Every year brings a plethora of films, from big hits to small gems. This year, we’ve seen some standouts that have caught both critics’ and audiences’ attention. Glen Powell’s role in “Hit Man” is one such example. His performance, noted for its humor and charm, earned a spot as a NYT Critic’s Pick.

We’ve searched through a wide variety of movies to bring you this year’s best. These films are not just great stories. They’re seen as essential viewing in today’s movie world.

This list covers everything from Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster “Barbie” to lesser-known indie films. With movie theaters in the U.S. seeing a 23% jump in ticket sales1, it’s clear these films have made a big impact on viewers.

Key Takeaways

  • Glen Powell’s performance in “Hit Man” has been highly acclaimed.
  • Our curated selection includes the best films of the year from blockbusters to indie gems.
  • “Barbie” led the box office as the top-grossing movie of the year.
  • U.S. movie theaters saw a substantial increase in ticket sales this year.
  • The curated list aims to highlight must-see films that marked the cinematic landscape significantly.

A Look at the Box Office Hits That Defined the Year

In 2024, U.S. theater ticket sales saw a 23 percent increase from the previous year. This made it a standout year at the box office. “Barbie,” directed by Greta Gerwig, played a huge role. It drew in crowds and became the top-earning film of the year. Let’s explore the biggest hits and trends that made waves in the movie industry.

Highest-Grossing Movies of the Year

Dune: Part Two was a big hit, making $281.3 million in the U.S. alone23. Right on its heels were Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire and Kung Fu Panda 4, earning $191.9 million and $191.1 million, respectively2. These movies were central to the year’s success, showing how varied our movie tastes are.

Box Office Trends and Surprises

The start of this year was big for the movie world. February raked in $361 million2. January was also notable, bringing in $495 million. Mean Girls topped January’s films with $72.4 million2. There were 283 new movies released in 2024, keeping our cinemas lively3.

This year, new trends emerged that shook up the box office. The “Barbenheimer” meme-culture blend, for example, helped rocket “Barbie” to success. It shows us how audience tastes and interests are changing, reshaping what hits big at the box office.

2024’s box office success was clear, with a total gross of over $2.5 billion3. Each movie averaged about $8.96 million. These numbers highlight the year’s big trends and achievements, giving us a glimpse into the diverse world of cinema in 2024.

Critically Acclaimed Films: What Made the Cut?

The year 2019 is often celebrated as a standout year in movie history, according to Rotten Tomatoes. It had 11 films from that year land on the list of the 300 best movies of all time4. This outstanding group of films has shown us what makes the best movies so special. Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” stood out for its riveting story and fresh approach.

The AP Top 25 Movies list came about from the thoughts of 26 American film experts5. They chose 176 movies for the top spots, with the best five all being original works. This shows a clear move towards valuing unique stories in cinema5.

Many films received high praise last year. Wes Anderson brought us another one of his visual and narrative gems. Steve McQueen’s dramatic films kept pulling at viewers’ hearts. Meanwhile, newcomers like A.V. Rockwell and Celine Song introduced bold and thought-provoking projects.

The AP Top 25 Movies list’s panel was quite diverse, with a mix of ages, genders, and racial backgrounds5. Their wide-ranging views helped compile a rich list of the year’s best films.

“The Banshees of Inisherin” and “Everything Everywhere All at Once” caught a lot of attention. “The Banshees of Inisherin” led with 392 points. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” was close behind with 384 points5.

This year, documentaries also stood out. “American Factory” and “Apollo 11” were praised for their compelling narratives. They not only fascinated viewers but also shed light on important issues.

  • Mad Max: Fury Road with an Adjusted Score of 118956%
  • Parasite boasting an Adjusted Score of 124814%
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once with an Adjusted Score of 115354%

Fans are showing they love films that are both original and inventive. This list of critically acclaimed films highlights the year’s top movies. It also showcases the importance of unique storytelling in the world of film.

Award-Winning Movies to Watch

This year’s Oscars race features a wide variety of award-winning films competing for the top honor. Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” and Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” stand out as major Oscar hopefuls.

Oscar Contenders and Surprises

The range of Oscar hopefuls is impressive. Movies like “The Color Purple” are in the mix with international works such as “Anatomy of a Fall.” Documentaries, including “The Boy and the Heron,” are surprise contenders, showcasing the year’s significant achievements in storytelling.

The Most Decorated Films of the Year

“Parasite” made history as the first non-English language film to win Best Picture, inspiring filmmakers worldwide6. “Titanic” and “All About Eve” are iconic, each earning the most Best Picture nominations, with 14 each6.

“Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” and “Ben-Hur” each won 11 awards, influencing today’s films6. “Moonlight” and “Spotlight” are celebrated for their storytelling, with high critical scores of 117496% and 115982%, respectively7.

The “Godfather” movies, with “The Godfather” and “The Godfather Part II,” remain significant. They earned scores of 119363% and 111071%, highlighting their enduring influence on cinema7.

Box Office Hits vs. Critical Darlings

In the world of movies, there’s a big divide between popular hits and critics’ favorites. ‘The Artist’, for example, made $133 million worldwide. Yet, it never cracked the top 10 in U.S. weekend box office rankings8. Despite its competition with big films like ‘The Twilight Saga’ and ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’, it stayed in theaters until June 20128.

On the other hand, huge movies like ‘Avatar’ and ‘Avengers: Endgame’ pulled in massive crowds. They made $911,790,952 and $892,669,593 respectively, after adjusting for inflation9. These movies are perfect examples of how action and superhero stories draw big audiences9. While ‘The Artist’ did really well without hitting top box office spots, films such as ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Jurassic World’ saw huge profits. They earned $715,038,755 and $719,633,803 respectively, showing their financial and cultural power9.

Films praised by critics often connect differently with folks. ‘Asteroid City’ started small, making $1 million in just six theaters. Yet, it’s expected to hit over $20 million in the U.S. after expanding10. ‘Past Lives’ also showed its appeal, making more than $2 million in a limited run with a impressive per-theater earnings last weekend10

These stories highlight a key point: Big box office hits and critically loved films can exist together. They each bring something special to movies. This variety shows that both types of films find their own success, shaping the movie world in unique ways.

Top Movies of the Year in Various Genres

This year, films across genres amazed viewers. From action and adventure, drama and biopics, to comedy and family films plus independent movies, each genre brought unique, enthralling stories. These stories left a big mark on people all over the world.

Action and Adventure

“Top Gun: Maverick” hit new highs in the action scene, making over a billion dollars. It got an astonishing adjusted score of 122505%11. “Crimes of the Future” by David Cronenberg took sci-fi fans on a wild ride. It delved into mutations and how flesh, consciousness, and machines evolve12.

Drama and Biopics

The drama and biopic category touched hearts with deep, emotional stories. “Till” shone brightly with a score of 106187%11. “Killers of the Flower Moon” deeply explored historical events. Meanwhile, “The Quiet Girl” shared an intimate, touching narrative, gaining a score of 104361%11.

Comedy and Family Films

“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” stood out in comedy and family films. It scored 107394%11 and warmed hearts with its humor. “Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe” brought laughs with a fresh take, scoring 97633%11. These movies expertly mixed laughter with a heartfelt touch.

Independent Films

The indie film scene thrived with unique, thought-stirring stories. “Everything Everywhere All At Once” was a massive hit for A24, even outdoing “Hereditary”11. “The Innocents” offered horror fans a deep, subtly crafted story, with a score of 102462%11. Indie films really showcased their wide-ranging creative talent.

Director’s Spotlight: The Visionaries Behind the Hits

This year shone brightly because of both new and experienced directors. They made unforgettable movies through their special way of telling stories.

Veteran Directors Who Delivered

Wes Anderson wowed us again with his unique style. At the same time, a film festival honored Arthur Penn’s work, including “Bonnie and Clyde.” His ability to guide actors to Oscar nods is unmatched13.

Spike Lee continues to impress us all. He is known for hits like “Do the Right Thing,” which was a big success. His work with stars like Denzel Washington shows he’s still a major force in filmmaking14.

Emerging Directors Making Their Mark

New directors also made a splash this year. A.V. Rockwell is one of them, bringing new ideas and stories. The Maine International Film Festival is spotlighting newcomers like Kyle Rankin, famous for “Infestation”13.

Directors such as Kirk Wolfinger are also making waves. He brought us “The Rivals,” celebrating Maine’s football scene13. These fresh voices are carving out the future of movies with their engaging stories.

top movies of the year

The Impact of Streaming Services on Popular Cinema Releases

In recent years, streaming services have changed how we watch movies. By June 2020, only 14% of adults preferred watching movies in theaters. Instead, 36% chose to stream movies15. This has led to big shifts in movie releases and viewing habits.

People are drawn to streaming for its convenience and lower cost. Movie tickets cost about $10.45, while a Netflix subscription is only $6.99 a month15. Because of this, watching movies at home has become more popular. Netflix also offers over 6,000 original titles, allowing users to enjoy diverse genres from the comfort of their homes15.

The presence of streaming platforms led to a 4% drop in global theater attendance in 202116. This shows how dominant streaming has become in the movie industry. Streamers tend to focus on series that keep viewers glued to their screens, affecting the variety of movies made16.

Filmmakers face new financial challenges with streaming. The revenue-sharing models of streaming can be unpredictable and might not pay as much as box office earnings16. This forces creators to find new ways to make money and measure success.

Streaming sites make money from monthly subscription fees, giving users lots of movies and TV shows16. This has led to tough competition with cinemas. Now, many new movies are available to watch both online and in theaters. This mix meets different viewers’ preferences.

Streaming services have significantly impacted movie releases. Filmmakers, new and established, have to understand this new digital scene. They need to blend old and new ways of releasing movies.

Biggest Blockbuster Movies of the Year

This year, we saw amazing blockbuster movies that won over audiences and made big money. “Barbie” led by Greta Gerwig, stole the show, earning a lot and starting the “Barbenheimer” meme. “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” also won people’s hearts, becoming a huge hit.

The Films That Dominated the Box Office

“Dune: Part Two” topped the charts in 2024, bringing in $281.3 million domestically2. January was packed, with hits making $495 million at the box office2. “Mean Girls” shined in January, making $72.4 million2. “Bob Marley: One Love” was also big, earning $96.8 million2.

Movies in February pulled in a cool $361 million2, showing how popular blockbusters are. A24’s “Civil War” hit number one in April, making $25.5 million2. “The Beekeeper” earned $66.2 million, and “Godzilla x Kong” made $191.9 million, landing in the second spot2.

Notable Blockbusters You Can’t Miss

Big hits like “Kung Fu Panda 4” earned $191.1 million2, and “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” started strong with $56.6 million2. In 2024, 283 movies came out, making a whopping $2,535,225,8193. This shows how much people love and support these movies.

Blockbusters keep setting the entertainment and success bar high. Movies from big names like “Frozen,” “The Lion King,” and Marvel keep earning big17. With James Cameron directing three top movies, including “Avatar,” it’s clear these hits rule the world17.

Independent Gems That Stole the Spotlight

In a year full of big movies, some independent films really stood out. “Rye Lane” won over critics and viewers, getting a whopping 98% on Rotten Tomatoes18. “BlackBerry” and “Past Lives” also did great, each scoring 97%18

“Fremont” shined brightly with a 97% rating. “Anatomy of a Fall” did even better. It got a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, several Oscar 2024 nods, and won the Palme d’Or at Cannes1819.

Other films worth mentioning include “You Hurt My Feelings” and “Passages,” with 94% each18. “Flora and Son” and “Scrapper” got a respectable 93%18. Don’t miss out on “Joy Ride” and “Polite Society,” each boasting a 91% rating18.

It’s clear that smaller, serious films are making a big impact. Films like “Moonlight” and “Spotlight” show that you don’t need a huge budget to achieve Oscar success20.

The table below lists these standout independent films and their scores:

Film TitleRotten Tomatoes RatingOscar Nominations
Rye Lane98%N/A
Past Lives97%N/A
Anatomy of a Fall96%Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress
You Hurt My Feelings94%N/A
Flora and Son93%N/A
Joy Ride91%N/A
Polite Society91%N/A

Diverse Voices in Cinema: A Celebration of Unique Perspectives

The movie world is buzzing with new energy. It’s all thanks to diverse filmmakers and their fresh stories. These stories spotlight communities that haven’t been seen much on screen. This big change is thanks to directors committed to sharing real, different tales that touch people everywhere.

Films Highlighting Underrepresented Communities

Indie films are now key in sharing these diverse voices. From January to May, every movie showcased was indie, showing a shift towards stories for everyone. Events like St. Patrick’s Day and Earth Day even had free screenings. These included films of all kinds, promoting varied stories21. The Home is Distant Shores Film Series in May also stood out. It aimed to bring stories from across the globe to audiences21.

Directors Bringing Fresh Stories

Innovative directors are changing the movie scene. For example, the Summer Retro Series, from June to August, had films for varied tastes. It highlighted communities rarely seen on screen21. This push for diversity will continue with Creepy Cinema. It will offer unique horror films, differing from the usual scares21.

This dedication ensures cinema includes everyone, giving a voice to those not often heard. It’s all about sharing stories that mirror the real world. To discover more about these efforts, check out: The Cary Theater.

Most Anticipated Releases That Met Expectations

This year was full of movies people couldn’t wait to see, covering all kinds such as musicals, biopics, sequels, and adaptations22. These films were not just eagerly awaited but also turned out to be some of the best, thanks to their powerful stories and fresh filmmaking approaches.

Right from January, three films kicked off the year with new excitement22. Then February brought another five, keeping up the excitement22. March and April followed, adding three and four top movies to watch22.

Come May, five more movies raised the bar for cinema22. In June, two more added to the list, showcasing top performances from well-known actors and directors. This ensured the films met everyone’s high hopes.

Despite delays from industry strikes in 2023, these movies made a big impact. They helped us appreciate movie-making art even more22. For all the details on these awaited films, check the full list here.

MonthNumber of Releases

All these eagerly awaited movies lived up to their promise, making unforgettable moments for viewers everywhere.

Documentaries That Captivated Audiences

This year, many documentaries truly stood out. Each one touched audiences deeply with striking visuals and memorable stories. For example, “The Blue Angels” quickly became a hit on Prime Video and earned high praise. It has an 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an audience score of 98%23.

Visually Striking Documentaries

“The Blue Angels” is famous for its stunning aerial shots. These give a rare look into the pilots’ lives and their thorough prep23. Produced by J.J. Abrams and Glen Powell, it shows real scenes without digital effects23. Released in IMAX, it offers a more captivating and immersive experience23.

documentaries visually striking impactful stories top-rated movies

Stories That Made an Impact

“Lost Bohemia” explores the tale of Carnegie Hall’s artist colony and its ending24. “Cinema Futures” looks at how digital tech has changed film creation and sharing24. Then, “They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead” dives into Orson Welles’ last film. It shares unseen clips and interviews that caught many eyes24.

“Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema” honors female directors’ work in film history24. Meanwhile, “The Celluloid Closet” discusses LGBTQ+ portrayals in Hollywood. It highlights both progress and ongoing struggles24. This year’s best films combined beautiful visuals and strong stories, touching people everywhere.

The Blue AngelsTop spot on Prime Video with 86% Rotten Tomatoes ratingJ.J. Abrams, Glen Powell
Lost BohemiaHistory of Carnegie Hall’s artists’ colony
Cinema FuturesImpact of digital technology on film
They’ll Love Me When I’m DeadOrson Welles’ final cinematic endeavor
Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through CinemaCelebration of female directors
The Celluloid ClosetHistory of LGBTQ+ representation in Hollywood

Surprising Hits: Movies That Exceeded Expectations

Every year, some movies really stand out because they do better than expected. “Elemental” (2023) is a great example. It made $29.5 million in its first weekend and later went on to make over $400 million worldwide25. This makes it one of the year’s biggest movies, showing it appealed to a wide audience.

“Halloween” (1978) is another movie that surprised everyone. It was made with just $325,000, but it earned a huge $70 million25. This shows that even movies with small budgets can become big hits.

“The Peanut Butter Falcon” (2019) also did better than expected. It was shown in 1,249 theaters and earned $3 million, with an extra $1.1 million on Labor Day25. The movie’s interesting story and great acting won over many viewers.

“Anyone but You” (2023) showed that steady performance can lead to success. It started with $6.3 million, just below its $7 million goal. But it kept doing well, staying in the top five at the box office25. This made it one of the top movies that year.

Music has its surprises too. Miguel’s first album “All I Want Is You” started off slow, selling only 11,000 copies. But in time, it sold 404,000 copies25. This is similar to how some movies unexpected become hits.

Not all top movies of the year have big budgets or lots of ads. Often, the unexpected movies, the ones not many thought would do well, become the most loved25. They connect with both audiences and critics. For more on these sleeper hits, check out the Wikipedia page.

The Top Movies of the Year: Our Recommendations

This year was amazing for movie fans. We saw many films that did great at the box office and got high praise. We’re excited to share our top movie picks with you. There’s something for everyone, whether you like big hits or indie movies.

Must-See Films

“Dune: Part Two” was a standout, reaching $281.3 million in sales. “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” also did well, earning $191.9 million. People still love monster movies. “Kung Fu Panda 4” was a hit too, with $191.1 million. These movies are must-watches for their great stories and visuals.

Hidden Gems Worth Watching

Not all great movies top the box office charts. “Bob Marley: One Love” pulled in $96.8 million, leading February’s movie sales. “Mean Girls” and “The Beekeeper” also got a lot of love. They made $72.4 million and $66.2 million, respectively. These films are known for their rich stories and artistry.

Want to know more about this year’s hit movies? Check out Rotten Tomatoes’Box Office Top 10. It covers everything from the biggest blockbusters to the indie darlings of 2024. It’s a must for all movie enthusiasts.


What are the top-rated movies of the year according to critics?

Expert critics have picked a list of excellent movies. “Hit Man” with Glen Powell is a favorite. There are also other great movies making a big impact in the movie world.

Which movies were the highest-grossing of the year?

“Barbie” by Greta Gerwig was the top earner, leading to the “Barbenheimer” trend. It made a lot of money, along with other big hits.

What were some surprising trends at the box office this year?

Unexpected hits like “Barbie” did well, appealing to many. Other movies also did better than expected.

Which films made the cut as the most critically acclaimed this year?

The New York Times critics loved films like “Killers of the Flower Moon” by Martin Scorsese. These films covered many genres, from real-life stories to deep dramas.

What are the recommended award-winning movies to watch?

Look out for Oscar favorites such as “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie” this year. “The Color Purple” and the documentary “The Boy and the Heron” are also worth watching.

How did box office hits compare to critically acclaimed films this year?

Big movies brought in crowds, but the critically praised ones showed great art and storytelling. There’s a clear difference between the two.

What were the top movies of the year in various genres?

There were great movies in many styles. From thrilling actions to touching dramas and funny comedies. They reached audiences everywhere.

Which directors stood out this year?

Directors like Wes Anderson and newcomer A.V. Rockwell made big marks. Their unique work has changed the movie scene.

How have streaming services impacted popular cinema releases?

Streaming services changed how movies are released. They compete with cinemas and change how we watch movies. They play a big role in what movies do well.

What were the biggest blockbuster movies of the year?

“Barbie” and “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” were huge. They got global attention for their fun and big ticket sales.

Which independent films stole the spotlight this year?

Independent movies with great stories and acting won hearts. Even without big ads, they were the talk of the year.

How did diverse voices shape the cinematic landscape this year?

Movies by and about different people were celebrated. They brought new stories and views to our screens.

Which highly anticipated releases met and exceeded expectations?

Many movies did more than people thought they would. They had great stories, characters, and new ways of filmmaking that touched viewers.

What documentaries captivated audiences this year?

Documentaries that looked beautiful and told impactful stories got people’s attention. They covered personal and cultural topics deeply.

Which films were surprising hits this year?

Some movies did unexpectedly well. They became fan favorites and surprised everyone with what made them special.

What are the top must-see films of the year?

Our list has must-see movies that stood out this year. Plus, some underrated gems with great stories and artistry are waiting to be found.

Source Links

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/03/briefing/the-years-best-movies.html
  2. https://editorial.rottentomatoes.com/guide/box-office-top-10-movies-of-the-year/
  3. https://www.boxofficemojo.com/year/
  4. https://screenrant.com/2019-movies-best-year-rotten-tomatoes/
  5. https://apnews.com/article/best-movies-2022-325b1c1493a5a95f5cb94ce577612cb6
  6. https://abc7ny.com/oscars-best-picture-every-year-winner-list/14457885/
  7. https://editorial.rottentomatoes.com/guide/oscars-best-and-worst-best-pictures/
  8. https://collider.com/the-artist-movie-box-office/
  9. https://www.digitaltrends.com/movies/ten-biggest-action-movie-hits-by-adjusted-box-office/
  10. https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/weekend-box-office-critical-darlings-203000440.html
  11. https://editorial.rottentomatoes.com/guide/best-movies-2022/
  12. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/19/movies/best-genre-movies-streaming.html
  13. https://www.sunjournal.com/2009/06/27/ten-day-spotlight-will-shine-big-screen-visionaries-behind-100-movies/
  14. https://m.imdb.com/list/ls066705491/
  15. https://blog.filmtrack.com/industry-insights/streaming-platforms-and-their-impact-on-the-film-industry
  16. https://motionpicture.edu/socialcinema/2023/06/19/the-impact-of-streaming-services-on-the-movie-industry
  17. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_highest-grossing_films
  18. https://www.businessinsider.com/best-movies-this-year-probably-missed-what-to-watch-2023-12
  19. https://silverscreen.zone/under-the-radar-5-independent-films-that-stole-the-spotlight-at-oscars-2024/
  20. https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-moonlight-best-picture-indie-20170302-story.html
  21. https://thecarytheater.com/special-series/
  22. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/most-anticipated-movies-2024/
  23. https://www.tomsguide.com/entertainment/streaming/this-immersive-documentary-grabs-the-no1-spot-on-prime-video-and-viewers-are-very-impressed
  24. https://guidedoc.tv/blog/10-must-watch-documentaries-based-hollywood/
  25. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleeper_hit