Best Limited Release Movies 2022

Happening depicts a teenager’s pregnancy in 1960s France, and is lauded for Anamaria Vartolomei central performance and director Audrey Diwan’s restraint and tone on the subject. Iran’s Jafar Panahi returns after four years with No Bears, and Roger Michell (Notting Hill) had his swan song with The Duke. Movies about movies were on directors’ minds this awards season, and Official Competition may have been low-key the best out of all of them. It was also a strong year for documentaries, with Fire of Love, Navalny, Descendant, All That Breathes, Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down, and Nothing Compares filling out the rest of the top 10.

The order reflects Tomatometer scores (as of December 31, 2022) after adjustment from our ranking formula, which compensates for variation in the number of reviews when comparing movies or TV shows.

#1

Happening (2021)
99%

#1
Adjusted Score: 105218%
Critics Consensus: A tough but rewarding watch, Happening puts a personal face on an impossibly difficult choice and its heart-rending aftermath.
Synopsis: France, 1963. Anne is a bright young student with a promising future ahead of her. But when she falls pregnant,... [More]
Directed By: Audrey Diwan

#2

Fire of Love (2022)
98%

#2
Adjusted Score: 104461%
Critics Consensus: Whether as a story of one couple's quixotic quest or simply a stunning collection of nature footage, Fire of Love burns bright.
Synopsis: Fire of Love tells the story of two French lovers, Katia and Maurice Krafft, who died in a volcanic explosion... [More]
Starring: Miranda July
Directed By: Sara Dosa

#3

The Duke (2020)
97%

#3
Adjusted Score: 102237%
Critics Consensus: A sweet swan song for director Roger Michell, The Duke offers a well-acted and engaging dramatization of an entertainingly improbable true story.
Synopsis: In 1961, Kempton Bunton, a 60-year old taxi driver, stole Goya's portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National... [More]
Directed By: Roger Michell

#4

Navalny (2022)
99%

#4
Adjusted Score: 101977%
Critics Consensus: Navalny is a documentary that's as gripping as any thriller -- but the real-life fight against authoritarianism that it details is deadly serious.
Synopsis: Shot as the story unfolded, NAVALNY is a fly-on-the-wall documentary thriller about anti-authoritarian Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Recovering in... [More]
Starring: Alexei Navalny
Directed By: Daniel Roher

#5

Descendant (2022)
100%

#5
Adjusted Score: 101947%
Critics Consensus: Descendant serves as a fantastically compelling example of how history can be reclaimed -- and a stirring tribute to a resilient community.
Synopsis: Documentary filmmaker Margaret Brown ("The Order of Myths", "The Great Invisible") returns to her hometown of Mobile, Alabama to document... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Margaret Brown

#6

No Bears (2022)
100%

#6
Adjusted Score: 102665%
Critics Consensus: No Bears bears witness to Jafar Panahi's incisive filmmaking while urging viewers to examine the complex layers of a deceptively simple story: a man oppressed and suppressed by his country.
Synopsis: NO BEARS portrays two parallel love stories. In both, the lovers are troubled by hidden, inevitable obstacles, the force of... [More]
Directed By: Jafar Panahi

#7

All That Breathes (2022)
100%

#7
Adjusted Score: 101836%
Critics Consensus: A poetic tribute to tenacity, All That Breathes uses two brothers' tireless efforts to make a broader point about finding triumph within tragedy.
Synopsis: In one of the world's most populated cities, cows, rats, monkeys, frogs, and hogs jostle cheek-by-jowl with people. Here, two... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Shaunak Sen

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 101590%
Critics Consensus: Its premise may resonate most with hardcore film fans, but Official Competition's tight focus and sharp humor have a universal appeal.
Synopsis: Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas star as two egomaniacs commissioned by a millionaire to make a movie together in this... [More]

#9
Adjusted Score: 101037%
Critics Consensus: Inspirational and unabashedly political, Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down pays passionate tribute to its resilient subject.
Synopsis: Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down tells the extraordinary story of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords: her relentless fight to recover... [More]
Directed By: Julie Cohen, Betsy West

#10

Nothing Compares (2022)
99%

#10
Adjusted Score: 101621%
Critics Consensus: A moving look at Sinéad O'Connor's remarkable life and career, Nothing Compares is enriching viewing whether or not you're a fan of her work.
Synopsis: NOTHING COMPARES is the story of Sinéad O'Connor's phenomenal rise to worldwide fame and how her iconoclastic personality resulted in... [More]
Starring: Shuihada' Davitt
Directed By: Kathryn Ferguson

#11

Aftersun (2022)
95%

#11
Adjusted Score: 102944%
Critics Consensus: Led by Frankie Corio's tremendous performance, Aftersun deftly ushers audiences to the intersection between our memories of loved ones and who they really are.
Synopsis: At a fading vacation resort, 11-year-old Sophie treasures rare time together with her loving and idealistic father, Calum (Paul Mescal).... [More]
Directed By: Charlotte Wells

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 101702%
Critics Consensus: If Decision to Leave isn't quite on the same level as Park Chan-wook's masterpieces, this romantic thriller is still a remarkable achievement by any other metric.
Synopsis: From a mountain peak in South Korea, a man plummets to his death. Did he jump, or was he pushed?... [More]
Directed By: Park Chan-wook

#13

Free Chol Soo Lee (2022)
100%

#13
Adjusted Score: 100788%
Critics Consensus: Free Chol Soo Lee powerfully relates a story of injustice while issuing a searing indictment of the systemic racism that enabled it.
Synopsis: In 1970s San Francisco, 20-year-old Korean immigrant Chol Soo Lee is racially profiled and convicted of a Chinatown gang murder.... [More]
Directed By: Julie Ha, Eugene Yi

#14

The Innocents (2021)
96%

#14
Adjusted Score: 99841%
Critics Consensus: The Innocents chillingly subverts the purity of youth in a powerfully acted thriller that lingers long after the credits roll.
Synopsis: During the bright Nordic summer, a group of children reveal mysterious powers. But what starts out innocent soon takes a... [More]
Directed By: Eskil Vogt

#15

Girl Picture (2022)
99%

#15
Adjusted Score: 101025%
Critics Consensus: Sensitively written and beautifully acted, Girl Picture captures the whirlwind of teenage emotions without sacrificing narrative maturity and depth.
Synopsis: Best friends Mimmi and Rönkkö work after school at a food court smoothie kiosk, frankly swapping stories of their frustrations... [More]
Directed By: Alli Haapasalo

#16

To Leslie (2022)
97%

#16
Adjusted Score: 98705%
Critics Consensus: To Leslie's familiar framework is granted extra depth through a stellar Andrea Riseborough and a sensitive and nuanced approach to the cycle of addiction.
Synopsis: Leslie (Andrea Riseborough) is a West Texas single mother struggling to provide for her son (Owen Teague) when she wins... [More]
Directed By: Michael Morris

#17
Adjusted Score: 99312%
Critics Consensus: Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie offers a thrilling, beautifully animated gift for fans of the anime -- and a story that holds up as a standalone effort.
Synopsis: When they were children, Rika Orimoto was killed in a traffic accident right before the eyes of her close friend,... [More]

#18

Argentina, 1985 (2022)
97%

#18
Adjusted Score: 98617%
Critics Consensus: Justice is served in Argentina 1985, a crusading courtroom drama that shines a light on historically somber times with refreshing levity.
Synopsis: Argentina, 1985 is a feature inspired by the true story of Julio Strassera, Luis Moreno Ocampo and their young legal... [More]
Directed By: Santiago Mitre

#19
Adjusted Score: 99094%
Critics Consensus: Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom is a simple story with a big heart -- and a reminder of film's ability to communicate universal truths across international borders.
Synopsis: An aspiring singer living with his grandmother in the capital of Bhutan dreams of getting a visa to relocate to... [More]
Directed By: Pawo Choyning Dorji

#20

Sirens (2022)
98%

#20
Adjusted Score: 98970%
Critics Consensus: A documentary with gripping narrative appeal, Sirens pays invigorating tribute to the life-altering power of truth, friendship, and rock & roll.
Synopsis: SIRENS intimately chronicles the lives and music of Slave to Sirens, a band made up of five young metalheads whose... [More]
Directed By: Rita Baghdadi