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Best Movies of 2022 | Decider


Movies. Film. Cinema. These are three words people say out loud at the beginning of awards shows to emphasize how serious they are about the craft of making moving pictures. But that’s not what we’re here for. This isn’t some parody article about the Best Movies of 2022 (at least the ones that debuted on streaming some time between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022). No, this is an extremely serious list of movies that takes everything extremely seriously.

That’s because the movie industry was once again in a time of serious change in 2022. Despite the COVID pandemic very much not being over, viewers started to return to movie theaters in droves this past year… But only for select types of movies. Superheroes and horror soared; family films and adult dramas mostly tanked. The big reason for that? Mix in movies that feel like they need to be seen with an audience with continued confusion about what was streaming, and when; as well as training over the past two years from streaming services that let viewers know that even if theatrical movies wouldn’t be on their respective service day and date, they would be there a short 45 days later. Or 60 days. Or sometimes less. Or more.

That was the other side of the coin, that when it comes to streaming, there was confusion about when to rent movies, when to buy movies, would movies be dropping on multiple services (Disney’s deals in particular led to frequent Hulu/HBO Max hybrid releases), and would they be streaming exclusives, or debut in theaters? Even those streaming services that don’t technically have a theatrical arm seemed confused, given the uproar about the one week theatrical release of Netflix’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, which debuted huge in theaters and then promptly disappeared until the end of this month.

Long story short? Nobody knows what the f**k they’re doing. They’re willing to try everything and anything to get their movie seen, but don’t seem to have a clear strategy — yet — on how to guarantee box office or streaming hits. Some studios seemed to crack the formula, like A24 which had a huge year thanks to movies that resonated heavily with the Gen Z crowd. And others banked on reliable stars like Tom Cruise and [checks notes] Batman.

But whatever was going on behind the scenes, there were still some excellent movies released this year. In order to determine this list, the writers at Decider submitted their top 20 films of the year. Those were ranked, weighted, and culled together to form the list you see here. From a fake biopic of music’s most underrated star, to a genre-bending horror film that commented on film itself, these are the best of the best.


21

‘WEIRD: The Al Yankovic Story’

Weird The Al Yankovic Story
Aaron Epstein

Who knew that a ridiculous, over-the-top, mostly fake biography of the man most known for taking songs and changing the lyrics, but not the music, would be so delightfully captivating? Well, lots of people, actually, because WEIRD, written by Al Yankovic and Eric Appel (who also directed) was based on a fake trailer that played before “Weird” Al concerts for years. Yet the duo expertly fleshed it out into a goofy parody of music biopics that manages to perfectly channel the sweet silliness of Al’s songs, anchored by a stellar performance by Daniel Radcliffe as Al, Evan Rachel Wood as an unhinged Madonna, and non-stop, excellently cast cameos. A great companion to Al’s classic UHF, and a great comedy in its own right that deserves multiple rewatches (and an Oscar, darnit!) — Alex Zalben

Where to watch WEIRD: The Al Yankovic Story


20

‘The Lost City’

THE LOST CITY PARAMOUNT PLUS REVIEW
Photo: ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

Here at Decider, we’re not cowards. Which is why we’re making senior film writer Anna Menta’s dream come true by putting “the Channing Tatum leech butt movie” on our Best of 2022 list. (We’re also doing this because The Lost City is worthy of such recognition, and it’s time people start giving it the credit it deserves!) Directed by the Nee brothers, who also co-wrote with Oren Uziel and Dana Fox, the film stars Tatum, Tatum’s butt, Sandra Bullock, and Daniel Radcliffe. Bullock plays Loretta Sage, an archeologist-turned-romance-novelist, who’s kidnapped by billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Radcliffe) in hopes that she can lead him to a long lost treasure. Tatum plays Alan, the sexy cover model for Loretta’s books, and the brave soul who heads to the jungle to rescue her. Tatum and Bullock are one of the year’s most charming, dynamic duos. And The Lost City‘s non-stop adventure, romance, and laughter is sure to perk you up. As noted, there’s also a scene in which Bullock pulls leeches off Tatum’s butt. So truly what more could you want? — Nicole Gallucci

Where to watch The Lost City


19

‘Deadstream’

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Photo: Winterspectre Entertainment

Directed by Joseph Winter and Vanessa Winter, Deadstream is a smart and scrappy horror comedy about disgraced YouTuber Shawn (played by Winter himself) who, after being plagued by controversies and past bad behavior, attempts to make a comeback by livestreaming a night alone in a haunted house. As he broadcasts his paranormal investigation to his followers, Shawn unwittingly unleashes a vengeful spirit with a gnarly sense of humor. Tightly directed, creatively shot and screamingly funny, Deadstream is an 87-minute thrill ride that will delight hard-core genre fans and horror newbs alike. — Karen Kemmerle

Where to watch Deadstream


18

‘After Yang’

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Photo: A24

If you could only remember 10 seconds of each day of your life, which moments would you save? That’s a question I’ve been pondering since I saw After Yang, Kogonada’s gorgeous sci-fi drama that was released quietly on Showtime in early 2022. Colin Farrell and Jodie-Turner Smith star as a husband and wife who purchase a robot of Chinese descent for their adopted Chinese daughter, and then deal with the fallout of that when the robot, Yang (played by Justin H. Min), malfunctions. It’s a quiet, slow-moving film. But Kogonada—best known for his 2017 film Columbus—has constructed a fictional future so deeply beautiful, so acutely precious, you’ll never want to leave. – Anna Menta

Where to watch After Yang


17

‘Fire Island’

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Photo: ©Searchlight Pictures

If you’re craving a movie that’s just great time, look no further than this romantic comedy from director Andrew Ahn and writer and star Joel Kim Booster. A beat-for-beat remake of Pride and Prejudice, this movie proves why Jane Austen’s work has stood the test of time. The jokes and the writing are as strong as the drinks. But where Fire Island truly excels is as a love story. Bowen Yang is a standout as a wide-eyed romantic who remains charming and funny even during his most vulnerable moments, and the chemistry between Booster and Conrad Ricamora is simply swoon-worthy. In a microcosm defined by hookups and one-night stands, Fire Island tells two love stories that are so sweet, they’ll make you scream “Kiss!” at your TV. — Kayla Cobb

Where to watch Fire Island


16

‘Catherine Called Birdy’

Catherine Called Birdy
Photo: Alex Bailey/Prime Video

Lena Dunham may be bad at tweeting, but she’s very good at filmmaking. Catherine Called Birdy, Dunham’s second feature film this year, is a medieval coming-of-age tale based on the children’s book of the same name. 13-year-old Lady Catherine, who goes by Birdy, is all too aware of the fact that becoming a woman means nothing good—especially when her father, Lord Rollo (a delightfully messy Andrew Scott), is eager to marry her off. Dunham, who also adapted the script, presents Birdy’s adventures with an impish, childlike joy, complete with a pitch-perfect modern soundtrack, quippy on-screen text, and a hilarious performance from Game of Thrones alum Bella Ramsey. This funny, smart, heartwarming tale will inspire generations of young girls for years to come. – Anna Menta

Where to watch Catherine Called Birdy


15

‘A Love Song’ (2022)

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Photo: Everett Collection

Anchored by stunning lead performances from two veteran actors, A Love Song is a beautifully understated drama that utilizes the gorgeous backdrop of the Colorado mountains so effectively. Dale Dickey plays the self-sufficient 60-something Faye who anxiously waits for her childhood sweetheart, Lito (a wonderful Wes Studi), to meet her at a remote campsite. Still reeling from the loss of their spouses, the two spend a couple days with each other, rehashing the past and relishing in the fleeting companionship of the present. Delicately directed by screenwriter Max Walker-Silverman, this quiet meditation on loneliness and the nature of love has the power to move a patient audience that appreciates its subtleties. — Karen Kemmerle

Where to watch A Love Song (2022)


14

‘Prey’ (2022)

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Photo: HULU

It takes a lot to revive a franchise — and those attempts usually involve going bigger. That’s why Prey’s stripped-down approach to reviving the Predator franchise was such a surprise. The Dan Trachtenberg film ditched the ’80s machismo and sci-fi trappings of past entries and replaced them with a girl, a dog, an axe, and a helluva lot of tension. Prey put a new spin on the term “prequel” by taking the franchise all the way back to 1719. No gratuitous cameos, no overwrought continuity, no CG spectacle — just a lean, mean, straightforward predator-and-prey thriller unlike anything else we watched all year. As Comanche warrior-in-training Naru, Amber Midthunder found a breakout role that put her face-to-face with one of film’s gnarliest monsters and in the lineage of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Prey proved that you don’t need to go bigger to make a better movie or revive a franchise. — Brett White

Where to watch Prey (2022)


13

‘Not Okay’

Not Okay
Photo: Nicole Rivelli/Searchlight Pictures

Not Okay skewers social media, using follower-obsessed Danni (Zoey Deutch) to show just how far people are willing to fib for the right viral moment. The film delivers a smart, biting take on what it means to live in the Instagram era, and it features an unforgettable performance from Dylan O’Brien, who shines as douchey Colin, a vaping, tattooed influencer who absolutely owns some of the movie’s best lines. — Greta Bjornson

Where to watch Not Okay


12

‘Good Luck to You, Leo Grande’

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande – Still 1
Photo: Nick Wall/Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is a fearless exploration of sex and intimacy, and one woman’s tricky relationship to both. Starring Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack, the movie begins in a hotel room where Nancy Stokes (Thompson) meets with a sex worker, Leo Grande (McCormack), for the first time. The older woman is reluctant to the trade and quickly reveals her insecurities towards herself – particularly her aging body – and towards sex. As the movie progresses, she crosses a few lines and is forced to reevaluate the unfortunate lessons she’s learned. While packing a serious punch, this flick is also undeniably sexy and plays well with Thompson and McCormack’s electric, and unexpected chemistry. — Raven Brunner

Where to watch Good Luck To You, Leo Grande


11

‘RRR’

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Photo: DVV Entertainment

RRR isn’t just one of the most rousing spectacles of the year, but of all time. The Tollywood film — which imagines a fictional friendship between real life South Asian freedom fighters Rama Raju and Bheem — is full of emotional storytelling, infectiously fun dance sequences, and eye-popping fight sequences that put everything in the MCU to shame. At its heart, though, RRR is the story of how friendship can truly conquer all. Even the horrors of British colonialism. — Meghan O’Keefe

Where to watch RRR


10

‘Turning Red’

TURNING RED DISNEY PLUS REVIEW
Photo: ©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

Turning Red just may be the most relatable film in Pixar’s impressive oeuvre. Yes, it is a highly specific film about a teen Chinese-Canadian dealing with body change drama while being hyper hormonal at the height of early ’00s boyband mania. But those hyper-specific details are crucial. How often do we get to see coming-of-age stories where girls are in the lead? And isn’t it rare to see the passions of teen girls treated with the kind of endearing accuracy usually reserved for superheroes? The themes, though, they are universal. The film is about so much more than just a girl turning into a giant red panda! If you’ve ever feared disappointing your parents, if you’ve ever struggled with your identity, if you’ve ever grown up, then Turning Red is going to make you so emotional. — Brett White

Where to watch Turning Red


9

‘Barbarian’ (2022)

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Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

As engrossing as it is innovative, Zach Cregger’s buzzy horror thriller Barbarian is an experience. The film masterfully subverts expectations as the seemingly simple premise — a woman discovers the Airbnb she rented has been double-booked — belies the bevy of twists and turns ahead. The writing is exceptional, the story is a labyrinth of intrigue, and the overall feeling of suspense and uncertainty is elevated by the extraordinary performances from Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgard, and Justin Long. Don’t sleep on this captivating thriller. — Josh Sorokach

Where to watch Barbarian (2022)


8

‘The Batman’

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‘The Batman’ Photo: Everett Collection

Another Batman reboot? And this one is even grittier and more intense than the previous ones? You could hear the eye rolls from multiple states away when this was announced, and the first footage even seemed to emphasize that Robert Pattinson’s Nirvana-fueled dark knight would lead to a grueling three hours at the movie theater. Yet instead, what director Matt Reeves delivered was the best Batman movie of all time — not the best movie about Batman, that would be The Dark Knight, but the truest form of the character that actually centers him in the narrative instead of the villains. And even with a sprawling cast that includes a sensual Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman who gives Michelle Pfeiffer a run for her money, an unrecognizable Colin Farrell as Penguin, and Paul Dano as a terrifying incel Riddler, it’s Pattinson’s clenched-jawed Bruce Wayne who commands the screen and steers the plot. A heady mix of mob movie, Western gunslinger epic, and superhero statement (the ultimate lesson being we don’t need fear, we need hope from our heroes), The Batman is shockingly breezy for its 176 minute runtime, eminently rewatchable, and sneakily hilarious. Even if we never get a sequel due to recent shake-ups at Warner Bros. Discovery, this movie will stand the test of time as an iconic take on a mythic character. — Alex Zalben

Where to watch The Batman


7

‘I Want You Back’

I WANT YOU BACK AMAZON PRIME REVIEW
Photo: Everett Collection

Jason Orley’s I Want You Back is a rollicking good time. Starring the dreamy cinematic duo of Charlie Day and Jenny Slate, the winsome comedy follows two recently dumped thirty-somethings who team up to sabotage their exes’ new relationships in an attempt to win them back. The film doesn’t try to reinvent the genre, but instead focuses on the tenets of successful rom-coms — dazzling viewers with a uniquely funny script filled with flawed, endearing characters that exude a sparkling chemistry. Also featuring a terrific ensemble that includes Gina Rodriguez, Manny Jacinto, and Scott Eastwood, I Want You Back is a sweet, authentic look at modern dating. — Josh Sorokach

Where to watch I Want You Back


6

‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’

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Photo: Apple TV+

Not even the COVID-19 pandemic could challenge Cooper Raiff’s rise to fame. The young filmmaker’s comedy drama was slated to premiere at SXSW in 2020 before the festival was canceled, but we’re glad it came out. A tender story about a recent college graduate, Andrew, and his unwelcoming journey into the spooky, scary “adult world,” Cha Cha Real Smooth sees the young adult find himself turned off by conformity, while at the same time, unfulfilled with his current lifestyle. He’s also falling in love with someone who’s totally out of his league – not only is she played by an enigmatic Dakota Johnson, but the character also has a daughter and a fiancé. It’s a captivating watch that avoids taking itself too seriously and reducing its characters to stereotypes, which is a rare feat in the coming-of-age genre. — Raven Brunner

Where to watch Cha Cha Real Smooth


5

‘Fresh’ (2022)

Fresh
Photo: Courtesy of Searchlight Picture

Director Mimi Cave’s twisted, genre-bending debut will have you at “hell no!” A surprising screenplay from Lauryn Kahn — which melds a 30-minute rom-com with an unexpected, bloodcurdling thriller — highlights the horrors of modern dating with a twist. Noa’s (Daisy Edgar-Jones) new boyfriend Steve (Sebastian Stan) is incredibly charming, but just when she starts to fall for him, she learns he’s a cannibal. When Steve introduces Noa to his unconventional, high-end world fueled by human meat, she’s forced to question how far she’s willing to go to survive. Edgar-Jones and Stan’s chemistry remains delicious even in the most unappetizing scenes. A smooth, soulful soundtrack infuses the film with personality. And meticulous cinematography demands your gaze when you’re desperate to look away. Fresh is a deeply disturbing horror film that keeps you laughing through the pain. And you’ll never look at cotton candy grapes the same way again. — Nicole Gallucci

Where to watch Fresh (2022)


4

‘Top Gun Maverick’

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Photo: ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

Top Gun: Maverick was the blockbuster event that proclaimed “the movies are back, baby!” Its stellar action set pieces aside, Top Gun: Maverick managed to find the best balance of nostalgia and the new. Tom Cruise returns as an older, sort of wiser version of his iconic Maverick, but he’s consistently put through his paces by a young roster of hot shot pilots played by a cast of up-and-coming scene-stealers. Top Gun: Maverick isn’t just a wholly thrilling and effecting ride, but a reminder that the magic of movies is sometimes simply that they’re fun. — Meghan O’Keefe

Where to watch Top Gun Maverick


3

‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’

Bodies Bodies Bodies
Photo: Everett Collection

The minute I saw the trailer for Bodies Bodies Bodies, I needed to see the movie, and Halina Reijn didn’t let me down. The director’s hilarious, bloody and fresh slasher updates Scream for the Gen Z set, and the film’s all-star cast makes it all happen. From Rachel Sennott and Lee Pace to Pete Davidson and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from Connor O’Malley, Bodies Bodies Bodies is a banger, right down to its Charli XCX soundtrack. — Greta Bjornson

Where to watch Bodies Bodies Bodies


2

‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’

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Courtesy Everett Collection

Written and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, aka The Daniels, Everything Everywhere is like no movie you’ve ever seen before. For some audience members—like my parents—that was a bad thing. For many of us, though, it was a revelation. Starring acclaimed kung-fu actress Michelle Yeoh, the movie follows a woman who unexpectedly finds herself hopping through the multiverse. But these are not the kind of vanilla multiverse realities you see in Marvel movies. These multiverses include a universe where everyone has hot dogs for fingers, a universe where everyone is a rock, and a universe where the concept of Pixar’s Ratatouille is real. But beneath all the absurdity, laugh-out jokes, and dazzling costumes—it deserves Best Costuming for Stephanie Hsu’s looks alone—is a heartfelt, touching family drama about mothers and daughters. I have never cried so hard at a movie with such an explicit butt-plug joke. – Anna Menta

Where to watch Everything Everywhere All Once


1

‘Nope’ (2022)

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Photo: ©Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

If you didn’t think Jordan Peele’s latest horror masterpiece, Nope, was brilliant, I dare you to watch the film again. As fun, watchable, and entertaining as this alien thriller is on the first go, it’s on the rewatch that you’ll uncover the expertly crafted layers. Once you start noticing the visual parallels—the cowboy hat that looks like a flying saucer, the horse training mirror that looks like a reflective motorcycle helmet, the sound stage cameras that look like the gaping eyes of aliens—you won’t be able to stop. And yes, the part with the chimp makes sense. It’s a metaphor for Hollywood’s ill-advised attempt to tame a wild animal for the sake of content, OK? Jupe, the product of the relentless churn of entertainment, tried to do the same thing to Jean Jacket, and he pays the price! It’s brilliant, I tell you, brilliant! – Anna Menta

Where to watch Nope (2022)



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