By: Madison Troyer
Mike Faist, Zendaya, and Josh O’Connor 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-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists strikes that dominated much of the second half of 2023, the movie business seems to be chugging along just fine thus far.

In the first quarter of the year, four films—"Dune: Part Two," "Kung Fu Panda 4," "Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire," and "Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire"—have made hundreds of millions each at the domestic box office. Some of the year's most anticipated releases (and the money they're sure to bring in), like "Bad Boys: Ride or Die," "Deadpool & Wolverine," 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 films 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 four months that have stood out for their themes, storytelling, and cinematography.

Using data from Metacritic on the best films of 2024 so far, Stacker ranked the top 25 by Metascore, as of May 9, 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 intimate concert films like "Ryuichi Sakamoto: Opus" to sexy sports stories like "Challengers" and socially relevant horror movies like "In Flames," 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.

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Director Zhang Lu speaks during a press conference at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Sebastian Reuter // Getty Images

#25. The Shadowless Tower

- Director: Zhang Lü
- Metascore: 78
- IMDb user rating: 6.5
- Run time: 144 minutes

Selected to compete for the Golden Bear at the 2023 Berlin International Film Festival, "The Shadowless Tower" is a Chinese drama about a young man who struggles to decide whether or not he should reconnect with his estranged father. Wrestling with themes of family, nostalgia, and loss, the movie is slow and contemplative but leaves viewers with a refreshed appreciation of the silent struggles we all deal with on a daily basis.

Zarrar Kahn and cast attend ‘In Flames’ Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Mathew Tsang // Getty Images

#24. In Flames

- Director: Zarrar Kahn
- Metascore: 79
- IMDb user rating: 6.3
- Run time: 98 minutes

In this genre-bending film, a mother and daughter find themselves haunted by something sinister after the death of the mother's father-in-law. Described as a "patriarchy horror story" by The New York Times, the Pakistani film is one of those social horror projects that illustrates how it feels to be truly hemmed in by men from all sides. "In Flames" marks director Zarrar Kahn's feature film debut.

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

#23. 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. 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

#22. Dune: Part Two

- Director: Denis Villeneuve
- Metascore: 79
- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- 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

#21. 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

#20. 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

#19. 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."

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

#18. Housekeeping for Beginners

- Director: Goran Stolevski
- Metascore: 80
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- 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 pro-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

#17. Skin Deep

- Director: Alex Schaad
- Metascore: 81
- IMDb user rating: 6.3
- 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 debut.

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

#16. The Beast

- Director: Bertrand Bonello
- Metascore: 81
- 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.

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

#15. 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

#14. Challengers

- Director: Luca Guadagnino
- Metascore: 82
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- 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. Critics have praised the stars' performances as well as the complex editing, which makes what could be a fairly basic story far more compelling.

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

#13. 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 Mouna Hawa (a Palestinian actor), calling it "commanding," and Variety applauded Al Rasheed's prowess in casting a social-realist drama as a riveting escape thriller.

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: 7.5
- 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.

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

#11. Evil Does Not Exist

- Director: Ryûsuke Hamaguchi
- Metascore: 84
- 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's sure to leave audiences with plenty to think about.

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

#10. I Saw the TV Glow

- Director: Jane Schoenbrun
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 6.6
- 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.

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

#9. Chicken for Linda!

- Directors: Sébastien Laudenbach, Chiara Malta
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Run time: 73 minutes

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

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: 7.8
- 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 loved the film best for its 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 viewers.

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: 90
- 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 loves the way it wrestles with time and the effect it has 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 given 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.

Pham Thien An poses with Anais Demoustier after he won the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

#3. 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. Director Thien An Pham's feature debut, the movie won the Camera d'Or (the award given to the best debut feature film) 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 already earned praise from critics internationally.

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

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

- Director: Radu Jude
- Metascore: 95
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- 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."

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

#1. Here

- Director: Bas Devos
- Metascore: 96
- 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 in the city and out in nature. The quiet film is beautifully photographed and captures a sense of connection where "nothing much and everything happens—or could."

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

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