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8 January 2022

The most anticipated films of 2022

Spoiler alert: Tilda Swinton appears in most of them.

By Ryan Gilbey

Have you ever noticed that “Tilda” is an anagram of “tidal”? It’s worth pointing out in advance of the Tilda wave expected to hit cinemas this year. Audiences will struggle to find films that don’t feature the “gingery, boyish, angular Scottish freak” – her description, not mine. First up is Memoria (Jan), Swinton’s award-winning collaboration with the Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Then it’s Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir Part II (Feb), in which she again plays screen mother to her real-life daughter, Honor Swinton Byrne, who returns as a privileged but emotionally bruised film student.

Also to feature Swinton in 2022: The Eternal Daughter, a ghost story shot by Hogg during lockdown; Three Thousand Years of Longing from Mad Max director George Miller; and Asteroid City, her fifth film for Wes Anderson. She will be heard but not seen in a stop-motion Pinocchio from Shape of Water Oscar-winner Guillermo del Toro (whose glossy take on the ghoulish 1947 noir Nightmare Alley is also out this month). The Killer, which Swinton is about to shoot with David Fincher, is unlikely to see the light of day this year. Thank goodness: let’s save something for 2023.

What of life beyond Tilda? January brings prestige awards-magnet pictures, such as Kenneth Branagh’s autobiographical Belfast and Pedro Almodóvar’s Parallel Mothers. The pandemic has left Branagh’s new version of Death on the Nile (Feb), in which he also stars as Hercule Poirot, stranded upriver for around 15 months, though the plummeting reputation of its star Armie Hammer must take some of the blame. Should it be delayed any longer, the Sunday teatime crowd can take comfort instead in Downton Abbey 2 (March) and The Railway Children Return (April). Other sequels, such as Top Gun: Maverick, John Wick: Chapter 4 (both May) and Jurassic World 3 (June), will be noisier and bloodier. Razzle-dazzle will be generously supplied by Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis (June), featuring slippery-hipped Austin Butler in the title role, and Tom Hanks as Presley’s domineering manager, Colonel Tom Parker.

Films journeying downhill from January’s high-altitude Sundance festival will include 892, written by Kwame Kwei-Armah and starring John Boyega as a war veteran driven to desperate measures when his disability payment fails to materialise. Jesse Eisenberg has directed a relationship comedy (When You Finish Saving the World), as has Lena Dunham (Sharp Stick), while the documentary jeen-yhus: A Kanye Trilogy is cut together from two decades’ worth of unseen footage.

It’s too early to make predictions about the Cannes Film Festival, but there is reason to hope that new work from Claire Denis (The Stars at Noon), Oliver Hermanus (Living, a remake of Kurosawa’s Ikiru, adapted by Kazuo Ishiguro), Hirokazu Kore-eda (Baby, Box, Broker) and Ruben Östlund (Triangle of Sadness) may surface there. David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future stars Kristen Stewart, Léa Seydoux and Viggo Mortensen, and shares its title with his second film, from 1970, though no word yet on whether this is a remake. Jonathan Glazer’s film of Martin Amis’s Holocaust novel The Zone of Interest will be the director’s first feature since Under the Skin eight years ago. The Movie Gods will be beneficent indeed if we get to see either that or Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, in the next 12 months.

Following the box-office underperformance of Black Widow and Eternals last year, there will be a moratorium on superhero movies throughout 2022. Oh, if only! Instead, we get Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May) and Thor: Love and Thunder (July), as well as new adventures from Black Panther, The Flash (both Nov) and Aquaman (Dec). The Batman (March), with Robert Pattinson, promises more than just the definite article: this will apparently be the darkest take yet on the legend. Didn’t we hear that from Tim Burton, Christopher Nolan, Joker et al? At least Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse (Oct), a sequel to the visually ravishing 2018 animation Into the Spider-verse, promises some light at the end of the multiplex.

A quarter-century after Titanic, Avatar 2 (Dec) reunites Kate Winslet and director James Cameron in a large body of water; three further Avatar sequels are in the works. Less mainstream pleasures are on offer in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (April), in which Nicolas Cage plays himself: chaos descends after he accepts $1m to appear at a wealthy fan’s birthday party. Horror maestro Jordan Peele returns with Nope (July), featuring his Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya. Olivia Wilde, fresh from the acclaimed comedy Booksmart, directs her current squeeze, Harry Styles, alongside Florence Pugh in Don’t Worry Darling (Sept), about a couple living in a utopian experimental community.

The Northman (April), a Viking revenge thriller from Robert Eggers, director of The Witch and The Lighthouse, features Big Little Lies couple Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgård, as well as only the second movie appearance by Björk since Dancer in the Dark more than 20 years ago. Talking of musicals, Matilda (Dec) is back – the film of the play of the film of the book, that is. Emma Thompson will presumably dig out her old Nanny McPhee warts to play the terrifying Miss Trunchbull, while the recent 007, Lashana Lynch, is on the side of the angels as Miss Honey.

One film I’m looking forward to doesn’t have a title, let alone a release date, at the time of writing. Little is known about the debut feature from Julio Torres. Anything this queer comic and writer turns his hand to, however, is reliably uproarious and defiantly strange, from his twisted Saturday Night Live sketches to his HBO horror-comedy series Los Espookys. What I can confirm about his directing debut is that Emma Stone is producing and it features Isabella Rossellini, RZA and you-know-who. That’s right: here comes the Tilda wave.

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