Film lovers roll up. Here’s our annual list of movies that could have festivals drooling in 2022.
Our list kicked off last year with The Power of the Dog and The Tragedy of Macbeth and also included the likes of Belfast, Benedetta, The Hand of God and A Hero. Fair to say those films all hit their mark in 2021.
With Covid disruption continuing, a number of anticipated movies on last year’s list have yet to see the light of day so some will be included again this year as their releases come into view. Most of the titles below are in post-production, a few are still filming, and some are done. None has yet to start principal photography, and none has been declared for a festival so far.
Festival organizers will have another bumper crop to choose from in 2022 — that is if their physical events are able to go ahead, which is no sure thing these days. Here’s to hoping.
(Note: This is a non-exhaustive list. It is a snapshot.)
Bardo (Or False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths)
Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape of Water and Nightmare Alley maestro Guillermo del Toro teams up with Netflix for what’s described as a “darker version” of the classic children’s fairy tale of a wooden puppet that transforms into a real living boy. The stop-motion musical film — which del Toro has been working on in some form for more than a decade — stars Gregory Mann in the title role, Ewan McGregor as Cricket and David Bradley as Geppetto. Two-time Oscar winner Alexandre Desplat is composing. The Shape of Water went down a storm on the Lido, so a return seems highly possible.
Frances McDormand, Claire Foy, Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley and Ben Whishaw lead the impressive cast of this drama about a group of women in an isolated Mennonite religious colony in Bolivia as they struggle to reconcile their faith with a string of sexual assaults committed by the colony’s men. Canadian director Sarah Polley (Alias Grace) makes her first feature since 2012 documentary Stories We Tell. Plan B Entertainment produces.
Decision to Leave
Cameras rolled in October 2020 on the next movie from South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook. His latest is a mystery romance starring Tang Wei and Park Hye-il in the story of an honest police officer, looking into a suspicious death that occurs on a mountain, who begins to suspect the dead man’s wife. CJ Entertainment is handling sales. The director’s previous movie, 2016’s The Handmaiden, was in Competition at Cannes.
Marriage Story director Noah Baumbach returns with an adaptation of the Don DeLillo novel about a year in the life of Jack Gladney, a professor who has made his name by pioneering the field of Hitler studies. Adam Driver, Jodie Turner-Smith, Raffey Cassidy and Don Cheadle lead cast on the Netflix charge.
Festival favorite Yorgos Lanthimos reteams with Emma Stone for this typically surreal-sounding Victorian story of a young woman brought back to life by an eccentric but brilliant scientist. Willem Dafoe, Mark Ruffalo, Christopher Abbott, Margaret Qualley and Ramy Youssef also star. Searchlight Pictures has yet to set a date.
Bones and All
Suspiria remake director Luca Guadagnino reteams with his Call Me by Your Name star Timothée Chalamet on this romance-horror cannibalism film about a young woman who learns how to survive on the margins of society. Also starring are Taylor Russell, Mark Rylance, Michael Stuhlbarg, André Holland, Jessica Harper, Chloë Sevigny and director David Gordon Green. Festivals will be queueing up for more Chalamania.
Festival darling Kelly Reichardt follows up lauded drama First Cow with this 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. Michelle Williams stars alongside Hong Chau, Judd Hirsch, André Benjamin, Heather Lawless, John Magaro, James Le Gros and Amanda Plummer. A24 has the reins.
The story of how New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor broke one of the most important stories in a generation: the Harvey Weinstein investigations that helped launch the #MeToo movement and shattered decades of silence around the subject of sexual assault in Hollywood. Maria Schrader (Unorthodox) directs a cast including Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan as the two reporters, alongside Patricia Clarkson, Samantha Morton and more. Universal has set a November 18 release date.
It’s not entirely clear whether Steve McQueen’s intriguing documentary about Amsterdam under Nazi occupation during World War II will be ready for end of year, but it has been in production for a few years and was close to being fully financed in late 2020. With a $5.7M budget, this isn’t your average European doc. The film, which already has some blue-chip partners, is based on the book Atlas van een Bezette Stad, Amsterdam 1940-1945 by Bianca Stigter (McQueen’s wife). Stigter’s own well-received Holocaust documentary Three Minutes: A Lengthening recently launched at Venice and Toronto and will play Sundance. Anything by the brilliant McQueen will be coveted by audiences and festivals the world over.
Untitled David O. Russell Project
Plot details have been kept under wraps on this one, which is rumored to be a Depression-era piece revolving around a doctor and lawyer who form an unlikely partnership. Who needs plot when you have Margot Robbie, Christian Bale, John David Washington, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldana, Robert De Niro, Mike Myers, Timothy Olyphant, Michael Shannon, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Andrea Riseborough, Matthias Schoenaerts. Alessandro Nivola and Taylor Swift? The team includes three-time Oscar-winning DoP Emmanuel Lubezki of Gravity, Birdman and The Revenant fame as well as Joker composer Hildur Guðnadóttir. 20th Century Studios has set a November 4 release.
Zone of Interest
This one has been a slow burn, as you would expect from Under the Skin filmmaker Jonathan Glazer, so whether it is ready for 2022 comes with a big question mark. The loose adaptation of Martin Amis’ novel The Zone of Interest is set in the Auschwitz concentration camp and charts the story of a Nazi officer who has become enamored with the camp commandant’s wife. Filming wrapped in the fall, so there’s a small chance we see it in the coming year. As we revealed, this is another A24 charge.
Crimes of the Future
Eight years after his last feature, David Cronenberg returns with this genre film starring Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart (in her first role since Spencer) and Scott Speedman. Producers describe the horror/sci-fi film as a “deep dive into the not-so-distant future in which humankind is learning to adapt to its synthetic surroundings.” Cannes is a logical Cronenberg fit, but there will be no shortage of suitors.
Where Tilda goes, festivals go. The Act of Killing‘s Joshua Oppenheimer is back after almost a decade away from the director’s chair with this mysterious project described as a “Golden Age musical about the last human family.” Swinton will star with George Mackay and Stephen Graham in the movie from Parasite distributor Neon. Filming doesn’t get underway until early 2022, however, so this is a long shot for the fall circuit.
The Pale Blue Eye
As we revealed, this buzzed-about crime horror sparked a $55M bidding war won by Netflix last year. Scott Cooper’s pic, which is in production, follows a veteran detective who investigates the murders, helped by a detail-oriented young cadet who later will become a world-famous author, Edgar Allan Poe. Christian Bale, Gillian Anderson, Harry Melling (as Poe), Lucy Boynton, Toby Jones, Robert Duvall, and Charlotte Gainsbourg lead the strong cast. Black Mass made a pulpy debut on the Lido. Could this follow suit?
This Amazon charge stars Harry Styles as a gay policeman who marries a schoolteacher (played by The Crown breakout Emma Corrin), concealing his true desires from 1950s society. Acclaimed theater director Michael Grandage directs the feature, based on Bethan Roberts’ novel. Imagine the red carpet hysteria for this one.
You had me at Richard Linklater. The Boyhood director returns with an animated film in the Scanner Darkly mold. The coming-of-age story set in the Houston suburbs in summer 1969 centers on the historic Apollo 11 moon landing. This is yet another Netflix charge, so presumably no Cannes for this one. Cast includes Zachary Levi, Jack Black and Glen Powell.
Will Smith stars as a runaway slave who forges through the swamps of Louisiana on a tortuous journey to escape plantation owners that nearly killed him. Antoine Fuqua’s buzzed-about script, snapped up by Apple, is at the commercial end of this list and is not obvious festival fare, but the director’s The Magnificent Seven did play at Toronto and Venice, and this could be a splashy get for a major festival.
The Stars at Noon
Claire Denis, one of France’s most celebrated filmmakers, will always be a draw for festivals. Her latest, based on the Denis Johnson novel, could be one of her most commercial outings to date. Set in 1984 Nicaragua, it follows a mysterious English businessman and a headstrong American journalist who strike up a romance as they soon become embroiled in a dangerous labyrinth of lies and conspiracies and are forced to try and escape the country. Margaret Qualley and Joe Alwyn star. A24 boarded early.
Little Richard: I Am Everything
Rolling Stone is a partner on this documentary about the trailblazing, one-of-a-kind rock ‘n’ roll icon. Lisa Cortés, co-director of Stacey Abrams doc All In: The Fight for Democracy, is at the helm, and Dee Rees (Mudbound) is among exec producers. The project might have to go some to be ready for fall festivals, but there’s nothing like a rousing music doc to give a festival a shot in the arm (see Amazing Grace at Berlin, Summer of Soul at Sundance, etc).
This hybrid documentary is lauded Argentine filmmaker Lucrecia Martel’s first foray into nonfiction and centers on the murder of indigenous activist Javier Chocobar by a white landowner. It won the top international prize at the 2020 Locarno Film Festival’s The Films After Tomorrow initiative, for projects that stalled due to the pandemic. Martel, known for films such as The Headless Woman and La Cienaga, most recently made festival favorite Zama, which debuted in Venice.
Follows Lydia Tar, the first female chief conductor of a major German orchestra. Todd Field directs Cate Blanchett, Nina Hoss, Noemie Merlant and Mark Strong. Hildur Guðnadóttir is composer.
3000 Years of Longing
George Miller’s first feature since 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road sees Idris Elba star with Tilda Swinton in this fantasy-romance tale. The movie began filming in 2020 for a planned September 2021 delivery but was pushed back. Miller took Fury Road to the Croisette for an Out of Competition berth in 2015. A return would be fun.
Way back when, Tom Hanks was the first A-list celebrity to catch and recover from Covid. The Oscar winner stars as Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker in this anticipated musical drama, which wrapped shoot in 2020 and stars Austin Butler as Presley. Luhrmann has history with Cannes, having opened the 2013 edition with The Great Gatsby. Warner Bros will roll this one out from June.
Triangle of Sadness
The anticipated follow-up to Swedish director Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or-winner The Square is a fashion-world satire starring Harris Dickinson and Charlbie Dean as two models who are invited on a luxury cruise. When the yacht sinks, they are left stranded on a desert island with a group of billionaires and a cleaning lady. Woody Harrelson also stars. Erik Hemmendorff and Philippe Bober produced. The film wrapped in late 2020 after a challenging, pandemic-impacted shoot.
The Witch and The Lighthouse filmmaker Robert Eggers is back in the saddle with this Viking revenge saga set in Iceland at the turn of the 10th century. Alexander Skarsgard, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Nicole Kidman and Willem Dafoe are among cast. Focus Features, which recently revealed a blood-and-thunder trailer for the movie, is releasing in April so festival chances are limited.
Wong Kar Wai’s anticipated debut TV series based on Jin Yucheng’s novel was suspended by the pandemic not long after the filmmaker’s Amazon series Tong Wars was canceled for similar reasons. The series is being billed as containing similar themes to In the Mood for Love, with it tracing Hong Kong’s influence on Shanghai during the 1990s. Tencent Penguin Pictures has acquired rights for China. Block 2 Distribution is handling international sales. Festivals likely will be falling over themselves to program it in their TV strands.
The Way of the Wind
Festival favorite Terrence Malick’s latest is a retelling of several episodes in the life of Christ. The under-wraps project features Son of Saul star Géza Röhrig as Jesus, Matthias Schoenaerts as Apostle Peter, Mark Rylance as Satan and Aidan Turner as Apostle Andrew.
Kuru Otlar Üstüne
Feted Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s next project translates roughly as On Dry Herbs. Currently in post-production, the film follows a young teacher who hopes to get a job in Istanbul after mandatory duty in a small village. After a long wait, he loses hope of escaping his gloomy life, but his colleague Nuray helps him regain perspective. The filmmaker is a Cannes regular and won the Palme d’Or in 2014, so a return to the Croisette would make sense.
Peter Von Kant
Isabelle Adjani stars in this film adaptation of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s cult play The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant. Francois Ozon directs. Fassbinder also made a film version featuring all-female cast. It followed the changing dynamics in the protagonist’s relationships with other women. The story was told in a theater-like fashion in four different acts, each depicting the states of mind of the main character.
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