20 Best Movies of 2022 and Where to Watch Them
The impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to loom over the entertainment industry. Box office analysts continued to track the movies, big and small, of 2022, while the discourse grows between theatrical and streaming releases. Top Gun: Maverick made a significant impact at the box office, while the Indian global phenomenon RRR became a theatergoing experience for the ages. However, that isn’t to say that quieter independent filmmaking didn’t make a sound, which delivered some of the best movies of 2022.
20. ‘Women Talking’
Women Talking marked Sarah Polley’s return to feature filmmaking since 2012’s Stories We Tell. A group of women in an isolated religious community must decide whether to do nothing, stay and fight, or leave after a group of men sexually assault them. Despite feeling much like a stageplay, Women Talking is remarkably engaging and emotional, including a stellar acting ensemble containing Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy, and Ben Whishaw.
Women Talking comes to theaters on Dec. 23.
19. ‘Triangle of Sadness’
Triangle of Sadness is Ruben Östlund’s second Palme d’Or win from the Cannes Film Festival after 2017’s The Square. The satirical riot explores a fashion model celebrity couple who board a cruise for the super-rich, but it devolves into utter chaos that puts their lives in great danger. It doesn’t hold back with its gross-out gags, thoroughly entertaining antics, and a particularly exciting supporting performance from Dolly De Leon.
Triangle of Sadness is now available to rent or buy via digital retailers.
Damien Chazelle last stunned the world with 2016’s La La Land. Now, he’s back with the marvelously debaucherous Babylon. Set during the 1920s, several fictional Hollywood figures face the move from silent cinema to “talkies.” Margot Robbie and Diego Calva are magnetic, supplemented with magical performances from Brad Pitt, Jean Smart, Jovan Adepo, and Li Jun Li. Meanwhile, Justin Hurwitz composes the greatest score of the year to accompany a tale of excess that will simply leave you breathless.
Babylon comes to theaters on Dec. 23.
17. ‘Decision to Leave’
Park Chan-wook once again proves mastery of his craft in Decision to Leave. Park Hae-il plays a detective investigating the mysterious circumstances surrounding a man’s death. The deceased’s wife, Song Seo-rae (Tang Wei) becomes an ever-illusive part of his investigation. Wei is dangerously entrancing and Kim Ji-yong’s cinematography is on a whole other level. Decision to Leave is a slow-burn, but it’s unquestionably brilliant for those willing to let the film sweep them into its current.
Decision to Leave is now playing in select theaters and streaming on MUBI. South Korea’s submission for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards.
Writer/director Hirokazu Kore-eda previously stunned the world with 2018’s Shoplifters, but he’s back with another family adventure with Broker. Two friends (Song Kang-ho and Gang Dong-won) run an illegal business selling babies taken from the local church’s baby box. A young mother (Lee Ji-eun) travels with them to interview her child’s potential parents. It’s a profoundly touching story about the true meaning of family, supported by tremendously soulful performances from its leading cast.
Broker is now playing in select theaters.
15. ‘Official Competition’
Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat’s Official Competition is one of the year’s funniest movies. A wealthy businessman pondering his mortality hires a famous filmmaker (Penélope Cruz) to help make a masterful piece of cinema. She casts a popular movie star (Antonio Banderas) and a respected actor (Oscar Martínez), who can’t stand even looking at one another. The result is an exceptionally hysterical comedy with three powerhouses leading the charge in a film that shouldn’t be missed.
Official Competition is now streaming on AMC+ and to rent or buy via digital retailers.
14. ‘You Won’t Be Alone’
You Won’t Be Alone made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival at the beginning of the year, but it’s a memorable folk horror experience that isn’t easy to shake. An ancient spirit kidnaps a young girl in a remote mountain village in 19th-century Macedonia, transforming her into a witch. Writer/director Goran Stolevski’s stunning feature film debut is poignant, philosophical, and deeply unsettling in all of the best ways possible.
You Won’t Be Alone is available to rent or buy via digital retailers.
13. ‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On’
Dean Fleischer-Camp crafted an endearing and surprisingly relatable feature that transforms a small protagonist into something so much bigger in Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. Dean (Fleischer-Camp) stays in an Airbnb, where he meets a tiny shell named Marcel (voiced by Jenny Slate) and his Nana Connie (voiced by Isabella Rossellini), and decides to make a documentary about them. It’s adorable and funny, but it also gives significant swells of emotions that are both joyful and sorrowful.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is available to rent or buy via digital retailers.
12. ‘Top Gun: Maverick’
Hollywood largely stopped making studio blockbusters like Top Gun: Maverick in today’s marketplace, but director Joseph Kosinski proved that there’s still room for such a feature. Tom Cruise returns as Maverick, leading the training for a mission that likely won’t see its younger recruits returning alive. The jet sequences are unlike any other, providing an unforgettable theatergoing experience that excites and thrills.
Top Gun: Maverick is available to rent or buy via digital retailers.
11. ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is the Oscar-winning filmmaker’s first stop-motion animated feature film that delights on every level. He takes inspiration from Carlo Collodi’s original book, as a father (voiced by David Bradley) brings a wooden boy (voiced by Gregory Mann) to life in Italy after the death of his son (voiced by Alfie Tempest). Del Toro’s animation is magically superlative and he finds a nuanced way to tell the story with maturity and soul.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is now streaming on Netflix.
10. ‘Return to Seoul’
Davy Chou’s Return to Seoul went under the radar, but it deserves your attention. A 25-year-old French woman (Park Ji-Min) returns to Korea, where she was adopted by a French couple, as she tries to track down her biological parents. Chou’s screenplay chronicles an utterly intimate journey that finds unexpected ways of telling its story, further elevated by Park’s flawless leading performance.
Return to Seoul comes to theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Feb. 17. Cambodia’s submission for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards.
S.S. Rajamouli’s RRR is the surprise hit of the year with over three hours of epic cinema. Two revolutionaries (N.T. Rama Rao Jr., Ram Charan Teja) fight for their country in the 1920s, but with vastly different methods that put them at odds with one another. It’s a bonkers, excessive, and outstandingly pleasurable experience that takes action and dance filmmaking to the next level.
RRR is streaming on Netflix.
8. ‘After Yang’
After Yang is a futuristic story with meaning that remains curiously impactful in the modern age. A family ponders the meaning of love, connection, and grief when their A.I. (Justin H. Min) suddenly malfunctions. Writer/director Kogonada slowly builds an immersive and heart-rending world with beautifully deep-seated performances.
After Yang is now streaming on Showtime and is available to rent or buy via digital retailers.
Todd Field’s TÁR sent waves through the film festival circuit for good reason. Cate Blanchett plays Lydia Tár, the greatest living composer-conductor and first-ever female music director of a major German orchestra, whose life begins to crumble. Blanchett delivers the best performance of her career in this deeply haunting journey to self-destruction. It’s quite simply breathtaking.
TÁR is available to rent or buy via digital retailers.
Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO accomplishes quite an astonishing feat with a simple, yet complex premise. A donkey named EO goes on a journey through modern Europe, meeting humans and fellow animals along the way, but they aren’t all friendly. Skolimowski paints an empathetic picture, framing a story around a donkey as his main character. It’s tender and gorgeously shot, all within a short runtime that packs more of a punch than most films double its length.
EO is now playing in select theaters. Poland’s submission for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards.
5. ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’
Edward Berger’s All Quiet on the Western Front brilliantly adapts Erich Maria Remarque’s original novel. A young German soldier (Felix Kammerer) joins the Army during World War I, but the supposed glory turns into utter horror and distress. Berger, Lesley Paterson, and Ian Stokell’s screenplay provides a uniquely different look into this story than previous film adaptations. Kammerer and Albrecht Schuch are divine in this heartbreaking war story. James Friend’s immaculate cinematography and the earth-shattering use of sound further push this brilliant feature over the edge.
All Quiet on the Western Front is now streaming on Netflix. Germany’s submission for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards.
4. ‘The Quiet Girl’
Writer/director Colm Bairéad served one of the most silently devastating movies of the year with The Quiet Girl. A neglected girl (Catherine Clinch) is sent to live with foster parents for the summer, where she begins to grow into her own away from her dysfunctional family. Kate McCullough’s spell-binding cinematography draws you in, while Bairéad’s sentimental screenplay and direction sneak up on you. The end result is emotionally profound with one of the greatest hugging scenes ever captured on film.
The Quiet Girl opens in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 16 for one week before expanding nationwide in Feb. 2023. Ireland’s submission for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards.
3. ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’
Martin McDonagh crafted a sharp, witty, and darkly humorous film with The Banshees of Inisherin. Two lifelong friends (Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson) are at odds with one another when one of them suddenly ends their friendship. Farrell had a strong year between After Yang and The Banshees of Inisherin, but his work here is his greatest performance yet. It’s marvelously all-encompassing, further drawing its audience into its dark, yet playful grasp.
The Banshees of Inisherin is streaming on HBO Max on Dec. 13.
2. ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’
Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert started a revolution with Everything Everywhere All at Once. An aging Chinese immigrant (Michelle Yeoh) is abruptly pulled into a peculiar battle to save the world that will require her to utilize other universes containing lives she could have lived. Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, and Ke Huy Quan are extraordinary in an over-the-top film that expertly infuses heart, comedy, and eye-popping action sequences.
Everything Everywhere All at Once is streaming on Showtime and is available to rent or buy via digital retailers.
Charlotte Wells’ feature film debut Aftersun is a masterpiece. A young girl named Sophie (Frankie Corio) went on vacation to Turkey with her father, Calum (Paul Mescal). After 20 years, she’s reflecting on the memories of him, seeking some greater level of understanding of the man she thought she knew. Corio and Mescal are perfectly in sync, further elevated by Wells’ impeccable sense of direction and Gregory Oke’s dreamy cinematography. It’s a slow-moving tour de force with one of the most earnest and respectful depictions of depression ever to hit the silver screen. It’s the type of soul-stirring storytelling that reminds us why we fell in love with cinema in the first place.
Aftersun is now playing in select theaters and will be available to rent or buy via digital retailers on Dec. 20.