The Best Films Of 2022 (And Where To Watch Them)

2022 is almost over, and it gifted us with SO MANY spectacular films.

Photos from movies pinned as badges to a denim jecket

Big-budget rom-coms. Indie documentaries. Gory slashers. And hilarious stand-up specials. Blue people swam underwater, old-timey people visited the movie theater, and rich people went on ill-fated vacations. We got to see Jennifer Lawrence use a pool skimmer, Cate Blanchett tackle an orchestra conductor, and Viola Davis kill people with a spear. Our favorite stars went grocery shopping, dressed up as s'mores, danced at bar mitzvahs, and spat on one another (allegedly). They were thrown off water towers, bludgeoned with kettlebells, fed to alligators, sucked up in alien buttholes, and buried under heaping piles of elephant dung. It was a wild and raucous year at the multiplex, in which Top Gun: Maverick marked the post-COVID "return to cinema", Ticket to Paradise heralded the "return of the rom-com", and Marcel the Shell with Shoes On brought the return of Leslie Stahl to the big screen. WHAT. A. YEAR.

But along with the great films of 2022, came plenty of lackluster fares, and so we, your trusty team of intrepid BuzzFeed film journalists have sifted through the (white) noise to deliver the 50 must-see films of the year. These are the best films that 2022 had to offer, the films everyone is talking about (or they should be), the films that you'd gladly turn into buttons and wear around on your denim jacket as a badge of honor.

So without further ado, here are the best 50 films of 2022 (in alphabetical order):

Photos: A24, Jeong Park/Searchlight Pictures, Marvel/Disney, Disney/Pixar, Paramount Pictures, Netflix, A24, Warner Bros.; all Courtesy Everett Collection; Art: Hartley Mellick

1.Aftersun

Frankie Corio leans on Paul Mescall

My favorite film to emerge from the Cannes lineup was far and away this tiny independent feature about a young father and son vacationing in Turkey. Aftersun, which took a break over the summer before playing a swath of the fall festivals, has racked up nothing but rave reviews. Paul Mescal is on the hunt for his first Oscar nomination, playing a dad trying to enjoy time with his daughter while also struggling with demons of his own. Inspired by director and writer Charlotte Wells's real life, Aftersun feels lethargic and sun-drenched in the first half, slowly meandering around the resort. The back half, however, snaps the entire film into place in an excruciating and satisfying way, culminating in one of the best uses of music in film this year. Newcomer Frankie Corio is also a delight and should be set to sweep a bunch of the breakthrough actor awards this winter. —Matthew Huff

Currently in theaters. Buy tickets at Fandango or Cinemark.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

2.Alcarras

A family stands in an orchard together

My favorite film from this year's strong international lineup is Alcarrás, Spain's 2022 Oscar submission. It won the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival before its Spanish release. Set in Catalonia, Carla Simón's gorgeous vision follows a multi-generation, working-class family of peach farmers as they harvest their final summer's crop before their land is confiscated for legal reasons. With the quiet, observational, everyday feel of The Florida Project, Minari, or Eighth Grade, it meanders through the lush peach orchard with the family, slowly weaving a purposeful and delicately rendered tale of intergenerational conflict and love. The film has yet to receive a US release date, but I'd assume sometime in the winter, especially as it's on the hunt for Best International Feature. —Matthew Huff

In theaters January 6. Buy tickets at Fandango.

Mubi

3.All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

Nan Goldin speaks at a rally

If you are looking for a terrific documentary set in the art world OR a scrappy underdog story about activists trying to tackle big pharma OR a historical portrait of the bohemian New York art scene '70s and '80s then I can't recommend All the Beauty and the Bloodshed enough. The doc follows noted photographer Nan Goldin through two narratives intercut with one another. In the first, we see her life story, her migration to the New York art world, and her rise to success. In the second, we see her bitter battle to get the name of the Sackler family (the owners of Purdue Pharma, the company that created Oxycontin) stricken from museums. The film won this year's Golden Lion, the Venice Film Festival's top prize, becoming only the second documentary to ever win. Brilliantly directed by Laura Poitras (who previously won an Oscar for Citizenfour), it's a must-watch this awards season and the obvious frontrunner for Best Documentary Feature. —Matthew Huff

Currently in theaters. Buy tickets at Fandango.

Neon/Courtesy Everett Collection

4.Avatar: The Way of Water

Same Worthington and Jamie Flatters as blue people in a jungle

Never bet against James Cameron. The filmmaker has made a career of defying every convention and rule of Hollywood and not only does he remain successful, he is also one of the only directors whose movies continue to outdo one another as his career progresses. His latest epic venture is the highly-anticipated sequel to the biggest movie in film history more than a decade after its release. And, once again, Cameron delivers the goods, as The Way of Water absolutely annihilates modern blockbusters in terms of both scope and visual quality. In his second visit to Pandora, Cameron manages to expand on the world-building and take the adventure underwater, developing brand new technology to motion capture the aquatic sequences to absolutely stunning results. Haters will grumble, but Cameron remains the King of the World. —Blake Harper

Currently in theaters. Buy tickets at Fandango or Cinemark.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

5.Babylon

Margot Robbie lies on the floor

We start with a man trying to deliver an elephant to a house party, one where people have sex on the dance floor, there are piles of drugs in the bedroom, and a body has to be snuck out the backdoor. This is the bombastic decadence of Hollywood's 1920s and of Babylon, Damien Chazelle's latest epic. Following a trio of Hollywood trendsetters played by Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, and Diego Calva, we watch Tinseltown transition from silent film to the talkies with some stars rising to the occasion and others falling to the wayside. This is one of the year's most ambitious masterpieces, with some of the most beautiful, technically proficient filmmaking of all time. The sets, the costumes, the cinematography, and THE SCORE. Chazelle outdoes himself in a film that rivals only Avatar when it comes to spectacle. —Matthew Huff

In theaters December 25. Buy tickets at Fandango or Cinemark.

Paramount Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

6.The Banshees of Inisherin

Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson drink beer by the ocean

There have been countless movies about breakups, but they almost all focus on the end of romantic relationships. The Banshees of Inisherin is, at its core, the tale of a friend breakup, as Colm (Brendan Gleeson) abruptly decides he no longer wants anything to do with his best buddy Pádraic (Colin Farrell) so he can focus on making music. Pádraic does not take his chum's change of heart seriously, so Colm tells his former friend that every time he bothers him from then on, he will cut off a finger. Martin McDonagh, who wrote and directed the film, masterfully explores masculinity, friendship, conflict, and what constitutes a meaningful life with his signature brand of tenderness and darkly comedic absurdity. The result is one of the most compelling and hilarious viewing experiences of this year. —Blake Harper

Jonathan Hession/Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

7.Barbarian

Georgina Campbell climbs up stairs crying

When it first hit theaters, people liked to say the less you know about Barbarian before you see it, the better. So I will spare the plot details beyond saying Tess (Georgina Campbell) shows up at an Airbnb in a rundown Detroit neighborhood only to discover that a stranger named Keith (Bill Skarsgård) is staying there as well. From there, the tension builds as Tess, and, as an extension, all of us, try to figure out what the hell is going on. Barbarian is not attempting to reinvent the wheel of horror but that's not a bad thing, as it is a perfect execution of so many of the best tropes of the genre, including a few thrilling twists, questionable decision-making from its characters, and some of the most upsetting visuals you will see all year. —Blake Harper

20th Century Studios/Courtesy Everett Collection

8.The Batman

Robert Pattinson as 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 entered our lives. But when news dropped that the hot, moody vampire from Twilight would be taking on the mantle, some die-hard Batmaniacs were left wondering if the iconic character was once again doomed by bad casting. However, Robert Pattinson turned out to be a natural fit for 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

Jonathan Olley/Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection

9.Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Angela Bassett stands on a beach

Nicole Kidman famously said, “we come to this place [movie theaters] for magic.” And “magic” is what director Ryan Coogler gives. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever takes on the impossible, elegizing both a beloved character and Chadwick Boseman, who brought the suit to life. The line is so thin that while watching Letitia Wright and Golden Globe nominee Angela Bassett mourn the loss of T’Challa, their brother and son, you can’t help but know they are also grieving their beloved friend. The feelings are raw, and the performances are stunning. Yet, within the heaviness, Coogler gives us light — a fun spunky Ironheart, an underwater nation, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus! There was a lot of plot, and not everything was wrapped up neatly. But spending an afternoon in Wakanda is still more fun than almost anything else. —Dana Elle Salzberg

Currently in theaters. Buy tickets at Fandango or Cinemark.

Annette Brown/Marvel/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

10.Bodies Bodies Bodies

Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Chase Sui Wonders, and Rachel Sennott stand in a dark room

Perhaps it’s because I personally love Charlie XCX and have never seen Euphoria, but I found Bodies Bodies Bodies to be so refreshingly enjoyable. As someone who typically doesn’t go for slashers, I was riveted watching these glow stick-clad girlies go after one another, and at times found myself so tense in the theater that only the great Rachel Sennott could have cut through the suspense. Director Halina Reijn has her finger right on the pulse of (at least late) Gen Z humor, successfully utilizing some of Twitter’s favorite buzzwords as punchlines to jokes too honest for me to not laugh at. The A24 film follows a group of exhaustingly wealthy friends who gather at one of their mansions to take shelter from a hurricane, only to realize the real threat may be coming from inside the multi-million dollar house. Amandla Stenberg and Maria Bakalova star alongside Sennott, Myha’la Herrold and Chase Sui Wonders. Pete Davidson and Lee Pace are there, too. If you were turned off by the hype surrounding Bodies Bodies Bodies — or perhaps the drama that followed its release — I promise, neither took away the joy I experienced watching these characters snap after the WiFi went out. —Danica Creahan

Erik Chakeen/A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

11.Bros

Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane in bed together

I laughed harder at Bros than any other movie in recent memory! Bros is not only the first gay rom-com from a major studio, but also the first film to feature an entirely LGBTQ+ principal cast. That in itself is a huge accomplishment, but the fact that everyone at my viewing was also laughing out loud is huge. Bros is co-written and stars Billy Eichner, as a Billy-Eichner-angry type trying to find love. The movie follows many rom-com beats, making it feel like a throwback to the glory of '90s classics while still feeling completely fresh. Without spoiling any cameos, I’ll just say there are many, but nothing made me laugh harder than Debra Messing in a scene that only she could do! —Dana Elle Salzberg

Nicole Rivelli/Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

12.Catherine Called Birdy

Andrew Scott holds Bella Ramsey in the air

For Game of Thrones watchers, the first time we saw Lyanna Mormont, Lady of Bear Island (Bella Ramsey) grace our screens, we knew she was a star! And in Catherine Called Birdy, star Ramsey proves it again by playing the 14-year-old titular role, who in the 1290s, fights off potential suitors. Oh, and it also stars Hot Priest and King of Our Hearts, Andrew Scott, as well as Taylor Swift's boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. Lena Dunham, writer and director, has a gift of knowing what to do with actors, and here, expertly shows off Ramsey, Scott, and Alwyn’s natural talents. I’ve questioned whether Hollywood knows what to do with Alwyn, and Dunham nails it. I can see why Birdy could be a hard sell for some, a PG-13 action comedy starring a 14-year-old, but Dunham blends shades of Eloise at the Plaza with the Drew Barrymore-led classic Ever After and gives us a wacky new heroine to root for. If you like Lyanna, you’ll love Birdy. —Dana Elle Salzberg

Alex Bailey/Amazon Prime Video

13.Causeway

Brian Tyree Henry and Jennifer Lawrence in a swimming pool

J. Law has been out of the game for a bit. She got married, she had a child, and she hasn't had a lead role in a drama since Mother! in 2017 (and we do NOT have the time to get into that here). Now, the four-time Oscar nominee (in six years no less) is finally gracing our screens in something that doesn't involve lots of blue body paint. Causeway follows Lynsey (Lawrence), a lesbian soldier, who has returned from war with a traumatic brain injury only to find she must suffer alone with little support from friends or family. Lawrence gives a masterful, if quiet, internal performance, but the movie really hits its stride when Brian Tyree Henry arrives as James, an auto-mechanic who befriends Lynsey. IMHO, BTH is one of the greatest actors working at the moment, and he needs more appreciation. Give him an Oscar nomination. —Matthew Huff

Wilson Webb/Apple TV+/Courtesy Everett Collection

14.Cha Cha Real Smooth

Cooper Raiff talks to Dakota Johnson in a hallway

Cha Cha Real Smooth was one of the most quietly compelling movies I had the pleasure of being obligated to watch in 2022. Newcomer Cooper Raiff writes, directs, and stars as Andrew, a fresh-out-of-college party-starting protagonist who just really wants to quit his job at Meat Sticks. Enter: Dakota Johnson in one of her best roles to date. My dearest DJ plays Domino, a Manic Pixie Dream Mom rocking a great set of bangs and a back tattoo that may influence me in my personal life very soon. Domino and Andrew hit it off at a Bat Mitzvah after he manages to convince (bribe) Lola, Domino’s teenage daughter with autism, to brave the dance floor for the evening. And with that, a triumphant trio is born (and also Andrew jumpstarts his career as a semi-professional party starter). Cha Cha Real Smooth is a love story inside a coming-of-age story inside a love story inside a — you get the idea. It’s perhaps a film too pure for this world, which explains some of the flack it got upon its straight-to-streaming premiere, but it’s one that will stick with you. Vanessa Burghardt is excellent as Lola, Leslie Mann is a sob-inducing revelation as Andrew’s mom, and Raiff really nails that cathartic moment of crying in your car (on more than one occasion). —Danica Creahan

Apple TV+/Courtesy Everett Collection

15.Close

Eden Dambrine and Gustav De Waele walk through a field

Being young is really fucking hard, and not nearly enough people are talking about that. Being young is even harder if you're grappling with queerness. In Lukas Dhont's arresting coming-of-age drama, and Belgium's Oscar submission, a pair of 13-year-old boys (played masterfully by Eden Dambrine and Gustave de Waele) who have spent the summer growing closer picking flowers with their families, return to school to have their friendship questioned by their peers. Are they gay? Are they in love? Perhaps they don't even know, but the probing queries of their classmates and insults from others put a strain on the idyllic relationship and put the pair on a journey, subtly and delicately constructed. As gorgeous as it is terrifying, Close is a must-watch. —Matthew Huff

Currently in theaters. Buy tickets at Fandango.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

16.Decision to Leave

Park, Hae-il with a gun

Hae-Jun (Hae il Park) is a detective assigned to investigate the death of a man whose body was found at the foot of a mountain he was climbing. It appears to be an accident or suicide, but as he investigates the man's wife, Seo-Rae (Tang Wei), he becomes suspicious of her behavior and response to her husband's death. As he digs deeper into the case, he finds himself falling for her, even as he wonders if she is, in fact, a murderer. Director Park Chan-wook blends the love story with the mystery to absolute perfection and the chemistry between Wei and Park is palpable. —Blake Harper

Mubi/Courtesy Everett Collection

17.Don't Worry Darling Press Tour

Gemma Chan, Harry Styles, Sydney Chandler, Olivia Wilde, Chris Pine and Florence Pugh at the Venice Film Festival premiere of Don’t Worry Darling.

What do the planes mean?! So many things in Don’t Worry Darling made me say, wait, what? In no world should this film be on our list of best movies (although the production design and costuming were beautiful). But it gave us the best press tour in years and in my book that counts! We used to get Joan Crawford feuding with Bette Davis and Julia Roberts in a shirt that said, “A Low Vera.” Movie stars used to be glamorous and messy! I say let’s bring it back! I can debate the merit of celebrity forever, but if the point of entertainers is to entertain, no one did it better than this cast! One Aperol spritz for Miss Florence Pugh, who put an exclamation point next to her moniker as one of the best working actors, please! —Dana Elle Salzberg

REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

18.Downton Abbey: A New Era

Penelope Wilton and Maggie Smith stand together

Julian Fellows said, “Get in loser, we’re going to Downton! If you can’t keep up, get out!” (He did not say this, but it was his vibe.) You may have been able to see the first film without extensive knowledge of the Downton multiverse, but this one expects you to know it all! You don’t remember Barrow’s backstory or know why hearts fluttered when Molesley and Baxter glanced at each other? Too bad! As a Downton super fan, as evidenced here, I can assure you that if you care about the Crowley family, this iteration is a joy. Amid reboot fatigue, Fellows gets it right. He had more story to tell. From the first sweeping shot of the Downton manor, the film feels like you’re catching up with old friends. Plus, they go to a villa in the south of France, and Dominic West and Huge Dancy are there for reasons! —Dana Elle Salzberg

Ben Blackall/Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

19.Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel

A resident sits in her messy apartment

Perhaps the most nostalgic, melancholy film of the year is 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. —Matthew Huff

Magnolia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

20.Emergency

Sebastian Chacon, Donald Elise Watkins, and RJ Cyler stand by the side of the road

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 comedies 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. —Matthew Huff

Quantrell Colbert/Amazon Studios/Courtesy Everett Collection

21.Empire of Light

Olivia Colman sits in a ticket booth

For whatever reason, Sam Mendes's follow-up to 1917 has become this awards season punching bag, with critics coming out of the woodwork to berate the earnest tribute to friendship and cinema. But myself and Vanity Fair's omniscient critic, Richard Lawson, are here to tell you it's one of the year's best. (We are Thelma & Louise-ing it this year for Empire even though he has no idea who I am.) Olivia Colman stars as a middle-aged movie theater attendant, slogging through a meaningless existence on the southern coast of 1990s Britain. Her life is changed, however, when she meets Michael Ward's Stephen, a much younger man, who feels adrift for completely different reasons. The two strike up a romance/friendship in which each gives meaning to the other. While critics have called out the film for not thoroughly grappling with some of its tougher issues (race, mental health, gender), I think the film, is at its heart about loneliness and finding connection, and on that topic, the film delivers a beautiful, poignant examination. The cinematography from Roger Deakins and a score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross elevate it all the more. Plus, Colman gives another tremendous, unimpeachable performance, so you should see it for that at the very least. —Matthew Huff

Currently in theaters. Buy tickets at Fandango and Cinemark.

Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

22.Everything Everywhere All At Once

Michelle Yeoh lifts a hotdog finger

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 of 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 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. —Matthew Huff

Allyson Riggs/A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

23.The Fabelmans

Gabriel LaBelle holds a camera up to his eye

I would argue there is no movie that was misrepresented by its trailer more than The Fabelmans. The autobiographical film from Steven Spielberg was marketed as a saccharine tale of the acclaimed director discovering the magic of movies through formulaic plot points and cliched dialogue. In reality, The Fabelmans explores Spielberg's own complicated relationship with filmmaking as a way to process himself and the world around him during a time when his own family seemed to be falling apart. The Fabelmans is honest about the flaws of its characters without turning any of them into villains or heroes. Everyone is simply trying to find a sense of purpose and happiness amidst the chaos and confusion of existence. And in an era where even the biggest movies have increasingly static and dull visuals, Spielberg deserves bonus points for continuing to make movies that remain stunning to watch, especially on the big screen. —Blake Harper

Merie Weismiller Wallace/Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

24.Fire Island

Matt Rogers, Bowen Yang, and Tomas Matos perform a song together

As a gay who went to Fire Island not once, but three times this summer, and watched Fire Island ON Fire Island, I feel uniquely suited to tell you how perfect this film is. Joel Kim Booster's tribute to the gay-cation destination south of Long Island is not only a perfect encapsulation of everything about the magical island (including the underwear party, the Pines Pantry, and an abundance of Marisa Tomei impressions) but also a perfect rom-com. Perhaps, that is because Fire Island is based on Jane Austen's classic novel Pride and Prejudice, which may just be the most beloved rom-com of all time. Swapping out a gaggle of gays for the Bennett Sisters, the film is a delightful tribute to gay culture, gay love, and Britney Spears.

Matthew Huff

Jeong Park/Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

25.Fresh

Daisy Edgar-Jones sits in a restaurant

Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones share egregiously great chemistry in — spoiler alert — the other cannibal movie released this year. No shade to Bones and All, which I enjoyed perhaps too much for my boyfriend’s liking, but Fresh is just undeniably a more fun film about eating people. Noa (Jones) has lost her taste for online dating when she stumbles into a real-life meet-cute with Steve (Stan). Sparks fly and soon the couple is headed on their very first romantic getaway, where Noa will conveniently lose reception, consciousness, and, eventually, part of her butt. On paper, Fresh is a harrowing tale that personally left me quite nauseated. However, the vibes of this horror story happen to be impeccable. Ignore the somewhat watery messaging about murderous men (points for effort, though) and just enjoy yourself. TLDR: No thoughts, just Sebastian Stan dancing while he cooks something up in the kitchen. —Danica Creahan

Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

26.Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Daniel Craig stands on a boat dock

“I’ll only do a Knives Out sequel if it has Mamma Mia! Vibes” —Rian Johnson (probably).

In the follow-up to what has quickly become one of the most beloved murder mystery movies of our time, Benoit Blanc is back and ready to party. This new mystery comes in the form of an elaborate invitation to a billionaire’s private party with all of his old, pre-getting-rich besties. Does Detective Blanc know said billionaire? No. Will he be pulling up to the private Greek island in an impeccable vacation ‘fit complete with a matching mask? Indubitably. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery features a whole new cast of curious characters, including a soon-to-be senator (the wonderful Kathryn Hahn); a problematic model-turned-lifestyle-guru (Kate Hudson); a potentially slimy scientist (Leslie Odom Jr.); a wannabe “men’s rights” streamer and his influencer girlfriend (Dave Bautista and Madelyn Cline); and an estranged former friend (Janelle Monáe). Without giving too much away, Blanc’s new case plays out against a beautiful backdrop of suntanned arrogance feat. the Mona Lisa. It’s everything you’d hope for in a Knives Out sequel, plus a scene where we find out the world’s greatest detective really sucks at playing Among Us. The only good thing about the film’s criminally short theatrical release is that you can go stream it basically right now (December 23) on Netflix. —Danica Creahan

John Wilson/Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

27.Living

Bill Nighy checks his watch

Living has been in it for the long haul this year on the festival circuit. The film, which script was written by Nobel Prize-winning novelist, Kazuo Ishiguro, is based on a 1952 Japanese film which is in turn based on the Tolstoy novella, The Death of Ivan Illyich. It follows Bill Nighy's Mr. Williams, a British bureaucrat who searches for meaning in life beyond shuffling papers once he learns he has a fatal illness. While the film debuted way back at Sundance, it went into hibernation over the summer before playing Venice, Telluride, and Toronto this fall in a bid to stir up more awards buzz. Nighy is masterful in the film, especially in his scenes with the delightful Aimee Lou Wood, and is in the thick of the Best Actor race. Shockingly, he's never been nominated for an Oscar, so this feels like the perfect time to reward the legend. —Matthew Huff

In theaters December 23. Buy tickets at Fandango.

Sony Pictures Classics/Courtesy Everett Collection

28.The Lost City

Channing Tatum pulls Sandra Bullock who is attached to a chair

Sometimes movies can be fun! This tongue-in-cheek adventure rom-com follows best-selling but reclusive author Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock). The archeologist-turned-romance novelist is struggling with grief and dreading her upcoming book tour, due in part to dealing with Alan, the hunky himbo cover model (Channing Tatum) who may actually think he’s the romantic lead from Loretta’s series. But when Loretta is kidnapped mid-tour by an obsessive billionaire who needs help with his treasure-hunting hobby (the excellent Daniel Radcliffe), Alan gets the chance to step up and start acting like the hero from her stories. The Lost City is romantic, lighthearted, and genuinely a laugh-out-loud level of funny. It was one of the best times I’d had at a movie theater this year, and not just because I have a crush on basically every actor in it. —Danica Creahan

Kimberley French/Paramount Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

29.Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Marcel the shell stands on a table near a dog

Do you feel like sobbing your eyes out over a one-inch-tall shell wearing little shoes? Then this one’s definitely for you! This adorable, heart-wrenching story takes the form of a faux documentary in which a filmmaker finds Marcel, the one-inch-tall shell with shoes on, living in his Airbnb. Marcel and his grandmother Connie are the only two shells left from their once-thriving community at the home-turned-rental-property, but Marcel is ready, with the help of the internet, to finally find his family. You’ll laugh, you’ll ruin your popcorn with tears, and you’ll likely have a hard time handling small inanimate objects around your place for a while. —Danica Creahan

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

30.The Menu

Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult stand by a bridge

Order up! This freaky, foodie flick is deliciously terrifying, as a group of the upper-class elite is brought to an ultra-exclusive island fine-dining restaurant only to slowly realize perhaps they have entered a trap. Ralph Fiennes is mesmerizing as the menacing head chef, and Anya Taylor-Joy is predictably perfect as his chief nemesis, but the supporting cast really steals the show. Hong Chau (who should be nominated for an Oscar for some combination of her work this year in this, Showing Up, and The Whale) is a terrifying host, and Janet McTeer is pitch-perfect as the uppity food critic. One of the year's best horror films in a year of great horror films. —Matthew Huff

Currently in theaters. Buy tickets at Fandango or Cinemark.

Eric Zachanowich/Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

31.Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

Lesley Manville smiles over a railing

Sometimes, hear me out, sometimes, movies can be nice. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is just that, a delight! Mrs. Harris is played beautifully by Lesley Manville, now a Golden Globe nominee for the role. Manville most recently portrayed Princess Margaret in The Crown — the scene between her and Peter Townsend was, in my opinion, the best scene of the season! Mrs. Harris is a cleaner in 1950s London who travels to Paris to buy a Dior dress. There’s love, mischief, and the hot guy from Emily In Paris (Lucas Bravo). It’s impossible not to route for Mrs. Harris and get swept up in Parisian beauty and fashion alongside her. —Dana Elle Salzberg

David Lukacs/Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

32.Nope

Keke Palmer stands in a parking lot

There is nobody making movies quite like Jordan Peele, as the sketch comedian-turned-blockbuster-director is never content with playing it safe. In his latest feature film, Nope, Peele is at his most ambitious, weaving nuanced messages about fame, race, and art into the story of OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Em (Keke Palmer) Haywood discovering a UFO that has taken residence above their family ranch. But while Peele remains as sharp as ever with his social commentary, he also manages to never come across as preachy and understands that first and foremost, his movies should be entertaining. And Nope is a dazzling spectacle that demands repeat viewings to fully appreciate. Peele's willingness to take big swings is a genuine thrill and I can't wait to see whatever he decides to make next. —Blake Harper

Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

33.The Northman

Alexander Skarsgard prepares to fight a battle

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. —Blake Harper

Aidan Monaghan/Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

34.Pearl

Mia Goth puts a finger to her lips

X was one of the breakout horror hits of the year and writer/director, Ti West, surprised everyone when just months later he released its prequel, Pearl. But while X was a slasher, Pearl was far more psychological, as we watch the titular farm girl dream of becoming a star while slowly losing her already-tenuous grip on her sanity. There aren't many jump-scares in Pearl, but it's still incredibly frightening, thanks in large part to Mia Goth, who plays Pearl with a dash of humanity to go along with her psychotic tendencies. In a just world, Goth would be scoring her first Oscar nomination for her work here, as Pearl's final monologue is some of the best acting of the last several years. —Blake Harper

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

35.Pinocchio

Pinocchio stands in the woods

What is it about Pinocchio that acclaimed filmmakers just can't resist? Not one, but two Oscar-winning directors tried to retell the tale of the wooden puppet who is brought to life this year and while Robert Zemeckis' Disney+ version felt like a heartless paycheck gig, Guillermo Del Toro delivered the best-animated film of the year (apologies to Rise of Gru fans). Del Toro rejects Pinocchio being a story about obedience and instead reframes it as a celebration of defiance and misbehavior, specifically in the face of authoritarian fascism. The entire voice cast shines but what really stands out here is the stop-motion animation, as the movie looks incredible and truly feels like one of the most "they just don't make 'em like that anymore" films of the year. —Blake Harper

Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

36.Prey

Amber Midthunder hides behind a tree

In the early 18th century, Naru (Amber Midthunder) is one of the fiercest hunters in the Comanche Nation. But when she begins tracking her prey, she is surprised to discover that it is actually a highly-evolved alien that viewers will almost certainly recognize (spoiler: it's a predator). It's not difficult to understand why they keep making these movies: watching predators hunt down humans is totally awesome. While Predator sequels have a decidedly mixed track record, in my opinion, Prey is the best since the original, as it features some great action and finds a new way to feature the classic extraterrestrial hunter instead of just rehashing his battle with Arnold. Plus, Midthunder, who is also set to play Princess Yue in the upcoming Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action series, delivers a fantastic leading performance where she effortlessly carries the film on her back. It's no wonder Prey had Hulu's biggest premiere week ever in its first week, even beating out The Kardashians. —Blake Harper

David Bukach/Hulu/Courtesy Everett Collection

37.Rothaniel

Jerrod Carmichael performs standup

Every year, the internet dishes up dozens of stand-up specials complete with jokes about vibrators, mothers-in-law, regional colloquialisms, divorce, airports, Trader Joe's, and the like (What's with baggage claim? Amiright?). But this year comedian Jerrod Carmichael from Neighbors and The Carmichael Show made headlines by coming out during his special, Rothaniel. The tender, intimate, and yes, still very funny, set earned Carmichael an Emmy, an SNL hosting gig, and the unenvious position of hosting the return of the Golden Globes. Sharing his personal story (while rocking the pants tucked into socks look), Carmichael delivered a one-of-a-kind special (made more special by Bo Burnham directing). Also, here is a photo of Carmichael with his Emmy that I'm sharing for no particular reason. —Matthew Huff

HBOMax

38.RRR

Ram Charan and N.T. Rama Rao Jr. crowd surf

RRR is the most expensive Indian film ever made, the third highest-grossing Indian film of all time, and has received top-notch reviews from critics the world over. Now, it's readily accessible on Netflix and continuing to build a fandom in the US. It's a frenetic, highly stylized Indian musical action film about two revolutionaries who fought against British imperialism (using tigers, according to this). Think Moulin Rouge! meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets The Matrix meets The Patriot. It's a three-hour-plus gory action film with extended musical numbers (including a rather upbeat public torture song), which sounds miserably weird, but I loved every single second of it. India, unfortunately, did not select it for the International Feature race, BUT this seems to almost be helping its Oscar chances as more and more fans are rallying around the musical's music in hopes of an Original Song nomination. —Matthew Huff

Raftar Creations/Courtesy Everett Collection

39.See How They Run

Saoirse Ronan wears a security uniform

Not sure how we let See How They Run practically come and go this year, but as a big fan of whodunits AND a Saoirse Ronan stan, I was delighted with this ultra-meta murder mystery movie. Our story starts in a familiar spot: with Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. The brilliant homage to the famous author follows a troubled detective (Sam Rockwell) and his new mentee (Ronan) as they investigate a brutal murder within the theater world — and things get quite theatrical from there. As is the trouble with whodunits, I can’t say much more without spoiling the fun, but trust me, you should run to see this one. —Danica Creahan

Parisa Taghizadeh/Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

40.Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me (2022)

Selena Gomez sits in a chair

In My Mind & Me, Selena does something rare. She paints a portrait of a superstar’s life unfiltered. Selena addresses intense and somber topics: mental health disorders, psychosis, and various health issues, yet I still wanted it to go deeper. Selena and director Alek Keshishian filmed on and off for four years, and while millions and millions of people follow Selena’s every move, this pop-star doc sheds light on the fact that there is a lot that her fans don’t know going on behind the scenes. I respect that Selena sometimes snaps and gets annoyed, like everyone on Earth. Stars as big as she can seem superhuman, but she’s a person, a young woman dealing with life, just on a much larger stage. —Dana Elle Salzberg

Apple TV+/Courtesy Everett Collection

41.She Said

Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan listen to a phone

One of this fall's buzziest debuts in the leadup to awards season was She Said, the story of Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, the pair of New York Times journalists who tirelessly researched and finally reported on the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault allegations. As a New York-based story about two New York journalists that was largely shot in New York, a premiere anywhere other than the Big Apple would have been nonsensical. As a New York journalist myself, the film was 100% accurate as it concerns constantly carrying 800 bags, scarfing down food while you walk on the street, and answering emails while in the bathroom of your friend's birthday party. Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan are good, as always, as the leads, and it will be a Spotlight/The Post-like contender at the Oscars next year. As a journalist who loves journalist movies, I will say that I thoroughly loved every second of this one. Plus, as the starting point of the modern #MeToo movement, it feels like an incredibly important piece of history to know. —Matthew Huff

JoJo Whilden/Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

42.Tar

Cate Blanchett waits backstage to conduct

Who is Lydia Tar (Cate Blanchett)? That is the central question at the heart of this nearly three-hour film from Todd Field. Is she a brilliant conductor who is unfairly targeted by outside forces, spurring her downfall? Or is she someone who is righteously judged for her abuse of power and callous treatment of everyone around her? There are no clear or easy answers here and that ambiguity has made it one of the most fascinating and widely-discussed films of the year. But above all, Tar is a titanic cinematic character study that stands alongside the likes of Taxi Driver and There Will Be Blood in terms of complexity and depth. Whether or not you found the divisive film effective, there is no denying that Blanchett has delivered a powerhouse performance that could land her the third Oscar of her career. —Blake Harper

Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

43.Ticket to Paradise

Julia Roberts and George Clooney dressed up

If you’re in the mood to watch something with no real conflict, just vibes, then I encourage you to grab yourself a Ticket to Paradise (I’m so sorry). Starring two of Hollywood’s last true Movie Stars, this hodge-podge of every hit film Julia Roberts and George Clooney have ever been in may just be great enough to revive rom-coms. When their daughter (Kaitlyn Dever) decides to extend her post-grad trip to Bali so she can settle down with a local (Maxime Bouttier), estranged exes Georgia and David are forced to team up and try and stop the wedding without revealing their shared disapproval. The pair work pretty well together, perhaps too well, and soon enough, their back-and-forth bickering becomes something else…

Even if you’re not on the hunt for a new instantly classic rom-com, Ticket to Paradise is worth checking out for the rudely under-marketed Booksmart reunion of Dever and Billie Lourd. Also, Lucas Bravo (the sexy chef from Emily in Paris) is there! AND the whole thing takes place against the jaw-dropping backdrop of Bali, Indonesia. I sincerely recommend adding Ticket to Paradise to your comfort rom-com roster. —Danica Creahan

Vince Valitutti/Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

44.Top Gun: Maverick

Tom Cruise stands in front of a screen

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 hotshot 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. —Blake Harper

Paramount Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

45.Triangle of Sadness

Harris Dickinson takes a photo on a boat

The best way to see Ruben Östlund’s film, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival, is to know absolutely nothing. I will say that it is a dark satire about the world of the ultra-rich that devolves into absolute madness, but that’s it. Östlund splits the film into three distinct acts, and each one is batshit insane! —Dana Elle Salzberg

Neon/Courtesy Everett Collection

46.Turning Red

Mei Lee walks down the street

Did you have “Nobody Like U,” a perfect spoof of a 2000s boyband song, by 4*Town on your Spotify wrapped or… This is apparently very controversial, but sometimes, 13-year-old girls get their period. And sometimes teenagers have a hard time controlling their emotions. Groundbreaking stuff, I know! Turning Red, now a Golden Globe nominee for Best Animated Film, does what Pixar does best. It tells the story of Mei, a 13-year-old girl struggling with turning into a red panda while skillfully weaving in intergeneration trauma, the pressure of living up to your parent’s expectations, and the highs and lows of boy band fandom. Its complicated yet loving depiction of families and teenage friendships is flawless, with a soundtrack to match! —Dana Elle Salzberg

Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

47.Catherine Cohen: The Twist...? She's Gorgeous

Cat Cohen performs standup

I’ve managed to revisit Cat Cohen’s The Twist...? She's Gorgeous upwards of five (that means six) times this year. Maybe you don’t consider a near-flawless stand-up comedy special a proper “movie,” but for me? Pop that corn, dim those lights, and turn up the volume when that iconic opening musical number begins to play, baby! The embodiment of main character energy, Cat Cohen so effortlessly balances between self-denigrating humor and unbridled self-love — in excellent boots, no less. Part unfortunately catchy musical, part ultra-relatable (to me) stand-up special, the best, most cringingly honest parts of Girls walked so that Cat Cohen could sing about the life-changing power of going upstate for approximately 48 hours. The Twist…? I will be rewatching before the new year. —Danica Creahan

Netflix

48.Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

Daniel Radcliffe stands in an office

Yeah, I am aware that the only two movies Daniel Radcliffe did this year both made my top movies of 2022 shortlist. Am I biased because of my long-harbored crush on him because I saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at the formative age of six? Probably. But we as a collective really slept on Weird: the Al Yankovic Story this year, and I’m here to fix that.

This satirical biopic stars pretty much anyone you’d want to see in it, and follows the technically-not-the–best-but-arguably-the-most-famous-accordion-player-in-an-extremely-specific-genre-of-music through a fictionalized version of his life that includes, but is not limited to, a generically angry factory worker father who crushes dreams (and accordions), an all original hit single, “Eat It,” and a hot and heavy relationship with Madonna. Evan Rachel Wood and Radcliffe share solid chemistry, Jack Black pops up briefly and we even get a rare appearance from Rainn Wilson. It’s everything a Weird Al fan would want in a movie, and so much more (the more being a third-act action movie twist and lots of shirtless shots of Harry Po— I mean, Daniel Radcliffe). Also, it’s genuinely free to stream! —Danica Creahan

The Roku Channel/Courtesy Everett Collection

49.White Noise

Sam Nivola, Adam Driver, May Nivola, Greta Gerwig, Dean Moore, and Raffey Cassidy stand in a grocery store

Noah Baumbach's follow-up to Marriage Story is an adaptation of the supposedly unadaptable novel by Don DeLillo, and the first non-original film from Baumbach. Starring frequent collaborators Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig as a couple struggling with consumerism, marriage woes, and an apocalypse all at once, the film is expertly acted and the perfect mix of comedy and drama. With a massive Netflix budget, the crafts here are gorgeous, and I expect Oscar nominations in Production Design and Costume Design if nowhere else. While reviews have been a bit tepid, I really enjoyed the stylized portrait of suburban living, and the film's credit sequence is one of the best in cinema history. —Matthew Huff

Currently in theaters. Buy tickets at Fandango. Coming to Netflix on December 30.

Wilson Webb/Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

50.The Woman King

Viola Davis stands in a field

General Nanisca (Viola Davis) is the head of an elite female warrior squad known as the Agojie which protects the West African kingdom of Dahomey in this historical epic that functions equally well as an inspiring drama and a badass action movie. Viola leads the film but The Woman King really shines through the work of its ensemble, as Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch, and Sheila Atim all deliver fantastic performances. And in an era where action movies become more and more detached from reality, the gritty, grounded fight scenes found here are far more exciting than anything you’ll find in most over-bloated blockbusters. —Blake Harper

TriStar Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection