CHICAGO - We’re just a little over halfway through 2022 and what a movie year it’s been! From the Sundance Film Festival going all-virtual at the last minute in January to "Top Gun: Maverick" unexpectedly dominating the box office this spring, there have been no shortage of surprises. And there have been no shortage of attention grabbing films, either, from blockbusters like "Uncharted," "The Batman," "Jurassic World Dominion" and "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" to eclectic originals like "The Outfit," "Dual," "You Won’t Be Alone" and "Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood." (Plus whatever you’d call "Morbius.")
While horror movies like "Men," "Crimes of the Future" and "Watcher" tried to unnerve us, crowdpleasers like "The Lost City" and "Downton Abbey: A New Era" brought some old-fashioned comfort food back to cinemas. And now your friendly neighborhood film critics here at FOX Digital have taken it upon themselves to sort through it all and roundup the very best of what 2022 has had to offer so far.
So read on for our pick for the year’s best movie, plus 10 other great titles to check out.
The best movie of 2022 (so far): "Everything Everywhere All At Once"
Michelle Yeoh in "Everything Everywhere All At Once"
What can you expect from this wildly inventive, profoundly empathetic movie? Well, the title says it all, really — plus some hot dog fingers. Michelle Yeoh stars as an everyday woman who suddenly discovers access to a multiverse of worlds where other versions of herself exist as chefs, movie stars, martial arts masters and even cartoon characters. This trippy action epic is the long-awaited sophomore feature for "Daniels" (directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), who made a major splash with 2016’s "Swiss Army Man" a.k.a. the Daniel Radcliffe farting corpse movie. In her review of "Everything Everywhere All At Once," FOX film critic Caroline Siede calls it "a transcendently singular film that remixes familiar genre tropes into something that feels wholly new and quietly revolutionary."
It’s a wild, often unkind world, and this has been a difficult year for so many. "Everything Everywhere All At Once" is the perfect antidote — strange, surprising and joyful even in its moments of grief. And that’s why it’s the best movie of 2022 (so far).
Is "Everything Everywhere All At Once" streaming?
"Everything Everywhere All At Once" is still in some theaters. It’s also available to purchase on digital platforms and will be available to rent starting July 5.
The rest of the best of 2022 (so far!)
The rest of our favorite films of the year so far are listed in alphabetical order, with thoughts on what makes them great and info on where you can watch them. And because we’re indecisive and love movies (a lot), you’ll find some honorable mentions at the end of our list too.
"After Yang": A sensitive sci-fi drama
Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja and Justin H. Min in "After Yang"
Colin Farrell has had a big year. In addition to playing Penguin in "The Batman," he also portrays a sensitive dad with a robot son in "After Yang." This humanistic sci-fi drama from acclaimed indie studio A24 generated major buzz at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. As FOX Digital film critic Caroline Siede writes, "‘Tone poem’ and ‘memory play’ are two of the most overused terms when it comes to indie arthouse films, yet it’s hard to think of better descriptors for writer/director Kogonada’s elegiac sci-fi family drama "After Yang." After an exuberant burst of an opening credits dance sequence, the movie quickly becomes a wistful meditation on what it means to be human, what it means to be an android and what it means to be a family. When your child’s robotic big brother breaks, is it like fixing an iPad or losing a son?"
Where is "After Yang" streaming?
You can stream this elegiac gem on Showtime. It’s also available for purchase on digital platforms and will be available to rent starting June 21.
"Cha Cha Real Smooth": A tender indie rom-com
Cooper Raiff and Dakota Johnson in "Cha Cha Real Smooth," premiering June 17, 2022 on Apple TV+.
"Don’t be put off by the fact that "Cha Cha Real Smooth" sounds like a movie you’ve seen before," FOX Digital film critic Caroline Siede notes in her review of this indie rom-com. "This is a tale as old as time (or at least as old as "The Graduate"), yet [writer/director/star Cooper] Raiff elevates it so gently and empathetically that the well-trod beats somehow feel fresh all over again." Raiff plays Andrew, an aimless 22-year-old college graduate who gets a job as a bar mitzvah party starter and quickly falls head-over-heels for a 30-something single mom played by Dakota Johnson. As Siede explains, "Wistfully romantic and impossibly charming, "Cha Cha Real Smooth" is a special little movie that somehow feels a warm blanket and a gut-punch all at the same time."
Where is "Cha Cha Real Smooth" streaming?
"Cha Cha Real Smooth" is streaming on Apple TV+ and available in select theaters.
"Emergency": A tense, socially conscious comedy
RJ Cyler, Sebastian Chacon and Donald Elise Watkins in "Emergency" by Carey Williams, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
Half college buddy comedy, half social commentary thriller, "Emergency" is one of the more tonally unique films to come out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. At the tail end of their senior year, best friends Kunle (Donald Elise Watkins) and Sean (RJ Cyler) are determined to become the first Black students to complete their school’s frat party Legendary Tour. But when they arrive home to find a white girl passed out on their living room floor, they’re forced to figure out how to help her without risking their own futures by calling the police. As FOX Digital film critic Allison Shoemaker writes, ""Emergency" ratchets up the tension with each new wrinkle the young men encounter in their one wild night, but the final moments of this film exist in the bright light of day. It’s those sunkissed end notes that are most likely to grab you by the throat. In one simple scene, [director Carey] Williams tells us that the story continues, the experience lingering inside his characters like a splinter in the skin, too deep to dig out, just waiting to fester."
Rated R. 105 minutes. Dir: Carey Williams. Featuring: RJ Cyler, Donald Elise Watkins, Sebastian Chacon, Maddie Nichols, Madison Thompson, Sabrina Carpenter.
Where is "Emergency" streaming?
"Emergency" is streaming on Prime Video.
"Fire Island": A queer take on Jane Austen
Fire Island -- Set in the iconic Pines, Andrew Ahn’s "Fire Island" is an unapologetic, modern-day rom-com showcasing a diverse, multicultural examination of queerness and romance. Inspired by the timeless pursuits from Jane Austen’s classic "Pride an
This hotly anticipated queer rom-com written by comedian Joel Kim Booster kicked off the summer movie season in style. "The most surprising thing about Hulu’s empathetic and sharply funny film "Fire Island" is how faithful it is to Austen’s "Pride and Prejudice," tracing the contours of the beloved novel’s plot and (perhaps more importantly) brilliantly updating its ideas about class, agency, financial anxiety, difficult familial bonds, the institution of marriage and more," writes FOX film critic Allison Shoemaker. "And like Austen, screenwriter/star Joel Kim Booster and director Andrew Ahn casually break the unspoken rules that dictate who gets to lead a love story and what they’re allowed to want from it.It’s also the funniest Austen adaptation since "Clueless," and that’s no small feat."
Where is "Fire Island" streaming?
"Fire Island" is streaming on Hulu.
If you like "Fire Island," try: "My Big Gay Italian Wedding," streaming free on Tubi — get the app
"Good Luck to You, Leo Grande": A bold yet intimate sex-positive dramedy
Daryl McCormack and Emma Thompson in the film GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved
Another big hit of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, "Good Luck to You, Leo Grande" stars Emma Thompson as a widow who’s never experienced good sex and Daryl McCormack as the suave sex worker she hires to change that. As FOX Digital film critic Allison Shoemaker explains, "Even in a career filled with terrific, wide-ranging performances, Thompson’s turn here stands out. Nancy Stokes crackles with intelligence... but Thompson never allows her to lose a certain amount of thorniness. She is a person, not a heroine. (Okay, she’s a little bit of a heroine.) McCormack’s performance, in contrast, doesn’t seem nearly as complex right off the bat, but as the film progresses and the dynamic shifts, it becomes clear exactly how layered his work has been in creating the Leo Grande persona while leaving the occasional crack or fracture that reveals part of the person beneath."
Where is "Good Luck to You, Leo Grande" streaming?
"Good Luck to You, Leo Grande" is streaming on Hulu.
If you like "Good Luck to you, Leo Grande," try: Director Sophie Hyde’s 2019 comedy-drama "Animals," streaming free on Tubi — get the app
"The Janes": A historical documentary that’s relevant right now
As FOX Digital film critic Caroline Siede writes, "It takes real finesse to deliver a history lesson that’s lively, funny and personal but still conveys the weight of its subject matter. And that’s exactly where HBO’s timely documentary "The Janes" excels. ‘We were really ordinary women, and we were trying to save women’s lives,’ one interview subject recalls near the end of the documentary. ‘We wanted every woman who contacted us to be the hero of her own story.’ She’s talking about the Jane Collective, the underground Chicago network that provided around 11,000 safe, affordable, illegal abortions between 1968 and 1973. Equal parts accessible and informative, "The Janes" shines a light on what life looked like at a time when a woman’s right to choose wasn’t protected by law."
Rated TV-14. 101 minutes. Documentary. Dir: Tia Lessin, Emma Pildes.
Where is "The Janes" streaming?
You can find this sharp documentary on HBO Max.
"Top Gun: Maverick": A gloriously corny nostalgia fest
Tom Cruise plays Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick from Paramount Pictures, Skydance and Jerry Bruckheimer Films.
If you feel like you’ve been hearing the haunting notes of the "Top Gun: Maverick" trailer forever, that’s because you have! This decades-in-the-making "Top Gun" sequel dropped its first trailer in July 2019 ahead of a planned summer 2020 release. That date was obviously pushed back by the pandemic, but as other blockbusters switched to streaming releases, Tom Cruise stuck by his, well, guns, for a theatrical release. And in May, it was finally time to reignite the need, the need for speed. "There’s a fist-pumping joy to watching an old-fashioned action blockbuster fire on all cylinders, even if its storytelling ambitions aren’t quite stratospheric," writes FOX Digital film critic Caroline Siede in her glowing review, adding, "the best thing about "Top Gun: Maverick" is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously ... Yes, there are emotional throughlines (and meta connections) if you want to see them, but there’s also shirtless beach football, sexy romance montages and characters so archetypal they feel like they stepped right out of a 1940s WWII film. While the practical stunts in "Top Gun: Maverick" aren’t a million miles off from the work Cruise does in the "Mission: Impossible" films, "Maverick" sets itself apart with a knowingly corny earnestness. And while that does kind of limit just how deep the film is actually able to go with its story, it makes for a nice change of pace in a blockbuster landscape full of winking, sardonic action flicks."
Is "Top Gun: Maverick" streaming?
Not yet. A streaming date has yet to be announced, but its home will eventually be Paramount+ — and films released to Paramount+ typically arrive roughly 45 days after their big-screen premieres. Expect it in mid-July at the earliest. Meanwhile, it’s still in theaters and is available to pre-order on digital platforms.
"Turning Red": Pixar at its weird, wonderful best
WE’VE GOT YOUR (FLUFFY) BACK – In Disney and Pixar’s all-new original feature film "Turning Red," everything is going great for 13-year-old Mei—until she begins to "poof" into a giant panda when she gets too excited. Fortunately, her tightknit group
"There’s a special kind of joy that comes from watching a film that’s completely confident in its eccentricities," writesFOX film critic Caroline Siede in her review of this Pixar gem. "One made by a filmmaker who clearly knew from the start what they wanted their movie to be and seemingly got the chance to execute their vision uncompromised. That’s exactly the spirit that fuels "Turning Red."" Set in the early 2000s, "Turning Red" tells the story of Meilin "Mei" Lee (Rosalie Chiang), a confident 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl who’s horrified to discover that she magically transforms into a giant red panda whenever she gets stressed or excited. With one clever central metaphor, writer/director Domee Shi (the first woman with solo directing credit on a Pixar film) crafts a movie that’s both hyper-specific and universal — a coming-of-age story rich in imagination and empathy for its complex, flawed but undeniably lovable characters.
Where can you stream "Turning Red"?
Like everything in the Pixar canon (except the upcoming "Lightyear"), "Turning Red" is streaming on Disney+. It’s also available to buy on digital platforms.
If you like "Turning Red," try: Superstar-in-the-making Zendaya in "Zapped," streaming free on Tubi — get the app
"We’re All Going to the World’s Fair": A terrific movie about a digital nightmare
Anna Cobb in "We're All Going to the World's Fair." Photo: Utopia.
"Many directors have tried to grapple with the internet’s profound effect on humanity," writes film critic Katie Rife in her review of this daring, not-for-the-faint-of-heart indie. "Few have succeeded like Jane Schoenbrun, a New York-based filmmaker whose new movie, "We’re All Going to the World’s Fair," feels the alienation of a life lived online deep within its bones." The film centers on Casey (newcomer Anna Cobb), "a lonely teenager in an utterly generic suburb whose interest in horror leads her to join a creepypasta-esque online game called the World’s Fair Challenge. The initiation into the game has two steps: First, players ritualistically cut themselves and wipe the blood on their computer monitors, the first of many comminglings of the digital and corporeal in this film. They then watch a video whose contents remain hidden to the viewer, but are projected onto Casey’s awestruck face with flashes of colored light."
So yeah, it’s not your average horror movie. But those who give Schoenbrun’s film a shot will be well-rewarded. As Rife puts it in her review: "Rarely does a film convey the internal lives of its characters as viscerally as "World’s Fair." Rarer still is a filmmaker who can accomplish this task with such clean, unadorned storytelling."
Unrated. 86 minutes. Dir: Jane Schoenbrun. Featuring: Anna Cobb, Michael J. Rogers.
Where can you stream "We’re All Going to the World’s Fair"?
Jane Schoenbrun’s compelling film is available to rent or buy on digital platforms.
If you like "We’re All Going to the World’s Fair" try: The indie sci-fi gem "The Endless," streaming free on Tubi— get the app
"The Worst Person in the World": An exceptional Norwegian romance
Renate Reinsve appears in "The Worst Person in the World"
One of the best movies of the year sort of came out before we even crossed over into 2022. "The Worst Person in the World" was Norway’s official entry for Best International Feature Film at the 2022 Academy Awards, so it had an Oscar-qualifying run last year before making its proper U.S. debut in February. Still, whether you think it belongs to 2021 or 2022, it’s undeniably great. "Do we ever stop coming of age? That’s the question that implicitly sits at the heart of director Joachim Trier’s exceptional romantic dramedy," writes FOX film critic Caroline Siede. "Without ever slipping into sentimentalism, "The Worst Person in the World" understands the warts-and-all beauty of what it means to truly live a life to the fullest, stumbling, striving and messing up along the way."
Where can you stream "The Worst Person in the World"?
Make like the heroine of Trier’s film and run directly to Hulu to stream this enchanting dramedy. It’s also available to rent or buy on digital platforms.
If you like "The Worst Person in the World" try: Joachim Trier’s "Louder Than Bombs," streaming free on Tubi— get the app
Left: "Neptune Frost," "The Northman." Center: "X." Right: "RRR," "Kimi."
Elsewhere, Nicolas Cage riffed on his own celebrity persona in the most surreal way possible in "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent," Steven Soderbergh and Zoë Kravitz teamed up to electric results in the throwback thriller "Kimi'" and Michael Bay delivered some so-bad-it's-good fun with Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in the ridiculous thriller "Ambulance."
While horror fans will enjoy the groovy thrills of Ti West’s "X," the intriguing promise of Mariama Diallo’s directorial debut "Master" and the squicky fun of "Fresh," romance lovers should check out the hidden gem "I Want You Back," starring Charlie Day and Jenny Slate.
Of course, no look at 2022 so far would be complete without mentioning "RRR," the Telugu-language Indian epic action drama that’s become an international crossover sensation since it landed on Netflix. Pair it with the Rwanda-set, Afrofuturist sci-fi musical "Neptune Frost" for a sense of the breadth of what international cinema can do.
Oh, and be on the look out for "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" at the end of the month too. It’s a charming, surprisingly heart-wrenching crowdpleaser with one shell of a protagonist.
About the writer: Allison Shoemaker is a Chicago-based pop-culture critic and journalist. She is the author of "How TV Can Make You Smarter," and a member of the Television Critics Association and the Chicago Film Critics Association. She is also a producer and co-host for the Podlander Presents network of podcasts. Find her on Twitter and Instagram at @allisonshoe. Allison is a Tomatometer-approved Top Critic on Rotten Tomatoes.
About the writer: Caroline Siede is a film and TV critic in Chicago, where the cold never bothers her anyway. A member of the Chicago Film Critics Association, she spent four years lovingly analyzing the romantic comedy genre one film at a time in her column When Romance Met Comedy for The A.V. Club. She also co-hosts the movie podcast, Role Calling, and shares her pop culture opinions on Twitter (@carolinesiede).
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