Our days are colored by the music we listen to and movies and television we watch, so we’re looking back at the entertainment that made the most impact in 2022. Whether you couldn’t get enough of the press cycle drama or you prefer to keep your headphones in and the world tuned out, see below the films, albums and shows that dominated in 2022.
Three decades later, Tom Cruise returned for a sequel that landed him the No. 1 spot at the box office for the year. As Peter “Maverick” Mitchell, he trains a new set of graduates for a special assignment that forces him to confront the ghosts of his past and face his deepest fears.
You can decide for yourself if the Olivia Wilde psychological horror flick is good, but hardly a film was gossiped more about than Don’t Worry Darling. In the movie, Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack (Harry Styles) live in an idyllic, but experimental town that houses families whose husbands work for the top-secret Victory Project. However, Alice starts to notice cracks in this lifestyle, revealing something much more sinister beneath the surface and leading her to the dilemma of exposing the truth or living life in paradise.
Witnessing Keke Palmer, Daniel Kaluuya and Steven Yeun in a single film is enough reason to make this a must-watch of 2022. Directed by Jordan Peele, OJ (Kaluuya), Emerald (Palmer) and their L.A.-adjacent horse ranch come under the threat of something sinister in the skies.
With the 2023 awards season looming, you’ll want to see The Banshees of Inisherin. Likely the most critically acclaimed movie from festival season, it follows lifelong friends Pádraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson) when Colm puts a sudden, unexpected end to their friendship. On a quest to understand why, Pádriac seeks help from sister Siobhán (Kerry Condon) and troubled young local Dominic (Barry Keoghan).
Studio romantic comedies had a moment this year (Ticket to Paradise, Bros, Marry Me, etc.), but the best came from a streamer. Hulu’s Fire Island puts a queer spin on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, resulting in a laugh-out-loud, heartwarming movie about a group of best friends on their annual trip to Fire Island where friendships and romances are put to the test.
A24 had a strong slate of releases this year and EEAAO is not only the best of them, but perhaps the best movie you’ll see all year. Starring Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu and Ke Huy Quan, the absurdist comedy-drama unfolds when an interdimensional rupture unravels reality and an unlikely hero must channel her newfound powers to keep the world (and her family) from falling apart.
Earning nine Grammy nominations including Album, Record and Song of the Year, Beyoncé’s seventh studio album is the exact antidote the world needed. The 16-song LP is a bundle of joy and escapism begging you dance like you’re right back in the height of disco.
Following up 2017’s Antisocialites, the Canadian indie pop band released the 14-track Blue Rev in October. Among reigning poptimism, Alvvays continues to be a sonic balm by way of shoegaze and indie rock.
Five and a half years after the release of her debut, Ctrl, SZA released her highly anticipated sophomore album in December. SOS spans 23 songs, hitting a spectrum of genres (hip hop, R&B, alternative, psychedelic pop) along the way and featuring a number of artists from across the industry. We bet you never expected Phoebe Bridgers and Ol’ Dirty Bastard to be on the same project. But SZA more than makes it work from the earworm of “Kill Bill” to the alt-rock spirit of “F2F.”
Midnights may not have the Top 40 domination of 1989 or cultural punch of Folklore, but it did lead to legal troubles for Ticketmaster. It also had a moment on TikTok with lead single “Anti-Hero,” which hit No. 1 in the U.S. Midnights continues Swift’s streak of work with Jack Antonoff and switches up her recent alt-folk sound for a synth-pop examination of her countless sleepless nights.
It was essential to include on this list the album made by the world’s biggest superstar. Bad Bunny’s 23-song record packs a punch by way of reggaeton, cumbia and indie pop. A trailblazing album, Un Verano Sin Ti became the first album by a Latin artist to reach 10 billion Spotify streams and was the second all-Spanish language album to top the U.S. Billboard 200 and the first to earn an Album of the Year Grammy nomination.
We welcome with wide-open arms the next great network sitcom. Abbott Elementary capped its first season and began Season 2 this year and, along the way, won two Emmy Awards (Sheryl Lee Ralph for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series and creator-star Quinta Brunson for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series). Set at an underfunded elementary school in Philadelphia, a documentary crew follows the lives, mishaps and antics of three novice teacher, two longtime educators, an incompetent (but hilarious) principal and their eccentric, but trusty custodian.
The New York Times critic James Poniewozik captured the Nathan Fielder show best when reflecting on its philosophical core, writing “Is it ever possible to truly understand another person?” In The Rehearsal, Fielder helps people rehearse difficult conversations or life events through the use of sets and hired actors to recreate real situations.
Another show that has been key to network TV staying culturally relevant is Yellowstone. In November, its simulcast season 5 premiere drew in nearly 16 million viewers, which made it the most watched show across all of TV in 2022 according to Deadline. Starring Kevin Costner, Yellowstone follows the family drama surrounding the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, the largest ranch in Montana.
Fresh off winning 10 Emmy Awards for its first season, Mike White’s The White Lotus returned for Season 2 at another White Lotus hotel. This time in Sicily, the satirical excavation of the ultra rich was a slow, but enticing burn over the course of eight episodes. Jennifer Coolidge was as funny as ever, it was a welcome return for Michael Imperioli to HBO and Megan Fahy is a poised breakout star.
Season 2 of Sam Levinson’s controversial teen drama did not live up to its first season, but it sure had everyone hooked. And for good reason. The new season dove into the back stories of yet-to-be uncovered characters like Maude Apatow’s Lexi Howard and Angus Cloud’s Fez, who were arguably front and center this time around. Sydney Sweeney as Cassie Howard was also as unhinged as ever, but we unfortunately lost Kat’s (Barbie Ferreira) beloved presence among the chaos. What’s more, Zendaya nabbed another Emmy for her performance as Rue (to no surprise, especially after episode 5, “Stand Still Like the Hummingbird”).
Anyone who has worked in a kitchen knows that food service makes for a ripe storyteller setting. Throw in a familiar, great actor to lead, and you’re guaranteed a success. Starring Jeremy Allen White, Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto is a fine dining New York City chef who returns home to Chicago to turn around his late brother’s failing Italian beef sandwich shop. While processing the suicide of his brother and dealing with his own anxieties, Carmy deals with left-behind debts, a rundown kitchen and earning the trust of his staff. You’ll enjoy Carmy and Riche’s (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) dynamic, but you’ll also fall in love with Sydney Adamu (Ayo Edebiri), a talented, but inexperienced chef crucial to the team.
As we head into 2023, will you remain avid listeners and watchers of 2022’s entertainment’s most talked about projects?
Photography by: PHOTO BY CARLIJN JACOBS FOR PARKWOOD ENTERTAINMENT/COLUMBIA RECORDS; Courtesy A24; Courtesy HBO