In some ways, 2021 proved more trying than 2020, as the promise of a new, less deranged president and coronavirus vaccines were cruelly drowned out by an assault on the U.S. Capitol, the right-wing/libertarian COVID disinfo machine (amplified by schismatic platforms like Facebook), dangerous variants, and extreme weather.
Films and television shows provided a brief respite from the unrelenting noise.
We got lost in tales of headless knights and callow space princes, flightless birds in gilded cages and voices that soar to the heavens, childhoods shattered to pieces, and the first pangs of love. Comedians like Bo Burnham made us feel a little less alone, as did the dirty deeds of the Roy family and everyone’s favorite curmudgeon, Larry David—not to mention Joe and Love. Michael Jordan, ever the crowd-pleaser, gifted us with a treasure trove of memes, while South Korea’s record Squid Game shifted the zeitgeist, expanding people’s idea of what a hit show could be.
As this incredibly challenging year comes to a close, let’s look ahead at some of the most exciting film and TV projects in store for us in 2022.
Jan. 14: SCREAM (In Theaters)
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, the team behind the comedy-horror flick Ready or Not, this fifth installment in the Scream franchise is penned by Zodiac scribe James Vanderbilt, and is set 25 years after the murderous events that first rattled the town of Woodsboro in Wes Craven’s original Scream. Several of the original players are back, including Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette, along with a hot young cast led by In the Heights’ Melissa Barrera. Let’s hope it retains the first two films’ humor and isn’t just another caliginous, self-serious Euphoria knockoff.
Feb. 2: PAM & TOMMY (Hulu)
A miniseries from the team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg featuring Rogen and Nick Offerman as a pair of seedy pornographers who steal Pamela Anderson (Lily James) and Tommy Lee’s (Sebastian Stan) infamous sex tape and release it to the masses? Sign us up.
Feb. 4: JACKASS FOREVER (In Theaters)
There’s something almost poetic about seeing Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, and the gang in middle age, still sacrificing their bodies for our—and their—perverse enjoyment. Master of ceremonies Jeff Tremaine will be introducing a number of new guest stars in the fourth Jackass film, including Tyler, the Creator, Eric Andrew, and Shaq, as well as the Jackass crew’s first-ever female member in stand-up comedian Rachel Wolfson, who is funny as hell (and a friend!).
Feb. 11: INVENTING ANNA (Netflix)
While the great Shonda Rhimes was merely a producer of Bridgerton, a bland (albeit wildly popular) costume drama about vanilla sex and ejaculation anxiety, this marks Rhimes’ first Netflix series as showrunner. And the show, starring the talented Julia Garner (Ozark) as Russian-German fake heiress/con artist Anna Delvey, who ripped off a number of hotels, banks, and moneyed Manhattanites, should be one hell of a ride.
Feb. 11: MARRY ME (In Theaters)
Remember romcoms? Those mid-budget studio films—typically starring Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, or Meg Ryan—that lifted your spirits and made you believe that love wasn’t entirely dead? This film, about a global pop star (played by Jennifer Lopez) who, after discovering that her musical partner (Maluma) is cheating on her, decides to marry a humble stranger (Owen Wilson) during a concert stunt and then starts to develop feelings for him, feels like a throwback to romcoms of yore. And it’s about damn time.
March 4: THE BATMAN (In Theaters)
I’m not entirely sure that we need a third movie Batman in the same decade—after Christian Bale and Ben Affleck—but hey, the latest “reimagining” of the Batman franchise features an exciting director at the helm in Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes), and a gifted cast, with Robert Pattinson inheriting the cape and cowl, Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman, Paul Dano as Riddler, and an unrecognizable Colin Farrell as Penguin. Will Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker join the party?
April 8: THE NORTHMAN (In Theaters)
Every film by Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Lighthouse) is a must-see event, and this one, set in 10th century Iceland and centered on a Viking prince (Alexander Skarsgard) who is forced to avenge the death of his father (Ethan Hawke), is no different. The period thriller also boasts the likes of Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Willem Dafoe, and Bjork (!) as a creepy witch.
May 6: DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS (In Theaters)
It is here I must confess that, with the recent exception of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, I’ve been experiencing serious Marvel fatigue. There are just too many spinoffs, reboots, and multiverses to keep track of. With that said, I am a huge fan of filmmaker Sam Raimi, and seeing him return to blockbuster filmmaking will get my butt in a seat. This sequel sees Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange team up with Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch to take on Karl Mordo, a former mentor (and fellow Master of the Mystic Arts) turned mortal enemy and played by Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor.
May 27: JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4 (In Theaters)
Who doesn’t want to see hot, bearded Keanu Reeves engaging in bullet ballets against a seemingly endless parade of baddies? The fourth installment in the surprisingly great John Wick series will also feature franchise newcomers Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgard, and pop star Rina Sawayama. Someone get this man a puppy!
May 27: TOP GUN: MAVERICK (In Theaters)
Is 36 years the longest period of time between a film and its sequel? Either way, here’s hoping that this supercharged sequel’s got plenty of homoeroticism, aviators, and tricky maneuvers—of body and plane. Tom Cruise returns as the “dangerous” fighter pilot “Maverick,” and he’s joined by (alleged public-health menace) Miles Teller as the son of Goose, Jennifer Connelly as Cruise’s awkward new love interest, and Jon Hamm and Glen Powell as the requisite side-hunks.
July 8: THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER (In Theaters)
Remember what I said about Marvel fatigue? Well, that does not apply to any movies directed by Taika Waititi, whose Thor: Ragnarok is not only one of the best films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but one of the best superhero movies ever. The fourth Thor flick sees Chris Hemsworth’s bulging Norse god and Tessa Thompson’s sword-wielding Asgardian warrior lock biceps with Chris Pratt’s Guardians of the Galaxy gang to take on Gorr the God Butcher, a ferocious, god-hunting baddie played by the great Christian Bale.
July 22: NOPE (In Theaters)
Precious little is known about Nope, the upcoming horror film written and directed by Jordan Peele. What we do know is that it may deal with extraterrestrials of some kind—pure speculation based on its poster of a cloud formation hovering over a remote town—and reunites Peele with his Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya, one of the finest actors of his generation (who should have won an Oscar for Get Out). He’s joined by the likes of Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, and Euphoria’s Barbie Ferreira.
Sept. 2: THE LORD OF THE RINGS (Prime)
This blockbuster TV series, set thousands of years before The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films, comes from showrunners John D. Payne and Patrick McKay (Star Trek Beyond), and its pilot is directed by J.A. Bayona (The Impossible). Amazon has already committed five seasons and $1 billion to the show, making it the priciest series in TV history—despite a cast comprised of mostly unknowns—so here’s hoping it’s better than the streamer’s recent fantasy offering The Wheel of Time.
Sept. 30: MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 7 (In Theaters)
Tom Cruise is a leading member of a dangerous, brainwashing cult—one I’ve reported on extensively—and yet, against my better judgment, I can’t help but indulge in these globe-trotting spy-thrillers. The seventh go-around will see Cruise’s Ethan Hunt run, jump, and leap across Italy, Norway, and the Swiss Alps, and he’ll once again be joined by Luther (Ving Rhames), Benji (Simon Pegg), Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson, fantastic), and Alanna (Vanessa Kirby), while Haley Atwell will play a mysterious new spy and Esai Morales will assume villain duties.
Oct. 7: SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE 2 (In Theaters)
So, earlier I said that Thor: Ragnarok is one of the greatest superhero movies of all time. Another film that deserves its place on that list is 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, a computer-animated epic that saw Miles Morales’ Spider-Man (voiced by Shameik Moore) recruit a number of other Spider-People from different dimensions—like Nicolas Cage’s Spider-Man Noir and John Mulaney’s Spider-Ham—to fire webs at Kingpin (Liev Schreiber). This sequel will focus on Spidey’s budding relationship with Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman, voiced by Hailee Steinfeld, and features Insecure’s Issa Rae as a Spider-Woman from another universe.
Nov. 11: BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER (In Theaters)
Following the tragic loss of star Chadwick Boseman to cancer, Marvel decided not to re-cast the role of T’Challa/Black Panther and instead elevate Shuri, his on-screen protégé/science genius played by Letitia Wright. Unfortunately, Wright has caused headaches on the new film with her anti-vax nonsense, and an undisclosed injury of hers has sidelined production indefinitely, so who knows if the film will actually land in 2022 or be pushed to the following year. Either way, the superhero blockbuster brings back the great Ryan Coogler in the director’s chair, as well as cast members Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, and I May Destroy You’s Michaela Coel in an undisclosed role.
Dec. 16: AVATAR 2 (In Theaters)
A part of me wishes James Cameron, who gave us the sci-fi classics Aliens, Terminator, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, would focus his considerable energy on new stories instead of deep-sea expeditions and four sequels to his 2009 eco-blockbuster, but hey, the self-described “king of the world” wants what he wants—and Sam Worthington needs work. So, the first sequel follows Jake (Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) as they raise a family and then, presumably, contend with more evil corporate goons intent on destroying the planet. Newcomers include Vin Diesel, Kate Winslet, Edie Falco, Michelle Yeoh, Jemaine Clement, and Game of Thrones’ Oona Chaplin, while Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang will return in different-ish roles, according to Cameron.
TBD: THE FIRST LADY (Showtime)
This anthology series from Aaron Cooley, whose only prior credit is the kids’ Netflix show Best.Worst.Weekend.Ever., trails a number of first ladies over the years, including Michelle Obama (Viola Davis), Betty Ford (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson). The pilot is helmed by Susanne Bier (The Undoing), and… have you seen the eyebrows on Viola’s Michelle? You have my full attention.
TBD: HOUSE OF THE DRAGON (HBO)
After unceremoniously killing a pricey Game of Thrones prequel penned by Jane Goldman (Kingsman: The Secret Service) and starring Naomi Watts, this other Thrones prequel is based on George R.R. Martin’s novel Fire & Blood, and will explore the chaos in House Targaryen. It’s co-created by Martin, and stars Paddy Considine as King Viserys Targaryen, Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, Olivia Cooke as Lady Alicent Hightower, Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen, and Rhys Ifans as Ser Otto Hightower. And yes, there will be plenty of dragons.
TBD: THE DROPOUT (Hulu)
Originally slated to star SNL’s Kate McKinnon as the turtleneck-wearing, Yoda-voice-mimicking grifter Elizabeth Holmes (of Theranos infamy), this miniseries will now see Amanda Seyfried assume Holmes’ glassy glare. She’ll be joined by Lost’s Naveen Andrews as Holmes’ lover Sunny Balwani, as well as William H. Macy as Richard Fuisz, an inventor sued by Holmes; Elizabeth Marvel as her mother, Noel Holmes; and Laurie Metcalf as Phyllis Gardner, a Stanford professor of medicine who was the first person to question Holmes’ Theranos scheme. It will be produced by Elizabeth Meriwether (New Girl) and Michael Showalter (Search Party), so hopefully it leans into the comedy of it all and features that weird Holmes dance.
TBD: THE LAST OF US (HBO)
Based on the bestselling post-apocalyptic video game, this drama series comes from Craig Mazin, the man behind the brilliant Chernobyl, as well as the game’s creative director Neil Druckmann, and stars Pedro Pascal as a smuggler guiding a teenage girl (Bella Ramsey, aka Lyanna Mormont in Game of Thrones) across a dystopian hellscape. HBO has put a lot of money behind this one (about $8 million an episode), so expectations are sky-high.
TBD: OBI-WAN KENOBI (Disney+)
Set a decade after the events of Revenge of the Sith, this Star Wars spinoff sees Ewan McGregor once again don the robe of Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Hayden Christensen as Darth Vader, who’s succumbed to the Dark Side of the Force. Joel Edgerton, Bonnie Piesse, Kumail Nanjiani, Rupert Friend, Maya Erskine, Sung Kang, and O’Shea Jackson Jr. will all pop up in supporting roles.
TBD: MOON KNIGHT (Disney+)
I will watch anything with Oscar Isaac—and that includes this Marvel superhero series about an ex-Marine with PTSD and DID who gets drawn into a battle between Egyptian gods and monsters. But I also want better roles for Oscar Isaac… maybe a sexy noir-thriller directed by Jane Campion? An In the Cut fan can dream.