If you're tired of the sometimes-maddening bloat and season-ending cliffhangers of scripted television (I gave up on The Walking Dead years ago; can someone tell me if they ever made it out of the Georgia woods?), you might be ready for the narrative concision and gratifying closure of those archaic artifacts known as "movies."
Especially since the Omicron variant promises to keep many of us homebound for a bit longer, we might as well give ourselves something to look forward to this year. Here are 15 such films to watch in 2022:
A Hero (Jan. 7)
The latest film from Iranian auteur Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, The Salesman) revolves around the efforts of a man named Rahim to get himself out of debtor's prison. If that doesn't sound terribly exciting, you need to spend more time with Farhadi's earlier films — talk-heavy, riveting dramas that turn on the way seemingly insignificant events and decisions can change lives. Just as A Separation depicted a marital rift created by the need to care for an ailing parent, A Hero depicts the ripple-effect damage that can be caused by one person's mundane bad decision-making.
The Fallout (Jan. 27)
Jenna Ortega (You) stars as Vada, a school shooting survivor dealing with the emotional aftermath of tragedy in Megan Park's HBO Max drama. Shailene Woodley (Big Little Lies) also stars in a story likely to be as traumatizing and beautiful as 2019's Waves.
Kimi (Feb. 10)
Director Steven Soderbergh brings this COVID-era crime story to HBO Max. Zoë Kravitz stars as a Seattle agoraphobe who discovers a violent crime while reviewing data and must overcome her fears and leave her apartment to help solve the case. The fuller contours of the plot are being kept under a lockdown of sorts, but Soderbergh's long track record of innovating filmmaking makes this a movie to watch out for, especially from the director whose grim 2011 thriller Contagion anticipated so many features of our current pandemic.
I Want You Back (Feb. 11)
If you like your rom-coms with a dash of cynicism, you'll be stoked for this one. Comedian Jenny Slate (Obvious Child, The Sunlit Night) and Charlie Day (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) conspire to avenge getting dumped by breaking up the new relationships of their exes (Scott Eastwood and Gina Rodriguez). The premise bears a superficial similarity to 2018's The Breaker-Uppers, about a company that blows up relationships for cash. The fact that this one comes with an R rating suggests that their scheming will sometimes violate the boundaries of common decency, and I'm here for it.
Petite Maman (Feb. 22)
French writer-director Céline Sciamma follows up the simmering, breathtaking Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) with this fable of 8-year-old Nelly, who returns with her mother Marion to clear out her childhood home after the death of the family's grandmother. When Marion disappears, Nelly encounters a girl in the woods who seems to be an 8-year-old version of her mother. Petite Maman ("Little Mother" in French) received glowing reviews at various film festivals last year, and makes its stateside debut next month.
Turning Red (March 11)
For more than a quarter-century, Pixar has consistently produced some of the best animated films for kids (Toy Story, WALL-E, The Incredibles, Up), making any new release heavily anticipated. In Turning Red, precocious Mei Lee discovers she shares a rare trait that runs in her family — she turns into a giant red panda whenever she gets too stressed out. Adorable and life-lesson-imparting hijinx ensue, sure to be speckled with wink-wink jokes for the grown-ups watching along with their little ones.
Everything Everywhere All at Once (March 25)
From the directors of the completely bananas Swiss Army Knife (2016) comes this tale of Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh, first seen by American audiences in 2000's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), a middle-aged immigrant from China embroiled in a multi-universal effort to save the world from some expanding evil force. Evelyn learns that a version of her exists in every iteration of the multiverse, and that her powers must be harnessed to stop the apocalypse from spreading from world to world.
The Northman (April 22)
The third film from director Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Lighthouse) is set in 10th century Iceland, where Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) seeks revenge for the childhood murder of his father. Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicole Kidman, Björk, and Willem Dafoe also star in what looks to be a dark, brooding epic. The Witch was one of the scariest movies I've ever seen, and the trailer for The Northman feels like a horror movie dressed up like a medieval Norse epic.
Jurassic World: Dominion (June 10)
In a year practically bursting with sequels and prequels and universe-expanding spinoffs (Legally Blonde 3; Top Gun: Maverick; Avatar 2; The Batman; Lightyear; Hocus Pocus 2; Black Panther: Wakanda Forever; Knives Out 2), you'll have your choice of which story you'd like to revisit. Much of the original cast of 1994's groundbreaking Jurassic Park (Laura Dern, Sam Neil, Jeff Goldblum) return to a world in which the series' reanimated dinosaur clones roam freely and menace the very existence of human civilization. After the nightmare that was 2021, you might just root for the dinosaurs.
Nope (July 22)
Details about Jordan Peele's upcoming summer horror film are under such tight wraps that people are doing deep readings of the inscrutable poster released by Universal. It shows a town surrounded by a mountain range, with a cloud of doom hanging over it, trailing some sort of string. Is it the world's first Kite Horror movie? No one knows, but Peele's first two genre efforts were justifiable smashes. Get Out's dark satire of white, upper-middle-class racism and the completely bonkers Us, in which a family is hunted by what appear to be underground doppelgangers, established Peele as Hollywood's biggest name in horror. Maybe the title is the answer to the question, "Do we need to know what this is about to want to see it?"
Don't Worry Darling (Sept. 23)
Olivia Wilde follows up her acclaimed directing debut, the hilarious and poignant Booksmart, with this psychological thriller. Harry Styles and Florence Pugh play a couple who join a weird 50s-era utopian commune and realize things might not be as they seem. The 11-second teaser trailer is all we have right now, and it's magnificently creepy.
The Woman King (Sept. 23)
Writer-Director Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball) helms the story of an all-female defense corps fighting to protect the 19th-century kingdom of Dahomey, the rival of the neighboring Yoruba empire. Based on historical events, the movie stars Thuso Mbedu (The Underground Railroad) as Nawi, a rookie soldier training under veteran warrior Nanisca (Viola Davis). It sounds like some kind of feminist West African Braveheart, which is something that I would pay quite a bit of money to see on screen.
Hollywood just can't quit horror icon Stephen King, whose work is getting not one, not two, but three remakes of earlier adaptations in 2022 (the new version of Salem's Lot arrives on Sept. 9 and a Children of the Corn remake is expected to be released sometime later this year). In Firestarter, Zac Efron and Sidney Lemmon are parents whose daughter develops pyrokinesis and can set things on fire at will. They must protect her from The Shop, a secretive government agency bent on exploiting her supernatural abilities. The 1984 adaptation starring Drew Barrymore was not especially well received,
The Zone of Interest (TBD)
British filmmaker Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Under the Skin) is one of those directors who goes years between projects, like the Donna Tartt of cinema. Zone of Interest will be his first film since 2013's plotless, dreamlike horror movie Under the Skin, and it is set in and around Auschwitz during the Holocaust in a story apparently "loosely inspired" by the 2014 Martin Amis novel of the same name about a Nazi love triangle. We don't know much beyond that, except that it will be oozing with style.
Killers of the Flower Moon (TBD)
Seventy-nine-year-old Martin Scorcese will seek to redeem himself after the turgid, self-indulgent mess that was 2019's The Irishman. A star-studded cast (Leo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, Jesse Plemons, and Robert DeNiro) will tell the story of a string of killings of Osage Native Americans in 1920s Oklahoma, which drew the attention of the Bureau of Investigation — you know them better today as the FBI.