Having highlighted 30 films we guarantee are worth seeing this year and films we hope get U.S. distribution, we now venture into the unknown. One expects more pandemic-related delays, but there’s still plenty of currently under-the-radar movies that will hopefully make a mark in 2022.
Though the majority lack a set release—let alone confirmed festival premiere—most have wrapped production and will likely debut at some point in 2022. Be sure to check back for updates over the next twelve months (and beyond).
100. Babylon (Damien Chazelle; Dec. 25)
Damien Chazelle’s obsession with the magic of cinema seems to be reaching its natural apex: a detailed recreation of the era where silent film transitioned to sound. For collaborating with the biggest cast of his career, including Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, this should mark a big leap for the Oscar-winning filmmaker. Chazelle’s greatest strength is his ability to capture the dysfunction that stems from unadulterated devotion to your profession, with his characters often putting romantic connection and personal wellbeing to the side in favor of career ambition. Babylon looks to be exploring something he hasn’t really approached yet: what if the pursuit you’ve sacrificed everything for no longer needs you? – Logan K.
99. Landscape with Invisible Hand (Cory Finley)
Writer-director Cory Finley splashed into 2019 with Bad Education, the eventual Emmy winner for Outstanding Television Movie. The Thoroughbreds director, now having two critical hits under his belt, returns with Landscape with Invisible Hand, an adaptation of M.T. Anderson’s novel starring Tiffany Haddish. The sci-fi story depicts an alien-overtaken Earth and the plan by two teenagers to save their family by broadcasting their relationship to an interested alien species. Finley’s first foray into science fiction will likely keep the darkly comedic tone set with his first few films, roping in bigger names, bigger budgets, and a consistent studio by teaming with Plan B for his next feature. – Michael F.
98. Windfall (Charlie McDowell)
After making a splash with his nifty single-location romantic thriller The One I Love, Charlie McDowell’s follow-up The Discovery came and went quickly. But his next film has quite an enticing set-up. Jason Segel, Lily Collins, and Jesse Plemons star in the Hitchcockian noir thriller following a young couple who arrive at their vacation home only to find it’s being robbed. With filming already completed in the first half of last year, we expect Netflix to announce a release date soon. – Jordan R.
97. Big Bug (Jean-Pierre Jeunet; Feb. 11)
Netflix continues its heist of acclaimed foreign directors by scooping up distribution for Bigbug, French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s newest and his first solo outing since 2013’s The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet. Director of Amelie and known reality-bender and fantasy-obsessor, Jeunet follows a group of people who, circa 2050, are locked indoors as an adroit war rages outside. Coming February 11 to the streaming platform, Bigbug reunites Jeunet with several recurring actors (including Dominique Pinon), promising another visual spectacle to behold. – Michael F.
96. The Menu (Mark Mylod)
Cutting his teeth the last few years directing episodes of prestige television (Succession, Game of Thrones), Mark Mylod returns to the big screen in this culinary comedy produced by Adam McKay. Tapping into the growing star of Anya Taylor-Joy, plus the dark-comic sensibilities of British actors Ralph Fiennes and Nicholas Hoult, it’ll be intriguing to see if any of Mylod’s work on Succession will carry over, bringing a sleek visual style to satire. – Erik N.
95. Don’t Worry Darling (Olivia Wilde; Sept. 23)
There are a variety of ways Olivia Wilde could have followed her acclaimed debut Booksmart, but a ’50s-set psychological thriller about marital turmoil, dark secrets, and a mysterious cult isn’t what many would have expected. Plot details are currently vague but it’s clear it will be a bold sophomore film, as Wilde’s never worked in the genre and is collaborating with the varied cast of Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne, Nick Kroll, Chris Pine, and Wilde herself. It should be interesting to see how this turns out—it could be the catalyst for the next stage of Wilde’s promising career or an ambitious failure. – Logan K.
94. Peter von Kant (François Ozon)
Fresh off the dramas Summer of 85 and Everything Went Fine, French director François Ozon will adapt 1972’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, a German play and film by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. His version, Peter von Kant, updates the original all-female cast to include a male lead. French actors Denis Ménochet and Isabelle Adjani are set to portray Fassbinder and his muse in Ozon’s 22nd feature of the last 25 years. Set in the home of a narcissistic designer, the original play follows changing dynamics and relationships between the protagonist and those around her, a static set with shifting clothes, hair, and visual cues. – Michael F.
93. Dual (Riley Stearns)
Following The Art of Self-Defense––a future cult classic for admirers of its dark, twisted sense of humor, as well as enlightening commentary on toxic masculinity––Stearns is ready to again deconstruct the pervasive violence of America with Dual, starring Karen Gillan and Aaron Paul. Gillan plays Sarah, a woman who must fight her own clone in a duel to the death to determine who is most worthy of living. Stearn’s penchant for stylish black comedy and dark satire is sure to lend itself well to this project, which premieres at Sundance. – Margaret R.
92. Don Juan (Serge Bozon)
Serge Bozon’s follow-up to his 2017 Madame Hyde looks to be a similarly irreverent, playful subversion of classic fiction. Centered on an actor who has just been left on his wedding day, the film follows his journey as he tries seducing a plethora of women through singing abilities while preparing for his stage role as Don Juan. The cast includes the electrifying Tahar Rahim and Virginie Eifra, as well as a supporting performance from Savages frontwoman Jehnny Beth. Bozon’s eccentric sense of humor won’t be for everyone, but there’ll surely be lots to enjoy for whoever’s on his wavelength. – Logan K.
91. Knives Out 2 (Rian Johnson)
Despite the critical, commercial, and Oscar-nom success, Rian Johnson’s unnamed sequel to Knives Out will stream exclusively on Netflix. With Daniel Craig returning as the southern private investigator Benoit Blanc, the Greece-set follow-up features an entirely new cast and mystery. With an already stellar ensemble of Dave Bautista, Ethan Hawke, Kate Hudson, Kathryn Hahn, Janelle Monáe, Leslie Odom Jr., Edward Norton, and Jessica Henwick, expectations are high for the whodunnit follow-up. – Erik N.
90. Anatomy of a Fall (Justine Triet)
Justine Triet is a very promising French filmmaker, her 2016 film In Bed with Victoria receiving substantial acclaim in France and several César nominations. Her previous film Sibyl unspooled in competition at Cannes, and the upcoming Anatomy of a Fall has been called a new direction. The procedural thriller is centered on a case surrounding a murdered husband, his suspected wife, and their son caught in the midst of a moral dilemma. It’ll be interesting to see how Triet adapts to this new genre and if it could lead to international breakthrough. – Logan K.
89. Red, White and Water (Lila Neugebauer)
Directed by New York theatre staple Lila Neugebauer, who steps behind camera for the first time, this looks to be a return to the Winter’s Bone era of Jennifer Lawrence’s career. She is playing a soldier readjusting to life in America after suffering a head injury in Afghanistan. If Lawrence headlining wasn’t enough of a draw, the cast is rounded out by Brian Tyree Henry, Linda Emond, Samira Wiley, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Jayne Houdyshell, while A24 distributes. Red, White, and Water could very well become one of the most timely films of 2022, but also serve as an introduction to a new directing talent and a reminder of just how great Lawrence can be in the hands of a worthy story. – Stephen H.
88. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (Kelly Fremon Craig)
Judy Blume’s perennial bildungsroman Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret is finally receiving a cinematic adaptation from the director and producers behind the uproariously relatable coming-of-age film The Edge of Seventeen. Kelly Fremon Craig adapts this tale about a young girl’s trajectory of teenagehood involving puberty, friendships, first crushes, and questions of faith, and with the returning creative minds of James L. Brooks and Richard Sakai of The Simpsons fame to assist. If all goes as planned it is certain to be as humorous and heartwarming as her previous feature. – Margaret R.
87. The Bubble (Judd Apatow)
Yet another writer-director whose long run of studio-driven comedies is coming to Netflix, Judd Apatow finds himself turning to the streaming giant for release. The Bubble promises to be a meta-comedy about the pandemic we are still living through. Starring Pedro Pascal and Karen Gillan as two superstar actors forced to finish a franchise film from the confines of their hotel rooms, there’s potential to touch similar ground to Funny People regarding the movie industry and its politics. – Erik N.
86. Shining Sex (Lucile Hadzihalilovic, Sion Sono, Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani, Bertrand Mandico, Kleber Mendonça Filho)
Shining Sex is described as an intensely erotic, surrealistic, experimental anthology film featuring five different tales exploring sexual ecstasy. Anthologies are notoriously inconsistent but this line-up of directors is astonishing: Sion Sono (Love Exposure), Lucile Hadzihalilovic (Evolution), Kleber Mendonca Filho (Aquarius), Bertrand Mandico (The Wild Boys), and the duo of Helene Cattet & Bruno Forzani (Let the Corpses Tan) ensure Shining Sex will be a must-watch. – Logan K.
85. She Said (Maria Schrader; Nov. 18)
Still in contention for the Best International Oscar with I’m Your Man, German actor-director and Emmy winner Maria Schrader looks to continue her stellar run with She Said, a story of the New York Times reporter who broke the Harvey Weinsten story. Based on a 2019 novel by the two journalists, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, Schrader’s film stars Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan. With a stacked cast—Patricia Clarkson, Andre Braugher, Samantha Morton, and Tom Pelphrey—Schrader’s film will likely prove a dramatic retelling of the bombshell entertainment story from the last decade. – Michael F.
84. Ambulance (Michael Bay; April 8)
Michael Bay’s big-screen return from his brief partnership with Netflix looks to be an exhilarating, explosive, highly entertaining action thriller. Centered on a pair of adoptive brothers (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Jake Gyllenhaal) who reunite to rob a bank for wildly different reasons, Ambulance follows them as they’re forced to escape in an ambulance after shooting a cop, being trapped in the vehicle with the dying man and a panicked EMT officer. Bay’s maximalist style has divided audiences for decades but he’s one of the few distinct big-budget filmmakers working and it’s exciting to see what tricks he’ll have in store here. – Logan K.
83. All Dirt Roads Taste Of Salt (Raven Jackson)
Raven Jackson’s directorial debut All Dirt Roads Taste Of Salt sounds fascinating. It will reportedly be exploring the life of a Black woman across decades of her life in rural Tennessee, with other details yet to come. The film’s screenplay was personally handpicked by Barry Jenkins, who has attached his name as a producer and is reuniting with A24 to distribute the feature at some point in 2022. It will be interesting to see how Jackson builds off her impressive short films for a feature debut, the faith from Jenkins suggests she’ll be successful. – Logan K.
82. Everything Everywhere All at Once (Daniels; March 25)
The first collaboration between maverick and idiosyncratic filmmakers Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert since their critically acclaimed debut feature Swiss Army Man arrives soon. Hopefully a welcome return to form for the creative partners, they seem poised to astound audiences again with the SXSW opener Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. Michelle Yeoh, no stranger to the sci-fi genre, leads a stunning cast in this quirky venture as the Chinese immigrant Evelyn Wang, who finds herself thrust through multiverse versions of herself and the lives she could have theoretically lived, ultimately finding herself the only one who can save the world. – Margaret R.
81. The Wonder (Sebastián Lelio)
Florence Pugh is currently unstoppable, and she continues her domination in next year’s The Wonder, a psychological thriller set in 1859 Ireland. The story itself is mysterious—Pugh plays a British nurse sent to observe an 11-year-old girl who has not eaten in months and determine whether it is a miracle as claimed. If any filmmaker can pull off such a tenuous balance between tension and emotion, it would be Sebastián Lelio, who dazzled us with the atmospheric A Fantastic Woman and Disobedience. – Jonah W.
80. Human Flowers of Flesh (Helena Wittmann)
Described by Helena Wittmann as “the story of a European utopia of a heterogeneous society built around a woman as a respected and respectful authority,” the director’s follow-up to her meditative Drift looks to explore the complicated history of the Mediterranean through the lens of an independent woman sailing around the world. It will be interesting to see how Wittmann utilizes the presence of the French Legionnaire and their occupation of Algeria, since it could easily backfire if not handled sensitively. The film stars at Denis Lavant (Holy Motors, Beau Travail) and Angeliki Papoulia (Dogtooth, The Lobster), and cites Beau Travail as an inspiration, as well as Eric Rohmer’s The Green Ray. – Logan K.
78 & 79. Sharp Stick and Catherine, Called Birdy (Lena Dunham)
Lena Dunham disappeared long enough that an entire new generation can take grievance with her failing to meet their worldview. But yours truly was just a college freshman when Girls premiered 10 (Christ) years back, and in the five since it left airwaves I’ve missed this appreciably thorny voice. 2022 is an odd proposition: two features, one an original script and the other an adaptation. The former is Sharp Stick, in which a 26-year-old woman is “thrust into an education on sexuality, loss and power” by her affair with an older man; the latter is Catherine, Called Birdy, her adaptation of a coming-of-age children’s novel (!) set in 13th-century England. Classic Dunham and Nuovo Dunham? She’s been gone so long I’m glad to get any. – Nick N.
77. The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh)
Five years since Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri attracted crossover success (and fair share of controversy), Martin McDonagh returns with a feature that takes him back across the Atlantic––but with his prickly brand of dark comedy I’d hesitate to call it a “comfort zone.” Reuniting with In Bruges stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Insherin follows two lifelong friends who, on a remote Irish isle, suffer major consequences when one decides to abruptly end their relationship; knowing McDonagh, you’re safe to assume the reasons for this are more provocative than they initially appear. Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon co-star. – Alistair R.
76. The Woman King (Gina Prince-Bythewood; Sept. 16)
Garnering praise these last 20 years with the romantic classic Love & Basketball and more recent action streamer The Old Guard, writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood has shown she’s more than capable of shifting genre with sustained critical and commercial success. Her next project finds the director taking on a historical epic, The Woman King, from screenwriter Dana Stevens. Starring Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch, and John Boyega, it follows the general of an all-female military unit and its new recruit living, and fighting, within the West African Kingdom of Dahomey. – Michael F.
75. Cha Cha Real Smooth (Cooper Raiff)
Cooper Raiff’s directorial debut Shithouse was one of the most exciting American indies of the last few years, showcasing a detailed understanding of momentary connections, loneliness, and infatuation alongside genuinely funny writing. His upcoming Cha Cha Real Smooth implies an expanded scope by working with Dakota Johnson and Leslie Mann, and centering his script on a directionless college graduate who finds a bond with a young mother and her teenage daughter. If it’s as good as Shithouse we should be hearing about Raiff for a long time. – Logan K.
74. Wendell and Wild (Henry Selick)
Henry Selick, director of stop-motion classics such as The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline, is back after more than a decade—with assistance from the prolifically creative team Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, who produce and provide voices of the titular characters Wendell and Wild. (Peele also co-wrote the script, while a score comes from Coraline’s Bruno Coulais.) Wendell (Key) and Wild (Peele) are two demon brothers who must face their arch-nemesis Sister Helly and her goth teen apprentices Kat and Raoul. Selick’s direction, backed by the creative energy of Key and Peele, will be a welcome return for the director and his brand of macabre animation has been sorely missed. – Margaret R.
73. Timestalker (Alice Lowe)
Alice Lowe, English-indie-actress-turned-maverick-horror-filmmaker, shocked audiences with her debut Prevenge in 2016 and is ready to take a chance on the fantasy genre with the follow-up Timestalkers. The film follows hapless heroine Agnes, who is unwittingly reincarnated everytime she falls for the wrong man, going from the 1680s Western Scotland to the apocalyptic 22nd century. Timestalkers promises a grander adventure for Lowe; we can’t wait to see her play with an expanded bag of tricks. – Margaret R.
72. Monica (Kantemir Balagov)
Kantemir Balagov’s Beanpole was one of 2019’s most intense, difficult viewing experiences. Universal praise likely pushed the Russian director into favorable circles, landing him directing duties on the first episode of HBO’s The Last of Us adaptation. The 30-year-old director’s next feature will be Monica, another collaboration with mega-producer Alexander Rodnyansky and a story depicting the tenuous, odd relationship between a father and son. Co-written by Russian best-selling author Marina Stepnova, the film, if anything like Beanpole, should explore this complex relationship with patience and understanding. Possibly a severe sense of dread. – Michael F.
71. Dark Glasses (Dario Argento)
Dario Argento may never achieve the luminous, opulent heights of his canonized work, but few things would make us happier than the Italian master—a title he still deserves—hitting us with a bit of late style. If nothing else, its logline—blinded by a serial killer, a sex worker turns the tables on her predator; hunter becomes hunted, etc.—hardly sounds out-of-step with his gialli benchmarks. – Nick N.
70. jeen-yuhs (Coodie & Chike)
Kanye West is one of the most divisive, idiosyncratic, fascinating pop-culture figures of the 21st century. He has incited controversy after controversy, with his last few years being more defined by his multiple incendiary comments and erratic behavior than artistic accomplishments. Yet so much of our knowledge about West is defined from the outside: how he uses the media, what he does while knowing the public is looking at him. jeen-yuhs is a three-part, 4.5-hour Netflix documentary using footage from the past 20 years of West’s life to piece together a portrait of a complicated, selfish genius. With any luck it’ll be essential for any fan of his music (or those fascinated by his public persona) to see what lies under the surface of the provocateur. – Logan K.
69. Deep Water (Adrian Lyne)
The return of Adrian Lyne after 20 years of absence is a spectacular treat for film audiences everywhere, even if Disney seems committed to ensuring as few people see it as possible, shifting it straight to Hulu after a number of delays. Lyne is among the most famous erotic-thriller directors and Deep Water seems set on bringing back eroticism to a largely sexless film climate. Starring Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas, it’s adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s novel and follows a married couple who, fallen out of love, promptly decide to torture each other, leading to tragedy all around them. Whatever the quality, it’ll be refreshing to have this genre back. – Logan K.
68. The Son (Florian Zeller)
The follow-up to the Oscar-winning success of his debut feature The Father, Florian Zeller’s new film, The Son, adapts his play about teen depression. Hugh Jackman and Vanessa Kirby star as a couple whose life is upended when Jackman’s ex, played by Laura Dern, shows up with their troubled teenage son. Zeller’s next film sounds like it’ll be apiece with his debut, treading similar ground of dealing with mental illness and how that affects an entire family. – Erik N.
67. Bora Bora (Albert Serra)
And now for something completely different, courtesy Catalan slow-cinema classicist Albert Serra. Turning away from his grotesquely sexualized and lugubrious takes on the European canon (for now), he seems to have generated a sinister little yarn informed by the urgent issue of colonialism in its modern guise (as is also being tackled by many peers). A successful novelist (who we’ll guess is played by real-life author Cécile Guilbert) returns home to French Polynesia, where she accepts a translator job with an ambassador (Benoît Magimel, surely by the cast list), for whom she eventually falls. A dark web of international politics and intrigue is summarily revealed. Sounds not unlike last year’s Azor. The exciting wait—perhaps for a Cannes comp debut—begins. – David K.
66. Maestro (Bradley Cooper)
Proving himself more than capable behind the camera with A Star is Born, Bradley Cooper looks to repeat his success in his sophomore feature Maestro. Returning to the world of music, his next drama depicts the life and tumultuous love saga of Leonard Bernstein (Cooper) and his creative partner and wife Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan). With Netflix’s dollar, Cooper will journey through their 25-year marriage and the struggles between juggling three children, keeping his homosexual longings hidden from the public eye, and Bernstein’s composing duties crafting some of the most famous contributions to the American Music lexicon, including West Side Story, On the Waterfront, and On the Town. – Margaret R.
65. Ecole de l’air (Robin Campillo)
Robin Campillo’s BPM was one of the most acclaimed films of the 2010s, a masterpiece that flawlessly balanced the political causes and personal lives of the ACT UP movement. Ecole de l’air looks to be another immaculate, personal examination of a political climate, depicting the final years of the French occupation of Madagascar and struggles of a young boy living on an army base as he realizes the full extent of colonialism. Campillo’s critical portrayal of the French government in BPM breeds optimism this will be a scathing, heartbreaking indictment of colonialism. – Logan K.
64. Flux Gourmet (Peter Strickland)
The latest work from acclaimed auteur Peter Strickland, Flux Gourmet looks to be continuing his incredibly specific, disturbing, and conceptual brand of filmmaking. Focused on an institute that has devoted itself to culinary and alimentary performance, the film depicts several members as they grapple with a variety of conflicts, some intestinal, some political. From the concept alone, it seems clear that Strickland is utilizing a surreal and ludicrous premise to capture the inherent silliness of human power struggles. His previous track record suggests he’ll be successful here, with a cast featuring Asa Butterfield, Gwendoline Christie, Richard Bremmer, and Ariane Labed. – Logan K.
63. The Holdovers (Alexander Payne)
Reuniting this year are Sideways team Alexander Payne and Paul Giamatti. Playing a character that sounds eerily similar to his wine-loving, pompous novelist, Giamatti plays an insufferable academy teacher in 1970 New England who is hated by most. The grumpy teacher is forced to take after a trouble-making teen unable to make it back home during the Christmas break. Payne has reveled in what a talent Giamatti is and that it’s a “matter of time before he gets an Oscar.” Maybe this will be it. – Erik N.
62. Revoir Paris (Alice Winocour)
Alice Winocour, director of the criminally underappreciated Proxima and writer of the critically acclaimed feature Mustang, returns behind the camera for her fourth feature Revoir Paris. The story follows Mia, who finds herself caught in a Paris terrorist attack one Saturday night, and three months later decides to recollect the attack and memory of the man who may have saved her life. Headlined by Virginie Efira, star of the lauded Benedetta, Winocour’s latest has the makings of a resonating, cathartic drama. – Margaret R.
61. Nobody’s Hero (Alain Guiraudie)
Stranger by the Lake briefly vaulted Alain Guiraudie into the arthouse A-list, but his follow-up (2016’s Staying Vertical) proved far too confounding for many. He’s perhaps opted to double down on that film’s off-kilter approach to the relationship between celebrity and infamy with Nobody’s Hero, where the ties between a man and a middle-aged sex worker are thrown into disarray when he agrees to shelter a homeless person in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack. Though we’d typically expect this to make a bow at Cannes, their rejection of Bertrand Bonnello’s Nocturama for approaching similar subject matter leaves it uncertain whether another film with an unconventional angle on terrorism would be greeted with open arms. – Alistair R.
60. Fire Island (Andrew Ahn)
Andrew Ahn’s directorial debut, Spa Night, was a stunning and emotional depiction of what it’s like to grow up as a first-generation gay Asian American. We’re excited to see him bring a lighter take on the subject with an all-star comedic cast for Fire Island, a modern-day adaptation of Pride and Prejudice set in New York’s famous queer getaway spot. Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang, and Margaret Cho round out the main roles, all but guaranteeing a good time. – Jonah W.
59. Infinity Pool (Brandon Cronenberg)
Infinity Pool, the latest from Brandon Cronenberg, hopefully continues his track record for grim, atmospheric, genuinely disturbing genre films. In contrast to his other works, his latest sees the second-generation filmmaker focusing on a romantic relationship, his two leads (Alexander Skarsgard and Cleopatra Coleman) journeying to a mysterious resort and discovering something darker beneath the surface of this paradise. The younger Cronenberg has a knack for intricate atmospheres and it’ll be interesting to see what fear he might invoke with some sunshine. – Logan K.
58. Avatar 2 (James Cameron; Dec. 16)
Now, look: I don’t expect great things. Avatar is a misbegotten, often garish exercise whose pleasures—yes, certain VFX remain impressive 12 years on—are hard to square with its follies. But James Cameron knows how to engineer sequels like no other, and one can hope (against hope?) the world-building of his 2009 epic paved way for proper sci-fi thrills. And we remain immensely curious how its innovations (e.g. underwater motion-capture) will actually play. Set photos convey an insane experiment the likes of which used to sink studios, which in this case would be the director’s greatest contribution to his medium. – Nick N.
57. Sharpshooter (Zhang Yimou)
Continuing his streak of historical films, Zhang Yimou returns with Sharpshooter, based on the real-life sniper who set a record killing American soldiers during the Korean War. As the film is described as patriotic and strongly rebukes US military power on the 70th anniversary of the Korean War, it will be interesting to see how Zhang might transcend political propaganda and bring artistry to his subject’s life. – Jonah W.
56. Inavouable (Catherine Breillat)
After a relatively prolific output in the ’90s and ’00s––including her widely acclaimed 2001 drama Fat Girl––Catherine Breillat hasn’t made a film since 2013’s Abuse of Weakness starring Isabelle Huppert. The French filmmaker is now finally set to return with a new project: Breillat will direct a remake of May el-Toukhy’s Queen of Hearts, which was selected as Denmark’s Oscar entry in 2019. The erotic drama followed a lawyer and mother who gets romantically involved with her teenage stepson, causing familial strife. Titled Inavouable (which roughly translates to unspeakable or unmentionable), Breillat’s remake will star Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi and Olivier Rabourdin.
55. The Whale (Darren Aronofsky)
There’s an odd pattern emerging in Darren Aronofsky’s career: big, ambitious follies (or near-follies) are followed by smaller-scale, redemptive projects, often for an undervalued lead actor, in tandem with its talented and mercurial director. Predictably high-concept, this chamber piece, adapted by Samuel D. Hunter from his play, follows a 600-pound middle-aged English teacher (Brendan Fraser, undergoing a nice second act with Scorsese and Soderbergh too), attempting to reconnect with his estranged 17-year-old daughter. It’s going to be intense and bracing––expect astonishing make-up effects, and one hopes for more discipline than the overwrought mother! – David K.
54. Suzume no Tojimari (Makoto Shinkai)
With Your Name, Makoto Shinkai perfected his brand of fateful teen drama, staying faithful to this winning formula with his apocalyptic follow-up, 2019’s Weathering With You. Those familiar ingredients are all apparent in Suzume no Tojimari (which roughly translates as “Suzume’s Locking Up”), as a 17-year-old girl meets a young man searching for a hidden door in the mountains––with the pair discovering that, when it’s open, it triggers devastating natural disasters across the whole of Japan. A loose synopsis states that through the door it looks like “all of time blended together,” so it’s safe to assume Shinkai is keeping one foot in the narrative comfort zone that put him on the map in the first place. – Alistair R.
53. Men (Alex Garland)
Alex Garland has been one of the most consistently exciting voices in science-fiction filmmaking for the last 15 years, with Ex Machina and Annihilation generating considerable critical acclaim upon release. His latest, Men, seems to move away from sci-fi and towards horror, focusing on a young woman’s holiday to the English countryside following the death of her ex-husband. Garland’s previous films showed skill at crafting disturbing environments and he’s gotten great work out of his lead actresses, generating confidence he’ll get a similarly excellent performance from Jessie Buckley. – Logan K.
52. Kimi (Steven Soderbergh; Feb. 10)
A bit perverse, maybe, placing something that arrives next month. But Kimi sounds too good to qualify: Soderbergh tries his hand at surveillance-state Blow-up with Zoe Kravitz playing an agoraphobic techie whose suspicions of foul play send her outside amidst the raging pandemic. Soderbergh has settled into a movies-not-films path that on most would be cover for dim wit, but from his end is about exercising great powers for good fun. (Not to mention he’s one of the few director’s I’d trust to make anything worthwhile around—not about, around—COVID.) Its HBO Max arrival should facilitate prime end-of-week unwinding. – Nick N.
51. Bones and All (Luca Guadagnino)
It sounded like a dark joke upon its original announcement: the director and star of Call Me By Your Name teaming up to make a cannibal drama shortly after a very specific allegation about their former co-star made international headlines. But Luca Guadagnino’s latest, his first film set in the U.S., seems far from an elaborate middle finger. This adaptation of Camille DeAngelis’ novel of the same name follows a young woman (Taylor Russell) who joins a drifter (Chalamet) on a road trip across Reagan’s America as they learn to live on the margins of society. Mark Rylance, Michael Stuhlbarg, André Holland, Jessica Harper, David Gordon Green, Francesca Scorsese, and Chloë Sevigny round out the cast, with Guadagnino’s regular screenwriter David Kajganich penning the script. – Alistair R.
50. Alcarràs (Carla Simón)
Following her critical success Summer 1993, Carla Simon’s second feature Alcarras sounds absolutely fascinating on paper. Made up from a non-professional cast of actors and legitimate farm workers from the Catalan region, Alcarras will depict the final harvest of the Solé family farm after 80 years cultivating the same soil. Simon’s previous work depicted Catalonia in a vibrant, intoxicating way, capturing beauty of the landscapes flawlessly. Alcarràs looks to be as gorgeous but more melancholic, an elegiac view of a dying era of Catalonia through the lens of one family. – Logan K.
49. Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Adventure (Richard Linklater)
Does any American director turn the minor into major with such grace as Richard Linklater? Neither Last Flag Flying nor Where’d You Go, Bernadette? hit the heights we expect, but after adapting a couple novels he’s returned to the animation techniques of Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly for a story perhaps closer to home. Texas, at least, specifically Houston in 1969, when the city became point origin for (more or less) mankind’s single greatest achievement. Details are slightly vague—something about an intermingling of the mission itself and “a kid’s fantasy about being plucked from his average life in suburbia” for same—which makes surprising, and of course more enticing, that it might hit Netflix in mere months. – Nick N.
48. Poor Things (Yorgos Lanthimos)
Yorgos Lanthimos is consistently absurd—off-kilter, violent, darkly comic—and can attract some of Hollywood’s biggest names. His newest project is no different: a dynamite ensemble led by Emma Stone as a Victorian-era woman bought back to life by an eccentric scientist. A Frankenstein-like love story that sounds right up Lanthimos’ alley with a cast rounded out by Willem Dafoe, Mark Ruffalo, and Christopher Abbott. – Erik N.
47. Tori et Lokita (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have been perennial favorites of the Cannes Film Festival; we imagine a return may be in store with their first film of this decade, Tori et Lokita. Little is known about the plot, said to tell of a friendship between two young people after traveling from Africa and becoming exiled in Belgium. While their last critical hit dates back to 2014 with Two Days, One Night, here’s hoping a comeback is in store. – Margaret R.
46. Elvis (Baz Luhrmann; June 24)
Baz Lurhmann’s first feature since 2013’s The Great Gatsby is something to eagerly await. Mainstream cinema has missed the unique energy, vibrant colors, and dazzling production design that are staples of Luhrmann’s cinema, and the potential of him bringing Elvis Presley’s life to the big screen is tantalizing. Austin Butler is an underrated actor and this could be his major breakthrough, the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood player more than capable of delivering the charisma and fragility that will be a requirement for playing Elvis. – Logan K.
45. R.M.N. (Cristian Mungiu)
Cristian Mungiu, one of the defining artists of the Romanian New Wave, hasn’t released a film since 2016’s Graduation. While details are incredibly sparse on R.M.N., it has been backed by grants from the Romanian government and should be released some time in 2022. Mungiu is one of the most acclaimed European filmmakers of the 2000s, and while his 2010s work didn’t quite reach his very high peaks, R.M.N. will hopefully mark a comeback once finally debuted. – Logan K.
44. The Northman (Robert Eggers; April 22)
Robert Eggers has a track record for mechanically perfect recreations of specific periods, The Witch and The Lighthouse being intricately crafted and compelling visual artifacts. However, for his latest film The Northman, Eggers has decided to craft a version of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla if it was coated head to toe in sickening filth. Centered on a Viking seeking revenge for the murder of his father and imprisonment of his mother, The Northman looks exhilarating and grotesque from its teaser trailer. Hopefully thrilling to sit through and, if nothing else, guaranteed to have immaculate production design. – Logan K.
43. White Noise (Noah Baumbach)
If something as blandly benign as Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up could ignite such brouhaha this past month, Netflix surely knows what they have on their hands with Noah Baumbach’s White Noise. Led by Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig, this (reportedly $80 million) adaptation hopefully doesn’t sand down the complex, brilliant edges of Don DeLillo’s masterwork, following Driver as a professor of Hitler studies whose large family is torn asunder by “the Airborne Toxic Event,” a cataclysmic train accident that casts chemical waste over his town. Per DeLillo adaptations, one imagines Baumbach’s vision may not be as singularly uncompromising as what Cronenberg delivered in the previous decade, but we’re mighty curious nonetheless. – Jordan R.
42. Nope (Jordan Peele; July 22)
Jordan Peele’s Get Out is one of the most exciting horror films of the last 20 years, flawlessly balancing humor, fear, and a scathing satire of white liberalism. While his follow-up Us was more divisive, Peele is clearly an incredible talent, and the announcement of his 2022 film Nope has generated significant anticipation among horror fans. Details are sparse but Peele will reunite with his Get Out lead Daniel Kaluuya while teaming with Keke Palmer and Steven Yeun. It should be exciting to see what direction Peele takes, and with Nolan’s recent cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema on board an epic scope is suggested. – Logan K.
41. Jackass Forever (Jeff Tremaine; Feb. 7)
While the Jackass crew are infamous for their juvenile humor, gross-out acts of sadism, and ludicrously dangerous (read: hilarious) stunts, their new film Jackass Forever is the first entry since the death of Ryan Dunn. It comes at a point when all original members are much older and have permanent damage from the acts they’ve performed. Additionally, Bam Margera will no longer be a part of the film due to him breaking sobriety and sending death threats to director Jeff Tremaine. This will be the end of Jackass as we know it, one final reunion to bid goodbye to an era that can’t (and probably shouldn’t) exist again. Yet there’s going to be so much fun saying goodbye. – Logan K.
40. Kitbag (Ridley Scott)
Ridley Scott’s film about Napoleon Bonaparte’s rise to power and his romantic relationship with his partner, Josephine, was recently dealt an unfortunate blow when Jodie Comer was forced to leave from scheduling conflicts. Vanessa Kirby has, fortunately, been brought in to play the role opposite Joaquin Phoenix’s Napoleon, hopefully ensuring we get to see Kitbag in 2022. Scott’s been on a phenomenal run of late, with The Last Duel being one of the best films in his long career. Kitbag will hopefully prove as memorable. – Logan K.
39. The Sky Is Everywhere (Josephine Decker)
Josephine Decker, who reached wider audiences with the masterfully crafted Madeline’s Madelines and further solidified her singular vision with the eerily unforgettable Shirley, returns with The Sky is Everywhere. Adapting the critically acclaimed YA novel with writer Jandy Nelson, it finds Decker returning to a coming-of-age tale as a high-schooler copes with the death of her older sister. With filming on the A24 / Apple TV+ production wrapping late last year, we imagine news comes soon. – Margaret R.
38. The Actor (Duke Johnson)
The Actor is the first film to be directed by Duke Johnson without his Anomalisa co-director Charlie Kaufman, and will also see him pivot into live-action filmmaking. It has been described as a film noir set in 1950s Ohio, which follows an actor struggling with the loss of memory following a brutal attack—likely an emotional, confounding journey as the actor tries to make it home to New York while reclaiming pieces of himself along the way. To add to the anticipation, it sees see the return of Ryan Gosling in a leading role following his sabbatical from acting. Potentially an interesting, ambitious work with a great central performance. – Logan K.
37. Brother and Sister (Arnaud Desplechin)
There are no good and bad films, as the controversial auteur-freak saying goes, only good and bad directors. But merely “good” is pretty unflattering to Arnaud Desplechin, perhaps the most talented and original French filmmaker of his generation, and the suspicion goes—following poor receptions to Oh Mercy! and Deception—that detractors just couldn’t access their more mutedly eccentric wavelengths. Headed by Melvil Poupaud and Marion Cotillard, with a premise of reunited siblings that seems comfortably familiar for Desplechin, Brother and Sister (aka Frère et Soeur) promises, as ever with this director, a box of intellectual and neurotically emotional fireworks. – David K.
36. Beth and Don (Nicole Holofcener)
Nicole Holofcener returns to directing after her criminally underrated 2018 film The Land of Steady Habits, reuniting with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, her lead actress from Enough Said. Holofcener is one of the sharpest writers of middle-aged ennui and romantic dissatisfaction in modern American filmmaking; Beth and Don seemingly continues to explore those ideas. Centered on the fractures that build between a couple when the husband admits he doesn’t like his wife’s recent work, it looks to be a quietly devastating portrait of a collapsing relationship. – Logan K.
35. Passages (Ira Sachs)
Ira Sachs’ latest has an absolutely exceptional casting decision: pairing two of the most talented actors alive, Franz Rogowski and Ben Whishaw, as a gay couple who have been together for 15 years. This should excite queer men everywhere, even as the film follows their dysfunction when one begins an affair with a woman (Adèle Exarchopoulos). Sachs has explored the beauty and struggles of long-term gay relationships before, with his wonderful 2013 feature Love is Strange being the primary example, and Passages will hopefully do so again. – Logan K.
34. Mission: Impossible 7 (Christopher McQuarrie; Sept. 30)
Mission: Impossible is one of the few filmmaking franchises that provide optimism in the modern Hollywood climate. They are films that consistently care about craftsmanship, its beautiful set-pieces directed with imagination and elegance. Since Christopher McQuarrie took directing duties on Rogue Nation he has formed a symbiotic partnership with star Tom Cruise, the two pushing each other to some of the most accomplished work in their careers. Mission: Impossible 7 seems another testament to their artistic collaboration, with Cruise guaranteed to put his body through another set of the riskiest stunts you’ve ever imagined. – Logan K.
33. Chocobar (Lucrecia Martel)
Sure to be coursing with anger and sly formal gamesmanship, the first feature-length documentary from Latin American axiom Lucrecia Martel finally arrives this year. It focuses on the 2007 assassination of Argentine indigenous rights activist Javier Chocobar, who protested the continued appropriation of land by white developers. Described by her as a “hybrid, creative” work, we can expect dramatized sequences and further historical context in an unsettling melange. Her prior sound design in the likes of Zama and The Headless Woman are beyond parallel as well. How might she adapt that to this non-fiction realm? – David K.
32. Triangle of Sadness (Ruben Östlund)
As acclaim and notoriety for Ruben Östlund go up so do the production budgets and scope. This seems a natural marriage for his talents that shouldn’t instill creative compromise. It’s exciting to have a sharp, ambitious satirist given freer reign, putting him on a closer level to directors like Adam McKay and Terry Gilliam, and this cruise-set look at the luxury and fashion worlds—with Woody Harrelson in tow as a Marxist theory-spouting sea captain—should be an enjoyable provocation, even as risk of underwhelming slightly (e.g. The Square) is always present. – David K.
31. Assumed Hong Sang-soo Film
No confirmation a film’s even en route? He with the greatest prolificacy-to-success ratio wouldn’t dare let us down. Last year saw debuts for Introduction and In Front of Your Face—one a classic tale of mixed-up chronology, the other à la piercing character studies he’s taken to of late, both superb. Footage of him shooting circa March 2021 could have been for Face, which was complete by June, but even were that the case I imagine these next 12 months will gift another perfectly attenuated, brilliantly composed tale of folly, loss, and regret. – Nick N.
30. Neck (Takeshi Kitano)
It has been announced that Neck will likely be the final film of legendary Japanese auteur Takeshi Kitano, the 74-year-old planning retirement after this directorial effort. This would make it a must-see regardless of the content—Kitano is one of the great genre directors of the last 50 years—but Neck sounds utterly enthralling. Adapted from Kitano’s own 2019 novel, it follows events before the assassination of Oda Nobunaga, an infamous Japanese warlord in the 1800s. It is clearly a point of historical and personal interest for Kitano, who sees clear desire in making it the coda to his inimitable career. – Logan K.
29. Coma (Bertrand Bonello)
Bertrand Bonello has postponed his ambitious sci-fi project The Beast (set to star Léa Seydoux), for something potentially even more intriguing and timely: after his budget course-setting with Zombi Child (after his fantastic Nocturama unjustly failed in France) comes another smaller-scale project about “today’s young girls” addled by online content, Zoom windows, and YouTube tutorials. We can be confident this won’t devolve into a didactic lecture about “logging off,” and the array of visual possibilities from our online lives should dovetail well with Bonello’s cubist editing style. – David K.
28. The Killer (David Fincher)
After a brief diversion with Mank, David Fincher’s announcement he’d return to crime received rapturous glee. Described as a film about the “methodology of contract killings,” it follows a professional assassin (Michael Fassbender) slowly losing his grasp on reality as he enacts a series of killings. Fincher’s proficiency always suits projects about professionals who become completely overwhelmed by their work—Zodiac, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Se7en bring out some of his best instincts. The Killer sounds like it’ll do the same. – Logan K.
27. L’envoi (Pietro Marcello)
Pietro Marcello’s follow-up to the staggering Martin Eden should be a must-see, even just based on that film’s sublime quality. L’envol will be Marcello’s first French-language effort and concern a young woman living in northern Normandy after World War I. It has been described as an inspirational film between reality and fantasy, with musical elements to boot. Impossible to imagine, incredibly exciting to think about. – Logan K.
26. The End (Joshua Oppenheimer)
Joshua Oppenheimer isn’t a director you’d assume was a perfect fit for a musical; the closest he’s got to dabbling in the genre so far was making two perpetrators of a genocide act out their histories through a Hollywood lens in The Act of Killing. Yet he’s following that acclaimed duo of documentaries with an apocalyptic sci-fi musical wherein Tilda Swinton, Stephen Graham, and George McKay appear as the last living family down in a doomsday bunker 20 years after environmental collapse. It sounds every bit as bleak and surreal as his best-known work—and as he’s already cited The Umbrellas of Cherbourg as a key influence, you should probably get the tissues ready. Filming wasn’t expected to start until early this year, but we hope a fall festival bow is in the cards. – Alistair R.
25. Disappointment Blvd. (Ari Aster)
As potentially great auteurs like Ari Aster emerge, the scrutiny and opportunity for backlash always seems raised: one can already feel critics saving a riff on “disappointment” in their review doc drafts. Advance details are scarce––presented first to industry trades as the Kane-like story of an entrepreneur’s descent, it seems to have as much in common with Beau is Afraid, a legendary (seriously, scope out that PDF!) early script of Aster’s. An aged-up Joaquin Phoenix plays Beau, heading a cast full of brilliant character actors like Stephen McKinley Henderson and Parker Posey. Whether he’s the lead of that “nightmare horror comedy” or more a pathetic, Logan Roy-esque figure is an enticing source of pre-release mystery. – David K.
24. Asteroid City (Wes Anderson)
The only hope is that Anderson won’t lean too much towards plot; in these last few films his taste for ornate physical design has really presented itself in narrative construction. While The French Dispatch gained nothing from that poisoning scheme involving Edward Norton and Jeffrey Wright, good God if the man isn’t working at a peak of his visual scheming. And Asteroid City already wins bonus points for its new faces: joining stalwarts Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, and Jeff Goldlbum are newcomers Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie, Scarlett Johansson, Matt Dillon, and Maya Hawke. If it seems I’m expending all my words on previous films and stars of this new one, it’s because we have zero (but zero) idea what Asteroid City’s about. In any case we’re there. – Nick N.
23. God’s Creatures (Saela Davis and Anna Rose Holmer)
Anna Rose Holmer made a grand entrance with her debut feature The Fits, and has partnered with her editor (and now co-director) Saela Davis for their second feature God’s Creatures. The psychological gothic drama set in an Irish fishing village conveys the story of a mother whose lie to protect her son leads to devastating consequences for her community, her family, and eventually herself. Emily Watson, Paul Mescal, and Aisling Franciosi headline the A24 production, which we imagine arrives this fall. – Margaret R.
22. Les herbes sèches (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
Nuri Bilge Ceylan is the most acclaimed Turkish director of his generation, each new release receiving critical acclaim and a guaranteed place at Cannes. His latest, Les herbes seches—and first since 2018’s The Wild Pear Tree—tracks a Turkish teacher completing his mandatory service in a town he dislikes. When a request for a transfer is denied he begins spiraling into an existential crisis, clinging to a friendship with a fellow teacher as his only form of salvation. Ceylan’s work is often critical of the contemporary Turkish government; this seems no exception. – Logan K.
21. The Zone of Interest (Jonathan Glazer)
Long stretches between the films of Jonathan Glazer can be maddening, as he is one of the finest British talents to emerge in the last 30 years. His three feature films are all incredible, with 2013’s Under the Skin being his most acclaimed work to date. The Zone of Interest sees him adapting Martin Amis’ novel of the same name, focusing on a relationship between a Nazi officer and the wife of a camp commandant during the Holocaust. Glazer himself is Jewish, which perhaps makes the prospect of a bleak romance centered on Nazis easier to bear. It’s clear this material resonates with him on a deep level, something we’ll only learn the extent of when Zone arrives. – Logan K.
20. Broker (Hirokazu Kore-eda)
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s most recent film, 2019’s The Truth, saw him make both his French- and English-language debut. The upcoming Broker finds him turning to Korean, providing a clear example of how willing Kore-eda is to push himself artistically and culturally. Starring Song Kang-ho, it follows an alternate universe where boxes are made publicly available for parents to leave their newborn children, letting them easily give up raising their child if they are unable. Kore-eda’s career-long interest in surrogate families and abandonment should ensure an emotional, thought-provoking examination of modern parenthood. – Logan K.
19. The Eternal Daughter (Joanna Hogg)
A ghost story not so much about a lost daughter as, yes, a rather more eternal one. Joanna Hogg continues cementing her place as the pre-eminent British filmmaker with this project shot in the first lockdown as The Souvenir Part II was delayed for the following year. Tilda Swinton is in it, you can set your watch to that, but more intriguingly she is surrounded in the cast by non-professional actors––who Hogg is especially skilled with directing, in a Rohmer-like sense. This was originally mooted as her second feature, once her debut Unrelated made a great splash in the UK (if not initially overseas), and we welcome more of her customary chill after the uncharacteristically relaxed Souvenir sequel. – David K.
18. The Fabelmans (Steven Spielberg; Nov. 23)
It was said right out the gate that The Fabelmans would only be “loosely based” on Steven Spielberg’s adolescence, an immediate pairing of public relations and personal statement that suggests a story even American cinema’s premier dreamweaver is afraid to tell. Lest we forget it was first announced in 1999, when Spielberg and his sister Anne developed a film called I’ll Be Home—about which the man expressed worry his parents wouldn’t approve, finding it “an insult and won’t share [his] loving yet critical point of view about what it was like to grow up with them.” Make of it what you wish that Spielberg’s father died in August 2020 and The Fabelmans was announced in March 2021. Far as I can tell, it’s high time to come home. – Nick N.
16 & 17. Eureka (Lisandro Alonso) and The God Beside My Bed (Lisandro Alonso & Rick Alverson)
Contemporary slow cinema owes great debts to Lisandro Alonso, which is easy to forget when Jauja’s more than seven years in our rearview. But production’s already started on Eureka, his four-part epic—spanning 1870 to the present day—with Viggo Mortensen, Maria de Medeiros, and Chiara Mastroianni. And while The God Beside My Bed might need to wait, co-director Rick Alverson has talked up the film in ways suggesting advance development; per him, it concerns “an American cultural irrelevance that Americans are incapable of seeing, lost in their romantic hall of mirrors, set in Amazonia.” Not to embody that myopia with my own hopes, but if there’s a 1% chance the Comedy and Entertainment director gets Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington in an Alonso film, my excitement is commensurate with 100% certainty. – Nick N.
15. Master Gardener (Paul Schrader)
Filmmakers, they always seem to think in trilogies. Paul Schrader seems to be completing one of sorts: both a thematic set of films and a run bringing (or returning him) to the first rank of American directors, one whose next move—next script page, even—brings real, unguarded sense of excitement. Joel Edgerton (who has been good in many films, but seems due for an exceptional performance in the right role) is an ex-con (predictable!), turned on-site house gardener (less so), who begins a risky affair with his employer, a wealthy dowager played by Sigourney Weaver––another career crying out for a role like this. It will be seductively strange and, on the surface, seems less political than his recent outings. – David K.
14. Untitled Jean-Luc Godard Film
Jean-Luc Godard is one of the most influential and monumental filmmakers in the history of the medium. Since 1960 he has consistently tried to push the medium forward, never resting or finding a formula to rely upon. Even as they constitute twilight years, Godard’s 21st-century work is filled with progressive, experimental masterpieces such as Film Socialisme and Goodbye to Language—works unlike anything anywhere. The man has entered his 90s and his next film (or films) could possibly be the last. While little is known about either, if one comes this year it’ll be essential. It’s exciting to imagine what else Godard might do with the form while he’s still here. – Logan K.
13. 3000 Years of Longing (George Miller)
George Miller’s first film since 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road sounds unlike anything he’s made. 3000 Years of Longing is described as an epic fantasy romance about a lonely woman (Tilda Swinton) who unleashes a Dijin (Idris Elba) into the world, yet is unable to generate any wishes of her own. This leads to the two souls engaging in a conversation that will take them places neither could have expected. Fascinating to think what a man so ambitious as Miller might do with this concept, especially if it leans into the romance that premise teases. – Logan K.
12. One Fine Morning (Mia Hansen-Løve)
Being shot in two sections—first from late spring to mid-summer, then late fall to early winter—suggests another emotional-structural masterstroke by Mia Hansen-Løve. (If I propose she’s compacting Rohmer’s Tales of the Four Seasons into a single feature I’d have to list my address so I could be summarily executed.) Few directors are as perceptive about the relationship between time’s passing and the heart’s yearning, and Hansen-Løve told me this story of a woman (Léa Seydoux, currently at something like a career peak) who begins an affair amidst her husband’s deteriorating health might recall her stellar debut All is Forgiven. Wherever she goes, we follow. – Nick N.
11. Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Andrew Dominik’s first feature since his masterful 2016 music documentary One More Time With Feeling adapts Joyce Carol Oates’ controversial novel about Marilyn Monroe. It’s already generated (reported) controversies of its own around explicit sexual details Dominik insisted on including. The Assassination of Jesse James director is a bold, ambitious figure with talent for finding beauty and heartbreak in inevitable tragedies, making him a perfect fit for Monroe’s doomed life. And it gives platform for the magnetic Ana de Armas’ most high-profile performance to date, something she’ll hopefully be able to capitalize upon. – Logan K.
10. Women Talking (Sarah Polley)
Sarah Polley’s first feature in 10 years is something to be incredibly excited about. Women Talking adapts Miriam Toews’s 2018 novel and follows a group of Mennonite women who meet in a hay barn to discuss the ways in which they’ve been violated by supposed demons, only to realize the truth of their mutual violations. Led by an all-star cast—Frances McDormand, Claire Foy, Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley, and Ben Whishaw—Women Talking has potential to examine the importance of women being able to communicate to each other and express solidarity against physical, sexual, and mental oppression. Polley’s previous works have all been genius; let’s hope this is no exception. – Logan K.
9. Armageddon Time (James Gray)
Notwithstanding Gray’s own reservations, Ad Astra was a monumental step in this most essential of American careers—a veritable sci-fi epic integrating career-long fixations on family with the director’s penchant for pure sensitivity. No reason to anticipate Armageddon Time, a story heavily rooted in Gray’s upbringing and strange connection to a horrific American empire, hitting hollow emotional depths. And as shot on 35mm by world’s greatest cinematographer Darius Khondji it’s sure to look fabulous. – Nick N.
8. Tár (Todd Field; Oct. 7)
With a Malick-sized break from filmmaking—though not for lack of trying to get projects off the ground—Todd Field finally stepped behind the camera this past fall with Tár. Led by Cate Blanchett and a supporting cast including a pair of international cinema’s greatest talents, Nina Hoss and Noémie Merlant, the long-awaited new feature by the director of In the Bedroom and Little Children follows a world-renowned musician who is just days away from recording the symphony that will take her to the very heights of her already formidable career. Scored by Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir (Joker, Sicario: Day of the Soldado), it’s already set for a fall release by Focus Features. – Jordan R.
6 & 7. Fire and The Stars at Noon (Claire Denis)
The hushed tones surrounding Claire Denis, genius though she is, disservice a rather focused approach to artistic routine. And 2022 should be the latest of many years she debuts two pictures: Fire, a romantic drama boasting some of France’s greatest actors (Juliette Binoche, Vincent Lindon, Grégoire Colin, Mati Diop, Bulle Ogier); and The Stars at Noon, her long-gestating, recently shot Denis Johnson adaptation starring Margaret Qualley and Joe Alwyn. (Meaning Taylor Swift got text updates about the making of a Claire Denis movie, proof anything—anything—is possible.) Accessibility to Johnson’s novel notwithstanding, little is known on either. But surmise from this placement how we think they’ll turn out. – Nick N.
5. Decision to Leave (Park Chan-wook)
Park Chan-wook’s first feature since 2016’s The Handmaiden has the makings of another dark, thrilling, emotionally resonating crime film from one of the genre’s masters. Focused on a murder investigation, Decision to Leave will explore the conflicts of a lead detective tasked with solving the killing of a man while falling in love with the deceased’s widow—his prime suspect. This is Park’s first collaboration with Chinese actress Tang Wei (Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Blackhat), who should fit into his macabre atmosphere perfectly. This can’t get to screens fast enough. – Logan K.
4. Crimes of the Future (David Cronenberg)
A legendary filmmaker many believed would never return. Crimes of the Future, David Cronenberg’s first feature since 2014’s Map to the Stars, shares a title with one of his first works but is not a remake. Instead it bolsters one of the most original concepts in recent cinematic memory: the Greece-shot picture is set in a world where human beings no longer experience physical pain and have found new ways to create and appreciate art, the primary medium becoming the growth and alterations of human organs. Starring Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, and Kristen Stewart, it’s almost guaranteed to be psychosexual, deeply conceptual, and utterly surreal. – Logan K.
3. Showing Up (Kelly Reichardt)
After her last feature, First Cow, topped our list of the best films of 2020, it’s no surprise Kelly Reichardt’s follow-up is one of our most-anticipated. One of the great American filmmakers reteams with longtime collaborator Michelle Williams and Cow‘s John Magaro for the comedy Showing Up. Also starring André Benjamin, Hong Chau, Judd Hirsch, Maryann Plunkett, Heather Lawless, Amanda Plummer, Larry Fessenden, and James Le Gros, the A24 production has been described as a vibrant, 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. – Jordan R.
2. The Way of the Wind (Terrence Malick)
Well, your guess if it comes this year. Malick began shooting The Way of the Wind in 2019 and (per close sources) found editorial process hobbled by the pandemic, but one thinks, assumes, prays in obscure voiceover a combination of passing time and supplied vaccines brought his Jesus film near completion. (Not for nothing that three years between shooting and premiere is a bit standard: 2012 production Knight of Cups debuted in 2015; A Hidden Life shot in 2016 and arrived by 2019; you get the idea.) Is our interest in Malick is so strong it sometimes borders on parodic? Sure. Until we’re witness to the thing itself and reminded nobody on earth operates at his scale, intent, or wonder. – Nick N.
1. Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese)
Likely we don’t have a world of time left with Martin Scorsese, who turns 80 as his latest premieres, but nothing about Killers of the Flower Moon suggests reduced ambition. Nor does Apple footing the $200 million bill correlate with an amiable experience. Adapting David Grann’s acclaimed book, Flower Moon connects brutal, widespread murders of the oil-prosperous Osage Nation with Oklahoma’s white, wealthy, read-about-these-psychos-at-your-own-peril Hale family. The latter’s embodied by Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, which constitutes as much a Scorsese benchmark as The Irishman; and no less notable an ensemble for including Lily Gladstone, Scott Shepherd, Jesse Plemons, Brendan Fraser, and John Lithgow. That director / cast / material / resources combination is a bit dizzying, and if there’s decent chance at least a few titles herein exceed Killers of the Flower Moon for shock and surprise, none loom to such degree. – Nick N.
If our list had included television, Wong Kar-wai’s Blossoms (a film version of which is still planned, though certainly won’t come this year) and Michael Mann’s Tokyo Vice would be near the top. Much as we respect Robert Zemeckis and Guillermo del Toro, it’s hard to get too jazzed about their separate Pinocchio projects, but we’re willing to be surprised.
Two films we imagine will be heavily “in the conversation” a year from now are Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Bardo (or False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths) and David O. Russell’s Amsterdam, but we merely wish for improvements on their last few outings and more than nice cinematography (with Darius Khondji and Emmanuel Lubezki, respectively, aboard). And after the career nadir that was Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi can only go up with Next Goal Wins.
While we mentioned some IP-related films in the main list, we’re also curious about David Lowery’s Peter Pan & Wendy after the stellar Pete’s Dragon update; Matt Reeves’ The Batman; Dan Trachtenberg’s Predator prequel Prey; Joseph Kosinski’s long-delayed Top Gun: Maverick; and the long-rumored Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie sequel. While David Leitch’s post-John Wick career has left much to be desired, we’re hoping the star-studded Bullet Train can deliver summer thrills. And fingers crossed The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is not just a string of Nicolas Cage meme moments.
There’s a number of dramas from directors we’ve been mixed on of late, but for now an even-keeled “we’ll see” with Scott Cooper’s The Pale Blue Eyes, Sam Mendes’ Empire of Light, and Fatih Akin’s Rheingold.
Lastly, there’s a few that just barely missed the cut of our top 100, including Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s Silent Twins, Rebecca Miller’s She Came to Me; Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s Something in the Dirt; Kasi Lemmons’ I Wanna Dance with Somebody; Steve Buscemi’s The Listener; and the Adam Sandler double dose with Hustle (from We the Animals director Jeremiah Zagar) and Spaceman (from Johan Renck).
Likely Not Coming Out in 2022
Then there’s a number of anticipated projects that have been announced without a firm production timeline and will likely be 2023 or beyond. Lynne Ramsay’s Polaris; Todd Solondz’s Love Child; Walter Hill’s Dead for a Dollar; Mark Romanek’s Mother Land; Abel Ferrara’s Padre Pio biopic; John Woo’s Silent Night; Terence Davies’ The Post Office Girl; Tomas Alfredson’s Seance on a Wet Afternoon; Alice Rohrwacher’s La Chimera; and Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Harvest were announced this past year but it’s unclear when they may move forward.
After an incredible 2021, to say the least, Ryusuke Hamaguchi was prepping a new film titled Our Apprenticeship but pandemic plans halted a Paris-set shoot. Hopefully it’ll see the light of day soon. Two long-in-development projects, Abderrahmane Sissako’s The Perfumed Hill and Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Shulan River, haven’t had any updates in quite some time, but we’ll be in the theater whenever they end up arriving. There were also rumors of Leos Carax shooting a new project, but no updates since. In terms of something likely never coming in the United States, Roman Polanski’s The Palace reportedly began shooting this past fall.
Jeremy Saulnier’s Rebel Ridge was halted mid-shoot when John Boyega left the project, but Netflix has announced they will recast and move forward. Brady Corbet’s The Brutalist, which was set to roll right before the pandemic, is also re-assembling; a 2022 premiere is unclear. While preparing his English debut What Happens, Andrei Zvyagintsev was struck with a severe case of COVID and put into a medically induced coma; we wish him a healthy recovery.
Christian Petzold is preparing his new film Die Glücklichen (formerly titled The Red Sky), but a 2023 premiere is more likely with a shoot beginning this summer. Though Todd Haynes is also deep into casting Fever, it’s unclear if it’ll be ready by year’s end. We also haven’t got many updates on Shabier Kirchner’s Augustown, Zellner’s Alpha Gang, or Lulu Wang’s Like Father, Like Son reimagining. While a release date hasn’t been set, it seems Laika’s next stop-motion animation Wildwood is a 2023 debut. Lastly, Steve McQueen is preparing to shoot his next narrative feature Blitz later this year while also directing the WWII documentary Occupied City; the latter will likely be ready first, but it’s unclear if we’ll see it by the end of the year.