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The Best Hulu Original Movies Of 2022 So Far

Hulu has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 2007 as the internet's premiere platform for "Heroes" and "Prison Break" reruns. Yet the streaming service had much larger ambitions, and in 2012 The New York Times reported that Hulu was getting into the original programming business with the mockumentary "Battleground." Kicking its original programming into high gear in the late 2010s, with hard-hitting dramas like "The Handmaid's Tale" and comedy gems such as "PEN15" capturing not only the zeitgeist but also some of Hollywood's biggest accolades. In 2022, Hulu earned a record 58 Emmy nominations for its original series (via Deadline) — not too shabby for a service that was once dismissively dubbed by Wired as a "YouTube killer."

Of course, with its wildly successful original television programming, Hulu would deep-dive into producing original movies. Starting with the documentary "Batman & Bill" in 2017, Hulu has produced a slew of intriguing, entertaining, and celebrated original films and documentaries. Since The Walt Disney Company's takeover of the streaming service in 2019, Hulu has become a go-to place for its more mature film brands, 20th Century and Searchlight (via Deadline). Indeed, much of the Mouse House's more mature fare has found a home on Hulu. From innovative romantic comedies like "Fire Island" to riveting documentaries like "Aftershock," Hulu's 2022 slate of releases has something for everybody. But what exactly should you stream the next time you pop open your app? Never fear, this rundown of the best Hulu original movies of 2022 so far will make it a little bit easier for you.

Look at Me: XXXTentacion

The documentary "Look at Me: XXXTentacion" takes a closer look at the life of hip-hop star XXXTentacion, who was murdered in 2018 at the age of 20. As one of the biggest names to emerge from the SoundCloud rap scene in the late 2010s, X achieved mainstream success by cracking the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with "Look At Me!" in 2017. X's unflinching lyrical vulnerability and bleakness struck a chord with fans, but his deeply troubling history of violence made him a controversial star during his short life.

"Look at Me" doesn't shy away from that uncomfortable reality. Director Sabaah Folayan gives ample screen time to X's former girlfriend, Geneva Ayala. Her heart-wrenching recollections of her abusive relationship might be too difficult for viewers to watch, with Folayan confessing to Complex, "My heart is always with survivors and the fact that the mere mention of his name may be too triggering for them to engage with this. It's not my expectation that this film is going to change that." Currently rated at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, "Look at Me" is worth watching for those who wish to explore X's complicated legacy.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Aftershock

A New York Times Critic's Pick, "Aftershock" examines the crisis of Black maternal death in the United States. Directors Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee look at this systemic issue through a personal lens, sharing the stories of two Black mothers who died from childbirth complications and how their deaths impacted their friends, family, and community. According to the CDC, Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women, and "Aftershock" highlights the work people are doing to shift this statistic.

Currently, "Aftershock" rates at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and The New York Times honors "Aftershock" as "a moving ode to Black families in a society where too many forces work to tear them apart." "Aftershock" made its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and it was nominated for best feature documentary at the 2022 Critics' Choice Documentary Awards (via The Hollywood Reporter). Clearly a hit with critics, "Aftershock" is a well-made film with a powerful message, so it's easy to see why it's one of Hulu's best films of 2022.

God Forbid: The Sex Scandal that Brought Down a Dynasty

Sure, there are plenty of salaciously sexy details in the documentary "God Forbid: The Sex Scandal that Brought Down a Dynasty," but the adult liaisons are hardly the most scandalous part of this film. Produced by Adam McKay, director of provocative fact-based dramedies like "The Big Short" and "Vice," "God Forbid" examines the Jerry Falwell Jr. sex scandal with a fairly satirical tone. However, the documentary delves deep into some pretty serious history. The movie gives voice to "pool boy" Giancarlo Granda, who went from South Beach towel attendant to business and sexual partner of Falwell Jr. and his wife, Becki. More titillating than the corny reenactments of their sexual encounters is the examination of Liberty University's history and its role in modern politics. This scandal ultimately led Falwell Jr. to resign as president of the university in 2020 with a golden parachute to soften his fall from grace (via The Washington Post).

Variety calls "God Forbid" a "strong bit of muckraking" and it is mostly Granda's story to tell. He's also penned a book about his time with the Falwells called "Off the Deep End: Jerry and Becki Falwell and the Collapse of Evangelical Dynasty," which would make a great companion piece to the film. With its fast-paced, borderline-camp storytelling, "God Forbid" is arguably Hulu's most sensational documentary of the year.

Fresh

The genre-bending horror film "Fresh" definitely lives up to its name. Starring Daisy Edgar-Jones, who previously graced Hulu screens in the celebrated limited series "Normal People," and Sebastian Stan, star of the streamer's Emmy-nominated "Pam & Tommy," "Fresh" will make you think twice about swiping right on your next tasty Tinder match. Edgar-Jones plays Noa, who's looking for love in all the wrong places until she meets Steve (Stan), but their budding romance becomes complicated by some chewy truths about Steve's job. We'll leave it at that.

With stellar performances from Edgar-Jones, Stan, and Jojo T. Gibbs as Noa's friend Mollie, "Fresh" spins an enticingly satirical fright-fest about life on the dating meat market. The Los Angeles Times celebrates "Fresh" for "willfully borrow[ing] from both comedy and horror in a way that destabilizes the use of each." The film is literally Certified Fresh on the Rotten Tomatoes, so if you like your frights with some comedic bite, serve up "Fresh" the next time you fire up Hulu.

Crush

For years, director John Hughes defined the teen comedy genre. Movies like "Sixteen Candles," "The Breakfast Club," and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" defined cinematic adolescence in the '80s and beyond. However, in recent years these films have had a cultural reassessment, including from the likes of Hughes' star and muse Molly Ringwald, who reflected in an essay for The New Yorker that these films "could also be considered racist, misogynistic, and, at times, homophobic." Good thing movies like "Crush" are being made that speak to modern sensibilities. A high school comedy centered on gay characters, "Crush" earns accolades from RogerEbert.com for being "refreshingly contemporary" and an "effortlessly multicultural, sex-positive comedy."

With charming performances from Rowan Blanchard and a stellar supporting turn from actors like comedic pros like Megan Mullally and Michelle Buteau, "Crush" proves that teen angst and love aren't just Reagan-era phenomena. "Crush" can't help but garner Hughesian comparisons, with Variety reviewing "it aims to land somewhere in the vicinity of "Some Kind of Wonderful" and "American Pie" of which Hughes produced and wrote "Wonderful." But the film's" fresh take on a tried-and-true formula helps "Crush" stand out as a Hulu yearly best.

The Valet

Eugenio Derbez, the comedic mind behind the 2013 hit film "Instructions Not Included" scores again with "The Valet," a delightful comedy that Derbez says is his "love letter to Latinos and working-class immigrants" (per Variety). A remake of the 2006 French comedy of the same name, "The Valet" stars Derbez as Antonio Flores, a modest valet who inadvertently stumbles into the potential sex scandal of megastar Olivia Allen (Samara Weaving). She's having an affair with billionaire land developer Vincent Royce (Max Greenfield), but he wants to keep a tight lid on their escapades. So, when Antonio is accidentally photographed with the pair, Vincent hatches a scheme to make it seem like Olivia is dating Antonio.

Derbez and Weaving earn high marks for their performances, with Rotten Tomatoes' critical consensus praising "The Valet" by concluding, "with a pair of likable leads and a story that subverts rom-com expectations, 'The Valet' is a rare remake worth celebrating." The Los Angeles Times understood Derbez's message, pointing out that "The Valet" "embraces the ongoing cultural collisions at the heart of the city." Proving that Hulu can make world-class rom-coms, "The Valet" charms its way to the top of its original movie offerings of 2022.

Fire Island

In the fresh romantic comedy "Fire Island," a group of friends sets sail for a weeklong vacation at New York's renowned LGBTQ+ destination. Written by and starring Joel Kim Booster and featuring a supporting cast that includes Bowen Yang and Margaret Cho, "Fire Island" updates Jane Austen's classic novel "Pride and Prejudice" for folks who grew up with Britney Spears as their teen dream queen. Of course, there's plenty of sex, intrigue, and drama in the film, but "Fire Island" is also a touching story of enduring friendship while also serving up some stinging social critiques on race, sex, and class. That might seem like a lot to serve up in under two hours, but "Fire Island" pulls it off.

Critics and audiences alike have fallen in love with "Fire Island." Sitting nicely at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie is a must-watch for rom-com fans. There are plenty of "Pride and Prejudice" adaptations to choose from, but this one is a serious charmer. As The New York Times notes in their review of "Fire Island," "it's also impossible to resist a movie that uses 'Legally Blonde' as a verb."

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

Academy Award-winner Emma Thompson literally bares all in the intimate Hulu Original Film "Good Luck to You, Leo Grande." In the film, Thompson plays the widow Nancy Stokes, who hires sex worker Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack) so she can experience orgasm for the first time in her life. Her journey to personal sexual pleasure intertwines with her and Grande's ever-growing emotional intimacy. Over their session, both Nancy and Leo share their life regrets, disappointments, and desires.

Taking place mostly within the confines of a hotel room, "Good Luck to You, Leo Grande" has plenty of adult content, but it proves that true intimacy and love might not just be found in a sexual position. The movie made its debut at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and was well-received by critics. New York Times praised it for being "a tart and tender probe into sex and intimacy, power dynamics and human connection," "Good Luck to You, Leo Grande" is a small film that explores big questions.

Not Okay

A movie for those who are Extremely Online, "Not Okay" satirizes social media ambitions and debacles with equal aplomb. Starring and executive produced by Zoey Duetch, "Not Okay" the terminally cringe wannabe writer and influencer Danni who fails when it comes to getting folks to smash that like button for her. That is, until she fakes surviving a terrorist attack in Paris and becomes a social media star in the process. Danni's throwback butterfly hair clips, alienating manicure, and clout-chasing will make you wince, but that's the point. When she strikes up a friendship with activist and actual trauma survivor Rowan (Mia Isaac) it's only a matter of time before Danni's truth is revealed.

Although at times unsettling, "Not Okay" of-the-moment narrative makes it one of Hulu's better original film entries for the year. The film has garnered a respectable 74% on Rotten Tomatoes, and RogerEbert.com singles out Deutch and Isaac for their strong performances. "Not Okay" will definitely make you think twice about what you share on socials or maybe not, but it will certainly leave you wondering if the kids are alright.

Prey

"Prey," the latest entry into the "Predator" franchise, is an origin story well worth watching. Set in the 18th century, "Prey" stars Amber Midthunder as Naru, a young Comanche warrior who takes on the lethal Predator after its spacecraft lands near her home. "Prey" was filmed in both English and Comanche, something producer Jhane Myers, a Comanche himself, told Slash Film, "shows the world what our language is about. Which is thrilling for me."

"Prey" is a great streaming option from Hulu's original film catalog, but some critics lament that the film wasn't released on the big screen. RogerEbert.com's reviewer said, "'Prey' is worth spending the money to see on the biggest screen possible." Alas, you'll have to fire up the home entertainment system to enjoy the action splendor of "Prey," but its small-screen distribution hasn't deterred what critics have to say about "Prey." Currently at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, "Prey" is a Certified Fresh action thriller.

Rosaline

For folks who love their historical corset-wearing films with a side of contemporary snark, Hulu's original movie "Rosaline" will satisfy their cravings in a cinch. With whiffs of "Bridgerton" and "The Great," "Rosaline" reimagines a minor Shakespearian character as the hero of her own story. Rosaline (Kaitlyn Dever) was merely mentioned in "Romeo and Juliet," but in "Rosaline," we learn that she's juggling her clandestine love for Romeo (Kyle Allen) with that of suitor Dario (Sean Teale). Romeo soon becomes enamored with Rosaline's cousin, Juliet (Isabela Merced), much to the dismay of Rosaline. But Rosaline's scheming to thwart these star-crossed lovers only complicates matters.

With plenty of twisty romantic intrigue to keep the most ardent rom-com fan entertained, "Rosaline" serves up sumptuous escapism ready-made for the streaming era. Kaitlyn Dever's performance is praised by Variety for "make[ing] a feisty dish out of Rosaline's sarcasm and independent personality with impeccable comic timing." Perched nicely as a Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, count "Rosaline" holds court over Hulu original film's rom-com offerings.

Matriarch

The Hulu original movie "Matriarch" serves up a slice of bleak British horror that keeps the frights in the family. In the film, burnt-out middle-aged executive Laura (Jemima Rooper) accepts her mother Celia's (Kate Dickie) invitation for respite in their hometown. But all is not what it seems. Laura comes to town and after decades of estrangement from Celia, she is initially shocked that her mother hasn't seemed to age. Slowly, Laura becomes aware of the sinister secrets of both Celia and the town harbor.

"Matriarch" is recommended for those who like horror films as unsettling, and dimly lit, as possible. It's not a gory fright-fest, but the movie proves that the horror genre can be more than bombastic villainy. While a more under-the-radar title on Hulu's 2022 original film slate, it's still managed to earn praise from critics with a respectable 82% Rotten Tomatoes score, earning accolades for its slow-boil tension and climatic payoff.

Leave No Trace

A harrowing examination of the history of abuse within the Boy Scouts of America, the documentary "Leave No Trace" gives a face to those who felt powerless against those who harmed them. Director Irene Taylor speaks with now-adult victims of child abuse at the hands of scoutmasters and other adult leaders of the BSA. These men speak to how the abuse's lasting impact on their lives, often to tragic effect. "Leave No Trace" chronicles but a few victims' stories, however, it's a powerful glimpse into a much-larger debacle. CNN reports the Boy Scouts of America will pay more than $2.4 billion to over 82,000 abuse survivors.

"Leave No Trace" is executive produced by Hollywood power players Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, who in recent years have collaborated on a number of impactful documentaries, including "Rebuilding Paradise" and "We Feed People." This film is another fine addition to their documentary resume. The Washington Post praised it as both "poignant and damning" and "fair and persuasive." The stories of these victims deserved to be heard and it ranks as one of Hulu's best offerings of the year so far.

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.