Now that’s a blockbuster year! From the return of Top Gun and Avatar to Buzz Lightyear and some rollicking romcoms, 2022 promises a big screen bonanza, writes BRIAN VINER
Predicting the best films of a new year is a tricky business; those that look like winners on paper sometimes disappoint on screen, and vice versa.
But here are 15 releases scheduled for 2022 that surely offer something for everyone, and seem worth getting excited about.
A few of them have been pushed back for 12 months or more by the pandemic, while others were always earmarked for the coming year.
Of course, not all of them will open exclusively in cinemas; some will find their way straight to streaming platforms.
That’s the way of the world these days, but as the cinema industry continues its recovery after the crippling blows dealt by lockdown, let me do my bit, and stress that newly released movies are best enjoyed as part of a collective.
Unless the experience is ruined by others talking, rustling sweet packets or looking at their phones (my trio of bugbears), laughing, smiling, crying and shrieking together in a cinema audience is still one of life’s great pleasures.
I’ve already seen a few of the films listed here, and recommend them wholeheartedly.
As for the others, I can only hope that they turn out to be as good as they sound. Happy viewing . . . and Happy New Year!
The films Kenneth Branagh has directed are a pretty mixed bag, quality-wise, but this is comfortably his best yet — an engaging drama, both funny and moving, inspired by his own working-class Belfast boyhood.
Shot in black and white, with a fabulous Van Morrison score, it is set in 1969 at the start of the Troubles. Jamie Dornan and Caitriona Balfe play the parents, with Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds as the grandparents, and they’re all wonderful, but the stand-out performance is that of newcomer Jude Hill, basically playing the nine-year-old Branagh himself. (January)
Kat Valdez (left, Jennifer Lopez) and Charlie Gilbert (right, Owen Wilson) in Marry Me, directed by Kat Coiro
Jennifer Lopez plays a pop superstar who, on stage, after learning her fiancé has been cheating on her, picks out of the crowd a random fan holding a ‘Marry Me’ sign . . . and takes him up on his offer.
He happens to be a maths teacher, played by Owen Wilson.
All of which is the sort of daft premise — Notting Hill meets The Proposal — that might just add up to one of the year’s more enjoyable romcoms. (February)
An action-thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a Los Angeles bank robber whose $32 million heist ends with the shooting of a cop.
He and his partner, his brother-in-law (who, bless, needs his share of the loot to pay his wife’s medical expenses), then escape in an ambulance with the stricken cop and a paramedic as hostages.
The director is Michael Bay, not known for his subtlety, though word has it that this picture (adapted from a Danish film) will not feature his trademark pyrotechnics. We’ll see. (February)
Robert Pattinson plays Bruce Wayne in The Batman, due out in 2022, which was filmed in the UK
This list could easily consist of nothing but superhero movies, sequels and remakes.
But that would get terribly boring. Mind you, this picture should be fun.
It features Robert Pattinson as the Caped Crusader, with Andy Serkis as his English butler Alfred, Colin Farrell as The Penguin, Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman, and Paul Dano as The Riddler.
Ben Affleck was originally the man at the helm, writing, directing and starring in the title role, but evidently he lost confidence in the project and vacated the Batcave altogether.
The movie was shot entirely in the UK, with Liverpool and Glasgow as stand-ins for Gotham City. (March)
Johnny Flynn , Colin Firth and Matthew MacFadyen star in Operation Mincemeat, a film about two intelligence officers who use a corpse and false papers to outwit German troops
One of the most remarkable episodes of World War II, and indeed one of the strangest of all espionage stories, is dramatised in John Madden’s film based on the non-fiction book by Ben Macintyre.
In 1943, secret papers were planted on the corpse of a tramp dressed as a Royal Marines officer, to dupe the Germans into thinking that the Allied invasion of mainland Europe would start in Greece, not Sicily.
Colin Firth leads a starry cast, with Johnny Flynn as a certain Lieutenant-Commander Ian Fleming. (April)
The Railway Children Return
Is there anyone who doesn’t love the original 1970 film, based on Edith Nesbit’s charming children’s novel? Now, more than half a century later, here comes the sequel.
Beguilingly, it stars Jenny Agutter as the grown-up version of Roberta or ‘Bobbie’ Waterbury, the character she played so beautifully all those years ago, and the period setting shifts from Edwardian England to World War II.
Tom Courtenay and Sheridan Smith co-star. (April)
Alexander Skarsgard (pictured) in new movie The Northman, an epic revenge thriller exploring how far a Viking prince will go to seek justice for his murdered father
With his immensely stylish first pair of films, The Witch (2015) and The Lighthouse (2019), Robert Eggers announced himself as a director worth watching.
His third again plunges into the past, this time to 10th-century Iceland, where a Viking prince is out to avenge his father’s murder.
A top-notch cast includes Nicole Kidman, Alexander Skarsgard, Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Anya Taylor-Joy and, to give it some proper Icelandic authenticity (even though it was filmed in Ireland), Bjork. (April)
Top Gun: Maverick
Tom Cruise reprises his role as Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell and smooches with Jennifer Connelly as they film a motorcycle scene together for the sequel Top Gun: Maverick
In 2012, two years after he agreed to make this sequel to his own memorable 1986 film, British director Tony Scott killed himself.
But after some uncertainty the project survived that tragedy, with Tom Cruise reprising his role as one of the U.S. Navy’s greatest aviators, now a seen-it-all veteran but naturally, still flying up a storm.
Miles Teller plays his protege, alongside another veteran of the original film, Val Kilmer, and the co-writer is Chris McQuarrie (an Oscar winner for The Usual Suspects). (May)
The original release date has been pushed back by more than a year, so it’s now or never for Baz Luhrmann’s biographical drama about Elvis Presley, which stars Tom Hanks as Elvis’s formidable manager Colonel Tom Parker, and Austin Butler as the king of rock ’n’ roll.
The shoot, which took place in Queensland, Australia, was postponed while Hanks and his wife Rita recovered from Covid-19.
He returned to the project six months later, all shook up, but unbowed. (June)
Lightyear will follow Buzz’s origins and his adventures in a spin-off of Pixar’s Toy Story movies
The concern that Pixar might try to exploit Toy Story to infinity and well beyond seemed to end with the third sequel, 2019’s Toy Story 4, which we were told was definitively the last.
But they clearly never meant they wouldn’t give us spin-offs.
Still, if Buzz Lightyear’s ‘origin story’ has half the wit and charm of the original film, it will be a welcome addition to the Toy Story universe.
Chris Evans voices the title character, Taika Waititi is also in the cast, and promisingly, the writer is the man behind Up and Inside Out, Pete Docter. (June)
Jordan Peele’s third movie as a writer-director is another horror film, which like his debut, 2017’s brilliant and disturbing Get Out, stars Britain’s Daniel Kaluuya.
Further details are scant, which is the way Peele likes it, but his own act is a spectacularly hard one to follow.
Get Out was made for less than $5 million and took more than $250 million at the global box office.
His second film, Us (2019), was a thunderous hit, too. Will lightning strike thrice? (July)
Don’t Worry Darling
Florence Pugh and One Direction’s Harry Styles play the leads in this psychological thriller, set in the 1950s, about a housewife who discovers uncomfortable truths about her husband.
The cast includes Chris Pine, and Olivia Wilde who also happens to be the director.
It’s her second feature, and if her acclaimed 2019 debut, Booksmart, is anything to go by, it will be worth seeing. (September)
Ticket To Paradise
George Clooney and Julia Roberts will star together in romcom movie Ticket to Paradise
George Clooney and Julia Roberts, last seen together in Jodie Foster’s 2016 thriller Money Monster, play a divorced couple in this romcom directed and co-written by Ol Parker (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again).
Their daughter is played by Billie Lourd, only child of the late Carrie Fisher, which lends a whiff of classic Hollywood incestuousness to the proceedings: one of Fisher’s dearest friends was George Clooney’s cousin Miguel Ferrer, son of actor Jose Ferrer and singer Rosemary Clooney. (October)
Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, co-stars in Quentin Tarantino’s 2018 hit Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, again help to depict Tinseltown in a bygone age.
This film, by La La Land director Damien Chazelle, is set around the time silent movies gave way to the talkies, with Robbie playing one of the great stars of the Roaring Twenties, Clara Bow.
Pitt plays a character inspired by John Gilbert, another star of the silent era who failed to transition to sound. (December)
Sequels to James Cameron’s 2009 science-fiction epic Avatar have been in the works since 2010, and 12 years on, the first of them is almost ready.
Cameron has declared he would like to make four sequels, but won’t embark on numbers 4 and 5 unless 2 and 3 make serious money. So it’s over to us!
His Titanic star Kate Winslet is joining the cast this time, along with Edie Falco, still best known as TV’s Carmela Soprano. (December)
On TV, will Game of Thrones beat Lord of the Rings?
By Christopher Stevens for The Daily Mail
The modern world began 100 years ago. That’s when the airwaves began to crackle with the very first public broadcasts.
On Valentine’s Day 1922, a half-hour radio programme aired from a hut at the Marconi labs near Chelmsford, Essex.
The following day, the Daily Mail published the first review, under the headline Wireless Concert.
‘Last night’s concert consisted of songs by Mr Robert Howe and of gramophone records played by the Cliftophone,’ reported our critic.
‘The first three items of the concert were heard fairly clearly on the Daily Mail wireless receiving set, but after that the sounds seemed to be entirely wiped out.’
Eight months later, the British Broadcasting Company was formed, airing its first news bulletins . . . and a licence fee of ten shillings (around £30 today) was introduced.
House Of The Dragon, a prequel to Game of Thrones, will air in 2022
Now the Corporation is about to celebrate its centenary, promising a year of ‘brilliant programming marking 100 years of our BBC’.
Charlotte Moore, the Beeb’s ‘chief content officer’, says the anniversary will be a chance to ‘reflect on the unique role the BBC plays in the lives of audiences across the UK as our much cherished national broadcaster, from its creation to the present day.’
But as Auntie looks back, her rivals are racing into the future. The challenge from online streaming video giants such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, Disney and Apple has never been stronger.
The coming year will be a ferocious battle between traditional broadcasters and the upstarts with their mega-budgets. Who will win — Old School or Young Pretenders? Our guide helps you pick your faves in the fight.
The Tourist, BBC1, New Year’s Day, 9pm
The Beeb’s centenary year starts with a sign of its commitment to outstanding television despite the restrictions of filming during a pandemic. Jamie Dornan stars in this action thriller, written by Baptiste creators Jack and Harry Williams, and set in the Australian outback. Dornan is stranded after a juggernaut runs him off the road — is it an accident, or attempted murder?
Anne, ITV, January 2, 9pm
Maxine Peake was outstanding in 2017’s Three Girls, the drama that forced TV to confront the Rochdale child sex abuse scandal. Now she tackles a real-life story just as difficult, as the mother of a 15-year-old who was one of 97 killed in the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989. It’s tough to watch but truly moving.
Four Lives, BBC1, January 3, 9pm
Another brutal real-life drama, it shows us the victims of serial killer Stephen Port. Sheridan Smith is Sarah Sak, the mother of a young gay fashion student, fighting to discover the truth about how her son died.
Screw, C4, January 6, 9pm
WE HAVE have seen many characters sleeping at their workplace as their home life breaks down, from Morse to Don Draper. But things must be really bad for Leigh Henry (Nina Sosanya) — she’s a prison officer, bedding down in the jail. And she seems happy to break the rules to help prisoners. It can’t end well.
The Ipcress File, ITV
Joe Cole is a brave man to don Harry Palmer’s NHS spectacles. The last man to wear them was Michael Caine, in one of the defining roles of the 1960s. This adaptation of Len Deighton’s classic sticks more closely to the plot of the novel.
The Reckoning, BBC1
Admired and even loved for his quirky, abrasive persona and much vaunted charity work, Jimmy Savile became perhaps the most hated man in Britain after he was exposed as a lifelong paedophile and rapist, following his death in 2011. Steve Coogan portrays this vile man, from his earliest days as a dance hall DJ to his creepy old age.
Trigger Point, ITV
Drama fans with long memories will remember Danger: UXB, the World War II thriller about the Blitz bomb disposal squads. Vicky McClure and Adrian Lester star in a modern version, as Expos, or Met Police bomb defusers, fighting terrorism in London. The duo are old friends Lana and Joel, who served in Afghanistan together.
BEST OF THE REST
Sheridan Smith plays a mum whose world falls apart when her teenage son is arrested during a family holiday to Turkey, in No Return (ITV).
The four-part thriller Our House (ITV) stars Tuppence Middleton and Martin Compston as an estranged couple at war when strangers move into their house and strip it of possessions.
SAS: Rogue Heroes (BBC1) is a dramatised account of the birth of the unit in North Africa during World War II.
Channel 4’s excellent foreign drama collection, Walter Presents, unearths a German crime serial called Dark Woods, starting on January 14.
Fans of Peter Bowker’s The A Word will love the spin-off Ralph And Katie (BBC1), following two newlyweds with Down’s Syndrome.
Another first-rate writer, Hugo Blick, has penned a six-part Western, The English (BBC1). It stars Emily Blunt as a woman seeking vengeance for the death of her son.
Channel 5 has an impressive roster of new thrillers lined up. Nina Toussaint-White is a hairdresser who glances out of her salon window and sees a murder, in Witness No3.
An investigative journalist (James D’Arcy) falls in love with a traumatised woman (Charlie Murphy) accused of murdering her husband, in Frenzy.
And Leanne Best leads the cast of Compulsion, opposite Anna Chancellor, in the story of a paramedic with PTSD and a gambling addiction.
Martin Freeman also plays a 999 hero, in The Responder (BBC1) — a policeman working the night shift and trying to train a novice partner.
Chloe (BBC1) is a thriller about social media and obsession, starring Erin Doherty as a needy young woman stalking a former friend online.
And Maxine Peake plays the manager of a family business who comes in to work one day to find a corpse in reception, in Rules Of The Game (BBC1).
Lord Of The Rings, Amazon
Set thousands of years before The Hobbit, this adaptation of Tolkien’s mythological works seems to have been in the making almost as long. The budget is estimated at $450 million for five seasons, making it the most expensive TV series ever. Basic details such as the cast and storylines are still a closely guarded secret, though it is rumoured to star Amelie Child-Villiers, Charles Edwards and Will Fletcher.
Lee Child’s giant vigilante hero has been badly served by screen adaptations, including two movies starring tiny Tom Cruise as the 6ft 5in former military cop. This eight-part reboot is based on the first book in the series, Killing Floor, which sees Reacher (Alan Ritchson, inset right) arrested for a murder he didn’t commit.
Suspicion, Apple TV +
Based on an Israeli thriller (as was Homeland), this stars Uma Thurman as the mother whose 21-year-old son is kidnapped from a luxury hotel in New York. The abduction is captured on CCTV — and four Brits staying at the hotel are prime suspects.
Moon Knight, Disney +
Oscar Isaac plays a crime-fighter and former U.S. Marine in the grip of multiple personalities, who is flung back in time into ancient Egypt. The gods of the pharoahs are at war . . . and he must fight them.
Extinction, Sky Max
In a drama with dark echoes of Groundhog Day, Pappa Essiedu plays a secret agent who keeps returning to the same point in history. When his wife is killed, he embarks on a time-bending plan to save her — one that might destroy the world.
Best of the Rest
Disney + is having a whale of a time with pop culture, in a pair of rock star dramas. Pam And Tommy tells how Baywatch star Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee caused a global sensation with their sex tape. Starring Lily James and Sebastian Stan, it starts on February 2.
Lily James plays Pamela Anderson in Pam and Tommy, telling how the Baywatch star caused a global sensation with her sex tape
Pistol is based on the life of Sex Pistol Steve Jones — not the druggie bass player, not the mouthy singer, but the one who could actually play a guitar.
In a bleached blond wig, Matt Smith stars as Prince Daemon Targaryen in a Game Of Thrones prequel, House Of The Dragon (Sky Atlantic).
Rhys Ifans and Olivia Cooke co-star. Another former Doctor, David Tennant, returns as a demon with real-life chum Michael Sheen as an angel, in the second series of Good Omens (Amazon).
Based on a magazine article about a fake socialite and fraudster, Inventing Anna (Netflix) was recast with Julia Garner after Madeline Brewer (from Orange Is The New Black) dropped out.
The Midwich Cuckoos (Sky Max), starring Keeley Hawes, is a remake of a story by John ‘Revenge Of The Triffids’ Wyndham, about a town where every woman under 50 simultaneously falls pregnant.
Britbox is also commissioning new drama, including Murder In Provence, starring Roger Allam as an investigating judge in France.
Hotel Portofino is another glamorous European tale, this one starring Natasha McElhone and set in a Mediterranean resort during the 1920s.
The adaptation of Sarah Perry’s novel Essex Serpent (Disney +) was originally set to star Keira Knightly. When she pulled out, Claire Danes replaced her. Tom Hiddleston and Clemence Poesy co-star in this Victorian mystery.