The best movies of 2022 are unlike those of 2021: they tried to make you come back to the movie theaters. Faster than Nicole Kidman could pitch us on the majestic glory of a multiplex, a new Batman made the Bat-Signal more of a promise than a threat. All while Netflix had two very-bad quarters.
The communal experiences of RRR and the group feels of Everything Everywhere All At Once got people to try out independent cinema again. Oh, and a star was born portraying The King himself, Elvis. But that's not to say that the world of streaming took its foot off the gas.
Over on Disney Plus, we got Turning Red, a coming-of-age movie so great that we can't stop rewatching it. Also, Hulu impressed with a trip to Fire Island, and Netflix's cavalcade of star-studded movies proved to be more than just The Gray Man, as Operation Mincemeat made the rest of the Netflix Top 10 movies list look undercooked.
So, dear reader, we've picked out the top 15 movies of the year so far that you can watch at home right now. Oh, and don't overlook that last little qualifier — that these movies are available to watch right now. That's why Top Gun: Maverick, Marcel The Shell With Shoes On and Nope aren't on this list.
1. RRR (Netflix)
Not all heroes wear capes. Some, at least in RRR, dance in musical numbers and throw motorcycles at evil colonialists. RRR, the latest film from Indian film director S. S. Rajamouli, is a bit of high fantasy, where two Indian folk heroes become friends and fight British colonialists in the 1920's. And it's my current best movie of 2022, as it accomplishes all of the above with more style and flair than anything I've witnessed in ages. In the theater, my audience was clapping to the beat of one of the fight scenes, and the charming performances by leads Ram Charan and N. T. Rama Rao Jr. help ground the film's more over-the-top moments. Hopefully, the MCU and the rest of America's action movies will be trying to knock RRR off for years to come. – Henry T. Casey
Stream it on Netflix (opens in new tab)
2. Everything Everywhere All At Once
My favorite movie of the year features a very strange trip through the multiverse — but it wasn’t made by Marvel. Instead, it’s an indie film starring Michelle Yeoh as a laundromat owner who is pulled into an insane adventure involving parallel realities. Everything Everywhere All at Once might as well refer to the mash-up of so many genres and tones, from Hong Kong martial arts flicks to science fiction to comedy. Yeoh’s Evelyn Wang starts off as a very ordinary woman living a very ordinary life. But then, she learns from an alternate version of her husband that other realities exist and that she is the key to saving everyone from annihilation. Evelyn must learn to tap into newfound powers to face off against the would-be multiverse destroyer: another version of her daughter, Joy. Ultimately, the genres fade away to reveal what this story is truly about: love. – Kelly Woo
3. The Lost City (Prime Video and Paramount Plus)
Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) is a romance/adventure novelist who is depressed and tired of turning out paperbacks about the fictional heroine Dr. Angela Lovemore and hunky love interest Dash McMahon. That said, her agent still wants her to keep pumping out novels, which brings her to a promotional stop for her latest tome. And she's annoyed to find that she's going to be joined on this tour by Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum), the cover model who acts like he really thinks he is Dash. Or at least they would have gone on this tour, were it not for an eccentric billionaire (Daniel Radcliffe), who thinks the lore in Sage's books means she can help him find an actual lost treasure. Bullock and Tatum have great comedic chemistry in The Lost City, one of the under-the-radar gems of 2022. — Henry T. Casey
4. Turning Red (Disney Plus)
Turning Red marks off a lot of firsts for Pixar — the studio’s first film to have a solo female director, Domee Shi; the first to be set in Canada; and the first to feature an Asian girl as the lead. It’s also possibly the most mature Pixar project yet, a parable about the on-set of puberty (and more specifically, menstruation). A 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl named Mei wakes up one morning having transformed into a giant red panda. It’s a family curse that occurs whenever she’s stressed or excited. The curse can only be broken during the next red moon — which unfortunately conflicts with a concert by Mei’s favorite boy band, 4*Town. Turning Red does a wonderful job of exploring the near-universal adolescent desire to break free from your parents and establish your own identity. At the same time, it’s fun and funny, with plenty of jokes for kids and grown-ups. – Kelly Woo
Stream it on Disney Plus (opens in new tab)
5. The Northman (Peacock)
Best described as an adrenaline rush visualized by Heavy Metal magazine, Robert Eggers' The Northman is a brutal and amazing movie. It may be far too violent for some — seriously, heed my warning if you're squeamish around blood — but The Northman is one of those rare movies that breaks through the static by sheer force. Based on the Scandanavian lore of Amleth (who inspired Shakespeare's Hamlet), The Northman goes back to the year 895 for an ultimate tale of revenge. Young Prince Amleth (Oscar Novak) witnesses the betrayal and murder of his father King Aurvandill War-Raven (Ethan Hawke) by his uncle Fjölnir (Claes Bang), and after he escapes for his own safety, he vows revenge. Years later, an older Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) is chiseled and seeking the head of Fjölnir. Little does he know a massive surprise will break his mind once he gets to his uncle's whereabouts. – Henry T. Casey
Stream it on Peacock (opens in new tab)
6. The Black Phone (Peacock)
If you like Stephen King's brand of horror, you'll want to pick up The Black Phone (which is based on a story of the same name by King's son Joe Hill). A startling horror movie (with some fantasy elements), The Black Phone is bolstered by a strong cast of child actors and a remarkably unnerving performance from Ethan Hawke. Based in 1978, before parents could use Find My Phone to track their kids, siblings Finney (Mason Thames) and Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) Blake go through hell both at home (surviving an abusive and alcoholic father) and at school where bullies target Finney because that's what kids do in Stephen King-adjacent movies. But when a local predator that kids nickname The Grabber pulls Finney off the street, his only hope is a peculiar phone in the room he's locked in, and his sister's secret abilities. – Henry T. Casey
7. The Worst Person In The World
One of the most emotional theatrical experiences I had in 2022 is finally streaming at home, as Hulu is streaming Joachim Trier's The Worst Person in the World. This super-buzzy indie gem got a long-running limited release, so we're happy to see that everyone can stream it online. Over many novel-like 'chapters' Julie (Renate Reinsve) spends four years growing up while being concerned about the kind of person she's becoming.
Reinsve dazzles in this performance, and she has to, as she's the sun the rest of the film orbits around. You'll see the drama of her relationship with popular cartoonist Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie), which is rooted in the chasm between their ages, as she's 29 and he's 43. I won't dare spoil the details of Julie's relationship with Eivind (Herbert Nordrum), either. Consider splurging on a month ($12.99) of ad-free Hulu to see it without commercial interruption. — Henry T. Casey
Stream it on Hulu (opens in new tab)
8. The Batman (HBO Max)
While the DCEU movies (see: Zack Snyder's murder-verse, that Flash movie that is haunted by Ezra Miller's arrest warrants) are basically a waking nightmare, Matt Reeves' The Batman proved that amazing results are possible when you leave Ben Affleck behind and draw outside the lines. This auteur vision of Batman is the truest distillation of some of the best Batman comics, where Gotham is grim and Bruce Wayne is just becoming the world's greatest detective. While Robert Pattinson's version of Wayne may be too soft-spoken for some, Zoë Kravitz's Selina Kyle/Catwoman got raves from practically all. Beautifully shot, The Batman is the best superhero movie of the year so far.
Stream it on HBO Max (opens in new tab)
9. Fire Island (Hulu)
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice gets a modern, queer update written by and starring comedian Joel Kim Booster. Noah is a gay, snarkier version of Elizabeth Bennet, who heads to Fire Island with best friend Howie (Bowen Yang) and other pals for a week of sun and cocktail-swilling parties. Noah’s only goal beyond having a good time is getting his friend laid. Things are looking good when Howie vibes with kind pediatrician Charlie (James Scully). Unfortunately, Charlie’s aloof friend Will (Conrad Ricamora) threatens to be a buzzkill and even insults Noah. If you’re familiar with Austen’s novel or its numerous adaptations, you know how things go. Still, Fire Island’s path to sexily-ever-after is delightfully clever and funny. – Kelly Woo
Stream it on Hulu (opens in new tab)
10. Operation Mincemeat (Netflix)
A movie with not one Mr. Darcy, but two of them? Yes and yes, please. Colin Firth and Matthew Macfayden both had memorably smoldering turns in adaptations of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and now they team up for this World War II film about a preposterous but real espionage deception. British intelligence officers Ewen Montagu (Firth) and Charles Cholmondeley (Macfayden) hatch a seemingly hare-brained scheme to gain ground in Nazi-occupied Italy — planting a corpse in the sea carrying fake documents outlining the Allied forces’ next move. Absolutely bonkers, totally true. It is a truth universally acknowledged that Firth and Macfayden ooze charisma, so seeing the two of them together elevates what’s already a fantastic story. – Kelly Woo
Stream it on Netflix (opens in new tab)
I'm as shocked as anyone that I'm writing this. I wrote Elvis off as just Baz Lurhman's latest bit of exhausting maximalist spectacle. And while it is definitely that kind of movie, it's so much more thanks to the performance of one Austin Butler, who plays The King himself, Elvis Presley. While Butler is far from a new face on the scene — he's been acting since 2005 — Elvis is truly a star-making role for him. As someone far too young to have seen the Elvis phenomenon when it happened, the film Elvis is the first time where I understood what had happened. Once Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) sees an electric performance from Elvis on stage, he sees all the money in the world in this kid, and so will you. Butler's on-screen charisma and electricity as he plays Elvis' hits is unlike anything I've witnessed in ages. — Henry T. Casey
12. The Bob's Burgers Movie (Hulu, HBO Max, Disney Plus)
Louise takes the wheel in The Bob's Burgers movie, and to great effect. While the youngest Belcher child has long been a fan favorite, the character beats where she questions herself and her bunny ears-hat helps this movie feel like more than just an extra-long episode of the long-running animated series. Not that that would be a bad thing.
The Bob's Burgers Movie, however, does tread familiar territory for the series. The Belcher family burger joint is in dire straits financially, and the bank is ready to foreclose on them. Making matters worse, a giant sinkhole opens up … right in front of the door to the restaurant. The Belchers' only hopes lie in help from their landlord Mr. Fischoeder, who is preoccupied with a family concern. Then, everything goes even wilder, as a murder mystery complicates the proceedings. All along, you get Gene being Gene, Tina lusting for Jimmy Junior and Teddy just trying to help – Henry T. Casey
13. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
After a wild career that went from Raising Arizona and taking his Face/Off to the rollercoaster Mandy was, Nicolas Cage finally found the role of his lifetime: Nic Cage. In this hilarious film that more people should have seen, Cage plays a version of himself that's having trouble getting booked for roles and even more trouble connecting with his daughter. So, he does the unthinkable: goes to a wealthy fan's birthday party to get a $1 million payday. Unfortunately, the CIA is already here, as they think Nic Cage superfan Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal) is more than just a big fan: he's also a suspect in a weapons trafficking investigation. A wonderful bromance follows, and Nic Cage learns more about himself along the way. – Henry T. Casey
14. Jackass Forever (Paramount Plus)
Jackass Forever is primarily notable because it's got an influx of new cast members, most notably Rachel Wolfson (The First Lady of Jackass, if you will), Zach Holmes, Jasper and the amazingly-named Poopies. Each has their own amazing moments, such as Jasper's interactions with his dad Dark Shark, Rachel's incident with the scorpion, Zach's human sushi-roll and Poopies' moment with a snake. Of course, though, it's the OG's that really make Jackass Forever feel like the real thing, as the loving camaraderie between the likes of Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Preston Lacey, Jason "Wee Man" Acuña and “Danger” Ehren McGhehey is enough to make you wonder how the hell they find this torture all so fun. Sure, it's funny to us — I laughed harder at Jackass Forever than anything I've seen all year — but the hits that Ehren takes are some of the most mind-boggling moments in the entire series. – Henry T. Casey
Stream it on Paramount Plus (opens in new tab)
15. Beavis and Butt-Head Do The Universe (Paramount Plus)
Forget Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, and Loki: The best multiverse this past year involved two slack-jawed kids from Highland, Texas. It’s been more than a quarter-century since Beavis and Butt-Head did America; this time, instead of taking a trip across the U.S. — again, on a quest to try and score with a babe — they travel through a black hole to the present, and threaten to destroy the space-time continuum more thoroughly than Kang from the MCU could ever hope to. While not as amusing as the original, the same dumb naiveté that makes the duo so appealing is still there. – Mike Prospero
Stream it on Paramount Plus (opens in new tab)