The 28 Best Sci-Fi, Horror, and Fantasy Movies of 2022

The 28 Best Sci-Fi, Horror, and Fantasy Movies of 2022

io9 picks the best of the best, and comes up with robots, dragons, vampires, superheroes, and more.

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belle, after yang, everything everywhere, RRR, prey
Where do these films rank on our list? Find out here.
Image: Various

Why 28? We know that’s what you’re thinking and it’s a valid question. On the surface, 28 movies seems arbitrary. Why not cut down to 25 or add two for 30 to make it cleaner? And the answer is quite simple. When compiling a list of our favorite sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and superhero genre films of 2022, we didn’t want to limit it. This year was so full of great movies, big and small, that we figured it best to highlight all of our favorites, not just some. And when we got to the point on our list where the films were just okay, no longer great, we stopped. And that number was 28.

Now did we probably miss one or two? Are there one or two we didn’t all agree with? Without a doubt. You can tell us where we went wrong in the comments. But for now, sit back and check out a countdown of io9's 28 favorite genre films of 2022.

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28. Something in the Dirt

28. Something in the Dirt

SOMETHING IN THE DIRT - Theatrical Trailer (2022)

Written, directed, and starring Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson, Something in the Dirt is a twisty, turny, sci-fi mystery that also doubles as a tale of modern friendship. It features beautiful filmmaking and acting by its director/stars and is so chock full of interesting ideas, it’s almost like an entertaining Rorschach test.

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27. Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers

27. Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers

Official Trailer | Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers | Disney+

Nothing about Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers should work. It’s too weird, too meta, too filled with off-color humor, too reliant on nostalgia. And yet, while all those thing may be true, somehow the film’s humor and brains come together in a way that puts it all together in just the right alchemy. It’s streaming on Disney+.

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26. Blood Relatives

26. Blood Relatives

Blood Relatives - Official Trailer [HD] | A Shudder Original

A too-cool vampire has to change his entire way of life when a daughter he didn’t know existed arrives on the scene. Blood Relatives is a touching, funny blend of horror, drama, and comedy that plays in its genre conventions, but never overuses them. Noah Segan not only stars, but writes and directs, and Victoria Moroles, who plays his daughter, is a real standout. It’s available on Shudder.

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25. Scream

25. Scream

Scream | Official Trailer (2022 Movie)

For as many sure bets as there were at the movies this year, there were also some pleasant surprises, one of them being Scream. (Technically Scream 5, but what is a semi-reboot if not eager to make title confusing?) With a solid lineup of newcomers and series veterans coming in to be more than obligatory cameos, Scream 5 was plenty of fun, plenty gory, and provided some nice slasher goodness to start off the year with.

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24. The Northman

24. The Northman

THE NORTHMAN - Official Trailer 2 - Only in Theaters April 22

Robert Eggers’ The Northman is epic in every sense of the word. Inspired by the Viking legend of Amleth (which also served as inspiration for Shakespeare’s Hamlet), the movie is a brutally real, magically mythic tale of one man’s revenge against the uncle who betrayed and killed his father in 9th-century Scandinavia. It’s the perfect setting for Eggers, who also did the otherworldly films The Witch and The Lighthouse. Alexander Skarsgård stars as the hulking, rage-driven title character, but Willem Dafoe’s mad fool Heimir and Björk’s unsettling Seeress steal the movie in their brief scenes. The Northman is a singular viewing experience that manages to make the millennium-old story feel breathtakingly fresh.

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23. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

23. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022 Movie) Official Trailer – Nicolas Cage

This unhinged concept is a fantastical fan-fiction of what you hope it’d be like to spend hours with Nic Cage as your bestie. It’s made even better by Pedro Pascal who does just that as a crime lord who hires the actor to relive his greatest hits in a sprawling estate dedicated to his fandom. Pascal is endearing and charming, a perfect conduit for the fan. And his chemistry with Cage is off the charts—not to mention Cage’s all-timer chemistry with himself.

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22. Speak No Evil

22. Speak No Evil

Speak No Evil - Official Trailer [HD] | A Shudder Original

One of the most disturbing movies you will ever see relentlessly mines social awkwardness to the point of extreme horror—and that includes scenes where it’s simply people in a room talking. Things do get more visceral eventually, but by that point you’re already in a state of agony watching Speak No Evil’s hapless characters tumbling into a situation where politeness becomes an agent of doom. It’s available on Shudder.

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21. The Sea Beast

21. The Sea Beast

The Sea Beast | Official Trailer | Netflix

Directed by Chris Williams (who co-wrote it with Neil Benjamin), The Sea Beast was released in the middle of the year and is well worth your time if you haven’t seen it already. It’s a fun, breezy adventure story that succeeds thanks to stellar animation and a sense of scale that ensures that the sea beasts themselves feel big, even on the small screen. Netflix had a strong year in terms of animation, particularly towards the end of the year, but The Sea Beast deserves some more love. It’s streaming on Netflix.

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20. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

20. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S PINOCCHIO | Official Trailer | Netflix

Maybe the least surprising thing to happen in movies in 2022 is that a stop-motion animated Pinocchio movie by Guillermo del Toro is great. Of course, it was going to be great. It’s a stop-motion animated Pinocchio movie co-directed by Guillermo del Toro! Find it streaming on Netflix.

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19. Wendell and Wild

19. Wendell and Wild

WENDELL & WILD | Official Trailer | Netflix

Henry Selick does it again with this Jordan Peele collaboration. The stop-motion weird wonder that is Wendell and Wild speaks to a new generation of odd kids like Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline before it. Selick and his team keep the magic alive for the puppeteering art form with characters who look and feel more real than any CG character. Stream the film on Netflix.

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18. The Menu

18. The Menu

THE MENU | Official Trailer | Searchlight Pictures

Want to watch a hilarious, creepy, weird, and ultimately fantastical (ish) story about the worst human beings imaginable getting what’s coming to them? No, we’re not talking about Twitter, we’re talking about The Menu, a super tight and biting satire about an extremely exclusive restaurant that goes to some super disturbing places, in the best possible way.

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17. Brian and Charles

17. Brian and Charles

BRIAN AND CHARLES - Official Trailer [HD] - Only in Theaters June 17

A lonely inventor creates a robot for companionship—then finds his life completely transformed by the curious, irresistibly joyful personality he’s brought into the world. Brian and Charles achieves some surprising emotional depths as it follows these two characters trying to figure out life, but it also contains some of the year’s most quirky and hilarious moments.

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16. The Batman

16. The Batman

THE BATMAN – Main Trailer

Emphasizing the “dark” in the Dark Knight, The Batman begins by showcasing Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson) as a rage-filled vigilante, unsure of his role, who finds himself hunting a sadistic, riddle-obsessed serial killer (Paul Dano) with ties to the Wayne family, the Mafia, and more. The Batman thankfully set itself apart from other Bat-movies by focusing on the hero as a detective, but was made equally memorable by Zoe Kravitz’s excellent take on Catwoman and the relentless, utterly fantastic car chase after Penguin (an unrecognizable Colin Farrell). But what truly makes the movie one of 2022’s best is how at the end, it lifts Batman out of darkness—literally and figuratively—as the vigilante learns what Gotham City truly needs is a hero, not an avenger. We can’t wait to see what’s next.

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15. Turning Red

15. Turning Red

Turning Red | Official Trailer

This Disney-Pixar release was a revelation that deserved a wider release. Director Domee Shi captures what being an Asian teen in the aughts felt like, and to an even broader extent the first-generation angst that accompanies stepping out of tradition and cultivating healing for those who came before. A modern coming-of-age classic! Watch it now on Disney+.

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14. Barbarian

14. Barbarian

BARBARIAN | Official Trailer | In Theaters September 9

Horror breakout Barbarian was a word-of-mouth sensation where the word was “Don’t read anything about it before you watch it!” It’s not a spoiler to say it used its diverse influences—which seemed to include, but were not limited to, The Gift of Fear, Twitter threads chronicling Airbnb nightmares, the MeToo movement, a fascination with gentrification and abandonment in Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood, and old-fashioned “Don’t go in the creepy-ass basement!” vibes—to potent effect, with a story that upended itself more than once and kept audiences gasping until the end.

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13. Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie

13. Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie

Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie | Official Trailer | Netflix After School

Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may not get the attention it deserves from the wider TMNT fanbase simply because its breaks from the traditional turtle formula too much for some fans to bear. But those who found a home in the teenage ninja fandom through its energetic interpretations of the turtles and its sumptuous action were duly rewarded in this year’s Netflix movie farewell to the latest take on the heroes in a half-shell. A fitting epilogue to this version of the TMNT, everything in Rise’s movie is what’s great about the show on a bigger and better level: the same great heart and humor, the same incredible action, ramped up into a celebration of what made Rise so special in the first place. Check it out on Netflix.

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12. Inu-Oh

12. Inu-Oh

Masaaki Yuasa - INU-OH | Theatrical Trailer

Director Masaaki Yuasa returned to film for the first time in three years, and Inu-Oh showed that he hasn’t lost a step. Utterly vibrant from start to end and blessed with gorgeous musical vibes, Inu-Oh feels as big and showy as any live-action music biopic within the last decade, but with a much more personal touch. It’s an animated film unlike anything else this year, and an utter blast.

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11. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

11. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever | Official Trailer

Of all the Marvel sequels in recent memory, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever had the highest expectations to live up to. Between being the first real sequel to the 2018 hit and suddenly having its narrative defined by the 2020 loss of Chadwick Boseman, there was a different kind of pressure around Wakanda Forever than the usual weight that MCU movies are afforded. And though the movie stumbles in spots, it’s ultimately a fitting and moving sequel, the kind that the studio isn’t always capable of making. With an earnest commitment to exploring the messy ways that grief and anger exist, and a new compelling antihero in Tenoch Heurta’s Namor, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever stands as one of the best Marvel sequels in some time, and every bit as impressive as its direct predecessor.

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10. Bones and All

10. Bones and All

BONES AND ALL | Theatrical Trailer

We are not above a fucked-up romance, and Bones and All delivers a poignant coming of age story as Taylor Russel and Timothée Chalamet command your attention and your attraction. Under the guidance of a master director, Luca Guadagnino, the film explores raw, complicated desires and creates an unforgettable experience. The craft of Bones and All is in its seduction and simplicity, creating a whole world that centers around two lovers, trapping them in a legacy of unending (digestive) cycles.

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9. Crimes of the Future

9. Crimes of the Future

CRIMES OF THE FUTURE - Official Teaser

David Cronenberg does not miss, and this gut-churning film deals with art, evolution, and the environment on a visceral, immediate level. The transgender themes of this film are readily apparent and beautifully layered in metaphor, creating a film-going experience that had us laughing in our seats even as everyone around us cringed. The disgust is the point of Crime of the Future, but it’s also incredibly beautiful.

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8. Avatar: The Way of Water

8. Avatar: The Way of Water

Avatar: The Way of Water | New Trailer

The spectacle of James Cameron’s long-awaited sequel to the highest-grossing movie of all time was, against all odds, worth the wait. The Way of Water improves upon the original Avatar on every level—not just in the spectacle, which was a given, but in the story, the characters, and the drama, too. The tale of the Sully family, forced to flee across Pandora and adapt to a new, wetter life, allows Cameron to explore a dazzling new world, while the fight with a Na’vi-fied Miles Quaritch gives the conflict a depth missing in the original. But really, The Way of Water’s most amazing achievement is that exhilarating final act, an unparalleled spectacle that puts the action of entire Marvel movies to shame.

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7. Marcel the Shell With Shoes On

7. Marcel the Shell With Shoes On

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On | Official Trailer HD | A24

A young filmmaker rents an Airbnb and finds that a talking seashell lives there. This talking shell, named Marcel, has lost its family and the filmmaker decides to document the search for the family, as well as all of Marcel’s quirky life lessons. Brilliant and beautifully animated, Marcel is also flat-out hilarious, intensely moving, and almost unbelievably uplifting. Truly one of the best, most underrated films of the year.

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6. Nope

6. Nope

NOPE | Final Trailer

Jordan Peele added a hefty dose of sci-fi into his horror cauldron with Nope, and proved once again that few filmmakers working today are able to subvert genre so cleverly and insightfully. Taking on the idea of “spectacle” with a strong cautionary note about the price of recklessly chasing fame, the film was an alien-invasion film like no other, giving us memorably unique characters and plenty of frights. Check it out on Peacock.

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5. After Yang

5. After Yang

After Yang | Official Trailer HD | A24

In a fascinating but mysterious future, one family’s stand-in sibling robot malfunctions. As the father tries to repair it, he finds that the robot isn’t the only one who needs fixing in this quiet, beautiful movie teeming with sci-fi tendencies that suck you into a moving story of family and loss. A very powerful, excellent film.

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4. Belle

4. Belle

BELLE - Mamoru Hosoda and Studio Chizu [English Dub Trailer]

Mamoru Hosoda has spent his whole career engaging with an optimistic imagining of what internet culture can do for the world, and his latest movie Belle is no exception. While its real-world messaging might be a little clunky to the point of naivete, its sumptuous, sci-fi tinged re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast makes for an incredible digital spectacle, with a stunning poppy soundtrack to match its musical, idealistic view of the metaverse, with nary a bored ape in sight.

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3. Prey

3. Prey

Prey | Official Trailer | Hulu

At the beginning of 2022, if you told us a new Predator movie was going to be on this list, no one would have believed you. The Predator franchise does not have a good track record, but that was before Amber Midthunder was its star. In Prey, she stars as a young Comanche woman, living years before any of the other films, who takes on of the deadly aliens. From director Dan Trachtenberg, it’s a film that has all the genre franchise excitement and lore you could ask for, but is much more interesting in telling a fantastic, unique story. The result is, easily, the second-best Predator movie of all-time and one of the best films of 2022. You can watch it exclusively on Hulu.

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2. RRR

2. RRR

RRR #encoRRRe (Official Trailer)

RRR is the end-all, be-all of blockbuster films for 2022. Nothing else comes close. Director S.S. Rajamouli has changed everything with his epic (in length and in scope), bromantical historical fantasy adventure and we’re only just beginning to see the impact of it; we can only hope more films take the right notes of this genre rule-breaking feature. RRR 2 can’t come soon enough.

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1. Everything Everywhere All at Once

1. Everything Everywhere All at Once

Everything Everywhere All At Once | Official Trailer HD | A24

In a big-budget world, Everything Everywhere All at Once is the little indie that could. Widely acclaimed and massively popular, this multiversal story proved early in 2022 that movies were back in business, whether that meant in theaters (where the film was a surprisingly huge hit), VOD, or streaming (where you can see it now). Showing off what can be done with a powerhouse cast, a shoestring budget, and an incredible, inventive, original script, Everything Everywhere All at Once is a movie lover’s dream. Heartfelt, action-packed, and finely crafted, it’s our pick for the best genre film of 2022.

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