By: Madison Troyer
Zendaya in ‘Challengers’.
Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures

The best movies of 2024 so far

Despite predictions that the domestic box office would take a huge hit in 2024 thanks to the Writers Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild strikes that dominated much of the second half of 2023, the movie business seems to be chugging along just fine thus far.

By mid-June, eight films have made more than $100 million each at the domestic box office. As of June 20, "Dune: Part Two" tops the list with $282 million, but considering "Inside Out 2" made more than $200 million before its first week in theaters was done, that's likely about to change. Additionally, some of the year's most anticipated releases (and the money they're sure to bring in), like "Deadpool & Wolverine," "Beetlejuice Beetlejuice," and "Gladiator 2," are still to come.

While it's certainly satisfying to see that Hollywood is still very much capable of churning out some major blockbusters in this new, post-strike world, these big movies aren't the only great things the film industry has delivered in 2024. In fact, there have been a slew of films in these first six months that have stood out for their themes, storytelling, and cinematography.

Using data from Metacritic, Stacker ranked the top 25 movies of the year so far by Metascore, as of June 10, 2024. To qualify for the list, the films must have been released in the U.S. in 2024 and have at least seven reviews from critics. Ties were broken by Metacritic's internal weighting system. IMDb user ratings were provided for popular reception context.

From romantic black comedies like Richard Linklater's "Hit Man" to sexy sports stories like "Challengers" and moody and unsettling horror movies like "I Saw the TV Glow," read on to find out what's stood out most this year. Be sure to come back throughout the next few months as the list—and this year in memorable cinema—continues to develop.

Mia McKenna-Bruce and Molly Manning Walker pose for press at Cannes.
Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

#25. How to Have Sex

- Director: Molly Manning Walker
- Metascore: 79
- IMDb user rating: 6.5
- Run time: 91 minutes

First premiering at the Cannes Film Festival's Un Certain Regard competition, "How to Have Sex" follows three young women as they embark on their first real adult vacation. RogerEbert.com called the movie, which is Molly Manning Walker's feature directorial debut, "a blisteringly real survey of female coming of age." The visuals here are arguably among the year's best, which is perhaps not all that surprising considering Walker's background as a cinematographer.

The cast of ‘Dune: Part Two’ poses for press at the New York Premiere.
Dimitrios Kambouris // Getty Images

#24. Dune: Part Two

- Director: Denis Villeneuve
- Metascore: 79
- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Run time: 166 minutes

The follow-up to the 2021 smash-hit adaptation of the Frank Herbert sci-fi novel, "Dune: Part Two" continues the story of Paul Atreides and the Fremen people as they wage war against the cruel House Harkonnen. The commercially successful film has a massive, all-star cast that includes actors like Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Florence Pugh, Austin Butler, and Josh Brolin. Critics, like those at Slate, have sung the movie's praises, celebrating everything from its complex, attention-grabbing plot to its jaw-dropping special effects to its cinematography and score.

Seydou Sarr, Matteo Garrone, Moustapha Fall attend a photo call for
Alessandra Benedetti - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

#23. Io Capitano

- Director: Matteo Garrone
- Metascore: 79
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Run time: 121 minutes

Inspired by the real stories of migrants' journeys to Europe through Africa, "Io Capitano" tells the story of two young men who leave their native Dakar in search of a better life in Italy. Nominated for Best International Feature Film at this year's Oscars, the movie's cast comprises mostly unknown actors, which lends an even more raw and real tone to the story. Audiences should note that the film is a hard watch—heavy topics like abuse and slavery are tackled—but, as Observer notes, it's important in that it keeps the reality of this international crisis at the forefront of conversations.

Mike Cheslik at ‘Hundreds of Beavers’ premiere.
Rich Polk // Getty Images for SRH

#22. Hundreds of Beavers

- Director: Mike Cheslik
- Metascore: 80
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Run time: 108 minutes

One of the most unique comedies of the last few years, "Hundreds of Beavers" is a black-and-white, slapstick gem about an enterprising woodsman who finds himself facing off against a slew of forest creatures for control of his homestead. With little to no dialogue, a wild soundtrack, and a cast of human actors in mascot-style animal costumes, it's safe to assume you've never seen anything like this ever before. Critics and audiences alike love the way the film pays homage to the cartoons of yesteryear (think "Looney Tunes") and how genuinely funny the physical humor actually is.

Giancarlo Nasi, Chiara Giavarini, Felipe Gálvez Haberle, Mishel Guaña, Alfredo Castro and Benjamin Domenech at Toronto International Film Festival.
Mathew Tsang // Getty Images

#21. The Settlers

- Director: Felipe Gálvez Haberle
- Metascore: 80
- IMDb user rating: 7
- Run time: 97 minutes

Felipe Gálvez Haberle's feature directorial debut, "The Settlers," is a revisionist Western that follows three horsemen who find themselves mixed up in the South American land grab and the genocide of the Selk'nam people at the beginning of the 20th century.

Premiering at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, the film didn't get a widespread release until early this year, but critical reviews have been overwhelmingly positive since its debut. Writing for Observer, one critic called it "a brutal, chilling indictment of capitalist colonialism," while IndieWire wrote that "it's one of the most chilling art-Westerns to come along in some time, as provocative for its ideas, dialogue, and characterizations, as for the beauty of its empty landscapes."

Justin Taurand and Bertrand Bonello attend the Venice International Film Festival.
Vittorio Zunino Celotto // Getty Images

#20. The Beast

- Director: Bertrand Bonello
- Metascore: 80
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Run time: 146 minutes

Loosely based on a Henry James short story titled "The Beast in the Jungle," "The Beast" is essentially about how humanity's pursuit of authenticity is often thwarted by roadblocks of its own making. A bizarre sci-fi and horror mashup, the film is set across three distinct time periods (1910, 2014, and 2044) and follows one woman as she attempts to rid herself of all emotion and the ripple effect that has on all of her past lives. Unsettling and thought-provoking, the movie certainly isn't a mindless watch, but it is an important one.

Klaudia S´mieja-Rostworowska, Marcin Luccaj, Goran Stolevski, and Alina Serban attend screening.
Lia Toby // Getty Images for BFI

#19. Housekeeping for Beginners

- Director: Goran Stolevski
- Metascore: 80
- IMDb user rating: 7
- Run time: 107 minutes

Set in North Macedonia, "Housekeeping for Beginners" follows one woman as she does her best to raise her deceased girlfriend's two daughters despite never wanting to be a mother herself. Full of found family and LGBTQ+ themes, the movie is deeply emotional and raw, feelings that are compounded by the fact that director Goran Stolevski allowed the actors (many of whom made their big-screen debut here) to improvise large sections of the finished product.

Alex Schaad, Thomas Wodlanka, Maryam Zaree, Mala Emde, and Dimitrij Schaad at premiere of ‘Auf meiner Haut’.
Jörg Carstensen/picture alliance via Getty Images

#18. Skin Deep

- Director: Alex Schaad
- Metascore: 81
- IMDb user rating: 6.2
- Run time: 103 minutes

"Skin Deep" is a philosophical relationship drama that follows a young couple who find themselves in a body-swapping situation during a visit to a mysterious island. The New York Times lauded the way the film handled deep questions that might arise in romantic relationships and broader society should body-swapping become an established, serious possibility. Written by brothers Alex and Dimitrij Schaad, the film first premiered at the 2022 Venice Film Festival and only made its way to the U.S. this year. It is also Alex's feature-length directorial debut.

Letitia Wright and Director Frank Berry attend the ‘Aisha’ UK premiere.
Shane Anthony Sinclair // Getty Images for BFI

#17. Aisha

- Director: Frank Berry
- Metascore: 81
- IMDb user rating: 6.6
- Run time: 94 minutes

Set in Ireland, "Aisha" examines the complicated friendship that grows between an asylum seeker and a security guard at the accommodation center where she is living. Perhaps best known for her role in the "Black Panther" movies, Letitia Wright has been praised by outlets across the internet for the controlled anger, dignity, and quiet power she infused into the character. While the film is understated in its tone and emotional pull, it's sure to have viewers reevaluating their thoughts on the immigrant experience around the world.

Mike Faist and Zendaya in ‘Challengers’.
Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures

#16. Challengers

- Director: Luca Guadagnino
- Metascore: 82
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Run time: 131 minutes

Starring Zendaya, Josh O'Connor, and Mike Faist, "Challengers" follows the tense dynamic that unfolds between a tennis coach, her player/husband who is on a losing streak, and his former best friend and rival/her former lover. Told largely through a series of flashbacks and flash-forwards, the movie is messy, dramatic, and very, very sexy (including a highly charged churro scene). Critics have praised the stars' performances as well as the complex editing, which makes what could be a fairly basic story far more compelling.

Glen Powell, Adria Arjona, and Richard Linklater attend a screening of ‘Hitman’.
SERGIO FLORES/AFP via Getty Images

#15. Hit Man

- Director: Richard Linklater
- Metascore: 82
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Run time: 115 minutes

In this Netflix original, Glen Powell (who co-wrote the screenplay) plays an undercover cop posing as a hit man who falls in love with a woman who has hired him to help kill her husband. The black comedy has garnered tons of praise for feeling like an old-school movie—one of those delightfully fun romps that's also well-acted, sufficiently funded, and not unduly concerned with getting a message across.

Mouna Hawa receives the Best Actress Award for her role in 'Inshallah a Boy’.
PATRICK BAZ/Red Sea Film Festival/AFP via Getty Images

#14. Inshallah a Boy

- Director: Amjad Al Rasheed
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Run time: 113 minutes

Wrestling with the devastating effects of Jordan's patriarchal inheritance laws, "Inshallah a Boy" is a thriller about a woman who pretends to be pregnant with a son in order to save herself and her young daughter. The film was the first Jordanian project to ever compete at Cannes, and what a stunning debut it was. The New York Times praised the performance of Palestinian actor Mouna Hawa, calling it "commanding," and Variety applauded director Al Rasheed's prowess in casting a social-realist drama as a riveting escape thriller.

Hitoshi Omika and Ryûsuke Hamaguchi pose with the Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize Award.
Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

#13. Evil Does Not Exist

- Director: Ryûsuke Hamaguchi
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Run time: 106 minutes

The winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 80th Venice Film Festival, "Evil Does Not Exist" is a Japanese film that follows the residents of a small village as they push back against the development of the forest they live near. Described as "sparsely written" and "unsettling in tone" by NPR, the film is far from predictable with an ending that leaves audiences with plenty to think about.

Directors and Cast of ‘Terrestrial Verses’ pose at Cannes.
Lionel Hahn // Getty Images

#12. Terrestrial Verses

- Directors: Ali Asgari, Alireza Khatami
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Run time: 77 minutes

In this Iranian film, directors Ali Asgari and Alireza Khatami follow nine individuals as they face off against different iterations of power in the Middle Eastern country. At times comedic and difficult, the stories examine the way certain codes of behavior (whether dictated by culture or religion) can often be used as a channel for more deeply held prejudices.

Julianne Nicholson and Annie Baker attend the
Steven Ferdman // Getty Images

#11. Janet Planet

- Director: Annie Baker
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 6.6
- Run time: 113 minutes

Set in the early '90s, this drama follows a hippie mother (Julianne Nicholson) and her preteen daughter (Zoe Ziegler) over the course of one slow summer as they spend nearly all of their time together and confront changes in their relationship. The movie is the feature directorial debut of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Annie Baker, who also wrote the screenplay.

Sébastien Laudenbach and Chiara Malta accept the 'Best Animated Feature' Cesar Award.
Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

#10. Chicken for Linda!

- Directors: Sébastien Laudenbach, Chiara Malta
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Run time: 73 minutes

In this animated film, a mother sets out to make amends with her daughter by cooking her favorite meal, despite her lack of culinary knowledge and a strike that's essentially shut down their city. The French project is playful and emotional, exploring themes like grief and memory in ways that will appeal to audiences of all ages.

Sam Intili, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Jane Schoenbrun attend the 2024 Los Angeles Festival of Movies.
Frazer Harrison // Getty Images

#9. I Saw the TV Glow

- Director: Jane Schoenbrun
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 7
- Run time: 100 minutes

Dubbed "weird and transfixing" by NPR, "I Saw the TV Glow" follows two teenagers who bond over a supernatural TV series only to have their lives go off the rails years after the show's cancellation. Produced by Emma Stone and Dave McCary's company Fruit Tree, the movie stars Justice Smith and Brigette Lundy-Paine and is far more unsettling than the previews may have led viewers to believe.

Kleber Mendonça Filho and Dennis Lim attend the New York Film Festival ‘Pictures Of Ghosts’ panel.
Theo Wargo // Getty Images for FLC

#8. Pictures of Ghosts

- Director: Kleber Mendonça Filho
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Run time: 93 minutes

In this documentary, filmmaker Kleber Mendonça Filho revisits his life in Brazil, recalling its glory days through the prism of the various cinemas he frequented as a child. The New York Times praised the film, which combines both new and archived footage, for the way it inspires a "rumination on life, death, family, movies, and those complicated, invariably haunted places we call home." Meanwhile, IndieWire hailed the documentary's celebratory spirit, noting that Filho is able to give the film "a joyful rhythm, full of hope and wonder."

Deniz Celiloglu, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Merve Dizdar, and Musab Ekici at Cannes.
Lionel Hahn // Getty Images

#7. About Dry Grasses

- Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Run time: 197 minutes

This Turkish-language drama follows a teacher who finds his future threatened after a female student alleges inappropriate contact. As is the case with many of Nuri Bilge Ceylan's projects, the movie is slow and sparse, with a strong emphasis placed on still photography. The New Yorker called it "nimble, alert, and alive," stressing that it "brims with a bitingly melancholy Chekhovian spirit," something that's sure to appeal to certain moviegoers.

Alice Rohrwacher, Isabella Rossellini, and Josh O'Connor pose for press at the New York Film Festival.
Theo Wargo // Getty Images for FLC

#6. La Chimera

- Director: Alice Rohrwacher
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Run time: 130 minutes

Set in the '80s, "La Chimera" follows a lovelorn archaeologist who unwittingly finds himself the head of a ragtag gang of grave robbers, stealing artifacts and passing them on to a mysterious buyer. The Guardian called it "uproarious and celebratory" noting that its tone—and the way it teems with life—is one of the best things about it. Meanwhile, Slant loved the way it wrestles with time and its effect on all of our lives.

Lila Aviles and Naima Senties at the ‘Totem’ premiere during the Berlinale International Film Festival.
Sebastian Reuter // Getty Images

#5. Tótem

- Director: Lila Avilés
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Run time: 95 minutes

The National Board of Review named "Tótem" one of the best international films of the year, which is as winning of an endorsement as one could hope to receive. The Mexican project follows a 7-year-old girl as she celebrates her father's birthday and struggles to come to terms with the fact that it will likely be his last. Variety called the movie "lifelike and lived-in" and commended filmmaker Lila Avilés' "generous, open-ended" style.

Neo Sora attends the 61st NYFF screening of ‘Ryuichi Sakamoto: Opus’.
Arturo Holmes // Getty Images for FLC

#4. Ryuichi Sakamoto: Opus

- Director: Neo Sora
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Run time: 103 minutes

Called "a parting gift from a master musician" by The New York Times, "Ryuichi Sakamoto: Opus" is the pianist's final performance. There are no interviews or introductions in the film, it's simply 103 minutes of the Japanese artist sitting at his piano playing some of his greatest hits. While it may not sound like the most exciting film the year has had to offer, the space it offers for contemplation is unlike anything else the big screen has ever given us.

Bas Devos speaks on stage at the Berlinale International Film Festival.
Sebastian Reuter // Getty Images

#3. Here

- Director: Bas Devos
- Metascore: 93
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Run time: 84 minutes

Dubbed "a celebration of connection" by The New York Times, Bas Devos' "Here" follows the lives of a Romanian construction worker and a Belgian-Chinese academic who studies moss. Their lives, which have almost no reason to intersect, inevitably do in the most unusual of places. The quiet film is beautifully photographed and captures a sense of connection where "nothing much and everything happens—or could," according to the Times.

Pham Thien An poses with Anais Demoustier after he won the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images

#2. Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell

- Director: Thien An Pham
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 6.7
- Run time: 179 minutes

Straddling the line between surrealism and realism, "Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell" follows a young Vietnamese man as he navigates the unexpected loss of a family member and grapples with larger questions of faith, god, and the afterlife. The movie won director Thien An Pham the Camera d'Or, the award given to the best debut feature, at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. Outlets like IndieWire have gushed over the project's unique cinematic style (there are long, uninterrupted shots that run for up to 20 minutes at a time), which has earned praise from critics internationally.

Radu Jude poses for press portrait at the Locarno Film Festival.
Alessandro Levati // Getty Images

#1. Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World

- Director: Radu Jude
- Metascore: 95
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Run time: 163 minutes

In this black comedy, a production assistant is tasked with shooting a workplace safety video, only to find their plans upended when an interviewee makes a surprising statement. Completely unique in its form (it's a mix of new footage; edited excerpts of another 1981 film, "Angela merge mai departe"; and the main character's TikTok videos), Variety called the movie a "dizzying, dazzling feat of social critique, an all-fronts-at-once attack on the zeitgeist, and a mischievous, often hilarious work of art about the artifice of work."

Data reporting by Luke Hicks. Story editing by Carren Jao and Jaimie Etkin. Copy editing by Tim Bruns.

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