By John H. Foote

2022 could be a very exciting for film with new movies coming from no less than Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, David Fincher, Sir Ridley Scott, Wes Anderson, Damien Chazelle, Darren Aronofsky, Sarah Polley, Terrence Malick, Robert Eggars, Matt Reeves, Andrew Dominick, David Cronenberg and Baz Luhrmann. Undoubtedly, at least some of these films will be among next year’s Oscar nominees.

At this time of year, the major and minor studios and streaming studios are reviewing their slate of films and wondering which ones will earn the coveted statue. It is early days, but it already looks like an impressive list

Here is a look at what is coming.

KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON — Academy Award winner Martin Scorsese dives into this true story of the FBI’s investigation of a series of murders among the Native Americans on Osage tribal lands in the 1920s. The cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons, and Lily Gladstone could certainly bring Scorsese that elusive second Academy Award as Best Director that he should have won many times before. He has called it “his western”. It could be the film of the year.

THE FABLEMANS — Steven Spielberg delves into his past with this autobiography about his family and how he became Steven Spielberg. As West Side Story has proven, never count him out, never question him. He wrote this film and guides a cast that includes Michelle Williams (as his mother), Seth Rogen and Paul Dano and Spielberg shares the screenwriting credit with Tony Kushner. This could be another Oscar for the great one.

THE KILLER — When David Fincher directs, pay attention. After his glorious Mank (2020) for Netflix, he brings us his second of four films for the streaming company, this one based on the French comic book about an unnamed killer struggling with his mental state. Michael Fassbender stars and could be up for an Oscar nomination for his performance, possibly even his first win.

NAPOLEON — Recently, they dropped the original name (Kitbag) so now audiences and critics will know what the hell it is about. Ridley Scott fulfills the dream of the late great Stanley Kubrick by finally bringing to the screen a biography of Napoleon Bonaparte. With Joaquin Phoenix as Bonaparte, the film explores his rise to power and mercurial relationship with his lover, portrayed by Vanessa Kirby. Ridley Scott? Expect greatness.

BABYLON — Academy Award winning Best Director Damien Chazelle (La Land) is back after the bizarre failure of First Man, which I thought was the finest film of 2018. This time the gifted director digs into Hollywood’s past in a film starring Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Tobey Maguire and a supporting cast including Eric Roberts, Lukas Haas, Flea, and Max Minghella. Set in the Golden Age of Hollywood, expect greatness. Chazelle always delivers.

ASTEROID CITY — Wes Anderson has assembled what might be his greatest cast with Bill Murray (a regular), Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie and Scarlett Johansson along with young actors Maya Hawke and Sophia Lillis in this picture about whip-smart young people. Anything Anderson tackles these days is Oscar-worthy, and this is no exception. Without seeing a frame of film, we can tell you it will be something very special.

EMPIRE OF LIGHT — Sam Mendes directs his first picture since his WWI masterpiece 1917, writing his own script for the first time. Set in the 80’s, in and around a beautiful old cinema, the film has been quietly described as a love story. The fact is, we do not know much about it. Olivia Colman stars with Colin Firth, both Oscar winners, along with Toby Jones. Seems everything Colman touches turns to gold these days. Why should this be an exception?

ARMAGEDDON TIME — The underrated director James Gray directs this film sweeping us back in time to Queens, New York in the 80s where he grew up, dealing with the political climate of the time. The Trump family plays a prominent role in the story, though little is known just how much. Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins and Jeremy Strong headline the cast in this story of Gray’s past.

BLONDE — Even today, 60 years after her death, the name Marilyn Monroe, suggests beauty, intrigue, glamour and sex. Andrew Dominick directs this film for Netflix, starring Ana De Armas as Norma Jean (who became Marilyn), with Adrien Brody as the playwright Arthur Miller and Bobby Cannavale as the baseball hero Joe DiMaggio. The film that will chronicle her life from her explosion into Hollywood to that last fateful night.

CANTERBURY GLASS — David O. Russell will win an Oscar eventually, it really is only a matter of time. This new film features a wonderful group of actors that could finally bring Russell the gold. Christian Bale, Margot Robbie (again), John David Washington, Rami Malek, Robert De Niro, Mike Myers, Timothy Olyphant, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Michael Shannon will appear in the film. We don’t know much more about this one but given the success of some of his previous films, watch for it.

ELVIS — Baz Luhrmann has turned Moulin Rouge (2001) and The Great Gatsby (2013) into extraordinary musical films so he will likely do something great with the life of Elvis in this new film. Tom Hanks is along as Colonel Tom Parker, Presley’s manager, Austin Butler as Elvis, Olivia de Jonge is Priscilla, and Helen Thomson is Mother Presley in the film. Hollywood has been waiting for a Presley film for many years, since Kurt Russell dazzled audiences as The King in the TV film back in 1979. This might be it.

DISAPPOINTMENT BLVD.– His first film since the sensational horror film Midsommar (2019), Ari Aster directs this new picture, again a horror film of sorts. The exceptional cast includes no less than Joaquin Phoenix, Nathan Lane, Parker Posey, Patti LuPone, Amy Ryan, and Michael Gandolfini. Rumours from the set have stated that the director and Phoenix bonded from the moment they met, so actor and director are well connected.

THE HOLDOVERS — The last time Alexander Payne directed the great Paul Giamatti, the result was Sideways (2004), the finest American comedy since Tootsie (1982). This time Giamatti portrays an intensely disliked professor at a famous Prep school. With no family or friends who want him around, he spends the holidays on campus and runs into a troubled making young student, also left behind and unwanted. Along with the school’s cook Mary, they form an unlikely trio and spend Christmas together, forging friendships. Almost everything Payne has done has earned attention from the Academy, Downsizing (2015) an exception.

MAESTRO — After a stunning directorial debut with A Star is Born (2018) which earned him a Best Actor nomination and a Directors Guild of American nomination as Best Director, Bradley Cooper won himself the power to make anything he wanted. What he wanted was to direct this biography, produced by no less than Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, about composer Leonard Bernstein. The man led a double life as a homosexual in a loving relationship with a woman who understood him. He moved easily between film and stage, composing West Side Story and the fantastic music for On the Waterfront. Cooper stars as Bernstein. Oscars await.

THE NORTHMAN — Highly anticipated Viking film from Robert Eggers, this film was supposed to be a 2021 release, but was pushed to 2022. I expect greatness. Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke and Anya Taylor-Joy populate the strong cast, and the trailer offers a hint of the beautiful cinematography. Viking shows have been enormously popular on TV. The producers and Eggers are hoping that holds true for their film. A must see.

POOR THINGS — Emma Stone, the great Emma Stone, reunites with director Yorgos Lanthimos of The Favourite in this adaptation of the 1992 novel set in the Victorian era. Stone portrays a woman who suffers abuse at the hands of her husband and comes to the point where she is no longer going to put up with it. Black comedy, drama and even horror will be woven into the story and Lanthimos has proven to be a master director. With Stone are Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe and Ramy Youssef.

THIRTEEN LIVES — Something new and interesting from Ron Howard boasting an impressive cast. The film explores the history of the 2018 cave rescue in Tham Luang when a group of athletes and their coach were trapped in a deep cave for 18 days. Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell, and Joel Edgerton are among the exciting cast.

THE WHALE — After a long absence from the screen, Brendan Fraser finds his way back as a massively overweight man in Darren Aronoksky’s film. Anything from Aronofsky is at least good and given Requiem for a Dream (2000) and The Wrestler (2008), I would expect greatness from he and Fraser in this film. As a 600-pound man trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Fraser could land at the front of the Best Actor race and enjoy a second phase to his career. Hong Chau co-stars.

WOMEN TALKING – Oscar-nominated screenwriter, award-winning director Sarah Polley brings us Women Talking, a film about a group of women in a Mennonite village who band together to plan an escape after they are sexually assaulted. Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy, Rooney Mara, Frances McDormand, Sheila McCarthy and Judith Ivey star. Polley has proven to be a director of breathtaking ability, so expect big things. Oscar things.

WHITE NOISE — Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story was a major Oscar player in 2019 and he could be back in the race with this film. Again, he is directing Adam Driver, and this time his wife Greta Gerwig as Driver’s wife in this COVID-related film. It might be too soon and too much for some viewers, but trusting Baumbach and the actors as I do, I look forward to this one. Be interesting to see Gerwig back on the screen.

SHIRLEY — Oscar winner Regina King stars as Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to be elected to the United States Congress in the turbulent 60’s. With Civil Rights firmly in everyone’s mind, it was the time of Martin Luther King but still a time of segregation in the South. John Ridley won an Oscar for writing 12 Years a Slave. Let’s see if he can be as accomplished as a director. And King? Expect attention from the Academy.

THE FLASH — Finally the superhero speedster gets his own film, which must make actor Ezra Miller a very happy man. He has been seen in some of the other DC epics, but not yet had his own. Here we go. Ben Affleck, Michael Keaton, Michael Shannon, co-star in what should be one of the big films of the year from Warner Brothers. A long time coming.

THE BATMAN — Matt Reeves takes the directors reins, Robert Pattinson wears the cowl and the cape, and we expect appearances from the Riddler, the Penguin and Cat Woman in this one, giving the Batman much to do. Darker, nastier and grittier than even the Christopher Nolan trilogy, rumour has it, this version it a must see. Colin Farrell is unrecognizable as The Penguin, and Paul Dano portrays The Riddler, alone worth the price of admission. Will either soar or tank.

JURASSIC PARK – DOMINION — Original cast members meet again in this final film of the new trilogy. Sam Neil, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum join forces with Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard to figure out a way for humans and dinosaurs to live side by side. Yeah right! With the creatures roaming the earth, all hell breaks loose, leading to an exciting adventure. Expect astounding effects, and non-stop action.

SALEM’S LOT — Stephen King’s most terrifying novel gets the big screen treatment, finally, after two TV adaptations that did not do justice to the book at all. King fans are all but frothing at the mouth for this film, hoping for greatness. I loved the book, consumed it, and truly hope they get it right. Who can forget Danny Glick floating outside the window in the 1978 TV version, though making the vampire master a monster was ridiculous. Apparently all this has been remedied in this film. Could be exceptional. William Sadler is Barlow, the centuries old vampire who comes to town to spread his plague, Pilou Asbek is Straker, his guardian. I have very high hopes for this film.

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