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January 2022 has not exactly presented an auspicious start for the return of moviegoing as we knew it. Still, we’re holding out hope that this might be the year when the allure of the multiplex or your local indie joint might prove too great to resist and we regain some of that big-screen magic. Below, our most anticipated films of 2022.
A Hero, January 7
The Iranian filmmaker Ashgar Farhadi’s best movies—A Separation, About Elly, The Salesman—are engrossing domestic dramas that take flight by burrowing into the thorny questions of middle-class life. With A Hero, his riveting new film streaming on Amazon Prime, he has created a morality tale about a young Iranian father, Rahim, who is trying to rebuild his life after falling afoul of a creditor. The serendipitous discovery of a cache of gold coins, which Rahim promptly returns to its owner, would seem to have delivered our “hero” into a new life. But nothing goes as planned in this achingly sad story where reputation, public acclaim, and doing the right thing are never simple notions. —Taylor Antrim
Scream, January 14
Deftly skipping over the many sequels since the original, the latest Scream iteration is titled just that—and with its explicit allusions to the original, it seems to be cultivating a self-referential status for this version of the cult thriller. With Neve Campbell and Courtney Cox reprising their original roles, the nostalgia factor is high for this upcoming film. —Chloe Schama
The Worst Person in the World, February 4
Joachim Trier’s latest is a romantic-comedy-drama with the stunning Renate Reinsve (she took home the best actress award at Cannes) starring as Julie, a somewhat directionless young woman involved in a relationship with a more ambitious and directed man 15 years her senior. The setup becomes more complicated when she meets and begins to fall for a man closer to her age. The self-described “European art-house guy” director told the Los Angeles Times that he “went out on a limb with this” surprisingly romantic film. —C.S.
Everything Everywhere All at Once, March 25
The opening night film at SXSW, A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once stars Michelle Yeoh as a Chinese American woman who sets off on a mundane task—finishing her taxes—and ends up…traversing the multiverse? The film is the product of the experimental directing duo known as Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) and follows their 2016 film, Swiss Army Man. It’s hard to parse what exactly this sci-fi adventure is about, but its madcap, Dada antics have us intrigued. —C.S.
Downton Abbey: A New Era, March 18
When the dowager countess (Maggie Smith) reveals that she has come into the possession of a villa in the South of France, the Crawleys take a trip in Simon Curtis’s sun-soaked, unapologetically lavish sequel. There are summer soirées as well as a spectacular wedding. —Radhika Seth
Nitram, March 30
A rough, depressing beauty characterizes the work of Australian filmmaker Justin Kurzel, best known for his gritty, blood-soaked 2015 Macbeth with Michael Fassbender. I, for one, cannot get his 2011 true-crime film Snowtown out of my head, for its frightening vision of a sociopath in a poor suburb of Adelaide. His new film, Nitram, due to debut on AMC+, is another true-crime story set in suburban Australia and features a standout and chilling performance from Caleb Landry Jones as a disassociated young man who spirals into violence. —T.A.
The Northman, April 22
Directed by Robert Eggers, the visionary behind The Witch and The Lighthouse, Focus Features’ The Northman boasts one of the most illustrious casts of the year: Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe, Alexander Skarsgård, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Björk. But if the gripping first trailer, released last month, is anything to go by, this Viking epic and brutal revenge thriller is set to contain plenty more thrills, spills, and spear-sharpening surprises yet—and maybe a touch of something spiritual too. —Liam Hess
65, April 29
“An astronaut crash lands on a mysterious planet only to discover he’s not alone,” reads the brisk plot description for this upcoming sci-fi thriller that is being kept firmly under wraps. You only have to look at the team creating it, though, to know this could be the year’s surprise box-office smash. Written by the duo behind A Quiet Place, produced by horror maestro Sam Raimi, and starring Hollywood’s man of the moment Adam Driver, don’t be surprised if this film goes stratospheric when it lands—possibly out of nowhere—in April. —L.H.
Elvis Presley film, June 3
The long-awaited musical biopic—starring Austin Butler as the king of rock and roll; Tom Hanks as his manager, Colonel Tom Parker; and Olivia DeJonge as Priscilla Presley—is on its way to theaters. With Baz Luhrmann at the helm, it’s set to be a sequin-strewn romp. —R.S.
When the Crawdads Sing, July 22
Normal People’s magnetic lead, Daisy Edgar-Jones, will take on the part of Kya, the young girl who grows up in a North Carolina marsh, in Olivia Newman’s adaptation of Delia Owens’s beloved best seller. Look out for Harris Dickinson too as an ill-fated love interest.—R.S.
Nope, July 22
With its plotline still mired in mystery, Jordan Peele’s follow-up to his genre-defining horror sensations Get Out and Us is this chiller featuring Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, and Barbie Ferreira. The poster alone—which shows a dark grayish-blue cloud hovering over an unnamed metropolis and was released exactly 365 days before the film is set to open—was enough to send the internet into a tailspin. —R.S.
The Woman King, September 16
Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball) with a cast that includes Viola Davis, Lashana Lynch, John Boyega, and Thuso Mbedu, this historical saga will be worth the wait. Set in the West African kingdom of Dahomey, it centers on the general of an all-female military unit. —R.S.
Don’t Worry Darling, September 23
Eerie, stylish, and impossibly steamy, the first teaser for Olivia Wilde’s psychological hair-raiser has us counting the days until its release. In her cover story for Vogue, Wilde described the film as “The Feminine Mystique on acid.” It tracks a couple (Florence Pugh and Harry Styles) in a 1950s utopian community in California who finds their lives slowly unraveling. —R.S.
Bee Gees Biopic, November 4
On the heels of his Oscar-buzzy Belfast, Kenneth Branagh will direct an as-yet-untitled Bee Gees biopic, tracing the lives of brothers Barry, Maurice, and Robin Gibb from their humble beginnings to pop superstardom. The film is from the same producing team that made Bohemian Rhapsody, and while little (including its title) is known about it, Paramount has already set a release date. —C.S.
She Said, November 18
In Maria Schrader’s rousing drama, Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan will play Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, The New York Times reporters who broke the story of Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual misconduct. It could very well be an awards-season front-runner for 2023. —R.S.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody, December 23
Whitney Houston’s precipitous rise and tragic fall will be the subject of Kasi Lemmons’s emotionally charged fable, which sees Naomi Ackie embody the legendary singer, with Ashton Sanders as her former husband, Bobby Brown, and Stanley Tucci as record producer Clive Davis. —R.S.
Babylon, December 25
Damien Chazelle’s new film will explore the transition from silent films to talkies. One of the most perfect films of all time circled the same topic, but never mind—if anyone can take on Old Hollywood with affection and joie, it’s Chazelle, whose love of Hollywood glamour shone bright in the buoyant La La Land. Starring Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, Tobey Maguire, and many others (is that Flea on the cast list?), the movie is packed with the megawatt stars of today as well. —C.S.
Several films on our radar have yet to set their release dates. They include:
After Yang (A24)
Kogonada, a South Korean–born American filmmaker who made the well-received 2018 indie, Columbus, returns with two notable projects this year. After Yang is a cerebral adaptation of a science-fiction short story starring Colin Farrell and Jodie Turner-Smith about a household android that malfunctions. He will also produce and direct episodes of Apple TV+’s limited series Pachinko, the splashy adaptation of Min Jin Lee’s best-selling novel. — T.A.
Paris, 13th District
The new film from Jacques Audiard, one of France’s most fascinating auteurs, is a sexually frank black-and-white drama about young people in one of Paris’s overlooked neighborhoods. It is cowritten by Celine Sciamma and features a cast of alluring performers, including one of the stars of Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Noémie Merlant. —T.A.
Comparisons to the creepier work of his frequent collaborator Joachim Trier have greeted Eskil Vogt’s enticing-looking Norwegian horror film The Innocents. A story about children with uncanny powers run amok in a suburban high-rise in Norway, this one garnered positive reviews in Cannes and is due to be distributed by IFC Midnight in 2022. —T.A.
The septuagenarian screenwriter and filmmaker Terence Davies (A Quiet Passion) gives us a biopic of WWI poet Siegfried Sassoon, played by Jack Lowden, in this handsome-looking film that debuted at Toronto last fall. The stacked cast of Brits includes Peter Capaldi, Geraldine James, Kate Phillips, Gemma Jones, and more.
This is the latest from British-Irish writer-director John Michael McDonagh (elder brother of Michael, of Three Billboards fame), who gave us spiky, noirish comedy-thrillers like Calvary and The Guard. The Forgiven is an adaptation of a Lawrence Osborne novel about a wealthy squabbling couple, played by Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain, who run into dark misadventure in Morocco.
Much internet chatter has attended the expected late-2022 Netflix release of Andrew Dominik’s adaptation of the Joyce Carol Oates novel Blonde about Marilyn Monroe. Monroe is played by Ana de Armas alongside Bobby Cannavale, Adrien Brody, and others. Dominik does not make conventional films or cheery ones (Killing Them Softly, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), and he has reportedly prepared an NC-17 directors cut of Blonde for the streamer. —T.A.
Killers of the Flower Moon
Martin Scorsese is bringing together two of his closest collaborators, Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, for Killers of the Flower Moon, an off-kilter Western that follows an FBI investigation into a spate of murders targeting Indigenous Americans. Based on a best-selling nonfiction book and costarring Jesse Plemons and Brendan Fraser—both long overdue wider critical recognition—it looks set to be an awards season lock. —L.H.
If there’s one thing you can say confidently about Ari Aster—the horror auteur and twisted genius behind Hereditary and Midsommar—it’s to always expect the unexpected. And with his new film, Disappointment Blvd., he looks set to surprise us once again. Billed as a comedy-horror and featuring an eclectic cast that includes Joaquin Phoenix, Meryl Streep, Michael Gandolfini, and Patti LuPone, this “intimate, decades-spanning portrait of one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time” (as the log line reads) is sure to be this year’s wild card. —L.H.