Somehow, we’ve made it past the halfway mark of 2022, so it’s high time to reflect on the outstanding movies that have made this year a bit more bearable. Whether in theaters or streaming, the film industry has been delighting us with deliciously wild tales of growing up, grieving, and general jackassery, not to mention the thing that keeps us going — love.
Taking stock of this year’s releases to date means looking past some of this summer movie season’s flashiest showpieces and focusing on those movies that hit hard and stuck with us. Sure, this summer has seen the ripe-with-big-budget spectacles, like Top Gun: Maverick, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Jurassic World: Dominion. But to make our best-of list, a movie had to be more than big and stuffed with stars and nostalgia; it had to be fresh, thrilling, and unforgettable.
With that in mind, here are Mashable’s picks for the best films of 2022… so far.
1. Turning Red
Sorry, Lightyear, but the best-animated movie of 2022 (so far) is hands down this delightful — and a bit deranged — coming-of-age fantasy. Playing like the Pen15 of the Pixar universe, Turning Red centers on 13-year-old Mei Lee (voiced by the spunky Rosalie Chiang), an obedient daughter, loyal friend, and boy band fangirl who also happens to transform into a giant red panda when she’s overwhelmed. Since she’s 13, that happens a lot. However, with the help of her ride-or-die besties and her devoted (though domineering) mom, Mei will find her way through the fur to the heart of who she truly is.
Sorry, Lightyear, but the best animated movie of 2022 (so far) is hands down this delightful — and a bit deranged — coming-of-age fantasy. Playing like the Pen15 of the Pixar universe, Turning Red centers on 13-year-old Mei Lee (voiced by the spunky Rosalie Chiang), an obedient daughter, loyal friend, and boy band fangirl who also happens to transform into a giant red panda when she’s overwhelmed. Since she’s 13, that happens a lot. However, with the help of her ride-or-die besties and her devoted (though domineering) mom, Mei will find her way through the fur to the heart of who she truly is.
2. Jackass Forever
Johnny Knoxville and his band of beloved buffoons reunited for a fourth installment of the most thrillingly juvenile set of stunts we’ve seen since… well, Jackass 3D. Battered but bright-eyed alums like Steve-O and Chris Pontius brought along some impressive (and impressively game) new friends, including Alia Shawkat; Tyler, the Creator; Eric André; and Machine Gun Kelly. Under Jeff Tremaine’s direction, they faced off against a cosmetically inclined scorpion, a booby-trapped coffee cart, and more shots to the junk than any prestige pic could ever.
The jolly jackassery on display is reason enough to revel over Jackass Forever, but there’s also an intoxicating sweetness holding this collection of ludicrous pranks and stunts together. Underneath the silly costumes and beyond the broken bones, Jackass has always been a story of a group of friends who refuse to take anything seriously — not safety, not life, and certainly not American masculinity. On top of all the madcap shenanigans and the warm embrace of being welcomed back into this bonkers brotherhood, Jackass Forever also proved that our collective crush on Knoxville has aged as well as the silver fox himself. —K.P.
3. The Fallout
2022 has already offered several great movies about grief, including After Yang and Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. However, the best of the bunch is this dark comedy from writer-director Megan Park. The Fallout begins with a school shooting, then follows two teen girls who were practically strangers before they hid together in a bathroom stall to survive. As weeks go by, they struggle to cope with the loss, anger, and uncertainty that’s become an undeniable constant, but their blossoming friendship proves a lifesaver.
As dark as this concept is, Park finds lightness and humor without being irreverent about the horrors of gun violence in America. Binding us tightly with smirking Vada (a riveting Jenna Ortega) and sensitive Mia (Maddie Ziegler), we’re urged to find the humor in the absurdity that, even in the face of world-shattering tragedy, life goes on. Classes resume. Your little sister learns TikTok dances. Vada develops a crush, even though her heart is broken. Hurt and healing happen. Amid all the mess, Park carves out a story of survival and self-discovery that is bravely funny, bracingly poignant, and totally unforgettable. —K.P.
4. Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
It’s a shame Good Luck to You, Leo Grande only got a digital release in the United States, because this tender, sex-positive two-hander deserves more fanfare. Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack deliver knockout performances as Nancy, a retired school teacher who’s never had fulfilling sex, and Leo Grande, the charismatic sex worker she hires to fix that.
Director Sophie Hyde and writer Katy Brand treat Nancy and Leo’s encounters with a refreshing amount of care and respect, especially when it comes to discussions of Leo’s work. The film is almost entirely set in one hotel room, where intimate details of both Nancy and Leo’s lives come to light in surprising yet organic conversation. Nancy wrestles with her relationship to her body and sexuality, while Leo’s carefully cultivated persona cracks over questions about his family. Equal parts hilarious, introspective, and poignant, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is a treat of a film. —Belen Edwards, Entertainment Reporter
5. Everything Everywhere All at Once
One of the absolute best movies that 2022 has to offer, Everything Everywhere All at Once boasts a little bit of everything, from a deeply poignant mother-daughter tale to a gleefully silly thread involving a quirky one-hit wonder, to a romantic scene featuring hot dog fingers and a sprawling battle involving butt plugs. It’s the weirdest, most wondrous movie on this list, awing critics and audiences alike to not only earn months-long word-of-mouth buzz and resoundingly positive reviews but also a box office record, becoming A24’s highest-grossing film to date.
Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (aka Daniels), Everything Everywhere All at Once stars Michelle Yeoh in her most exhilarating role yet: a multiverse-hopping mom, dedicated to saving all existence but especially her on-the-edge daughter (Stephanie Hsu). Having more fun with the multiverse concept than Marvel could dare, this outrageous action-comedy giddily thrusts audiences into wild alternative worlds, brandishes unexpected weapons alongside jaw-dropping fashion and wildly captivating performances from Yeoh, Hsu, and their totally game co-stars Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis. Filled with heart, humor, and absolute chaos, Everything Everywhere All at Once is not just great fun — it offers an essential catharsis for a world that is mercilessly overwhelming. —K.P.
How to Watch: Everything Everywhere All at Once is now in theaters and available to buy on digital.
6. Marry Me
Jennifer Lopez has us time-traveling back to when she was Jenny from the Block, and not just because she’s back with Ben Affleck. JLo’s been making our hearts skip with her real-life, retro romance as well as with her latest rom-com, the supremely silly and sweet Marry Me. It’s less a tale of boy meets girl, and more an epic of internationally renowned pop diva meets charmingly unhip single dad (Owen Wilson), much to the delight of his plucky daughter (Chloe Coleman) and one scene-stealing bulldog.
Beginning with the outlandish premise that these two strangers marry on a whim, on stage, in front of millions of fans, is just the first dazzling move this adorable comedy makes. From there, director Kat Coiro had us swooning over high glam fashion, catchy pop jams, and enchanting get-to-know-you sequences. But best of all is the combined charisma of Jlo’s swaggering glory and Wilson’s signature breezy allure. To quote my own review, “To put it simply: Surprising, sexy, and smart, Marry Me isn’t just a charmer, it’s one of the best romantic comedies of the last decade. —K.P.
It’s the most expensive Indian film of all time, a box office smash, and the most-watched non-English film on Netflix. It’s RRR, a 3-hour epic loosely based on real historical freedom fighters, Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem, who are reimagined as Odd Couple-style buddies paired in a romantic action comedy, where the Big Bad is a colonizing English tyrant played by a suitably scowling Ray Stevenson. But all this doesn’t even scratch the surface of why RRR has critics and audiences around the world going wild.
Word of mouth will tempt you with the promise of gonzo action scenes, like when one solider (Ram Charan) successfully battles hundreds of protesters, or when a burly vigilante (N. T. Rama Rao Jr.) fights a tiger with his bare hands. (And that’s just their introductions!) But beyond the eye-popping, over-the-top action sequences, the S.S. Rajamouli-directed RRR also offers a captivating thriller, in which Bheem and Raju are pitted against each other over the fate of a kidnapped girl. Then on top of that, there is a dance number that is joyful, sexy, and so macho that the MCU better take notes if they don’t want their action thrills to grow stale. While there’s been compelling criticism of the film’s politics, it’s impossible to deny the powerful spectacle exploding forth from every scene through outrageous stunts, unapologetically graphic violence, superhuman power moves, and radiant human emotion. Trust us, no matter how high your expectations going into this one, RRR will blow you away. —K.P.
The rush of terror I felt while watching Mimi Cave’s comedic thriller, Fresh, on a Friday night as my best friend was out on a first date likely won’t be surpassed for years to come. I turned on the film without knowing anything about the plot. Earlier that day I’d seen a promo photo featuring Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones, two actors I adore, standing together in a supermarket. Based on that alone, I assumed Fresh would be a love story sparked by a meet-cute in the fresh produce section. I was sort of correct, but the meet-cute quickly turned into a meat cute. Confused? So was I.
Turns out Stan’s character Steve is a cannibal, and Edgar-Jones’s Noa is his latest victim. Fresh went from zero (sharing cotton candy grapes in aisle 1) to 100 (splitting spaghetti and human meatballs) within minutes, and I was NOT prepared. The truly unhinged dating horror story has scenes so chaotic I couldn’t help but scream-laugh. And the title card drops 30 minutes in, so you know it’s gonna be a wild ride. —Nicole Gallucci, Senior Editor
9. The Bob’s Burgers Movie
You simply must treat yourself to The Bob’s Burgers Movie, a whimsical animated adventure served with a heaping side of burger puns, songs, and laughs. The film starts with a sinkhole opening up in front of the Belchers’ restaurant and quickly escalates to a murder mystery with sky-high stakes. Don’t let all the misfortune fool you: The Bob’s Burgers Movie remains a hilarious celebration of family and of the magic of summer break.
Charming characters, a willingness to get weird, and a whole host of musical bangers — stream “Lucky Ducks” and “Sunny Side Up Summer” — make The Bob’s Burgers Movie a perfect summer movie. Best of all, you don’t need to have seen any episodes of Bob’s Burgers to enjoy this movie. Just sit back and enjoy the Belchers at their best. —B.E.
How to watch: The Bob’s Burgers Movie is now in theaters, and it hits Hulu and HBO Max July 12.
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