of its competitors, it is nonetheless THE film to see from Cannes this year, and will be making a splashy US debut this fall with Neon (the studio behind I, Tonya, Parasite, and Flee) distributing.

Coming to theaters this fall.


Tribeca Festival

23.American Dreamer

Shirley MacLaine and Peter Dinklage talk on a beach

This year I had the immense pleasure of attending the Tribeca Festival in June, and boy oh boy, were they delivering some gems. First up is this quirky little comedy staring Peter Dinklage as a washed up professor in a battle with Shirley MacLaine's scrappy widow for a mansion they are both living in. Both Dinklage and MacLaine are giving tremendously fun performances as they try to outmaneuver one another for the real estate in a story snatched from This American Life. The film, which debuted at Tribeca, has yet to announce a distributor, but it's an engaging, rompy crowdpleaser.

Release forthcoming.

Nicolas Bolduc/Courtesy Tribeca Festival

24.The Big Payback

Robin Rue Simmons sits at a table speaking

On the documentary side of things, Tribeca showcased a number of exciting docs including this fascinating look into Evanston, Illinois's successful push for reparations, the first in the country. Following local alderman Robin Rue Simmons (and I will never understand why Chicago is randomly calling people alderman), The Big Payback watches as she campaigns for the funds to give back to the Black community and then struggles against numerous forces while attempting to arrive at a plan for how the money should be divvied up. At a national level, the film follows Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee in her efforts to get a reparations bill passed federally. While the documentary clearly shows how complicated the entire process is, it also gives you faith that there are people out there working for positive change even if it is VERY slow to come. This documentary also made me desperately hungry for Hecky's Barbecue, so I wouldn't advise watching at 10 a.m. without breakfast like I did.

Release forthcoming.

Brett Wiley/Courtesy Tribeca Festival

25.CIVIL: Ben Crump

Ben Crump and Sheira Brown sit across the table from one another

Another excellent civil rights documentary from Tribeca (and one you don't have to wait to watch) is CIVIL, which profiles noted attorney Ben Crump, the man behind the high profile civil lawsuits on behalf of the families of Black wrongful death victims. The documentary follows Crump for a year as he criss-crosses the country, staying in hotels and eating fast food during conference calls, fighting tirelessly for justice. Crump is the lawyer for the families of Jacob Blake, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others who were murdered by police. As he states in the documentary, sometimes the only way to make people listen is to hit them in the pocketbook, and so he fights to secure large settlements on behalf of the families in order to bring about change.

Watch it on Netflix.

Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

26.Corner Office

Jon Hamm sits in an office

If you (like me) loved watching Jon Hamm in an office setting, then I've got good news because he spends nearly the entirety of Corner Office in an office building. But unlike in Mad Men, where he ruled the roost, here he plays the overlooked lemming, gone mad not from Madison Avenue but from the monotony of the gray and beige workplace. The film, which also stars Community's Danny Pudi (who had a big Tribeca as he stared in American Dreamer as well) is narrated by Jon Hamm in a delightfully sarcastic tone and feels like the spiritual sister to Office Space. I would also like to throw out that Jon Hamm looks very good in a mustache. Like, we knew that he would, but HE DOES.

Release forthcoming.

Pawal Edelman/Courtesy Tribeca Festival

27.Don't Make Me Go

Mia Isaac and John Cho ride in a car together


Every year, some motherf*cker is out here trying to make us weep during a young adult drama, and this year it's the sadistic team behind Don't Make Me Go which premiered at Tribeca ahead of its Prime Video launch. The film stars John Cho (and his wonderfully luscious hair) as the father of newcomer Mia Issac. The pair go on a roadtrip to meet her estranged birth mother after he (womp womp) realizes he has a terminal disease. John Cho will make you sob uncontrollably while singing karaoke, so of course, beware of the music cues and invest in waterproof mascara. Next up for director Hannah Marks is the adaptation of John Green's Turtles All the Way Down, so maybe just buy the 12-pack of Kleenex in prep.

Watch it on Prime Video starting July 15.

Amazon Studios/Courtesy Everett Collection

28.Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel

A resident sits in her cluttered apartment

My favorite documentary of Tribeca was easily this inside look at the famed Chelsea Hotel, its longtime residents, and the controversial move to turn it from a bohemian artists community into a luxury hotel. As someone intimately acquainted with the historic 23rd Street property (i.e. I regularly visit the Lucky's Famous Burgers just down the block and thus must walk in front of the hotel), I was captivated by the interviews with the residents the documentary follows, mostly artists who have spent decades living in the haunt once frequented by the likes of Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, and Patti Smith. The drama between residents and the current owners is juicy, but also leaves you with a profound sense of melancholy regarding both the treatment of our ancestors and the passage of time. The lively archival footage used throughout is in sharp contrast to the brittle, empty quality the Chelsea has in the current day shots. I will never buy a cookie from Big Booty Bread Co. (located across the street) again without thinking of this haunting documentary.

In theaters July 8.

Magnolia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

29.The Forgiven

Jessica Chastain and Ralph Fiennes have a drink together

Perhaps now is not exactly the best time to watch horrible rich white people go on an extravagant vacation to Morocco and behave cruelly to locals, but there is a certain level of catharsis in this eat-the-rich drama. A holdover from last year's Toronto that has since found distribution and played Tribeca pre-theatrical release, The Forgiven follows Jessica Chastain and Ralph Fiennes on their bougie vacation post-drunkenly running down a shepherd boy on their trip into the desert. Chastain, Fiennes, and Matt Smith are excellent as nightmarish humans (Fiennes after all has experience playing Nazis and Lord Voldemort), and watching them slowly get their comeuppance is gratifying.

Buy tickets from Cinemark and Fandango.

Roadside Attractions/Courtesy Everett Collection


Jennifer Lopez rehearses with her backup dancers

Perhaps the buzziest film to come out of this year's Tribeca was their opening night film, Halftime, the documentary focusing on Jennifer Lopez. I attended the screening with J.Lo (technically that is true as we were in the same room although approximately 85 body guards apart), and had fun watching J.Lo tirelessly prep for the Super Bowl halftime show with Shakira. More interesting to me, and my Oscar-obsessed mind, however, was the plot line following Lopez through the release of Hustlers and her ultimate Oscars snub (which to this day makes me fume at least once a week). Not enough people give J.Lo the credit she deserves as a multi-hyphenate, and this film is certainly here to remind viewers that she is more than just a pretty (vampirically youthful) face. The documentary is also a fun little game of I Spy, as her previous boyfriend A-Rod has been meticulously scrubbed from the entire film even though he was presumably with her for most of the filming. I thought I saw his back during a Thanksgiving scene, but send me screen grabs if you see a rogue hand or shoulder that snuck through the edit.

Watch it on Netflix.

Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

31.Jerry and Marge Go Large

Annette Bening stands behind a lottery machine

As a fellow Michigander, I was always gonna love a film in which Annette Bening plays a mom from rural Michigan who brings her own sheets to budget motels and enjoys spending her days in gas stations. The comedy, based on a true story, follows a husband and wife (Bening and Bryan Cranston) who mathematically crack the lottery and win millions of dollars. It's a sunny little delight perfect for the whole family, and would be an exquisite airplane movie (something I say with PROFOUND respect). The director David Frankel previously directed The Devil Wears Prada and Hope Springs if that gives you a better sense of the wholesome fun that this is. This is also a film in which sweet midwesterners triumph over a bunch of bratty Harvard grads, and as a Little Caesars-loving, ope-saying boy from the beautiful Elsie, Michigan who is often met with people who "went to school in Cambridge" in New York, I got immense satisfaction out of this.

Watch it on Paramount+.

Jake Giles Netter/Paramount Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

32.Leave No Trace

A hand holding a photo of a boy

Easily the most harrowing piece of film in this guide is this documentary detailing the rampant childhood sexual assault incidents that have taken place within the Boy Scouts of America and the organization's coverup of the crimes. This is by no means an easy sit, and is reminiscent of Spotlight, only being a documentary with the actual victims (rather than actors), it is far more gut wrenching. The film which debuted at Tribeca and has since made its way to Hulu interviews a number of the boys (some now men) who were abused during their time as Boy Scouts, and follows them through the class action lawsuit that followed as over 82,000 victims came forward. This is an extremely necessary piece of journalism, and one that I hope continues to gain attention as we move forward into awards season. The stories here will stay with you long after the credits role, and will make you question the many (largely male) sources of authority we were told to trust growing up (the church, the police, the Boy Scouts) that were actual fronts for widespread violence and abuse.

Watch it on Hulu.

ABC News Studios/Vermillion Films/Courtesy Tribeca Festival

33.Official Competition

Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz sit on a couch

Official Competition is certainly not a new film. It originally premiered nearly a year ago at the Venice Film Festival of 2021. It then played Toronto, a few dozen other smaller festivals, opened in theaters in Spain back in February, and debuted in several other countries before its eventual arrival at Tribeca (and subsequent US release). That doesn't make it any less stellar of a film, though, and for a movie about filmmakers attempting to win awards (and then perhaps shred them in a wood chipper), the team here certainly understands how to roll out a film for maximum exposure. The Spanish film starring Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz, and Oscar Martinez is an actor's dream, and whether or not this becomes Spain's official submission for the Academy Awards, this is one to watch out for heading into the fall. At the very least, Cruz should win Best Wig.

Buy tickets from Fandango.

Manolo Pavon/IFC Films/Courtesy Everett Collection

34.The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks looks at a photo

So you think you know about Rosa Parks? Thought she was a kindly old lady who just got a little tired and a little fed up, decided to keep sitting on a bus, and accidentally made history? WRONG. Or at least that is only a very thin sliver of all the backbreaking work the civil rights activist (and To Tell the Truth contestant) did for the Black community during her lifetime. This documentary (headed to Peacock at TBD date that will most likely be during awards season) is based on a best-selling book with the same named by Jeanne Theoharis and documents the tremendous life of Rosa Parks which involves her work with the Black Power movement, serving as a receptionist for Congressman John Conyers, and her admiration for Malcolm X. This should be required viewing in US History courses imho, and gives life to someone most of us know from two paragraphs in a textbook.

Coming to Peacock this fall.

Peacock/Courtesy Tribeca Festival


A man leans against a fountain

What happens to the subjects of a documentary once the cameras have stopped rolling? In many cases, the answer is nothing much different than before, but as documentaries continue to become more and more popular and with the accessibility of streaming, many documentary subjects are thrust into the limelight with little preparation. This new documentary focuses on the subjects of previous viral docs like The Wolfpack, The Staircase, Hoop Dreams, The Square, and Capturing the Friedmans, examining how the films drastically altered the course of their subjects' lives. Questioning the ethics around documentary filmmaking, this meta doc is a fascinating watch, especially for those who love nonfiction film, as it takes a peek behind the camera to see what transpires when someone's real life is put on display for the whole world. Makes me think twice about being the star of a documentary, as there are DOZENS of filmmakers constantly reaching out to me asking to film me watching Stranger Things and playing Wordle.

Release forthcoming.

Zachary Shields/Tribeca Festival


BJ Novak walks through a desert party

Last, but certainly not least, we have the directorial debut from B.J. Novak, who you probably know from The Office/his children's book/shipping him and Mindy Kaling. Novak also stars in the film as a self-important, hipster podcaster who travels from New York to Texas to record a true crime podcast about the disappearance of a woman he doesn't remember having a one-night-stand with. The satirical comedy is a takedown of the NPR slice-of-life/murder mystery craze where an educated liberal elite wanders into a small town to solve a crime and realizes "hey, these are people, too," sending dispatches of rural humanity back to Park Slope listeners. (Think S-Town.) The film is smart, pointed, and endlessly entertaining with great performances by Issa Rae, Dove Cameron, Boyd Holbrook and of course, Gerri herself J. Smith-Cameron. It was one of Tribeca's Gala centerpieces ahead of its wide release, and taught me that one of the titular "six flags" of Six Flags amusement parks is the Confederate flag. Maybe they should switch to Five Flags? Something to think about.

In theaters July 29. Buy tickets from Cinemark and Fandango.

Patti Perret/Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection