The Best Films of 2022 (So Far) – Collider

Sorry, Dr. Michael Morbius, the living vampire.
We're just halfway through 2022, and this has already been an impressive one for film. We've already seen new films from David Cronenberg, Sam Raimi, Baz Luhrmann, Robert Eggers, and more, updates on franchises like Top Gun: Maverick, The Batman, and Jurassic World: Dominion, fantastic indie surprises in Everything Everywhere All At Once and X, and the complete bombastic shock of RRR. But of course, no discussion of 2022 films would be complete without also mentioning the global phenomenon of Morbius, telling the origin story of Dr. Michael Morbius, the living vampire, who we now all love dearly.
The second half of 2022 looks to be just as great as the first half, with new films from Olivia Wilde, James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, Sam Mendes, and more on the way, an abundance of superhero films, and with award season starting earlier each year, some of the best films of 2022 are still to come. But before we get to the end of the year, let's take a look at some of the best films to come out in 2022 from the first half of the year.
Director/Writer: Kogonada
Cast: Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Justin H. Min, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, Haley Lu Richardson, Sarita Choudhury, and Clifton Collins Jr.
Writer/director Kogonada's first film, Columbus, was a lovely, quiet, and contemplative exploration of architecture and surprising bonds, and with his second film, After Yang, Kogonada keeps that beautiful tone, but expands it into a futuristic tale of what it means to be human, and the importance of enjoying the time we have in life. Every shot of After Yang is gorgeously framed and exquisitely structured, from the incredible dance-off sequence (which is in competition for best 2022 movie scene) to hushed moments of contemplation and consideration. Kogonada crafts a world that says so much by simply exploring the minute details, and the overall tranquil style of the film is hard not to get lost in, whether in investigating the memories of a robot child (played by Justin H. Min) or simply listening to Colin Farrell explore the history of tea. While After Yang is technically science-fiction, the emotions and ideas Kogonada is exploring in After Yang are ever present and beautiful, regardless of the time they're discussed. — Ross Bonaime
Director: Matt Reeves
Writers: Matt Reeves and Peter Craig
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, Andy Serkis, and Colin Farrell
After countless delays and much anticipation, The Batman finally arrived this past March and it certainly delivered. Matt Reeves’ take on the caped crusader narrowed down on the detective angle of the superhero, resulting in a chilling, intense, and often ruthless ride. For life-long fans of the Bat, The Batman gives them everything they could have hoped for, including Robert Pattinson’s fresh take on the title character, who makes the character his own instead of trying to mimic the Batmen who came before. In fact, the film gives us much more of Bruce Wayne as his brooding alter ego instead of the reclusive billionaire the public knows him as. With dashes of David Fincher's Se7en and Zodiac, The Batman often feels much more like a psychological thriller than your traditional VFX superhero extravaganza and that’s one of the many reasons why the film is so damn special. Well, that and Colin Farrell donned in a fatsuit, layers of makeup, and speaking in a thick Italian accent as the Penguin. Because let’s be completely honest, who doesn’t want that? — Nate Richards
Director/Writer: Cooper Raiff
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Cooper Raiff, Raúl Castillo, Odeya Rush, Evan Assanta, Vanessa Burghardt, Brad Garrett, and Leslie Mann
As a filmmaker and an actor, Cooper Raiff likes to wear his heart on his sleeve. Between his debut film, Shithouse, and his latest film, Cha Cha Real Smooth, Raiff writes and plays characters that are disarmingly earnest and frank in a way that often comes as a surprise to the other characters and the audience. It's this emotional honesty and openness that makes Cha Cha Real Smooth feel like a complete shock to the system, as we follow Raiff's Andrew returning home from college and trying to make his way in the world. Andrew becomes a "party starter" at bar mitzvah parties, where he meets Domino (Dakota Johnson) and her daughter, Lola (Vanessa Burghardt). In Cha Cha Real Smooth, Raiff's Andrew says what he means and goes for what his heart desires. He's basically got the heart and mind of a child within the body of an adult. But that lack of filter and determination to say what he's feeling and follow that heart is that makes Raiff's characters and films so enticing. Cha Cha Real Smooth could've felt like just another Sundance comedy, but it's that openness and heart that makes Raiff one of the most exciting filmmakers to watch today. — Ross Bonaime
Director: Akiva Schaffter
Writers: Dan Gregor and Doug Mand
Cast: John Mulaney, Andy Samberg, KiKi Layne, Will Arnett, Eric Bana, Flula Borg, Dennis Haysbert, Keegan-Michael Key, Tress MacNeille, Tim Robinson, Seth Rogen, and J.K. Simmons
The adorable rodents with the ridiculously catchy theme song made a triumphant comeback this year with Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, a sort of Who Framed Roger Rabbit for the millenial-and-under set. With John Mulaney and Andy Samberg as the straight-laced Chip and the more laid-back Dale respectively, the film was both a meta-commentary on the nature of Hollywood, and a laugh-out-loud comedy with just enough mystery to keep things interesting. — Arezou Amin
Director/Writer: David Cronenberg
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, Don McKellar, and Scott Speedman
It's been far too long since we've seen David Cronenberg go as absolutely bonkers and disturbing as we know he can be, and after two decades away from body horror, Cronenberg finally returned to the universe of his weird-as-shit ideas for Crimes of the Future. I mean, Crimes of the Future begins with a mother killing her child because he won't stop eating plastic, and it only gets stranger from there. Cronenberg's futuristic world where people no longer feel pain and begin using their bodies as art pieces is full of disturbing imagery, like a man covered in human ears, or Léa Seydoux's Caprice cutting open her art project partner, Saul (Viggo Mortensen) to take out his organs for an audience. Cronenberg's world are an insane place to explore, but thank god the master of body horror is finally back in full form. — Ross Bonaime
Director: Simon Curtis
Writer: Julian Fellowes
Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton, and Penelope Wilton
Amidst the chaos of Marvel films and legacy sequels and Tom Cruise proving that he’s still committed to doing his own stunts, there lies a quiet, quaint little film that stands out among the rest, despite its laid-back appearance. That film is Downton Abbey: A New Era, the second sequel film to the classic Masterpiece series that charmed audiences the world over. Following the Crawley family as they deal with a mysterious French villa gifted to the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith), as well as a film crew invading the abbey, A New Era is a change from Downton stories of the past, bringing in the charm of Old Hollywood while also introducing new characters that are just as lovable and pristine as those we’ve coming to love. Hugh Dancy and Dominic West shine as part of the Hollywood film crew attempting to charm Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), while the film’s many shooting locations across England bring a breath of fresh air as the family audiences see as their own takes a grand tour sure to leave you feeling refreshed and nostalgic. —Maggie Boccella
Directors/Writers: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., James Hong, and Jamie Lee Curtis
Cross the multiverse, hot dog fingers, singing raccoons, googly eyes, and butt plugs together with themes of existentialism, identity, and unconditional love, and you’ll get the Daniels’ beautifully weird and ambitious masterpiece Everything Everywhere All At Once. Michelle Yeoh gives a career-defining performance, in a career already full of iconic performances, as Evelyn, the aging Chinese immigrant at the center of the story. Beneath the film’s distinct sense of humor and heavily stylized action sequences, is a story with universal themes regarding issues that everybody faces in their lives at one point or another. It’s without a doubt one of the most confident and sincere to come out in 2022 and it's one that has won over the hearts of many. — Nate Richards
Director: Mimi Cave
Writer: Lauryn Kahn
Cast: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jonica T. Gibbs, Charlotte Le Bon, Andrea Bang, Dayo Okeniyi, and Brett Dier
Mimi Cave’s horrifying meat-cute Fresh introduced a whole new world of nausea-inducing dating anxiety, as Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) has to fight to survive her new boyfriend Steve’s (Sebastian Stan) unusual appetites. On top of a deliciously talented cast, Fresh features a script filled with biting wit and a healthy dose of horror, to give die-hard horror fans something to really feast on. Fresh is a bone-chillingly modern redux of American Psycho, complete with a dance sequence and a luscious soundtrack. The script is very narrative-driven, reeling you in with Edgar-Jones’ girl-next-door charms and Stan’s disarmingly alluring and hypnotically chaotic performance. Fresh is a dish best served on an empty stomach with a rich glass of red wine in hand. — Maggie Lovitt
Director: Sophie Hyde
Writer: Katy Brand
Cast: Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack
When Good Luck to You, Leo Grande first premiered at Sundance early this year, it was a critical success — but those who only had a chance to see it in wider release when it finally made its way to Hulu this summer realized what we'd been missing out on for all this time. It wouldn't be accurate to describe this charming two-hander, which hails from director Sophie Hyde and screenwriter Katy Brand, as a raunchy sex comedy, nor is it wholly a rom-com. Emma Thompson is hotter than she's ever been as Nancy Stokes, the widow who hires a sex worker, the titular Leo Grande (played by the searingly charming Daryl McCormack) in the hopes that she'll finally be able to have a fulfilling experience in the bedroom — complete with the big O. While Nancy and Leo initially fumble through their first few meetings, and inadvertently lead to some personal missteps, they each walk away profoundly changed by their interactions with one another At its heart, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is about the evolving dynamic between two people who come together for a purely transactional arrangement — only to find themselves opening up on a deeper, more emotional level long after clothes start to come off. – Carly Lane
Director: Audrey Diwan
Writers: Audrey Diwan, Marcia Romano, and Anne Berest
Cast: Anamaria Vartolomei, Kacey Mottet Klein, Sandrine Bonnaire, Louise Orry-Diquero, and Louise Chevillotte
This year, not having a choice has thrown our society back several decades, and has been a reminder of how easily freedoms can be taken away—even when those freedoms center around our own bodies. Happening, from director and co-writer Audrey Diwan, has had a terrifying resonance this year, telling the story of Diwan (Anamaria Vartolomei), a college student in 1963 France, who struggles to have an abortion. But what makes Diwan's story so horrific is how Happening isolates Diwan, making her completely alone in this decision, even when others may sympathize with her situation. While most films that center around abortions, like 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days or Never Rarely Sometimes Always, give the protagonist another person to help shoulder the burden, Happening shows the bleak and harrowing reality for many, and an experience that we simply cannot return to in the present day. — Ross Bonaime
Director: Jeff Tremaine
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Dave England, Jason "Wee Man" Acuña, Ehren McGhehey, Preston Lacy, Sean "Poopies" McInerney, Zach Holmes, Jasper Dolphin, Eric Manaka, and Rachel Wolfson
For decades now, we've watched as Johnny Knoxville and his crew of, well, jackasses, hit each other in the nuts, electrocute, gross out, and literally scare the shit out of each other. But with Jackass Forever, the fourth film in this iconic comedy series, it's the heart and love that this team has for each other that truly makes this a special installment in this quadrilogy. As new cast members take the reins on this series, the old members reflect on their experiences, the friends they've lost, and the injuries that have brought them to being jackasses in their 40s and 50s. In addition to this, Jackass Forever is simply one of the funniest comedies to come out this year, and the ambition and brilliance in these bits are greater than they've ever been before. Jackass has always known how to kick audiences right in the nuts, but with Jackass Forever, it kicks them right in the heart as well. — Ross Bonaime
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: David Koepp
Cast: Zoë Kravitz, Betsy Brantley, Rita Wilson, Bryon Bowers, Derek DelGaudio, and Devin Ratray
Steven Soderbergh's films in recent years have shown the director's ability to shoot simply and quickly, and to experiment with his techniques on a smaller scale. This scaled-back approach to filmmaking might've reached its pinnacle from Soderbergh with Kimi, starring Zoë Kravitz as an agoraphobic tech worker who finds evidence of a crime. In Kimi, Soderbergh arguably has made one of the best films about the pandemic, not only showing the fear of the outside world through Kravitz's Kimi, but also showing how the only way to get through this situation is through the help and assistance of other people—an unexpectedly optimistic approach coming from Soderbergh. Yet Soderbergh does all this in one of his most fun films in years, a film that owes as much to Home Alone as it does The Conversation, and Kravitz gives maybe her best, most engrossing performance to date. Of course, Soderbergh nails mixing social commentary, great performances, and a thoroughly entertaining story with ease and grace. — Ross Bonaime
Director: Adam Nee and Aaron Nee
Writers: Oren Uziel, Dana Fox, Adam Nee, and Aaron Nee
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, and Brad Pitt
Compared to superhero films and big-budget action pieces, romantic comedies have a difficult time performing at the box office lately with a shrinking audience. But Paramount proved this year that the genre isn’t entirely dead with their action romance The Lost City, starring rom-com icon Sandra Bullock, which charmed audiences worldwide with the story of a romance author who is kidnapped after an eccentric businessman believes she can lead him to hidden treasure. What almost feels like a parody of the classic romantic comedy Romancing the Stone quickly becomes a swashbuckling adventure all on its own, with Bullock’s chemistry with co-star Channing Tatum charming even the surliest of audience members. The two manage to combine their comedy star power for a hilarious film that doesn’t skimp on the action or the romance, or downplay it as silly or frivolous. And that’s not even mentioning Daniel Radcliffe’s hilarious turn as the eccentric billionaire, taking advantage of his screwball, post-Harry Potter style to create an iconic if idiotic antagonist. — Maggie Boccella
Director: Dean Fleischer Camp
Writers: Dean Fleischer Camp, Jenny Slate, and Nick Paley
Cast: Jenny Slate, Rosa Salazar, Thomas Mann, Isabella Rossellini, Dean Fleischer Camp, and Lesley Stahl
A movie based on a three-minute-long, decade-old YouTube video has no right being this good. Marcel the Shell With Shoes On is nothing but heart, as Jenny Slate plays the titular shell trying to find his missing family. But Dean Fleischer Camp's film isn't just a collection of adorable moments (although there are plenty of those), it also touches on what having a community means, the power of the internet, divorce, and even watching an older loved one start to forget the world around them. Even Slate's little asides as Marcel feel like they have an added poignancy in this larger story for the lil shell. It's hard to believe that such a small shell can hold as much heart as Marcel the Shell With Shoes On does. — Ross Bonaime
Director: Robert Eggers
Writers: Sjón and Robert Eggers
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Ethan Hawke, Björk, and Willem Dafoe
Armed with his biggest budget ever and pushed by the studio to make something a little more commercial than his previous efforts, Robert Eggers could have set aside his more eccentric interests and turned into a straightforward historical actioner with The Northman. But thankfully he brushed that notion aside and instead crafted a trippy Viking epic that’s as weird as it is bloody. (And, make no mistake, it’s really goddamn bloody.) A chiseled and intense Alexander Skarsgård plays Amleth, a Norse warrior who saw his father get murdered when he was a boy and, years later, plots his revenge. Anya Taylor-Joy (reteaming with Eggers after The Witch) turns up as a potion-making sorceress who falls in lust in Amleth. Nicole Kidman is fierce as Amleth’s mother, a queen with shifting allegiances. Willem Dafoe keeps getting dialogue even after his head is separated from his body. Eggers doesn't waste a single moment, elegantly framing the most vicious of battles and offering up spectral prophecies that are beautiful even if they confound. The end result is a nightmarish fable that ignores the viewer’s heart and mind in favor of boring straight into their bones. – Robert Brian Taylor
Director/Writer: S. S. Rajamouli
Cast: N. T. Rama Rao Jr., Ram Charan, Ajay Devgn, Alia Bhatt, Shirya Saran, Samuthirakani, Ray Stevenson, Alison Doody, and Olivia Morris
Other films would never dare to do as much as RRR accomplishes every ten minutes. By the time the two lead characters, Bheem (N. T. Rama Rao Jr.) and Raju (Ram Charan) are swinging around a burning bridge trying to save a child, you're either in, or maybe movies just aren't for you. It's hard to describe RRR without sounding like SNL's Stefon, but RRR really does have it all: a flying collection of animals attacking colonizers, some of the most incredible dancing ever put on screen, unbelievable fight sequences, and too many other elements that need to be seen to be believed. But mostly, RRR is a blast from beginning to end, an assault of entertaining cinema that blows minds and hits like a breath of fresh air. — Ross Bonaime
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Writers: Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Miles Teller, and Jurnee Smollett
While this doesn't exactly match the dystopian short story by George Saunders that it's based on, there's still a lot to love when it comes to Joseph Kosinski's sci-fi thriller Spiderhead. Set in a futuristic prison where prisoners offer themselves up as guinea pigs for pharmaceutical testing, the story follows Jeff (Miles Teller), a prisoner who is the subject of a love drug test. The test is administered by Steve Abnesti, played by a perfectly villainous Chris Hemsworth, and it's clear right from the jump that there's something nefarious afoot. As the story progresses, we learn the truth about the drugs that Steve is testing on his prisoners and the story spirals out from there. With sleek production design and a cast of all-stars, there's a lot to like about Spiderhead. The winner, though, is Hemsworth, playing a deliciously smarmy pharma bro. The way he vacillates from a casual every-man to an eccentric psychopath is entrancing. After so many years of watching him as the god of thunder, it's great to be reminded that Hemsworth is a surprisingly versatile actor. — Therese Lacson
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Writers: Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, and Christopher McQuarrie
Cast: Tom Cruise, Miles teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Ed Harris, and Val Kilmer
Legacy sequels tend to have a history of missing the mark, but Top Gun: Maverick is proof that a well-constructed script that builds on the foundations of what made Top Gun work the first time around, can give way to over $1 billion at the worldwide box office and a new generation of audiences that are feeling the speed. Thirty years after the events of Top Gun, Maverick (Tom Cruise) gets called in by the Navy to teach a detachment of fresh-faced Top Gun graduates for a special assignment—including Goose’s son Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), who is less than thrilled to work with the man who was responsible for his father’s death. For a film that’s all about Maverick confronting his ghosts and deepest fears, it chooses to fly high, rather than crashing and burning its audiences. Top Gun: Maverick is Joseph Kosinski at his best as a director, delivering impressive camerawork to match the insane aerodynamic stunts. If you only see one movie this year, make it Top Gun: Maverick. — Maggie Lovitt
Director: Domee Shi
Writers: Julia Cho and Domee Shi
Cast: Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Hyein Park, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Orion Lee, Wai Ching Ho, Tristan Allerick Chen, and James Hong
Disney made a movie about periods! Well, kind of. Yes, this year, Pixar brought out an expedition into the chaos, intensity, and joy of being a 13-year-old girl. Turning Red follows Mei (Rosalie Chiang), a Chinese-Canadian girl on the cusp of adolescence who reaches that stage when she starts to experience.. changes. However, it's a lot more than a simple sanitary towel can combat. Mei transforms into a giant red panda anytime her emotions become too strong. She finds out from her loving but overbearing mother (Sandra Oh) that this is a family tradition and she must wait for a red moon in order to rid herself of this “curse.” But, after some time getting to know her new self, Mei isn't so sure she wants to take the panda away.
Turning Red is a Pixar movie like no other. It beautifully weaves together a coming-of-age story, as we see Mei learn more about the world, and more importantly, herself, even though she thought she had it all figured out; a tale of best friends who would do anything for each other (the four central besties are undoubtedly the film’s strongest aspect), and Chinese folklore and myths with some of Disney’s most stunning animation. What you get as a result is one of the funniest and most endearing, and joyful films of the year. Doesn’t matter how old you are, or whether you have kids or not, Turning Red is a must-see. And for all you 80s/early 90s babies, the early 2000s setting will give you a nice helping of boy band/Tamagotchi nostalgia. – Emma Kiely
Director/Writer: Ti West
Cast: Mia Goth, Jenny Ortega, Martin Henderson, Brittany Snow, Owen Campbell, Stephen Ure, and Scott Mescudi
It's been six years since Ti West directed his last film, and even more than that since he visited the world of horror that made him an exciting name in the genre. But West returned in full force with X, a throwback horror tale, mixed with pornography and reflections on youth and aging. Clearly inspired by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, X follows a group trying to make a porno in Texas, before naturally, they start getting murdered one by one. West's kills are brutal, but his character-building makes the audience care for these characters before the blood starts flowing. Beyond the gore and sex, the real star of X is Mia Goth in dual roles, representing both youth and the loss of youth. And if X doesn't sate your lust, West has already made a prequel, entitled Pearl, and starring Goth as the younger version of her older character, also coming out later this year. If it's as good as X, we might see two West films on our year-end list.
The Collider Staff is a diverse collection of talented writers who bring a wealth of experience, thoughtfulness, and knowledge to their analysis of entertainment. Whether you want a searing hot take on the MCU or you still can’t get over that ‘Game of Thrones’ finale, Collider’s writers always approach the world of entertainment with a keen eye and a ready mind.
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