Here's some good news: 2022 is a terrific year for movies so far. It's hard to believe the year is halfway over, and it's comforting to see cinema thriving. Many films released in the first half of 2022 were met with critical acclaim, and the box office continues to recover. In fact, the final weekend in June was the first time four films at the domestic box office grossed over $20 million since 2017.
In case you've missed some of 2022's best movies, we've rounded them up and ranked them for you. For this list, all feature films with a theatrical or streaming release in the first six months of the year are fair game. Among the noteworthy movie trends from the first half of the year: Audiences are flocking back to theaters for blockbusters that deliver spectacle, and several international films have struck a mainstream chord. 2022 has been a strong year for horror, notably a resurgence of the traditional (if modernized) slasher. Also, a full ten years after Magic Mike, Channing Tatum is as big a box-office draw as ever.
Get ready to catch up with the best films of the year. Here are the 15 best movies of 2022 so far, ranked.
Best Movies of 2022
15. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
Nicolas Cage is Nick Cage in Tom Gormican's hilarious action comedy; Pedro Pascal charms as a Cage super fan who offers his favorite actor $1 million for a birthday party appearance. Tiffany Haddishand Ike Barinholtz co-star as CIA agents convinced Cage's new friend has criminal ties. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is in fact light and fluffy, so light you may forget all about it as soon as the credits roll. It's a lot of bromantic fun, though.
14. Scream (2022)
Radio Silence’s new comic thriller accomplishes the considerable feat of delivering a worthy sequel for long-term fans, and renewing the series for a new generation. It’s easy to wish this Scream was scarier; Wes Craven’s terrorizing touch is missed. It’s entertaining, funny and exciting for sure. Fans showed up to the theater, and a sixth installment was fast-tracked for a March 2023 release.
If Neve Campbell really isn't returning for part six, that would be a devastating loss for the franchise. She's never delivered anything less than a fully formed performance. Sidney Prescott is the hardest final girl in horror history, and she's as essential to this franchise as Ghostface themself.
13. Turning Red
Pixar tackles puberty with signature wit and invention in Oscar-winning director Domee Shi's exuberant family comedy about a Chinese-Canadian teen who inherits a furry curse. The script and characters are a little simplistic, but Turning Red's visual storytelling is often hilarious, sometimes breathtaking. Stories about parents and children, traditions and expectations will always be in fashion. Turning Red feels uncommonly fresh.
The Rs stand for rise, roar, revolt—and international audiences have certainly risen and roared in response to this crossover hit of South Indian cinema, now streaming on Netflix. An epic buddy action musical that's sort of about real-life Indian revolutionaries and their struggle with the Raj, RRRis funny, bloody, and kinetic, with a touching bromance between stars N.T. Rama Roa Jr. and Ram Charan. The VFX are outlandish but remarkably detailed and eye-popping. The film is genuinely spectacular for 187 minutes.
There are some cases where a movie practically markets itself: Here's Channing Tatum and a German Shepherd. The actor makes his co-directing debut alongside Reid Carolin, in a dramedy about an Army Ranger who inherits his fallen friend's troubled dog Lulu. There's a clash of grim and broadly funny tones here and there, but mostly Dogis engaging, nuts-and-bolts entertainment that's easy to ride along with.
10. The Northman
Robert Eggers follows up influential arthouse crossover hits The VVitch and The Lighthouse with a stab at big-budget filmmaking that retains his signature stamp. Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman and Ethan Hawke star in a graphically violent, relentless epic about a Viking seeking bloody vengeance. Some of the dazzling, borderline experimental The Northman feels stagey, not as seamless as Eggers' first two pictures, but that doesn't diminish the fan-favorite auteur's status as one of the most exciting filmmakers of modern times.
9. The Lost City
Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum are as delightful together as you'd expect in Aaron and Adam Nee's adventure comedy romance, about a reclusive romance novelist who's kidnapped by an outlandish billionaire. Tatum plays the handsome cover model who sets out to rescue her. Bolstered by a scene-stealing Daniel Radcliffe, The Lost City is a lighthearted but tremendously fun romp on a level that only top-tier talent can deliver.
Adam Sandler has once again struck gold for Netflix—in fact, this is his best Netflix movie ever. In We the Animals director Jeremiah Zagar‘s sports film Hustle, Sandler plays NBA talent scout Stan Sugerman, who’s risking his reputation and career for a Spanish recruit (real-life Utah Jazz player Juancho Hernangómez) he believes in. With a quiet determination and subtle, deeper humor than you might expect, Sandler plays maybe his most sympathetic character ever, a 180 from his (lamentably Oscar-snubbed) titanic turn as the angel of death in Uncut Gems.
7. Fire Island
Pride and Prejudiceleans into pride in Spa Night and Driveways director Andrew Ahn's magnificent rom-com (written by star Joel Kim Booster) that loosely adapts Jane Austen for gay mecca. Pride and Prejudice didn't have orgies or drug use, but Fire Island perfectly modernizes Austen's assertions about the arbitrariness of class and classism, and the power of family bonds.
Margaret Cho and SNL's Bowen Yangco-star. The characters in Fire Island talk like real people, and there are some mighty, mighty one-liners. An Academy Award nomination for screenwriting would be well deserved here.
What started as a festival darling is now a must-see movie of the moment. Audrey Diwan's searing French drama/thriller follows a promising student in 1963, and the aftermath of an unexpected pregnancy. Shot in claustrophobic 4:3 and devoid of any kind of filmmaking pyrotechnics, Happening is utterly brutal and chilling without being graphic. AnamariaVartolomei's central performance is one of the year's best. Happening won the Golden Lion at 2021's Venice Film Festival.
5. The Batman
After years of positive and negative hype, postponements and rumors, was The Batmanactually good? Yes, it’s pretty great, actually. A sprawling three hours that feels its length but is never less than fully absorbing, this is an intoxicating neon-splashed neo-noir that thrills in unexpected, patient ways. It might have all come off as too emo were it not for the radiant ensemble cast’s uniform commitment and a masterful command of tone. The Batman is more Blade Runner than Batman Begins, but this is damn good, consistently surprising filmmaking, and it all works.
This is a movie of startling excellence across the board, but the single most striking element is Michael Giacchino‘s thunderous, chameleonic and jazzy score. It’s arguably a new career high for the Oscar-winning Upcomposer.
Related: All Batman Movies, Ranked
4. Everything Everywhere All At Once
Daniels Schwert and Kwan's fantasy dramedy stars Michelle Yeoh as a laundromat owner propelled through a midlife crisis by a trip through the multiverse. Everything Everywhere All At Once is undeniably the breakout indie of 2022, and recently became A24's highest-grossing earner ever. Oscar nods seem likely.
Living up to its name, Everything Everywhere All At Once runs nearly two and a half hours, and it feels like there's a stronger 115-minute movie in here, but the wow factor is high throughout, and there's a heartbeat, thanks in no small part to a star-making turn from Stephanie Hsu. Yeoh, who's been one of the best actors in the world for decades, is more compelling than any of the effects and set pieces.
Stylized within an inch of its life, sometimes positively pulsing with anachronistic hip-hop beats, Baz Luhrmann‘s best since the mighty Moulin Rouge! does everything it must, honoring pop music‘s pioneer for a modern audience. Like the Australian auteur’s 2001 Oscar winner, Elvis is so opulent and kinetic it would be chaos if it weren’t for fine performances and heart—and there’s much of that.
Sure, it’s a biopic in a sequined cape, but the methodical spectacle and earnest melodrama make it feel timeless. A lively Tom Hanks chews the scenery as infamous manager Colonel Tom Parker, likely his least sympathetic character ever; ultimately this is Austin Butler’s show—and oh, what a show. A star is born.
X is a flat-out triumph for Ti West, the strongest film yet for a filmmaker who can firmly be called a modern genre master. Borrowing more than anything from Tobe Hooper’s original Texas Chain Saw Massacre (this is, unofficially, the best TCM sequel ever), West’s invigorating, meticulously artful ’70s-set slasher centers on a group of ragtag young Americans (the cast, including Brittany Snow, Mia Goth, Kid Cudi, Jenna Ortega and Martin Henderson, are all terrific) filming a porno in the middle of nowhere, when a vengeful presence lashes out.
X is frightening and tense, even for diehard horror fans. It’s often funny in a way that’s deep rather than cheap. It’s a love letter to the best of horror—and further, to freedom of expression. There are moments of surprising, haunting beauty that add nothing to the plot, but everything to the experience. This is one of this century's finest horror achievements.
1. Top Gun: Maverick
Top Gun: Maverick is the perfect American blockbuster. It plays like as much a legacy sequel to the 1986 film as to 40 years of Tom Cruise movies, with the best of what we’ve come to expect from Hollywood’s most consistent star accounted for. This is the most urgent reason to go to a movie theater in years, a more spectacular and gratifying experience than similarly delayed No Time to Die.
The heart is always what made the original film resonate, and Maverick builds on it in unexpected, fulfilling ways. There’s loss and romance, getting older and forgiveness. The action is groundbreaking, armrest-gripping and heart-pumping stuff, though ultimately nothing can match the power of Cruise’s on-screen reunion with Val Kilmer‘s “Iceman” Kazansky, which is handled perfectly. Cruise is still operating at the peak of his powers, and Top Gun: Maverick is his first to gross over $1 billion worldwide.