The Best Movies We've Watched In 2022 (So Far)

·18 min read
Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya, Ke Huy Quan, and Michelle Yeoh

With a handful of film festivals now behind us, a new inductee into the billion-dollar box office club, and Oscar prognosticators beginning to buzz, the BuzzFeed Streaming Team took this opportunity to compile some of our favorite movie titles to land in theaters and streaming (so far).

Some themes that emerged: strong ensemble casts, dystopian near-futures, midlife crises, and insisting (*nails on a chalkboard sound*) "you must see it on the big screen." Also, FWIW, Jenny Slate, Colin Farrell, and Zoë Kravitz popped up in two or more films on this list. Congrats to them.

Before you read our full list below, please note we only considered titles that had wide releases at the time of writing. So, unfortunately, beloved films out of Cannes (e.g. Triangle of Sadness, Funny Pages, Showing Up, and Broker) did not qualify — but could likely be added at a later date.

Photo-illustration: Alexa Fishman; Everett Collection: Universal Pictures, Allyson Riggs/A24, Michael Oneal/A24

1.After Yang

Writer-director Kogonada's followup to Columbus is set in a near-future where working class families live in beautiful glass homes ripped from the pages of AD and androids (or

Writer-director Kogonada's followup to Columbus is set in a near-future where working class families live in beautiful glass homes ripped from the pages of AD and androids (or "technosapiens") sport bowl cuts, attend Mitski shows, and more to the point, can be purchased to help adopted children make sense of their own identities. Such is the case for parents Jake (Colin Farrell) and Kyra (Jodie Turner-Smith) who bring Yang (Justin H. Min) into their family in hopes of giving their young daughter Mika (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja) a deeper connection to her Asian culture. It's all fun and games — Tik-Tok-y dance-offs, even — until Yang unexpectedly stops functioning, sending the entire family into a frenzied search for a repair and discovering along the way that the store where Yang was purchased has gone under. Profound questions around race, identity, and memory hover throughout this allusive film, while a surprisingly understated performance from Farrell as a sad-eyed teashop owner draped in fine linen proves the guy still has some tricks up his sleeve. —Colin Gorenstein

Watch it on Prime Video via Showtime.

Michael Oneal / © A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection

2.The Batman

Screen shot from "The Batman"

After the Batfleck experiment proved to be a failure, it was only a matter of time before yet another iteration of the Dark Knight would enter our lives. But when news dropped that the hot, moody vampire from Twilight would be taking on the mantle, some die-hard Batmaniacs were wondering if the iconic character was once again doomed by bad casting. However, Robert Pattinson turned out to be a natural fit as Batman, bringing a brooding, slightly unhinged energy to the masked vigilante that had never been seen on the big screen before, while also bringing the character back to his roots as the world's greatest detective. And it wasn't just Pattinson who delivered a master performance, as Zoë Kravitz, Colin Farrell, Paul Dano, and the rest of the supporting cast helped make Gotham feel like a real city that you would absolutely never want to live in. As a result, The Batman felt like a breath of fresh air for the entire superhero genre and seemed to set the stage for an exciting new era of Batman movies. —Blake Harper

Watch it on HBO Max.

Jonathan Olley / © Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

3.Bodies Bodies Bodies

Screen shot from "Bodies Bodies Bodies"

As a sick and twisted individual who feels immense glee watching ghosts, monsters, and serial killers butcher innocent civilians in horror movies, I'm always on the lookout for great new horror. The best of 2022 so far (imho) is the latest in A24's impressive slate. The satirical slasher film follows seven entitled, privileged, uber-wealthy Gen-Z friends who decide to play a Murder in the Dark/Mafia-style game in a mansion while riding out a hurricane. Of course, the woke, podcast-hosting influencers are thrust into a world of chaos when an actual body (body body) appears and they have to figure out which of them is the murderer. 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. The script is whip smart, the kills are as gruesome as they are funny, and Rachel Sennott steals scene after scene after scene. I will say, though, that this movie made me infinitely more paranoid about taking a kettlebell class. —Matthew Huff

Buy tickets from Fandango or Cinemark.

A24/Everett Collection

4.Cha Cha Real Smooth

screen shot from "Cha Cha Real Smooth"

Don't let NYT's brutal takedown dissuade you. Yes, in many ways, Cha Cha Real Smooth is your quintessential Sundance film: a coming-of-age story with a wistful indie-pop soundtrack and a cast of idiosyncratic characters. But it's also much more than that, and your ability to see this likely hinges on your ability to warm to the film's lead actor Cooper Raiff. The twentysomething wunderkind has directed two great (imo) films now, starring in the lead roles of both. Here, he plays Andrew, a recent college graduate struggling to land on his feet, who eventually finds work (and a love interest) in b'nai mitzvah motivational dancing. Mothers, children, and hamsters alike adore him — and by the end of the film, possibly against my better judgment, I did, too. Cha Cha feels like a celebration of human decency, of people simply doing their best to get by. Where you might expect grand displays of machismo from Andrew and the male antagonists he bumps up against, you instead get nods of recognition, hugs, or tearful glances. A quiet revelation! And for all of the "paint-by-numbers" critiques that have been lobbed at this film, you gotta admit, it sure seems to be a trailblazer where the genre of "b'nai mitzvah dramedy" is concerned — just take a look at the full roster headed to streaming in the next year. —C.G.

Watch it on Apple TV+.

© Apple TV+ / Courtesy Everett Collection

5.Downton Abbey: A New Era

Screen shot from "Downton Abbey: A New Era"

Okay, this movie is not for everyone, BUT if you (like me) loved Downton Abbey with your whole heart, visited the actual filming location, and regularly think about Edith's lover who may not have died on the Titanic after all, then this film is completely perfect. It is everything you love about the television show ratcheted up to an 11, as the family both visits France and has a Hollywood film shot in its hallowed halls. But I cannot write this blurb without my work bestie/fellow Downton head, Dana. Please gush some more.

Thank you, Matthew. I'm honored to be your comrade in Downton. Downton Abbey: A New Era straight up made me giddy. I smiled the entire time! I agree that this film is a love letter to the fans. To go blindly to the second film without a basic understanding of the characters and dynamics may be a tad confusing. There were moments when the family was split that I was eager for them to get back together, but have no fear, they do! It can be challenging for new characters to enter such an established world (ahem, let us forget Sarah Bunting). Yet, the dreamy Hugh Dancy, handsome Dominic West, and hilarious Laura Haddock do so seamlessly — they bring a freshness to the new story while keeping the focus on the established characters we love so much. And for the Mosley Hive (me), I will tease that at one point, I clapped! BRB, I have to go to my newly inherited French Villa. —M.H. and Dana Elle Salzberg

Watch it on Peacock.

Ben Blackall / © Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

6.Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel

Screen shot from "Dreaming Walls"

My favorite documentary of the year so far is easily this inside look at the famed Chelsea Hotel, its longtime residents, and the controversial move to turn it from a bohemian artist 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. —M.H.

Rent it on Prime Video.

Magnolia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

7.Emergency

Screen shot from "Emergency"

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. With strong buzz coming out of Sundance and SXSW, 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. Exceptional performances from RJ Cyler (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), Donald Elise Watkins, and Sebastian Chacon make this film's tightrope walk between genres possible, and the screenplay by KD Davila deserves a round of shots (or an Oscar nomination depending on what kind of party we're at). Never have I been so worried about bacterial cultures. Never has there been such a scathing use of a notes app apology. And never has my body whiplashed back and forth between a belly laugh and sheer horror so quickly. —M.H.

Watch it on Prime Video.

Quantrell Colbert / © Amazon Studios / Courtesy Everett Collection

8.Everything Everywhere All At Once

Screen shot from "Everything Everywhere All At Once"

This is the best film of 2022 imho. Michelle Yeoh plays a Chinese-American immigrant woman who is trying to keep her struggling laundromat afloat while fighting with her daughter, watching her marriage dissolve, and taking care of her ailing father. When she is called to the IRS for an audit on her business, she is told she 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 Southwest 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. Yeoh should be given the Best Actress Oscar uncontested, and it should rack up nominations in a dozen other categories as nothing so original, vivid, and well-executed has made its way to theaters in quite some time. Long live Jobu Tupaki, Raccacoonie, and the butt plug accounting award. —M.H.

Rent it on Prime Video.

Allyson Riggs / © A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection

9.Fire Island

Screen shot from "Fire Island"

The latest adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice is Fire Island, a modern retelling of the classic story told through the perspective of a group of gay best friends who reunite for their yearly trip to Fire Island. Even as they struggle with their own doubts and insecurities, best friends Noah (Joel Kim Booster, who also wrote the film) and Howie (SNL's Bowen Yang) help each other grow and open themselves up to finding love (while also learning to love themselves). Despite being based on a 150-year-old novel, Fire Island feels thoroughly modern as a celebration of the queer community. Plus, it does not forget the comedy side of the rom-com equation, as the ensemble cast is hysterical, especially Tomás Matos, who gives the funniest onscreen performance of the year so far. —B.H.

Watch it on Hulu.

Jeong Park / © Searchlight Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

10.Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

Screen shot from "Good Luck to You, Leo Grande"

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. And despite a limited set (in part due to its COVID production), the directing is dynamic. 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. —M.H.

Watch it on Hulu.

© Searchlight Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

11.Jackass Forever

Screen shot from "Jackass Forever"

For over 20 years, the Jackass crew have been the undisputed masters in the art of destruction, constantly finding new ways to put their bodies on the line in order to make us all laugh. And they delivered again with Jackass Forever, the fourth film in the franchise that showed Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, and the rest of the gang being tormented by bulls, bears, scorpions, and the most dangerous beasts of all: each other. The stunts were a bit less extreme than the previous outings, but that lack of guts was more than made up for by an abundance of heart, as it is genuinely heartwarming to see these now middle-aged dudes still giggling while taking severe beatings. Plus, a new class of younger Jackasses were introduced to bring some fresh blood to the chaos, possibly signaling that even if the original group is ready to retire, the delightfully idiotic shenanigans will live on. —B.H.

Watch it on Paramount+.

Sean Cliver / © Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

12.KIMI

Screen shot from "Kimi"

No movie this year captured the creeping dread and claustrophobia of a COVID-stricken world quite like Steven Soderbergh's straight-to-HBO-Max KIMI. Zoë Kravitz plays Angela Childs, a tech analyst holed up inside her Seattle loft passing the days doing HIIT on her stationary bike, applying hand sanitizer, and begrudgingly attending therapy sessions over Zoom. Everything is perfectly routinized until an alarming discovery on her Alexa-like software named Kimi sends her flying off her hamster wheel and in search of answers from the Bezosian powers that be. This phrase gets overused a bit, but folks, believe me when I tell you they don't make 'em quite like this anymore. A lean 89-minute runtime? An ending that is pure catharsis (and little ambiguity)? A protagonist with blue hair, even? If the new Warner Bros. Discovery CEO got one thing right this year, it was not scrubbing this Original from the platform.C.G.

Watch it on HBO Max.

HBO Max / Warner Bros. Pictures

13.Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Screen shot from "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On"

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, then premiered back 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. This wins the award for cutest film of the year. I want a shell bestie stat. —M.H.

Buy tickets from Fandango or Cinemark.

© A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection

14.Nope

Screen shot from "Nope"

Jordan Peele is on an all hits/no misses winning streak as a director. After sweeping up a slew of Oscar noms with his surprise horror hit Get Out and scaring the bejesus out of audiences with his scissor-fueled slasher flick Us, he's back with an homage to the summer monster blockbuster. Think Jaws or Jurassic Park, but instead of sharks and dinosaurs, there is something in the sky haunting a horse farm in California. Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya is back, but the real star is Keke Palmer who plays his chatty sister. All those at the New York press screening can attest to the fact that I screamed at one point (because the jump scares are SO DAMN GOOD), and even as he keeps you terrified and entertained, Peele adds plenty of depth and nuance to the story. The visuals are haunting, the score is grandiose, and the sound design is masterful. I recommend hopping on your horse, electric scooter, or tech support van, and hightailing it to the theaters ASAP. This, perhaps more than anything else on this list, should be watched at a theater and with a crowd. If someone says, "I'll wait till it's on streaming," give them a big ole fat "NOPE." —M.H.

Buy tickets from Fandango or Cinemark.

Universal Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection

15.The Northman

Screen shot from "The Northman"

With just two films under his belt, director Robert Eggers had already established himself as one of the most unique and talented filmmakers working today. And The Northman, his highly-anticipated third film, proved that he is going to be one of the most important figures in film for the foreseeable future. Easily Eggers' most epic film in terms of both scale and ambition, The Northman is a story of Viking vengeance set in Iceland in the late ninth century, as Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård), a warrior prince, seeks to avenge his father after he is betrayed and murdered by his uncle. Sound a bit like the plot of the most famous play ever written? It's intentional, but while the story may be yet another cinematic re-telling of Hamlet, Eggers' directorial style is wholly original, as he masterfully delivers a visual feast that is as exhilarating as it is breathtaking. —B.H.

Watch it on Peacock.

Aidan Monaghan / © Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

16.Top Gun: Maverick

Screen shot from "Top Gun: Maverick"

Talks of a Top Gun sequel had been swirling around for nearly 40 years, but plenty of people were skeptical about whether audiences still had the need for speed. It turned out, there was no need to worry if the world had lost that loving feeling, as fans were more than ready to re-enter the Danger Zone and once again take to the skies with Maverick (Tom Cruise), with the film making over $1 billion at the global box office. Maverick wasn't just a solid follow-up to the beloved but flawed original Top Gun, it was actually an improvement, hitting just the right notes of nostalgia while also adding new elements (including a new generation of hot shot pilots) that made it feel entirely fresh. Whether this is the beginning of a new era of Top Gun or the final chapter for the franchise, it's impossible to argue that this is one of the most fun movie-going experiences of this century. —B.H.

Buy tickets from Fandango or Cinemark.

© Paramount Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

17.Turning Red

Screen shot from "Turning Red"

If you're an Asian girl with anxiety, you need to watch this film. If you're not an Asian girl with anxiety, you need to watch this film, because Turning Red is an amazing example of how representation and good storytelling go hand in hand. Besides, it's adorable, vibrant, and filled with feel-good moments that anyone who's experienced generational trauma can relate to. Helmed by Domee Shi, a now-vice president of creative of Pixar and the woman behind the Oscar-winning short Bao, the film follows a Chinese-Canadian girl named Mei who embodies the neurotic preteen experience to a T — she's BFFs with her overprotective mom, feels a duty to a contribute to her household's business, and is head-over-heels obsessed with a boyband named 4*Town. Until she transforms into a gigantic red panda, that is. What makes this such a fantastic coming-of-age movie is that the allegory works across many different backgrounds, and shows yet again that generational curses are a universal experience. —Allison Jiang

Watch it on Disney+.

© Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

18.X

Screen shot from "X"

Too often, movies try to unnecessarily reinvent the wheel, and no genre is more guilty of this than horror, where attempts to subvert every single expectation often leaves audiences bored, baffled, or begging for the end credits to roll. X is an example of the opposite, as it takes the tried-and-true slasher formula and adds a couple of new twists and tricks to deliver an absolute triumph of horror. As we follow a group of adult filmmakers traveling through the boonies of Texas in the late '70s, it's equally infuriating and thrilling to witness their blissful ignorance when they arrive at the farm of an elderly couple who are, of course, creepy as hell. Once the pieces are in place, the gory fun begins, and X director and writer Ti West is clearly having an absolute blast figuring out increasingly grisly ways to torture the young, aspiring filmmakers. —B.H.

Rent it on Prime Video.

Christopher Moss / © A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection

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