It’s been a great year in movies. We’ve already gone over our picks for the best new movies of the year, but not all of those are available to watch at home (and many are spread across a litany of streaming services).
Netflix released well over 100 new movies in 2022. Not all of them can be winners, but these ones are.
Here are the best new Netflix original movies that came out this year.
Lost Bullet 2
Genre: Action thriller
Run time: 1h 38m
Director: Guillaume Pierret
Cast: Alban Lenoir, a bunch of people who punch and/or chase Alban Lenoir
Lost Bullet rules, and the second movie — newly released on Netflix in November — ups the ante to another degree.
The chase scenes are even more action-packed — this time our superstar mechanic Lino adds electrified rods to the front of his car, making him a sort of sick-as-hell automotive jouster and/or a mad scientist but for car chases — and the fights are visceral (Alban Lenoir throws so many hard right crosses in this movie, and he receives just as many). It helps to have a lead who just looks like he’s been in a few bar fights in his time, and Lenoir delivers the exact kind of personality you need for this role. Throw in a sense of chaotic joy in making cars blow up in as many exciting ways as possible, and you have Lost Bullet 2. —Pete Volk
Run time: 1h 39m
Director: Romain Gavras
Cast: Sami Slimane, Dali Benssalah, Ouassini Embarek
Athena is the very definition of a movie firing on every cylinder. It’s truly impossible to separate out the best part of the movie — is it the performances of Sami Slimane and Dali Benssalah as Karim and Abdel, two brothers each struggling with their youngest brother’s death? The long tracking shots director Romain Gavras expertly utilizes to mount the tension in every scene? The arch soundtrack? Or maybe it’s just the beauty of every frame, capturing a neighborhood in revolt, intent on waging war against the police to make themselves heard.
What works about Athena is how these things merge into a grander story; like the cries of its rebels or the heavily armored police retaliating against them, every little bit is part of a more momentous whole. While the movie has (rightfully) gotten attention for its single-shot sequences, Gavras uses them to a beautiful end — at once highlighting the chaos of the last stand, and letting shared gazes of Karim and Abdel feel weighty with just a few cuts.
In a lesser movie, the nature of the drama would feel easier to stick in a neat box, or there’d be a clear moment that defines things. But in a feast like Athena, expertly blending all its ingredients into something truly meaty, nothing is simple. Revolution is messy, and Athena understands that spill happens on both sides. This movie is all gas, no brakes. A thrill ride and a Greek tragedy, all in one. —Zosha Millman
Genre: Sports drama
Run time: 1h 57m
Director: Jeremiah Zagar
Cast: Adam Sandler, Juancho Hernangómez, Queen Latifah
Adam Sandler loves basketball. The tales of his pickup basketball exploits are legendary, he’s a huge Knicks fan, and his work in Uncut Gems is the closest I’ve ever seen to a filmic representation of what it feels like to root for a sports team you love in a high-pressure situation.
So, who better to put together one of the best sports movies in years?
In Hustle, Sandler plays a former college player who has had a long career as a scout for the 76ers, with dreams of becoming a coach. When those dreams seem to be about to come true and then are suddenly dashed, Sandler’s Stanley Sugerman must find a generational prospect or risk losing his job. When he spots the young Bo Cruz (played by real NBA player Juancho Hernangómez) at a pickup game in Spain, it seems his luck may finally be turning.
Featuring a star-studded cast of movie stars and basketball stars alike, Hustle is an ode to the joys and the struggles of basketball, and of making your passion your job. Sandler is terrific in the lead role, as are Hernangómez and NBA star Anthony Edwards in supporting roles. The movie also takes full advantage of the talent on display, with thrilling basketball sequences utilizing the unbelievable skills of the cast. —PV
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Run time: 1h 56m
Directors: Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson
Cast: Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, Gregory Mann
Many big-name directors have tapped up Netflix to fund the projects they just couldn’t get made elsewhere; Guillermo del Toro turned to the streamer to greenlight this 15-year passion project of his, an unruly, charming, stunningly crafted stop-motion take on the 19th-century Italian children’s story. It takes huge liberties with the source material, relocating it in time to Mussolini’s Italy and turning it into an anti-fascist parable about death, rebirth, and the joy of nonconformity. It’s not a children’s movie, but it’s not not one either; like del Toro’s horror fables The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth, Pinocchio finds clarity on some very grown-up concerns by viewing them from a child’s perspective. It’s del Toro’s best movie since those two as well — moving, personal, richly imaginative, and unlike anything else you’ve seen. —Oli Welsh
The Big 4
Genre: Action comedy
Run time: 2h 21m
Director: Timo Tjahjanto
Cast: Abimana Aryasatya, Putri Marino, Marthino Lio
You know how movie trailers often advertise something as “from the twisted mind of” someone... not so twisted? Timo Tjahjanto is the rare filmmaker that lives up to that label.
The action-horror maestro who brought us the Netflix masterpiece The Night Comes for Us turns his skills to the action-comedy genre, bringing together a wacky group of retired assassins who work together to solve the murder of their father figure. It’s a setup not unlike another great Netflix movie — The Paper Tigers — but this one brings Tjahjanto’s particular wicked sense of humor into the fold. Your mileage may vary on the comedy, but the fights in The Big 4 are undeniable. They’re visceral, brutal, filled with comedic beats and splashes of gore. Tjahjanto is one of the most exciting young filmmakers working today, and The Big 4 is one of many reasons to get excited for his upcoming Train to Busan remake. —PV
Run time: 1h 57m
Director: Thomas M. Wright
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Sean Harris, Jada Alberts
Thomas M. Wright’s The Stranger is one of the year’s most beautifully shot and well-acted thrillers, full stop. Sean Harris stars as Henry Teague, an itinerant day laborer who inadvertently finds himself working alongside Mark Frame (Joel Edgerton) for an Australian criminal organization. Unbeknownst to Teague, he is at the center of one of the largest manhunts in Western Australia’s history, for being suspected of the brutal murder of a teenage boy several years prior. By turns both procedural and cerebral, Wright thrusts the audience into a drama in which the leads are pitted against one another in a fraught cat-and-mouse game where the stakes are both lawful and personal. From the dark, dreamlike cinematography to Edgerton’s and Harris’ impeccably calibrated performances to composer Oliver Coates’ dark, thrumming score, The Stranger is an unnerving and engrossing thriller that holds you close and won’t let go until the very end. —Toussaint Egan
Run time: 1h 57m
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Jason Momoa, Marlow Barkley, Chris O’Dowd
Slumberland is a heartwarming, visually rich production that boils Winsor McCay’s classic comic strip down to its essentials and builds it back up into something modern. Marlow Barkley plays Nemo, with Jason Momoa as her Beetlejuice-like companion, the disreputable Flip.
Momoa plays the role with obvious gusto, repurposing the physical presence of a superhero in physical comedy. But Slumberland never lets anything — its wild vistas, its intricate world-building, or its outsized personalities — get in the way of its true center: Nemo, Flip, and Nemo’s wet blanket of an uncle, played by Chris O’Dowd. The colorful fantasy is just the kind of weirdness that could get happily stuck in the head of a creative young viewer for a very long time. —Susana Polo
Run time: 1h 58m
Director: Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
Cast: Camila Mendes, Maya Hawke, Austin Abrams
Do Revenge is like Heathers and Mean Girls for 2022, a sharp black comedy about two girls with a quest for vengeance in an elite Miami high school. It’s a great update to the very specific genre of hellbent teenage girls, and like similar movies in the subgenre, Do Revenge curates a specific aesthetic timely to its era. But what makes Do Revenge particularly memorable is how both fallen It Girl Drea (Camila Mendes) and new girl Eleanor (Maya Hawke) are incredibly vicious, and watching their relationship turn from something inspired (yay! Women supporting women!) into something toxic and then mutate into something else entirely is just incredibly fun. Director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson smartly avoids turning the film into a moralizing statement about vengeance, because at the end of the day, we’re watching Do Revenge for the revenge! —Petrana Radulovic
The School for Good and Evil
Run time: 2h 27m
Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Kit Young
The School for Good and Evil is like something I would’ve scribbled ideas for in the margins of my notes in middle school. Make no mistake — this is a very good thing. It’s about two girls — sullen Agatha and spunky Sophie — who get whisked away to a magical school for fairy-tale characters. Except Agatha gets tossed into the good school, with pretty princesses and dashing knights, while Sophie gets stuck in the evil school, where witches and other villains go to train. Visually, it’s gaudy and over-the-top in the best way possible, really showcasing the fairy-tale inspiration. The deconstruction of fairy-tale tropes is nothing super new (hello, Shrek and Enchanted), but the fact that the heart of The School for Good and Evil is Agatha and Sophie’s friendship turns it from something cliche to something wonderful. —PR
The Sea Beast
Run time: 1h 55m
Director: Chris Williams
Cast: Karl Urban, Zaris-Angel Hator, Jared Harris
After a run at Disney that included directing Big Hero 6 and guiding Frozen, Wreck-It Ralph, Zootopia, and Moana, Chris Williams jumped ship to Netflix. So far, the streamer’s major coup has only resulted in this under-the-radar animated flick, which brings the epic adventure of How To Train Your Dragon to the seas, and a political theme that may not pass muster at Disney. In a Victorian-esque world populated with sea monsters, Maisie Brumble (Zaris-Angel Hator) dreams of sailing the high seas to avenge the death of her parents. So she sneaks aboard the Imperator, the most valorous ship in the royal armada, to accompany Jacob Holland (Karl Urban) on a hunt for the legendary Red Bluster. But what the two unlikely companions learn over the course of their adventure is that their target may not be as violent as it seems, and that the Crown may not be on the right side of history. Williams, with all the tools at his disposal, spins action that any Dragon or Pirates of the Caribbean fan will flip for, while not flinching in a dissection of the moral complexity of heroism and loyalty. The Sea Beast is a big, fun, all-ages movie, even on a tinier TV screen. —Matt Patches
My Father’s Dragon
Run time: 1h 39m
Director: Nora Twomey
Cast: Rita Moreno, Judy Greer, Adam Brody
It’s been a terrific year for Netflix animated features. Though My Father’s Dragon didn’t make as big a splash as Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio or The Sea Beast, and is a relatively minor work from the great studio Cartoon Saloon (Wolfwalkers), it’s still a touching, enthralling adventure. Adapted from the (very strange) children’s classic by Ruth Stiles Gannett, it tells the story of a boy who flees his new life in the city only to be transported by a talking cat to a wild island where the local animals have captured and enslaved a young dragon. Director Nora Twomey sensitively and smartly updates the material and finds a dimension of almost political allegory to the sinking island and its desperate animal inhabitants, as well as a surprisingly epic scale. —OW