Like its predecessor, 2022 looks to be a banger year for film. We’ve got big studio tentpoles poised to take over the world and dominate the social media discourse. A few franchises are set to roar back to theaters. Indie filmmakers and international auteurs from around the globe lurk with their own particular takes on cinema.
Some movies are on this list because we’re fans of a specific director, an actor, or simply because they sound bug-nuts crazy and fun as hell. We’re easy marks. There’s action, horror, drama, sci-fi, and everything in between.
As usual, some of these movies will rule, exceed our wildest expectations, and wind up on our year-end best-of lists. Also as usual, some of them will flat out suck and be horrifically disappointing, leaving us to wonder if we ever even liked movies in the first place.
There are also sure to be a slew of movies that garner universal acclaim and legions of fans, that I absolutely can’t stand and think are bad actually. The opposite will surely also be true. That’s one of the joys of movies, and art in general, we all have our own equally valid takes and tastes and favorites.
Even though I always include way too many titles on this list, like clockwork, when 2022 wraps up, assuming we survive the ongoing global pandemic, the majority of my favorites of the year will probably be nowhere to be found here. That’s another of the other true joys of film, near-endless opportunities for discovery as titles pop up at festivals or come seemingly out of nowhere to knock me on my ass. Every year there’s some movie I’d heard nothing about, I give a chance for whatever random reason at that particular moment, and that absolutely floors me.
I can hardly wait.
A few procedural notes:
This list is in chronological order by release date as it stands now. As we’ve seen the past few years, that can change quickly and often. (For example: John Wick 4 was supposed to drop this year but has already been pushed back to 2023. Among other titles that have already migrated.) And I don’t plan to readjust after the fact because I’m lazy.
For those titles without a release date at the moment, I include them after the dated titles in alphabetical order. Some of them we will definitely see, others maybe not until 2023. (Damn, that sounds like sci-fi.)
Now, on with our most-anticipated movies of 2022. Sound off in the comments or on social media with the movies you’re most looking forward to.
The 355—January 7
A top secret cadre of female international spies including Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Diane Kruger, Penelope Cruz, and Bingbing Fan. I’ve watched movies for much less. Almost exclusively less. (Note: I’ve seen this, it’s fine.)
The Commando—January 7
Michael Jai White and Mickey Rourke in a DTV revenge actioner dropped the first week of January? Where do I sign up? Will it be good? Probably not. (I requested a screener when I got a press release about the trailer and was told there will be no advance warnings.) Still, count me in. (Note: I’ve now see this movie, it’s exactly what you expect, so I dug it well enough.)
Or 5cream as it should really be called. Another legacy sequel, but a legacy sequel in this franchise. Any excuse to see Neve Campbell battle Ghostface on screen is one I’ll jump at.
Something in the Dirt—January 23
Duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead chase Synchronic with a story about bored friends documenting paranormal activity in their apartment building. Given what they’ve done with cults, drugs, and more, you know it’s not going to be that simple or straightforward.
Jackass Forever—February 4
Already delayed multiple times, this is, fingers crossed, finally coming to theaters. I find a certain nobility in people putting themselves in harm's way to entertain. These movies also make me weirdly emotional and nostalgic, in addition to being uproariously funny and absurd.
Roland Emmerich has blown up Earth in just about every way he possibly can. Now he’s going to blow up the moon. Everything is as it should be.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre—February 18
Don’t be thrown off by Chainsaw as one word in the title, this is intended to be a direct sequel to Tobe Hooper’s 1974 masterpiece. It picks up with Leatherface after 50 years of hiding. Count us very in.
The Batman—March 4
Are there a lot of Bat-men? Yes. Will I keep watching them all? Of course. And it doesn’t help that Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson have created something that looks bleak and raw and awesome.
Everything Everywhere All at Once—March 25
Daniels are back with their follow up to Swiss Army Man, the farting Harry Potter corpse movie. Their new film follows a Chinese immigrant, played by living legend Michelle Yeoh, who must save the world by connecting with all of her possible selves from different realities. Or something. This looks like an insane martial arts fantasy and fronted by Yeoh. What more do you need?
After The Witch and The Lighthouse, Robert Eggers returns with The Northman, which looks like Conan meets Apocalypse Now meets Valhalla Rising. Which is a very good thing indeed. There are vikings and crazy violence and action like we haven’t really seen from Eggers yet.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent—April
Nicolas Cage plays a version of Nicolas Cage, who, at the behest of the government, goes undercover at a super-fan’s birthday party, a superfan who happens to be head of a drug cartel. This looks every bit as wild and weird as the premise promises.
Yes, Sony’s latest attempt to cash in on the little piece of Marvel they still own looks awful. And yes, Jared Leto is a terrible human being. But between House of Gucci and Little Things in 2021, he might also be our greatest living unintentional comedic actor. And the Venom movies have been unexpectedly unhinged additions to the superhero canon, so, fingers crossed. (Between writing this list and publishing this list, Morbius changed its release, proving once again the fluid nature of these dates, though April Fool’s Day seems more appropriate for this.)
Michael Bay doing ludicrous Michael Bay thing in a non-Transformers movie. Please inject this directly into my brain hole.
Top Gun Maverick—May 27
This has been moved so many times already, but the original had such a profound, probably too profound if I’m being honest, impact on my life, so I’m ready to jump back on that highway to the danger zone. Always ready.
Delayed reportedly due to fights about it being rated NC-17, Andrew Dominik’s Ana de Armas-starring adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ novel about Marilyn Monroe has been at the top of our want-right-now list for some time.
Jurassic World: Dominion—June 10
Yes, the quality of these has been…spotty. But it has dinosaurs. Big ones. And lots. Hopefully more than the last installment. So yes, I will watch this.
We still have no idea what Jordan Peele’s Nope is all about, but starring Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, and Daniel Kaluuya, to say we’re amped for this is an understatement.
Triangle of Sadness—September 22
A story about two models at a crossroads in their lives doesn’t automatically sound super exciting. But Ruben Ostlund’s Force Majeure is good enough that anything else he makes goes on the need-to-see list.
Don’t Worry Darling—September 23
After roaring out of the gate with her directorial debut Booksmart, Olivia Wilde returns. And low and behold, she’s helming a 1950s-set horror film fronted by Florence Pugh and Chris Pine, among many others.
Mission: Impossible 7—September 30
Purely the best blockbuster action franchise going right now. And if Tom Cruise goes through the effort of putting his body and life on the line to entertain me, who am I to deny that? And when am I not in the mood to watch one of these?
Halloween Ends—October 14
Michael Myers. Enough said. The murdery one, not the ha-ha one.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom—December 16
I’m trying to keep the superhero movies to a minimum here, but this one is too tempting. While I don’t get high, a big part of me wants to get stoned out of my mind and gawk at this candy-colored nonsense on as big a screen as I can find.
Avatar 2—December 16
Cue laughter. Yeah, I’ll believe this is real and not James Cameron punking the world when the credits roll. Maybe.
Accident Man 2
Scott Adkins. Those two words are enough to get me to watch anything. And now he’s back for a sequel to a super fun movie.
An insane cast that includes Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Zazie Beetz, Michael Shannon, and Bad Bunny, among others. A story about five assassins on intersecting missions on a high-speed train. Directed by John Wick and Atomic Blonde helmer David Leitch. *shrug emoji* Of course.
Crimes of the Future
Brandon Cronenberg has grabbed most of the cinematic headlines in the family the last few years, but dear old dad, David Cronenberg, is popping up in 2022 to remind all these whippersnappers how it’s done. Set in a future where humanity is surrounded by a synthetic environment, this sci-fi horror stars Kristen Stewart, Lea Seydoux, and Viggo Mortenson. Can’t even begin to explain the levels of excitement for this movie.
Decision to Leave
Park Chan-wook. That’s it. That’s the pitch. Need more? How about a detective deep in the mountains investigating a man’s death and dealing with his “mysterious” wife? In Park’s hands, that’s more than enough to start us salivating. Cinematically speaking.
Karen Gillen clones herself after receiving bad medical news. She, however, recovers and must battle her clone to the death. What can you do? Them’s the rules.
Most known for gut-punch documentaries like The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer’s next movie is, obviously, a musical. A musical that focuses on the last human family left on Earth. Sounds cheery.
Exiled: The Chosen Ones
Crazy action and apocalyptic sci-fi collide in this dystopian import. In a world ravaged by a plague, unwilling contestants on a game show fight to the death for survival. Starring Hannah Al-Rashid and Sunny Pang as unlikely allies, this looks bonkers and violent in all the best ways.
Any Claire Denis movie is a movie worth watching. (We might even get two this year, as her The Stars at Noon could also theoretically release in 2022.)
Tom Hardy and Timothy Olyphant in the saga of a battered detective battling his way through the underground has my attention. Directed by Gareth Evans, I stop paying attention to anything else in the world.
Following up The Night House and The Ritual, director David Bruckner is set to tackle a reboot of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser in 2022. I can’t wait for people to start yelling things like, “Woke Hollyweird ruined muh Hellraiser by makin’ it gay!” Thus outing themselves as never actually having seen Hellraiser.
One of three Cronenberg movies on this list, each by a different Cronenberg. This particular gene pool continues to be an embarrassment of cinematic riches. Caitlin Cronenberg, daughter of David, sister of Brandon, makes her directorial debut with this thriller about a family dinner. A family dinner following an environmental collapse that destroys 20 percent of the global population. It also involves a government euthanasia program that, shockingly, doesn’t go well.
I Came By
Babak Anvari’s Under the Shadow is one of the creepiest debuts of the last few years. After Wounds, he’s back with a thriller about a graffiti artist with a secret that threatens to tear his life apart.
Brandon Cronenberg is nothing if not must-see filmmaking and this story of a beach vacation gone wrong is no different. Hopefully this does come out in 2022.
David Fincher had a hard time getting directorial projects greenlit for a stretch there, but hot on the heels of Mank, he’s got another in the works. Odds are this won’t make it for 2022, but it does see him dip back into pulpier territory, adapting a graphic novel about an assassin who grows a conscience.
Killers of the Flower Moon
Martin Scorsese. Enough said.
Knives Out 2
If Rian Johnson wants to keep churning out Benoit Blanc whodunnits every few years, who are we to complain? It also stars damn near everyone in Hollywood at this point.
Lost Bullet 2
If you haven’t watched Lost Bullet, stop what you’re doing and check out the French actioner on Netflix. It rules. A sequel was announced mid-2021, so hopefully we will get more high octane vroom vroom in 2022.
Alex Garland making a horror movie. Sold.
A romantic sci-fi story of “Victorian love, discovery, and scientific daring,” a Yorgos Lanthimos movie is always something to behold. Hell, they’re always many things to behold.
The Predator franchise has, let’s call it an up-and-down history. But I’m always going to watch a new one and hope it’s awesome. I was skeptical of director Dan Tractenberg’s 10 Cloverfield Lane, too, and that turned out fantastic.
I’m just going to copy what I wrote about this on last year’s most-anticipated list: “Any Jeremy Saulnier (Green Room) movie is sure to be near the top of our must-see list. His latest is an action thriller [no longer] starring John Boyega that ‘explores systemic American injustices through bone-breaking action sequences, suspense and dark humor.’ Done deal.”
Three Thousand Years of Longing
It may not be a new Mad Max movie, but George Miller helming a romantic fantasy about a scholar and a wish-granting Djinn starring Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton is something we very much want to watch.
Chloe Okuno popped up on a lot of people’s radars last year with her segment in V/H/S/94. She’s back at Sundance 2022 with Watcher, a voyeuristic thriller starring Maika Monroe and Burn Gorman.
Love him or hate him, a Darren Aronofsky movie is never dull. And his latest stars Brendan Fraser.
Ready for Noah Baumbach’s cinematic interpretation of the “airborne toxic event” in his adaptation of Don DeLillo’s novel?
Sarah Polley hasn’t directed a movie since 2012’s Stories We Tell, so we’ve been anticipating her follow-up for what feels like forever at this point.
Zone of Interest
Jonathan Glazer hasn’t made a feature since 2013’s Under the Skin. And you better believe whatever he does next (supposedly a war movie) is something we must, must, must see.