I’ve seen 42 movies in theaters so far this year — here’s the 5 best and 5 worst

Timothee Chalamet in Dune Part Two
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

We’re at the halfway point of the year, which is a great time to take stock of the last six months, and most importantly pick out the best (and worst) movies of 2024 so far. 

I visit my local movie theater at least once a week and have already seen 42 movies on the big screen in 2024. Naturally, I’ve seen all the biggest hits of the year to date from “Dune Part Two” to "Inside Out 2”, and I’ve also seen a few less high-profile flicks like “Evil Does Not Exist” and “Late Night With the Devil.” And yes, I even saw “Madame Web” in the cinema…

Like many movie buffs, I keep a ranking of every new release I see throughout the year, and below you’ll find five movies that impressed me the most and the five that had me wishing the credits would roll early.  

My 5 favorite movies of 2024 (so far)

5. 'Kinds of Kindness'

KINDS OF KINDNESS | Official Trailer | Searchlight Pictures - YouTube KINDS OF KINDNESS | Official Trailer | Searchlight Pictures - YouTube
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“Kinds of Kindness” will be the most divisive pick in my top five favorite movies of 2024 (so far). The anthology film holds an underwhelming 57% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes (critics like it more, rating it 74%), and that doesn’t surprise me. Director Yorgos Lanthimos’ follow-up to his awards-favorite “Poor Things” is crammed with deadpan dialogue, wooden characters, bizarre plotlines and performances that range from unhinged to intentionally dry. This is the very definition of a movie that won’t be for everybody. I saw walkouts in my screening. 

However, for me, it all came together almost perfectly. I typically find anthology movies difficult to enjoy. The structure of telling multiple standalone stories in a single film usually leads to a lack of narrative flow, and momentum can’t be built up. But the three thematically similar, but ultimately separate, tales told in “Kinds of Kindness” each gripped me in different ways. Not to mention Jesse Plemons and Stone are fantastic across each unique story, and while the ending is super dark, it had me cackling in my cinema seat (though the person next to me looked horrified). 

4. 'Hit Man'

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While I suspect the vast majority of people caught “Hit Man” when it arrived on Netflix last month, I was fortunate enough to attend an early screening during its limited theatrical run, and I’m delighted I was able to experience this wonderfully warped comedy thriller in a sold-out auditorium. “Hit Man” is like lightning in a bottle, pairing up the perfect leading man (Glen Powell) with Richard Linklater, a filmmaker who knows how to craft an enjoyable flick. 

The movie follows a teacher who moonlights as a fake contract killer in a police sting operation, only for the bogus assassin to become drawn into a web of deceit after falling for a desperate client (Adria Arjona). 

What impressed me most about “Hit Man” is how it blends ridiculous comedy with a dark edge and never feels tonally conflicted. This deliciously high-concept movie mixes multiple genres to great effect. But its real killer element is Powell, who delivers a star-making performance (and co-wrote the screenplay). 

3. 'Late Night with the Devil'

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Late Night with the Devil” delivered a much-needed injection of quality into the horror genre back in March after a string of duds (but we’ll get to those later…). The movie is presented as a late-night talk show episode, and it’s this presentation that really makes the horrific sequences all the more unsettling. It feels like you’re watching an actual television broadcast spiral out of control, and the inventive use of this clever framing impressed me throughout. 

The wonderful David Dastmalchian plays Jack Delroy, the slick host of Night Owls, a once-popular talk show struggling to compete in the ratings with the juggernaut Tonight Show. To boost viewership, Delroy plans an ambitious Halloween special that includes inviting a possessed girl onto the set, alongside a magician-turned-skeptic who believes they can debunk any supernatural claims. What follows is a program full of terror as the show takes a nightmarish turn, and Delroy’s sinister past comes to light. "Late Night with the Devil" is chilling in the best way possible.  

2. 'Challengers'

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I love a good sports movie but mix in a compelling love triangle, and you’re really cooking, so it’s no surprise that I adored “Challengers.” Heck, this Zendaya-fronted flick managed to make a game of tennis feel higher stakes than the universe-ending threats presented in the likes of “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” and “Ghostbuster: Frozen Empire,” which is a testament to just how electrifying its three leads are and how well director Luca Guadagnino understand character-driven drama. “Challengers” is an on-court epic that hooked me from the first serve. 

In “Challengers,” Zendaya plays Tashi, a former tennis prodigy whose promising path to sporting superstardom was ruined after suffering a career-ending injury. But she channels her drive to become the best into her husband, Art (Mike Faist), making him a grand slam champion as a coach. But now the jaded pro is stuck on a losing streak, things get even more dicey when Art enters a small-scale tournament to get his groove back and is matched up against Patrick (Josh O’Connor), his former best friend, and Tashi’s ex-boyfriend. Naturally, a whole load of drama follows. 

1. 'Dune Part Two'

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Yes, “Dune Part Two” is the safe choice right now for the best movie of 2024, but there’s a reason for that. If the first “Dune” movie from director Denis Villeneuve was a proof-of-concept, making it clear that Frank Herbet’s epic sci-fi tome could be adapted for the big screen, “Dune Part Two” is the full vision brought to life. It’s a towering epic that blends a large cast of characters and universe-sprawling plot elements into a remarkably cohesive whole. 

“Dune Part Two” picks up where its predecessor left off as we follow Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) on a mission of revenge against those who murdered his family and left his house in ruins. Joining forces with the Fremen, and developing a close bond with Chani (Zendaya), Paul is eventually torn between his destiny and his love as he seeks to stop a horrifying vision of the future. I could praise pretty much everything about “Dune Part Two” from its heavyweight cast to the genre-defining direction from Denis Villeneuve, it's got everything a blockbuster needs to thrill. 

5 worst movies of 2024 (so far)

5. 'Imaginary'

Imaginary (2024) Official Trailer – DeWanda Wise, Tom Payne, Taegen Burns - YouTube Imaginary (2024) Official Trailer – DeWanda Wise, Tom Payne, Taegen Burns - YouTube
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It’s been a very mixed bag of a year (so far) for horror fans. While there have been highlights (“Late Night with the Devil,” “Immaculate” and “The First Omen” stand out) there have also been plenty of spooky flicks that showcase the genre’s worst traits. Unfortunately, “Imaginary” falls squarely into the latter category. This Blumhouse effort lacks any genuine atmosphere, and it’s all so grimly predictable that even its attempts at cheap “jump scares” totally miss the mark.  

This generic supernatural horror follows Jessica (DeWanda Wise), a woman who moves back to her childhood home with her husband and stepdaughters. Soon enough the youngest daughter, Alice (Pyper Braun), finds a stuffed bear named Chauncey. But this plush toy is anything but harmless, and actually harbors a dark secret. It’s a pretty outlandish plot on paper, and to be honest, I found it very hard to take shots of a normal-looking teddy bear set to sinister strings seriously. In fact, I found myself laughing at “Imaginary” more than being genuinely spooked.  

4. 'The Watchers'

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Perhaps the most damning thing I can say about “The Watchers” is that it’s the entry in this article that I saw in theaters most recently (it only release in early June), and yet I’m genuinely struggling to recall much more than a rudimentary outline of the plot. This utterly forgettable horror movie is actually the directional debut of Ishana Night Shyamalan (daughter of M. Night Shyamalan) and unfortunately, she’s inherited her father’s worst movie-making flaws. 

“The Watchers” opens with Dakota Fanning playing an American living in Ireland (why exactly she immigrated to work in a pet shop is never explained), only to become stranded in the deep forests of the countryside. Discovering the woods are stalked by mysterious creatures, she takes shelter in a strange cabin that is also home to a group of three fellow survivors. Much like the worst M. Night Shyamalan movies, “The Watchers” is constructed around a twist so predictable I saw it coming within the opening 20 minutes. 

3. 'Night Swim'

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Capping off our trio of terrible horror movies in 2024 (to be honest, the last three picks could be presented in any order, they’re all equally awful) is “Night Swim,” a horror movie that asks viewers to buy into a truly ridiculous premise and then has preciously zero fun with the zany idea. If you haven’t heard of this one, “Night Swim” is about a haunted swimming pool. Yes, we’ve had haunted houses, we’ve had haunted children, and now we’ve got haunted backyard pools. 

Of course, it’s hard to feel like anybody is in any real danger when the simple answer to this haunting is just to get out of the pool, and yet Wyatt Russell and Kerry Condon play a husband and wife who are terrorized by the malevolent force buried just underneath the surface of the water. The movie starts ludicrously illogical and never discovers an ounce of brains along the way. Frankly, I’d rather get an eyeful of chlorine than watch this dreck again. 

2. 'Madame Web'

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“Madame Web” was the internet’s punching bag for weeks back in February and it’s not hard to see why. Sony’s attempt to build its own Spider-Man Cinematic Universe (sans Spider-Man, for some bizarre reason) has been ill-judged from the start, but “Madame Web” made “Morbius” look like a masterpiece in comparison. The most egregious failing is its complete lack of coherency: Every scene feels chopped up to an almost amateur degree. 

Things aren’t helped by Dakota Johnson’s deadpan performance as Cassandra Webb. Johnson’s spoof-like approach clashes hugely with the likes of Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced and Celeste O’Connor who approach the material with overeager sincerity. Plus, the less said about the wet blanket of a villain, Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim), the better. There is a strong argument to be made that “Madame Web” is the worst movie of 2024 so far, but at least we got some funny memes out of it, the same can’t be said of my final pick. 

1. 'Argylle'

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I could have put “Madame Web” as my number one worst pick but at least I had a modicum of fun laughing at its awfulness, not to mention it was mercifully less than two hours long. “Argylle” is every bit as bad as Sony’s latest comic book flop, but runs 140 minutes in length. To be frank, I never quite connected with Matthew Vaughn’s “Kingsman” franchise, but “Argylle” is the same shtick just with the likable characters and reasonably well-constructed action removed. It’s a painful cheesy spy movie that lacks enjoyment or any sort of intrigue.

While the movie’s misleading marketing suggests “Argylle” is a Henry Cavill-fronted action romp with Dua Lipa in a supporting role, it actually stars Bryce Dallas Howard as a reclusive author who is thrown into a world of superspies when events from her best-selling novels start coming true. This fish-out-of-water story also features Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara, John Cena and Samuel L. Jackson, but all that talent is wasted on a messy blockbuster that reportedly cost some $200 million to make and yet looks as cheap as a daytime soap. 

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Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team. 

  • celtics3131
    It’s so easy and sad to hate on M Night and now his daughter. The Watchers wasn’t the best movie I’ve seen, but this guy, like most critics seems pretentious and wants to fit in with a certain movie crowd, so he makes the same predictable statement about M Night or his daughter, that most do, and says the ending was seen a mile away. I doubt he saw it coming, it’s a decent watch and people should give it a chance. Have some integrity guy.
  • Jungledeath
    This list is not that great. I watched “Hitman” and thought it was pretty bad. To say this is in the authors top 5 out of 42 movies, then we have a completely different taste in movies. Hitman is one of the few movies I have ever stopped watching because it felt like a lifetime movie on steroids. It was crushingly boring.