With everything going on these days, a trip to the movies — whether that means heading to the theaters, or to your living room — has never been a more welcome escape.
Last year brought some great films that offered viewers a much-needed distraction, and so far, 2022 is no different. Even though the year is only halfway through, audiences have enjoyed a mix of tentpole blockbusters, daring indies, and everything in between.
Already, trends are beginning to emerge.
and Turning Red Belle prove that it’s shaping up to be a stellar year for animation fans, while movies like , Everything Everywhere All at Once , and After Yang Hatching tread the line between fantasy and reality — suggesting that in our surreal era, the two may not be that dissimilar after all. And then there’s Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, a film unlike any other, which could thaw even the coldest of hearts with its undeniable charm.
Clearly, there isn't a shortage of good films hitting the big screen this year. From
The Northman to The Batman, and Belle to Benediction, below are the 15 best movies of 2022 (so far). 1 Belle
Director and animator Mamoru Hosoda creates magic with
Belle, an anime film inspired by Beauty and the Beast. It received a 14-minute standing ovation at its Cannes Film Festival premiere in 2021, and it’s easy to see why: It’s definitely one of the year’s most visually stunning films. 2 Turning Red
Disney-Pixar has perfected the formula for children’s movies that are equally beloved by adults, and this one is no different.
Turning Red follows Mei, a 13-year-old who’s thrown for a loop when an ancient family curse causes her to transform into an enormous (and fluffy!) red panda whenever she gets emotional. Funny, heartwarming, and sprinkled with innuendo only grown-ups will understand, Turning Red will leave you tickled pink. 3 The Batman
Director Matt Reeves’ noir-inspired
The Batman defies expectations for a superhero movie, turning Gotham City’s elusive crimefighter — previously best-known as a wealthy playboy — into an angsty recluse. But it works. Robert Pattinson fits the mood perfectly as the title character, and Zoë Kravitz’s über-sexy Catwoman adds a touch of sunlight to the pitch-dark mood. 4 After Yang
Director Koganda flips the sentient robot trope on its head in
After Yang, delivering a film that’s as much a family drama as it is a movie about artificial intelligence (as Koganada says, “the existential crisis is the human being”). The film about a set of parents (played by Colin Farrell and Jodie Turner-Smith) trying to fix their broken robot nanny is, well, strange — but in the best way possible. 5 X
This slasher flick starring
Mia Goth pays homage to the bloody psycho-biddies of the ’70s and ’80s, like Dario Argento’s Suspiria, or even Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Rarely is a new release hailed as a classic when it comes out, but that’s exactly what X is — “a modern classic.” 6 Everything Everywhere All At Once (March 25)
The Michelle Yeoh renaissance is upon us. The 59-year-old actress shines in
Everything Everywhere All at Once as harried mother Evelyn Wang — one of her first leading roles in an English-language film. As the trippy multiverse movie switches helter-skelter between alternate worlds, it introduces a wide variety of alternate Evelyns, giving Yeoh a chance to showcase her range. Here’s hoping she’ll stay everywhere, all at once, for a while longer. 7 The Northman Aidan Monaghan/Focus Features
This Old Norse epic with an all-star cast (Nicole Kidman! Willem Defoe! BJÖRK!!)
had people talking before it even came out. Good thing it didn’t disappoint. The Northman triumphs with otherworldly action sequences and fantastical characters. That being said, it’s excruciatingly violent, so it’s best to skip this one if you’re easily squeamish. 8 Hatching Hatching follows a young girl who raises a bird-like creature — one that (spoiler alert!) eventually becomes her doppelgänger and wreaks havoc on her family’s staid, Finnish life. The film is deranged in a way that Ari Aster fans will relish, but also features an attention to aesthetics akin to, well, Hitchcock’s The Birds. 9 Happening
When Audrey Diwan’s
Happening premiered at last year’s Venice Film Festival, American critics probably couldn’t have guessed how timely it would become. The story of a talented young student seeking an abortion in ‘60s-era France is, at times, difficult to watch — especially now. But that’s exactly what makes it important. 10 The Bob’s Burgers Movie
In this feature-length adaptation of the popular animated series, the Belchers once again find themselves caught up in some serious hijinks — this time, though, it’s a murder mystery that threatens to bankrupt their struggling burger joint.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie is a musical, a thriller, and a coming-of-age slapstick tale all at once. 12 Crimes of the Future Crimes of the Future explores issues of bodily autonomy while making not-so-subtle hints about the dangers of the climate crisis — themes that make the film’s dystopic future feel uncomfortably close. Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, and Kristen Stewart give electrifying performances, lending this film the tenacity it needs to live in audiences’ minds rent-free, for better or worse. 13 Benediction
Based on the life of WWI poet Siegfried Sassoon, Terence Davies’
Benediction is an anti-war, queer love story that’ll tug at the heartstrings (despite all the graphic war violence). But it’s not just another sentimental military movie — rather, it’s story about the sincerity of failure: how others fails us, and how we fail ourselves. 14 Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
Jenny Slate’s beloved internet character receives the silver screen treatment in
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, a heartwarming mockumentary that follows the minuscule mollusk as he and his Grandma Connie (Isabella Rossellini, in a scene-stealing role) search for their missing family. You’ll laugh, but you’ll also cry. 15 Elvis
the industry’s gaudiest director (no shade), returns to the big screen after nearly a decade with Elvis. Austin Butler’s portrayal of The King — complete with some of his own vocals — makes the movie, but Luhrmann’s topsy-turvy vision will keep you watching.
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