So, you’ve been roused from your festive food coma and are ready to hurl yourself headlong into 2022. But what can you expect from the world of popular culture over the next 12 months? I’ve pulled together some notable releases from the world of film, TV and music that I’m personally excited about, or at the very least intrigued by. I’ve largely avoided sequels, prequels and returning series in favour of new stuff (though I have included some long-awaited returns in the world of music).
This is by no means an exhaustive list. If there’s nothing here that floats your boat, fortunately the Guardian’s culture desk has a far more extensive rundown of 2022 highlights across film, music, TV, stage, art and more coming next week. Keep an eye on theguardian.com for more.
1. Licorice Pizza
Any film by Paul Thomas Anderson is a must-watch, but a film by Paul Thomas Anderson set in his spiritual and actual home, California’s San Fernando valley, is a must-must-must watch. His latest, an antic, meandering 70s coming-of-age tale starring Alana Haim and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s son Cooper, is a total delight and quite possibly the funniest film PTA has made. Watch out for some dynamite cameos from Sean Penn, Bradley Cooper and Tom Waits.
UK – out 1 January; US and Aus – out now
2. Everything Everywhere All at Once
The great Michelle Yeoh stars in a goofy sci-fi about a middle-aged woman who gets dragged into a multidimensional quest while trying to complete her taxes, as you do. It’s from directorial duo Daniels (AKA Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), whom you might remember from their film Swiss Army Man, in which another Daniel – Daniel Radcliffe – played a flatulent corpse. Everything Everywhere …, which premieres at SXSW festival in March, looks as if it will top that film in the strangeness stakes, going by its truly mind-frazzling trailer.
UK, US, Aus – all TBC
3. The Northman
Another dizzying trailer, this one for Robert Eggers’s follow-up to his utterly bonkers 19th-century horror The Lighthouse. The Northman delves further into the past, as we head to medieval Iceland for a Viking revenge epic. The cast is as stacked as they come, with Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke and Björk clambering on board the longship. UK and US – out 22 April; Aus – TBC
Little is known about Jordan Peele’s next film, beyond the fact that it stars Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Steven Yeun, and that it features a storm cloud trailing some bunting on its poster. Is that enough to be going on for us to put Nope on a list of the year’s most anticipated films? Given the terrifying one-two punch of his previous hits, Get Out and Us, I’d argue that it is.
US – out 22 July; UK and Aus – TBC
5. Killers of the Flower Moon
The elegiac and extremely long The Irishman felt like something of an extended goodbye from Martin Scorsese, but here he is with another feature film, his 26th. Killers of the Flower Moon sees him reunite with two of his regulars – Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro – in an adaptation of David Grann’s relentlessly readable book about the real-life murders of wealthy Osage nation people in 20s Oklahoma.
UK, US, Aus – TBC
1. Mitski – Laurel Hell
Four years after the brilliant Be the Cowboy, the Japanese-American singer-songwriter returns with an album which, she says, explores the grey area she occupies, not a “role model” but also “not a bad person”. There’s always been a compellingly gothic tinge to her indie torch songs, and Laurel Hell looks set to push that element further than ever before: its title refers to dense thickets of laurel bushes that produce beautiful flowers and can be impossible to escape from. “I liked the notion of being stuck inside this explosion of flowers and perhaps even dying within one of them,” she says.
Out 4 February
2. 100 Gecs – 10000 Gecs
Genuinely groundbreaking music, or infantile, nosebleed-inducing noise? Wherever you land on hyperpop duo 100 Gecs (think Sum 41, Aphex Twin and a 1998 Ministry of Sound compilation trapped together in a tumble dryer), it’s hard to argue against their originality. Their second album, 10000 Gecs – so named because it’s “10 times as good” as their debut 1000 Gecs – promises a bigger, stadium-friendly sound but the same “extremely online”, meme culture-embracing humour and blend of EDM, pop-punk and experimental noise.
3. Rosalía – Motomami
How to better El Mal Querer, 2018’s chart-demolishing, critic-seducing slice of flamenco-pop futurism which has already lodged itself into Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time? Well, if you’re Spanish superstar Rosalía, the answer seems to be to recruit the Weeknd, Frank Ocean and the Neptunes and promise your most “confessional” album to date. Nina Simone, Bach, reggaeton and Andrei Tarkovsky have all been cited as influences for what will surely be one of the year’s biggest releases.
4. Kendrick Lamar – TBC
Unlike film and TV, with their fixed production schedules and concrete releasedates, music releases tend be far harder to predict, governed by the whims and circumstances of bands and artists. So we don’t know that Kendrick Lamar’s long-awaited follow-up to Damn will arrive in 2022 but, given the hints that something is on the horizon, we’re entitled to be optimistic. With his track record, that’s very exciting news indeed.
Release date TBC
5. My Bloody Valentine – TBC
OK, now I’m getting a little greedy. Kevin Shields’s shoegaze pioneers have never exactly stuck to a timetable (their last album, 2013’s mbv, was released 22 years after their previous one, the gamechanging Loveless). But, rumblings have been afoot: the band signed to Domino last year, and Shields promised the Guardian’s Alexis Petridis that a new album – a double album, in fact – was “imminent”. What exactly imminent means in MBV-speak is unclear, but here’s hoping!
Release date TBC
1. Station Eleven
A drama about the aftermath of a deadly pandemic, released in the middle bit of a deadly pandemic, you say? Station Eleven has an awful lot going against it but – as anyone who has read the Emily St John Mandel novel this series is adapted from will know – you’re unlikely to see a more sneakily optimistic portrayal of the post-apocalypse anywhere.
UK – 30 January, Starzplay; US – out now, HBO Max; Aus – out now, Stan
2. The Afterparty
Phil Lord and Chris Miller, kings of smart, mainstream, big-screen comedy (the Jump Street films, The Lego Movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), enter the world of streaming with a murder-mystery comedy series for Apple TV+. Fittingly, they’ve brought a murderer’s row of comic talent along for the ride, including Tiffany Haddish, Sam Richardson, Ilana Glazer and, crossing over from north London letting agencies to Hollywood, Jamie Demetriou.
28 January, Apple TV+
3. House of the Dragon/Lord of the Rings
It’s hard to pick one of these two mammoth fantasy franchises over the other. House of the Dragon is the Targaryen-focused prequel to a little show called Game of Thrones and, judging by its teaser trailer, promises the same mix of ultraviolence and spectacular blond wigs. We’ve still not seen a second of footage of Amazon’s TV Tolkien adaptation – which is so under wraps that the entrance to its writers’ room was fitted with a fingerprint scanner – but like House of the Dragon it’s a prequel, set thousands of years before The Hobbit.
Lord of the Rings launches 2 September, Amazon Prime Video; House of the Dragon TBC, Sky Atlantic/Now/HBO Max
4. The Curse
A comic coming together of the creators of two of the funniest British series of recent years, The Curse pairs Murder in Successville’s Tom Davis with Steve Stamp, Allan Mustafa and Hugo Chegwin of People Just Do Nothing. Unlike those supremely silly series, this at least has a veneer of something approaching social commentary: it’s set during the free-market boom of the 80s, as a group of hapless crooks attempt their own impromptu form of wealth redistribution.
UK – TBC, Channel 4; international distribution TBC
5. Inside Man
Not the slightly daft mid-00s Spike Lee heist movie, but instead a new drama from Sherlock creator Steven Moffat. Its premise has some of Moffat’s old show’s narrative sleight of hand, following three very different people – a vicar (David Tennant), a US death row inmate (Stanley Tucci) and a maths teacher trapped in a cellar – whose paths cross unexpectedly. Lydia West, who delivered a standout turn as Jill in It’s a Sin, also stars.
UK – TBC, BBC One; rest of the world – TBC, Netflix
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