Our 20 most anticipated films of 2022

As the world entered the second year of the global coronavirus pandemic, the rollout of various vaccines and a slew of long-delayed studio blockbusters sparked some optimism for the immediate future of cinema-going. Fast-forward 12 months and, a few notable commercial hits aside (see No Time to Die, Dune, Spider-Man: No Way Home), there still seem to be questions over what sort of films audiences can be enticed to see on the big screen.

Fortunately, whether unveiling themselves into hundreds and thousands of cinemas or finding a home on a streaming platform after a critically-acclaimed festival bow, we’ve still been treated to some wonderful films from across the world of cinema in 2021. With a number of projects delayed due to the pandemic, 2022 looks set to be another bumper year for established directors and emerging talents alike. And those who missed spending evenings watching the latest cinematography masterpieces can fully expect a new wave of movies to arrive fairly soon. And with such a long break, students of cinematography will get plenty of unexpected projects that might just change their understanding of filmmaking. So get ready to hand your assignments over to essay editors online so that you’re able to focus your attention on the screen.

Here are just a handful of films we’re desperate to watch (or, in some cases, rewatch) in the new year.

1. Armageddon Time (dir. James Gray) – release date TBC

Post-Ad Astra, American filmmaker James Gray had been quoted in interviews stating that he wanted his next project to have “more warmth, tenderness, compassion, and people”. Armageddon Time appears to be exactly that: a personal drama which pulls from Gray’s own childhood in New York City attending the Kew-Forest School in Queens, the same institution that Donald Trump attended (he’s also rumoured to feature in the film in some shape or form). Various A-listers including Robert De Niro, Oscar Isaac, Donald Sutherland and Cate Blanchett were forced to pull out of the film due to Covid-19, but the final cast still boasts Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins and Succession’s Jeremy Strong. Daniel Green

2. Benedetta (dir. Paul Verhoeven) – 22 April (UK)

There’s a certain kind of cinephile for whom the mere mention of a new Paul Verhoeven (Elle, Basic Instinct) provocation is enough to whet the appetite. The veteran Dutch filmmaker’s latest slice of erotica, Benedetta, is based on the true story of a 17th century nun who, as well as being a lesbian, found infamy after claiming that she saw holy visions and experienced stigmata. Sounds like textbook Verhoeven to us. Reviews out of both Cannes and the London Film Festival were divisive, so expect to be challenged/tickled pink in equal measure. Christopher Machell

3. Bergman Island (dir. Mia Hansen-Løve) – release date TBC

After quietly touring the festival circuit with Maya in the autumn of 2018, Mia Hansen-Løve continues to produce some of the most emotive filmmaking in contemporary French cinema. Starring Phantom Thread’s Vicky Krieps alongside a wonderful Tim Roth and Mia Wasikowska, Bergman Island possesses the mature awareness of emotion’s omnipresence throughout her filmography – with an added twist of gothic surrealism that so permeates the titular Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal and Persona. Alasdair Bayman

4. Blonde (dir. Andrew Dominik) – release date TBC

We’ve waited quite long enough for the new film from Andrew Dominik, best-known for crime dramas Chopper, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward John Ford and Killing Them Softly. A departure for the incredibly consistent New Zealand director, based on the novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, Blonde looks set to offer a deeply moving portrait of the woman who became Marilyn Monroe. Last-seen in No Time to Die, Cuban-Spanish actress Ana de Armas stars as the titular blonde bombshell (real name Norma Jeane), with Bobby Cannavale cast as baseball legend Joe DiMaggio and Adrien Brody as Monroe’s third husband, the playwright Arthur Miller. DG

5. Crimes of the Future (dir. David Cronenberg) – release date TBC

The first of two Cronenberg projects on our list – this one from Cronenberg Sr. – Crimes of the Future sees the body horror maestro re-teaming with Eastern Promises‘ Viggo Mortensen for a near-future horror based on a 63-minute short film made by the Canadian director back in 1970. The plot is yet-to-be-announced but will presumably follow a similar story of man-made plagues and a defeminised world. French actress Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, Scott Speedman, Welket Bungué and Don McKellar round off the rest of the cast, with principal photography in Athens concluded in September. DG

6. Decision to Leave (dir. Park Chan-wook) – release date TBC

After a brief dalliance with the small screen via BBC/AMC John le Carré adaptation The Little Drummer Girl, Oldboy director Park Chan-wook returns to cinemas next year with Decision to Leave. The story involves a diligent and serious detective (Park Hae-il) who is investigating a possible murder case in the mountainous countryside. Over time he begins to suspect the man’s widow (Tang Wei), whom he also develops romantic feelings for. Already deep into post-production, expect to see this one in competition at Cannes if all goes to plan. DG

7. The End (dir. Joshua Oppenheimer) – release date TBC

NEON already have form backing intriguing Tilda Swinton projects (see Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria), so we’re excited to see the innovative US distributor backing The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence director Joshua Oppenheimer’s long-awaited new film. Oppenheimer appears to be taking a brief hiatus from documentaries for a bunker-set musical about the “last human family”, with Swinton set to star alongside fellow Brits Stephen Graham and George MacKay. DG

8. Killers of the Flower Moon (dir. Martin Scorsese) – release date TBC

Hot on the trail of The Irishman, Marvel’s biggest stan Marty jumps streamer ship from Netflix to Apple TV+ for Killers of the Flower Moon, a $200 million crime drama about Native American tribe members murdered under mysterious circumstances in the 1920s, based on the 2017 non-fiction book of the same name by American journalist David Grann. Scorsese stalwarts past and present Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro unite for the first time, with ample support from Jesse Plemons, Lily Gladstone and Brendan Fraser (yes, that Brendan Fraser). DG

9. Infinity Pool (dir. Brandon Cronenberg) – release date TBC

The first of two Alexander Skarsgård-led projects on our list (see The Northman), Infinity Pool sees Brandon Cronenberg (son of David) return to the director’s chair after 2020’s critically-acclaimed Possessor. His latest sci-fi thriller tackles the all-inclusive vacation industry and centres on a fatal accident that exposes a resort’s perverse subculture of hedonistic tourism, reckless violence and surreal horrors. “James and Em are young, rich, in love, and on vacation. Their all-inclusive resort boasts island tours and gleaming beaches. But outside of the hotel gates waits something much more dangerous and seductive, beyond the edge of paradise.” NEON and Topic Studios are set to release in the US. DG

10. Men (dir. Alex Garland) – release date TBC

Writer-director Alex Garland’s (Ex Machina, Annihilation, Devs) new film Men is shrouded in mystery. What we do know is that it stars one of the most in-demand actresses of the moment, Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose, The Lost Daughter), as a woman on a solo vacation in the English countryside following the death of her ex-husband. Rory Kinnear is also set to co-star, with Rob Hardy on board as director of photography. A24 have US rights and an autumn festival premiere feels on the cards. DG

11. The Northman (dir. Robert Eggers) – 22 April (UK)

Universal recently released the first trailer for The Lighthouse and The Witch director Robert Eggers’ new viking epic, The Northman. Starring the strapping Alexander Skarsgård as a viking hero returning to his kingdom to reclaim the throne brutally taken from his father (Ethan Hawke), this looks like bloody, visceral filmmaking at its best. Expect an element of the supernatural from Eggers, and some full-bodied performances from Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Willem Dafoe, Claes Bang and the mighty Björk. DG

12. Poor Things (dir. Yorgos Lanthimos) – release date TBC

Set in Victorian-era England, Poor Things sees Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos and The Favourite’s Emma Stone reunite for a riff on the classic Frankenstein story. Willem Dafoe, Mark Ruffalo and Ramy Youssef have already joined the cast alongside Stone, who reportedly plays a young woman named Belle Baxter who is brought back to life by an eccentric and brilliant scientist, Dr. Godwin Baxter (Dafoe). Expect awkwardness, the macabre and plenty of laughs from the Weird Wave provocateur. DG

13. Showing Up (dir. Kelly Reichardt) – release date TBC

A24 and First Cow director Kelly Reichardt continue their working relationship with Showing Up, which will also see the American filmmaker reuniting once again with Michelle Williams. Reichardt’s latest project is a vibrant and sharply funny portrait of an artist on the verge of a career-changing exhibition. As she navigates family, friends, and colleagues in the lead up to her show, the chaos of life becomes the inspiration for great art. First Cow’s John Magaro, Hong Chau and André 3000 have also been confirmed among the supporting cast. DG

14. Shulan River (dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien) – release date TBC

Taking place in modern-day Taipei, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s follow-up to his acclaimed 2015 film The Assassin focuses on a lonely river goddess whose waterways have now been covered by modern roadways. Further details prove elusive but we can expect stunning cinematography and a possible Cannes 2022 world premiere for the Taiwanese auteur’s latest. DG

15. The Sky Is Everywhere (dir. Josephine Decker) – release date TBC

A more mainstream detour for Shirley director Josephine Decker sees her helming Apple TV+/A24’s big-screen adaptation of The Sky Is Everywhere, based on Jandy Nelson’s YA novel of the same name. The novel follows Lennie (played by Grace Kaufman), a teen who is working through the loss of her sister Bailey. Her journey includes accidentally falling in love. Cherry Jones will play Gram, the warm and loving grandmother of Lennie and Bailey, who takes them in and raises them in her home where her son, Big (Jason Segel), still lives with her. DG

16. The Souvenir: Part II (dir. Joanna Hogg) – 4 February (UK)

Finishing fifth in our roundup of the best films of 2019, Joanna Hogg’s semi-autobiographical The Souvenir was a true breakout work for the British director – so much so that a sequel was announced shortly after its world premiere at Sundance. The Souvenir: Part II may have already premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and London Film Festival but UK audiences will need to wait until February to catch Hogg’s follow-up on the big screen – pandemic permitting. Hogg is also busy finishing up on yet another film, The Eternal Daughter, a ghost story about a middle-aged daughter and her elderly mother who must confront long-buried secrets when they return to their former family home. DG

17. The Stars at Noon (dir. Claire Denis)

Another female director set for a busy 2022 is Claire Denis, with Fire (a French romance starring Juliette Binoche and Vincent Lindon) and The Stars at Noon both prepped for release. The latter, set in 1984 Nicaragua and based on the novel by Denis Johnson, sees a mysterious English businessman (Joe Alwyn) and a headstrong American journalist (Margaret Qualley) strike up a romance as they soon become embroiled in a dangerous labyrinth of lies and conspiracies and are forced to try and escape the country. Alwyn replaces both Robert Pattinson and Taron Egerton, who both had to drop out. DG

18. Triangle of Sadness (dir. Ruben Östlund) – release date TBC

Swedish Palme d’Or-winning writer and director Ruben Östlund (Force Majeure, The Square) returns in 2022 with yet another pitch-black offering: “This dark comedy centres on a fashion model celebrity couple (Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean) who are invited on a luxury cruise for the super-rich. The yacht -whose captain is a rabid Marxist (Woody Harrelson) – sinks, leaving the duo stranded on a desert island with a group of billionaire jetsetters and a cleaning lady, with the ensuing fight for survival turning the pre-existing hierarchy upside down and changing the dynamics of the group: the cleaning lady rises to the top of the food chain as she is the only one who knows how to cook.” Hanna Oldenburg, Henrik Dorsin and Vicki Berlin have also been cast. Expect this one to premier at Cannes 2022. DG

19. The Way of the Wind (dir. Terrence Malick) – release date TBC

Son of Saul’s Géza Röhrig as Jesus Christ. Mark Rylance in four different guises as Satan. Magic hour’s Terrence Malick at the helm. What’s not to like? Reuniting Terry Malick with A Hidden Life director of photography Jörg Widmer, The Way of the Wind (formerly titled The Last Planet) will see the master filmmaker retelling several episodes in the life of JC. Ben Kingsley, Aidan Turner, Joseph Fiennes and Matthias Schoenaerts are also (currently) attached – although that’s not necessarily a guarantee that they’ll make the final cut. Colour us more than a little intrigued by this heavenly prospect. DG

20. Women Talking (dir. Sarah Polley) – release date TBC

We’ve been waiting for a new film from Canadian actor-director Sarah Polley since her excellent 2012 documentary Stories We Tell, and it looks like 2022 will be the year that brings us the Frances McDormand, Claire Foy, Rooney Mara and Jessie Buckley-starring Women Talking. Based on the 2018 novel of the same name by Miriam Toews, the film is set within an isolated Mennonite religious colony in Bolivia as the women struggle to reconcile their faith with a string of sexual assaults committed by the colony’s men (Ben Whishaw among them). Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment are also producing. DG

Daniel Green