12 Best Under-The-Radar 2022 Movies

Mia Goth theatrically holds a pitchfork over her head in the barn in Pearl.
(Image credit: A24/Christopher Moss)

It’s hard to catch every, single movie that comes out in a given year. Especially this year, the 2022 movie schedule was filled with bangers, and getting around to them all is a near-impossible task. However, as this year comes to a close and the best of lists come out, we thought we’d let you in on some excellent movies that flew under the radar this year. 

From heartfelt melodramas to erotic thrillers to whodunnits to satire and more, 2022 was filled with special projects that didn’t get the attention they deserved. So, here are 12 of the best under-the-radar films from this year that most certainly worth checking out.  

Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio sitting with each other in Aftersun

(Image credit: A24)

Aftersun

This little film has been beloved by critics but seen by few. For those who loved Paul Mescal in Normal People, you will adore this film, and for those who have no idea who the Irish actor is, you’re in for a treat. The story follows a father (Mescal) and his 11-year-old daughter Sophie (Frankie Corio) on a trip to a small resort. As the story unfolds we learn that this story is being told through the eyes of Sophie as a young adult who is looking back on some of the final memories she had with her father. 

Aftersun marks the directorial debut of Charlotte Wells, who also wrote the poignant, heartfelt and heartbreaking film, and acts as a fascinating and moving meditation on memory. It will have you thinking about your own relationships with your parents, and how we remember our childhoods as we grow up  

 Buy Aftersun on Amazon.

Andrew Scott triumphantly lifting Bella Ramsey

(Image credit: Prime Video)

Catherine Called Birdy 

This film was one of the most pleasantly surprising films of the year for me. Catherine Called Birdy is a period coming-of-age piece that takes place in 1290 and follows a young girl named Birdy. As Birdy reaches an age where she can become a wife, her dad tries to find her a suitor. However, they’re all old, and gross, and Bridy is not having any of it. Laced with 21st-century humor and lots of heart, Catherine Called Birdy is an absolutely messy, delightful, grounded and hilarious film. 

On top of the wonderful story, what really makes this film is the ensemble, led by Bella Ramsey, who you might recognize from her scene-stealing performance as the young leader Lyanna Mormont on Game of Thrones. She plays Birdy, the strong, stubborn and extremely funny teenager in Lena Dunham’s directorial debut. Along with Ramsey, Andrew Scott and Billie Piper play Bridy’s parents, Joe Alwyn plays her swoon-worthy uncle, and fellow GOT alum Dean-Charles Chapman plays her older brother. 

So, while you wait to see Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us, which already looks fantastic from the trailers, you can watch her in this little heartfelt comedy.

Stream Catherine Called Birdy on Amazon Prime Video.

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Tang Wei and Park Hae-il in Decision to Leave

(Image credit: Moho Film)

Decision to Leave 

Park Chan-Wook’s latest film Decision to Leave still has me reeling months after I saw it. The film is a romantic psychological thriller that will keep you guessing all the way up to its shocking ending. There are so many elements to this film that Chan-Wook really does right, including the constant magnetic tension between the two leads, the stunning cinematography (that interrogation scene, iykyk) and its balance of beautiful romance and intense scenes. 

This film will leave you guessing all the way up to the final frames and will have you rethinking everything you just watched while the credits play. In short, once again, Park Chan-Wook delivered, and this is a movie that is 100% worth checking out. 

Stream Decision to Leave with a MUBI subscription, or purchase on Amazon.

Woody Harrelson as a captain and his first mate in Triangle of Sadness

(Image credit: Neon)

Triangle of Sadness 

Get your life jackets, and buckle up for the ride (or voyage rather), because Triangle of Sadness is one of the wildest movies I’ve ever seen. Like The White Lotus, the film focuses on the extremely wealthy who all end up on the same trip and the people hired to serve them. It’s a commentary on wealth and greed. Director Ruben Östlund is ruthless in his satire that will leave you laughing, cringing and sick to the stomach. 

The film is peppered with recognizable faces like Woody Harrelson as the boat’s captain and Harris Dickinson as a stuck-up model. It also introduces us to actors like the late Charlbi Dean as well as Dolly De Leon, Vicki Berlin and Zlatko Buric. 

Overall, this film is a biting dark comedy about the consequences of greed and wealth that will have you screaming, crying and possibly throwing up. 

Rent/buy Triangle of Sadness on Amazon.

Marcel the shell with shoes on looking up from a keyboard

(Image credit: A24)

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On 

This little movie, about a little guy whose on a big mission, is not something to miss out on. The story follows Marcel the Shell as he goes on a mission to find his family. The stop-motion film was welcomed with rave reviews, and Jenny Slate’s little shell is one of the cutest creatures of 2022 in my opinion.

The movie is based on a series of short YouTube videos made by Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp in the early 2010s, and after years of work, their little story with a gigantic heart finally came to the big screen. Overall, Marcell the Shell with Shoes On is a beautiful story, a technical masterpiece and one of Jenny Slate’s best movies. I can almost guarantee that if you go on this journey with Marcel, your heart will be full, and your trash can full of tissues by the time the credits roll. 

Rent/buy Marcel the Shell with Shoes On on Amazon.

Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Chase Sui Wonders and Rachel Sennott covered in blood in Bodies Bodies Bodies

(Image credit: A24)

Bodies Bodies Bodies 

We’ve gotten a few whodunnits this year between Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and See How They Run, however, I think Bodies, Bodies, Bodies takes the cake for the most unique take on the murder mystery genre. 

The film follows a group of Gen Z girls, played by Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Rachel Sennott, Chase Sui Wonders and Myha’la Herrold, as well as two dudes played by Pete Davidson and Lee Pace as they gather at a house to weather out a storm and party. However, when a game of Bodies Bodies Bodies (similar to the game mafia) goes wrong the real murder mystery begins. 

As reviews have said, Halina Reijn’s movie is sharp, hilarious, horrifying and modern. The Gen Z humor mixed with teen drama makes for a 100% original whodunnit that will have you guessing all the way until the end of Bodies Bodies Bodies

Buy/rent Bodies Bodies Bodies on Amazon

Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack talking in bed in Good Luck To You, Leo Grande

(Image credit: Hulu)

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande 

The only way I can think to describe the experience of watching Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is it’s like watching a two-person play where both stars demand your attention and deeply move you by the end of the performance. The film, which stars Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack is the story of an older woman (Thompson) who is on a quest of sexual discovery. She ends up hiring a sex worker (McCormack), and the two embark on a journey of self-discovery both physically and mentally. 

Overall, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande plays with rom-com expectations and is an intimate story about two lovely people who help each other find acceptance. It’s a small, intimate story that is sexy, smart and important.  

Stream Good Luck to You, Leo Grande on Hulu.

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Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones dancing in Fresh

(Image credit: Searchlight)

 Fresh 

If you like Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones' projects, and you also like rom-coms and/or horror movies, then Fresh is the film for you. Without giving away much, especially Fresh’s ending, the film follows Noa (Edgar-Jones) after she meets Steve (Stan). While things look all fine and dandy at first, everything takes a turn for the worst after the two decide to go on vacation. I’m aware that’s vague, but trust me within the first 30 minutes of the movie your jaw will be on the floor because of how wacky, weird and lowkey scary this movie is. 

Fresh is – for lack of a better term – a fresh take on the erotic thriller that is both scary and hilarious. It features iconic dance scenes, terrifying tension-filled dialogue and some epic action. 

Stream Fresh on Hulu.

Colin Farrell looking at a woman in After Yang.

(Image credit: A24)

After Yang 

Now, I know what you might be thinking, how could Colin Farrell have an even better year? The guy transformed himself into an iconic villain in The Batman, and is a contender for Best Actor at this year’s Oscars for his performance in The Banshees of Inisherin. How could it get better than that? Well, the answer my friend is a little movie called After Yang. 

The film also stars Jodie Turner-Smith and Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja as Farrell’s wife and daughter, respectively, along with Justin H. Min who plays Yang, an A.I. robot who breaks down. The family is forced to reckon with loss, grief, love and connection in the wake of their robot’s death, and what it creates is a breathtaking and poignant film. 

Watch After Yang on Showtime.

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Tandi Wright comforts Mia Goth in her arms, as they lie on the stairs in Pearl.

(Image credit: A24/Christopher Moss)

Pearl 

Ti West and Mia Goth had quite the year releasing X early in 2022 and then its prequel Pearl this fall. With both out, Pearl has been acclaimed by many as it “sheds blood and tears in beautiful technicolor,” as CinemaBlend’s review of the film states. 

It’s not often you see a bright horror movie, however, the colorful cinematography mixed with Goth’s dynamic performance makes for a completely unique horror movie that will floor you. I mean, audiences were shocked by the trailer alone when we saw not only exploding people, but musical numbers too. Add on the origin story of Goth’s X villain and you have one hell of a movie, that will shock and scare you. 

Buy/rent Pearl on Amazon.

Bowen Yang, Matt Rogers, and Tomás Matos singing in Fire Island

(Image credit: Fox Searchlight)

Fire Island 

Who would have thought that we’d be seeing a retelling of Pride and Prejudice by way of a group of gay men on their annual trip to Fire Island? The film, which was actually filmed on Fire Island, follows a group of guys played by Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang, Matt Rogers, Tomas Matos and Torian Miller. They are all there to party, have sex and have a good time with their pals. As Pride and Prejudice goes, obviously there are a few love interests, a loving story about sisterhood, and a grumpy, but hot, man who the protagonist falls for. 

The movie is also genuinely hilarious and features moments like Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang singing Britney Spears. It’s also incredibly heartfelt and dives into topics like racism and body image within the LGBTQ+ community. In short, you’ll be laughing, crying and clapping for the characters throughout this incredibly fun film. 

Stream Fire Island on Hulu.

Boyd Holbrook standing and B.J. Novak holding up his phone to record what Holbrook is saying.

(Image credit: Focus Features)

Vengeance 

A New York City journalist goes to West Texas on a mission to solve the murder of a girl he hooked up with, so he can create a successful podcast a la Serial, that is the basis for B.J. Novak’s film Vengeance. The Office alum wrote, directed and starred in this Peacock movie alongside Boyd Holbrook, Ashton Kutcher and Dove Cameron to create an incredibly funny and compelling ensemble.  

The film is a hilarious satire on the true crime genre, that is kind of similar to the Hulu series Only Murders in the Building. Meaning that while the film is actively commenting on the absurdity and obsession surrounding the true crime genre, you also can’t help but fall head-first into trying to solve the mystery. Overall, Novak manages to make a funny and unique film that is a sharp commentary on a genre that has taken over the industry. 

Stream Vengeance on Peacock.

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With all this being said, if you are looking for something new to watch, try out one of these films. I guarantee they are all worth your time, and when you are done watching them you’ll also be wondering why they flew under the radar in 2022. 

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She has written for national publications as well as daily and alt-weekly newspapers in Spokane, Washington, Syracuse, New York and Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated with her master’s degree in arts journalism and communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Since joining the CB team she has covered numerous TV shows and movies -- including her personal favorite shows Ted Lasso and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She also has followed and consistently written about everything from Taylor Swift to Fire Country, and she's enjoyed every second of it.