There was a lot to love about movies in 2022. We finally got to see the long-in-the-works TOP GUN: MAVERICK, were welcomed into mind-bending adventures that were on full display in EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, and saw two of the most ambitious comic book movies in DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS and BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER.
In addition to each of those movies dazzling audiences with on-screen spectacles, these movies, and several others, also featured tremendous turns by several up-and-coming actors and actresses, a group of young stars that stole scenes and our hearts, while also making it impossible to not think about what the future holds for each of them. Here are some of the biggest and brightest breakout performances in 2022 movies that were shown on the screen at AMC Theatres locations nationwide this year.
Xochitl Gomez (Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness)
Although she had already landed a major role on the Netflix series “The Baby-Sitters Club” prior to joining the DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS cast in May 2022, Xochitl Gomez’s portrayal of America Chavez felt like the young actress’ big arrival. The performance, which provided much of the heart and soul of the movie, was undeniably one of the best in 2022 superhero movies. It’s hard to imagine a Marvel Cinematic Universe in which Gomez won’t be at the center of some of the big upcoming crossover films, especially as both the actress and her young character continue to grow.
Austin Butler (Elvis)
Following numerous delays, the world finally got to see Baz Luhrmann’s biographical drama, ELVIS in June 2022, a movie anchored by the star-making performance of Austin Butler as the “King of Rock and Roll.” Watching ELVIS, it was hard not to be carried away and captivated by Butler’s portrayal of the iconic figure, especially with the way he channeled the spirit of the late singer’s on-stage swagger and charisma. And, while it is true Butler appeared in movies like ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD and THE DEAD DON’T DIE in recent years, ELVIS felt like his movie, one in which all eyes were on him.
Glen Powell (Top Gun: Maverick)
There is a lot that can be said, or has already been said, about TOP GUN: MAVERICK, from the brilliant performance by Tom Cruise to the insane stunts that put us in the co-pilot’s seat in various subsonic jets, and an incredibly emotional story about redemption and generational grief. But, what doesn’t get talked about enough is Glen Powell’s portrayal of cocky fighter pilot and Iceman 2.0, Jake “Hangman” Seresin. A highly-skilled yet overly-confident pilot, Powell found a way to make audiences fall in love with the character, despite his flaws. Despite having roles in movies like HIDDEN FIGURES and various TV shows, Powell definitely felt like he broke out in 2022, thanks to TOP GUN: MAVERICK and DEVOTION a few months later.
Tenoch Huerta (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever)
Years from now, when we’re discussing the best Marvel villains, it won’t be all that hard to make a case for Namor (Tenoch Huerta), who was introduced in BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER. Much like Thanos (Josh Brolin) and Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) in previous MCU titles, Namor wasn’t a one-dimensional bad guy meant to foil Shuri (Letitia Wright), but instead a fully-realized, and sometimes sympathetic, adversary who was only doing what he thought was right. Ryan Coogler deserves credit for this, but so, too, does Huerta, who added layer upon layer to the portrayal, creating something magical in the process. With the way things ended for Namor, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if we see much more of the character and the Talokan people in the years to come.
Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All At Once)
In the first half of the year, the one movie everyone was talking about was EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, and for good reason, as the movie was an absolute gem to watch on the big screen. The entire cast of the Daniels’ mind-bending and truly out-of-this-world cinematic experience were firing on all cylinders while playing multiple characters, and this was especially true for Stephanie Hsu. Playing the quiet, oftentimes resentful, yet loving daughter of Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan’s characters in one universe and Jobu Tupaki, an all-powerful being trying to destroy the multiverse in another, Hsu stole the show and provided some of the most emotional moments in the entire movie.
Georgina Campbell (Barbarian)
BARBARIAN was the horror movie everyone was talking about in 2022. There were a number of shocking twists that kept the watercooler conversation flowing, but BARBARIAN audiences also left the theater raving about Georgina Campbell’s performance, and the pivotal role she played in keeping the wild Airbnb thriller grounded and centered. It’s not an easy part to play, the main character in a horror story who makes the types of decisions that have an audience screaming at the screen in frustration. But at every step of BARBARIAN, Campbell lends just enough credibility to her character Tess’s actions that we easily invest in her crazy plight. If you haven’t seen BARBARIAN yet, believe us, things get deranged. Tess could have been eclipsed by all of the surprising elements that Zach Cregger worked into his script, but her screen presence kept our eyes glued to her reactions. Was this the birth of a modern Scream Queen?
Each of these 2022 breakout movie performances, in one way or another, captured the hearts of audiences over the course of the past 12 months, and helped us remember why going to the movies is such a meaningful and joyful experience.