Films to be released in 2022 - what's coming to the cinema and when
By Mark Walsh
Looking ahead to 2022 in cinema, the familiar pattern of awards season, blockbuster season and festival season looks to be re-establishing itself. But who knows what the year outside of the movies has in store for us?
Consequently, my preview of the year remains loosely grouped into the probable month in which films should be in cinemas or online, but at least one of these films has been trying to get into cinemas since 2020.
Good luck to all those filmmakers who’ve worked hard to bring us cinematic treats this year, and hopefully we’ll get to see them all at some point.
I think it would all be cathartic for us to start 2022 with a good Scream; as a lover of horror, I hope this franchise returns to its best, with Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette all returning for the first film in 11 years. Tyler Gillett takes over directing duties from the late Wes Craven.
There are plenty of fantastic films likely to be in contention as awards season gathers momentum, and one of the deserved front-runners will be Belfast, Kenneth Branagh’s
semi-autobiographical look at his childhood in Northern Ireland’s capital. Jamie Dornan and Catriona Balfe as the parents, and Ciarán Hinds and Judi Dench as the grandparents are all on fine form, but Jude Hill is excellent as the young boy who escapes into Westerns and Thor comics to avoid the Troubles.
The Souvenir, Part II will hopefully also be in BAFTA contention, Joanna Hogg’s own meditation on her maturing as a filmmaker will be hard to dislodge as my favourite of the year.
Tilda Swinton also pops up in Memoria, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s film about a woman trying to make sense of the strange sounds only she can hear. Pedro Almodóvar reunites with Penélope Cruz for Parallel Mothers, about two women confronting the complexities of imminent motherhood, and Guillermo Del Toro has an all-star cast for Nightmare Alley – his latest film is a noir set in a seedy carnival.
For crowd-pleasing entertainment, Joe Wright (Atonement) casts Peter Dinklage in a musical version of the classic story Cyrano, there’s singing sequel fun with Sing 2, Guy Ritchie capers about with Jason Statham and Hugh Grant in Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre and, as we’ve not had a film based on a Marvel comic for at least a month, Jared Leto is Morbius in Sony’s arm of the Marvel film franchises.
Like the embarrassing uncle you can’t take your eyes off at a party, Independence Day director Roland Emmerich is destroying the world again in Moonfall. Halle Berry finds out that the moon isn’t what we think it is, in a premise that might just be silly enough to work. February also sees the return of some deliberate embarrassment, with the Jackass crew still standing returning to try to knock each other down again.
Release schedule changes give us Kenneth Branagh’s second film of the year, donning the Poirot guise again in Death on the Nile. Branagh also lends his vocal talents to animation Fireheart, about an aspiring female firefighter. There’s also big screen thrills with video game adaptation Uncharted, as Tom Holland takes on the role of Nathan Drake opposite Mark Wahlberg. Michael Bay has more thrills with Ambulance, as a pair of thieves (including Jake Gyllenhaal) steal an emergency vehicle after their heist goes bad.
There’s more awards attention to be had in the form of The Eyes of Tammy Faye, with Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield playing larger-than-life televaneglists experiencing a rise and fall in fortunes. We’ll also get to see Notting Hill director Roger Michell’s final film, with Jim Broadbent as The Duke, a taxi driver who steals a painting from the National Gallery. Jennifer Lopez is a pop star who decides to marry stranger Owen Wilson at the last minute in Marry Me, and The Amazing Maurice is a British animation based on a Terry Pratchett Discworld story.
March and April
Ali & Ava finally gets its release, and the working class love story from Clio Barnard between Adeel Ahktar and Claire Rushbrook set in Bradford deserves a big audience. I suspect Robert Pattinson will need to do less to attract viewers with his latest take on The Batman, with this one a standalone version of the Caped Crusader.
Likely to be just as big in UK cinemas is Downton Abbey: A New Era, which heads to the sunshine of the Riviera.
British audiences should also be thrilled by The Phantom of the Open, a farcical comedy with Mark Rylance as terrible golfer Maurice Flitcroft and Sally Hawkins as his unswervingly supportive wife. Also keeping the British end up is Operation Mincemeat, as Colin Firth tries to keep the Allied invasion of Sicily hidden with a strategically placed corpse.
Blockbuster entertainment arrives with Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, the continuation of JK Rowling’s prequel series with Mads Mikkelsen replacing Johnny Depp. There’s also wild adventure in Pixar’s Turning Red, where a teenage girl turns
into a giant panda whenever she gets too excited.
Meanwhile, some of the more out-there films of the year should reach cinema screens: fans of Paul Verhoeven (Robocop, Basic Instinct) rejoice, for Benedetta, a “true story” about medieval nuns, is as bold and uncompromising as we’ve come to expect from the Dutch director.
The Worst Person in the World is an unconventional romantic comedy which won Renate Reinsve Best Actress at Cannes, Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Lighthouse) does Vikings in The Northman and Nicolas Cage plays himself in oddball comedy The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.
May and June
The annual Marvel Cinematic Universe onslaught begins at the box office with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Benedict Cumberbatch teaming up with Elizabeth Olsen for sorcery fun. The two biggest action stars of our time have sequels: Keanu Reeves is John Wick: Chapter 4’s titular star and Tom Cruise is feeling the need, the need for Top Gun: Maverick. Jurassic World: Dominion also brings back many of the stars of Jurassic Park for more dino fun.
For slightly more original entertainment, there’s cartoon fun from the DC League of Super-Pets (Superman’s dog, basically), and Lightyear explores the origins of the “real” astronaut Buzz Lightyear with Captain America’s Chris Evans providing the heroic voice.
For those wanting something different, director Gaspar Noé casts horror legend Dario Argento in Vortex, his take on getting old, and the son of acclaimed Iranian director Jafar Panahi shows he can offer a distinctive voice in off-kilter road trip Hit the Road; Panah Panahi is one to watch.
Finally, Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann is working on a biopic of Elvis with Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker.
July to December
The rest of the year has a number of big hitters for both of the main comic book houses: having had a quiet 2021, DC has Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam, Jason Momoa returning for Aquaman 2 and a first solo outing for The Flash, with Batmen Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton. Meanwhile, Marvel has Natalie Portman back for Thor: Love and Thunder and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has to cope without the late, great Chadwick Boseman. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse will also be swinging in for the first of two parts.
We can also look forward to more slapstick antics and Steve Carell in Minions: The Rise of Gru, Tom Cruise will be seeing if he can take the stunts to yet more dangerous levels in Mission: Impossible 7 and a film version of the musical Matilda, with songs by Tim Minchin.
Finally, we’ll keep fingers crossed that James Cameron has finally managed to get the first of his Pandora-set sequels finished, as Avatar 2 will hopefully round out the year.