The Batman (directed by Matt Reeves) – March 4
It seems like Spider-Man; there is always a Batman reboot just around the corner. A long time ago, I gave up on caring about films adhering to a singular vision of a character. I wouldn’t say I am hyped about this due to Matt Reeves’ involvement. I think the recent Planet of the Apes films are okay. I am, however, interested to see Robert Pattinson as Batman. Pattinson has made some fantastic career choices recently, and I want to see if this one was purely for the paycheck or if they are doing something special with Batman. The tone of the trailers has been pretty spot on, a good mix of Nolan’s gritty world with the inclusion of other elements we haven’t seen in a while. I am curious to see Colin Farrell’s Oswald Cobblepot, the Penguin, as he looks unrecognizable.
The Worst Person in the World (directed by Joachim Trier) – March
Joachim Trier’s Oslo, August 31st, was a revelation, a film that creeps up the viewer and delivers one of the most honest looks at the loneliness of addiction. The second film in his Oslo trilogy was the supernatural thriller Thelma which has some great moments, but I wasn’t in love with it. It’s far and away better than most horror movies released in the States, though. This picture rounds out the trilogy and is a comedy that was received with acclaim at Cannes in 2021. It’s a story of infidelity that attempts not to pass judgment on its cheating lead and instead examines the highwire act that goes into lying to a partner while also looking at how hard it can be to be in a relationship of any kind when you don’t know exactly who you are.
Everything Everywhere All At Once (directed by Daniels) – March 25
Daniels have certainly delivered, in my opinion. Their debut feature, Swiss Army Man, is a deceptively complex picture saying a lot more than some audiences gave it credit for. One half of the duo, Daniel Scheinert, directed the criminally overlooked The Death of Dick Long, a brilliant dark comedy that taps into some commentary about masculinity. This picture stars Michelle Yeoh as a middle-aged woman simply trying to get her taxes done and meeting with bureaucrat Jamie Lee Curtis. The twist is that Yeoh’s character is pulled into a multiversal battle that stretches across worlds. Daniels are masters at transforming the mundane into something magical, and I expect we will see that here. Their past work has never failed to impress me, so going into this one with big expectations.
The Northman (directed by Robert Eggers) – April 8
The Witch and The Lighthouse director looks ready to return with a film about Vikings. Alexander Skarsgard is a Nordic prince whose father is murdered and goes on a crusade of revenge. This is another film whose cast is packed to the rafters due to Eggers’ reputation from his previous work. Nicole Kidman plays Skarsgard’s mother with an additional cast, including Willem Dafoe, Ethan Hawke, and Bjork. Eggers also brings back Anya Taylor Joy, Kate Dickie, and Ralph Ineson, who played the daughter, mother, and father respectively in The Witch.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (directed by Sam Raimi) – May 6
Sam Raimi is the only thing bringing me to the table with this picture. I did not enjoy the first film directed by Scott Derickson and was initially not interested in this movie. However, Raimi’s inclusion has me intrigued. He’s certainly not a director to soften his style, and I hope Marvel has stepped away and let the filmmaker do what he does best. Most Marvel movies are part-comedy, and if this is to be a horror-comedy, Raimi is coming with the skills to direct such a flick. I’m also hoping we get some fun, crazy multiverse hopping. When you have a trope like that in your toolbox, it can provide exciting settings and surprising takes on familiar faces. If Marvel bungles this one, there is simply no helping them at this point.
Thor: Love and Thunder (directed by Taika Waititi) – July 8
Taika Waititi is perhaps the only returning Marvel director who would entice me to return. His Thor: Ragnarok is a breath of fresh air in a very stale, dull landscape of cookie-cutter films. Natalie Portman reprises her role of Jane Foster in a story that appears to bring the female Thor character to the big screen. The Guardians of the Galaxy are set to co-star, and Tessa Thompson is returning as Valkyrie. As for the antagonist of the picture, that will be handled by Christian Bale, who is playing Gorr the God Butcher. There’s buzz this may introduce the MCU’s take on Hercules as it deals with multiple pantheons of gods. Plus, Jeff Goldblum is back as The Grandmaster. If nothing else, this should be a fun summer movie, and I trust Waititi will be left alone to make the movie he wants.
Black Adam (directed by Jaume Collet-Serra) – July 22
My biggest reason for being slightly excited about this film is the inclusion of members of the Justice Society in the story. Black Adam is the evil version of Shazam, a Middle Eastern man who eventually used his powers to become ruler of the nation of Khandaq. Unfortunately, the director certainly doesn’t make me excited; having helmed pictures like Orphan and The Shallows. I’ll likely be greatly disappointed, but that won’t stop me from wanting to see Hawkman, Atom-Smasher, Doctor Fate, and Cyclone on screen.
Nope (directed Jordan Peele) – July 22
It took me a few years, but I have warmed up to Peele’s last theatrical release Us. I prefer it over Get Out because the themes are a little more obscured though certainly not as nuanced as I like. Stylistically, Peele has a look to his work that appeals to me. It’s clean enough for mainstream audiences, but there’s a little dirt around the edges that hooks me. Unfortunately, there’s not much to share about Nope’s plot. The cast has Peele reuniting with Daniel Kaluuya and brings Keke Palmer and Steve Yeun onboard. The ominous poster has raised lots of questions, and I’m betting on a movie that takes on alien abductions to some extent. Of course, that will serve as a metaphor for a bigger idea. Looking forward to finding out more about this one as we get deeper into 2022.
Don’t Worry Darling (directed by Olivia Wilde) – September 23
Booksmart was a total surprise for me in 2019, and it got me excited to see what Olivia Wilde can do in the director’s chair. Instead of wild sex comedy like her previous film, this is a psychological horror film that stars Florence Pugh. Pugh plays a housewife in the 1950s who uncovers a dark secret about her husband (played by Harry Styles). Chris Pine is also in the cast and billed as the leader of “a mysterious cult-like worksite,” which intrigued me. My first guess was that the husband was a serial killer, but this sounds like something more complex than that.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse Part 1 – October 7
The first Spider-verse movie is the best Spider-Man film we’ve ever gotten. It captured the heart of Sam Raimi’s trilogy while keeping things feeling fresh & modern. Miles Morales immediately endeared himself to audiences, and his supporting cast of allies and villains were so well developed even if only given a few minutes on screen. This sequel looks to be more of the same, but I expect some twists. Oscar Isaac takes on the role of Miguel O’Hara, aka Spider-Man 2099, and Miles will be going to the other Spiders this time instead of them coming to his world. With Part 1 included in the title, I assume we’ll be getting a big exciting cliffhanger to string us along until the next one.
Halloween Ends (directed by David Gordon Green) – October 14
Some people really hated Halloween Kills. I don’t think it was as good as David Gordon Green’s first Halloween movie, but I am very much on board for whatever his final entry will be. Having just watched the entire Halloween series, these are far from the worst pictures to bear that title. Green and star Jamie Lee Curtis have both gone on the record to say Ends will jump in time to the current moment, addressing COVID-19 as well as the aftermath of Halloween 2018. Curtis has also alluded to this being a coming-of-age story. After the ending of Kills, I am suspicious if this isn’t the story of Laurie Strode’s granddaughter becoming a killer in the vein of Michael Myers. We’ll see in October.
The Flash (directed by Andrés Muschietti) – November 4
I will likely hate this movie, but I include it because a tiny part of me holds out hope. Director Muschietti is responsible for the decent It Chapter One and the obnoxiously bad It Chapter Two, so this picture could honestly go either way. Ezra Miller returns as The Flash, but they are traveling across the multiverse (this appears to be a trend in superhero movies at the moment). Alternate Flashes will appear, a new Supergirl will be introduced, but the biggest of all is the return of Michael Keaton as a now aged Batman. Of all the things about this film, I am most interested in seeing. Keaton is a fantastic actor, and I am curious to see how he chooses to play the Bruce Wayne of the 1989 classic, who has gone through even more significant loss since we last saw him.
Babylon (directed by Damien Chazelle) – December 25
Damien Chazelle’s filmography has been mostly hits for me rather than misses. Whiplash is still one of the most outstanding pictures of the 2010s, in my opinion. His upcoming picture is set in 1920s Hollywood and focuses on the transition from silent films to talkies, particularly how this change devastated the careers of certain actors. Margot Robbie is cast as real-life actress Clara Bow with Brad Pitt co-starring. This looks to be one of the movies aiming for awards season, but I expect Chazelle will give us something visually exciting, and I hope a character study like we saw in First Man and Whiplash.
After Yang (directed by Kogonada)
Kogonada’s Columbus was a brilliant picture from 2017. It was able to blend a clean visual style with deeply emotional stories. The picture made me realize what a terrific actress Haley Lu Richardson is. This will be a science fiction drama about a father (Colin Ferrell) & daughter trying to save their robotic family member Yang who has become unresponsive. I know it will look beautiful, and Farrell has shown a strong track record with indie films lately (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer). This one has been shown at Cannes 2021 but is still waiting for a release date.
Alice (directed by Krystin ver Linden)
This is Krystin ver Linden’s directorial debut, but she’s penned several scripts already and worked alongside Quentin Tarantino on Django Unchained and Inglourious Basterds. The film is based on a true story and focuses on Alice, a Black slave in the American South who manages to escape. However, once she breaches the tree line, she discovers the world is not what she thought, and she’s been fed lies her whole life. Keke Palmer will play Alice, and there’s a lot about the film that sounds intriguing. Unfortunately, there’s been such a litany of suffering porn billed as movies about “the Black experience” lately. I hope this one refrains from being exploitative and delivers something exceptional.
Armageddon Time (directed by James Gray)
I was pleasantly surprised by Gray’s 2019 science fiction picture Ad Astra; it was a quiet, thoughtful meditation on how we shut ourselves to others while set against an intriguing premise. Despite the title, this is not another science fiction picture. Instead, it is a coming-of-age story set in Queens, New York, as Ronald Reagan and the Right Wing came to power in the 1980s. The cast has been in tremendous flux since COVID-19 broke out and is now set to star Jeremy Strong and Anthony Hopkins. I am extremely curious to see just what this movie is and hope Gray produces another thought-provoking, difficult film to grapple with.
Asteroid City (directed by Wes Anderson)
Anderson has already wrapped production on this one in the fall of 2021, so it could be coming out at any time in 2022. My money is on the fall in time for awards season. This will mark the first time he’s worked with Margot Robbie and Tom Hanks, but there are going to be a flood of familiar faces too. All that’s known about the story is that it is about “a group of brainy teenagers.” I am expecting something lightly touching on science fiction, maybe in the vein of Isle of Dogs? A glimpse at the cast list for this one means it is either going to be something wildly fun or a complete disaster. Anderson pleasantly surprised me with The French Dispatch, so I’m hoping for something great here.
Beth & Don (directed by Nicole Holofcener)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is one of my favorite comedic actresses of all time. She was great on Seinfeld but phenomenal in Veep. She reunites with her Enough Said director in Beth & Don to play a novelist whose marriage couldn’t be better. Things change when Beth overhears her husband telling a friend he hasn’t liked her writing in years. This secret revelation begins to chink away at their relationship and threatens to undo everything that seemed perfect. There’s a dearth of high-quality mature comedies and dramas made this day, so anytime something of this quality comes along, I’m going to be interested to see it.
Blonde (directed by Andrew Dominik)
Andrew Dominik took a decade off from feature film directing (he made a documentary and directed two episodes of Mindhunter) to come back in 2022. His return will be adapting Joyce Carol Oates’s novel about the life of Marilyn Monroe. Ana de Armas stars as the iconic performer. Early cuts of the film have been seen, and comments include that it is a deeply disturbing but brilliant adaptation. Reviewers are also stating how the film does a lot to humanize a figure who’s been rendered into such a cartoon by pop culture. Dominik’s work always seems to be divisive, so this sounds like it is set to once again cause some furor among audiences.
Bones & All (directed by Luca Guadagnino)
Luca Guadagnino returns to the horror genre, which should have everyone excited. His last foray, the 2018 remake of Suspiria, is one of the best films of the 21st century. Guadagnino will be reuniting with his Call Me By Your Name star Timothee Chalamet. Playing opposite Chalamet will be the remarkable Taylor Russell, who stood out as my favorite performance in the underrated Waves. The film is about a young woman who has a compulsion to literally eat people who have shown her too much love since she was a child. Abandoned by her mother, she is out to find the father she never knew and goes on a journey that leaves a trail of violence. I fully expect this one to be a standout picture in 2022.
The Brutalist (directed by Brady Corbet)
Brady Corbet’s third feature stars Joel Edgerton, Mark Rylance, and Marion Cotillard and focuses on the career of a fictional architect. Lazlo (Edgerton) is a visionary person who flees Europe with his wife (Cotillard) in the wake of World War II. He becomes caught up in the birth of modern American urban landscapes and is hired by Rylance’s mysterious client to build something monumental. Corbet has a penchant for revisiting the historical through his own very impressionistic lens, changing the details but keeping the core truths intact. His The Childhood of a Leader is a spectacular exploration of what makes a dictator while not being on the nose about everything. Corbet is very interested in telling stories that fascinate him, making him an exciting filmmaker.
Cat Person (directed by Susana Fogel)
If you haven’t read Kristen Roupenian’s fantastic short story, Cat Person, do that immediately. This adaptation is being billed as a psychological thriller which is a bit confusing as I don’t read the original short story as that at all. It stars Emilia Jones (Utopia) as the lead with Nicholas Braun (Succession) as the man who will shake up her life in a profoundly unsettling and relevant way. The only thing I need from this picture is to capture the story’s tone, very melancholy and weird. It’s such a fabulous piece that I hope the film adaptation does justice to it.
Crimes of the Future (directed by David Cronenberg)
David Cronenberg’s recent films haven’t necessarily wowed anyone. However, I still think he’s a brilliant filmmaker and am open to seeing whatever he puts out. Crimes of the Future is a remake of a movie he made in 1970. Viggo Mortensen reunites with Cronenberg (A History of Violence) and stars alongside Kristen Stewart and Lea Seydoux. In typical Cronenberg fashion, this will involve the exploration of technology and the human body, a visit to the not too distant future where humans have been forever biologically altered from the changes they have made to the natural world around them.
Decision to Leave (directed by Park Chan-wook)
Park Chan-wook is one of the top-tier South Korean directors who has made splashes internationally with pictures like Oldboy and The Handmaiden. His next film follows a detective investigating a murder in a rural mountainous region of Korea. The main suspect appears to be the victim’s wife, but the detective begins falling for her. Park has reteamed with his co-writer Jeong Seo-kyeong who helped him write the vampire film Thirst and the aforementioned The Handmaiden. I suspect the story while sounding fairly straightforward, will employ some twists and turns we don’t expect coming.
Disappointment Blvd. (directed by Ari Aster)
I would happily pre-order tickets for any Ari Aster movie. After the one-two punch of Hereditary and Midsommar, Aster made his mark on critics and audiences. He’s described this one as a “four-hour nightmare comedy,” though I suspect it may be cut down some before a theatrical release. Joaquin Phoenix is set to star as “one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time,” and that’s about all we know. Nathan Lane, Patti Lupone, and Richard Kind are set to co-star, which has me even more intrigued. All three are fantastic stage and screen actors, which leads me to believe Aster is working on what is likely his most extensive work to date. Whether you love or hate his output, it is impossible to say he doesn’t make interesting movies. I’ll certainly be there when this one releases.
Dual (directed by Riley Stearns)
Director Riley Stearns intrigued me with his film about cult deprogramming Faults and really got my attention with the biting satire of The Art of Self-Defense. This picture stars Karen Gillian as a woman who receives a terminal diagnosis and proceeds to have herself cloned as a way to soften the blow of her eventual death for her friends and family. Unfortunately, things go awry and force her to face down herself in a duel to the death. Aaron Paul and Jesse Eisenberg co-star. Stearns really impressed me with his last feature, which makes me very open about this picture. I’m hoping for something as thoughtful and unexpected as The Art of Self-Defense.