When the pandemic first broke out, many experts had written about the death of the film industry. They had predicted that the traditional cinematic experience would become increasingly obsolete, with audiences inevitably settling for the mass-manufactured content on their streaming platforms rather than opting for the experience of witnessing art on the big screen.
If anything, 2021 has proven that people are yearning to get back to the theatres again once it is completely safe again to do so. Some of the best films of the year were exclusively screened at film festivals which were attended by many after a year of staying in due to continuous lockdowns and cancellations over health concerns.
2022 is already shaping up to be even better than the previous year, with many blockbuster prospects such as Avatar II coming to the theatres. In addition, master auteurs such as Martin Scorsese are also gearing up for the release of their new projects while fans of the superhero genre eagerly await the arrival of Robert Pattinson’s The Batman.
As a guide to the year ahead, we have compiled a list of essential films that you should definitely keep an eye out for. Instead of some of the bigger names mentioned above, this selection is an attempt to draw your attention to other beautiful works that might fly under your radar.
10 exciting films coming out in 2022:
The Northman (Robert Eggers)
Robert Eggers has only directed two features so far but he has already established himself as one of the most original artistic voices in the current landscape — especially after making The Lighthouse, one of the best films of the last decade, Eggers has embarked on a meteoric trajectory.
That’s exactly why The Northman has already started gaining traction, already scheduled for an April release. Starring the likes of Alexander Skarsgård, Willem Dafoe and Nicole Kidman among others, The Northman is a revenge thriller that revolves around a Viking prince.
The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh)
Martin McDonagh has been on a long hiatus ever since he made Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri which won big and was nominated for several major awards. Having previously directed gems such as In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, McDonagh is now ready with yet another film.
Titled The Banshees of Inisherin, McDonagh’s latest work features the iconic combination of his previous collaborators – Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell. The script revolves around the relationship between two friends who find themselves in a fix after one friend decides to end it.
Our Apprenticeship (Ryusuke Hamaguchi)
After making one of the most beautiful cinematic masterpieces of 2021 in the form of Drive My Car, all eyes are on the Japanese auteur Ryusuke Hamaguchi. A master of modern drama, Hamaguchi has already set his eyes in a new direction this year.
Most details aren’t clear at this point but it is understood that Our Apprenticeship is a drama which is based in Paris and focuses on the lives of people belonging to varying social groups while exploring the concept of language itself – one of Hamaguchi’s obsessions. If Drive My Car is any indication, this is going to be a big attraction in the festival circuit.
When the Waves are Gone (Lav Diaz)
Probably one of the most prominent practitioners of slow cinema, Lav Diaz is a true pioneer whose uncompromising artistic vision ushered in a new wave in Filipino filmmaking. The endlessly innovative director is back this year with multiple projects but this one definitely stands out.
When the Waves are Gone is a fascinating story about two friends who rob a bank but one of them becomes rich and powerful while the other one ends up in prison. 30 years later, the prisoner finds himself free in an unfamiliar world where everything reminds him of his cursed fate.
Broker (Hirokazu Koreeda)
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration at all if someone said that Hirokazu Koreeda was the most talented Japanese filmmaker working today. His illustrious filmography speaks for itself, containing one beautiful gem after another such as After Life and Nobody Knows.
For this new project, Koreeda is trying something new by making his first South Korean production whose name was initially titled Baby, Box, Broker. Through the film, Koreeda hopes to transcend cultural and linguistic barriers in order to tell human stories.
Poor Things (Yorgos Lanthimos)
The cinema of Yorgos Lanthimos has had a major contribution in spreading global awareness about the unique sensibilities of Greek cinema, especially the films belonging to that special body of work which is often collectively referred to as the Greek Weird Wave.
Lanthimos has returned to the directorial chair for a new film called Poor Things which is going to be an adaptation of the eponymous novel by Alasdair Gray. It tells the strange story of a woman who tries to drown herself but her abusive husband replaces her brain with that of her unborn child.
I Come From Ikotun (Wang Bing)
Perhaps the greatest documentarian in the world right now, Wang Bing is known for his works which conduct brilliant explorations of sociocultural issues. His last documentary Dead Souls amplified the stories of survivors of the labour camps in the Gobi desert.
For I Come From Ikotun, Wang Bing chose to focus on the African community living in Guangzhou, China. “China is a monolingual society and ethnically overwhelmingly East Asian,” he explained. “Differences of language and skin colour often cause suspicion, including of people from other parts of the country. That is why I am interested in filming the lives of Africans in China.”
Fire (Claire Denis)
Any new Juliette Binoche project is bound to make it onto these lists at the start of each year but this is a special one because it features her collaboration with the French filmmaking genius Claire Denis. This is her follow-up to her sci-fi film High Life.
Fire revolves around Binoche who finds herself in a dilemma, unable to make up her mind about her feelings because she is conflicted by her long-time partner and her best friend. Fire is set to premiere at this year’s iteration of the Berlin Film Festival, given there are no disruptions.
How Do You Live? (Hayao Miyazaki)
A particularly exciting entry on this list, How Do You Live? is the project that Hayao Miyazaki came out of retirement to make before bidding farewell to his career as a master animator once and for all while leaving behind a tremendously mesmerising legacy of masterpieces.
According to the filmmaker, this is a letter to his grandson which says: “Grandpa is moving onto the next world soon but he is leaving this film behind because he loves you.” An adaptation of a Yoshino Genzaburo novel, How Do You Live? will tell the story of a 15-year-old boy growing up in Tokyo.
Megalopolis (Francis Ford Coppola)
It would be unfair to make a list of the most anticipated projects of the year without including a blockbuster. While many are already eagerly awaiting projects such as Avatar II and what Marvel has in store for us in 2022, this one is certainly a blockbuster to be aware of.
Megalopolis will mark the return of Francis Ford Coppola to the world of cinema after a very long period of absence. This is a project that he has wanted to make for the longest time and it is reported that he has already put his own money into the film which has a budget of about $100 million. The filming is set to begin sometime later this year.