The best movies of 2024 so far

The year may have just gotten started, but 2024 is already looking to be an exciting year in film if the following list is any indication.

As a result of the monthslong Writers Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists strikes last year, industry experts, like those at Deadline, are expecting to see a huge drop in the number of major films set to premiere by the end of the year. Although last year saw 124 wide releases, 2024 expects to see just over 100, which will equate to a roughly $1 billion drop in domestic ticket sales.

That said, we’ll still be getting a fair number of blockbusters over the course of the year, with titles like “Madame Web,” “Dune: Part Two,” “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” “Deadpool & Wolverine,” and “Gladiator 2” all poised to hit theaters this year. Those are just a taste of the movies expecting a theatrical release in 2024.

In the first two months of the year, however, we’ve already seen a number of truly wonderful films hit the big screen—stories that help audiences see the past and their lives just a little differently.

Stacker looked at Metacritic data on the best films of 2024 so far and ranked the top five. Ordered by Metascore, the films had to have been released in the U.S. in 2024 and have at least seven reviews from critics in order to qualify for this list. IMDb user ratings were provided for popular reception context.

Read on to find some new titles to add to your queue and then come back throughout the year as the list, and this year in memorable cinema, grows exponentially.

Mathew Tsang // Getty Images

#5. The Settlers

– Director: Felipe Gálvez Haberle
– Metascore: 80
– IMDb user rating: 7.1
– 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.”

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

#4. Inshallah a Boy

– Director: Amjad Al Rasheed
– Metascore: 83
– IMDb user rating: 7.1
– 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.

Kleber Mendonça Filho and Dennis Lim at the 61st New York Film Festival ‘Pictures Of Ghosts’ panel.
Theo Wargo // Getty Images for FLC

#3. 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.”

Sebastian Reuter // Getty Images

#2. Totem

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

The National Board of Review named “Totem” 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.

Pham Thien An poses with the Caméra d’or award for 'Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell' and President of the Camera d’Or Jury Anaïs Demoustier.
Lionel Hahn // Getty Images

#1. Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell

– Director: Thien An Pham
– Metascore: 93
– 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.

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

Provided by Stacker

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