The first half of 2022 was filled with long-anticipated releases and movies that were postponed due to the pandemic. Letterboxd's list of most popular films of the year so far offers expected sequels and movies with pre-established buzz, but at least half of its top 10 is composed of exciting surprises.
From MCU titles to unconventional A24 horror stories, 2022 marks a much stronger comeback to movie theaters after an upsetting pandemic period, delivering one of the most packed and thrilling movie schedules of the past years, creating a welcome early buzz that might last throughout the whole year.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
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Based on a popular franchise of adventure games, Uncharted had everything to be a great action movie, and the powerful names of Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg were there to sustain the hype. While the film was a great box office success, most fans agree that it fell into generic action clichés, delivering little to no tension despite the great visuals and performances.
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Critics were harsh with Uncharted, but the movie ended up being a compelling experience for the public audience overall. While it was far from being a masterpiece, it was still a fun underdog story about a treasure hunt and ancient artifacts.
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Similar to the franchise Stab that takes place within the movie, Scream seems to be a series that will go on forever. Thankfully, the latest entry proved to be just as fun as the previous four. Now a straight-up legacy sequel, the new characters are engaging and well developed, while the characters from the original Scream feel a bit lost in the story. Either way, it's always a delight to see Sydney Prescott in action.
The first movie of the franchise directed by someone other than Wes Craven, Scream remains faithful to the formula, taking advantage of a hilarious meta-approach and engaging ways to connect the classic tropes to new modern technologies.
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Fresh plays with its viewers just like it plays with the characters. The kind of movie where it's best to go in blind, it opens with a 40-minute long intro before turning into something completely different. The main character is a young woman frustrated by scrolling dating apps only to end up on the same tedious, upsetting dates. After a meet-cute with a charming man at the grocery store, she hopes for a fresh start but instead finds someone with unusual appetites.
Dreadfully hilarious, Fresh is the kind of movie that makes viewers feel guilty for their laughs. With chaotic editing and fast cuts, the movie escalates into something charmingly wicked, with one of the most engaging horror antagonists of the past few years.
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Before its release, X was speculated to be another artsy A24 entry to gender horror but surprised everyone by providing a straight-up slasher fun ride. What makes it different from other similar movies is the way Ti West subverts typical tropes and delivers them as an homage to the classic low-budget exploitation films such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes.
Ultimately, X is a fairly self-aware movie with plenty of gruesome deaths but carefully crafts a long build-up in order to give personality to the characters. The editing and visual effects, make-up included, turns the slasher into something ghastly unique, which justifies why X is the most popular horror movie of the year so far.
6 Top Gun: Maverick
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Top Gun: Maverick is flying its way up in the ranking of most popular movies of 2022 by breaking records at the box office. The first movie of the year to surpass $1 billion worldwide is a legacy sequel released 36 years after the original Top Gun, improving the technical aspects into much cleaner and intense combat scenes and designing the movie specifically for an unforgettable IMAX experience.
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Fans will still hear a lot about Top Gun: Maverick throughout the year. The movie brilliantly evokes '80s nostalgia without ignoring the technological advancement and the threat of automation in the military aviation scene. Unanimously praised by both critics and the public audience, it's already a contemporary classic unafraid of paying respect to its roots.
5 The Northman
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Regardless of The Northman's disappointing numbers at the box office, pretty much everyone who watched it appreciated Robert Eggers' bold choice of telling such a familiar story with his own creative trademarks and psychedelic visuals. The movie follows the Viking warrior Amleth 20 years after his father was murdered in cold blood. In an epic, prophetical journey, he sets out to Iceland to put into practice a ruthless plan of revenge.
Using rich elements from Norse mythology and an accurate historical approach, The Northman might not be as action-filled as anticipated but pays off as a brutal, raw story of revenge driven by a dream-like atmosphere.
4 Turning Red
Stream On Disney+
Lightyear's below-expected box office numbers show that perhaps Disney should've given Turning Red a deserved theatrical release. The film follows a 13-year-old teenager experiencing the awkwardness of growing up with a weird catch: when she gets too excited, she transforms into a giant red panda.
Disney's take on teenage angst is delicate and sensitive, and the fantastical side of things is much more grounded in reality than in Pixar's previous movies. That makes Turning Red an excellent coming-of-age story that will resonate with both younger and older audiences, all that with a stylish animated touch.
3 Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Stream On Disney+
In a lot of ways, Multiverse of Madness was a divisive entry in the MCU, but like any Marvel release, it brought a lot of people to movie theaters. With the help of allies both and new, Doctor Strange crosses the mind-blowing and dangerous alternate realities of the Multiverse in an attempt to stop a familiar, powerful adversary.
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Undeniably, the film counts with one of the most talented directors to ever work in the MCU, Sam Raimi, but his creative choices might have clashed with Disney's formula, which explains how messy the movie can feel sometimes, staying on the verge of horror but never detaching from Marvel's lighthearted fantasy approach.
2 Everything Everywhere All At Once
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With so many highly anticipated releases in the first half of 2022, Everything Everywhere All At Once came as a surprise and the praise around the movie was so unanimously energetic that rumors show the film could turn up as a major Oscar contender next year. Michelle Yeoh, a legendary action movie actress, portrays an aging Chinese immigrant who is swept up in a chaotic adventure across different universes, where she can only save her family by connecting with the lives she could've led in other dimensions.
It quickly became A24's highest-grossing film and made it to Letterboxd's Top 10 of all time. With inventive visual effects developed with a limited budget, Everything Everywhere All At Once manages to deliver a chaotic adventure full of action and comedy while also offering an emotional meditation on family, parenting, and aging.
1 The Batman
Stream On HBO Max
Back in 2019, Robert Pattinson was announced as the new Batman, and after many postponements, due to the pandemic, The Batman finally hit cinemas in March of 2022. The film follows the hero in his second year fighting crime, as Batman uncovers a dangerous plot of corruption in Gotham city that connects to his own family and to a mysterious serial killer known as The Riddler.
Shying away from origin stories, the choice of following a Bruce Wayne already familiar with the dangers that overwhelm Gotham, the movie uses its 3-hour running time to masterfully develop iconic characters in a unique way and present a faithful Gotham. In fact, the iconic city almost feels like a character in The Batman. With a compelling detective thriller narrative, Matt Reeves won over fans that were so eagerly waiting for his take on the iconic hero.
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Arthur is a Business Communication graduate, now studying Film in Brazil, the land of delayed releases. A huge fan of body horror and underground masterpieces, he is also crazy about the awards season and likes to make Oscar predictions throughout the year. He currently lives in Rio de Janeiro and hopes to find his place in the local art scene.More From Arthur Goyaz