With another long weekend approaching, it’s a legitimate question: What should you watch tonight?
Sure, from “Avatar: The Way of Water” to “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” there are plenty of films you’d want to see on the biggest screen possible. If you want to ring in 2023 from the comfort of your couch, Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Disney+, Apple, Hulu, Peacock, and other streaming services have a slew of new or at least new in 2022 movies to keep you entertained.
From award contenders and rom-coms to documentaries and dramas, here are 30 films we loved this year, all of which are now available on streaming services.
‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ is a mystery based on the novel ‘Glass Onion.
A tech billionaire (Edward Norton) invites his longtime crew (including Janelle Monáe, Dave Bautista, and Kate Hudson) to his absurdly posh private Greek island for a murder mystery getaway. Daniel Craig’s Southern sleuth Benoit Blanc mysteriously appears, a body is discovered, and the game is on for director Rian Johnson’s fun and twisty sequel.
‘Everything everywhere at the same time’
Don’t be concerned about your brain being shattered; just go with the flow of this action-packed, multiverse-hopping genre mashup directed by Daniels (aka Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert). Michelle Yeoh shines as a laundromat owner whose tax problems are put on hold when she is given a crash course in alternate realities (including one in which she has hot dog fingers!) and must learn from the lives of her other selves in order to stop a nihilistic villain.
I’m not sure if everyone knows, but Elvis Presley was a huge star. And Baz Luhrmann’s stylish musical drama pays homage to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, from his early 1950s performances to his later days as a Vegas headliner. Young women (and older ones, too) scream and swoon in preternatural delight as a burgeoning Elvis (top-notch leading man Austin Butler) lays into the rockabilly tune “Baby Let’s Play House” and wiggles his hips, possessed by the power of a fledgling rock god.
Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer star in Jordan Peele’s sci-fi horror thriller about a UFO monster that eats people and horses (but not big inflatable things). The most disturbing flashback story Peele tells revolves around Gordy, the chimp star of a ’90s sitcom who goes violently ape on human actors and a studio audience, leaving only young boy Jupe (later played by Steven Yeun) and an oddly upright shoe untouched.
The song ‘Turning Red’
The animated comedy, like the best Pixar originals, takes on a universal aspect of people’s lives in heartwarming fashion – in this case, female puberty. In director Domee Shi’s funny and empowering tribute to monster movies, 2000s-era boy bands, Asian culture, and growing up, a Toronto teen (voiced by Rosalie Chiang) wakes up to discover that when she gets overly excited, she transforms into an 8-foot-tall giant red panda.
Top Gun: Maverick
In “Top Gun: Maverick,” Tom Cruise reprises his role as Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.
Tom Cruise is famous for his daring “Mission: Impossible” stunts, but he’s much better in the cockpit of a fighter jet. In an endlessly entertaining, nostalgic sequel that makes Glen Powell a major movie star, he still oozes A-list cool as the returning flyboy from the 1986 original training a new crop of young pilots.
‘Best wishes, Leo Grande.’
Emma Thompson plays a widowed and retired British schoolteacher who hires a charming sex worker to rock her world between the sheets (Daryl McCormack). In the intimate, thoughtful dramedy, an awkward hotel meeting leads to a series of meetings where the pair bare their souls (and much more).
Everything in this sweet and big-hearted LGBTQ comedy works, from the Broadway and country music jokes to the study of modern dating. Billy Eichner co-wrote the script and stars as Bobby, a stressed-out museum curator who is thrown off his game – both professionally and personally – when he falls for another commitment-phobe, sensible jock Aaron (Luke Macfarlane).
‘Thor: The Dark World’
Taika Waititi’s latest “Thor” film is the best solo effort for Chris Hemsworth’s blond hero yet. Thor’s journey in the Marvel movies has led him to an identity crisis, and on top of that, he runs into his ex-girlfriend Jane (Natalie Portman), who is now a powerful goddess wielding Thor’s old magic hammer. The cosmic adventure blends metal music and retro influences with rom-com hijinks, feel-good vibes, a few profound themes, and a standout performance by Christian Bale as a deity-killing menace.
Jennifer Lawrence’s best performances aren’t in “The Hunger Games” or “X-Men,” but in independent films. And she proves it once more in this important drama, her best role since winning an Oscar for “Silver Linings Playbook.” Lynsey is a soldier who returns to New Orleans after suffering a brain injury while serving in Afghanistan, but she needs to improve her physical and mental health on several levels. Lynsey makes a friend in James (Brian Tyree Henry), a friendly mechanic who is dealing with his own issues. In this moving charmer, Lawrence and Henry’s chemistry is on point.
‘Weird: The Story of Al Yankovic’
You couldn’t ask for a better Al Yankovic biopic: it’s hilarious, ridiculous, and, in its own bizarre way, downright wholesome. The film follows the real-life rise (and absurdly fictional fall) of accordion-playing wonder Daniel Radcliffe from childhood to guy who became famous for parodying other people’s songs. Favorite Weird Al jams (some with strange origins) are included, as are numerous cameos. The film promotes a “be as weird as you want to be” message without being cloying, and Evan Rachel Wood is fantastic as a delightfully sociopathic Madonna to match Radcliffe’s over-the-top Al.
‘Real Smooth Cha Cha’
In this endearing dramedy that was a Sundance Film Festival hit, hearts are warmed and tears are jerked. Cooper Raiff stars as an aimless, recently dumped college graduate whose life takes a needed turn when he gets a job as a bar mitzvah party starter and falls hard for an older woman (Dakota Johnson).
Robert Eggers just makes really good, completely insane movies (“The Witch,” anyone?) and unleashes his most ferocious Viking revenge fantasy to date. In a crazy tale with Slavic witches, a bloody ball game, and a naked sword fight on top of an active volcano, Alexander Skarsgrd plays a berzerker with simple life goals: avenge his father, save his mother (Nicole Kidman), and kill his uncle.
Director Mariama Diallo’s superb social horror film, set at a prestigious New England college built on land where a Salem-era witch was hanged, stars Regina Hall as a new dean of students plagued by unsettling visions and Zoe Renee as a freshman assigned to a purportedly haunted dorm room. The twisty film delves into institutional racism and white supremacy, with plenty of supernatural chills thrown in for good measure.
Jenna Ortega had a powerful performance as a teen girl who survives a school shooting and navigates the aftermath with the popular classmate (Maddie Ziegler) she hid with while shots were fired. Megan Park’s directorial debut, an emotional wrecking ball of a film that doesn’t let up until its gut-punching conclusion, is a must-see for parents and children growing up in this worrying time.
‘Batman and Robin’
In director Matt Reeves’ ambitious reimagining of the Bat-mythos, grimy Gotham City and its Dark Knight detective both star. In his second year of fighting crime, Robert Pattinson plays the tortured dude in the cape and cowl, and Reeves’ realistic spin colourfully revamps some pop-culture icons, including the serial-killing Riddler (Paul Dano), feisty thief Catwoman (Zo Kravitz), and power-hungry gangster Penguin (Colin Farrell).
The Indian blockbuster stars N.T. Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan as buff heroes who take on 1920s British colonialists in a must-see movie – the best this year, in fact – with love stories, dance battles, fun songs, and over-the-top spirit.
‘Pinocchio by Guillermo del Toro’
With this enjoyable stop-motion animated take set in 1930s Italy, Guillermo del Toro, a modern master of the macabre, gives the classic fairy tale a twisted bliss. With a precocious, mischievous wooden puppet desperate to be a real boy and a star-studded voice cast (from Ewan McGregor to Cate Blanchett), the whimsical story tackles war and fascism – you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Pinocchio mocking Mussolini – as well as dark and fairly mature issues with life-affirming zeal.
Being ghosted by a friend or loved one is a common source of stress and heartbreak. Add a remote Irish island setting from the 1920s and two of the greatest actors of their generation, and you’ve got a dark comedy with a point to make. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson star as ex-best friends in a sudden fiery feud in Martin McDonagh’s wonderfully bleak exploration of isolation, desperation, and mortality, with nice supporting turns from Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan as characters caught up in their not-so-civil war.