The Best Hulu Original Movies Of 2022, Ranked

2022 marked a very complex year for the ever-raging streaming wars. While consumers pondered which of their many subscriptions to finally cancel, HBO Max got busy purging its library, Netflix made preparations to crack down on password sharing, and Peacock tried bulking up to finally spark some interest. Meanwhile, the House of Mouse is still experimenting with the best of both worlds, uniting sister services Disney+ and Hulu with shared titles and bundle deals. Which of the streaming services is triumphing above the others remains up for debate, but for better or worse, they'll certainly continue to evolve until they successfully trample the competition.

One of the most exciting signs of change came from Hulu, which sought to bolster its library with more original titles, exclusive to the service. That mission was certainly accomplished, in large part thanks to a partnership with 20th Century Studios, the Disney subsidiary that announced a plan to release at least 10 movies exclusive to Hulu in 2022. The result was an exciting slate of streaming releases, including action-packed thrillers, lowkey dramas, and swoon-worthy romances. Between the 20th Century titles and outside acquisitions, Hulu put together a lengthy lineup, so what should be next on your watchlist next time you open the streamer? No worries, we've put together a list of the 10 must-see Hulu original movies that stand above all the rest.

10. Rosaline

Self-aware modern retellings of classic stories are a dime a dozen, and "Rosaline" isn't even the only title on this list that fits the bill. There's obviously a reason they keep happening — we never tire of the classics — but even when this subgenre does successfully filter an old story through a new lens, the end result tends to feel hollow, pointlessly snarky, or worst of all, hopelessly misunderstands the original story. Even "Rosaline" has its ups and downs when it comes to the adaptation process, but what it has in spades is what the others too often lack: charisma. Namely, that of Kaitlyn Dever who carries the movie with grace and humor as the titular heroine, a reckless teenage girl mixed up in a world-famous tragic romance.

You've heard of Romeo and Juliet, but what about Rosaline? Turns out Romeo had healthy love life before meeting his famous beloved, which happens to include Rosaline Capulet, the girlfriend who came before and was speedily shoved aside when the charmer crossed paths with her cousin, Juliet. Thus begins Rosaline's desperate attempts to foil their budding love and steal back her boyfriend.

Yes, literature's most famous love story from the perspective of a jilted ex is ultimately exactly what it sounds like: breezy, snarky, and padded with a sweet romance for the protagonist to fall back on. But Dever's performance is what elevates it: everything hinges on her charm, banter, commentary on the classic story, and her sweet chemistry with Sean Teale's Dario. At times, it feels like a cheesy, absurdist throwback to the modern Shakespeare retellings of the '90s — which it pretty much is, but with the period drama setting intact. It's "Bridgeton" with a funny bone and a magnetic lead performance.

9. Deep Water

You can't go wrong with a Patricia Highsmith adaptation! Previously, the acclaimed author's novels inspired Alfred Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train," Matt Damon's eerie murder spree in "The Talented Mr. Ripley," and Todd Haynes' romantic drama, "Carol." The latest addition to the lineup is "Deep Water," the erotic thriller that marks the return of director Adrian Lyne, the filmmaker behind "Fatal Attraction" and "Indecent Proposal." Or, for the social media-inclined among us, just think of it as the film that brought Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas together. If the star power isn't enough to draw you in, then the intriguing premise should do the trick.

A steamy throwback to the melodrama of cinema's past, "Deep Water" takes two of our most recognizable stars and shoves them into a troubling relationship with a dark secret: the deeply dysfunctional marriage of Vic (Affleck) and Melinda (de Armas) Van Allen may or may not have a body count. The details of their love aren't exactly spelled out, but we come to understand that they've agreed upon an open relationship — Melinda gets to date whoever she wants outside of their marriage, while Vic quietly stews about it in the background. But things take a turn when one of Melinda's lovers meets a gruesome demise.

The salacious tale basically sees Affleck reprising his "Gone Girl" role as a vaguely threatening and definitely unstable husband figure to a woman with more power than he seems to realize. Their marriage is a disaster zone, threatening everyone in their radius — but for us on the outside, it's impossible to look away from.

8. No Exit

A blizzard that's impossible to drive through, a rest stop hosting five complete strangers, and a girl mysteriously tied up in a van? Yup, "No Exit" is certainly familiar, but the fact that you've already seen this premise play out only works in the film's favor. Prepare to explore some unexpected extremes within a tight 90-minute thriller, as a young woman tries to figure out which of her snowstorm companions is dangerous enough to kidnap a child and how the hell she can save her with the storm raging on.

Havana Rose Liu plays the woman in question, recovering addict Darby Thorne who escapes rehab after learning that her mother has suffered an aneurysm. But her road trip is cut short by the terrible weather, which forces her to temporarily hide out with strangers who are — shocker — much more complex than they seem. It may sound familiar, but "No Exit" is a claustrophobic drama that knows exactly how to work its audience. It finds tension in more than just the grand reveal and pushes Darby into increasingly dangerous situations. This is one of those titles that makes the 20th-century deal feel a little bittersweet. The drama of seeing "No Exit" in a packed theater — loud reactions, tense silences and all — would be incredible, but it's still a blast to enjoy on your couch, curling up as the danger gets more prescient.

7. On The Count of Three

Everything about "On The Count of Three" is blunt and uncomfortable — especially its sense of humor — but what else did you expect from a movie about two childhood best friends enjoying an adventurous last day before they kill themselves? When the movie begins, the despairing duo are pointing guns at one another, counting down their final moments with the guns pointed. The only reason they don't end it all right there is because Kevin (Christopher Abbott) demands a final day and Val (Jerrod Carmichael) humors him. And thus we have a buddy comedy that revolves around a suicide pact.

After quitting his job and breaking Kevin out of a mental hospital, Val finds himself embarking on a road trip to commit crimes and enjoy life, for one final day. If you're familiar with director Jerrod Carmichael's stand-up comedy — especially "Rothaniel," his most recent and personal — then you're prepared for the tone of this film. "On The Count of Three" is relentlessly honest about despair and depression, but it also hinges on a heartfelt friendship between its lead duo.

The road trip begins with enough riffing and free-flowing chemistry that you might wonder if the suicide pact is just a gimmick to get the chaos going. And while the chaos part is certainly a factor — much of the day is spent committing crimes — the film never really stops ruminating on their emotional turmoil. Delving into those emotions is the crux of the movie and that raw introspection makes the film so special. A dark comedy that moves forth with morbid glee, "On The Count of Three" isn't interested in moralizing its characters' choices, instead choosing to unpack their actions with immense empathy.

6. Aftershock

"Aftershock" takes its title from one of its core characters: this is the word that Shawnee Benton Gibson uses to describe her feelings after the unexpected death of her daughter, Shamony. The apt word choice points out that the pain of Shamony's loss isn't just seismic, but wholly preventable — if not for the fact that the U.S. healthcare system's racial bias against Black women has led to an alarming increase in maternal deaths.

At its start, the film focuses on two lost lives: Shamony Gibson and Amber Rose Isaac, who both died during childbirth from complications that were preventable. But expanding around them, "Aftershock" also gives voice to the budding brotherhood of surviving Black fathers, the family members whose grief fuels their activism, the midwives and physicians fighting for legislative change, and the community members finding new ways to fight back. Structurally, "Aftershock" is a fairly conventional documentary, but it's elevated by its storytelling's urgent, brutal honesty. In the hands of documentarians, Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee, we're reminded that filmmaking can become a space of activism and grief.

5. Not Okay

The terminally online will appreciate the hell out of "Not Okay," a movie that is basically unbearable to watch thanks to its despicable main character and a series of terrible mistakes that build up to inevitably cringy embarrassment. If you manage to peek between your fingers at the horrific crime happening on screen, you'll catch sight of Zoey Deutch giving yet another star-making performance as Danni Sanders, an aspiring writer so desperate to be able that she makes up the sob story of a lifetime.

In her defense, Danni doesn't intend to garner massive internet fame the way she does: at first, she just wants to impress the people around her, like more successful coworkers and an Instagram influencer she crosses paths with. So in the hopes of catching their eye, she pretends to be on a writer's retreat in Paris, photoshopping selfies at the Eiffel tower, donning a red beret, and hyping up the deliciousness of french pastries. But then the unthinkable happens: a real-life terrorist attack hits Paris, leading her friends and followers to believe that she miraculously survived. Rather than immediately fessing up, Danni rides the story right into a life of fame, becoming the poster child for an attack she didn't even witness.

Deutch is incredible as the cringiest woman in the room, but it's Mia Isaac who steals the show as Rowan, an actual tragedy survivor who befriends Danni. What does it look like when someone who actively channels their rage and sorrow into activism meets a clout chaser? It's worse than you think — though a satire at heart, "Not Okay" doesn't pull its punches, facing the harsh realities of trauma and social media head-on, with devastating sincerity.

4. Fire Island

How is it that "Fire Island" is so incredibly intoxicating? Is it the way Andrew Ahn luxuriates in the vibrance of the titular gay mecca? Is it the fact that Joel Kim Booster makes a wonderfully charismatic Elizabeth Bennett? Or is it the undeniable chemistry he shares with Conrad Ricamora's Darcy stand-in? Ding, ding, ding — it's some combination of all of the above, but mostly, it's the fact that we are drowning in contemporary reimaginings that lack what "Fire Island" wears so well: wit, humor, and unabashed earnestness. Even with all of its snarky one-liners and despite interjections from the self-aware voice-over, this remains a movie that's wholeheartedly embracing the power of love — both romantic and otherwise.

While the film has its roots in "Pride and Prejudice," Noah (Booster) isn't the Liz Bennet of your childhood. Regency-era elegance is a thing of the past and our protagonist is as far from sexually stifled as it gets. He wakes with a man in his bed and immediately shoos him away — Noah has no interest in monogamy, romance, or marriage because as far as he's concerned, those things simply aren't really in the cards for him. But dear reader, it won't shock you to learn that he's dead wrong about people's capacity to love him. Before the vacation is over, Noah will have stumbled into a newfound relationship with Will (Ricamora), a stiff and vaguely condescending lawyer who has trouble opening up.

They flirt, they fight, they misunderstand each other and they eventually reconcile — those are all the seeds of a story you've heard before. But they also perform alongside drag queens, sing karaoke, scroll through Instagram thirst traps and let loose in a club full of half-naked queer people. Jane Austen has officially entered the modern age, and it's more beautiful than I possibly could have imagined.

3. Prey

"Predator" has finally made a comeback, and contrary to what some entries in the franchise might lead you to believe, the recipe for success doesn't involve bigger monsters, bigger muscles, or bigger guns. Just a teenage girl, her dog, and simple hunting tools will suffice.

"Prey" takes the franchise in an exciting new direction, immersing us in the hunting culture of a skilled Comanche woman trying to prove herself as a warrior. Ironically, the only thing holding Naru (Amber Midthunder) back (besides patriarchal societal standards) is her inability to pull off a necessary rite of passage, kühtaamia, which demands that she successfully hunt an animal that can hunt her back. Enter the Predator, which isn't exactly what she had in mind but will certainly do the trick. Mostly because if she can't fend off its relentless assaults, she'll be killed before she can reunite with her family.

Always circling the concept of survival, the film sees Naru doing everything in her power to escape and fight back against the Predator, who is just as eerily threatening as ever. But making matters worse, Naru doesn't have guns at her disposal — the only ones available are terribly slow to use and aren't even in her personal arsenal — plus, the Predator isn't the only danger that the 1719 Great Plains have to offer. "Prey" unfurls at a steady pace, but it is a nail-biting thriller, wrapping us up in Naru's journey as she delves straight into danger.

2. Fresh

When "Fresh" begins, Noa (Daisy Edgar Jones) is already exhausted by the concept of dating, but she moves through the motions anyway: swipe right, meet up, exchange awkward questions, probably get offended over the course of a too-long dinner, then turn down a hookup offer in favor of anxiously walking back to your car at night. Ah, the joys of being a woman. The cycle is broken when she meets Steve (Sebastian Stan), but not for the reason that she thinks. A wealthy plastic surgeon who charms his way into her life, Steve begins a whirlwind romance with Noa that culminates in a weekend getaway. At this point, we learn who he really is: a budding Patrick Bateman ala "American Psycho" with a horrifying meat-based side hustle.

The modern-day dating scene is scary enough without Sebastian Stan running around and *spoiler alert* literally treating women like meat. Though "Fresh" begins as a tentative rom-com spurred on by a grocery store meet-cute, we soon find out that Steve was shopping for much more than veggies when he bumped into Noa. The clever drama completely transforms around the 30-minute mark, revealing itself as a cannibalistic commentary on the horrors of searching for love. And though that revelation takes some time, subtlety is never in the cards for this movie: "Fresh" wears its satirical heart on its sleeve, constantly winking at the audience with cues, visual gags, and disturbing self-awareness. So long as you can stomach the meaty premise, "Fresh" is a guaranteed wild ride.

1. Good Luck To You Leo Grande

Two characters, one room, and a superb script: what more could you need? Emma Thompson is at the top of her game in "Good Luck To You Leo Grande," a charming two-hander about a recently widowed woman who hires a sex worker, hoping to finally experience the pleasure that was missing from her decades-long marriage. But even with the deal struck, the hotel booked and the sex worker standing before her, Nancy Stokes can't quite bring herself to shed the nerves and go through with it. Luckily, the titular sex worker (Daryl McCormack) is a man who oozes grace and is more than pleased to ease her into a night of pleasure. But it's far from easy. Leo Grande appears effortlessly suave for as long as he can, but as the two spend more time together and begin to peel back their protective layers, their dynamic grows increasingly complicated

Sometimes, people toss around the refrain "this movie feels like a play" as an insult, but truly nothing makes me happier than a talkative drama carried by conversation. As McCormack proves in this movie, nothing's sexier than communication — and that's what "Leo Grande" is all about. The movie may just be their conversations — frank, witty, occasionally philosophical, and dangerously personal — but their chemistry crackles so effectively that it's more than enough. For what feels like an eternity, we live in Nancy's discomfort, noting every one of her nervous ticks and watching as Leo's charm exacerbates them. As for the mysterious sex worker, his mask may be firmer than hers but falters all the same.

All the pieces push this movie to a point of perfection: Katy Brand's charming script and Sophia Hyde's intimate direction, but most of all the performances, which assure that we see every crack in their composure, as Nancy and Leo slowly strip down to their true selves.