The 22 Best Drama Movies of 2022 (So Far)

From acclaimed indie films to music biopics.

still of the drama movie downtown abbey a new era
(Image credit: Alamy)

When you've had quite enough drama in real life, turn to a drama-filled movie to get your fix. The best new drama films of 2022 ranged from much-anticipated cinematic blockbusters Downtown Abbey: A New Era and book-to-movie adaptation Where The Crawdads Sing to acclaimed streaming-service films like HBO Max's The Fallout. Ahead, our picks of the must-watch films in the drama category to add to your 2022 watchlist. (If that's not enough drama for you, check out our guide to the best drama films of 2021.) 

'The Fallout'

Premiered: January 28 (on HBO Max (opens in new tab))

Starring: Jenna Ortega, Maddie Ziegler, Niles Fitch, Will Ropp, Lumi Pollack, John Ortiz, Julie Bowen, and Shailene Woodley

The story: After a traumatic school shooting, new friends Vada and Mia navigate the emotional fallout as their personal relationships and views of the world are forever changed.

'Kimi'

Premiered: February 10, 2022

Starring: Zoë Kravitz, Rita Wilson, Byron Bowers, Erika Christensen, Jamie Camil, India de Beaufort, and Robin Givens

The story: In this latest film from Steven Soderbergh, an agoraphobic tech worker finds evidence of a crime recorded on an AI assistant.

'After Yang'

Premiered: March 4, 2022

Starring: Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, Justin H. Min, Sarita Choudhury, and Haley Lu Richardson

The story: A family living in the near future deal with questions of love and life after their A.I. son breaks down.

'The Outfit'

Premiered: March 18, 2022

Starring: Mark Rylance, Zoey Deutch, Dylan O'Brien, Johnny Flynn, Nikki Amuka-Bird, and Simon Russell Beale

The story: A bespoke tailor in 1950s Chicago (Rylance) has to outwit the gangsters who use his shop for their business.

'Downton Abbey: A New Era'

Premieres: May 20, 2022

Starring: Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Hugh Bonneville, Joanne Froggatt,  Laura Haddock, Carmichael, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, and Maggie Smith

The story: Nine months after the events of the first Downton Abbey movie, the Crawleys travel to the South of France after their estate is taken over by a film crew.

'Along for the Ride'

Premieres: May 6, 2022

Starring: Emma Pasarow, Belmont Cameli, Andie MacDowell, Dermot Mulroney, and Kate Bosworth

The story: In this adaptation of the beloved Sarah Dessen novel, insomiac teens Auden and Eli go on carefree adventures as their small seaside town sleeps.

'Pleasure'

Premieres: May 13, 2022

Starring: Sofia Kappel, Revika Anne Reustle, Jason Toler, Alice Grey, Michael Omelko, and Evelyn Claire

The story: In this film from Ninja Thyberg (opens in new tab), aspiring performer Bella Cherry (Kappel) discovers that becoming a star in the L.A. porn industry is more difficult than she imagined.

'Hustle'

Release Date: June 3, 2022

Starring: Adam Sandler, Queen Latifah, Juancho Hernangómez, Ben Foster, Kenny Smith, Jordan Hull, and Robert Duvall

The story: Comedy legend Sandler plays a basketball scout who discovers a talented player in Spain (played by real-life baller Hernangómez) and determines to bring him to the NBA.

'Cha Cha Real Smooth'

Release Date: June 17, 2022

Starring: Dakota Johnson, Cooper Raiff, Evan Assante, Vanessa Burghardt, Raúl Castillo, Leslie Mann, and Brad Garrett

The story: A man stuck in post-college limbo becomes a bar-mitzvah entertainer and forms a friendship with a young mother and her autistic daughter.

'Where the Crawdads Sing'

Premieres: June 24, 2022

Starring: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, David Strathairn, Garret Dillahunt, Ahna O’Reilly, and Michael Hyatt

The story: A woman who raised herself in the North Carolina marshes becomes a suspect in the murder of an ex-lover, in this adaptation of the bestselling novel.

'Elvis'

Premieres: June 24, 2022

Starring: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge, Kodi Smit-McPhee, David Wenham, Richard Roxburgh, and Natasha Bassett

The story: Baz Luhrman directs this biopic of the rock and roll legend, depicting his rise through the music industry and his complex relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker.

'Three Thousand Years of Longing'

Premieres: August 31, 2022

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Idris Elba, Pia Thunderbolt, Berk Ozturk, Kaan Guldur, Alyla Browne, Peter Betroni, and Lianne Mackessy

The story: A mythology scholar unleashes a djinn and is granted three wishes, in this modern spin on genie tales.

'Till'

Premieres: October 7, 2022

Starring: Danielle Deadwyler, Jalyn Hall, Jayme Lawson, Sean Patrick Thomas, Haley Bennett, Kevin Carroll, and Whoopi Goldberg

The story: Based on the true story of 14-year-old Emmett Till's murder, this film tells the story of his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, including her decision to have an open casket as his funeral, the response to which helped set off the civil rights movement.

'Tár'

Premieres: October 7, 2022

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Noémie Merlant, Nina Hoss, Sophie Kauer, Julian Glover, Allan Corduner and Mark Strong

The story: A renowned conductor and composer (Blanchett) faces a fall from grace as she prepares to record a career-elevating symphony.

'My Policeman'

Premieres: October 7, 2022

Starring: Harry Styles, Emma Corrin, David Dawson, Linus Roache, Gina McKee, and Rupert Everett

The story: Styles plays a closeted policeman in 1950s England, who marries a schoolteacher named Marion (Corrin) while also having a secret affair with museum curator Patrick (Dawson).

'Decision to Leave'

Premieres: October 14, 2022

Starring: Tang Wei, Park Hae-il, Go Kyung-pyo, Lee Jung-hyun, Jung Yi-seo, Park Jung-min, and Kim Shin-young

The story: A detective Hae-jun falls for an insightful, soft-spoken widow whom he’s investigating for murder, in director Park Chan-wook's latest thriller.

'The Banshees of Inisherin'

Premieres: October 21, 2022

Starring: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, and Barry Keoghan

The story: In remote 1920s Ireland, talkative cow herder Padraic (Farrell) gets dumped by his melancholy longtime friend Colm (Gleeson) out of the blue. The friendship breakup also has a gruesome twist: Colm vows that every time Padraic dares talk to him, he'll cut off one of his own fingers.

'She Said'

Premieres: November 18, 2022

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Zoe Kazan, Samantha Morton, Patricia Clarkson, and Andre Braugher

The story: Based on the book by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, She Said will depict the journalists' efforts to expose Harvey Weinstein's history of sexual harrassment.

'Bones and All'

Premieres: November 18, 2022

Starring: Taylor Russell, Timothée Chalamet, Mark Rylance, Michael Stuhlbarg, André Holland, Chloë Sevigny, David Gordon Green, and Jessica Harper

The story: This second collaboration between Chalamet and Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino follows a pair of cannibalistic lovers who travel together on a cross-country road trip.

'The Fablemans'

Premieres: November 24, 2022

Starring: Gabriel LaBelle, Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Julia Butters, and David Lynch

The story: This semi-autobiographical story from Steven Spielberg follows an aspiring teen filmmaker growing up in Arizona.

'I Wanna Dance With Somebody'

Premieres: December 23, 2022

Starring: Naomi Ackie, Nafessa Williams, Clarke Peters, and Tamara Tunie

The story: Master of None star Ackie will play the late musical icon in this authorized biopic, produced in collaboration with Houston's estate.

'Babylon'

Premieres: December 23, 2022

Starring: Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Tobey Maguire, Olivia Wilde, Jean Smart, Diego Calva, Jovan Adepo, Li Jun Li, and Katherine Waterston

The story: The new film from La La Land director Damien Chazelle explores the rise and fall of several film industry workers during its transition from silent films to talkies in the late 1920s.

Quinci LeGardye
Contributing Culture Editor

Quinci LeGardye is a Contributing Culture Editor who covers TV, movies, Korean entertainment, books, and pop culture. When she isn’t writing or checking Twitter, she’s probably watching the latest K-drama or giving a concert performance in her car.