As we enter year three of the Covid-19 pandemic, movies are in a weird place. The theatrical-exclusive is becoming increasingly rare, as more and more films end up going directly to streaming, simultaneously streaming and in theaters, or on one of many streaming services after a 45-day exclusive run in theaters. Whatever the case, there are still lots of movies coming out to be excited about, and the only way to ensure that we’ll keep getting more and more is to go see them. So, whether you’re willing to head out to your local theater or you’re just going to wait to rent or stream at home, the best thing you can do is know what’s coming out and when.
Luckily, 2022 has a lot of good stuff on the horizon. From horror to comedy to superheroes to action, a lot of really innovative movies and talented filmmakers will be putting their stuff on display. Seriously—from stuff like the world-bending Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to the much-awaited Knives Out 2 and even a brand new Scorsese movie, there’s a ton of stuff that we’ve got our eyes on. And, hell, we’re a bit more than halfway through the year, and already have tons of movies that have entertained us, made us think, and downright awed us.
Last year’s version of this list was a little screwy—we ended up counting movies like Promising Young Woman, Nomadland, and Judas and the Black Messiah, all of which were technically 2021 releases but were also nominated for last year’s Oscars (due to Covid-19, the deadline was pushed back). It was an odd situation where “Oscar-contending” films were released in the early part of the year. This year, we’re sticking just to the films that are in the next cycle (so, for example, movies like Nightmare Alley and Licorice Pizza were included also on last year’s list).
A little weird! But mostly just semantics. Anyway, here are the movies we already love in 2022—and a bunch more that we’re still super eager to check out.
The new Scream, the fifth in the slasher whodunit series, had a lot working against it. It’s been more than a decade since Scream 4 hit theaters, and in the time since, Wes Craven—who directed every prior movie in the series—died. Another sequel could’ve been a disaster. Luckily, Scream was made by directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin with the main goal of being something Craven would be proud of—and they achieved that mission. Legacy cast members Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette are joined by exceptional newcomers like Jack Quaid, Jasmin Savoy-Brown, and Jenna Ortega, for a movie that’s entertaining and fun, but most importantly just feels like a Scream movie. Scream 6 has already been ordered, and to that we say: hell yes.
The guys—Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Wee Man, et cetera—may have gotten older, but the fun, thankfully, remains the same. jackass forever is the high-quality lowbrow humor that fans of this franchise have been loving for 20+ years (even longer if you count the original MTV series). And as long as these guys want to keep taking part in this madness, we’ll be watching.
The term “Hitchcockian” gets thrown around far too often, but one filmmaker who can actually try to be like the master of suspense and come through with 100% success is the great Steven Soderbergh. Sodey teams up with Zoë Kravitz for a fantastic thriller that’s got a simple, premise: basically a modern version of Rear Window. And it crushes it.
I Want You Back
I Want You Back is fairly standard stuff for a rom-com, but it’s got a wildly charismatic cast, led by a pair of great leads (Charlie Day and Jenny Slate) and fun supporting players (Gina Rodriguez, Manny Jacinto, and Scott Eastwood). The movie zigs a little bit from the standard formula along the way, and ultimately proves to be a worthy comfort movie for anyone who needs one.
We’ve seen lots of Batman before, but The Batman is something different. We’ve got a new Dark Knight in Robert Pattinson, an actor known to take huge risks. We’ve got a super cool Catwoman in Zoë Kravitz, a Zodiac Killer-esque Riddler played by Paul Dano, and a totally unrecognizable Colin Farrell in a brand new take on the Penguin. Director Matt Reeves has helmed more than a few good movies, and his neo-noir, unique take on Batman is another one for the list. Now, we just wait to see what he does next.
Sebastian Stan is having himself a year. While he spent a few weeks grinding everyone’ gears as the boorish rocker Tommy Lee in Hulu’s Pam & Tommy, he dove all the way into the creepy/horror/ genre with his portrayal of thecharming-on-the-surface-but-with-some-dark-secrets boyfriend of Daisy Edgar-Jones (Normal People) in Fresh. The movie earned raves out of Sundance and made similar waves when it landed on Hulu and word of its twisted plot hit the internet. Horror fans won’t want to miss this fun one.
Writer/director Ti West is at his best when he’s in nostalgia-horror mode (check out The House of the Devil!), and he went for it big time with X, an A24-produced comedy about a group of young filmmakers (including Kid Cudi and new Scream Queen Jenna Ortega)who set out to make an adult film in Texas, before shit gets really out of control. The movie is a slow-burn, but really pays off in the end—and is a far better tribute to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre than the other 2022 movie that actually holds that franchise’s name. If you love this movie, we’ve got more good news: a prequel, directed by West, is on the way.
The Lost City
We’re not going to pretend like this Sandra Bullock/Channing Tatum vehicle is about to win any Oscars, but it’s fun. Bullock plays a writer of romance adventure novels, while Tatum is the guy depicting her fictional characters on the covers of the books. Add in Daniel Radcliffe as a crazy rich guy who thinks something written in her books is a real treasure hunt, and so he drops the two of them into the jungle. A fun movie with incredibly fun lead performances. A truly great smooth brain cinematic experience.
OK, fine: CODA technically came out in May of 2021. But most of us either saw it in the lead-up to, or aftermath of, the 2022 Academy Awards. Because in case you didn’t watch, something far more interesting than the slap-heard-around-the-world happened (in the world of cinema at least): a movie with the majority of its dialogue in American Sign Language won best picture. CODA isn’t breaking any film barriers with its story (you’ve seen this arc before), but it’s a delightful, feel-good film that has a few moments that are just beyond affectionate. Troy Kotsur, who is deaf and uses ASL, was a well-deserving winner of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar this year for his role as unfiltered fisherman father Frank Rossi.
Everything Everywhere All At Once
You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a movie more universally acclaimed—by both critics and fans alike—than Everything Everywhere All At Once. This multiversal tale has it all: action, drama, humor, intrigue, and even deeply emotional moments. It’s a triumph of storytelling and film, and despite its release in the first half of the year, stands a real chance of being an awards contender. You won’t forget the performances by Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, James Hong, and Jamie Lee Curtis any time soon.
After doing a combination old-school monster movie/slow-burn psychological thriller with his last movie The Lighthouse, director Robert Eggers switched things up and making an epic with The Northman. Alexander Skarsgård stars as a Viking prince who seeks revenge for his murdered father; Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, Björk, and Willem Dafoe are among the rest of the stacked cast. This movie is an artsy take on an epic, and the violence is INTENSE. But stick around for the performances and the sheer visuals of it all; Kidman delivers a knockout, and Anya Taylor-Joy has a late monologue that will blow you away.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
If you’re a sucker for meta, you’ll be very into The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, which centers on Nicolas Cage playing…Nicolas Cage. This fictionalized movie takes the notorious and eccentric actor on an adventure where he gets involved with a drug lord (Pedro Pascal) who loves his work. Imagine Cage’s turn in Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation, but updated and made a lot, lot, goofier. Fun stuff.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Superhero and horror movie godfather Sam Raimi gets to a little bit of both of those specialities in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which has proven to be one of the more polarizing Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to date. We fall on the side of loving it—Raimi’s directorial flourishes are all over the movie, which is something that you rarely see in a movie with as many chefs in the kitchen as a Marvel film. At the end of the day, you’ll be thinking about the horror elements that the director snuck in, and Elizabeth Olsen’s dynamic performance as Wanda Maximoff—who has become without question Marvel’s most compelling post-Endgame character.
Top Gun: Maverick
The sequel to Top Gun may have come decades after the 1986 original, but man oh man was it worth it: Maverick is an upgrade in just about every way possible. The action, visuals, and sound here are incredible, and in case you may have been worried, the story and characters aren’t too shabby either. Tom Cruise leads the way here of course, but this theme park ride of a movie (in a good way! a great way!) also includes great performances from the likes of Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, and Glen Powell. The movie has absolutely crushed at the box office, and will continue to be talked about all year long.
The Black Phone
Ethan Hawke plays a creepy villain named The Grabber in The Black Phone, a horror based on a story of the same name from Joe Hill. The movie marks a return to horror for director Scott Derrickson, who most recently directed Doctor Strange, but before that was behind Sinister (also with Hawke!) and The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
Hustle is both one of the best sports movies and one of the best Adam Sandler movies you’ll ever see. That’s right—it’s joining prestigious lists that include Field of Dreams and Moneyball and Uncut Gems and Billy Madison. The movie tells the story of an NBA scout (Sandler) who believes he’s found the next international superstar (played by real-life NBA player Juancho Hernangomez). Countless NBA figures make cameos, and the movie is a compelling and fun watch.
Thor: Love and Thunder
The Thor: Ragnarok gang mostly returns for Love and Thunder, with Chris Hemsworth starring and Taika Waititi directing. This time, Christian Bale joins as Gorr the God Butcher, a wild character from the beloved Jason Aaron run of Thor comics, and Natalie Portman returns to the fray, as Jane Foster picks up Mjolnir herself for a run as The Mighty Thor. The movie isn’t quite as good as Ragnarok, but it’s still a fun time at the movies, with some sequences you’ll be thinking about for a while.
If you were worried about Jordan Peele keeping his winning streak going, well, it’s time to stop. Nope is different from his other films, going for something bigger in scale and spectacle than either Get Out or Us, but it still works to perfection, in that exact Jordan Peele manner. AKA: you’ll be thinking about Nope, and talking about Nope, long after you have actually seen nope. Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Brandon Perea, and Michael Wincott are all fantastic in this movie—one of the very best of the year.
Bodies Bodies Bodies
Bodies Bodies Bodies is one of the most unique, fun, and stylized horror movies in recent memory (and, my goodness, what a great theme song from Charli XCX). Centered on a group of 20-somethings stuck in a mansion (including Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalava from Borat 2, Rachel Sennott from Shiva Baby, and Pete Davidson among others)during a hurricane (along with an older dude played by Lee Pace), the movie has twists and turns that you won’t see coming. It’s funny, disturbing, and truly subversive.
If you’re looking for a sharply-written, darkly-comedic satire about the world we live in today, don’t miss Vengeance, which was written by, directed by, and stars BJ Novak. The movie follows a 30-something NYC media guy (Novak) who ends up in rural Texas following the death of a girl he hardly knew—and finds himself entrenched in what may or may not be a murder mystery. Novak is joined by an exceptional cast that also includes J. Smith Cameron, Ashton Kutcher, and Boyd Holbrook. Holbrook in particular gives a fantastic performance—he’s the movie’s driving force, turning the audience from coastal elites into true Texans one one-liner at a time.
Bullet Train (August 5)
Based on a novel by Kotaro Isaka, Bullet Train is an action movie with an absolutely stacked cast: Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Zazie Beetz, Brian Tyree Henry, Michael Shannon, Logan Lerman, Bad Bunny, and Sandra Bullock are among the many names involved. The story is simple enough: five assassins are on a high-speed train in Japan, and then they realize their assignments are interconnected. The novel its based on is satirical, so we can expect this one to not only be action-packed, but funny too. David Leitch, who co-directed John Wick before helming Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2, and Hobbs and Shaw is behind the camera for this one.
Beast (August 19)
Not much to discuss here: Idris Elba protecting his daughters from a giant lion. And fighting the lion! Cinema! That sounds outrageous and just the amount of crazy that we all love in a good action movie.
Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. (September 2)
Fans of The Righteous Gemstones should be on high alert for Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul., which looks to be a similar satire of the intersection of capitalism and Big Religion. Starring Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown and produced by Jordan Peele and Daniel Kaluuya, the movie looks twisted and funny in the ways that we tend to love.
See How They Run (September 16)
A murder mystery led by Saoirse Ronan, Sam Rockwell, and Adrien Brody? Seriously, say no more. We’ll be watching.
Don’t Worry Darling (September 23)
Olivia Wilde is following up her wonderful directorial debut—the teen comedy Booksmart—by going an entirely different direction with Don’t Worry Darling. Darling is a star-studded—Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, and Wilde herself, among others—psychological thriller set in the ’50s around a couple (Pugh and Styles) with secrets. And Pine looks like he’s giving one of his very best performances.
Bros (September 30)
Billy Eichner is best known for his hilarious on-the-run quiz show Billy on the Street, but he gets to make the jump to rom-com in this year’s Bros, which he co-wrote with director Nicholas Stoller (Neighbors, Forgetting Sarah Marshall). The story seems basic enough—two guys with commitment problems attempting a relationship—but with Eichner and Stoller, and Judd Apatow on board as a producer, it sounds like a win.
Halloween Ends (October 14)
The new trilogy of Halloween movies comes to a conclusion with Halloween Ends, which will once again be helmed by David Gordon Green. Jamie Lee Curtis is back in the lead role, and it seems like, unlike in Halloween Kills, she will actually get to leave the hospital this time. We think she will—and will be back to her Halloween 2018 badass ways. This one has the potential to be among the year’s best horror movies.
Black Adam (October 21)
The Rock has seemed hyped for a while about Black Adam, which will mark his DCEU debut as the titular anti-hero (known best as Shazam!’s nemesis). We’ll see how it fits into other happenings in the DC Universe, but he’ll be joined by Pierce Brosnan and Aldis Hodge in the cast.
Amsterdam (November 4)
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) is back this year with Amsterdam, a period-set murder mystery comedy that boasts one of the greatest casts in recent memory. Headlined by Christian Bale and Margot Robbie but also including the likes of John David Washington, Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Rock, Taylor Swift, and Robert De Niro, among others, this should be one of the year’s biggest and most rewarding films.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (November 11)
We don’t know much about what direction Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will go after the untimely death of Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman. But the show must go on, and the film is still planned for release later this year. We do know that Dominique Thorne will make her MCU debut as RiRi Williams (who eventually becomes Ironheart) in this movie before eventually leading a Disney+series, and Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You) has joined the cast in a mystery role. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, but could Coel possibly be playing a first-appearance Storm as the MCU gets X-Men into the mix? Just an idea!
She Said (November 18)
Based on the book of the same name, She Said will tell the story of how two New York Times reporters (Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, played respectively by Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan) uncovered the truth about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct allegations. On top of telling an important and compelling true story, the movie (which also features Patricia Clarkson, Andre Braugher, and Tom Pelphrey)has the potential to pack a Spotlight-esque punch.
The Fablemans (November 23)
Fresh off his Oscar-nominated take on West Side Story, Steven Spielberg will be back next year with The Fablemans. The movie is loosely based on Spielberg’s own childhood growing up in Arizona, with newcomer Gabriel LaBelle playing the director’s on-screen avatar. Michelle Williams and Paul Dano play his parents, while Seth Rogen plays his uncle.
Killers of the Flower Moon (November 2022 TBA)
No specific date has landed yet, but we know that Martin Scorsese’s next film, Killers of the Flower Moon, will land on Apple TV+ in November. Based on the book of the same name, Killers will find Jesse Plemons in the lead role, joined by Scorsese’s two most notable muses: Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. Set in Oklahoma, the story tells of the investigation that follows when members of the Osage tribe are killed in the 1920s. Lily Gladstone, Brendan Fraser, Sturgill Simpson, and John Lithgow also star.
Avatar 2 (December 16)
13 years after the release of James Cameron’s Avatar, the much-discussed sequel is finally scheduled to be released. Also currently in production: Avatar 3, Avatar 4, and Avatar 5. Does anyone care anymore? We’ll find out!
Shazam! Fury of the Gods (December 21)
This Shazam! sequel brings back the majority of the cast of 2019’s surprisingly good first installment. Also joining the cast are Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, and extremely delightful newcomer Rachel Zegler, of West Side Story fame. Shazam! is historically an arch-nemesis of Black Adam, so we’ll see if we get a little bit of DCEU crossover in this one.
Babylon (December 25)
Damien Chazelle—the Academy Award-winning director behind Whiplash and La La Land—is heading back out west for Babylon, a period drama that may or not take place in Hollywood and will reteam Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood duo Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie. The Tobey-ssaince will also continue, as Tobey Maguire is producing and appearing in a supporting role.
The Whale (2022 TBA)
One of the movies we can’t wait for this year is The Whale, which should be the best piece yet of the long-awaited Brendan Fraser comeback. Fraser stars in this Darren Aronofsky-directed A24 film as a 600-pound man who’s become isolated from his friends and family; his daughter is played by Stranger Things standout Sadie Sink. We don’t know when this movie is coming exactly, but we can’t wait to see it.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022 TBA)
Up there for the most awaited movie of the year is the Knives Out sequel, for now known only as Knives Out 2. Rian Johnson is back to write and direct once again, and his star detective—Benoit Blanc, played of course by Daniel Craig—will be surrounded by a new mystery and a new cast (including Dave Bautista, Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monet, Kathryn Hahn, Ethan Hawke, Edward Norton, and more) in front of a stunning Greece backdrop.
Havoc (2022 TBA)
Action fans should have something to really marvel at with Havoc, coming from director Gareth Evans (The Raid films) and starring the great Tom Hardy. Hardy is great actor—no one else could make the Venom movies work as well as they do—and this one will find him in John Wick-esque form as a detective uncovering conspiracy and corruption in a dangerous world. The cast also includes Forest Whitaker and Timothy Olyphant, who we can only hope is playing a scenery-chewing villain.
Evan is the culture editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE.
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